Friday, December 31, 2010


May 2011 be filled with the peace, joy and hope that only God can give and the love you deserve from those around you. HAPPY NEW YEARS!! Mary


"Now that sounds good. And looks easy to make." I thought as I looked at the back of a box of macaroni and cheese. I saved the recipe for someday when I needed something quick to fix.

Wednesday was that day. All the ingredients were in the pantry so I started mixing.

1 box macaroni and cheese, cooked as directed and 2 cans no bean chili stirred together and put into baking dish, topped with 1 box cornbread mix, prepared as directed. Put in oven and bake. Easy! Looked good when I took it out of the oven.

Then we took a bite. My poor husband had this look in his eyes that said, "How do I tell her this is not fit to eat?"

I took pity on him and said it first, "This is awful."

I don't know what happened but this recipe just did not work for us. Although we grew up being told to clean our plates because some child was starving in China, we quickly tossed the whole thing.

2010 ends at midnight and we have a new year in front of us.

Look back at 2010 and at midnight toss all the things that just did not work. The things in your life that have a negative hold on you. The resentments you just refuse to let go of. At midnight, let go!

Look forward to 2011 and at 12:01, take hold of -- take hold of nothing. At 12:01, open your hands, both hands, palm up and say, "God, I am ready for all the wonders and blessings you have waiting for me during this new year."


Please end this year reading your favorite scripture and offering a prayer from your heart, in your own words.

(Don't have a favorite scripture? Try Psalm 86:11-13, Isaiah 58:11, Matthew 11:28-30 or 1 John 3:1.)

Friday, December 24, 2010


"Calm down. Calm down." God said in a quiet voice. "Everything is right on schedule and everyone is ready."

Joseph looked at his wife and said, "Mary, I am sorry the journey has been so long and this is not exactly where I thought you would give birth, but it is quiet here. The inn would have been so noisy. Look at that sky. Do the stars seem brighter? Is it me or does the air seem charged with energy? The darkness even has a different look. I must be very tired. And worried. Are you sure you are comfortable? How are the pains?"

"O, my sweet Joseph. I would not want to be anywhere else tonight. I feel as if I am surrounded with love. The pains are strong, but that means this baby will soon be born. Poor thing, bounced around inside of me as we traveled." Mary answered.

"Is there anything I can get you? A drink? Did you notice how the animals have settled down? It is as if they know what is going to happen." Joseph said as he comforted Mary.

Mary looked into Joseph's eyes, "I am so thankful you had that dream and listened to the angel. Joseph, I would never lie to you but I know you had doubts. These months have been hard but we have been so blessed to be chosen to raise God's son. Do you like the name Jesus? I do not understand how this baby will save people from their sins. Do you?"

"No, but we do not have to understand." Joseph softly replied. "Rest. You look tired. Did you know I have been working on a cradle? I thought I saw you peek in the carpentry shop one day when I was working on it. Sleep, if you can. I will be right here."

Mary smiled, "Yes, I saw the cradle. You were sneaking off to the shop and I wanted to see what you were working on. Oh. That was a strong pain. Do you have everything ready? Cloths to wrap him in? I think I will close my eyes for just a moment. I feel I will need all my strength very soon."


So Joseph also went up from the town of Nazareth in Galilee to Judea, to Bethlehem the town of David, because he belonged to the house and line of David. He went there to register with Mary, who was pledged to be married to him and was expecting a child. While they were there the time came for the baby to be born, and she gave birth to her firstborn, a son. She wrapped him in cloths and placed him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the inn.


A very young girl. Her first baby. No hospital. No nurse. No doctor. No epidural. This was a Holy Child, but this child was born in human form by human birth. There would have been pain. Do you suppose they were afraid? How would Joseph have felt? How would Mary have felt?

How would God have felt watching his plan unfold? Waiting for his Son to be born.

Are you ready for Christmas? Are you ready to accept the Christ Child born to the Virgin Mary?

Tomorrow is Christmas. The day we celebrate the birth of Jesus. Are you ready for Christmas?

