DIY Snow Day Survival Kit

DIY Snow Day Survival Kit | thisgratefulmama.com

Somehow, Christmas has passed, and I haven’t given all our gifts yet. I’m not sure how it happened, but it did.

I love giving gifts and am usually done with cards and gifts long before Christmas arrives. And to this list-making, pre-planning girl…procrastination is rather uncomfortable.

I woke up this morning with the NEED to get things done. Time to kick procrastination to the curb.

Better late than never?

For a handful of friends, I’m putting together Snow Day Survival Kits with an assortment of goodies to keep them warm on a snowy day.

Good thing we FINALLY got measurable snow in MN this week.

Simple, warm and tasty.

Each DIY Snow Day Survival Kit includes:

  • Plastic storage container (Hello, dollar section of Target)
  • Hot Chocolate Mix (Packets of Starbucks Salted Caramel and Starbucks Peppermint hot chocolate and/or small tin of specialty hot chocolate)
  • Plain Marshmallows in cellophane bag
  • Peppermint Marshmallows in cellophane bag
  • Chocolate Covered Spoons (homemade using plastic spoons dipped in melted baking chocolate – dry on wax paper then wrap each chocolate end individually in plastic before packaging in cellophane bag)
  • Baking Mix (Brownie, Blondie or Cookie Mix)
  • Caramel Corn or Popcorn

The marshmallows and chocolate spoons were hand-packaged in cellophane bags. Labels were created using PicMonkey and attached with ribbon.

labels for snow day

What you include in a Snow Day Survival Kit may vary depending on the recipient. The kits we made went to families with small children. If you are looking for other ideas, there are plenty of ways to personalize this gift!

Ideas to Personalize a Snow Day Survival Kit:

 

Our family Christmas card and the note below were included in each gift.

Snow Day Survival Kit

These were fun and simple to put together and I think they turned out pretty cute.

DIY Snow Day Survival Kit | thisgratefulmama.com

Hopefully they bring some warmth and fun to our friends on the next snow day.

Merry Christmas!

DIY Snow Day Survival Kit | thisgratefulmama.com

 

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2015 thisgratefulmama Winter Bucket List

The ThisGratefulMama 2015 Winter Bucket List | thisgratefulmama.com

  1. Make homemade hot chocolate with peppermint mini marshmallows
  2. Get your exercise shoveling snow instead of using the snow blower
  3. Attend church every Sunday during Advent
  4. Share the true meaning of Christmas with your kids and others
  5. Make snow angels any time, any where – the more spontaneous, the better
  6. Do your best to put up Christmas Lights without harming yourself or your spouse
  7. Build an epic snow man
  8. Put the hot chocolate in a travel mug and enjoy a hike through America’s largest walk-through light display Bentlyville Tour of Lights in Duluth, MN – now – December 27, 2015
  9. Go ice fishing
  10. Pray for loved ones to come to know the Lord in 2016
  11. Bundle up and invite friends for a snow-bonfire
  12. Rent snow shoes and explore a MN park
  13. Enjoy a peppermint or gingerbread mocha
  14. Drive through nearby neighborhoods looking for Christmas lights – be sure to mix in plenty of oohs and aahs
  15. Go ice skating
  16. Don’t miss the MN Pond Hockey Tournament January 14-17, 2016
  17. Keep a Gratitude Journal in 2016
  18. Have a neighborhood Christmas gathering
  19. Sled in a state park
  20. Give a gift to a stranger
  21. Search for the medallion during the St. Paul Winter Carnival – January 28 – February 7, 2016
  22. Cross country ski through the Three Rivers Park district (can rent equipment)
  23. Donate unused coats, clothes, shoes and boots to charity or local shelter
  24. Spend a family evening packing meals at Feed My Starving Children
  25. Take the kids to a nursing home and play games and visit with residents
  26. Host brunch for your closest friends
  27. Leave an anonymous bag of groceries or a meal for a family in need
  28. Go snowmobiling
  29. Serve a meal at a soup kitchen
  30. Spend 2016 waking up before your kids
  31. Explore a new way to serve in your church in 2016
  32. Buy and donate gifts to Children’s Hospitals of MN
  33. Create a snow fort
  34. Ring a Salvation Army Bell
  35. Watch the start of the Beargrease Dog Sled Marathon in Duluth, MN – January 31, 2016
  36. Check out the MN Snow Sculpting Competition at the MN State Fair grounds January 29 – 31, 2016
  37. Take a romantic winter outing to Lebanon Hills Regional Park in Eagan, MN for candlelight hiking, snowshoeing and ice skating – February 13, 2016
  38. Organize a neighborhood Christmas cookie exchange
  39. Have a family Gratitude Tree
  40. Make mulled cider and make your house smell amazing
  41. Memorize scripture with your kids
  42. Read the Christmas story every day to your children
  43. Do the Polar Plunge for a worthy cause
  44. Drink Egg Nog
  45. See Canadian Pacific’s Holiday Train on one of its stops -(Hastings – December 9, St. Paul – December 11, Cottage Grove – December 12, 2015)
  46. Escape the cold and go bowling
  47. Catch Birkie Fever watching or skiing in the American Birkebeiner – February 20, 2016
  48. Set 2016 goals on New Year’s Eve and keep them
  49. Bundle up and take a winter walk or winter scavenger hunt
  50. Have a snowball fight
  51. Set up and decorate your Christmas tree
  52. Shovel your neighbor’s driveway and sidewalk
  53. Join your local BSF bible study of Revelation – now through May 2016
  54. Donate food to the local food shelf
  55. Go Christmas Carol-ing
  56. Watch your church children’s Christmas pageant or find one nearby
  57. Go snow tubing at Eko Backen in Scandia, MN or Green Acres Recreational in Lake Elmo, MN – check websites for hill conditions
  58. Drive through Lake Phalen park to see the ‘Holiday Lights in the Park’ ($10) – now through January 1, 2016
  59. Pack an Operation Christmas Child box
  60. Make the time to see at least ONE of these amazing christmas light shows synchronized to music:

