Luke 2:19 “but Mary kept all these things in her heart…”

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image from 4catholiceducators.com

In my Bible study this morning, as I was reading through the story of Jesus’ birth in Luke, chapter 2, I was struck by verse 19:

“…but Mary kept all these things in her heart and thought about them often.” ~Luke 2:19b NLT

And then again by verse 51:

“And his mother stored all these things in her heart.” ~Luke 2:51b NLT

My role as a mother has changed as my children have grown into adulthood; however, my concerns and love for them has only deepened through the years…if that’s even possible.

I’ve always prayed for and over my children; for their health, well-being and happiness, for them to grow up strong and confident, for them to be righteous, honest, people of integrity, contributing members of society, for them to realize God’s purpose for their lives, for them to lean on their faith in times of difficulty or trouble and to be grateful in the good times, for them to know that I love them unconditionally and so much more.

So much I have stored and pondered in my heart. So much I will continue to store and ponder in my heart.

So much like Mary.

God has instructed us to pray; I believe this “storing and pondering” is prayer. I love that prayer is my touchstone and conversation with God. And one of the most important jobs I have as a mother.

I’m thankful that while my children are grown and discovering all that life has in store for them, I can continue to pray over them…even though it’s no longer at their bedside each night. It’s my gift as their mother.

YOLO!

Jan

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New traditions…

Change. It’s never easy.

christmas tree lot

(photo credit: Steven Dipolo/Flickr)

Today a BIG change in our Christmas tradition happened.

My family will probably think I’m silly and overreacting about such a seemingly minor change. But I don’t care. I’m mourning the change…despite the fact that it’s medically necessary. Yes…I’m still bummed.

Here’s the deal…we’ve always had a REAL Christmas tree. For 32 years. Beginning with the “charlie brown” Christmas tree we had for our very first Christmas in New Orleans. Seriously, it was pitiful…but it was beautiful to me. We were far away from family…in our new home and simply couldn’t afford a big beautiful tree. My sweet husband had to work Christmas Eve; he stopped on the way home and picked up a free, leftover tree. It was small with bare branches. We didn’t even decorate it. It was perfect!

Shopping for our Christmas tree came to symbolize (for me) the beginning of our Christmas celebration. Through the years we shopped at various tree lots, Boy Scout lots, commercially owned lots, “whoever has the best price” lots. We’ve shopped in in the warm and cold, rain and snow, daylight and dark. We used to be a family of 4 scouring the lot for the perfect tree. We’ve had flocked and evergreen. As the kids have grown into adulthood, we’ve transitioned back to just hubby and I on the hunt. Memories of the anticipation, excitement, temperature, sights, smells, sounds, lights, fires in metal drums, sawdust mixed with evergreen boughs on the ground hold a special place in my memory and heart.

Last year we discovered a new reality. Within just a couple of hours of bringing the chosen tree into our home, my hubby came down with what would become a raging sinus infection. He was perfectly healthy prior to the tree entering our home. He has a history of some pretty nasty, seasonal sinus infections often progressing to bronchitis. We had just never noticed it in relation to the Christmas tree before….but it was crystal clear. The tree was definitely a trigger. So out it went! Immediately!

This weekend, after some supportive, comparison shopping with my daughter…we finally decided on an artificial tree. Purchasing it in a big box…bringing it home to the garage…just didn’t have the same “holiday feel” as picking out the perfect tree on a tree lot. My son helped get it out of the jeep and into the garage; so technically, we ALL were involved in picking THIS tree and bringing it into our home.

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New traditions. I sense there are memorable new traditions yet to develop. And hopefully, my husband will NOT be sick over the holidays this year or into the future. Healthy holidays are the plan!

Disclaimer: Christmas is clearly NOT about the tree. I know that. I value that the celebration of Christmas is about the birth of Christ. The Christmas tree in our home is merely a seasonal symbol. I value the traditions which encourage us to focus on the true meaning of Christmas.

Thanks for “listening”…I’m feeling better already! That was a fun trip down memory lane. Perhaps some new ornaments and holiday decor will help with the transition…

YOLO!

Jan

 

 

 

 

 

Merry Christmas…and the empty chair…

Merry Christmas!!

It’s a beautiful Christmas day…especially since we are surrounded by family and looking forward to a trip next week to visit our VA families.

Missing is Papaw, Rich’s father. While his chair is empty in our house…his memory lives on. I think of him every time I make the spaghetti sauce he taught me to make. It’s probably the only thing I cook without a recipe…but adjust ingredients based on taste. This has become our traditional Christmas meal.

As you enjoy this Christmas with your families, remember the empty chairs with love & gratitude for their presence in your life.

The best of all gifts around any Christmas tree: the presence of a happy family all wrapped up in each other. ~Burton Hillis

YOLO!

Jan

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Chili day…

Today started with an awesome day at church, hugs from friends (a favorite perk), wonderful music and the Christmas message was unlike any I’ve heard before. It really touched my soul…has made me think all day…bottom line…all was NOT peaceful, silent and right with the world when Jesus was born. Yet he brought hope to this world. I need to listen to the podcast to absorb more of that message – I’ll see if I can post a link here when it’s available.

The Last Minute Toy Store began today; Rich and I have volunteered for several years. I won’t be able to spend time working there this year; however, I’m cooking chili today to send to help feed the volunteers on Tuesday. I’ve loved putting the chili together and stirring it with love every 15 minutes for 3 hours now. I hope it’s very yummy and warms and nourishes some hardworking volunteers who are serving so that thousands of Nashville children will have Christmas gifts. It’s an incredible experience to serve at this annual event. I encourage you to learn more about this wonderful ministry!

While my Last Minute Toy Store pot of chili (required recipe) simmers on the stove, I’m making another pot of chili for my family. Since we been focusing on eating more organic foods, I’m making my “traditional” black bean, beef chili with a few modifications. I’ll post the recipe separately if you’re interested.

I hope you’re enjoying this week leading up to Christmas. Take some time for yourself. Reflect on the year past. Reflect on the true meaning of Christmas. Enjoy time with your family. Love and be loved.

Blessings!

YOLO,

Jan