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Before this happened, my level of understanding

was enough for what I needed in this life.














I promise brevity this week, hoping you will stay with us each day, seeking His face.

SUNDAY/MONDAY (Christmas Eve!)

1. What stands out to you from the above and why?

2. People will often ask, “Are you ready for Christmas?” And I usually reply, if I can, truthfully,

“In my heart!”

Are you ready “in your heart?” Consider:

  • Have you been reflecting on the meaning of Christmas? If so, share one pondering here.
  • Are you ready to greet family and friends with grace and love? How might you be ready to do so?
  • Can you let go of what you didn’t get done? Of any unforgiving spirit? Can you be a vessel of love and grace?



I’ve often wondered, as Mary made the long hard 70 mile journey to the home of Elizabeth, did she wonder if she might be having delusions of grandeur? Did she think: Did Gabriel really appear for that instant? Or did I imagine it? Could I, a peasant girl, truly be chosen to be the Mother of God? Mary — did you know? (This video is wonderful.)


4. What stood out to you from the above video and why?

5. For what are you thankful this Christmas day?


Wednesday: Mary

Luci Shaw says that protestants so fear worshipping Mary they have abandoned her to an evangelical limbo. But truly, it is important to look at her life.

6. Find a pattern in Mary by looking up these verses.

A. Luke 1:29

B. Luke 2:19

C. Luke 2:51

7. What pattern do you see?

8. I want you to reflect on your Christmas Eve and Christmas Day.

A. Was there a way God came to you?

B. Mary had to trust God with hard things — with what hard thing will you trust Him?

Thursday: Midday Connection

I’m on Midday Connection today, doing the fourth chapter in Idol Lies: A Shocking Metaphor

To prepare your hearts, I’d love for you to read this past blog post and comment on it.

On a personal note, Ann happened on this post and wrote me. Right after she wrote me, I happened to be discussing this on Midday. And then she did a post recommending Idol Lies, among other good books. It was interesting that what she wrote about Idol Lies had to do with this shocking metaphor.

Here is her post — it has great suggestions for reading other than Idol Lies!

And here is the link to Midday where we discuss this “Shocking Metaphor”

You can listen live at noon central, or after the fact online.

9. If you were able to listen, comment.

Friday: Free Keller sermon: Christmas Message: Link

10. What comments do you have on Keller’s message and why?


11. What is your take-a-way and why?

Leave a Comment

Comment * If this is your first time here, please comment then fill out your name and email as stated at the bottom. Dee will approve you within 24 hours.


  1. Mary had to trust God with hard things — with what hard thing will you trust Him?
    I think the future is what I need to trust God with. As Cosmo, our dog, is sick it gets the ball rolling in my mind about future suffering. What is next? I can quickly begin to be really self focused and melancholy. I keep thinking about this Michael Card song, it sounds sad and sweet at the same time, speaks of a weary journey and of hope that can shine through even now:


    There is a joy in the journey
    There’s a light we can love on the way
    There is a wonder and wildness to life
    And freedom for those who obey

    And all those who seek it shall find it
    A pardon for all who believe
    Hope for the hopeless and sight for the blind

    To all who’ve been born in the Spirit
    And who share incarnation with Him
    Who belong to eternity stranded in time
    And weary of struggling with sin

    Forget not the hope that’s before you
    And never stop counting the cost
    Remember the hopelessness when you were lost

    1. Michael Card is one of those Christian singers who has ministered powerfully to me over the years, Chris. Thanks for the song – weary and hopeful at the sad time.

      I do so appreciate being pushed to continue to think about spiritual deeper things here on this blog. It has been a lifeline to me over the past year. Thanks so much to each one, but especially to Dee whose mentorship and spiritual direction means so much. The spiritual depth and encouragement here is incredible.

      I continue to read each comment here but am finding myself too exhausted physically as well as emotionally to think straight enough to type comments much here right now. We have my older son’s family here for several days, with children who do not sleep through the night. And things will continue to be busy here for at least another couple of weeks with family staying here most of that time, plus Krista and Joel moving to their new apartment sometime next week.

      1. Diane,
        You have a lot on your plate – I’m still praying for you!! Hoping you can get a nap in…

      2. Diane, let your family help you in all you need to do and try and relax in Jesus’s arms…praying for you all

      3. Thank you, Susan and Joyce. Yes, I am letting family help. My daughter in law is very helpful in the kitchen. My husband has this week off and willing to help when asked. I am trying to look after myself and leaning close to Jesus. He is such a wonderful Help and Comfort.

    2. That was beautiful Chris, thank you. Praying for little Cosmo….you don’t need any more pain in your life.

    1. Dee,
      I’m so glad you enjoyed those precious grandchildren of yours – that you all could be together! I’ll pray for Idol Lies to get back in stock quickly, too!

    2. Looking forward to Midday today…So glad to hear your time with your granddaughters was such a blessing to you and that you had wonderful fellowship with your daughters!

      Praying the books will come in quickly to Amazon!

    3. I will be praying for the book to be re-stocked, Dee…this is a perfect time for people to grasp on to the assistance of the Lord (through your book) in becoming aware of their idols and to begin the work of replacing them…

    4. Dee,so thankful you had a blessed family christmas. It’s a blessing that your book is sold out also! Praying for restock very soon tho!

    5. Will definitely be praying for your book to reach the shelves in time.

    6. Missed Midday today and was bummed I was not able to listen but was at church training in the office so got some peace in today doing that. Will be praying the book is restocked soon and in abundance.

      1. Julie, you can listen to Midday late by going to past broadcasts.

        1. Thanks Diane I will look it up and listen. I hate when I miss Dee speaking.

  2. I read all of the last blog and Ann’s scriptures and excerpts. I was following but not posting when that blog was up the first time. I believe the sexual imagery does point to our union with Christ I thought of this from the Message

Luke 20

“34 Jesus said, “Marriage is a major preoccupation here, 35 but not there. Those who are included in the resurrection of the dead will no longer be concerned with marriage 36 nor, of course, with death. They will have better things to think about, if you can believe it. All ecstasies and intimacies then will be with God.”

    But I empathize with those for whom sex has such negative sinful associations that they are blind to what is pictured, to what is pure and good.

    I also know that when I read this the first time I was not ready to let Gods love for me be so very personal. I think I am ready to read Ann’s book now and I think this is timely for me

    1. Chris,
      I like going back to older posts – kind of seeing where I’ve come from to where I’m at now – I like how we both saw the picture of the flowers in the same way (Rachel and Leah).
      I’m sorry about Cosmo – I hope they can do something for him to help him!

      1. Thank you Susan and for the reminder about the flowers, made me smile!

    2. Chris,

      I am so sorry about Cosmo-I know this must be difficult for you. Been thinking about you-wish I could give you a huge hug.

  3. 6. Find a pattern in Mary by looking up these verses.

    A. Luke 1:29 “Confused and disturbed, Mary tried to think what the angel could mean.”
    B. Luke 2:19 “But Mary kept all these things in her heart and thought about them often.”
    C. Luke 2:51 “…And His mother stored all these things in her heart.”

    I like what Anne said above about Mary becoming less reactionary and more contemplative. I think that God made women in particular with this characteristic – that we take in words and happenings and can remember them and reflect…I know there are conversations from years ago that I can remember word for word! I see Mary taking everything in and thinking, remembering, treasuring the memories in her heart.
    Yet, it can be a good gift from God (if used like Mary did) or a bad thing – it can feed a spirit of bitterness and unforgiveness if we brood over and refuse to let go of wrongs done to us, or critical thoughts.

    8. I want you to reflect on your Christmas Eve and Christmas Day.

    A. Was there a way God came to you?

    I often come away from the Christmas holiday feeling guilty for Jesus not being more the centerpiece. Somehow I think that if only everyone in my family was a believer, our Christmas would be so much more spiritual. And yet, I guess we could sit around and talk about Jesus all day, yet fail to love. Christmas Eve we meet my in-laws at a nursing home where they volunteer and we go to the service in the chapel. My sons help get the residents into the chapel. I think God made me to be a “noticer”…I watch their compassion and care for these elderly people. Christmas Day we spend at my mom and dad’s. My one son played gin rummy with my mom and sat with his arm around her shoulder, spending time with her, which gives her so much joy. My daughter played her viola for us with some Christmas music. My oldest son and my dad sat together long after dinner, having a conversation.
    My comfort is that God doesn’t just come to “perfect” families.