You Know What Takes CHRIST Out Of Christmas? Complaining Over A Red Cup.

Is anyone else confused by the hype over the Starbucks red cup? When I first saw the image of the 2015 cup, I thought it looked nice. Simple and a clever use of the Starbucks green logo on the red background.

No problem right?

Well, I guess not. It seems that some people are upset over the cups and think they do not stand for Christmas.  I don’t usually pay attention to these things but the articles that kept popping up specifically mention that Christians are the people making the fuss. I like to know what I’m being associated with.

SO, I looked at the last 6 years of cups that TIME put together for easy viewing. Do you know what I see? Nothing that says “Merry Christmas” or any mention of Jesus. In fact, the apparent change that makes people upset is the lack of a snow flake.

A snow flake?

Beloved sisters and brothers in Christ – since when is a snowman, snow flake or a person sledding on a coffee cup a symbol of Christmas? I don’t remember seeing any mention of these things in the story of Jesus’ birth in the Bible. Haven’t read it? Check it out for yourself in Luke Chapter 1. These symbols are completely and totally unrelated to Jesus Christ.

I can see how this may sound harsh, but it needs to be said. You know what takes the CHRISTmas out of Christmas? Complaining, slander, and overly vocal disgust at red cups. Beloved of Jesus – there are so many more important issues to take a stand on. This distraction does not draw unbelievers to know and love Jesus. If anything, it makes Him less appealing because those who claim to follow and love Him are preoccupied with coffee cups.

As Christians, let us instead CHOOSE to celebrate Jesus, despite what is happening around us in our culture. Regardless of who says “Happy Holidays” and who says “Merry Christmas”, the culture does NOT decide the status of our hearts. We choose who we worship and what our focus is on.

It is either the world or Jesus. He longs for us to choose the latter.

So, as His chosen, and beloved people, CHOOSE to set your eyes on Jesus. Then CHOOSE now to let the rest of it roll off of you. All season long. Spending our precious time boycotting coffee cups is simply a distraction that takes our eyes off of HIM – All God’s grace in one tiny face.

How do we focus on Him?

