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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. What stands out to you and why? When suffering comes we need to… Suffering will come and if we don’t know where to go we are shaken. When we know our God and know He has an eternal plan, know that He is good and has our best interest heart. Looking at the night sky shows me His greatness.

    Have you been reflecting on the meaning of Christmas? I chose to do this advent devotional for the month of December specifically so I would reflect on the meaning of Christmas and I have found myself thinking about the scriptures, messages, images and testimonies throughout the days. The benediction was especially meaningful as I have been thinking about God’s face shining on me and being blessed Nd being a blessing to others.

    I did let things go undone that I have done in the past and I have been okay with it. Thanks Dee for this study.

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

    The looking up at the sky to see the wonderment of God, the order of the sky. I remembered from Job how God told him that He named the stars, He tells them where to sit, that He has a storehouse where He keeps everything that we see when we look up.

    Also, a few weeks ago Dee said not to gloss over verses that we are really familiar with (which I admit I have a tendency to do), but to read them with fresh eyes. I have been trying to do that this Christmas and it was a really really good suggestion as I am pondering things I hadn’t pondered before (thanks Dee). This morning when I saw a very familiar verse of the day from Biblegateway this morning, I started to gloss over, but then took a much closer look… and started to ponder about “Suddenly a great company of the heavenly host appeared with the angel, praising God and saying, “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace to men on whom his favor rests.” Luke 2:13-14.

    In the sky there was one angel, which by my thinking would have been a local event, after one is going to see one angel only if they are close, but then suddenly a great company appeared. I am not sure how many angels are a great company, but thousands come to mind. I ponder that if there were thousands of angels in the sky signing praises to God, why didn’t the entire country fall on their faces. A few nights ago, my nephew pointed out to me a NASA satellite in the sky. It was one thing and thousands of miles up. If we can see one little satellite, how could they miss thousands of angels praising God. That sight would have been amazing and fearful all at the same time. I don’t have any answers, I just was wondering and pondering.

  3. 1. What stood out?
    The numbers… 14 generations, and Jesus as the seventh seven (and the pic of the sky). This stands out because I didn’t know it before (or didn’t remember it!), and I don’t completely understand the significance/ramifications??? I know that 7 is the perfect/complete number, used frequently in Scripture.

    Did numbers have a deeper significance then? It seems interesting/cool now, but more in a “that’s nice” or “that’s interesting” way. I can see the relevance and the connection with God’s order/design (which is amazing!), but I feel like I am missing something…cultural context, maybe, or ???

    As I meditate on it more, I am awed by God’s greatness and Sovereignty.

      1. oh I agree! I had just started researching more–and found what you said on Jubilee–amazing!

      2. Thanks, Dee! Will check out the websites, too.

  4. I have a prayer request and I am sorry it is just before Christmas…it’s for my mother. My mother has had two hip replacement surgeries in the past two years, the last one in April was hard on her as her bones were so fragile that when they moved her, they broke one of her bones (they did this 3 times). Because of the state of her bones, she ended up with 5 surgeries in a 6 week period, which is hard on a 78 year old woman. She finally was allowed to go home at the end of October, with homecare. Her incision was leaking this past week (her last surgery was in June) and she went to see her doctor on Friday. She is now scheduled for a bone scan, ultrasound and one other test that my dad couldn’t remember, tomorrow (Christmas Eve). We Canadian’s do have universal access to health care, but that often means we wait for things like bone scans. For my mother to be scheduled for a bone scan so quickly especially Christmas Eve is not a good sign. I know that the Doctor is concerned about a bone infection, which is also not good.

    My prayer is for this not to be serious and for her healing. But, she has spent more time in the hospital than out of it over the last 2 1/2 years so if it is serious I do realize, with a lot of sadness, that this may possibly be her last Christmas with us, pray we have peace and can enjoy the time we do have and to prepare my dad.

    I apologize for this being so close to Christmas but I thank you for your prayers for her and the rest of my family for now.

    1. Praying, Mary. So sad that illness does not take a holiday. Hope it isn’t too serious for your mom.

    2. Will be praying Mary for your mom the doctors and your family.

    3. praying Mary–so sorry

    4. Oh, Mary, please don’t apologize…Christmas or no, struggles of this world continue; thank you for sharing your prayer request. I will pray for your mother…dad and the rest of the family. Take care, Mary…please keep us updated.

    5. Praying, Mary. I’m so sorry for your sadness and for the pain she is experiencing. Praying for you,her, and your family.

    6. Praying too Mary, please don’t feel reluctant to share with us, we are here to help bear one anothers burdens

    7. Mary,
      I’m so sorry your mom has been through so much…I will be praying for her and for you and your dad.

    8. Mary, I’m praying for your dear mother…Holiday or no holiday, people need prayer.

    9. Praying for your dear mother, Mary

    10. Dear Lord, you are a great, all encompassing God. Thank you for caring for us when we are in pain and struggling. We bring Mary’s mother to you Lord. She is suffering and could probably use comfort right about now. Although getting old is part of your plan, Lord, we humans have difficulty in the process. Please calm Mary’s family. Help them know you are near no matter what. Help the doctors with their diagnoses and treatment so that Mary’s mother is in the least amount of pain possible. If there is pain Lord, erase that from her memory so she has no recollection of that time. We know you are capable of these things Lord. We pray in your name. Amen.

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

    I don’t “get” the information about Jesus being the “seventh seven” but I will worry about figuring it out later. I really hope the sky is clear on Christmas Eve. I find a sky full of stars awe-inspiring and would be so appropriate to contemplate the Star that the Magi saw in the East.

    1. I did some more research on this “seventh seven” and found this website that gives further explanation that is helpful. Is this what you mean, Dee?


  6. 1. What stands out to you from the above and why?
    When I read this I was struck by the contrast–Jesus, the Sinless One–Who came for ME, the sinful one.

    The images too are really awe-inspiring, incredible. Thank you Dee for faithfully giving your best each week to provide us with teaching that draws us in, and points us directly to Him. So thankful and excited for this week!

    1. I agree with Elizabeth, thank you Dee!

  7. SUNDAY/MONDAY (Christmas Eve!)

    1. What stands out to you from the above and why? – The vastness of the shy and all that is in it that God has created. When I go out at 5:15 a.m.to walk my dog Gabe and the early morning sky is clear I look up and I’m just amazed at the many stars in the sky that nothing or no one else could have created except for the one who reigns over all the earth and the sky. The one true God. I’m just so awe-struck at the beauty and I wonder at this time of year especially, is that the kind of sky the Wiseman looked up into to find the star that led them to the new-born King.

    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. – Today as I was sitting in church listening to all the songs being sung by our worship team my mind was wandering from my daughter-in-law who was having an ultrasound because she hadn’t felt the baby move in a while to wondering if our little Logan would be coming into this world earlier then expected and if he came on Christmas Day wow to share a birthday with Jesus how would that feel? What a great Christmas present that would be for all of us. I’m still not sure what all is happening but I know there is a normal heart beat but not sure why she can’t feel him move. Please pray that all is ok with baby and mommy.

    Are you ready to greet family and friends with grace and love? How might you be ready to do so? – All I can say is I hope so. I’m so tired right now from being up praying last night that 4 hours of sleep does not make me a very tolerant person when people are acting selfish. I will be taking a nap to try to recover from the lack of sleep last night or should I say early this morning.

    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 am the type of person that does the best I can and I do try and get everything done that I need to but I’m one person and if it doesn’t get all done, then oh well. I do try and find the good in everything and everyone one and keep an open mind as to why they may have done what they do but most importantly I try to keep reminding myself that God sees all and will take care of all if I stay out of the way, and keep my nose out of it. I can only pray that Gods love shines thru me at some point in my life so others will want to have the same thing I have which is a relationship with Jesus Christ.

