The Greatest Story

I am a lover of story especially a well-crafted, historical story. The way the characters are woven through the plot of the story; the emotions felt; the well thought out deeply insightful conversations; and the way the story concludes leaving me satisfied or leaving me to want even more. Each piece of the story plays a vital role in the telling of the story.
Can you think of some of your all time favorite stories? Why do you love them so much? Do they leave you feeling satisfied or do they leave you aching for more…wanting to spend just a little bit longer with the characters as you get to know them more intimately?
I have so many stories that I love, but my absolute favorite story comes straight out of the pages of the Bible: Jesus’ birth, life and death. Today, I am going to focus solely on the true story of Christmas as we find ourselves dwelling in the season of Advent. 
The story begins with a humble mother: Mary. Here she is a virgin woman, engaged to be married, and she is told she will bear a child. Talk about a little bit of scandal. This virgin woman can NOT be “with child” yet she is! As a single woman myself, I know that people would think I was crazy if I told them that an angel had told me that I was going to bear a child….and not just any child…but the Messiah. Yet God sends one of God’s messengers to Mary to calm her fears. I love the simple words of the angel as she utters “Do not be afraid.”
The angel said to her, ‘Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God. And now, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you will name him Jesus. He will be great, and will be called the Son of the Most High, and the Lord God will give to him the throne of his ancestor David. He will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and his kingdom there will be no end.'”–Luke 1:30-33
Enter another important person, the husband and soon-to-be father, Joseph. Mary and Joseph travel to Bethlehem where Mary is to give birth to this precious holy child. They arrive and find out there is no room for them in the inn. Mary gives birth to Jesus in the most unlikely of places; in a manger. Despite the circumstances, Mary and Joseph welcome their son into the world with joy.

“In those days a
decree went out from Emperor Augustus that all the world should be registered.
This was the first registration that took place while Quarinius was governor of
Syria.
All went to their own towns to be registered.  
Joseph also went from from
the town of Nazareth in Galilee to Judea, to the city of David called
Bethlehem, because he was descended from the house and family of David. He went
to be registered with Mary, to whom he was engaged and who was expecting a
child. While they were there, the time came for her deliver her child. And she
gave birth to her firstborn son and wrapped him in bands of cloth, and laid him
in a manger, because there was no place for them in the inn.”–Luke 2:1-7

After Jesus’ birth, an angel appears to the shepherds who are
keeping watch over their flock. Upon seeing the angel, the shepherds are terrified.
Who could this be? And what news are they bringing us? The words that follow
are one of my favorite words from this beautiful holy story because they remind
us of the power of God and God’s love for all God’s people.
But the angel of the Lord said to them, ‘Do not be
afraid; for see–I am bringing you good news of great joy for all the people:
to you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is the Messiah, the
Lord. This will be a sign for you: you will find a child wrapped in bands of cloth
and lying in a manger.’ And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of
the heavenly host, praising God and saying, ‘Glory to God in the highest
heaven, and on earth peace among those whom he favors.'”–Luke 2:8-14


The shepherds travel and find Mary, Joseph, and baby Jesus lying
in the manger. They then tell everyone what they have seen. The people are
amazed at what the shepherds tell them. The shepherds glorify and praise God
while Mary treasures and ponders all these things in her heart.
This story is a story that sticks with me! It is a story that
I want to continue to tell over and over again. It is a story that calls each
of us to shout “Glory to God in the highest and on earth peace among those
whom he favors.” It is a story that we too shall ponder and treasure in
our own hearts during this Advent and Christmas season because it indeed is one
of the greatest stories ever told!
And this greatest story ever told sticks with me because of my family especially my mom. My mom has lived most of my life with a mental illness yet this is one of her most favorite seasons of the year. Growing up, she always immersed my sister and I in hearing the story of Advent/Christmas. It is a story that I never tire of hearing over and over again. It is a story that brings me great joy and hope because like I stated earlier, I have always loved a good story and it doesn’t get any better than the Advent/Christmas story! 
Join me over at Literacy Musing Mondays and link-up about your favorite story.

