We had the opportunity to take in “Mary Poppins Returns” this year. It was a delight. I couldn’t help but realize there was a story behind the story. Someone in real life, a long time a go, found themselves in financial stress, and a Chimney Sweep and a magical Nanny appeared to help them cope.
Take the movie “The Secret Life of Walter Mitty” for example, a fellow who daydreams to cope with his reality. This is another movie worth seeing, if at least to help you identify why and when you ‘walter’.
After Face-time with my grandchildren, who live approximately 671 miles away, I began to daydream or ‘walter’. How I could accept their invitation to tea when they lived so far away? Well I can’t tell you what happens next but in May of 2019 you can read it for yourself.
Thanks to Word Alive Press (Publisher) and Desiree Tomkow (Illustrator).
Speaking of ‘story behind the story’, this is me reading before I could write.
What are your expectations at Christmas time? A better question may be, “What were Mary’s expectations at the time of Christ’s birth?”
Considering what happened all those years ago can help us gain perspective. We are told many times through scripture and from the pulpit of Mary’s situation, but for Mothers in particular – this deserves another look.
Why? Because we mother’s, even humankind as a whole, have a commonality to behold. We all worry about what other people think. Read (1 Samuel 16:7).
We want our families to look perfect and act perfect, when we know that is not realistic. None of us are perfect (Romans 3:23).
We fuss over the house, the food, the sleeping arrangements, when Mary had none of these options. We mourn over those children who do not share the faith anymore, but then we read not all of Jesus’ brothers believed (John 7:5). And we can assume quite reliably that the siblings did not always get a long.
We want all of our family together at Christmas time, and especially shining radiantly in the pew beside us, but the shortcomings we focus on make us feel out of place, perhaps even condemned?
Mary felt condemned. Not many understood the miraculous birth of Christ. And as he grew older, the rumours of who Jesus’ real Father was, still rumbled.
Mary’s focus had to be on what she believed in, not what was happening all around her, and certainly not on what people were saying.
As a mother of diverse children who are all on a journey to test their faith and make it their own, or not – my focus this Christmas is on my relationship with Jesus, and the purposes He has for me to live out. Both my husband and I taught our children about Jesus while they were growing up underneath our roof. Now we teach our children through how we choose to live our lives, even after they’ve moved out.
It seems terrible to compare Mary’s suffering or even Christ’s suffering, to ours, but that is part of the why Christ came – to identify with us in every way (Heb. 4:15). As parents and children, there will be sufferings, and temptations of all kinds.
When you observe Jesus’ birth this Christmas ask Him to help you focus on Him, and not all of your (our, their) imperfections. When I see my brothers and sisters at church I am not thinking of their wayward children, or comparing my children to their godly offspring. I am not remembering how they fell yesterday, or how I fell last week. I am looking in their eyes as one child of God to another with faith and hope for our future because of what Jesus Christ’s birth came to accomplish.
Finally, if we can focus on what faith means “faith is the assurance of what we hope for and the certainty of what we do not see” (Heb. 11:1), we can TRUST instead of worrying. Mary chose to trust in God no matter what. She could have worried her whole life about her calling as a mother, her children’s paths, and appointments, about what her family looked like to everyone who lived around them, about how her children bonded, or didn’t bond, but instead she trusted God.
Even as I close I recognize a slight deviation from that trust, the temptation to add words to please everyone’s ear. Perhaps this sounds too fluffy, or maybe there’s not enough focus on character and consequence? How quickly we can get caught up in what is going on around us, and what we think people might be saying, and how we might adjust our lives to please someone else.
Who is God to you? Is He a name you heard about at Sunday School? Maybe your Grandparents mentioned Him around the dinner table? Is He the character you saw played by Morgan Freeman in “Bruce Almighty”?
To some people God is a list of rules, that can never be kept.
To others God is a name they call on when life is very difficult.
And to others, God is a Father figure who has given up on them a long time ago because they just can’t seem to get their act together, whatever that means…
…because no one has their act together. You might think they do, but humankind measures and compares, and we all fall short.
Please don’t wait around until you have your life in perfect order before you let God in. Let Him in right now in the middle of this imperfect reality.
