First Tuesday of Advent

mind swirling

questions barraging

answers unknown

all of the answers unknown

unrevealed

concealed

ask. pray. wait.

He clothes Himself in mystery.

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All day long I’ve wondered what a self-portrait of myself pregnant with Christ would look like. Then it came to me. The verse didn’t come until after the sketch, but when it came, I knew what it meant.

He’s got this

I can stop the worrying

put away the anxiety

the stress

and lean into Him

None of it is a surprise to Him.

none. of. it.

 

Tuesday, the first week of Advent

“This is how the birth of Jesus the Messiah came about. His mother Mary was pledged to be married to Joseph, but before they came together she was found to be pregnant through the Holy Spirit.” Matthew 8:8, TNIV

All believers are meant to be pregnant with Christ. After we receive him in the core of our hearts, we allow him to grow by decreasing so that he can increase. But we can’t do this alone. We need grace in order to even begin to be diligent enough to assure nothing that goes into us that will harm the Beloved Child. Prayer, God’s word, and love of God and neighbor all nurture Christ within us, and having thus fed and strengthened Him, we may watch in humble wonder as he is formed in us.

Using whatever arts supplies you feel drawn to, create a self-portrait of yourself pregnant with Christ. Allow the image to be as fanciful as your soul desires. Realism is neither expected, or particularly desired.

Gracious Father God,

The humility of Mary, the mother of our Lord, seems so out of reach. She accepted you without hesitation, but when you want to come to me I’m tempted to look at my life first, to determine myself whether or not it’s good enough for you to enter into. Lord, I’m not wise enough to understand where you may wish to dwell, so give me the faith to say like the centurion, “Lord, I do not deserve to have you come under my roof. But just say the Word, and my servant shall be healed.” And then I will say with great joy,

“Come, Lord Jesus.”

 

follow along with us

First Monday of Advent

***I’m fasting from social media throughout Advent.

These posts are being automatically fed to Facebook.

If you’d like me to see your comment,

please do so in the comment section of the blog. Blessings!***

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It’s been a quiet day.

Weird, too. Nearly 70 degrees in northern Indiana in December? Windows open, music blaring, putting away summer clothes is nothing short of worrisome. But I went through our clothes and switched out seasons, because it’s sure to get cold soon.

I also started watching Lost (how did I not know about this show??)

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Today’s devotion from my dear friend, Mair:

Monday, the first week of Advent

“In the sixth month, the angel Gabriel was sent by God to a town in Galilee called Nazareth, to a virgin engaged to a man whose name was Joseph, of the house of David. The virgin’s name was Mary. And he came to her and said, “Greetings, favored one! The Lord is with you. But she was much perplexed by his words and pondered what sort of greeting this might be. 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 call him Jesus.” Luke 1:26-21, NRSV

Many Evangelical Christians are fond of saying they’ve accepted Jesus as their personal Savior. The words are often said fearlessly, and sometimes even proudly. How disconnected we can be from Mary’s awe. We can take a few clues from Jesus’ first disciple. She pondered Gabriel’s strange greeting perplexed, before she sat in amazement at his message. It was only then that she believed, even before she became Jesus’ mother. Without her exquisitely reverent hearing, believing, and then acting on God’s directive, Mary would have never conceived Him.

Gather whatever art supplies that call out to you. Again practice the art of sacred reading, meditating, praying, and then contemplating the today’s verse. Try to do as Mary did, and experience the message with awe, and reverent respect. What do you “conceive” of as you ponder this verse. Spend a few moments freely and intuitively creating. Abandon criticism. You cannot do this wrong.

God of amazing grace, Am I really listening to you? And more than listening, am I pondering deeply what You’ve said? I don’t want to lose my reverence and devotion. Help me to know, always, that your indwelling presence is a gift. I did not, and could not earn it. Without enabling grace I could never have accepted Christ. Therefore, I want to obey you. What good is a gift of such magnitude if I refuse to submit to your will? I pray that you’ll give me both the willingness, and the obedience of Mary, so that I may bear Christ faithfully, rather than abort his inner workings through my doubt and willful disobedience.