    1. Mom and baby will be in my prayers…any word how the ultrasound went? When is the due date?

    2. Oh Julie, praying for your daughter and law and the baby–please do keep us posted

    3. The ultra sound is showing that there is not enough fetal movement. She will being having another ultra sound at 8:00am central time tomorrow and if it is still showing the same she may have to be induced. They measure the movement of the baby when doing the test and the score should be at 10 and our little Logan is at 8 as of this morning. The normal due date is Jan 12 but in order for my son in the service to be able to get here she was hoping to be induced on Jan 5 and her doctor agreed as long as she was starting to show some thinning and dilation.

      Thank you all for the prayers.

      1. Dear Father, You see Logan–You have made him fearfully, wonderfully. We ask for You to protect your child.We trust You Lord and ask that You would give the doctors wisdom. Please give Julie’s d-i-l a peace that only comes from You. Comfort her. Oh Lord, we ask that this baby Logan would be able to be born a healthy child who grows up to know You and follow You. In Your Name~

        1. Amen.

      2. Praying, Julie.

      3. Praying for mom and baby, too. Please keep us posted.

    4. Praying mom and baby are fine, Julie

  8. I found this on Jesus Genealogy that explained more of the significance:
    (For reference, J.D. Greear,is a speaker at the2013 Gospel Coalition conference)

  9. Strongly recommend Purdue Musical Organization’s Christmas concert, if you are able to catch it on public TV. I can’t remember another time when I’ve stood up IN FRONT OF THE TV in worship. The TV version ended with “All Rise” by Babbie Mason.

    I haven’t heard the PMO Christmas concert for several years, but I have wondered how they consistently are able to produce a program that points to Christ. I can imagine there might be some resistance from within the university. (Disclaimer: I graduated from the place!!)

  10. I liked this from a Spurgeon sermon on the significance of the Incarnation:
    “Sin had separated between God and man; but the incarnation bridges the separation: it is a prelude to the atoning sacrifice, but it is a prelude full of the richest hope. From henceforth, when God looks upon man, he will remember that his own Son is a man. From this day forth, when he beholds the sinner, if his wrath should burn, he will remember that his own Son, as man, stood in the sinner’s place, and bore the sinner’s doom.”

  11. Diane I dont want to pry, feel free not to answer, i am wondering how did todays meeting go?

    1. Just came on here to check, too — if they were able to follow through with the mtg and how it went. Also wondering how you are, Diane?

      1. Thanks for asking. They didn’t end up meeting. Krista had requested the meeting but Jeff said he had to work on fixing the truck. Excuse or valid reason? Don’t know. Personally, I don’t see any sign that Jeff is moving toward reconciliation, but I think Krista is more optimistic. Deep sigh! Sorry that I don’t have better news. I appreciate that you are so concerned as to ask, Renee and Chris.

        1. I’m sorry the meeting didn’t happen, Diane. Will Krista be able to see the boys on Christmas?

  12. 2. a)Have you been reflecting on the meaning of Christmas? If so, share one pondering here.

    I have honestly felt much more peaceful this year than ever before. Not really sure why—though I guess God has graciously pulled me closer to Him throughout this year—and so as Christmas has come close, I have felt more and more joy in lingering on it…the music, the Scriptures….even Christmas lights…I don’t know-there is much different around me, but I do feel much different inside. I have not felt the usual rush, the stress. I am thankful—I don’t want it to end.

    b)Are you ready to greet family and friends with grace and love? How might you be ready to do so?

    We will just be the four of us. All of both our families are in Houston—hard to not be there, hard for them to understand—and yet, I do feel there is a special blessing we can find just us.

    c) Can you let go of what you didn’t get done? Of any unforgiving spirit? Can you be a vessel of love and grace?

    The middle question—“unforgiving spirit”—always convict. But there were honestly a few relationsal strains that came to a head in the last month—and jus in the last week, I do feel He has removed my unforgiving spirit, and the bitter seed did not take root. I have known the pain that comes from years of bitterness, and it is a life-stealing pain. Truly not worth it. I have become more and more aware of my own sin—able to see more clearly from the other’s perspective, and in some cases even have compassion on their pain. He died for all of this, and when I remember that truth—I feel sick with myself for holding onto another’s offense against me.

    1. Elizabeth,
      Your last paragraph there is a keeper and so wise, “I have known the pain that comes from years of bitterness, and it is a life-stealing pain. Truly not worth it.”

      1. Yes…excellent reminder…

  13. 2. Have you been reflecting on the meaning of Christmas? If so, share one pondering here.

    yes, what sticks with me most is is the message of and history behind “I Heard the Bells on Christmas Day.”

    Are you ready to greet family and friends with grace and love? How might you be ready to do so?

    yes, I think so (a bunch of illness; I don’t think I will be greeting many). I am more likely to be ready to show love if I avoid listening to negative stuff on the radio or allowing myself to “stew” while driving.

    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 rarely ever have much to show for getting ready for Christmas (not much to let go of). What strikes me is that I often ignore opportunities to be a vessel of love and grace because I don’t always interact. e.g., I sometimes prefer that we watch a movie rather than play a game that involves thinking! I can look for opportunities to be a vessel of love and grace (I don’t expect much conflict due only a few people). I also can be supportive of those who aren’t feeling well.

    Please pray that my flu shot was/is effective!

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

    I don’t really understand all that about the number seven, Jesus being the 7th seven, and 7 being the number of perfection (haven’t had time to check out those websites yet) BUT it shows me that although God has revealed much about Himself to us through Scripture and Jesus, He is still so infinite, and there is great mystery. I think our minds need mystery to give us things to think on and to ponder and wonder about. It is amazing to think that in the vastness of the night sky, there is an order to it.

    Also, Chris’ words…I know what it is to kind of ‘spiritually coast’ when things in my life are just routine, but when suffering strikes, yes, I find the level I’ve been on is not enough.

    2. Have you been reflecting on the meaning of Christmas? If so, share one pondering here.

    I may not have been reflecting if it were not for this study! For some reason this year, the weeks leading up to Christmas have flown by, and I’ve felt busier and more stressed and pulled than I like to admit. I was more behind and disorganized this year, perhaps because I didn’t set the proper priorities….”sigh”. (I even listened to Midday when they had an organizing expert on – Marcia Ramsland – I need to pay more attention to her suggestions for next year)
    I have found it good to reflect and ponder, as we did the first week, on the Magi; looking deeply into a familiar story and finding new things…on T.S. Eliot’s poem…and last week was profound, too, because, as Diane said above, “illness doesn’t take a holiday”, and tragedy doesn’t, either. It was good to ponder how evil in this world and the truth that “God is not dead nor doth He sleep” can co-exist.
    I am so thankful for Dee’s doing these Advent studies for us – it is the one thing that keeps me grounded.

    Are you ready to greet family and friends with grace and love? How might you be ready to do so?

    Having my husband home during his Christmas vacation, and two college-age sons, plus me and my daughter all home together is wonderful; I love having everyone home…yet there has to be a lot of grace. Everyone’s preferences are different, from the time they get up in the morning, to the food they want; my sons are used to their own schedule; I can get testy having my husband home during the day. I can find myself getting grumpy about the extra work and cleaning, too. But, they also bring so many blessings…I often need to be reminded.
    A few days ago, my daughter and I were getting ready to head out to finish some shopping. I was stressed…she came up to me and hugged me tight and wouldn’t let go – she said something like “Mom – come on…what you need is some mother-daughter love right now – nothing else!” We just stood in the kitchen a few moments with our arms around each other, and I realized and said to her, you’re right – this is what really matters.

    Can you let go of what you didn’t get done? Of any unforgiving spirit? Can you be a vessel of love and grace?

    The day my daugher and I went shopping, I was reflecting as I drove, that my showing love for the people in my family doesn’t depend all on one day out of the whole year; it’s not all dependent on what’s inside a wrapped package or a gift bag. I honestly hope that someone won’t feel unloved if I give a gift that somehow disappoints.
    The only way I know how to repent of an unforgiving spirit is to look more deeply at the gospel and to see the sinner that I am, and His response to me. I am worse than I ever dare to think, yet more deeply loved than I could ever imagine. What Dee said last week, about her comment to a friend – I resonate with that. There is evil and at times malice in my own heart. I can’t be a vessel of love and grace without repenting and then allowing myself to be filled up with His love and grace so I have some to share with others.