  • Tell others you are grateful for them.
  • Tell GOD you are grateful for Him and spend some extra time with Him in prayer.
  • Set your grateful hearts on Jesus – on how He loved us and came to DIE for us so we could be saved. And how we can never deserve such a sacrifice and gift of grace.
  • Be grateful that in the United States you can speak the name of Jesus out loud without being tortured, exiled or killed.
  • Pray for those who are dying for their faith and have life and death concerns that make a preoccupation with coffee cups look foolish and careless.
  • Go out and treat others with kindness, respect, and love.
  • Tell others WHO Jesus is and WHY you love Him.
  • Intentionally spread some joy and cheer.
  • Find someone to help, serve or surprise.
  • Let Christians be known for spreading good will among men instead of complaining about things that have no eternal value.
  • Choose Jesus and show others WHO HE IS by sharing His LOVE.
  • Show the world that His love reigns in the hearts of Christians and speak well of others, regardless of where they buy their coffee. Or what color the cup is.

It’s a paper cup, people. We put coffee in it and then throw it away.

Doesn’t CHRISTmas mean more to us than that?

It’s the second week of November. There will be plenty more things this year that do not include Christ. There will surely be over-saturation of Santa, Happy Holidays and commercialization of the season.

Will you choose to allow those things to take your eyes off of Jesus?

Oh Yes We Did. And Here’s Why.

Oh Yes We Did. And Here's Why. | Thisgratefulmama.com

What is a girl to do when it is 60 degrees on a Sunday in November?

Well, living in MN, you take full advantage of the day. It was gorgeous!  With the garage already clean and yard work finished, what else could we do?

We decided to get the most benefit out of the weather. We took the whole family outside and put up our Christmas lights during the first week of November.

Sigh. 

Yes. We are those people. The people I used to sigh at and say…why do we have to start with the Christmas SO early? Can’t we just enjoy Thanksgiving?

However, it seems I have had a change of heart. Here’s why:

  1. Last year our Christmas-light-hanging was both a comical and actual disaster: In fact, we embarrassed ourselves and cracked up some of our neighbors. Our failings caused one of them to take pity on us and come to help us. Not only were we ill-equipped (our ladder was too short, our poles were too short), but we had absolutely NO idea what we were doing. Hanging lights was a cinch at our old house with its low roof-line and gutters – where the clips easily attached and our short ladder was perfect. We were completely unprepared for the project at our new house. High peaks and no gutters is a whole new ball game. So, after being the neighborhood Tweedledee and Tweedledum last year, we decided to be both equipped and proactive this year.
  2. We acquired the right equipment: This year we bought this fancy pole that releases the hooks with a trigger. To say it made the job easier is an understatement. It worked SO much better. We also were able to borrow an extension ladder twice the size of our ladder from a generous neighbor. This time we were well equipped before we began. BUT, let me be clear…we still had some hiccups and I’m sure we still looked VERY funny while doing it because we still weren’t totally sure what we’re doing. Lots of trial and error, but less than last year. SO, I guess that means we’re getting better. Next year…we’ll be just like the professionals, right? Isn’t the third time a charm? Haha.
  3. The weather was fantastic: It was gorgeous out. 60 degree sunny days don’t really happen in MN. It was unseasonably warm and still is! A GIFT. It felt great to be outside and accomplish something. Last year it was chilly and because we were unprepared, it took forever. And ever. Freezing people who don’t know what they are doing – who break their lights so they no longer work after ALL that effort…well, our attitudes got a little cold last year. And, in MN, it could easily be 60 degrees today and be snowing and 20 degrees tomorrow and not warm up again until spring. NEVER, EVER waste a nice day in November in MN!
  4. We have small children: It takes two adults to hang lights, especially with someone on a very tall ladder. This means our children must be outside with us. We are simply lacking the desire to freeze (and hear our children complain that they are freezing) while we hang Christmas lights. For us, earlier is practical in SO many ways.
  5. We were in good company: Not only were we outside putting up our lights early, but our neighbor across the street was as well. You know – the kind soul who took pity on us last year and who knows exactly what he is doing. Thankfully, he only had to stop by once to hold the ladder. And, as we walked around our block today, we saw there are 6 other homes with lights up. As long as we’re not the very first…I’m ok with it.