Let Him in despite what you have heard others say, despite what you decided yesterday. Let Him in even if you’re scared He might require something of you, even if it means someone might say “I told you so”.
He will help you get to know who He is, and who you really are, and give you the peace and direction you need to maneuver in this very strange place called life.
Let Him in.
I have been working on several new projects and seeking God’s wisdom on how to BALANCE life. WHY? In order to HONOR HIM. In today’s world we are saturated with technological savvy messages on how to get our product out there in order to grow our business. There are apps to help us schedule our advertising through Blogging, Facebook, and Instagram.
Thankfully there is ancient wisdom still relevant for us today – Holy Scripture, to help us schedule our entire life for godly success. Psalm 23:3 reminds us to rest “for sake of His reputation.” Deuteronomy 30:15-17 warns us of the dangers of idolatry, putting our work (or other) before God. And finally Phil. 4:8 gives us a list of godly virtues in which to analyze our agenda and motivation by.
I encourage you to consider Christ, and His way, and you will find balance and joy.
I was reading in My Inspire Journey the other day about God’s plan for Sabbath rest. Psalm 23 was one of the scripture readings. Every time I read scripture I learn something new, even when reading a familiar, well known passage. I was struck by verse 3 in the EXB (Expanded Bible) by the word ‘reputation’. He leads us into rest and on right paths for the good of his reputation. Everything I do as a His follower affects His reputation. Now that’s a good reason to make sure I’m rested. What do you think?
The morning sky seemed like a water stained, black and white photograph. The recent memories of a client’s struggle muddied my thoughts even further. With furrowed brow I cautiously dodged patches of ice. “Such a slippery slope life can be” I thought.
Dainty white whispers of snowflakes fell on my forehead. I knew what they were trying to do. “I know, I know – no two of you are alike” I whispered back at them. If anything could cause me to look heavenward and consider my Creator, they could.
Once inside the windowless office I opened doors, turned artificial lights on our plastic Christmas tree and, put the brown coffee on to brew. I wandered over to the reception desk and spied a pile of bulging black garbage bags. There was a faded note marked ‘donations’ taped to one of them.
I fumbled with one knot. I pulled and pushed and caught a glimpse of something unexpected. Something new, brand new. I grabbed a pair of scissors to get to the treasure inside. The rhythm of my heart began to race. My eyes teared and the breath in my throat gasped.
Gently I lifted a perfectly hand knit child’s sweater out of the bag. My lungs lifted and sighed in relief. “The color of love!” My fingers gently untied the pom pom strings, and moved the zipper up and down. I twirled the sweater in the air from back to front, and felt a strange sensation come over me.
The love someone had poured into every stitch was now flooding into my veins, warming my limbs, blushing my face, and painting my lips in a smile. I found the faded note and turned it over to find a lady’s name and address. How could I possibly thank her enough? My heart took in every thread of her kindness and compassion.
She had no idea how the gift she’d made for someone’s little boy or girl had been a gift for me as well. I paused and the colors of love filled the room around me. The muddy struggles, the slippery slope, the plastic tree, and the browns and blacks of a challenging world were now magically changing to blue and yellow, pink and green.
Seasons come and seasons go, and every year the sight of snow threatens to paralyze my soul. Christmas finds me questioning your gifts of joy and suffering, and memories send me off in search of hope. I am weaker than most – You came to a manger. I am broken to the bone – You were pierced for a stranger. The past has left its mark – but Christmas heals the heart with memories of a child who offers hope. Hope is your child, Hope is your love, covering a multitude of memories that will never measure up. Seasons come and seasons go and every year should I get cold help the love you give me make a home. At times I might feel out of place, O but for your light of grace – every year you always offer hope. ©CindyPalin All Rights Reserved
We’ve all heard so many memes about not living in our past, but instead looking towards the future. I like to look back and remember just enough to see how far God has brought me. When self doubt starts to crowd in my thoughts I am careful not to waste any energy thinking about how I started in my faith journey, but instead I focus every thought on how I plan to finish – faithful.
“I can do all this through Him who gives me strength” (Phil. 4:13 NIV).
“The one who calls you is faithful and He will do it” (1 Thess. 5:24 NIV).