    1. Susan–OH–this made me smile and so so ministered to me “A few days ago, my daughter and I were getting ready to head out to finish some shopping. I was stressed…she came up to me and hugged me tight and wouldn’t let go – she said something like “Mom – come on…what you need is some mother-daughter love right now – nothing else!” We just stood in the kitchen a few moments with our arms around each other, and I realized and said to her, you’re right – this is what really matters.” LOVE how He loves you through your daughter–I see her as His vessel reminding you just how incredible special and “love-able” you are! I’m so thankful for this!

    2. Susan oh so good and a good reminder that love is to be shown all year long.

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

    All of it, but mostly the wonder of Him-His vast eternal plan-the Angels gaze into the Gospel every day-over and over and He has opened my eyes to cling to the Gospel-to see it when I get into His word-the wonder is growing-I want to ponder more. 🙂

    2. Have you been reflecting on the meaning of Christmas? If so, share one pondering here.

    Sacrifice. That He became poor so He could rescue us because He wanted us. The creator became created, He is royalty yet He became poor. He is Holy-how much more horrific His suffering.

    Are you ready to greet family and friends with grace and love? How might you be ready to do so?

    To serve them-sacrifice.

    Satan really tried to do a number on me with that experience working in that awful kitchen-for I saw that deception and denial is worse than I thought it was in this world-satan really is the father of lies and has so deceived. At our family gathering among some unbelievers who are atheists at first I wrestled to obey His prompting to love thinking it won’t matter for this world is so deceived they won’t see Him and they don’t want Him, they don’t care-i don’t want to throw my pearls to swine-In that moment I stopped clinging-I forgot His power on the cross..So despite me He compelled me to love-while they didn’t have an interest in coming to me, I went to them, but it wasn’t me-if it were up to me I would have stayed in my comfort zone among believers.

    Can you let go of what you didn’t get done? Of any unforgiving spirit? Can you be a vessel of love and grace?

    Yes, I am starting to-I was disappointed that we planned our first year this year to get lights up but it didn’t happen. I have let that go. 🙂

    1. Wow Rebecca, I love your example of “He compelled me to love-while they didn’t have an interest in coming to me, I went to them, but it wasn’t me…”

      1. Oh Susan, I think I am realizing this year how much of a mess I really am and how I need to cling to Him. The more and more I gaze into the Gospel…oh.. For some reason Eunice in Aslan is pounding me hard this past week-the laying down-the laying down..:) I am learning/experiencing what it really means to take up my cross and follow Him.

        1. I continually see that in you, Rebecca.

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

    Ok, I am about to reveal my stupidity…..I suppose if is really just ignorance though. I don’t understand the genealogy you speak of in this posting! Where can I go in the Bible to learn? I’m pretty sure this is an important idea that I should know before I “meet my maker.” what is the “Jesse tree?” (although I am pretty sure I have danced scripture from Isaiah that talks about a “root coming out of Jesse.” This post bothers me for some reason. What is the deportation of Babylon? I am lost! Help! I need to understand 🙂

  17. Have you been reflecting on the meaning of Christmas? If so, share one pondering here.

    This season I began learning hymns by heart to sing to my mom when I went to visit her. i started with “blessed assurance” and then went to christmas carols. “Good Christian Men Rejoice” was first and then Dee posted the carol “I Heard the Bells on Christmas Day!” so weird. Then I got a book from one of the little girls who danced with us last week in our cantata (Angels We Have Heard on High). The book was on the history of certain carols! WOW! My season has been truly meaningful because I have studied the lyrics to these songs. Praise God!

    I am leaving on Christmas day to drive to Atlanta to see mom. Please pray for my safe travels. The weather is going to be questionable, I will be alone (15.5 hour drive straight through). It is really a 20 hour drive, but I am staying overnight in NJ with my sister in law. I don’t want to lose time by staying over 2 nights because I have to be back by next Wed for work. I am a good driver and I love to do so. I just need decent weather. Mom was moved last Friday to thr town where my brother lives. This is better for them, but once again we are dealing with medical professionals knowing her unique issues. I haven’t really heard a report other than high glucose. This is a heavy duty PT rehab. Hopefully mom will be able to walk when she is discharged. Continue prayers for her well being. Thanks!

    Merry (almost) Christmas!!!!

    1. Praying for safe travel Laura-dancer and blessed time with The Lord during the long hours of driving.

    2. Praying for your traveling and your visit. Merry Christmas!

    3. Absolutely…continued prayers for your Mom and prayers for your safe travels…take care, Laura.

    4. Praying Laura for your traveling mercies and for your time with your mom…praying for your mom’s health too

  18. 1. What stands out to you from the above and why? The number of Jesus and perfection is very interesting and definitely something to ponder. What you said, Dee, about looking up when we are suffering was very helpful to me. They are beautiful thoughts and words.

    2. Have you been reflecting on the meaning of Christmas? If so, share one pondering here. The Lord has impressed me this year with the fact that He came in the dark. Signs of His coming were seen in the night sky by the wise men. God spoke to the shepherds at night. That has been significant to me because it accentuates our need. There was need everywhere, oppression by the harsh Roman Empire, poverty, corruption in the synagogues but our real need was reunion with God. That required payment for our sin. Though the sun shone during the day, we were in the dark, separate from God. Baby Jesus broke into our darkness with the brilliant light of His presence and the hope of what He would do for us. In this, He met our true need.

    This fall God has been working deeply in my heart revealing unforgiveness that I was glossing over, not looking at. I am amazed as I realize how He has prepared me for Christmas this year. I know that His purpose has been much greater than giving me a nice Christmas but how He has deepened my experience of Him this year. The candles have spoken deeply to me. The repentance is where I spent the entire fall. Then the pink candle…the Lord and I have a thing about pink. He often speaks to me in this color and it has come to be a visual reminder of His presence with me. When we lit the pink candle in church they said that it represents joy. I’m sure that I knew that but this time it brought me to tears. Then yesterday we lit the hope candle and my heart is so full! I think that for the first time in my life I can honestly say that there is nothing I want more than Him. Like Abraham I still have deep unchanging heart desires, but they are “in Him”. I understand that He gave me those desires and He will provide for them.

    1. Love this. So insightful, Anne. He came in the dark.

      ‘There was need everywhere, oppression by the harsh Roman Empire, poverty, corruption in the synagogues but our real need was reunion with God. That required payment for our sin. Though the sun shone during the day, we were in the dark, separate from God. Baby Jesus broke into our darkness with the brilliant light of His presence and the hope of what He would do for us. In this, He met our true need.’

    2. Anne, reading last weeks comments, I forgot to congratulate you on Al’s engagement! That was all in God’s timing wasn’t it?! How wonderful…Congratulations!!

      1. How I miss all of you! I miss keeping up with comments, with what God is doing in each of your hearts and what is happening in your lives. Dee, you mentioned the community being built here. What a beautiful thing! Though I am not a very active part right now, I still feel a part. Thanks to all of you for that.

        Joyce, it was in God’s timing and very wonderful. I see something of their hearts in that they are feeling the need to be married. Many men would be happy to go on as things are, but he is not. I am very proud of him.

        We have a new desktop and now I can see all of your faces. Love that!

        1. Anne,
          You will always be a part of our community here! I love when you do come on and post.

        2. I am rejoicing to know how God is working in your life Anne!

  19. Are you ready to greet family and friends with grace and love? How might you be ready to do so?

    Yes, I am ready, by holding my sinful tongue!

    Can you let go of what you didn’t get done? Of any unforgiving spirit? Can you be a vessel of love and grace?

    Yes and no. My house is still dirty, there are several gifts that didn’t come through, and some of my clan is sick. I can let go but can they? I don’t think Sarah will understand if she doesn’t get lots of presents. She is stuck in her young mind. We will go to some friends house today for dinner. Hopefully she will sense the joy of friendship there. When I get to mom and my brothers house I will also need to be calm. These people are exhausted caring for our mother. I hope I can give them some peace and rest.