“Come, Lord Jesus.”

And my art for today

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Another Advent Attempt

***I’m fasting from social media throughout Advent.

These posts are being automatically fed to Facebook.

If you’d like me to see your comment,

please do so in the comment section of the blog. Blessings!***

* * * * * * * * * *

 

I’ve tried and failed to do Advent in the traditionally accepted way, but I don’t fit well into the box that is tradition and I’m not cut from the cloth that is normal.

God said, “Follow me,” and I obeyed.

behold

This year I wanted to try again. Things in my immediate family are strained and we’re going to be moving soon and I’m not really feeling the joy of the season  so I thought the quiet anticipation of Christ’s coming would be the perfect healing for my anxious heart.  Years of attempts bombard me telling me I can’t succeed, but I’m a stubborn little cuss.  I prayed, asking God what would he have me do.  The answer came as quite a shock to me: Fast. At first I thought it would be a food based fast, but then God made it clear in my prayer time that it would be a social media fast.

For all of Advent.

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Which also happens to be a time when my husband and I will be separated in a way we haven’t been in many, many years.  Things are happening in our lives that are rather odd, even for our strange life.  We’ll be relocated for Phil’s new job, but we won’t find out where until after Christmas.  So this season of anticipation is dual. I’m awaiting the coming of Christ and the coming of a new chapter in our lives.

When I announced my Advent plans on Facebook, some were disappointed I’d be gone. Some didn’t believe I would follow through.  For those who want to keep up with what I’m learning, I prayed about blogging my lessons and received affirmation (so here I am!) Before I signed off the social media outlets, I made sure my blogs posts would feed to Facebook.  Hopefully it works.

Last night, my dear friend, Mair,  announced “An Expressive Arts Advent” and I KNEW I had to participate.

Today’s reading and activity:

The First Sunday of Advent

“Behold, a virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel.” Isaiah 7:14, KJV.

We begin with the ancient arts of divine reading: lectio divina. There are four movements to this practice: reading, meditating, praying, and contemplating. Slowly read the prophesy of Isaiah, giving some attention to the word behold.

A virgin conceives and bears a son. We call him, “God with us.” Behold the miracle of the Incarnation. Christ put on the fragile garment of human flesh; he lived among us, suffered and died, and promised to return. His coming begs the questions, what does this mean to me? How do I behold Him?

As we pray through Advent, each week we will focus on one of four ways that Christ comes into our lives, beginning with His emergence into the world He created with a Word, as a helpless infant. May we watch and wait, and welcome Him with joy, allowing His presence to transform us.
Take whatever art supplies you feel drawn to and write, draw or paint the word Behold. What thoughts come to mind? What colors, shapes or images? Allow them to emerge without judgment. Let the process surprise you. If you are so inclined, post your word.

My Jesus,

So much is happening during the holiday season. I don’t want to miss You while I’m out shopping for gifts, going to parties, or even attending church to celebrate your coming. I marvel at your humility to leave riches so profound in such a simple dwelling, the womb of a mortal woman. Give me the humility during this sacred time to reflect on my life, recognize my duplicity and, like your mother, open the whole of myself to untold glory. Then I can watch and wait for your salvation. Without you I can do nothing, including utter, with a since heart, the words that reflect the longing of the prophets:

“Come, Lord Jesus.”

behold

When God Speaks Affirmation

The failure known as Advent 2010 draped down and over like a wet blanket.   The longing to see all the candles lit was overwhelming. Temptation to punish a heart already forgiven by leaving them tall and unlit forced grimy paws around my joy.

Screw the lies.

Christmas Eve is the celebration of Christ’s birth and why shouldn’t I light them?

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Pillar candles nestled in wax crumbles burned bright for hours. They were still burning when I left, alone, for Midnight Mass.

On the way, I listened to this, a gift handed to me from the artist just days before mom died. She hugged me and prayed for mom and I and the family and God moved me through her.

