Monday, December 28, 2015

Christmas Ponderings...of Babies, Mangers and More.

It's Christmas Eve morning, early morning that is, with a baby in swaddling clothes who doesn't sleep all that soundly. Her manger bed of comfy flannel, cuddly teddy, lulling aquarium doesn't seem to encourage as much rest as I require. And so, we lay on the couch by the glowing tree, rubbing the sleep from my eyes. She's all eyes at the twinkling lights and the glow of the tree reminds me of the very familiar nativity picture that we all know of. The one with the baby Jesus and his parents encompassed with glowing halos, the light shining around them. I imagine though, that was not the sight in the tiny stable, or cave as it may likely have been. The sight was probably not as elaborate as Christmas cards display. I imagine it to have been dark, a mix of pungent staleness and sweet smelling straw. Perhaps a a chill from the dampness of the animals yet an exuding warmth because of it's safety and shelter from the outside elements. Maybe there was a faint glow cast in by the moon and stars. Hardly a place to imagine a baby being born and yet a relief would've filled them to find a place to lay.The only experience I'm familiar with is that of a hospital room and professional help. What a wondrous fear and trust in the plan of God that it entailed for Joseph and Mary There are so many details to wonder about it all, many we can only imagine. I've heard the story all my life and as much as I can imagine all the details, this year, I took note of a simple fact in the story that held new interest for me.

I was reading in Luke and it stood out to me anew how it is mentioned twice that Jesus was wrapped in swaddling cloths. Luke 2:7 states 'And she gave birth to her firstborn son and wrapped him in swaddling cloths and laid him in a manger'.  Maybe it's because I have a baby with whom there's always a blanket carried along that this detail resounds with me this year. It's interesting that that the sign given to the shepherds to identify that the baby Jesus as Messiah was that "you will find a baby wrapped in swaddling cloths and lying in a manger."Luke 2:12. Those details are obviously so significant, especially from the mouths of angels; details orchestrated by God, and yet they seem so plain and ordinary. It would seem so much more spectacular if the sign would have been to find a baby with glowing halos surrounding the family. So then why are the simple swaddling cloths so significant?

I did a bit of research and it seems there are many ideas out there. Explanations of the cloths being the same as burial cloths signifying that the Christ baby was born to die for mankind. Or that it may have been significant to the shepherds because their custom was to take the firstborn lamb from their flock as the sin offering. They would wrap it in swaddling cloths and place it in a manger to keep it safe and without blemish until it was stronger to go to it's mother. Again a foreshadowing of Christ being the sacrificial lamb. Also that it was custom to wrap babies in strips of cloth to bind it tightly so as to keep the baby from injuring itself and it was believed that it help the baby to grow stronger limbs. It would have also been a source of comfort and warmth much as the same reason we still wrap our babies today. However in those days that absence of these cloths would have been a sign of poverty, generally the rich or royalty would have their babies wrapped. This would have been significant to the shepherds, because a baby wrapped in rich man's clothes and lying in a feed trough would have been an incredible irony and sign to them. The cloths signify the royalty of Jesus, coming from the Davidic line and that he was born in the city where David was born. The angels declared 'for unto you is born this day in the city of David, a Savior, who is Christ the Lord.'Luke 2:11. How odd and amazing it would have been for them to search for royal blood in a barn.
And then maybe the mention of swaddling cloths was maybe simply to affirm to the shepherds that they were looking for a BABY. That a baby wrapped in  humble clothes of the world was the Savior come to clothe the world in robes of righteousness. For all those willing to seek him and tell the news as the shepherds did.

As a mom there is an instinct within that when I hold a baby I want to wrap and hold it close. Although my physical circumstances are much more comfortable than Mary's would have been I can relate to the feeling she would have had in wrapping her baby. Even though I can hardly comprehend the awe she would have had in beholding her Holy child, there are so many details to the story that one can't help but be drawn in and feel as though we are all part of the narrative. God's intentions exactly. I love how it's Holy yet humble, angels from high to shepherds so low, the gift of Love come down wrapped up for us to receive.