    1. Laura,
      I’ll be praying for you to have a safe drive to Atlanta – I hope your visit with your mom is a good one.

  20. I think I took the idea of letting some things go a bit too literally. I found myself still shopping yesterday, I never shop last minute. Nothing is wrapped, no cookies baked, we are to be at my mother in laws at 2 & I don’t know what I am taking! I didn’t even know what I was serving on Christmas Day until yesterday. Bill has a bad cold, and so will not be much assistance, my lymph nodes are huge, but so far I am okay.
    I am better prepared in my heart than perhaps ever before.
    I am going to try to bless others, I am going to fight my negative assumption tendencies!
    Love to you all!

    1. Oh Chris…you and I both need Marcia Ramsland’s book for next Christmas!
      I was picking up last minute things yesterday, too….praying for you that all will come together; I always depend on the fact that my own family can be forgiving!

      1. Yes, they are forgiving, the Martha stuff doesn’t matter nearly as much as we imagine!

  21. I just read this from Nancie Guthrie,
    “Our great hope is not just going to heaven when we die, though that is so wondrously good. But God has much grander plans. Our great hope is that Christ will come again, not as a helpless baby in a manger, but as a magnificent king on a throne—a king who will be close enough, and gentle enough, to wipe every tear from our eyes. He will personally put an end to everything that has brought his people pain. He will “raise the sons of earth” by transforming “our lowly body to be like his glorious body” (Phil. 3:21) to live with him forever on a gloriously renewed earth.”
    the whole post I thought worth sharing: http://thegospelcoalition.org/blogs/tgc/2012/12/24/born-to-raise-the-sons-of-earth/?comments#comments

    Merry Christmas (eve) dear friends!

    1. This by Nancy Guthrie is really good. Hope to read the rest later.

    2. I am really looking forward to that bodily transformation!

  22. A quick update on my mom. I was misinformed, I thought she had her bone scan today, but it is actually Friday morning. The test she had today was an ultrasound to see if there were any blood clots…and her Doctor called us to let us know that part was clear and fine (THANK YOU Lord). She is still in a lot of pain and is worried about Friday, but right now she is resting so, so far so good.

    Thank you all for praying for my mom, dad and family, I truly appreciate it.

    If I do not get a chance to pop back on…I wish each and every one of you a very blessed Christmas, that you will have peace and rest and to feel His presence in the midst of all.


    1. Thanks for the update, Mary…great news that your Mom doesn’t have any blood clots…hopefully her pain can continue to be controlled so she can rest. I will continue to pray for your Mom’s health/healing, your dad and the rest of the family. Christmas blessings to you!

    2. Praying Mary for your mom and dad and all your family.

    3. Will be praying for all of you Mary. Merry Christmas.

  23. Christmas Eve service was beautiful!
    I was pondering the words from Oh Come All Ye Faithful, joyful and triumphant, we are triumphant, even when we aren’t really feeling it, the victory has been won.

    Glad for the update on your mom Mary, will keep praying for her, Laura’s mom, and little Jay.

    Our pastors mom was at the service tonight visiting from California, last Christmas He was with her as she had surgery & chemo for breast cancer, she is well now, what a difference a year can make.

    1. I felt bad when I realized I had neglected to mention prayers for Julie’s grand baby and Daughter in Law they have been on my heart too

    2. Thank you for your continued prayers, Chris…glad you enjoyed a lovely Christmas eve service; good to hear of your pastor’s mom successful cancer treatment.

  24. Just wanted to pop in and say merry Christmas to you all! Hoping to rejoin in January Lord willing! Life is crazy but God is good!

  25. Merry Christmas Everyone! May the Lord bless you and yours!

    1. Joyce–was just missing you–so glad to see you this morning–Merry Christmas!!

    2. Merry Christmas, Joyce…blessings to you and yours as well!

    1. Merry Christmas, Dee!

      Yes crazy, but you are soooooooo blessed-I agree. 🙂

      Have a worshipful, wonderful day!

      Much love

    2. oh what a precious picture, Dee!
      Merry Christmas dear friends! So very thankful for each of you and the fellowship we share

      1. Merry Christmas, Elizabeth…enjoy a lovely Christmas day!

    3. I hope you enjoyed your picnic…you gave your grandchildren a special memory…what a gift…:)

      Thank you Dee for your work…merry Christmas!

    4. Merry Christmas
      Yes it does sound crazy but blessed. Enjoy your family today I am sure it will be full of smiles and laughter.

    5. Merry Christmas Dee. Have a wonderful blessed day and have fun on your picnic!

    6. I am glad to know you are surrounded by family and grandchildren Dee!
      May wonderful memories be made!

    7. Merry Christmas, a day late! Have cooked 4 meals for 10 or more in the last four days!! Blessed to be surrounded by family, thankful for the resources both financial and physical that I am able to host my loved ones so we can support one another, enjoy our faith together, and build memories for the next generation. Dee, I have always tried to put the kids at the main table (had 3 kids, spouses and 5 grandchildren plus others here) because someone once talked about they hated being sent to the “kids table” and being left out. I have always managed to get everyone to the main table…but the numbers won out and I had a “kids table”….the kids thought it was wonderful, all happy as could be. “Hmmmmm..what message is that?”

  26. The boys are still asleep.. 🙂 Merry Christmas everyone!

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

    “The boy that you delivered will deliver you.” and that ‘you touched the face of God’.

    God didn’t choose someone who the world deemed worthy to have the privilege to bear His Son and be his earthly mother-He chose to dwell in Mary’s womb-a peasant girl who really had nothing of significance to offer Him. When the Angel told her God favored her she said-Why me? I have nothing good in myself to offer God. Why would He choose me? She was humble-and I can’t help but think that is why He chose her yet I believe His Favor wasn’t merited by even her humility-and her heart was soft because He softened it. It was because of His Grace and His Grace alone that He favored her. She was fallen like everyone else and needed to be redeemed.

    5. For what are you thankful this Christmas day?

    That He loved us so much that He became poor so He could have us. This still amazes me for we have nothing to offer Him-we are wretched-yet He came.

    1. I am glad you had a chance to begin your Christmas Day this way Rebecca

  27. 4. What stood out to you from the above video and why?
    Our incomprehension…we/I am so prone to try to put my Lord in a box with my need to understand, to comprehend, etc. There is NO comprehending Jesus; His love, power, truth, mercy, knowing, timelessness, etc. are beyond human comprehension… Thank You, Lord, that You don’t give us/me only that which we can comprehend…You bless us beyond what we can imagine or dream…much thanks and praise!

    5. For what are you thankful this Christmas day?
    Oh, SO much to be thankful for…first and foremost, my Savior; Jesus giving up his divinity to be in fleshed…to redeem me from my sinfulness with the promise of eternal life in heaven. I am thankful for the health and wellness of my immediate family; I am thankful for living in a country of freedom; I am thankful for love…love of spouse, children, parents, siblings, family, and friends; I am thankful for food to eat and the ability to taste it; I am thankful for the beauty that surrounds me…Christmas tree decorated and lit, candles glowing, smiling faces, snow covered trees, cardinals against the backdrop of white, etc….my ability and awareness to see; I am thankful for reliable vehicles that allow our family to gather in a central location; I am thankful for financial resources that provide for my husband and I…employment that we both find enjoyable; I am thankful for ears to hear conversation with my parents who are many states away, music and podcasts that bring joy to my spirit, loving words of family, etc; I am thankful that I can feel the touch of my husband’s kiss, my daughters’ hugs, snowflakes on my face, my dogs’ soft fur and wet nose, etc. I could go on and on…I am SO VERY grateful. I would be remiss if I didn’t give thanks for all of you…your sharing and encouragement…and to Dee for participating and providing this bible study blog…and to the Lord for drawing me to it and all of you. Christmas blessings to you all…God’s blessings!

