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The coffee cake, breakfast casserole, the ornaments nestled into the tree, Santa on the door, my grandparents bible turned to Luke 2 – Christmas traditions of remembrance, traditions of hope.

Despite the traditions un-boxed after Thanksgiving each year, real life happens. Good intentions move their way through December less gracefully than I hope or intend.

Slouchy hats knitted, Christmas candy made – and the feast – when you live away from extended family, Holiday-making is a one-mom job leaving the Martha and Mary within me wrestling – as I fill canisters that make life taste a little sweeter, wrap lights around trees to make life sparkle more, play music that evokes the joy and meaning of the season.

The man-made part of Christmas is exhausting.

One of my boys, slightly affronted, amused and exasperated at the same time – when I called him by his brother’s name instead of his own, stood in the entry hall, “Mom, don’t you know which one I am?”

(Don’t all good mothers do this?) I thought, “On some days, I’m the Easter Bunny. Another day, the Tooth Fairy. Today? Santa Clause? If I can’t keep track of who I am, how can I keep track of who you are?”

. . . . and, I think I might possibly have said that out-loud. Then, like any good mom, I felt a dose of guilt because I just might have crushed his 17-year-old belief in Santa – or was that my 15-year-old’s belief. . .

I’m not even quite sure he heard me because he didn’t respond – either through shock, or just because he’s a teenager – and, well, teenagers are notorious for not hearing their mama’s words- unless you really don’t want them to.

While unwrapping gifts Christmas morning and evening, all gifts came with a disclaimer – the enclosed gift just may not be yours – be prepared to swap – only because 1) name tags didn’t stick and 2) the dog chewed up some bows with name tags attached.

Christmas Eve found me searching for a Christmas Service to attend that had 1) the Christmas Story, and 2) Traditional Christmas songs that told the Christmas Story. The boys warily eyed my choices. Historically, some of my choices have been more misses than hits. They haven’t let me forget a mid-night service of Gregorian chants, among other unusual experiences.

When I decided on an 11 p.m. service, though, there was hardly a peep.

My newly married son and his sweet wife were spending the night with us, along with their two boys – Brooks and Junior, 2 golden retrievers. This son kept asking, “11 p.m.? We’re really going at 11 p.m. I’m usually in bed asleep by 7.”

He didn’t have to go, I told him. It was O.K. if he didn’t go – and I said that seriously, without any hint or intent of sorrowful guilt-tripping.

It meant more to me that he wanted than going to make me happy.

I think he really wanted to go; he just didn’t want to admit it. Maybe, just maybe, it was as important to him as it was to me.

Together, most of my boys, my husband and I, greeted Christmas morning at mid-night, steeped in the story of the birth of our Savior – from the Angels singing Gloria to the shepherds in the field, to the manger, to the silent, holy night when the son of God became man all because of a love and faithfulness deeper and truer any of us can grab hold of.

Every Christmas, that’s what I do, what I want my family to do – grab hold of this truth, try to understand it even more throughout the year.

Real life needs this.

The colorful bows, shiny green, red and candy-cane paper, Risk, Pick-up Sticks, Rocket Balloons, a Red Radio Flyer wagon, chess sets, pocket watches, soccer cleats, blue soccer pants, and sugared pecans – cannot drown out the simple quiet message of the meaning of Christmas.

My soul yearns to hear it, pull it in deep and live it better the next 365 days.

Inside the pocket watch we gave a son, Romans 15:13 was engraved.

May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit” 

Real life needs this – every day of every year!

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16th Century Tapestry photographed by Blue Cotton Memory in Turin, Italy

16th Century Tapestry photographed by Blue Cotton Memory in Turin, Italy

I’m in a quiet season right now—which is totally at odds with releasing my children’s books—but that’s where God has me. It’s the quiet before a big change – kind of like the quiet before my children were born. It’s been hard for me to visit my blogging friends this last year – and, in the quiet, that’s one of the things I want to do. I want to read your words and savor your God-messages! During this quiet – I’m re-posting one of my very favorite series I’ve written: Frayed Threads in a Holy Tapestry. Merry Christmas Blessings sweet friends!