Luke 2:19, such a poignant verse; But Mary treasured up all these things, pondering them in her heart. Isnt' that what we are to do each year at Christmas, why we keep celebrating? We eat, drink and be merry; we prepare for weeks and praise with song. Amidst all that, let's take time to ponder the Baby in our hearts, to rekindle the glow within ourselves. For that is where He really resides; born into the lowliness of ourselves and that His life may shine through us.

This Christmas may you be wrapped in the warmth and  light of His Love.

Again Jesus spoke to them, saying,
“I am the light of the world.
Whoever follows me will not walk in darkness,
but will have the light of life.” John 8:12


(It took me nearly five days to complete a post, hence the reason for the day started and the day I actually posted. Ponderings come in short spurts amidst the busyness of my household:)

Friday, October 16, 2015

Soul Spending

It's been so long that I feel like a stranger here, really not even sure where to begin. I suppose that waking up on Thanksgiving Monday, the fierce fall wind howling outside and a mutual acceptance with the early baby that the day has now commenced is good motivation. It might also be the fact that I have been kindly reminded in several ways this past weekend that early morning grumbling (or at any time) will not set the tone well for the day, the week, and most certainly not for my soul. So while the wind is shaking up the world outside, stripping the trees bare and shifting the season, I want to work on shaking off the stresses that have been dragging me down. Trying to shift into a season of more gratefulness, less whining and taking moments for that soul thing that inspires hope.

I know that one of the best ways for me to do that is taking time to think about what I'm grateful for and to write it out. I haven't been doing that for a long time, not even in my own personal notes. Sometimes it feels like 'me' has fallen by the wayside in the last couple years. I'm pouring a lot of me into my hubby, children, home, away from home activities; as is what moms do. It seems though that the soul part of me has become the area that I'm too tired to deal with or only when there are a few minutes to spare. The excuse is that it's so hard to find a block of time without fifty interruptions that why bother at all. Months ago I heard Lysa Terkeurst quote this on a Focus on the Family podcast:
"A woman who lives with the stress of an overwhelmed schedule
will often ache with the sadness of an underwhelmed soul.''

She suggests to be very intentional about finding a few hours a week to spend time doing that thing that makes your soul shine; that gift that God has given us that allows us to pour out and bless others with it. I know people in my life who do that wholeheartedly through their gifts of making food, public speaking/teaching, lending a helping hand, they bless others and are filled themselves.

I wouldn't go as far as to say that I'm a writer or even a blogger due to a lack of consistency, maybe even a lack of confidence. But I am woman with a lot of pent up thoughts and ponderings that pour out through my hands. I've had loved ones urge me to begin blogging again to help deal with the moments of motherhood that are so overwhelming. I struggle with feeling guilty in taking this time for me because maybe I should be waiting until the children are grown up, or I shouldn't sit while house is in upheaval, or maybe it's just selfish ambition. Yet I found grace for those thoughts this morning when I happened upon Wayne's bible open with a devotional he's preparing with the title Using Time Wisely. Interesting how it relates exactly to what I've been feeling.  He shares the verse in Psalm 90:12 Teach us to number our days, that we may gain a heart of wisdom. He sums up his devotional with the fact that our days are predetermined, we ought to live each day with eternal perspective and purpose. Rather that just letting that soul desire keep slipping away because of excuses and not diligently carving out time; I want to share in the wisdom of God by sharing what He has given me.

It is God honoring being a steward of little ones, keeper of the home, repeating the mundane, everday things and also to carve out space to spend moments on the soul.

In those moments we find release and are ready to soar again and to new heights.

Do everything without grumbling or arguing, so that you may become blameless and pure, "children of God without fault in a warped and crooked generation." Then you will shine among them like stars in the sky as you hold firmly to the word of life. and them I will be able to boast on the day of Christ that I did not run or labor in vain. Philippians 2: 14 -17