The roads were near empty all the way there and more so after.

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Midnight Mass wasn’t what my memory recollected. No Latin, instead, Spanish. The pews weren’t packed tight, either.

Pews creaked. A heavy breather behind me. Ancient nun with boney fingers playing the organ, all of us awake at Midnight.

Father Eduardo Malagon read from Luke then told of being excited as a child to stay awake for Midnight Mass. It must have been something important because the children were allowed to miss their bedtime. He asked if we knew why the shepherds were the first to be shown the Christ child. Back in time to Abraham, God asked for his son Isaac to be sacrificed. Abraham took Isaac to the alter, Isaac asking where the lamb of sacrifice was. Abraham answered The Lord Will Provide. And who is the first to see a newborn lamb, but the shepherd? And so it was.

Father went on, imagine how excited the shepherds were, they would have wanted to tell everyone. And we are blessed with the Christ child’s birth.

“Go.” Father said, “Go and let your life show the truth.”

“Go.” Father repeated. “Go as you are, just as the shepherds were shepherds, for God has chosen you -in the life you are in-let your life show truth.”

God spoke affirmation out of Father’s mouth. God whispered yesterday “Go and show them who I AM” and at Midnight Mass He poured love over my hesitant heart, repeating.

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Follow me

By the way things went (failed) it’s obvious my Advent does not resemble the Advent of so many. Or they’re lying.

Accusations aside.

Bringing the wide-angle lens in very, very tight. Christmas and the anticipation of celebrating the birth of our Savior is shared throughout Christendom, moving in, Advent is recognized by most liturgical dominations (and a few non-liturgicals) and bringing that lens in super tight–there’s me–a denomination mutt. Raised Catholic, became atheist, Independent Baptist, Southern Baptist and now? Something. I love Jesus and I drink a little.

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At the beginning of this Advent season, I tried (again) and failed. Such good intentions. But it didn’t pan out. I’d envisioned a lovely time of reflection. A time to focus my heart on Christ. A quiet time.

Christmas nativity

One thing after another happened. Continual failure on my part to create this quiet anticipation.

And then God spoke to me. Quietly. In my heart.

He reminded that Mary rode on a donkey (a donkey!) to Bethlehem while she was full with the Christ child. Stretched taught. Joints aching. Ankles swelling. Cervix dilating. She sat on a donkey. Bouncing. For days.

Not much quiet contemplation.

Her water broke. She had contractions. No pain meds, no epidural, no doctor or midwife, no help breathing, no pool of hot water to relax her tired body, her sore body.  Was there even another woman there with her?  Someone to hold her hand and tell her it would be alright?  She’d never even had sex and now the Messiah’s head was crowning. She was screaming. She had to have been screaming.

Christmas night

God also reminded me of who I am.  (His)  and what my purpose is (Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. Love your neighbor as yourself.)

The Jews in the time that Jesus walked this earth believed the Messiah would come. They believed he’d come their way. And do what they wanted him to do. They certainly didn’t think he’d come to an unwed, screaming young woman in a stable.

Am I to expect, then, that Advent will happen my way? That the Advent I have conjured in my head is the Advent of the Messiah?

Christmas Fireplace

God asked me hard questions. Why are you still holding on? Haven’t you read of David’s wife Bathsheba and the death of their son? Get up. Wash yourself. Eat. Anoint yourself.

God whispered to me to go and show them who I AM.

Was anyone doing this for me, Lord, when I needed it?

Am I not enough for you, child?

my heart sinks. again. for this is not the first time this question has been asked of me.

The servant who knows what his master wants and ignores it, or insolently does whatever he pleases, will be thoroughly thrashed. But if he does a poor job through ignorance, he’ll get off with a slap on the hand. Great gifts mean great responsibilities; greater gifts, greater responsibilities!

here i am, Lord, send me. did i not say that years ago? like peter, though, he loves me. pours his grace over me. trusts me. and then he whispered this to me.

Follow me.