“How many of you have parents who make under $10,000 a year. . . because if your parents make under $10,000 a year – that’s poverty! Raise your hands if your parents make under $10,000 a year,” the counselor said in my marriage class my senior year of high school.

This school counselor really wanted students to raise their hands. Some girls in my marriage class did. I didn’t.

I knew we didn’t have a lot of money – but I had never considered myself “poverty.”

My mom, grandmother and I talked about it at dinner that night. Like me, they were a bit shocked. They didn’t consider themselves poverty, either.

Being poor and not having a lot of money are two different things.

I was rich in tradition, family, a hearty work ethic, love – and faith.

My grandmother and mother sewed beautiful, hand-made clothes. My grandmother could go down to the department stores, see a dress, come home and make it.

They made Christmas sparkle – from the family bible in the hallway turned to Luke’s story of Christmas to the hand-made Christmas balls made of pins, ribbon,  beads and old brooches and they tucked them into the backyard greenery slipped onto the mantles to the tree to the dining room table to the candies, cakes and feasting.

Poverty was a state of mind, a condition of the spirit – I learned that my senior year of high school. Crippling poverty is a life walked out without faith, hope and obedience to the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit.

God’s plan for our lives is not limited by the condition of our pocket book. He tells us that over and over in little stories building up to the greatest story of all: the Son of God born a man to save us all.

When God’s plan to redeem us finally manifested itself, it was through a poor Jewish girl, living in the land of her ancestors – a land now owned and occupied by a people who did not recognize the God of her ancestors.

God sent an angel to a poor Jewish girl, rich in faith.

“In the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent from God to a city of Galilee named Nazareth, to a virgin betrothed to a man whose name was Joseph, of the house of David. And the virgin’s name was Mary. And he came to her and said, “Greetings, O favored one, the Lord is with you!” But she was greatly troubled at the saying, and tried to discern what sort of greeting this might be. And the angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God. And behold, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus. He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High. And the Lord God will give to him the throne of his father David, and he will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and of his kingdom there will be no end.”
God sent an angel to a poor girl, rich in faith.
And Mary said to the angel, “How will this be, since I am a virgin?”(Luke 1:26-34)

Mary, whose ancestors who had been land-rich and powerful: Sarah’s Abraham, Rachel’s Isaac, Leah’s Jacob, Ruth’s Boaz, Rahab’s Joshua, Bathesheba’s David, – Mary whose financial and circumstances were the antithesis of her ancestors financial and power circumstances – a young girl who had less to give God than anyone else on her family tree  could only give herself and her faith.

“And the angel answered her, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you; therefore the child to be born will be called holy—the Son of God. And behold, your relative Elizabeth in her old age has also conceived a son, and this is the sixth month with her who was called barren. For nothing will be impossible with God” (Luke 1:35-37).

Poverty? A young girl who believed to the point of obedience to a holy God,– a young girl so obedient to what she believed, so faith-rich that God manifested His saving grace through her.

“And Mary said, “Behold, I am the servant of the Lord; let it be to me according to your word” (Luke 1: 38).

God sent an angel to a poor girl, rich only in faith – who was willing everything, including her reputation, to face stoning, public rejection in order to be obedient to God.

God doesn’t define us by an annual salary. He doesn’t define us by our failures or insecurities. He defines us by our faith in Him, our reaching for Him, our Hope in Him.

Mary – a frayed thread in a Holy Genealogy, whose life is not defined by her financial circumstance but her faith circumstance – she didn’t live with a poverty mentality, a have-not mentality.

She didn’t give the angel a list of I-can’t-do’s and I-don’t-haves.

Somehow by releasing her autonomy to become a servant of the Lord, she lived a have-mentality.

Her willingness to “let it be to me according to your word” showed she didn’t consider herself a have-not-what-I-need-to-get-through-this-challenge – but an assurance that through Him, she was a have-more-than-enough-to-walk-this-challenge mentality.

Our culture has set a deceptive identification trap – defining each of us by our income, race, sex, even our sin. When we define ourselves by anything other than our relationship to God, our obedience to God – we limit ourselves by taking the focus off of how He sees us, His plans for us, what He can do for us.