So, we may be those people, jumping the gun on Christmas decorations, but let me tell you. It was WORTH IT. We got to be outside on a beautiful day. Because no one was freezing, it made a not-very-fun task manageable. And dare I say, enjoyable? Probably not. My husband was the one up high in the wind on the ladder…it may not have been very fun for him. Did I mention he’s pretty amazing?

So, when you drive by those houses with lights already up, remember this – they did it early and won’t be out there freezing with the rest of you who decide to wait until closer to December.

And perhaps they’re like me and still value Thanksgiving and weren’t even planning to turn the lights on until afterwards. But then, their 2 and 5 year old children pleaded to turn the lights on. Who could resist? They proceeded to display such sweet child-like joy and delight at those little white lights that it just seems silly to refuse to turn them on. Their smiles and faces almost made my heart pop. Seriously, I do think lights are pretty, but to these children, they’re A-MAZ-ING! And, their delight gave us the perfect chance to talk about how Christmas lights remind the world that Jesus is the true light of the world.

Plus, I like the way the lights show off the Grateful sign on our porch.

When do your lights go up?

Practice Gratitude – And An Invitation.

Practice Gratitude - And An Invitation

 

As I wrote last year, I firmly believe that Thanksgiving is more than a meal with Turkey. In 2014, our family placed an extra focus on gratitude during the month of November. Our son and I filled out gratitude calendars. It was amazing to hear how our 4-year-old son could verbalize what he was thankful for and to also hear him do it with far more variation than I expected.

October was a busy month, filled with a rotation of colds and coughs, apple picking, bonfires, fun activities, a trip to Maine to visit family and rejoice at the wedding of our nephew, and culminated with the return to Minnesota and the celebration of our son’s fifth birthday. It was a whirl-wind.

In fact, October was so busy that I feel like November snuck up on me. I woke up this morning in a day-light-savings haze and realized it was ALREADY November. We were already one day behind!

There are 23 days until Thanksgiving, 52 days until Christmas, and 59 days until New Years Day.

Our plan for 2015 is similar to last year, only we will practice gratitude from now until 2016. If we had started yesterday, it would be an even 60 days, but 59 will have to do. Perhaps next year I will be a little more proactive.

Instead of the gratitude calendar we made and used last year, we are going to try a gratitude tree. I’m excited to go out and find the ‘tree’ this week, but in the meantime, we’ll record our gratitude on little notes to hang when the tree is ready. I can’t wait to share it with you!

It may have to be a big tree to support our family’s notes for 60 days! Perhaps we need one per person…

So, what does it mean to practice gratitude for 60 days? 

Let’s start with defining practice and gratitude according to the Merriam Webster Online Dictionary.

prac·tice (verb): perform (an activity) or exercise (a skill) repeatedly or regularly in order to improve or maintain one’s proficiency. carry out or perform (a particular activity, method, or custom) habitually or regularly.

grat·i·tude (noun): the quality of being thankful; readiness to show appreciation for and to return kindness.

In essence, we are choosing to develop the quality of being thankful by practicing it repeatedly through the New Year. With the busy-ness of the holiday season, it is easy to get caught up in To-Do lists, and all kinds of good activities. Although the season is fun, filled with family and friends and twinkling lights, sometimes we lose sight of just how much we have already, because we are focused on what we have to DO.

By focusing on what and who we are thankful for, we create a pattern of reflecting on what we already have. We will more readily see the blessings in life despite and through our circumstances, and more easily and habitually GIVE THANKS to others. From experience, the effect is uplifting, joyful, and WORTH IT. 

And why would we do this?

Because we have MUCH to be thankful for.

We have MANY people to thank.

We have a Lord who deserves ALL our gratitude and praise.

We will strive to emulate a passage of scripture that is very dear to my heart:

Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you. – 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18

 And so…

I’ll be posting our daily gratitude on the thisgratefulmama Facebook page for the next 59 days. I would love to share this journey with you. Will you join us? 

 

The Wonder Of It All – All God’s Grace in One Tiny Face

 

The Wonder of It All - All God's Grace In One Tiny Face | thisgratefulmama.com

Do you ever find yourself wrapped up in the bustling holiday schedule, and even though you keep Christ as the center of the events, you find yourself missing the feeling of WONDER? You know, the magic, the feeling of joy and mystery, and gratitude that seems to come so easily to children.