    1. Your blessing list was a blessing to me Nanci!

    2. Nanci, loved all of this post-your thankful heart-we just love you and may I say that we are thankful for you-thankful He brought you here. 🙂

  28. What stands out to you from the above and why?
    Jesus came in the darkness to bring light. He was born into a very dark time, not a peaceful time in history. This moved me when I stopped to think about his birth and how he came to spread His light in this very dark world, even my own heart.
    2. Are you ready “in your heart for Christmas?”
    We want Christmas to be magical, filled with surprises and happy memories, but God wants us to bring the gift of Himself to others in whatever form He lays on our hearts, a card, a hug, a kind word, offering of forgiveness…

    I am getting ready to greet family with grace and love. Thank you, Dee for helping us get prepared for this. God has already been working there!

    I can let go today the things I did not get done. My family doesn’t care anyway! Also I give to Him my unforgiving spirit toward hurts done to me even this week. As I have been forgiven, so must I be gracious and forgive those around me.

    Merry Christmas, everyone!!

    1. Barb,
      I really liked your answer to #2, about bringing the gift of Himself to others in so many ways you listed!

  29. Merry Christmas to all you wonderful ladies and your families. May the true meaning if Christmas be in the forefront of our minds.

    Just an update on the baby, yesterday morning was another ultra sound and he scored all the points he needed. So far no early inducing. Allie my daughter-in-law has her regular appointment tomorrow so they will check her again. Thank you all for the prayers. God is so good and definitely hears our cries.

    1. Glad to hear this good report, Julie!

    2. I am glad to hear this!

    3. Great news…thanks for the update. I’m glad that Allie will be going in again today…confirmation that all is well will be comforting.

  30. 4. What stood out to you from the above video and why? – WOW the whole video just made me want to know Him more. I can imagine the feeling of doubt Mary had thinking she wasn’t good enough to carry and mother the most wonderful child n the world. The child who would grow up to be the most high priest. The one who could do and create all things. But yet be the one who is put to death for the sins of the world he created. I can see some of the faces in the video staring in amazement and seeing the miracles that he did right n front of their eyes but yet still doubt His power to rule and reign over all.

    5. For what are you thankful this Christmas day? – I’m thankful for the relationship with Jesus that I’m freely able to have. I’m thankful for my family and friends and for all of the ladies on this blog and for Dee to take the time to lead us each day. For our new grand baby to be that passed all of his tests yesterday so he can continue to nourish in his mommies womb before having to come out into this world. I’m thankful for the freedom I’ve been giving by those who serve in our military including my son and all the other men and women who risk their lives for us. And I’m thankful for this bible blog where I’ve “met” so many wonderful women who love unconditionally and help me grow closer to The Lord.

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

    The part of the video that showed a small child. The bible mentions the Lord’s birth and then He was 12 and then He was 30. The times in between are not mentioned. When I saw the small child, it reminded me that yes the Lord would have been a small child, He would have learned how to walk, Joseph and Mary would have held his hands as the Lord struggled to stand. They would have watched as the Lord ran around laughing and playing as a toddler. He would have stood on a chair watching Joseph at his work bench building a piece of furniture, perhaps Joseph would have been teaching the Lord what tool to use and getting Him to pass it to him. There are many parts of the earthly life of Jesus that are not mentioned and were probably very normal every day life to a poor carpenter’s family. Perhaps he even had a picnic with grandma too.

    5. For what are you thankful this Christmas day?

    So I live in the Canadian prairies and today it is minus 23, with a windchill of minus 30…and my very first thought of what I am thankful for today is that I am very thankful for a roof over my head and that the sun is shinning and reflecting so brightly over the snow and that I can observe the beauty from inside. After that, I am thankful for some quiet time before the day begins, that my siblings and most of my nephews will all arrive at my parents home later where we will all bring dinner and celebrate as a family. I am thankful that my daughter has been home for a few weeks. I am thankful that I get to spend time with my son and daughter as our little family before she heads back on Friday. I am thankful for this blog and the ladies who share their hopes, dreams and sorrow with each other even though we span a great physical distance, I feel a proximity to each of you. I am thankful to Dee for writing a book that God used to show me somethings about myself that I hadn’t contemplated before, horrified by my own dark spots and start to heal and continue to grow by. I am thankful that even though I fail in many areas, that my Lord has not given up on me, that He continues to walk with me, guide me and even at times, haul me off a dangerous direction and change my direction back the way He wants me to go.

    I wish to thank each of you for praying for my mother, even though you may not specifically say that you are, I do know that when I see a post I will quite often pray for that person or their circumstance, even though I may not post that prayer and I know that others do the same. My prayer for each of you today is that there will be some circumstance, some event, something that will occur where you will noticeably feel the warmth, presence and blessing of our Lord today.

    1. I love that you know we are praying even when we don’t always post about it, I can relate to so much of what you said, Blessings to you Mary!

  32. Dee asked us to contemplate the night sky on Christmas Eve. I have been happy to see and ponder the Morning Star for the last two days. I love it that Jesus is called the Bright and Morning Star. It is a sign of hope to me as I rise early to pray.

    I also want to point out that Ann Voskamp talked about the stars on her blog this week. It is a helpful reflection about the vastness of the universe and God’s tender care to enter our hopelessness.


  33. 4. What stood out to you from the above video and why? This song is a wonder to me, so many things to ponder in it. Mary was so young and Jesus was her first child. There is an element of her experience that happens to all mothers. Our babies gradually move from helpless infants to people in their own right. It is a mix of wonderful and heartbreak. So having a small portion of her experience gives me so much more to think about. I do think that most of it was out of the box, not what she expected.
    The video is great and gives so much to ponder but the part I loved the most was at the end when Jesus, with a playful smile, beckoned us to follow Him. Will it be easy? No, but there will be wonder if we look for it.

    1. Anne, I so appreciate your perspective here. I love that you have pointed out the last picture in the video about Jesus motioning us to follow Him.

    2. This came to mind when I read your post Anne:

      Bilbo: ”Can you promise that I will come back?”.
      Gandalf: ”No. And if you do, you will not be the same”.

      Our pastor drew heavily from the Hobbit in his Christmas Eve message. He likened us to Bilbo, reluctant to go on an adventure that God has for us because we are bound up in worry about broken dishes, empty pantries and loss of comfort.

  34. What stood out to you from the above video and why?
    The actor portrayed the love of Christ well I thought. I cried thinking of the leper, of Jesus touching the untouchable, of Gods desire that things be made right, restored.
I thought of the humility of Christ, the creator living in a human body with all the unpleasant things that includes. I have thought of the verse at the end of chapter 2 in Luke after they had to come back to Jerusalem to find 12 year old Jesus in the temple that he went home with his parents and was obedient to them. Such humility, God very God being obedient to flawed sinful parents.
    Of his great love for us, and the TK sermon were he said the ‘joy set before him’ was us.

    1. Jesus touching the untouchable. Love that Chris

  35. For what are you thankful this Christmas day?
    I am thankful for my husband, so grateful that the hard things we have been through have made him better and not bitter, so thankful that God has kept us together through infidelity and loss.
I felt crummy yesterday and while our Christmas Day was no where near as big a job as it has been in years past, we had 12 people for dinner and there were things to get done. I was feeling crabby and he was so good to me I felt ashamed. Then when I opened my gifts! He was really thoughtful this year.
I also feel thankful for Gods promises, for hope, that He promises to complete the good works he has begun.
I long to see my boys (who have each professed faith in the past) walking closely with God, they are not, but I feel more relaxed about it, like God is telling me just to pray for and love on them….God has ‘got this’

      1. What you said here makes me want to alter my answer below-I see this growing in Mary-a growing confidence in God through Him coming to her in the middle of struggles. At first she was troubled by what the Angels said, but as time went on she grew in her confidence of Him and rested more in Him. Hmmmm…something to ponder-I haven’t seen this before.

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

    A. Luke 1:29

    Mary was troubled at the Angel’s words-that she was highly favored and the Lord was with her, and she was trying to discern what this greeting might be. Yet even though this was scary she was humble and loved God-she listened and pondered over what God was saying to her through them.

    B. Luke 2:19

    After she gave birth under those harsh conditions-the Shepherds came to see Jesus after their encounter with the Angels-apparently they told Mary and she treasured it and pondered it in her heart.

    C. Luke 2:51

    Jesus was missing for three days and she and Joseph must have been traumatized as parents not knowing what had happened. Then they found him in the Temple listening to the teachers and asking questions-and He reminded them again of who He was and She treasured that and all the things that she saw in Jesus in her heart.

    7. What pattern do you see?

    Mary’s life was anything but easy and I think through the hard times He came to her and she didn’t back away. Even though she didn’t understand and there was a struggle with suffering she rested in Him-His Grace-His favor, and treasured and pondered over Him and in everything He was doing.

  37. I HOPE EVERYONE HAD A WONDERFUL CHRISTMAS YESTERDAY – I meant to get on and say Merry Christmas but I didn’t have the chance!

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

    I know it’s just an actor portraying Jesus, but there’s such a longing to really see Him that I often am moved by these movies. I like imagining him smiling with joy at a person that He has just healed. I have to ask myself, how often do I imagine God smiling at me? I don’t think He walked around with a halo shining around His head and His hands folded – I like to picture Him laughing with His disciples and having light-hearted moments.

    5. For what are you thankful this Christmas Day?

    I am thankful for Jesus loving me despite myself and despite all the ways I fail Him.
    I am thankful to have my two sons home from college, and along with my daughter, my husband and I have a ‘full house’ for awhile. I am thankful for good health, for good food, for another Christmas day at my mom and dad’s home, for my mom and dad still being here and in relatively good health. I am really thankful that my children have both sets of grandparents – they are blessed by that so much. We spend Christmas Eve with my husband’s family, and Christmas Day with my side. I am always thankful for opportunities for all of us to be together at one time.
    I am thankful for Dee and everyone here – for the friendship and the special bond we share here even though we don’t “see” each other, we “see” each other’s hearts. It is a safe place to come to and share.

  38. What pattern do you see?
    Reflection, pondering, an internal dwelling on the things of God

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

    Was there a way God came to you?

I think I posted this already but when we sang Oh Come All Ye Faithful at our Christmas Eve service, the words joyful and triumphant leapt out to me. We are triumphant, in spite of the monstrously hard things in this life if we have been called by Christ we are triumphant, the battle has been won for us, we are on our way home to the victory feast.

    God has been giving me a vision of Daniel in heaven, he looks so incredibly well, his hair (he struggled so with his curly hair) looks amazing, he looks so healthy and relaxed and in good humor. When I feel intensely sad, this image comes alongside the hurt and encourages me

    1. Oh Chris, this vision of Daniel is beautiful-

    2. Chris that thrills me so that God has given you this beautiful image of Daniel in heaven. We will all have that heavenly glow and happiness one day:)

      1. Thanks Rebecca & Joyce, I seem better able to allow the pain to come having this image of him at the same time. I am feeling some hurts and having some memories I couldn’t seem to allow to surface till now. It is gentle the way God is dealing with me

  39. 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?

    Yes..our Christmas Eve and Christmas day was difficult in some ways-but it reflected the reality of struggling and the cross-joy in the sorrow. The joy was how He came to me. 🙂

    One thing that laid heavy on my heart is the issue with our church, but He came and I am trusting. I know it is him because it was the opposite of what we would think we should do. Usually if you are unable to serve or serve fully in the areas he has gifted you then you should prayerfully look for another church home. He reminded me that I haven’t tried to work it out with the church yet-if the doors still aren’t open to serve and graft in with the body then yes we need to look at a different church home but for now we will try to work it out while we are still living here in Kansas-there is still a possibility we will move to Missouri if my husband gets this transfer-but that might not be for a few more years.

    My concern was that since I only sing on the worship team once a month and may not be able to serve on the women’s ministry team-how can I graft into the body and be involved in others’ lives-(God is growing in me the desire to graft in with ministering to women-I have a burden and I am THRILLED since we have the DVD’s of Idol Lies now that I can lead it in my home in 2013 and get to see Him move in hearts again! ) At my church I may not be able to lead the studies He wants me to facilitate-the ones with the shocking metaphors in them. 😉 I had a meeting last year with the one in charge of approving studies and we respectfully disagreed with one another in regard to the shocking metaphors..She told me when she got to the shocking metaphor in Ann Voskamps book she stopped reading, shut it and would never recommend it. That is okay-no hard feelings-she is a godly woman but my struggle is that I think these metaphors are important and I don’t want to be stopped from facilitating the ones he is leading me to facilitate. We will see what He does.

    First things first-I emailed our worship team/high school pastor and hope to meet with him soon or receive a response soon.

    So this is how God came-He wants me to stay, try to work it out and trust Him. I believe if it doesn’t work out we will know where He wants us to go.

    For me the hard things I need to trust Him with are:

    1. what when and where to graft into the body at church and my attitude inside of trust-do I really believe He is all powerful and can move and change the hearts of men. 🙂 🙂

    2. it looks more and more like my husband may get the transfer to Missouri-might even be next year that he gets it or it could be three years from now-only God knows-so we would have to put our home on the market as soon as he gets transferred-houses usually take 2-3 years to sell here in our neighborhood. He would be driving back and forth for a while. I am willing to give it all up though-I sense Him moving in our life and I want to be free to say yes to Him, to minister to others and go where he tells us to go.

    3. With my oldest two sons-their walk with God-I don’t see where they desire Him yet..That is okay-He is in control but it is my deepest desire/prayer for them.

    1. Thank you for your honest sharing, Rebecca…your “trust–do I really believe He is all powerful and can move and change the hearts of men.” hit me. My husband and I went through a church struggle a few years back of which we were personally involved and therefore ever the more hurt and reluctant to trust again. We were attending a church of the same denomination in a different location as “associate” members the past few years, but a lack of trust in the synod leadership and in finding some pastoral/church council “building” desires and efforts to move the congregation to those thoughts rather disconcerting, we have ended our association. SO, your “trust” question really got to the heart of this struggle…DO I trust that God will direct us where we should go…DO I trust that God will guide our involvement?

      Regarding Ann Voskamp’s book…”One Thousand Gifts” was one of several books I borrowed to my Mom to read for the winter months…it is one of my most favorite (life altering) books and I was SO excited for my Mom to read it…anyway, to my great disappointment, when I asked her if she had read it, she said that she had read some of it, but didn’t “get it” and had stopped. In the “Intimacy with God” study portion of this week’s study, it is noted that Ann uses a literary device of metaphors…I love the metaphors; they drive the points home to my heart, but I think that for others, like my Mom, the metaphors can be confusing. I really have to concentrate reading C.S. Lewis and Os Guinness…perhaps it is a similar situation for my Mom and some others with Ann Voskamp.

      1. Hey sweet Nanci! It sounds like you and your husband did trust God in that-I don’t know the details of the issue-but I do think there are times when it is obvious we need to leave. 🙂 I found an article on the Gospel Coalition about ‘reasons why to leave or stay at a church’-God used that to direct me in my decision to try to work it out. It wasn’t an exhaustive list but it was helpful. What does synod leadership mean? Just curious- I haven’t heard that before. 🙂

        I agree with you-with some the Metaphors can be confusing..I do love the simple way Dee takes the time to explain them in Idol Lies-it makes it easier for those who may not get it. Yes..good point I have to slow down to read A.W. Tozer’s books and some of C.S. Lewis’..i think his book The Problem With Pain and Mere Christianity were the two I had to slow down to read-of course i read them both over 15 years ago. 🙂

        1. Hi Rebecca…oh how I wish that we could have worked it out; our church struggle literally split the ministry team and congregation…in hind sight I see SO much spiritual warfare involved and a fair amount of fear and apathy as well.
          “synod leadership” refers to regions (synods) led by a bishop…this particular synod spans six or seven counties. I worked for nearly 9 years as office manager for the two-point parish of which our church was one of the points; I saw first hand the politics and deception that can and do occur at both the church and synod level…it was disheartening. I remember commenting to the pastor how political a situation had become; I was told that the church has always been political and I was just becoming aware of it. Books I have found helpful… “Subtle Power of Spiritual Abuse, The: Recognizing and Escaping Spiritual Manipulation and False Spiritual Authority Within the Church,” and most recently, Healing Your Church Hurt: What To Do When You Still Love God But Have Been Wounded by His People. I try to reconcile in my mind that no church is perfect because the human component is fraught with flaws, yet I still hope for more than politics, manipulation, and spin. My Mom says that the closer, more involved one becomes in a church, the more one sees the shortcomings… I’m not sure where the Lord will lead my husband and I to worship, but I have confidence that He will renew my trust in His bride; trust will come by the grace of God.