    8. Mary had to trust God with hard things – with what hard thing will you trust Him?

    When we get home on Christmas Eve, it is my tradition to light the Advent wreath, and have us all sit at the table and listen to a dramatic recording of the angels announcing Jesus’ birth to the shepherds, and them coming to see Him. It was met with lots of grumbling and resistance, but they came…some laughing during the story…then, when it ended, my husband started to get up. My one son said, “Wait, dad – we’ll be here for at least another 10 minutes” …Sighs…. I said no, I really just want to do one more thing – I want to bless each of my children. Oldest son came up with a great idea to have them all hold hands so I could bless them all at once (and save time) – I said okay, good idea, and I read from the blessing in Numbers and asked God to bless each one.
    It must’ve been God who kept me from sinking into a mood of despair or showing any disapproval, because as I watched my one son staring at the light from the burning candles, I felt hope in my heart that in his heart, there is yet an ember flickering.

    When I read Dee’s Christmas letter this year, about one reason why so many youth walk away from God because they haven’t been taught intimacy with God, I felt the prick of failure. I’ve struggled for much of my Christian life with intimacy with Him-knowing what it really is and how to have it. My kids went to church, and I read the Bible to them, but I failed to model how to be intimate with God. I’ve felt the uphill battle all along the way because they don’t have a dad who has any interest in God. I have to trust Him with the hard thing of wondering if my boys will have a desire for God, if my husband will ever be saved, if other members of my family will open their hearts to HIm, if one day my daughter will also turn away.
    When I’m not trusting Him, it all gets a little overwhelming. Now when I reflect on our Advent wreath, I see that the light shines in the darkness, and the darkness will not overcome it.

    P.S. – this is not my ‘original’ post – a lot is the same but I lost it when I clicked submit because for some reason, my name and email had disappeared from the boxes – I almost cried!

    1. Susan, I can completely relate to “feeling guilty for Jesus not being more the centerpiece” of Christmas eve and day. For me, it has less to do with my family being believers as much as my displaced focus…oh no, my bread didn’t rise properly…proper cookie placement on the cookie tray…will the fudge stay firm?…pre-salad preparation…etc.

      1. Oh my gosh…Martha, Martha, Martha…
        “My dear Martha, you are worried and upset over all these details! 42There is only one thing worth being concerned about. Mary has discovered it, and it will not be taken away from her.”

        1. I’m with you, Nanci – that was indeed part of it, too – the cooking,getting things ready to take to parents’ homes, wrapping last-minute stuff, trying to throw in another load of laundry in-between…

        2. Oh Ladies this was really good. Thank you for these posts.

    2. Love your sweet spirit in steadfastly turning to the Lord in opposition, sweet Susan.

    3. That was a beautiful and honest post. None of my children have the faith that I wish they did. I remind myself that I did all that I knew to do and to forgive myself for that which I wish I’d done better. My husband always participated in church and with the kids…but Christ didn’t really come into his heart until most of the kids were grown. We have had a prodigal son and my husband was talking to someone one about how hopeless one can feel in that situation and the friend said, “remember God loves him more than you” That has been a comfort to me.

    4. oh SUSAN, I mean this sincerely, you so shine with His light–they have to see something different in you. Your love towards them, your humility, your faithfulness…oh, your family has the true example of a tender spirit–faithfully holding on to your True Love through such opposition. I was reminded the other day of how many great Christian leaders–Franklin Graham, Tullian Tchividijian, another I recently read and can’t remember! But so many who grew up in an “ideal” Christian environment, and yet were prodigals–who came Home and have huge impact now for Christ. I was encouraged that it is He who works in the hearts. You are doing your part with humility and love

    5. Susan, I am jealous that you did seem to make Jesus the focus of the night. My family assumes He is and does nothing to celebrate Him. Sure, we go to church (some, not all), but we don’t read scripture or do anything important like actually talk about Him. It’s all about us…..the wrapping and eating. Plus, when I try to be thankful at thanksgiving everyone thinks it’s awkward. I wish my family was more receptive. What a pleasant evening you described! I will aim for that next year. Can you share the dramatic reading with us?

  4. I am glad you rewrote this Susan, it is beautiful!
    Wonderful that the groans didn’t dampen your spirit, I think it is wonderful that you have been able to sustain this tradition over the years.

    1. Yes Susan, I think your tradition is wonderful and I’m afraid my family would balk at it:(
      My husband says the prayer before our family dinner for Thanksgiving and Christmas, but I’m afraid that is it.
      I also always feel quilty for not having Jesus in everything, as my heart so desires, but I’m just thankful that we hold hands in a circle and he prays…that thrills my heart!

  5. 6. Find a pattern in Mary by looking up these verses….7. What pattern do you see?
    Trust…Mary had to trust God with the incomprehensible, hard things.

    8. I want you to reflect on your Christmas Eve and Christmas Day.

    A. Was there a way God came to you?
    I felt a closeness to the Lord throughout advent and was rather disappointed with my lack of proper focus and awareness of my Lord on Christmas eve and day. I didn’t take my “alone,” “be still and know,” time that I need and instead allowed the hustle and bustle of the holiday to consume me to a large extent. Very frustrated with myself…

    Dee, many thanks for your sharing of “Just this morning as I was reading in Jeremiah 31 … Really? Even though I AM SO DIFFICULT? You love me! You do not give up on me.”
    Earlier this morning not reading this prior, I pondered in my journal “Happy Birthday, Jesus”…a sentiment posted on Facebook by one of my friends. “Happy Birthday, Jesus” had me pondering…
    “how ‘happy’ it really could have been for Him, in giving up His divinity, knowing the pain and humiliation He would suffer, culminating in a cosmic separation from God–the thought is almost too much to bear. And then, for what?…for me?…a sinful unworthy woman? (God renewed my thoughts and directed them to a new track…) YES for ME…a sinful, unworthy woman…what an INCREDIBLE Christmas gift to me.”

    B. Mary had to trust God with hard things — with what hard thing will you trust Him?
    Bitterness, resentment, unforgiveness that is deceptively rooted in me…how often I am fooled into thinking that I have risen above these feelings; fooled into thinking that I have forgiven, only to find that the unforgiveness, bitterness, and resentment raise their ugly heads and are actually alive and well…bummer…
    I think that my text for 2013 is Psalm 51:10…”Create in me a pure heart, O God,and renew a steadfast spirit within me.”

    1. Nanci, I really appreciate your answer to 8B above. I realize a couple of days ago that I too have been struggling with bitterness and unforgiveness. Now that I see that idol I am trying to figure out how to release it and realize that I cannot. God has to pull it out by the roots. I cannot. But do I trust Him enough to take care of the situation that is causing the bitterness or I am clinging to my agenda to “fix” it? Where is the line between fully trusting God so that I am at peace and knowing what I need to do to help in this situation?

      I think perhaps I am clinging to my unforgiveness for fear that I be swept away in the sorrow and pain of being totally out of control. What He is doing in Krista’s life and in the life of her family is a mystery to me. (It seems like only sadness ahead from my perspective.) But I can see that He is definitely working on my life.

      I now realize that I thought that if I lived a good life and believed in God that He would bless me and my family with peace and stability. I see that my idol of works righteousness is very deep. I gave lip service to “grace” but believed life should “work” because we were steadfast in serving Him. My life is now shaken to the core. God is truly “messing with my heart” and I don’t like it much. Yet here is an opportunity to put to heart all that I have been learning from Keller, Dee and others about believing and living in grace. I don’t deserve God’s love and grace, CAN NEVER deserve His grace, and yet He gives it anyway. I am loved more than I could possibly imagine based on nothing except His grace.