For nothing will be impossible with God” (Luke 1:37).

That’s the story of this tapestry – isn’t it? That nothing is impossible with God. That out of the frayed threads of ourselves, if we just believe in Him, love Him, seek Him out – the threads of ourselves can weave a redemption story, a hope and faith story.

For nothing will be impossible with God” (Luke 1:37).

How do you define yourself?

 

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italy2cI’m in a quiet season right now—which is totally at odds with releasing my children’s books—but that’s where God has me. It’s the quiet before a big change – kind of like the quiet before my children were born. It’s been hard for me to visit my blogging friends this last year – and, in the quiet, that’s one of the things I want to do. I want to read your words and savor your God-messages! During this quiet – I’m re-posting one of my very favorite series I’ve written: Frayed Threads in a Holy Tapestry. Merry Christmas Blessings sweet friends!

Christmas is a celebration of the greatest gift since God gave man dominion over the earth: a savior born in a manger, God become man in his most helpless form.

He sat with the church people and those not welcomed in the churches – the sinners, the outcasts, the unvalued.

Mary’s son grew up to hang out with the sinners, pulled them to his table, touched them to heal them.

I wonder if it scared her. I wonder if she told him as a boy, “If you lay down with dogs, you get up with fleas.”

“Tell me thy company, and I’ll tell thee what thou art” – Miguel de Cervantes (1547-1616)

Proverbs even tells us to choose carefully our companions:

“He who walks with wise men will be wise, but the companion of fools will be destroyed” (Proverbs 13:20).

Yet, even Jesus closest circle of friends in ministry experienced moments of great failure.

Did anyone ever say, “Look who that Jesus is hanging out with?” and shake their head while another person answered, ‘What do you expect from a boy with his family history – the curse He probably carries – nothing good can come from a family tree that laden with sin.”

The thread of his family tree, though, frayed, probably damped with tears – those threads tell a story of not only missing it in big and little ways – but of God’s faithfulness and redemption, of not giving up on the sinner, of reaching in to their lives and hearts and pulling them out.

Frayed threads in a genealogy tapestry that messages each of us – no sin is too great for me to pull you out – just reach for me.

Red – the thread of sin

Eve’s thread started the story – beautiful reds, yellows, greens and blues. Perfect threads until frayed by sin, by loss of so much – paradise, children, innocence. But Shaddai, He loved her, probably had started the wheels of this salvation story long before she even sinned.

Yellow – the thread of compromised accountability, doubt and disbelief

Sarah, Abraham’s wife – stunningly beautiful, barren – in a marriage where she and her husband have trouble holding each other to accountability in decisions that affect their marriage.  Yet, God visits Abraham, sits outside his tent, eats food made from her husband’s hands, and under the stars, Shaddai makes such big promises that Sarah laughs incredulous, doubting. Yet God knows her heart, loves her enough to call her on it – and fulfills His promise as she struggles with faithfulness in His promises. He knows her heart – and I think that her heart must have continued reaching, despite not always making the best decisions.

Green -Hope in the asking, Hope in the journey of a prayer answered, not always perceiving God’s intent.

Rebecca’s twins were a direct result of Isaac’s hope and faithfulness in God’s answered prayer. Yet, answered prayers are sometimes much more complicated than we can imagine, without a how-to manual for handling.

” God says to  her ““Two nations are in your womb,
and two peoples from within you will be separated;
one people will be stronger than the other,
and the older will serve the younger” (Genesis 25:23)

And, just like me, she thinks she needs to do something to make it happen, instead of letting God take care of it – and so she helped Jacob trick his brother and father.  Was that God’s intent? Or did it make things more unnecessarily complicated? One son left and she never saw him again – and the remaining son? How did he treat her betrayal?

She, like me, needed to realize that God has a much bigger tool bag than I do – with tools I never imagined, with journey plots more amazing than I can invent.

