Love Like a Blanket

ruthiemartin

PC: Ruthie Martin

You know what I love most about fall? Curling up in a blanket with a cup of tea in the evening. Don’t get me wrong, I love summertime. It’s sun-shiney, full of campfires, nights on the town with friends, traveling to beaches and cities… But now… the leaves are orange and red. The days are short. The the air is chilly. And fall lends to an increased number of quiet evenings at home. Some days.

With the chilly weather, nothing beats my flannel blanket, a new book, and hot cup of tea. Sigh. Down time.

That said, my job keeps me on the go most of the time this time of the year. I work in sports TV production for a Big Ten team: the Penn State Nittany Lions. The past two months have really been a blur of football games, booking shoots, edits, show builds, directing interns, and emails such as “where is the missing DVD file?” or “why is this video not posted to YouTube yet?”

I love what I do! But still…

As I push through this blur, most days with a smile and an underlying headache, I’ve really had to check myself… Where are my priorities? Who am I relying on?

Seriously. As work as taken over, I feel like I’ve been messing up BIG time in my relationships with both God and people – First, a misunderstanding with a friend of almost a decade led to a hurtful friend breakup. Then, missing Bible Study for the past month because of the heavy workload. And in between, disregarding texts and calls from girlfriends joking that “meh, I don’t need a social life right now.”

So, it was an evening to myself a couple of days ago, when I chose to curl up in that flannel, fall time blanket I mentioned earlier, with a hot cup of tea, when I realized pretty quickly that I’ve been running on spiritual fumes- smiling away the hurts and ignoring the bruises.

Sipping on my mug of tea and pulling the blanket tighter around myself, I finally opened up to the Lord… confessing my actions and questioning others’. Instead of a rebuke, my good, good Father draped His arms of love around me in a whisper and embrace warmer and thicker than any blanket on a chilly fall evening.

His love transcends the ups and downs of life and relationships. Mistakes big or small. Good-byes that don’t make sense. Loneliness despite the busyness. The whole spectrum of emotions that act as guides throughout our days. And the icing of joys and successes in the mix.

He knows all. Sees all. Understands all. And is just WAITING for you and I to fall back into His love and let Him wrap us up in peace and love.

Unlike people who sometimes sprint and other times mosey in and out of your life for a season, be it 1 year or 10 years, God will never leave you nor forsake you. And nothing can separate you from His love, despite what you might feel in any given moment.

So this fall season God is teaching me to stop, confess, and let Him love me as no one else can.

 And that is better than a flannel blanket or cup of tea, on a chilly fall night, could ever be.

What About Mary?

maxresdefault

Photo Cred: Joecy Mijares

 

*This post was originally written for Know Your Value by Wonderfully Made.

Every little girl who goes to church at Christmastime wishes she could be Mary. Age 9, 10, 11… Girls want to be Mary in the Christmas plays they watch and stories they hear. Mary, an innocent girl, chosen and well favored by God, to carry the baby Jesus, the Savior and Messiah. An angel visited her and she said, “Yes.” She went on an adventure with her new husband and even got to ride a donkey! We know the end of the story, and to us, to the little girls she is honored and venerated.

But what about the big girls? Do the big girls look at Mary and wish to be her, a chosen, favored girl tasked with an enormous responsibility and life change?

To be honest, I haven’t until recently. I wanted to be well favored and chosen for sure, but when it actually comes to living my life for God, as His servant and tasked with hard things, I cower. I ignore Him. I whine and complain. I make excuses for not stepping up in certain situations. And then to top it all off, I cry at night because my life is not what I dreamed it would be.

To be sure, in my heart, I’m God’s servant and loyal follower. I’ll volunteer and give my time and I’ll work wherever and do whatever for Him because I love Him.

But do I really with my actions? It seems I put up a fight when His plans and my plans do not align.

Mary was a teenager when she got engaged to Joseph. Perhaps, like other young girls throughout the generations, she dreamed of marrying this man of her dreams. Perhaps when he looked at her from across the street her stomach flip-flopped a little. Perhaps she pictured giggling with her friends and putting on beautiful attire on her wedding day. Perhaps she imagined their lives together, the children they might have, what they might name their kids…

Then, Gabriel, an angel of the Lord, came to Mary and told her that she was chosen. She stood out and God wanted her to be the carrier of His Child, whose name is already picked out. At this annunciation, she asked just one question, “how is this possible as I am a virgin?” The angel told her that all things are possible to God, “the power of the Most High will overshadow you,” (Luke 1: 35). And she responded, “may it be done to me according to your word” (Luke 1:38).

REALLY?! That’s it? No other questions? No complaints? No worries (at least not expressed in the biblical document we read today)? No “let me think about it, you’re asking me a huge thing, and I’ll get back to you”? No selfishness over this rather ginormous wrench in her plans starting out her life with her new husband? Perhaps if I were there, I would have said to her, “Girl! Hold on a second, THIS IS YOUR LIFE!” …Or is it?

I’ve done all of that and more as I’ve felt God pushing me to walk into daunting situations. And nothing so life-changing as having a baby!

I picture Mary at Christmas with my little girl eyes, walking across a church stage with Joseph, or sitting serenely in a nativity scene. With that little girl perspective, I wish I was so good and honored that God would choose me to do something big for Him! Then, with dubious “grown up” eyes, I wonder have I ever been that brave and trusting of God in painful, hard experiences? When He’s asked me to do courageous things, have I ever responded simply, “may it be as You have said” without questioning, balking, or looking back?

Mary was brave and honored, and not just through her experience of carrying the Son of God, but in her whole demeanor and total acceptance of His plan and of this “wrench” in her life. She loved Him more than her own dreams, reputation, and fiancé.

She recognized that His plan, Gabriel, the virgin birth were not a wrench in her plans, but exactly where she was supposed to be, at His time doing His will.

This was His plan; her life was not her own.

I see it even more in the song she sang to her sister-in-law, whom she visited soon after finding out about Jesus.

“My soul exalts the Lord, And my spirit has rejoiced in God my Savior. For He has had regard for the humble state of His bond slave; For behold, from this time on all generations will count me blessed. For the Mighty One has done great things for me; and holy is His name…” (Luke 1: 46-49).

Mary, at such a young age, knew that her whole reason for being was her God and her soon to be Son, Jesus.

Friends, you might not have an angel sit with you to deliver a message from God, but I encourage you to think like Mary this Christmas. If God asks you to do difficult things and join in on His plan with action, think about saying “yes” openly as Mary did. Be them hard or sweet, His plans are always good.