        2. Wow Nanci, I think God rescued you from that church by having you leave-but I know it is so sad!

          Those books sound really good. I so relate to that pull..you know you are flawed and the body is flawed-but there are good reasons to leave a church and based on what you said your reasons are good.

    2. Praying all good thoughts for you and your family, Rebecca!

      1. Joyce, you are a gem..I so appreciate you-I saw a picture of Kendra on your f.b. with Elvis-was that Kendra? How cool-I am sure she so enjoyed that! You are such a wonderful mom!

        1. Yes, it’s Kendra. This Elvis impersonator knows her from being at his shows. I wish she could get as excited for Christ as she does for Elvis or Santa or family member’s she loves. In her childlike mind she has trouble identifing with someone she can not see or touch.

    So sorry I have not commented for some time now, I’ve had an issue with severe low back pain and especially left leg sciatic pain that has made it difficult to sit and be at my computer for very long. I’ve kept up with the reading and praying for all concerns expressed. This website and Bible Study is a blessing for me and I’ve been very thankful this season.
    I’ve been pondering the words to the song that was included and it has really been resounding in my heart “Mary when you touched the baby’s face did you know you touched the face of God?’ amazing to think about, especially when Moses was only allowed to see the back side of God as He passed by.
    And yes I’ve let go of things this Christmas, my house is still not as clean as I would like, but with both my husband and I experiencing back pain this past fall, I’m thankful we could still do our extra jobs of lunch hour supervisors at two local schools to help with our financies. And I’ve worked thru some forgiveness issues again- its amazing again when our Lord meets with us when we humble ourselves and pray and truly seek His face, I’ve experienced truly the Peace of God this Christmas season.
    And our son traveled safely home to be with us, so we are thankful and its in God’s hands about his girlfriend and their life together. sincerely Phyllis.

    1. Loved hearing from you Phyllis and praying for you and your husband’s back pain. So thankful your son could be with you for Christmas.

  41. I have gotten caught up reading all the posts….as a “newbie” I still struggle keeping everyone straight. Dee’s gift of this study, Chris’ testimony and the heart sharing posts have been a great blessing to me. It has been 45 years since our first son died and thirty years since our second son died. God has blessed us greatly. I have been very thankful that we were able to grow and not get stuck in making grief and loss our identity. I felt such validation in beautiful honest words that Chris said. When our first son died of SIDS at the age of 5 months, he was rarely mentioned again by others. With my mother it was like he never existed and he was her first grandchild. Our second son died after a long terminal illness so there was no avoiding the pain. She was a great help as we had daughters age 11 and 6. It was during the working through of that grief that she finally expressed the great pain she had felt those many years previously. I do not want to spend time dwelling on those tragedies it is not healthy, but to listen to Chris and hear her story of her terrible loss and grief was so validating and healing. Our Mighty God is doing a mighty thing in Chris.
    This study has helped me keep Christ uppermost in my mind as I have gone through this hectic season. I rejoice that for the next few days I can take time to pray and meditate on all that has been presented here. The cooking, the gifts, the traditions have been fulfilled for my family and community…the next few days will be quiet Sarah time. God’s blessing on you all.

    1. Sarah it is a blessing for me to know that grief and loss has not become you identity & that you feel greatly blessed. I have a vision of and a hope for heaven, but the here and now still seems sort of empty much of the time.
      Thank you

    2. Thank you for your post, Sarah. It is encouraging to read how your faith in Jesus has sustained you through much pain and sorrow, and I’m glad you found even more healing through Chris’ testimony. I agree – God is really using Chris in a mighty way.

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

    A. Luke 1:29 – Mary was troubled and wondering.

    B. Luke 2:19 – she treasured the things said to her and pondered them in her heart.

    C. Luke 2:51 – she treasured what Jesus said to her and Joseph

    7. What pattern do you see? – Mary took in everything that was said to her and did not jump to any conclusion but put them all in her heart and thought thru what each really meant. She didn’t jump into judging the actions of the angel, the shepherd or Jesus but thought hard about each incident. This reaction is something that I need to take away from Mary. I need to think things thru before speaking or acting out about them which more times than not gets me in trouble when I react first and think later.

  43. 5. I am thankful for my home and how God has been blessing it physically lately. i am thankful that my family was together and for how much My oldest looked forward to Christmas at home. The decorations were blessed as was all of our food.
    I am so thankful for God Himself, for His faithfulness and the fact that with Him all things are possible. While I have been very blessed in my older son recently, Joey and I seem to be shipwrecked. It is too much to go into here but the thing that concerns me most is that our relationship is not good. I don’t know what to do so mostly I just bring it to The Lord. That is what I am doing now and I am fanning the ember of hope in what He will do with my mess.

    7. It seems that Mary is becoming more contemplative and less reactionary.

    8a. I was very blessed in my older son who is home for Christmas. We had a good relationship until he hit his teens and now he is 27. I felt like we may finally be through all of that and so that was very special.
    Also there was a special time a few days before. I may have already mentioned this. Sorry if I repeat but I had just written in my journal that morning about The Lord coming to me in the color pink. Right away Joey and I hit a rough patch. When I went out the back door the sky was lit up with pink. I knew He was assuring me that He was right there. It is very good for me to remember that right now because we just hit another patch.

    B. I have one word for that-Joey.
    Just after I finished typing this he came to me to talk…

    1. Anne, Praying for you and Joey. So glad he came to you to talk:)

      1. I saw this in my email just as it posted, I was praying too

    2. Oh Anne…I love that you saw the Lord in the pink of the sky…beautiful reassurance.

      1. Yes Nanci. Then as I was reading Wonderstruck I learned what alpenglow is. I need to see that

    3. What a wonderful God to give you a sign to strengthen you!

  44. I am reading a new book called Wonderstruck. It is me/us! I am only in the third chapter and I love it. I had to share because it made me think of all of you.

      1. Dee, I wondered if you knew anything about her. I am glad you know of her.

    1. Thanks for recommending the book, Anne…I haven’t heard of Margaret Feinberg before…I just added “Wonderstruck” to my Amazon cart…:)

  45. Our dog Cosmo is sick.
    We noticed his lymph nodes were swollen yesterday morning, we took him to the vet today while we have to wait for lab results to be certain, it seems likely that he has lymphoma.
    He is only five, he is a good, smart, clean, little dog that loves our granddaughter and our cat, I don’t want to loose him yet.

    1. Praying for Cosmo, Chris. It is so hard to lose our loved pets…I hope he gets better, soon. My son is still missing his 1 year old Great Dane so bad, that just died one morning for no reason.

      1. Thank you Joyce, I thought of your son and his dog when we were at the vet.
        You are so kind

    2. Oh Chris…prayers for Cosmo right now…
      Please keep us updated.

    3. Praying Chris that all is ok for Cosmo and for The Lord to give you peace about this.

    4. Oh Chris, I am so sorry–praying he will be OK. Please update when you can

    5. Chris, I am praying for Cosmo too. I can really relate to your pain for him. So sorry.

      1. Thanks everyone, I feel that the vet was pretty certain that it is lymphoma. We are waiting test results, delayed because the lab wasn’t picking up the day the samples were drawn due to a snow storm, and perhaps further delayed due to the holidays.
        Un-treated most dogs will be gone within 8 weeks. With chemotherapy he could last 2 years, but there is no cure.
        We had a Great Dane who needed gastric torsion surgery years ago, she was only eleven months old when it happened. We spent more than $3000.00 and vowed never to go to those lengths again. We loved her but also had 5 teens at home & one in college at that time. Her surgery was successful, we had her till she was seven which is an average lifespan for a Dane.