Orange – Unfavored, unwanted, un-valued  yet redeemed and given a genealogical place of honor through Praise and Relationship with the Father

Of Jacob’s two wives, only Leah actually cleaves to her husband and His God. She doesn’t sell her night with him to her sister for some mandrakes – yet she buys that night with him with mandrakes.

Unfavored, Leah who learns to walk in faith and praise of the one true God, the God who had compassion with her grandmother-in-law who laughed at His promises.   The names of her first 3 sons show a focus on pleasing, gaining her husband’s favor and love. Why is it that the harder we try sometimes to get someone to love us, the further away their affection moves?

The last son, though – we see that instead of pursuing Jacob, she pursued Yahweh. In the naming of the last son, Leah gives us a glimpse into an alive relationship with Yahweh: “She conceived again, and when she gave birth to a son she said, “This time I will praise the Lord.” So she named him Judah.Then she stopped having children” (Genesis 29:35).

From the Lion of Judah would our Savior come – from a mother rejected, un-valued by a father but so valued by the creator of the world. He didn’t place her love for Him in second place:

“Do not weep! See, the Lion of the tribe of Judah, the Root of David, has triumphed” (Rev 5:5).

weavingccFrayed threads in a Holy tapestry –  imperfect marriages, imperfect parenting.  God loves these imperfect marriages, these imperfect parents – when they reach for Him in their imperfection, in their belief struggles, their lack of understanding struggles and their value struggles – when they reach for Him, it changes everything.

Jesus came to redeem the imperfect. He wants you and me to reach out to those that are missing it – who need to sit at your dinner table, who need hands reached out in prayer and welcome, who need Jesus but aren’t quite ready to embrace Him yet, who aren’t cleaned up yet – frayed threads woven together into a greater story, woven through grace into a greater Holy family history.

Please join me next Wednesdayfor a continuation of Frayed Threads in a Holy Tapestry: A Christmas Genealogy Part 3.

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16th Century Tapestry photographed by Blue Cotton Memory in Turin, Italy

16th Century Tapestry photographed by Blue Cotton Memory in Turin, Italy

I’m in a quiet season right now—which is totally at odds with releasing my children’s books—but that’s where God has me. It’s the quiet before a big change – kind of like the quiet before my children were born. It’s been hard for me to visit my blogging friends this last year – and, in the quiet, that’s one of the things I want to do. I want to read your words and savor your God-messages! During this quiet – I’m re-posting one of my very favorite series I’ve written: Frayed Threads in a Holy Tapestry. Merry Christmas Blessings sweet friends!
The young woman walked into the church, slid into the pew to as the crowd sang, “There’s no God like Jehovah!”

The Geneology of Salvation Walking

Uncomfortable, not quite sure about God or Jehovah or Shaddai – or whatever name church threw out – but  wanting to be there for a reason she couldn’t quite identify, when she sat down, she laid her iPhone face up. Muted, it rang, lit up and a photo appeared, an inappropriate photo – one her mother wouldn’t want her to have.

The neighbor in the pew looked down as it lit up, eyes wide, looked at her, then turned away.

 A few minutes later, the young women slid out, feeling judged, feeling maybe this wasn’t the place for her, maybe there was just too much wrong for it to be made right.

Maybe the woman who turned away wasn’t judging. Maybe it was a good excuse for the young woman to not face Him today.

I used to be that woman judging. I wanted turn my back on sin. I didn’t understand that when I gave my life to Him that meant reaching past the sin into someone’s soul, reaching to find what God loves about them and helping them pull that out of themselves.

It’s the Christmas season, celebrating our Savior’s birth – He who was without sin.

You know – we’re really never cleaned up, pure – it was Jesus sacrifice that covers our sins so He can see us. The son of God made man, slapped with a genealogy that would cause some parents turn away a request from him for their daughter’s hand in marriage: “I worry about the curses that man would bring to my daughter’s life.”

When you read the Christmas story, do you skip over the genealogy? I do. I want the manger, the angels singing, the shepherds, the near-death escape to Egypt. Ancient kings, wealthy men, slaves, shepherds, small town men and women of no great consequence with names I cannot pronounce – they just got in the way of the Christmas story.