And lets be clear: I am not talking about the wonder of Santa, although I do not think Santa is a bad thing. But lets set the Santa discussion aside for another day.

I spent last Christmas, focused on Jesus, and while I certainly felt grateful that He came to save the world (to save me), I am sad to say, I didn’t feel AWE.

Why?

Because we are busy. Because I’m often guilty of being so analytical in my thinking that I lose my imagination; I read the facts and commit them to memory, but I have trouble thinking on a deeper level.

And, the story is familiar. Of course, I want scripture to be familiar…but it is never a good thing to think it doesn’t hold truths we don’t already know, just because we have read it before. It is meant to be treasured, each time, and then to be questioned, wondered at, and pondered.

So I’ve been reading the gospel accounts of Jesus’ birth, over and over, and have been trying to spend time really thinking about what is said, and what IS NOT SAID.

In the process, I have generated more questions than answers, and the questions have left me with a sense of wonder…that this story has truths that are not revealed, that I cannot understand within the limits of my human mind, and that cannot be explained by science, reasoning, or deduction. Like much in the Bible, there are details and truths in this story that God intentionally left out; mysteries left behind for us to marvel at.

So while I don’t know all the answers, I do know is that the Christmas story – the miracles, the gift of God’s son, and the great work of God that began with Jesus’ birth deserves not only to be read, but to be studied, reflected on, and to be AWED at…with wide eyes.

In order to experience the WONDER of Christmas, I have to take time to realize what there is to wonder about.

As I posted last week, I have spent a lot of time thinking about Mary, and what her experience would have been like if it happened to, gulp, ME.

But today, my thoughts are all about Jesus. Fully God. Fully man…

My thoughts were on Jesus when I saw this sign in Hobby Lobby while trying to find a craft for my son to make for his preschool teachers:

All Gods Grace in one Tiny Face sign from Hobby Lobby

I’d seen the sign before and had thought about how cute it would be in a new baby’s room. But never before had I made a connection to Jesus and how these words are more than fitting to describe His birth.

It is easy to think of Jesus as a cuddly baby and to celebrate His birthday. I’m sure He was cuddly. I’m sure he was as sweet as newborn babies are. Complete with ten tiny toes, ten tiny fingers, and baby soft skin and hair. I’m sure Mary and Joseph thought there was never a baby as cute as Him. There was certainly never a baby as miraculous as Him, but we know Jesus was ordinary. By looks, I’m sure he blended in with the crowd – it was His actions and character that set Him apart.

The meaning of Christmas is more than just the miracle of His conception by the Holy Spirit and birth to a virgin.

God did not have to send Jesus. And Jesus did not have to abide by the Father’s will. God does not have to love us. And furthermore, God could have kept his plan limited to His chosen people, Israel. He didn’t have to blow the doors off their hinges and open the way for the rest of us to come to know Him and be saved.

The truth is, He doesn’t have to do anything. Which means…He chooses to love, to redeem, to save. Perfectly.

I have no reason to offer God that can make Him want to include me, to save me, to love me. In reality, I should be unlovable by God – sinful, ungrateful, selfish…I could go on…In God’s holy presence, I deserve judgement and wrath. He is far too holy to tolerate even ONE of my many, many sins. I deserve Hell; we all do.

And yet, on that day, God became flesh – Emmanuel. God With Us. Why God would desire to be WITH us…I cannot answer. But when He came to earth as a baby, He not only dwelled here, but He paved the way for the Holy Spirit to dwell WITHIN us.

In us. A gift we don’t deserve. No words can express how priceless this gift is.

Jesus was fully God. Can you fathom what this means? Was He actively restraining His power at all times while on earth? Did He, as a tiny baby, have to allow Mary to take care of Him? He certainly had the power to meet His own needs. And yet, allowing others to raise Him, care for Him…Was that a part of how He humbled Himself to experience our life? Did He do it to show how only He could remain sinless as He experienced our physical and daily challenges and temptations?

I don’t think we’ll know these things on earth, but I can’t wait to ask Him in heaven.

When all will be revealed.