Friday, December 17, 2010


"Got a minute?" Gabriel asked God. "I was just wondering how it went with Joseph. Mary is ready to return home and I have been so busy making sure everything on my list is done, I haven't had time to hear an update."

God smiled, "Went just as I planned. I knew Joseph was a righteous man and when the angel came to him in his dream, Joseph understood that he was to take Mary as his wife. He is taking Mary home now. There will be no physical union until she has given birth but this will give them time to really get to know each other. Besides, these next few months are going to be busy."

"Tell me about it," Gabriel sighed. "The genealogy is verified and written down so there can be no question that the baby is of the house and line of David. Caesar Augustus has started work on the decree for a census. I don't think he realizes the confusion this will cause or that the census is all part of your plan. I know hotels and motels are ideas for the future, but they sure would come in handy during this census. So many people traveling. A mail in form would be a lot easier."

"Now Gabriel," God said with a bit of sarcasm in his voice, "you know all things in their time and what would the people of Bethlehem think if a seven story, 300 room hotel just appeared on the edge of town? Besides my Son needs to be born in a humble surrounding. And the angel has the lines memorized. The company of heavenly hosts would be so disappointed if they couldn't wake up the shepherds with the glory of the Lord shining all around them. Don't want to disappoint the heavenly hosts."

God continued, "I do so worry about Joseph and Mary. This time has not been easy for them and so many people just do not understand. Mary has been very strong but the trip to Bethlehem will be long and hard. Yes, the time is getting closer."


This is how the birth of Jesus Christ came about: His mother Mary was pledged to be married to Joseph, but before they came together, she was found to be with child through the Holy Spirit. Because Joseph her husband was a righteous man and did not want to expose her to public disgrace, he had in mind to divorce her quietly.

But after he had considered this, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream and said, "Joseph son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary home as your wife, because what is conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit. She will give birth to a son and you are to give him the name Jesus, because he will save his people from their sins."

All this took place to fulfill what the Lord had said through the prophet: "The virgin will be with child and will give birth to a son, and they will call him Immanuel -- which means, "God with us."

When Joseph woke up, he did what the angel of the Lord had commanded him and took Mary home as his wife. But he had no union with her until she gave birth to a son. And he gave him the name Jesus.


Joseph was in a binding relationship with Mary, whom he called his wife, which could only be broken by divorce. What must Joseph have thought when he found out Mary was with child? Did he believe her? Why would he divorce her if he believed her? Sounds like he had doubts. Do you think he might have gone and talked to someone? Asked for advice? Did he talk to Mary's parents? Or did he just ponder on this, alone and confused? Feeling betrayed. Then he had a dream.

Can you put yourself in Joseph's place? Can you feel his confusion? Can you imagine waking up from the dream? Would you have the courage to do as the angel had asked? Would you wonder if you could be a father to a son conceived from the Holy Spirit? Would you feel inadequate? Would you feel honored?

Friday, December 10, 2010


"Well, Gabriel," asked God, "what did you think of Mary?"

Gabriel answered, "What a wonderful young lady. She was a bit confused about exactly how she would become pregnant, but willingly accepted her role. She has gone to visit Elizabeth."

Looking down from heaven, God told Gabriel, "Yes, she arrived safely. When Elizabeth heard Mary's greeting, the baby in her womb leaped."

Gabriel chuckled, "Elizabeth thought she would never have children. She receives a surprise visit from Mary and the baby leaps with joy. To top that off, Elizabeth is filled with the Holy Spirit. Elizabeth has had an exciting day. What did she say to Mary?"

"Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the child you will bear!" God replied. "Elizabeth called Mary 'blessed.' The baby Elizabeth delivers will be very special in the life of Jesus.

"So what is next?" Gabriel wondered.

"Mary is going to stay with Elizabeth a few months and then go home. Joseph has been informed that Mary is with child and, being a righteous man, does not want to expose her to public disgrace. He thinks he will quietly divorce her. I have a better idea." God replied.

"Oh, listen, Mary is singing."


And Mary said:

"My soul glorifies the Lord and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior, for he has been mindful of the humble state of his servant.

From now on all generations will call me blessed, for the Mighty One has done great things for me -- holy is his name.

His mercy extends to those who fear him, from generation to generation.

He has performed mighty deeds with his arm; he has scattered those who are proud in their inmost thoughts.

He has brought down rulers from their thrones but has lifted up the humble.

He has filled the hungry with good things but has sent the rich away empty.

He has helped his servant Israel, remembering to be merciful to Abraham and his descendants forever, even as he said to our fathers.


What was Elizabeth's role in the Christmas story? She opened her home to an unwed mother-to-be. She was the first to call Mary and her child blessed. Did she hear the song Mary sang? Elizabeth gave birth to John the Baptist.

According to Luke 1:7, Elizabeth was well along in years. That means her body was past its prime for giving birth. And think about being well along in years and then having to potty train a child. Raise a teenager. Then a young man. And all the while making sure he never took wine or other fermented drink. Talk about being odd man out at every wedding and party. Do you think being a mother at her age made Elizabeth's job harder?

In a Christmas play, the role of Elizabeth would be that of a supporting actress. Do you think she ever felt like she was playing second fiddle? A bit below Mary? Her son not as great as Jesus? Do you think she was ever jealous?

Think about Elizabeth. God did not look at Elizabeth and consider her too old. God gave Elizabeth a very important supporting role in the birth of His Son. What role has God given you?

Friday, December 03, 2010


The birth of Jesus was no surprise. The Old Testament had foretold the birth, but what would it have been like as the time neared? Heaven must have gone to "High Alert." Everyone on standby. All checking their duties. Do you think the angels were disappointed when they were not picked for the "important" assignments?

Do you suppose there was a check list?

   Elizabeth pregnant - check

   Zechariah will name the baby boy John - check

   Mother for my Son selected - check

   Gabriel have the message to Mary memorized - check

   Star ready to shine - check

   Wise Men reading the scriptures - check

What activity! What excitement! What was God feeling? What would the conversation have been like, as God prepared Gabriel?

   "Are you sure this is the only way?" asked Gabriel.

   "Yes," answered God. "Mary will be a wonderful mother for my Son. She is such a servant and will be called blessed by all generations."

   "She is so young. So humble. You are right. She will be a good mother." said Gabriel.

   "Do you see how strong she is?" asked God. "What you are going to ask her to do will take strength. An inner strength she does not realize she has. But it is there and will let her stand tall when people talk and do not understand."

   "Besides," God said softly, "raising Jesus will not always be easy. Jesus will give Mary and Joseph great joy, but they will also experience great sorrow."

   God continued, "Gabriel, it is time. I am sending you to Nazareth. Please deliver my message to Mary. The people have been walking in darkness a very long time. Soon a child will be born. My people will be saved."


In the sixth month, God sent the angel Gabriel to Nazareth, a town in Galilee, to a virgin pledged to be married to a man named Joseph, a descendant of David. The virgin's name was Mary. The angel went to her and said, "Greetings, you who are highly favored! The Lord is with you."

Mary was greatly troubled at his words and wondered what kind of greeting this might be. But the angel said to her, "Do not be afraid, Mary, you have found favor with God. You will be with child and give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus. He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High. The Lord God will give him the throne of his father David, and he will reign over the house of Jacob forever; his kingdom will never end."

"How will this be," Mary asked the angel, "since I am a virgin?"

The angel answered, "The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you. So the holy one to be born will be called the Son of God. Even Elizabeth your relative is going to have a child in her old age, and she who was said to be barren is in her sixth month. For nothing is impossible with God."

"I am the Lord's servant," Mary answered. "May it be to me as you have said." Then the angel left her.


Just for a minute, put yourself in Mary's shoes. Would you wonder if you had fallen asleep and this was all a dream? How would you explain this? Would anyone believe you? Would you believe until you saw Elizabeth was actually pregnant?

Just for a minute, put yourself in Mary's shoes. Would you be frightened? Would you be proud? Would you say, "I am the Lord's servant. May it be to me as you have said." Or would you consider saying, "No way. Find someone else."