      I don’t just want the mental assent to these truths; I want the deep down heart consent. I know this is the only way to peace and joy. It is like jumping off a high cliff knowing I will fall to certain death unless Jesus catches me. Do I trust Him enough for that? By nature, I am not a risk taker, yet this is what He is calling me to do, indeed wooing me to do. He is calling me to the “mountain of myrrh” like in the Song of Solomon. (See Dee’s Idol Lies for further explanation of this image.) May I “let go” of my agenda and truly follow Him to death.

      The latest on-the-ground complication is that Joel’s car broke down on Christmas Eve; and yesterday we got the news that it isn’t worth repairing. So now they have no vehicle now. They live on a city bus line but have never used bus before and the service isn’t great. We live an hour from them and only have one vehicle as well. They move next week. We will have to depend on the help of others in order to move – yet another opportunity to be humble and let others serve us. Hard to do!

      Much longer post than I intended. Not sure it will make much sense to anyone. Just trying to work through some hard heart issues. Thanks for bearing with me.

      1. “I don’t just want the mental assent to these truths; I want the deep down heart consent. I know this is the only way to peace and joy. It is like jumping off a high cliff knowing I will fall to certain death unless Jesus catches me. Do I trust Him enough for that? By nature, I am not a risk taker, yet this is what He is calling me to do, indeed wooing me to do. He is calling me to the “mountain of myrrh” like in the Song of Solomon. (See Dee’s Idol Lies for further explanation of this image.) May I “let go” of my agenda and truly follow Him to death.”

        This is so good Diane, terribly hard, but so good.

        I am praying for you and all your family.

        I thought of this hymn when I read your post:

        Have Thine own way, Lord! Have Thine own way!
        Thou art the Potter, I am the clay.
        Mold me and make me after Thy will,
        While I am waiting, yielded and still.

        Have Thine own way, Lord! Have Thine own way!
        Search me and try me, Master, today!
        Whiter than snow, Lord, wash me just now,
        As in Thy presence humbly I bow.

        Have Thine own way, Lord! Have Thine own way!
        Wounded and weary, help me, I pray!
        Power, all power, surely is Thine!
        Touch me and heal me, Savior divine.

        Have Thine own way, Lord! Have Thine own way!
        Hold o’er my being absolute sway!
        Fill with Thy Spirit ’till all shall see
        Christ only, always, living in me.

        1. Thanks for the hymn, Chris. Lord, have your own way!I am indeed “Wounded and weary. Help me, I pray.”

        2. oh Chris, have not heard this one on so so long–it is a hard one sometimes, but so good, so beautiful–it is my desire-thank you for posting it

      2. oh Diane, you have all been stripped so bare. I too loved this post–“I don’t just want the mental assent to these truths; I want the deep down heart consent.” Wow. Yes, your life has been so shaken. Reminds me of the Keller sermon I think of so often–having enough faith for my old life, but not this one–oh I am praying, I can have hope enough for you–for some reason, maybe because I am so removed–I just sense He is mightily at work, and all of these many prayers cannot go unanswered–He will be glorified. I pray it is soon.

        1. Thanks, elizabeth. Your “hope” for us is encouraging and makes me smile. Thanks for the virtual hug. It is wonderful how God has given us on this blog to each other to help hold each other up when we feel weak.

  6. Hi Gayle…I’ve been thinking about you…please let us know how you are.

  7. 6. Find a pattern in Mary by looking up these verses.

    A. Luke 1:29
    B. Luke 2:19
    C. Luke 2:51

    7. What pattern do you see? She didn’t truly understand at first, she was perplexed, then pondering and she treasured everything in her heart. It looks like she spent a great deal of time trying to absorb and comprehend the events. Perhaps when God told her that she would bear and raise the Messiah that He only gave her part of the picture at that time and she then spent time working through what she was being called to do. When she gave birth, some more was being revealed. As she began to work through she started to store the little gleanings of her understanding in her heart.

    8. I want you to reflect on your Christmas Eve and Christmas Day.

    A. Was there a way God came to you? Christmas Eve is normally at my house, but since my mom’s mobility is limited I moved everything to my parents house. I spent the entire day at my parent’s home getting things ready to host, then host and then clean up after so that my sister (who lives there as well) would not be stressed as she gets everything together for Christmas Day (also at my parents). Sorry this is a short version of a long explanation, but hopefully conveys enough. I was able to spend Christmas Eve day with my parents and chat with them while I got things ready for the evening, something that would not normally happen. On Christmas Day we went back in the afternoon and this time I was just able to sit and visit with them and not do anything about dinner (other than eating). I was aware that this may possibly be the last Christmas that we have together with my mom, but I was able to not dwell on that. I was able to see and enjoy what I do have and not worry about what I won’t have in the future. It was the here and now that God gave to me.

    B. Mary had to trust God with hard things — with what hard thing will you trust Him?

    My son. I think I mentioned previously that I adopted my son as an older child. We later received a diagnosis of FASD (Fetal Alcohol), which affects a number of things, including having difficulty comprehending. He has a concrete thinking brain and understanding a God that he cannot see or put his hands on is very hard. Given that he also didn’t ever hear about God, until he was 10 is also a struggle as it was something new and hard for him to comprehend, he is 17 and he still doesn’t really understand. Another FASD characteristic is that he can be manipulated, which I see in a few of his friends. He says he is okay with it, but he really doesn’t understand or see it. He is high functioning enough that most people will not see a person with a disability, but it is enough that is does impact his ability to be able to do or understand things. I go through stages of joy and heartbreak (can be in the same hour). I cry to God about his future as I can see potential for darkness depending on who is around him. God hasn’t given me a clear answer other than my son has a purpose and that I am to leave him in His hands and not to stress so much about it. This is a very hard thing to do as he is my son and I want him to walk with God, not the world.

    I have come to realize (actually God whapped me upside the head)that I am not in control of my son’s future, God is. God will work through whatever He is going to work through and that I need to trust Him, even through the heartbreak and tears. This is already hard to trust Him with, some days I am successful in leaving my son in His hands, other days I try to “fix” things. I am slowly comprehending that I can’t fix anything, I don’t control the outcome of anything. Some days I remember this, other days I am questioning God again. I am so grateful that God is so merciful, that He has so much grace for me on my days of doubt. I need to trust Him daily, hourly, even moment by moment which I don’t think is a state that I have reached yet as I am still constantly perplexed and wondering.

    1. Thank you so much for sharing this. You have a hard road to walk. And thanks for sharing what you are learning. It is helpful to me and very encouraging when I fail to trust and try to “fix” again.

      “I am slowly comprehending that I can’t fix anything, I don’t control the outcome of anything. Some days I remember this, other days I am questioning God again. I am so grateful that God is so merciful, that He has so much grace for me on my days of doubt.”

    2. Mary, you have all the same worries and fears I struggle everyday about Kendra. I trust God with this hard thing for me, daily. Praying for you also, Mary.

      1. yes…and thank you. With my daughter I kept holding onto a vision that the Lord gave me, with my son I have nothing but the Lord saying “trust me”. The outcome is not mine to control…which is really hard to let go of. I think that would be one of those little idol issues that God is using to teach me that He is the one in control of everything.

        I will pray with you too, that we both learn to let God do His thing, in His time and on His terms…and that it will get easier each day to actually do that.

        1. I will pray this for you too, Mary

    3. Mary,
      This is, as Diane said, a very hard road you are walking with your son, and it is hard, and something you have to lay down, again and again, that wanting to try and “fix” things…yet I see you trusting God with his future. I will pray for you son, too.

  8. Just finished listening to Dee on Midday. So good! Listen if you get a chance!

    1. Going to listen also:)

  9. Was there a way God came to you?

    This happen before Christmas, but I’m still thinking about it. When my older daughter was home for 10 days in October from CA, we had some serious conversations which in short, said that her and her husband and my only son, all believed in evolution and didn’t share my faith in God. I’ve been devastated ever since.
    Well, a couple of weeks before Christmas, my daughter called and said to “pray for her husband’s job”, as he might lose it. I said of course I will and then she said, ” because you seen to have a direct line with the big man upstairs”! I laughed and then later praised God, because she ask me to pray! Doesn’t that mean that she believes God may answer my prayer’s?! Well, God did answer my prayer’s for my son-in-law’s job and they are very happy with the outcome…so see!! God is working on them! Praise God!

    1. Meant “you seem to …”

    2. She acknowledged “the big man upstairs” which is totally the opposite of a belief in evolution…so yes that would be a big praise item.

      I am not sure this will help…but I watched (with heartbreak) my daughter go down a worldly path when she was in high school and into college. I spent a lot of time praying for her. One day in her early 20’s she called me to say that she was at a youth conference (that she didn’t tell me she was going to) and that she thought that God was calling her and that he was calling her back into dance for Him. I managed to keep my halleluiah’s in check and respond with a calm, yes that I would think that would be a good thing for you to do. Within a few months she was applying to YWAM and has been there ever since. She once told me that she totally believed that the only reason that she had turned her life around and towards God and His will was because I was praying for her. I didn’t think that she realized that I was praying for her, but apparently she did.

      I have a feeling that your wayward children will be affected by even the realization that you are praying, even though they don’t see it now. At some point, “the big man” will put His foot down and say it’s time…and probably in a way that will totally surprise you. I will pray that time and circumstance is soon.

    3. Joyce–oh, this just made me SMILE. What a HUGE praise! His presence is so rich in your life. Love that your daughter called out to you, knowing well you are such a prayer warrior! Yes, obviously she believes in the power of prayer–and then to see Him work so mightily in direct answer–love that!

      1. Thank you, my heart is smiling inside me too:-)

    4. Oh Joyce, this is good news! Because of all that I know about you, I can see why you’d be the first person your daughter would call for prayer! I’m praying that soon, she will understand that she can have a “direct line” to God, herself!

  10. Enjoyed listening to Dee on Midday! The biggest “take away” for me is to question my choices in daily life. Is that cookie and cup of coffee something more that a pleasant break, am I relying on food and stuff to step in and fulfill my need for intimacy with Jesus? I have been married 47 years and we have a good relationship, walking together for many years of rearing children, some with kids extra problems. Both of us still don’t share as much about our faith walk with each other as we could. I am going to try to be more diligent in that. (smile factor, have 14 yr old grandson living with us, so 43 of the 47 years of marriage has included kids, and that can be a deterrent to intimacy :))

    1. It sure can Sarahsal…be a deterrent to intimacy! Kendra can be too, especially since I sleep with her and she is 25! (because she seizures)

  11. 8. I want you to reflect on your Christmas Eve and Christmas Day. – Christmas Eve was pretty much uneventful and went on as it normally does every year. We were able to surprises my mom with Kyle being home, we kept telling her we hadn’t heard if his leave was approved and then when she saw him come in, it made her very happy. My nephew brought some pictures to give to Kyle of my dad when he was in the service and that was nice but kind of bittersweet as he his no longer with us. Christmas Day I was a little hurt I have to say as my sister-in-law who both her and her husband struggle financially being on disability that she kept complaining about the coffee pot we bought her. I guess I was just brought up to appreciate what you get so when she kept on about it, it just hurt. I really try to listen when people talk to know where the help is needed the most. As I write this I’m thinking I sound selfish or that I’m the hero for getting her what she needed, but really don’t want to come across that way at all. I really do just want to do what God is leading me to do to have his glory shine thru.

    A. Was there a way God came to you? – I would have to say just seeing the look on my moms face when Kyle walked in and how we all reminisced about my dad when we looked at those pictures and I know how much they meant to Kyle to get them from my nephew. God had is hand in all of that and had the timing down as he planned it to be.

    B. Mary had to trust God with hard things — with what hard thing will you trust Him? – My household! Right now my youngest step son who is 31 is living with us and that is a big strain on me to try to keep the peace as he really doesn’t do much around the house to help out. He has a job and is living with us to try to save money, but continues to buy big ticketed items. He was going to get back together with his daughters mom and move to Georgia by February but we are now hearing that they may not be getting together after all so he may be staying with us still, along with Kyle, Allie and the baby most likely moving in to once Kyle gets discharged which looks like it may be in a couple of weeks most definitely by end of January. I can feel my nerves already tensing up and not sure how all this is going to work out, but will definitely have to trust The Lord that he hears my cries of wanting all to work out and keep peace in the home. I’ve got to trust and rely on God that he will keep my sanity in check. Oh Lord please help me thru this and help Kyle find a good job quickly so they can get their own place which is what he wants for his family. In Jesus name Amen!

    1. Julie I will be praying for you and your family, that is alot upon your shoulders. Keep trusting and relying upon God, day by day, hour by hour, moment by moment.

      1. Amen to Joyce’s prayer for you Julie. Praying too. A lot to deal with.

      2. Amen to Joyce and I will be praying as well.

    2. Julie, what a great surprise for your mom, to see her grandson unexpectedly walk in the door! And looking at the pictures of your dad and remembering him – yes, bitter and sweet at the same time. I hope those two things will overshadow the coffee pot issue in your mind! I’ll be praying for you as you get a full house soon, praying it will all work out.

  12. 4. What stood out to you from the above video and why?
    Such a beautiful song and video. “Did you know that your baby boy has come to make you new? This child that you’ve delivered, will soon deliver you.” As I listened this time, I wonder—as she pondered such things about Jesus in her heart—she must have known He was special—I just imagine His presence, even as a tiny babe, must have given her a warmth, a peace, no one could understand or explain.

    5. For what are you thankful this Christmas day?
    I had been so enjoying Advent this year—really felt such a focus on Christ, and why He came. With our daily verses, I started with Genesis, sin…ended with John 14:2. I liked getting away from our usual focus on the Birth, and reminding ourselves the reason, the need, for His birth. He was born in order to die for us.

    I started to get anxious that I’d feel depressed after Christmas—we had had such a special devotional time, and not a lot of activities, but it felt so much more peaceful. But I remembered, as Susan said we don’t need just one day to show our family love—Christmas, for a believer, is our every day. If I’m depressed after Christmas, my focus was likely in the wrong place. The joy of the incarnation should be my every day. I came across this from Tullian Tchividjian and it really spoke to me: “The Incarnation of Christ serves as a glorious reminder that God’s willingness to clean things up is infinitely bigger than our willingness to mess things up. The arrival of God Himself in the flesh sets us free from the pressure we feel to save ourselves from loneliness and lostness, despair and dejection. In short, Christmas is God’s answer to the slavery of self-salvation.”

    That Luci Shaw quote is very interesting!

    6. Find a pattern in Mary by looking up these verses.
    A. Luke 1:29-Mary is uncertain, worried, wondering
    B. Luke 2:19-Mary ponders
    C. Luke 2:51-Mary treasures these things in her heart

    7. What pattern do you see?
    Mary is a thinker! She is reflective, thoughtful, obedient—faithful even when she doesn’t have all the answers. She holds on to what is most important—what can only be carried in her heart.

    8. I want you to reflect on your Christmas Eve and Christmas Day.
    A. Was there a way God came to you?
    I felt His peace, and glimpses of real joy. We were out most of Christmas day, so we had our dinner Christmas Eve—(which is how I grew up, and what my family in TX still does). I can’t remember why—but at one point the conversation went to me telling my kids about my 1st mission trip in 10th grade, so out came the albums—loaded with pictures of my husband and I in high school—it was a fun night. Christmas day we were able to serve at the shelter—much harder circumstances than I imagined. Downtown Charlotte, people coming in right off the streets. Not exactly kid-friendly, and ours were the only kids helping, but I was so thankful for the experience. To literally serve, talk with, love people I would never normally come in contact with. It was humbling. Coming back home, I could have felt guilt—but instead felt so thankful, for how He has blessed us—and for the reminder that we can be His hands and feet—what a privilege.

    B. Mary had to trust God with hard things — with what hard thing will you trust Him?
    There are a few hard things I have been asking the Lord to “fix” lately. I admit I’m not really asking for the strength to deal with them, as much as for Him to work mightily and heal. It hit me the other day when my husband prayed like that for me—did I really think God would do it? And I tend to answer myself with, He CAN, but, He probably won’t. Is that awful? Yes, I trust Him—I trust that He is with me and will not leave me. And yet—I struggle to not doubt those big pleas for Him to sweep in and “fix”. I can pray those prayers for others—but with me, I get caught. Sorry—rambling—I do believe I trust Him, I just, in my humanly short-minded view, don’t always like the way He answers, and I sometimes still doubt those big pleas for myself—like trusting means I just have to do it His way, and that will likely be hard, but end up the best. Sorry—really bad answering here!

    1. I don’t see any ‘bad answering’!
      I can whole heartedly relate to what you said in your last paragraph. Sometimes I wonder if my reluctance to pray huge prayers for myself has more to do with my lack of faith in me, that my faith is too small to expect such big answers.
      I have no doubt that God can do it, just doubt that I can ask without doubting.

      1. Maybe it is my faith is too small–because in one way I fear asking the big prayers, because I don’t want to be let down–so I ask, with this ‘but I know You may not choose to…’–for others, I stopped adding the “if it’s Your will..”–I have felt confident to just ask, and trust He will only do it if it’s His Will anyway! But for myself–it’s like a mixture of being afraid to get my hopes up, and feeling too small/insignificant myself–like surely He has bigger things to deal with. Crazy how I can still have that default–I write it out and think “oh you of little faith”–but then, “I believe…help my unbelief”!

        Thank you dear Chris–sorry you muddled through all that though! I’m so behind and look forward to hearing Midday and reading all these posts.

        1. Somehow writing this down has really started me thinking. I thought about George Mueller and the big things he prayed and trusted God for, and how God seems to have been pleased to glorify Himself through answering.
          I felt after I wrote my post above about how much I make prayer about my faith in me or my unworthiness, and not about a magnanimous loving Father who delights to give good gifts to His children.

    2. I have all those same feelings Elizabeth; doubt, quilt about praying for myself, little faith at times, hard time trusting. God knows all those things and much, much more about us and loves us unconditionally.
      You amaze me…taking your family to feed the poor, daily verses, you are a wonderful mother and wife. How has your pain level been? I’ve been thinking and praying for you.

    3. Elizabeth,
      This is an insightful post in many ways. I like how in your devotions, you focused not just on Jesus’ birth, but WHY He had to come in the first place. We needed Him to come. Then, how if we are depressed (after Christmas or at any other time) it is likely because our focus is in the wrong place. (For me, it is usually because my focus is all on myself)
      I bet that your experience serving at the shelter will be one that stays with your family always – wow, what an incredible opportunity to serve and open your hearts to people, as you said, you’d never come in contact with normally.
      I think I’m getting what you’re saying in your last paragraph. Maybe we do get afraid to ask something big for fear of His answer – having to do it His way which may be hard.

    4. Elizabeth-great thoughts..I agree with Chris- this is NOT bad answering!! 🙂 You prompted me to think-this post is SO relate-able.

      I think with me I don’t like it when his answers seem stalled-I am like you! It seems as if he isn’t there even though I know he is. The mere fact you are struggling with your humanity in this yet how honest you are with God and yourself in this struggle is HUGE HUGE HUGE! 🙂

      I remember when our Anne mentioned a while back on the blog about looking at our stones of remembrance-this has SO helped me through the years. I look at how He has come in the past and i often find that analogy of him being a shy lover so true. As you know He does come even though he may not fix, but it is often still and quiet and like a slow stream-so we often wrestle with our human-ness as we wait and cling-as you are right now but that is GOOD-and He does come as you know! 🙂

      I am starting to find His slowness to be a gentle mercy-because His slowness solidifies even deeper His Word He whispers in my ears..He brings surety- but it is over time. Often it doesn’t make sense and it is different in how God works in everyone’s situation-sometimes he does fix and sometimes he doesn’t but that is a mystery. Regardless, the intimacy with Him can grow sweeter when we are suffering if we are honest with Him wrestling with our humanness and not backing away..and I see that in you a beautiful butterfly beautiful after the hard struggle emerging from the cocoon. Yet I wonder while here on Earth the emergence into beauty is continual as He does the operating on our hearts and we encounter trails and struggles in this life.

      1. oh sweet sister, this brought tears–thank you for your encouragement

      2. “I am starting to find His slowness to be a gentle mercy-because His slowness solidifies even deeper His Word He whispers in my ears..He brings surety- but it is over time.”

        yes yes, so true, He has our full attention in the desert

    5. Elizabeth, I don’t see a “bad answer” I see an honest answer and it got me thinking that I do the same thing. I start my prayer with “God, if it’s okay with you…” or something similar. I know without a doubt that God can do whatever it is, but then wonder if He will do it. Then I wonder if my wondering is really doubt that God will do it, and then I wonder if the difference between doubt that He can or doubt that He will is really a difference at all. I remember Peter in the temple after the Ascension when he healed the cripple at the gate. He didn’t stop to wonder if God would heal, he knew without doubt that not only could God heal the man that He would.

      My weak human analogy is that my Father is the wealthy estate owner who owns everything for as far as the eye can see. When I ask for something from Him, do I go as the daughter bouncing into the room with a sparkle in my eye asking papa for a special something that I know He will give to me because He loves me or do I go in as the local pauper in a ratty dress covered in grime with my head held down as I am not worthy of His gift and yet I approach and ask, hoping that He will be in a good mood and feel gracious towards my plight that particular day, know He could, but wondering if He will.

      I suspect, sorry actually I know that I go to my heavenly Father more as the little pauper girl rather than the daughter with a happy bounce. I think that the more we see ourselves as the daughter than the pauper, the more the expectation in our prayers will change too, at least that is my hope.

      1. this is beautiful Mary, thank you

      2. Mary,
        You gave a really helpful word picture here of how we approach God; much food for thought.

  13. Dee I thought Midday today was one of the best I have ever listened to. Thanks for prepping us by having us go back and read the pertinent blog. When you said God sees us naked and loves us just as we are I wept right there in the Taco Bell parking lot.
    Praying for open hearts to fully receive the message you bring.

  14. 9. If you were able to listen, comment.

    I listened yesterday on my phone in the van-I agree with Chris it is one of the best on Midday I have listened to.

    I am going to listen again because it was so good.

    First off I liked what one of the ladies said about it is easier to hide in the secret of our sin breaking God’s heart rather than our sin breaking the rules-when we break the rules others will know-we are more concerned of that than of breaking God’s heart.

    LOVED Cynthia’s clip-loved loved it! I loved how she commented on Jeremiah 2 and said when we spread our legs under every tree we are looking back and saying your cross is not enough. I like the thread throughout this that when we chase after other lovers we are saying to God you are not enough.

    I loved how Dee pointed out we need to see the positive side of the Metaphor-so often we look more at the negative, but we need to see the positive-the expulsive power of a new affection! Unless he ravishes us we will never be chaste.

    1. I had off yesterday and was able to listen to the MDC broadcast…so good! I’m not sure I have ever heard Melinda and Anita be so personally revealing. You are right, Rebecca, the point of it being easier to hide the sin of breaking God’s heart than the sin of breaking rules was a good one. I have to listen again with my journal and pencil in hand.

  15. Julie, any news on mom and baby?

  16. Nanci, any word from on Jays test results?
    And Mary is your mom still scheduled for her bone test today?

    1. My mom’s bone scan started about 2 hours ago and they should be done soon. I don’t know how long it will take the get the results, but I will post the answer when I know it…thank you for your continued prayers for her.

      1. Yes, Mary, we will continue to pray for good results

    2. Thanks for asking, Chris. I haven’t heard anything yet regarding Jay’s test results…I’m hoping that no news is good news, but am fearful that more likely, no news isn’t good news… I will be seeing Grandma Patty on Sunday, so if I don’t hear anything prior, I will get an update then.

      1. Bridget said that they won’t have any answers until after the New Year. They are still running tests on Jay’s biopsy to try and determine what it is. Bridget wrote, “We will not be sad to see 2012 go…(its) departure is long over-due in our opinion. Cheers to a happier and HEALTHIER 2013.”

        Thanks for continued prayers…

        1. I can relate to them being glad to see a year of suffering end, I felt that way about 2010.

  17. I know I’ve said this almost every week, but every time I think of you all, my mind rings with “Blest be the tie that binds…our hearts in Christian love; the fellowship of kindred minds is like to that above. Before our Father’s throne we pour our ardent prayers; our fears, our hopes, our aims are one, our comforts and our cares.
    We share each other’s woes, our mutual burdens bear; and often for each other flows the sympathizing tear.”
    I’m voting for it as our theme song 😉

    I have had a rough few days–actually the hours after my last post I spent hiding in my closet–I wept almost 2 hours just from the pain. Not sure why sometimes,no rhyme or reason–but thankfully rarely has it ever been that bad. I don’t know if I “should” or not, but I am praying with renewed hope that He will just decide to take it away. Honestly, if He would just give me back my patience (what little I had before was better than now), and my energy, my mind–it is the loss of these things that make it so much harder to bear. I am so snippy, a whole lot of the time. Oh I hate my whining here–just wanted to explain my absence.

    This afternoon has lifted some and I just wanted to thank you all for how well you care for me–reading my muddy thoughts and striving to make sense of them–in order to show me understanding. Oh you have no idea what a long-awaited gift that is to me. Sometimes I think my idol has been to just want to be known, understood–for someone to see my heart and “get” me–so I thank you all for how carefully you read and pray and care.
    Tomorrow we are going to Charleston for a few days–I plan to catch up on posts on the drive.

    Praying especially for Jay, for Cosmo, for Joyce (always asking me about me–but how are YOU doing with your pain?), for Laura’ mom, for Krista & Jeff–and I do pray for each of you–He really brings you to my heart so often.

    1. elizabeth, you are so loved here. So sorry you are having such a rough time. Praying the pain will leave and, if not, that God will give you strength to endure. I love your suggestion of the theme song.

    2. We do love you here, Elizabeth! I’m so sorry you had an episode of such terrible pain; wish I could’ve sat in that closet with you…and it is a joy to know you and to see your heart! Praying for you – I hope your days in Charleston with your family are good ones.

      1. Susan, your words aren’t flighty here-I truly see you going into the closet sitting shiva with Elizabeth-you are a gem Susan.

      2. susan–the Lord has blessed me with you–you are like an older, wiser sister to me–so thankful for you

      1. Dee,
        I can “feel” your hatred of this pain and your heart for Elizabeth – you have inspired me to pray, to really cry out, for this to be taken away.
        Mary gave such a beautiful picture of approaching God in one of her posts. I picture this – we are all in God’s family – He is our Father. Many of us rush into the room where He is, and we are all tugging at His sleeves and talking all at once. He looks into all of our faces, and we are all asking for our sister, Elizabeth, and she His daughter. He is listening, and He loves all of us so much.

      2. I hate it too, and am crying out too.
        The thought of you crying in the closet in terrific pain breaks my heart. God must have some real purpose behind allowing it, He loves you so.
        Asking for healing, wisdom, an ability to relax into His love, and patience for you dear sweet Elizabeth.

    3. Elizabeth, this breaks my heart for you..I so want this to be gone!

      Lord I ask that you would still satan’s temptings in Elizabeth’s life as she is struggling with this pain-unless you have a better plan I plead that you would remove this physical infirmity from her and that she would have relief soon-that she would sense You.

    4. Oh Elizabeth, the silent illness of pain, that most cannot see on you, I’m so sorry that you are having to deal with it. Please know you are in my prayers.
      I know Lord that you can remove this from Elizabeth and give her back a body free from pain. Please Lord hear our cries as we stand in agreement that this pain be broken and she feels relief again. Help her Lord to cling to you as you heal her body as you already bore this pain for her on the cross. Elizabeth is healed from pain in Jesus name amen!

      1. Amen…let it be so…

  18. Elizabeth I love the theme song idea and I vote for you to be our poster girl! For some reason I thought of you and your pain again at that time and was praying. I’m so sorry for the awful attack it had on you. I’m doing good, but still in pain everyday with my back and knees. When I’m having a especially hard time, I pray…”Lord, I give this pain to you as my sacrifice for you, because of the worst pain ever imagined that you bore for me”. When I imagine Jesus on the cross in agony, dying for my sin’s, somehow my pain seems like nothing.
    Praying for you and that the Lord would take it from you…your far too young for this:(

    1. you are an inspiration Joyce!

    2. Joyce, Awesome how you applied the Gospel to your pain-yes He becomes bigger and we become smaller. So good.

    3. joyce–you are an incredible woman. i am so thankful for the role model you are to me–love you

    4. Wow Joyce thank you for that picture.

  19. 9. If you were able to listen, comment.

    What a great program – and I also appreciated the openness and vulnerability of the sharing, especially by Anita. A few things stood out to me:

    That the holidays can be the time of year that give us the propensity to look for approval through things like gift giving, pleasing others…looking for the approval of man.

    We think we can play with our idols and not get hurt.

    We are in a marriage (with God) and He asks us to be faithful.

    Dee brought out both the negative and positive metaphors – God compares us to adulterers, running to something other than Him – Song of Solomon shows the positive side so we know God will be there for us.

    I don’t ever get tired of hearing these truths over and over again!

  20. 10. What comments do you have on Keller’s message and why?

    I had to listen twice to really take it all in; the 2nd time I listened, I liked it better than the 1st. Keller said that Matthew is trying to teach us through this particular passage about the wise men seeking Jesus that the wisdom of that age or of any age is dated, shallow, inadequate, and narrow/exclusive.

    The wisdom of this world is always dated. The experts we have today will look stupid to our grandchildren. Any scholar or philosopher of today is already on his way out!
    This thought was fascinating – that we can read and study the great theologians of the past and we can learn from them today – the wisdom of the Bible is never out-dated!
    Modern people often say to Christians “get with it!” – Keller says “get with what?” If we start to monkey around with classic Christian truth, we will create a faith for ourselves that will soon be laughable.

    The wisdom of this world is shallow. Keller asks, ‘If you were Jesus’ campaign manager, how would you have done it – to see that 2000 years later, He was still making an impact?”
    God did everything wrong by the world’s rules…yet He triumphed. Beauty, success, our bank accounts – it is all shallow. Even as Christians, we constantly have to come out of the world’s paradigm. Who ever heard of people setting up “Plato study halls” around the world today? Only Jesus can change lives, put families back together. Jesus being born in the manger shows you where you will end up if you seek to follow Him – you will be laughed at by the wise of this world, you will end up on the periphery, marginalized.

    The wisdom of this world is inadequate for its own purposes.
    We look to the experts to tell us how life works, but they can only tell us what our problem is, not the solution. How do the wise men find Jesus? Not by following the star, but by getting it from the Scripture – go to Bethlehem – then the star goes before them.
    Unaided reason can see the beauty of creation but cannot find the Creator – He must reveal Himself to us. God comes to us.

    The wisdom of this world is narrow and exclusive, but the Gospel is for everyone.
    The shepherds were ignorant and illiterate; the wise men learned – they both ended up at the same place. The wisdom of Christ isn’t only for the wise, but the wisdom of the world is only for the wise. If you’re saying to yourself, “I’m hopeless” – look at Christmas.
    The world says Christians are narrow and exclusive and that all moral/decent people will be saved – but what about those who aren’t? Who are broken, fallen? That is a narrow view.

    I think what I appreciate most about this sermon is how it re-aligns my thinking. I can get so caught up in the wisdom of this world. I look at my aging self in the mirror and feel inadequate – I didn’t used to have those circles under my eyes and a sagging chin…I don’t feel so smart anymore with two of my children who are surpassing me in their education…I feel the poke of the world that says that a stay-at-home wife and mom is a shortcoming. It’s true, I’m not an ‘expert’, or saavy, or the “Enjolie woman” who brings home the bacon, fries it up in the pan, and ……. I can start to feel pretty low and inadequate, sort of on the periphery of everything that is “in” today.
    Keller’s message helped me to see that the Gospel is truly inclusive – it is for everyone, it is for me. And I don’t need a great resume; in fact, I didn’t do anything to get it or deserve it. I was one of those people who saw the beauty of the world but couldn’t find the Creator on my own – He revealed Himself to me. God cared about me, and that should be enough for me.

    1. Susan, lol-“It’s true, I’m not an ‘expert’, or saavy, or the “Enjolie woman” who brings home the bacon, fries it up in the pan, and ……. ” I smiled at this-so true..Loved your summary in your last paragraph-so true. I feel often that I am inadequate in so many ways and especially feel the pressure from the world and most often in the church too-to have the perfect looking Christian family and OH MY, we are far from that!

      I was also convicted pretty heavily how the world views raising children-to be sports stars, or to be young prodigies and they enroll them in wrestling in kindergarten! 🙂 We labor taking them to and fro 24/7..or our desire is that they are among the elite and popular at school-if they aren’t athletic and are smart or beautiful then our goal is honor society and if they fail then we fear they will be failures in life. I had to repent of this! God is changing me-this isn’t the Gospel! I do struggle when my oldest one is irresponsible with his homework.

    2. susan I love your last sentence- God cares about me that should be enough for me. Wow That says so much because we are really nothing without the fact God cares for us. and our worth comes from HIm alone. Thank you for your words as they spoke to me powerfull strong today.

  21. 10. What comments do you have on Keller’s message and why?

    I was blown away-funny how you can ‘know’ things but then Keller brings it out and you go-whoa! All those who came to Jesus birthday party in the manger were social misfits-uneducated, poor..there were no theologians or elites there..and Jesus was born poor in a poor family, an uneducated man and a carpenter. Then to think of that culture and how God had favor on a Mary, a woman-He started with a woman-wow-and not only that she was illiterate, poor and young- a peasant. Jesus went out of His way to utterly show the superficiality of everything the world was. We want influence, power, our teaching to prevail..how do we go about it-we don’t go to the poor.

    Jesus shows in that manger amidst the smell of urine that a King is born-has not God shown the wisdom of the world folly?

    The Wisdom of the world is narrow and exclusive whereas the Gospel is for everyone. The intellects of this age only are for those who are smart-who are cultured-it is narrow-However the shepherds are illiterate-the wise men are educated experts and they both end up at the same place-they heard from God. One group is not smart, one group is smart-the wisdom of Christ is not only for the smart-the wisdom of the world is only for the smart.

    God chose the foolish things to shame the wise. Look at how God comes-not only to the wise but to the weak and despised. He comes especially to the Marys of this world.

    This still blows me away…God who is Holy, King, Conqueror-was born in a stinky, smelly manger-no fanfare among the elites lavished on Him-the elites and theologians weren’t even there. God is so opposite of this world. This world is cruel, self centered and cold-leaving out those who are poor and catering to the elite-but even the elite will be trampled on eventually-the world does not offer hope-its wisdom is fleeting and continually disproved throughout generations and it’s wisdom destroys lives.

    I am sorry this is so long-but we went to dinner with some friends last night. We talked about this. How easy it is to place our hope in other things like say, politicians or government rather than God. This is not our home-we are sojourners here. He is our home and we should be thirsting after Him not after this world.

    1. Rebecca and Susan, your sermon notes & thoughts made me remember this!

      I was in a posh mall near us this Christmas, I had to return something I bought online. I went into the Saks Fifth Avenue entrance, I had to pass through the super expensive designer bag area. There were really wealthy people Christmas shopping. Before now I would have internally had my tail between my legs, feeling out of place and not good enough to be in the presence of my ‘superiors’.
      This time was different, I looked at them and thought I am a daughter of the King, I have a rich inheritance in heaven when I get home, I hope they do too, but I can’t tell by looking at them. I smiled at people and prayed for them as I walked by. It was quite a victory!

      1. Wow Chris!! So so so good. Great example of applying truth to your thoughts to beat back those engrained lies!! 🙂 🙂

        I often feel that way when I am among people who are highly intellectual, or around gifted musicians. I have my tail in between my legs thinking-what do I have to offer among this greatness-I am so flawed as a singer and thinker, and limited to boot-I have NO talent in writing songs and my voice is so limited! Yet I see the mysteries of God that the most intellectual will never grasp-God the Scientist who created the most intricate molecules and systems that our scientists today haven’t figured out and are still discovering and perplexed over. The God who sings over us who is the creator of music and of art..His music is beyond anything we could ever produce here on Earth-and His art oh my..

    1. We had talked with our son and his fiancé about going to see it, we watched the Hobbit together recently. They said they had heard an NPR review that it was no good, that it was the worst musical the reviewer had ever seen. He was critical of the singing voices of the performers.
      I am glad the movie has your endorsement, I am looking forward to seeing it. I thought how the enemy smiles as those who listen to the NPR review are persuaded not to see it and be affected by the spiritual truths in it.
      I hope my son & his fiancé will still come, in spite of the review.

    2. Oh I want to see it. I will see if maybe my husband and I can have a date night.

    3. Dee I have read the book, seen it at the theatre and also seen the previous movie version. I was so excited to see it coming out again as I love to compare them and enjoy the story line so much. I honestly never considered or applied it to christian principles so I am so looking forward to watching it again with different eyes and am very thankful how you open my eyes to see things anew and fresh.Please know when you are feeling weary that many, I for one, benefit from your continued diligence in seeking God and sharing Him with the world.Thank you for your commitment.

  22. This week is my favorite week of the year. I love Christmas but it is often too busy for me to have much reflection time. But this week is an afterglow and now I can share more of how The Lord has come to me this season.

    Here is the big news. My husband is the middle of 2 brothers with 6 years between each. The older one has had addictions that started in his teen years. I have gradually gathered information about that over the years. Since my husbands mother died he has had nothing to do with this older brother and we have heard nothing from him since then until last Christmas when he called and left a message. My husband deleted it and did not call him back. Joey knew about this and has expressed some concern over unforgiveness. I tried to talk to him (husband) about it but soon realized the waters were way too deep for me.

    So younger brother is here from Georgia and somehow contact has been made and we are all going out for lunch today!
    Older brother has diabetes and has smoked for years. I have seen what a deadly combination this is and that is why I have had some urgency in my heart about the need for reconciliation. It turns out that he very nearly died over the course of this past year ( in ICU they had priest to read last rites). Honestly I see the grace of God all over this. And I have some thoughts about dementia too. They began when my mother had it. I wonder if it isn’t God’s eraser that erases the bitter memories and soften the heart so that He can woo them. That is what happened to my mother.

    I would so appreciate prayer for today and especially for this brother (Joseph). He is profoundly lost.

    1. Just seeing this now. So praying, Anne, for Joseph and for reconciliation. Yes, I see God’s hand on this.

      1. Diane, thank you so much. There was tremendous healing in this family today. I could not see or hear my husband because of where he was sitting but his younger brother fought tears much of the time.

        1. Anne,
          I’m sorry I didnt see this in time to pray, but I will pray for the on-going relationship now between your husband and his brothers. It sure sounds hopeful.

  23. The song Mary Did You Know has been on my mind this week and is really speaking to me of the connection over the vast gulf that separated us from God. How all of creation is part of Him. Each thing is is little piece of Him. Kissing the face of a baby. When Joey was a baby I remember kissing him and saying something about baby cakes. My older son who was 11 or 12 looked sideways at me because it was a little bit out of character for me. I said “Yes. Cake. His cheeks are better than cake!” Foolishness that makes us laugh now but what a salty grain of truth. The song still makes me think of how our lives and relationships reflect Mary’s experience as mother to Immanuel.