Our God is certainly powerful, but He also has the utmost self-control – The RESTRAINT required to live 30 years without showing His power…Oh my. It’s unfathomable.

He makes no mistakes. He committed no sins.

Not. A. One.

He MEANT to come, to carry out this amazing plan, to fulfill every single prophecy, to serve us and love us in this way. He was all-powerful, all-knowing, and able to do anything. But He lived a quiet life before His ministry began. His life’s sole focus was on fulfilling an eternal purpose. To save us. Us.

He chose no worldly glory – He didn’t come to reign as King and to rule over all, even though He is the ultimate King, of ALL Kings. Ruling here could have been His rightful place. But His plan was eternal. More perfect than we can understand; and a plan we could NEVER come up with. He aimed to save as many as possible. A plan to end ALL plans.

Certainly we cannot know the truth of all of these mysteries…but I believe HE KNEW all of this the whole time He was on earth. It doesn’t explicitly say in the Bible if as an infant Jesus was pondering these things, but since He was fully God, I believe He did.

I believe that when Jesus came as a baby, He knew how and when His life would end.

Can you imagine the self control, love, and faithfulness of living each day for 33 years, knowing the exact time and circumstances of your death? He knew He would be ridiculed, punished, beaten, spit on, and hated by those He loved and came to save. The sins of those who brutally crucified Him, He bore on the cross. He looked in their eyes, knew their names, and heard and felt their scorn.

Do you wonder how love could be so big? So deep? So motivating to God that He would do all this? Do you wonder how an all-powerful God could be so humble as to enter His own creation? To feel pain, physical exhaustion, and all of our frailty? And to be unrecognized, and to be rejected, all while not striking down those who certainly deserved it?

Only a God who IS love…

Jesus entered a world of sin. Full of sin. As THE Holy God. Every person who had ever lived before, and has lived since deserves His WRATH. Yet He held it back, even when surrounded by sinful men, women, and children.

Surely, the sin in the fallen world He entered repulsed Him. But despite His ultimate authority, He showed mercy. He demonstrated attributes that we struggle and fail to emulate…Unconditional love. Peace. Compassion. Comfort. Service. Sacrifice. Gentleness. Goodness. Kindness. Patience. Grace…

And oh, do we need His grace…But we don’t deserve it, and can’t earn it.

When I think of these things…when I WONDER about these things…

It gives a new perspective on Christmas. It brings depth, peace, joy and gratitude at a new level. Here I stand today, washed white as snow by the blood of Jesus, all because Jesus came as a baby…grew up…and died for me.

I find myself finishing this post, words blurred by tears of joy (If you know me, you know that tears do not flow freely for me very often – it holds significance here). They are welcome tears to someone who often sees the facts but often misses the heart of scripture.

I find my thoughts wrapped up in the mystery…in awe…in gratitude…at the wonder of it all.

“And the Word became flesh, and dwelt among us, and we saw His glory, glory as of the only begotten from the Father, full of grace and truth.” – John 1:14 (ESV, emphasis added)

Merry Christmas.

The Wonder of It All - All God's Grace In One Tiny Face | thisgratefulmama.com

 

The Wonder Of It All – Mary’s Response

The Wonder Of It All - Mary's Response | thisgratefulmama.com

Since having children, the bible passages telling of Jesus’ birth have become a different kind of real.

The experience of pregnancy, the expectant waiting, the joy and heart-stopping love at their birth that took me by surprise – even with our second child, and the daily blessing of watching each child grow and develop gives new perspective of the beauty of God’s plan with Jesus.

As a mother, I find myself trying to step into Mary’s shoes. I find myself wondering how she was so obedient, so in agreement with God’s will for her that when the angel came and told her that she would have a son, conceived by the Holy Spirit, her response was so simple, bold, and profound:

“Behold, I am the servant of the Lord; let it be to me according to your word.” – Luke 1:38 (The Holy Bible, ESV, emphasis added)

The Wonder Of It All - Mary's Response | thisgratefulmama.com

We are not told much about Mary before this occurrence, but I think it is reasonable to assume that she was God-fearing, humble, and willing to serve Him in any way He asked. I have no idea what life experiences and truths she had of God that made her this way. And yet, she did.