        This has sort of taken the wrapping off the grief Bill and I walk around with all the time. We are so sad, Cosmo is a good friend to have, he fits perfectly in the crook of ones knee when laying on he couch. We will decide when we get lab results back what is to be done.

        1. So sorry for the new grief which strips bare the pain of your previous grief, Chris. Praying.

        2. We are lavishing our affection on him, which he is receiving with joy. It is a blessing to have time to prepare ourselves, and love him well now.
          I am grateful God sent Cosmo to us.

        3. Oh Chris…I will continue to pray that your vet’s impression is incorrect and that the test results show something different that is easily cured.

          I love your sentiment of gratitude for Cosmo’s presence in your life…I’m re-reading “One Thousand Gifts”, the part I was reading last evening talked about living in the moment…see all that is offered in the present; Ann says that this is the key to living fully and fully living. I see you doing this with your Cosmos…

        4. Oh Chris, I’m so sorry for all the pain you must be feeling but glad to see the joy he is brining to you at the same time. Will be praying for all of you.

  46. 7. What pattern do you see?

    It seems like Mary was a thoughtful person. She didn’t speak, she thought about the strange things that were happening to her.

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

    A. Was there a way God came to you?

    Christmas eve was tough. I cleaned, I cooked, we went to friends for dinner. I suppose it was a blessing to be with friends and eat good food. I wrapped gifts for several hours and my 22 year old got upset with us. He is still reeling from a break up. He can’t let her go and she doesn’t help the situation because she continues to talk to him. He had a melt down and wouldn’t listen to any of us. He is depressed and refuses to see anyone for this condition. We have been to many mental health “professionals” over the past 6 years to no avail. He is an “adult” and because of the ridiculous “hippa” law we suffer. A perfect example of too much regulation and then common sense is lost. My son needs help however i can’t insist on him getting it if he won’t help himself. I’m hoping he agrees to go to culinary school in the spring. Maybe this will distract him from this horrible girl. I pray he meets someone who can turn him back to a godly path.

    Christmas day was better. John seemed in a better mood. I talked to my mom and she was wanting to put a shirt on for Christmas. That was a bit encouraging. I drove to NJ which was uneventful. I suppose that was a good thing 🙂 Passed the sign for Newtown, Ct. and said a prayer for the town. I hear the entire police force was given the day off and substitutes from around the state filled in for them. What a blessing.

    I am traveling tonight. I had a rough go from Baltimore to Richmond. Traffic jam set me back 4 hours. I am tired but planning to continue on tonight. Will make my brothers around 2 am.

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

    See above.

    1. Praying your there safely, Laura

      1. I’m here. Loonnnngggg trip. Thanks to my sweet friend who talked to me for 2 hours around 11pm. Helped so much! My tired bones are enjoying the bed right now. Thanks Joyce!

        1. Glad you will be able to be with your mom Laura.

        2. I was praying for you, Laura – so glad you are there safely.

        3. glad to hear that you arrived safely, praying for your visit and your journey back home.

        4. Glad you made it there safely!

  47. I am amazed this morning it is Thursday…this week has been a whirlwind of celebrations,travels, being a houseguest and having house guests (I am much better at the having part and recognize I am more comfortable serving than being served).
    One comment/question on the geneology of Christ that always puzzled me is that the biological father is not Joseph so how can that be the lineage of Jesus. I didn’t understand why it was so important or so relevant- I am simple minded and can easily accept Christ is the son of God. I was frustrated when people would drone on and on about the lineage and it’s importance. I still do not fully comprehend because I view lineage as a hereditary -biological connection. Fortunately my husband who is not simple minded and is taking theology classes was able to explain to me the importance of the adoption process and how Joseph raised Jesus as his son. He was able to provide another example in the Bible that demonstrated that adoption. I just wanted to share how this was meaningful to me because I am celebrating today the ability to call out to my Father in heaven and I am fully his. Adopted in to the family with nothing seperating me from being his heir.

    1. I do not see you as simple minded my friend!

    2. Mercy Me has a song, “Joseph’s Lullaby”…love it…it speaks to me of the tenderness of Joseph for his son, Jesus…

      Go to sleep my son/This manger for your bed/You have a long road before you/Rest your little head/Can you feel the weight of your glory/Do you understand the price/Or does the Father guard your heart for now/So you can sleep tonight/Go to sleep my son/Go and chase your dreams/This world can wait for one more moment/Go and sleep in peace/I believe the glory of heaven/is lying in my arms tonight/But Lord I ask that He for just this moment/Simply be my child/Go to sleep my son/Baby close your eyes/Soon enough you’ll save the day/But for now dear child of mine/Oh my Jesus sleep tight.

    3. Becca, You are not simple minded at all! Now you have me thinking on this more…

    4. I do not think you are simple minded either…I had never thought of Jesus as being adopted before, we are the ones adopted, not Him. It never occurred to me before that Jesus had to be adopted by his earthly father. I had always viewed the adoption process as something from God to us, now there is this new thought that Jesus had to be adopted into an earthly family and we have to be adopted into the heavenly family. It’s like we are joined by adoption to one another in both directions, not just one. I will be thinking about this more too, thanks.

      1. I’ll join the simple view…never gave it much thought. I love the thought of adoption as I have adopted four children (one is in heaven) and those children are mine. There is a difference (had 2 bio kids, one in heaven)but no less value. For me it really brings home God’s love…I love each child with equal depth and that is the way God is with us….His Love for each of us is specifically for each of us and how he has gifted us, as well as the events of our lives that he is leading us through.

        For the question about Mary: I relate the feelings I have about the adoption process to Mary. Mary was experiencing motherhood in an unusual and awesome way…Her heart was filled with wonder and she kept that wonder deep within her. There was not logical explaination. I am Caucasian and we adopted an African-American child in 1972. This was a big shock to all…my husband and I knew that God was calling us to do this but others responded by thinking we were “irrational.” I refused to explain myself to anyone. He was a child, he needed a home, I was a mom and I wanted a child. But I did find myself not sharing a lot about it as I could not explain it rationally to the average person. Maybe Mary had that same feeling, God loved her so much to bestow this special “job/blessing” on her. When we live out our faith with abandon we will find ourselves unable to explain our choices. God’s way is NOT the world’s way. God’s calling on Mary was so special and beautiful that she held it close to her heart….sometimes words cannot explain one’s heart.

        1. All i can say to this cool story is WOW! you really struck a nerve with me (in a good way). I especially like the part about living out God’s plans. It really doesn’t matter what others think. Only our Lord. Amen.

          Regarding the “adoption” of Jesus….that idea NEVER occurred to me, EVER. such a weird thought. I just always thought of Joseph as Jesus’ dad. Kind of threw me for a loop!

        2. Oh – I love how one little thought typed out becomes an amazing collaboration of ideas that makes my brain and spirit stretch and grow. Thank you lovely ladies! I love the ideas shared on adoption and Oh Sarah- what an amazing woman you are – thank you for sharing your story of love overflowing! I perhaps should change my statement from simple minded to simple hearted. I seriously feel i am simplistic in my thinking in regards to spiritual ideas. I don’t need proof or deep theological debates to know God is exactly who the Bible says he is. I am unsure what this is due to; I suppose there can be many reasons. But I thank God for giving me the simplicity to believe as I do. Perhaps I haven’t been tested enough in my faith to doubt, but I remember a life changing moment when i was 33 and sitting alone sobbing after my first husband left me, I experienced a physical hug from our Father God. And it was the best hug ever. Although I knew God prior to this I never felt Him so real- so loving.
          My doctors tell me I more than likely experienced some brain changes due to a continuous release of Corticosteroid from experiencing “Fight or flight ” for many years. I have the other physical results of this chemical situation I wish would go away, but for the mental changes I can’t complain because I know it somehow makes my “thinking “when it comes to God- simpler. One report says that this “disorder” causes your brain to act more from habit than analytical processing. The funny “God” part of this is there does not seem to be any other areas where I notice a lack of “thinking “ skill. So if loving God is the habit I am stuck with- I am a very happy girl because God has blessed me with a simple mind!