Growing up, my grandmother placed the family bible in the entry way, open to the geneology of the Christmas story, a gold and ruby crucifix laying across the page. Every year, I skimmed – wanting to get to the gift of Christmas – of Salvation walking on earth. I always focused on the end-product of salvation – not realizing that, yes, I want my soul cleaned up, strengthened and living Jesus-in-me – salvation in me isn’t true unless I also reach out to the sinner next to me.

In the skipping and jumping to the Salvation walking, I missed so much – so much of  the genealogy, a genealogy of the sins, the curses, all the faith stories, miracle stories and everything inbetween. I realized, though, that I need the genealogy stories. The stories are a testimony of God’s love for the sinner.

Because God loves the sinner. He  not only loves them, He pursues them – the unloved, the rebel, the sinner – an outcast because of the sinner’s choices or choices of others. Then He leads them home, brings the outcast into His inner circle. Then Yahweh, Shaddai, God – He restores!

This geneology isn’t always pretty – just like mine.

The geneology isn’t always faithful – just like mine.

For those who have the courage to try to find Him, like sitting in a pew letting your sin show itself, oh, He is life-changing – the history shows His love, His commitment imperfect people trying to love Him.

Trusting an imperfect people to give birth to Salvation Walking. To parent Salvation Walking.

There are messages to a mother, a wife, a daughter and a daughter-in-law, a neighbor, a stranger, a young woman looking – the love letters of  Yahweh for His very broken children.

Each wife, each mother of the men listed in the genealogy are frayed threads redeemed by His grace, His determination, His powerful love and forgiveness.

Frayed threads – each of them
Just like the frayed thread I am.

“Don’t you see, you planned evil against me but God used those same plans for my good, as you see all around you right now—life for many people” (Genesis 50:20)

Please join me this week as I trace Jesus’ geneology through the mothers and wives. Trace with me what each woman contributed to Jesus’ family history – which becomes each of our history when we become children of God.

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Morgan Weistling.com

My Savior, entered the world a baby, needing a mother’s love, strength and nurturing.  His mother held His hands to steady Him as He learned to walk.  She taught Him how to break the bread at supper. This carpenter’s wife, Joseph’s wife, encouraged His first words, helped him build his vocabulary with words He would use to teach about living water, forgiving a brother 70 X 70, and the beatitudes that included these words: “Blessed are the clean of heart: for they will see God” (Matt 5:8).

The Son of God made into a helpless baby, a wobbly toddler who needed a mother so that His Father God could be the Father to all men who believed in Him to enter the kingdom through Him and know that these promises were for every man, every ethnicity, every culture.

The Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit
made available to the whole world
offering to
“Strengthen the feeble hands,
Steady the knees that give way,
Say to those with fearful hearts,’Be strong,
do not fear,
your God will come,
He will come with vengeance
With divine retribution
He will come to save you'”

(Isaiah 35:3-4).

Born a sweet, soft, baby to cuddle – the greatest Christmas gift of all – came to call me into His family so His Father would protect me with a vengance.

Saving me and then saving me again!

This great gift available every day, 24/7, all around the world

Simply ChristDay EveryDay

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I’ve heard lots of complaints about gift-giving at Christmas – that the real meaning of Christmas is buried beneath a bunch of colorfully wrapped presents.

But I think gift giving symbolizes what Christmas is all about – that God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten son – and His son didn’t just do it because He had, too – He knew what birth was going to be like. He knew what being a regular Jewish boy in a regular family would feel like. He knew ahead of time friends would betray Him. He knew He was going to die a horrendous, grievous, shameful, excruciating death. Yet the Father and the Son gave to us Hope that Christmas morning over 2,000 years ago.

Each gift you pick out this year – compare it to the first Christmas gift, ponder that gift – and try to put as much Jesus love into that gift as possible – even if it is a note of hope, a scarf to keep cold fingers warm on the way to work, or a toy that brings joy to a little world.

At Christmas we practice giving because He first gave to us.

Find out more about the Hope within the Christmas Wrapping over at Lynn’s blog, “Heading Home,” where I am honored and excited to be a guest writer. Take a cup of coffee, spend time with her. She is a blessing!


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