Lets be clear: the words spoken by the angel must have been amazing, but they must have also been equally terrifying. She, a virgin, was going to be a mother. She didn’t get to plan for it. I’m sure her heart was pounding, and the sheer shock of the angels presence would have done as much. But his message would have been perplexing, frightening, shocking, and wondrous all at once.

When my husband and I were ready to have our first child, we were in agreement that we were ‘ready’. We believe each child is a miracle, and created intentionally by the hands of a loving, creative, and skillful God. We ultimately knew it was up to God’s timing, but as a couple, we had entered a place in life where we were open to it, and were expecting it to happen. Even then, when that pregnancy test was positive, it was easily one of the most exciting and scary moments of my life.

I cannot even begin to fathom how it would have felt if an angel had, first of all, appeared (that alone is unfathomable to me), and then spoke such words. I can’t imagine being told while I was unmarried that I was going to become pregnant.

By the Holy Spirit.

Whoa.

With God’s son.

The words must have stolen her breath.

We are told she was ‘greatly troubled’ (Luke 1:29) by the angels presence and greeting – BEFORE even speaking about pregnancy. We don’t get a description of how those words left her.

And perhaps it is because there are no words to describe it.

Surely, greatly troubled is not broad enough of a term to accurately describe the immensity of the emotions and questions she must have experienced. If I can’t get my head around it, how could she?

I can only believe she was empowered by her faith and that God’s peace was poured out to her in its fullest measure.

When she responded, she couldn’t have known that Joseph would also be visited by an angel and that he, too, would be obedient and believe her, and the angel. She was simply open to God’s plan for her life, and trusted He would work out the details.

Thinking of her, I find myself questioning my own faith and obedience. I question my need to know all the details, and if the often, much-too-analytic-thinking part of my brain would be my detriment.

I wonder if I would have been more like Zechariah who doubted and questioned the angel (Luke 1:18-25) when he was told that Elizabeth would have a baby. And let’s be clear: Zechariah was a priest and knew and served the Lord. His doubt is nothing to criticize. It was a moment of doubt, in a life of service to God.

He just wanted to know MORE, and like me, he wanted something concrete to grab onto. I see this tendency in myself. But who am I to think that God needs to prove Himself or share all the details of His plan with ME?

While it is comforting that God still used Zechariah despite his moment of doubt, blessing his family with John, it leaves me wanting to be sure my heart is ready to respond with the humble, bold faith of Mary.

Zechariah reminds me that God has a purpose for me, and that any day, any moment, I could be called to serve Him in a way I don’t expect or understand.

Mary’s response is surely why God chose her for this special job; He knew her heart. She could have chosen to reply in any way she wanted to.

She chose to completely surrender her life to God. She was open to His leading, and not so caught up with her worldly life that she couldn’t see past it.

It takes my breath away.

Her path of obedience was not easy, and one could argue it was certainly not logical. The social repercussions of an unwed pregnancy could have been life-ending, but she risked it all and trusted God to take care of her.

She birthed Jesus.

Mary held our savior in her arms and loved Him as only a mother can, but also with the knowledge that He was a true miracle. A gift.

She then did her best to raise God’s own son.

Imagine the complex feelings and challenges of raising the son of God!

Parenting often leads me to see my own shortcomings. Does this happen to you too? Can you imagine the shortcomings that would become evident if you were parenting the perfect and sinless child? His perfection could only show our imperfection. And yet we know he was gracious, kind and gentle. I am sure He was all of these things with His mother.

Talk about true sanctification. I’m sure the process was often painful, and always humbling. And yet, she served the Lord, willingly.

As a result, she was blessed to be the His mother. She was close to the son of God before His ministry began. She knows all those details about Him and His life that the Bible does not record. Precious things. She knew of His true origin, and of the truth of His perfect and righteous character.

I have no doubt she knew He was without sin and marveled at His wisdom.

Can you imagine all SHE learned from Him?

While I do not believe that Mary is worthy of our worship, I certainly believe she presents a worthy example of a woman of faith to emulate.

This Christmas season, I’m looking to increase my faith and be willing to be bold and obey whatever He asks of ME.

The Wonder Of It All - Mary's Response | thisgratefulmama.com