... Even the worst heartaches can become heartstrings to God's hope, comfort, encouragement, joy, peace and love...

Welcome! As a fan of the cartoon character Maxine, I enjoy her witty remarks. But when I
read my blogs & other writing to her, she's not very responsive- even when I'm wearing my bunny slippers like hers! She just doesn't get it!
Although she's funnier than I am, I do pray that this site will bring encouragement to your day! I'd love to hear from you! Unlike Maxine, you can leave me a message via the Comments. Shalom, Connie


Friday, December 19, 2014

At the Well

The walk to the well is usually a time of catching up on the village news, but I left early this morning so I wouldn’t meet the others. As Mary’s pregnancy is more evident, the barbed remarks have increased. This morning, of all mornings, I just couldn’t face them. My tears won’t stop. I am afraid for Mary. It is too close to her time to be traveling all the way to Bethlehem.

Yes, I know Joseph will take care of her, Lord, but couldn’t you have delayed the census a little while? Is this old lady’s request too much for you, Almighty G-d? Would it have too hard to have Mary’s needs considered? After all, she sings with great joy that you have chosen her. Yet you let her travel? Have mercy, G-d on this old woman. Forgive my arrogance. I just love my granddaughter and fear for her and the baby she’ll soon deliver. Lord, can you give me a sign… a little one perhaps? To show me that Mary is well?

The tears continued to flow, as I neared the well.

Oy, at least I can draw the water without the other woman smiling while looking at one another with their “I know the real story” expressions. I don’t even understand… how could they?

“Woman, why are you weeping?”

Frightened, I turned to see a Roman soldier looking down at me.

What does one say to a Roman? He knows nothing about women’s trials or the promised Messiah.

“Forgive an old lady, Sir. I am worried about my granddaughter traveling all the way to Bethlehem for the census.”

“So you weep? I thought you Jews trusted your god to take care of everything!” He turned and marched off laughing.

I sank to my knees and wept bitterly.

My G-d, forgive me. A sign… I ask for a sign and you send me a Roman soldier. Oy, after all these years, this old woman still doubts . . . still doesn’t put all her trust in you. Forgive this old woman once again. You alone know why Mary must make this journey. Why she is with child that’s not Joseph’s; and yet he trusts you and takes her into his home. My G-d, my G-d, help this old woman to understand . . . to trust in you in all things. Until the Messiah comes, I am your servant.

Little did I know that as I wept at the well, Mary, too, was weeping as she knelt in the hay before the manger that cradled her newborn baby. A son, as G-d had said. To be named Jesus, as Joseph had been told. Yes, Mary wept with both joy and fear as she pondered all that was and was to come.

This great-grandmother will not live to see this little one grow into a man. But I will serve the Lord faithfully all my remaining days, as I promised that quiet morning by at the well.

~ ~ ~

This writer spent the birthday of the Messiah at home alone . . . also in tears. Illness kept me from my family and I wept for understanding… for the loss of memory-building moments with my grandchildren and son.
I, too, asked for a sign that God was with me for it didn’t feel that way. No Roman soldier appeared. No sign… just the loneliness, and the feeling of being rejected.

The next day, I asked the Lord, “What was I suppose to learn throughout the day of tears?” He gave me the story of the anxious great-grandmother, who, even though she loved the Lord, struggled with the unknown. Her fears were real. For Jesus, who left His throne to be born frail and helpless in a stable, and came to deliver the news of hope and forgiveness, was rejected and despised. What loneliness He must have felt as He hung upon the cross for us!

Like that great-grandmother, I knelt at the Well of Living Water and prayed, "My G-d, forgive me. After all these years, this old woman still doubts . . . still doesn’t place all her trust in you. Forgive this old woman once again. My G-d, help this woman to trust in you in all circumstances and for all things. And until the Messiah comes again, I am your servant."

Christmas 2009

Monday, December 15, 2014

Guest Post

Saturday, December 13, 2014

Lonely or Alone

“…Mary quietly treasured these things in her heart and thought about them often.” (Luke 2:19 NLT)

Like Mary, I was in a strange town; I had lost my job, and my family would be out of state for Christmas. Instead of jingle bells I was hearing bill collectors ringing my phone. Depression was keeping me in bed or watching TV so I could turn off reality. It didn’t work.

Then I remembered a story about two men breaking into the apartment of an old lady. It was dark and they were not expecting her to be home, but there she was. They tied her to a chair while searching for jewelry and Christmas gifts. She insisted that there were none; and tried to explain that she had made the choice not to have Christmas so she wouldn’t be lonely and sad.

I, too, had a choice to make. I could be alone or I could be lonely and miserable.

If you are alone or having difficulties this Christmas season, I want to know that Mary, Jesus’ mother, knew loneliness that first Christmas Day even with Joseph at her side. She had delivered the holy infant Son of God miles away from family and would not be able to return to her home in Nazareth for several years. Everything she and Joseph planned was null and void once the census was announced. The cradle Joseph had lovingly craved in his workshop couldn’t go to Bethlehem. Nor could the specially woven basket and layette Mary made… only basics could be taken with them.

Mary knew she had the responsibility of raising God’s Son¾a task she could never discuss at the well with local MOPS ladies. As devoted a father Joseph probably was, the burden still fell upon Mary, who would eventually be kneeling at the foot of the cross when Jesus died.

When we think of Mary, our perspective changes. Christmas, often, doesn’t measure up to our expectations. For others, they are too busy to enjoy the celebration. Yet we can make a choice based on what we have rather than on what we want.

I’ve now retired and live near the beautiful snow-topped Cascade Mountains. I often am alone for Christmas, but each year I mix my traditions:
              baking cookies to share,
              knitting gifts,
              writing letters to far away friends,
              attending a Christmas Eve service,
              listening to my favorite carols and the Messiah,
              reading Christmas mysteries,
              watching Christmas movies
with new ways to re-tune my heart in preparation for Jesus’ birthday. This year I’m creating a Jessie Tree (Jesus Family Tree) and reading a coordinating devotional each day. And I am writing to encourage you!

Regardless of circumstances, we must remember that Christmas isn’t about stuff. It’s our heart relationship with the Lover of our Soul. As long as we are celebrating with Jesus, we are never alone and never lonely.

ã 2014 Constance Gilbert

Friday, December 05, 2014

As Long as There Is Christmas

By Jack Zavada (with permission to use)

      The first few lights glow brightly, as you watch the season start.
      You know you should be happy, but don't feel it in your heart.

      Instead you think about a time when someone laughed with you,
      and the love you shared then filled your soul But too soon it was 

      So Christmas comes with sadness, and a yearning deep inside,
      a thirst for love and peace and hope that will not be denied.

      Late one night you hear a voice, so soft and without blame...
      then you realize He's calling your name.

      "I know you hurt and loneliness, the heartache that you bear,
      I listen and I cry with you through every single prayer.

      "I promised in the manger and fulfilled it on the cross.
      I built a home that's filled with love for all those who are lost.

      "So let me come and heal your heart and give you rest within.
      For my way is kind and gentle and will bring you joy again."

      His words still echo through the years, a vow that He made true,
      "As long as there's a Christmas, I will be in love with you."