"Where’s The Joy?"

During the Christmas season the word “Joy” is flung about frequently and sometimes lightly. It’s on coffee cups, commercials and stamps. Sitting here praying my way through fourth stage breast cancer, this “Joy” seems lacking the substantial stuff with which I long to bolster my joy experience. I open my Bible to James 1:2-4 (ESV), and encounter the answer to my musings from a man of God who knows exactly where I am at. He writes, “Count it all JOY, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.” Whoa! Slow down now! This doesn’t seem very Christmasy! Oh but it is! When was the last time you rode a donkey to Bethlehem to pay your taxes, at 9 months pregnant, and found “No Vacancy” signs at every hotel. Then joy in the morning, as labor pains grip your abdomen, your sweet husband tells you he has found a cozy corner in a cow stall in which to sleep, labor and deliver your first child amidst the animal smells, sounds and prickly straw bedding (with no doctor, midwife or even your mother there to assist and encourage you!) Your first guests after the birth of your child come directly out of the field from herding sheep and have no antibacterial gel to clean themselves up. Then to top it all off, before you have even had time to settle down and look into preschool options, you must jump back up on that donkey and flee with your family to Egypt because the king wants to kill your baby! Forget postpartum depression or knitting bigger booties, you are breast feeding amidst the dust from hoof beats, nibbling on dry figs and raisin cakes and realizing that you may never see your family or friends ever again. This is not the sterile, dirt free environment of the nativity scene on your mantel. Read More

"Baby God Jesus"

“It was the night before Christmas, when all through the house, not a creature was stirring not even a mouse.” Boy, how untrue is that! At this time of the year with all of the sales, deals, friends and family in from out of town, parties to go to, presents to wrap and unwrap, there is a ton of stirring. Even with longer days from all of the craziness at this time of the year, I tend to sit in silence. I take a break from TV shows so I can hear nothing. All of the lights go off early, so I can plop down on the couch and snuggle with a warm cozy blanket. I breathe – inhale and exhale. Something that a few years back wasn’t easy for me to do when the cancer moved into my lungs. The soft glow of my small tree lights begin to come alive as they dance and twinkle by themselves. This light illuminates the stable with “baby God Jesus” in there. I laugh when I hear my little ones say, “baby God Jesus” and show me the statue of baby Jesus in our Nativity set! Having children of my own, I think about Mary and Joseph on Christmas. It brings happy tears to my eyes. I know what all women go through and how perfectly everything has to come together to bring a child into this world. Jesus – a true blessing and God’s miracle. Read More