    I think too that our experience with the Holy Spirit is so very like marriage.

  24. Hi..a quick update on my mom. The results of the bone scan she had yesterday didn’t show anything so that was good and thank you so much for praying for her. Her doctor wants to send her for one more test to rule an infection out.

    I wish to thank each one of you for lifting up my mother in prayer, I truly appreciate it. Thank you.

    1. wonderful news mary!

    2. thanks for the update, Mary…great news!

    3. Oh such good news and more to come.

    4. Glad to hear this, Mary!

  25. i am truly overwhelmed by your love and prayers–soo humbling, thank you. milder right now.we are in the car driving to charleston and my son commented that we had warned them it’d be storming all day–“so why is the sun shining and no rain?” ALL last week it had said 90% chance thunderstorms…last night it said 70%. I begged God to change the weather, and here it is sunny, beautiful. It struck me that I will plead with Him for miraculous change to weather–but not for freedom from this stinging nerve pain. I journaled–much is similar to what Mary said above, much is this sense that I do deserve pain…but right now I will pray on what Joyce shared.He suffered so much greater that I don’t even want my pain in the same sentence…and we have the promise of the Day. Love you all and so very thankful

  26. 10. What comments do you have on Keller’s message and why?

    I just had the chance to sit and listen to the message today and it hit me hard. This past week I have been dealing with family that only see’s what they want to see, what they want or think they need. If I am honest I am probably doing the same thing and not seeing it. We see according to the worlds standards, according to what the world has taught us is important, that we are more important, that what we think, what we see, what we do, what should be our focus. When I listened to the message, every time I heard him talk about Mary, I asked myself if the angel came to me today, would my response be the same? Would my heart be prepared to be an outcast in everything? I wonder and I suspect my heart needs more work to be prepared to be ridiculed, alone and outcast and still stand up and say that no matter what anyone in the world says or thinks, I belong to my Lord and that is enough, but I can’t say it without tears, even though I know that I still belong to my Lord.

  27. 11. What is your take-a-way and why?

    It occurred to me that it depends on where I am at a given point what I will see or get out of a specific comment or point. This week I am feeling out of sorts and all over the place, whether others are in that same state or not, what I see is from what I am feeling. This week I have been both the shepherds and the wise men (dumb and smart). I am trying to see what is happening around me and the only thing I can think of is that the enemy is using this week to try to attack, detach and interfere in the things that God is wanting. Jesus was perfection, Mary was weak and imperfect. Christmas is the representation of that perfection coming to us but the enemy tries to have us focus on the perfection part and if we can not have everything perfect for Christmas, then somehow we have failed (yes I am guilty on this one). If I bounce back and forth between the trying to be perfect and then realizing I am human, then it makes sense that I can’t feel stable. I was hoping for peace and grace this week, it didn’t happen, perhaps my expectations were too high. Perhaps I was focusing on the perfection part and missing the grace of Christ part.

    I am so thankful that the Lord led me here to share with you ladies, it has been such a blessing to me this year. To see that some of the things that I felt very much alone on, that others struggle with the same things.

    I was going to go see Les Mis with my daughter while she was here, a girls night out thing, but we didn’t get a chance, I am not the type of person who would go see it on my own. I will however be interested to be seeing the comments and reflections from everyone. I am positive there will be something for me to ponder and wonder about.

    1. Mary, what you said here about focusing on perfection and missing the grace really speaks to me. We tend to focus on perfection but what we really need is grace, giving and receiving.

    2. Mary,
      You have been a blessing to all of us in the way you open your heart and share. I’m so glad the Lord led you here! And – please continue to let us know how your mom is; still praying for her.

    3. I too can relate to the perfection part (idol)… I told my husband that next year I would not not take time alone with my Lord, as I had not done this year… I felt so drawn to Jesus during advent and the weeks prior and then…ka-bam!…Christmas eve/day hits and I find myself running around like a Martha, missing what was truly important, missing my personal time with the Lord.

      Mary, I am thankful that the Lord led you here…it is a place of blessing for us all, to one-another…thank you for blessing us with your presence.

      I extended an invite to my oldest daughter to go see Les Miserables with me in the next day or two…we’ll see if our schedules can coordinate. If not, it’s really not so bad going to watch a movie by yourself; it’s almost kind of liberating…:)

  28. Just listened to Midday and Dee your shows never cease to give me new insight into old thinking. How that we are in a marriage with God and need to be faithful to him just as we are to our “earthly” husbands, brings new awareness into what things I’m doing or maybe not doing in my life. And how sin is not just breaking the rules set before us, but doing something,or maybe not doing something that breaks a persons heart or more painfully God’s heart is such an eye opener for me. Thank you Dee and Midday Connection hosts for being so open for us to see into your own lives.

    1. Julie- the points you make are what struck me too. I would like to add something that my pastor shared in service and combine the two ideas here. Just as we are not to commit adultery and must remain faithful both physically and mentally to out husbands -the thoughts of my mind are more likely to stray than my body (hidden secret sins)when breaking God’s heart. I may appear outwardly in line with God’s word but when I reflect on my minds path I can see where I veer off. Pastor spoke last night on “our direction, not our intentions determining our destination”. So it is all good and well that I aim to seek intimacy with God and to remove all things that could obstruct this from occuring but I must – in every moment , in every breath- seek intimacy or I am seeking distance.

      1. Becca, wow..so loved this..ministered to me as He is revealing another issue in my heart..intentions to throw off whatever entangles me is a start, but it is in the direction I am going inwardly that is telling-the harder issues in life lately, and only God and me really know..the secret sins of the heart..hmm..There is a huge weed in my heart as of late..i knew it was there, but justified it! He is revealing it and honestly I don’t want to go there, because I think it is rooted too deep and will be painful..but I know how he has come to me, and not just me but I find strength in seeing how he has come to you all on the blog, and Leah, Martha, David and many others in Scripture..

        1. Rebecca I will pray for you as you tackle this weed. I love working in my yard and gardening and just thought of how it is easy to yank out the top of a weed but to get its hidden root is another story as we have to dig, stir up and disturb the ground surrounding it. I also just thought of how in times I have cleaned up the beds and topped with mulch before a party to create the appearance of a beautiful yard. How those weeds come back with a vengeance just after and the “fake show’ of perfection- I just make more work in the long run. Oh how much time I can waste in preventing my hidden sins from showing through to other people and that is really silly. The only one that matters is God and he sees through the surface appearances to our hearts. I pray we have the strength and endurance to realy uproot these weeds that are so burrowed in over the next year!

  29. Just watched an older movie of Les Mis with Liam Neeson now seeing if anyone wants to go see the new one. Enjoyed the older version but it was not a musical.

    1. That’s the version I saw too, Julie – not a musical but I thought it was very good.

  30. I just finished with Midday also. It was so good. The conversation was quiet and intimate which offset the shock of the shocking metaphor. I love how you focused on how much God loves us. I had many thoughts when you wondered why the metaphor is so shocking. First was how sex has been abused. The beauty is lost because of this. The heart has been lost leaving only the physical. The second is deep and hard for me to put in words but here goes. As adults we see that God’s laws are protective and good. We want our children to follow them and that is also good. The twist comes when we use our own methods to accomplish that. Rather than presenting His laws and allowing the Holy Spirit to work, we manipulate. If we portray sex as scandalous they will run the other way. If we scorn alcohol they will not become alcoholics and so on. I think many people are deeply wounded because of this kind of teaching.

    I fully agree that the marriage relationship, including (and particularly) sex are a picture of the presence and work of the Holy Spirit in each of us individually and the church as a whole. Dee, you supported this so well with scripture. I am sorry for the people so wounded by legalism that they cannot bear to look at this. I also think that you made an excellent observation that it is not necessarily the women who had been abused or in bad marriages that cannot see this.

  31. 11. What is your take-away and why?

    There was so much good sharing this past week, praying for one another, everyone being real. Anne was back! I just want to take-away the experience of true fellowship we have here.