It's okay to have a little Mary, with your Merry Christmas

I can't believe I spent the first half of my Christian journey without a relationship with my Heavenly Mother, Mary. Particularly when I reflect upon our relationship now and the love I feel from and with her.

This time of year, almost all Christians have a statue of her in their homes. I wish they knew the love of this amazing woman in all the other months of the year and kept, both she and the Good Saint Joseph in their homes as reminders to love Jesus, and to be good parents. I wish so much they knew her. She would never ever detract from her Son. She existed and devoted her entire life to Him. She leads us to Him, that is all she does, all she is.

Mary is the first person who knew who He was. Mary was the first disciple. Mary loved Him more than any other person who has ever existed, and who will ever exist, ever could, because she was His Mother.

I cannot think of the birth story without the Easter Story. I cannot because I see the the birth through Mary's eyes.

That popular song (which I don't care for - sorry) about Mary, did you know... um, yeah she knew. Did she know the exact how, the when, the specific why? No. But there is no doubt that she knew too well what awaited her Son. It began for her when an angel visited her and when her betrothed came with his own visitation. She knew who He was. It continued when she met her cousin Elizabeth and then she surely knew when she was only a few days post-partum, after having traveled so far to deliver in an outbuilding. She knew when he was 8 days old and Simeon told her what He was destined to do, and that He was the Messiah. She knew on the 12th days when the Magi arrived and told her that Herod was going to murder all the children under two in attempt to end Him. Yeah, she knew. She knew when he was teaching in the Temple as a child. She knew as she asked Him at Cana to begin His ministry, she knew who He was.

Remember the story of the woman who touched His robe and was healed? What do you think the impact of his body growing within your womb might have on you? Her blood flowed through his veins. He looked like her, he had only her DNA. She was chosen by God. It was Mary, or no one. She had the lineage. It was the appointed time and she said, "yes." She knew.

Oh I love her, for saying yes. She was the Ark of the New Covenant. I love her because He loved her. With all the love of a Son. With all the love of a Father. With all the love that the knowledge of His own fate would mean to her. Think of the compassion and love He had for her as He walked that walk?

In our relationship I relate to her as a mother. He was her son, her baby, and He was her God. How did she manage those two great loves? I struggle with them myself. Do I love God more than my children? She didn't have to chose, but she had to give Him up to suffering. How do you sacrifice your Son for the sake of the world? Christians who do not know her before or during Christ's life, know little about her after.

Where do you think the stories in the bible came from about His birth? Who else was there? Cana? Who remained at the Cross within Him? She was one of three. Who followed Him at every step as He walked carrying that Cross to Calvary? It was her. Mary loved her Son, the way I love my children. Sometimes I think my love for my children is really supernatural. The connection that I feel with them, is as real to me as air. I know Mary felt that devotion and love for Jesus as mother, as disciple. She gets me. She gets the love of a mother like no one else.

I know the disciples knew how special she was to Jesus. I know they loved her, respected her, honored her. I mean, imagine the Apostles or the His disciples uttering a dishonorable breath in her direction, His mother... didn't happen. It would have been a sin for Christ to not honor His mother, and He was without sin. Is it weird for Christ to honor someone? No. it's His Mother. And before you mention where He called her "woman" at Cana. It's a biblical reference to her as the New Eve. Eve brought the fall into the world and Mary brought redemption, He was referencing the New beginning which would start with this miracle she requested. Typology is a wonderful study and shines magnificent light on salvation history.

How did she do it? How did she let her Son go. How great is her Heart?

I am following a family on social media as their precious, beloved child is living his last days in his battle with cancer. I try to lift them up their infinite sorrow. I think of this mother daily. I pray for her. I ask Mary to pray for her and comfort her. Only mothers who have experienced this loss can know her suffering, and Mary knows.

Mary dedicated her entire life to Jesus. If you ever want to have theological discussion about whether she had other children I would be happy to share why I believe what the Church without wavering for 2000 years has always taught. What most Christians on the planet believe, she didn't. Jesus was her whole life. She lived under the care of the Apostle John until her death.

Christmas gives us so many marvelous moments to reflect upon. So much joy, peace, hope. My focus is not only on Mary of course, but it pleases Jesus that I love His mom too. It pleases Him that I get her and I think of her as my mother too. After all some of his last words on earth were about her, giving her to John to care for and to all of us to love.

The birth story is only the beginning of the Greatest Story Ever Told. As a woman, I hear it with the ears of Mary. Oh how I hope to love my children as she loved her Son. How I hope to have the faith of Mary. It's okay, it really is okay, to have a little Mary, with your Merry Christmas. God Bless.

Claim Your Christmas

My home is so quiet this morning. Steve has already left for the hospital and I've decided to let the kids sleep in to soak up a few extra minutes of the peaceful glow of my Christmas trees.

For a brief moment last night I found myself wishing Christmas would just get here and get over so I can get on it with so much I have on my plate.

We have a large production in less than three weeks, end of year accounting for the business, costumes do in 19 days. (It's actually a lot). I have rehearsals to schedule, scripts to get out and daily business to attend. Then there is next semester's homeschool planning that hasn't even begun.

Last night brought to a conclusion a weekend of visiting back in our hometown for Christmas. Returning from traveling, recovering from outrageous stress, late nights, going full speed for a few days put me in bed for the entirety of the day yesterday. I didn't feel completely wiped out but decided it was wiser to rest and recover than to push through and get back to work yesterday. Glad I did.

But as often happens when I am still, I am restless. The worries, the tasks, the to-do lists nagged and called to me and I thought, "Let's get Christmas over with, so I can get back to my life."

Even as that little thought was germinating in my weary brain, my soul cried no! My mind and my heart resisted it. How many more Christmases do we have? We never know. How many more with children at home? Those are definitely numbered. I love Christmas.

It is the work of the enemy of peace to want to rush past the celebration of the giver of peace. It is the work of the enemy trying to knit me to the stress and worries of this world that I might overlook the hope, love and joy of the life everlasting that came to earth to save me.

I felt that tug to be cynical. I feel it every year like everyone else.

The enemy cannot have my Christmas. He cannot have my joy. Sometimes joy is very hard to find, especially at this time of year for many, but it only means we must look harder.

You know the familiar phrase, 

Wise Men Still Seek Him

We are not journeying through deserts, warring nations, across seas and lands to find Him, avoiding bandits and political complexities like the Magi. The long tireless journey we undertake is within our own hearts and minds. Frankly for most of us, a thousand mile journey across a continent would probably be easier.

The enemy wants you to believe Christmas is at risk because of retailers not saying, "Merry Christmas" or an absence of decorations on a coffee cup. Do not be fooled. Christmas is at risk within your own heart, within your own home, your own family.

How do we resist an internal battle? How do we navigate all the baggage, all the worry, all the stress? Where is our Star to follow? The Church gives us Advent to prepare and help us. Following closely in the readings and the teachings helps a great deal. I wish I could say that was the simple answer - easy peasy. Problem solved. It's not.

Donating and giving to others is an important component for me. Keeping spending and obligations in check is important to keep the stress level to a manageable state. Mostly though, I have to fight back. The enemy uses every tool at his disposal to steal away my Christmas. It's a spiritual battle and if I don't fight, I'm surrendering. Mostly the battle is one of dialogue. The random thoughts that knock through your head aren't random at all. They are carefully orchestrated by the enemy of God to play on your fears, your guilt, your sorrow, your anxiety. They come in whispers and they inspire entire conversations that happen in your thoughts.

"Take captive your thoughts." 2 Corinthians 10:5

Say "No". Push back. 

I find myself saying yes it's stressful, it was stressful last year but I question it - was I still reeling from it Dec 29th? Jan. 5th? March 12th? No. It's temporary and it really doesn't matter at all. Everything comes out in the wash. I physically turn my eyes to things that refocus me. Making an extra visit to Church just to sit with Jesus a few minutes and "Adore Him". Having coffee and meditating on the birth as I look upon the Nativity under my tree. Recalling Christmases past as I touch ornaments on the tree placed by the people I love most in the world, and offering prayers of thanksgiving for them, helps.

Regrouping in the morning in this quiet space and walking forward in the day intentionally preparing to do what needs doing, helps. Making time and space for the King of the Kings, for Christmas magic, laughter, traditions, fun, surprises, helps. Filling up my soul and my brain with His good things, helps. Then like a miracle, a Star seems to appear in my heart and the path to Christmas is clear again.

We lose our way at Christmas. We do. We all do. It's okay. I don't know that the Magi didn't have to take a detour, here and there before getting back on course. Beating yourself up about it, is a battle the enemy wants to win. Feeling defeated because you can't find your Christmas spirit is a battle the enemy wants to win. Fight him, even if he wins a battle from time to time, do not allow him to win the war.

Reclaim your Christmas. It's yours, He came down from heaven and gave it to you. Do not allow anything to rob you of it. 

Christmas is hope. We were lost and then a baby was born, and He was the hope of the whole world. Guard your hope. Guard your Christmas.