Finding Our Simply Tuesdays

The weekend rolls around and then the calendar page turns to Monday where we find ourselves heading back to work, school, etc. And then it is simply Tuesday. Have you ever found yourself just stuck there? Tuesday isn’t Monday. It isn’t Friday or the end of the week. It isn’t even hump day. It is just laying out there all by itself. Yet perhaps maybe we are called to embrace our simple Tuesdays.

I just finished Emily P. Freeman’s book “It’s Simply Tuesday.” In the book, Freeman shares about how we are to enjoy those Tuesdays in their smallness. We are to embrace our Tuesday people on our Tuesday benches on that simply Tuesday ordinary day.

“Let’s gently poke our sleepy souls refusing to wait for a big event to wake us up. Let’s stop running from ordinary time but begin to sit in the midst of it (P. 26).”

Yes, let’s sit in the midst of that ordinary time because the truth is that ordinary time is longer and more than the other special days. In fact, in the seasons of the church year, the liturgical color green which is for ordinary time is the longest season of the church year. It can be so easy to get caught up in what seems like boredom and smallness of that ordinary time. But as Emily reminds us, that ordinary time is an important time for us to dwell. It is a time that leads to those extraordinary times and helps us to enjoy those extra special days even more.

The truth is that on those simply Tuesdays, God is there with us. “As it turns out, Jesus doesn’t come riding in on a white horse to save me from my humiliation, my daily work, my endless list. Instead, he whispers a quiet invitation to keep company with him the way he came to earth to keep company with us. It won’t always feel like a rescue. It might feel like surrender.  But on the other side of that space I find Jesus. I find his peace, I find his companionship (Introduction; Location 237).”

I love that I just finished this book as the calendar page soon turns to Advent. Advent is my most favorite time of the year because it continually reminds me of Jesus “Emmanuel”; God with us who comes in the most unlikely place to the most unlikeliest people. God has a way of doing that; showing up in those small mundane simply Tuesday spaces. And it is in those spaces, that we are reminded of God’s love for us; a love that comes not just on Sundays, but every day of the week including those simply Tuesday days.

“Being led by love has to start by recognizing we already have it. I can’t let love lead if I don’t know it’s there to begin with (P. 188).”

“Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love moves toward (P. 193).” 

God’s love reminds us that God is there in the light and in the darkness, in the joy and in the sorrow, and in the morning and in the night. It is just that sometimes we have a hard time seeing God in those places. But the truth is that God is always there. God promises to never leave us or forsake us. God sits with us on our Tuesday benches with our Tuesday people on those simply Tuesdays and shows us who God has created us to be.

“And even as we stand with our feet firmly planted on our Tuesdays, we’ll let our souls, with childlike wonder, stand high on tiptoe with great hope, knowing the King of our Kingdom will one day come again (P.218)”

And that, my friends, is enough!

I am linking up with Holly at Testimony Tuesday, Kelly and the RaRa Linkup, Jennifer Dukes Lee and Tell His Story, Holley Gerth and Coffee for your Heart and Literary Musing Mondays.


 
 

Laura Ingalls Wilder; A Legacy of Hard Work and Faith

Growing up, I was a huge fan of the Little House on the Prairie books by Laura Ingalls Wilder. In fact, I spent a lot of my childhood either watching the television series or reading her books. I have always appreciated her words, her work ethic, and so much more. (I even happen to have one of her quotes as the header on my blog!)

Laura Ingalls grew up on the farm watching her parents work hard for their money. Laura and her siblings had their own responsibilities as well. Laura felt a deep responsibility to help her family in any way she could. In fact, according to Wikipedia, Laura was not very fond of teaching. “Laura felt the responsibility from a young age to help her family financially and wage-earning opportunities for women were very limited.” Laura received her teaching degree to help earn money for her family.

Much of Laura’s childhood was spent on the farm during very severe winters. During those severe winters, it was hard to earn any income yet alone find good sources of food. I believe, they lived on what they could during those severe winters. Yet they always found ways to get through those long hard winters.

Eventually Laura met and married Almonzo Wilder; the love of her life. There was ten years between them. Despite the age difference, they were in love and their prospects for the future seemed bright. In fact, two children were born to this union: Rose and a son (who died before being named)

During their marriage, Laura and Almonzo farmed together. After several years of drought, Laura and Almonzo were left in debt. They moved to Mansfield, Missouri where they purchased an undeveloped piece of land that was just outside of town. At this time, to earn income, they would sell fire wood for fifty cents which is what they would live on.

Financial Security came very slowly to the Wilders. The apple trees they grew did not bear fruit for seven years. Eventually Laura’s in-laws gave her and Almonzo the deed to a house they were renting which was the economic downturn that they needed. After awhile, Laura took a paid position with the local Farm Loan Association; dispensing loans to local farmers. (Talk about giving back!)

Laura and Almonzo were never wealthy until the Little House books began gaining in popularity. According to Wikipedia, “The Wilders lived independently and without financial worries until the death of Wilder’s husband at the farm in 1949 at the age of 92. Wilder remained on the farm. For the next eight years, she lived alone, looked after by a circle of neighbors and friends. She continued an active correspondence with her editors, fans, and friends during these years.” After complications from undiagnosed diabetes and cardiac issues, Laura died three days after her 90th birthday.

Years after Laura Ingalls Wilder’s death, many still read her books and watch the television series starring Melissa Gilbert. Laura’s deep work ethic has always been something that I strive for in my own life as well. As a farmer’s granddaughter, niece and daughter, I know how much work goes into preparing the land, harvesting the fields and so much more. Being a farmer is not an easy job and income depends solely on what the weather is like during that time. Something that is out of our control.

Like Laura, it is my hope and dream that my legacy will be one of hard work and earning an income by working hard for that money, but also being open to giving and sharing with those in need when I have money to spare. Laura was always willing to spare money for others especially those she loved.

“The real things haven’t changed. It is still best to be honest and truthful; to make the most of what we have; to be happy with simple pleasures; and have courage when things go wrong.” (Laura Ingalls Wilder)

(Information about Laura Ingalls Wilder was gleaned from these websites: Laura Ingalls Wilder (Wikipedia)Laura Ingalls Wilder Biography, and Laura Ingalls Wilder Documentary

Also linked up at Literary Musing Mondays

Write 31 Days Withdrawal

Withdrawal=”the act of taking back or away something that has been granted or possessed” or “the discontinuance of administration or use of a drug.”

Have you ever experienced withdrawal from something? Perhaps it was giving up soda or sweets or something. Maybe you know someone or have watched someone withdraw from drugs. The only experience I have of watching someone withdraw and detox from an abused substance is on MTV with Dr. Drew. Yet from what I have seen, withdrawal is not an easy thing. In fact, it can get pretty ugly!

I don’t know about you, my Write 31 Days friends, but this past week, I have found myself wanting to read your blogs and write more posts myself. But what I have found is that it is pretty quiet over in our neck of the woods. It seems like many of our wells have run dry. I think I am going through Write 31 days withdrawal! Anyone else with me?

Throughout the month of October, every day we must post. If the words are there, great. But if the words are not there, we must keep on trucking through. In addition, many of us interacted on the Survivors Facebook page and read five other posts which we promised to comment on, share, etc.

Yet now here we are, ten days into November and I keep finding myself wanting to go back to October. I want to gather with my friends and read their stories. I want to know that I am not on this writing journey alone. I want to be reminded again and again that my words are enough! The truth is that I know these things are true, but it seems harder to find them and believe them this month. It is as if my ability to write has been snuffed out in an instance.

In addition, my words are not the only thing I am missing. I am missing the community and the people I have met. I came across this quote this morning on Google: “The most addictive drug is a person. The detox takes the longest. And sometimes the withdrawals never stop.” Hmmm!

I am sure that in time the words will slowly begin to flow more freely again! I am sure that I will find other outlets and projects to share my words. I am sure that soon I will feel like I am no longer going through Write 31 Days withdrawal. And I know that even though, we are resting from our words, we all will return to share them again.

Like the breath in our lungs that gives us life, words also give us writers life as well! Without our words, we cannot go through this life NOT sharing our words. “Write until it becomes as natural as breathing. Write until not writing makes you anxious”

I am linking up with these lovely faith-filled women today: