Orphaned or Adopted? ~ Reflections on Easter Sunday


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We all have parents, whether we physically knew them or not. In my case, I knew both of my parents, growing up in a home where they both lived until I was nine. It was at that point that they divorced. My mother, my two brothers and me moved 2,000 miles away so we could be near my mother’s relatives.

Saying goodbye that day to my father on the plane was a very painful experience. It was back in the day when non-ticketed friends and family could go beyond the security check-point at the airport. My father walked us all onto the plane and paid special attention to me. Through my tears I could hear him reassuringly say, “Everything is going to be ok. You need to be a big girl now and take care of your mother.”

That was not my first taste of abandonment, but it’s the one I remember most. My previous taste of abandonment was when my mother had her nervous breakdown when I was six years old. She didn’t choose to abandon me, but the effects of that event led me to never really knowing my mother as a person.

Those two abandonments early on in my life left me seeking to fill the void in my heart in unhealthy ways. I tried throughout my teens and into adulthood to win my father’s approval—to feel important in his eyes. Worse than that were the choices I made to rebel against God. Thankfully God has redeemed the pain of my youth and beyond.

When I grew up—I mean really grew up emotionally on the inside—not my physical age, I started to recognize and label these abandonments for what they were and the affects they had on me. Now that both of my parents are gone (going on two years), a friend who recently lost the second of her parents asked me if I feel (or felt) like an orphan after they passed.

Her question gave me an opportunity to reflect on that very point. We talked about it a bit. My response was ‘no’. I can certainly understand how one would feel that way. However, for me, I led the life of an orphan most of my adult life. As I actively turned to Christ in the last decade or so, I learned more about my significance to God and the role the Body of Christ was intended to play in my life. I built relationships with other women who were also hungry for God and seeking to become the women He designed them to be.

I was no longer orphaned; I was adopted. I was adopted into the Body of Christ and was now part of His family.  Romans 8:14-16 tells us:  For those who are led by the Spirit of God are the children of God.  The Spirit you received does not make you slaves, so that you live in fear again; rather, the Spirit you received brought about your adoption to sonship. And by him we cry, “Abba,Father.” The Spirit himself testifies with our spirit that we are God’s children.

With that adoption comes a responsibility to live life as God designed. Easter Sunday is a marker of that adoption for all who accept Christ as their Savior. Our adoption certificates are signed with his blood. Let us not take that for granted.

Regardless of the relationship you had or didn’t have with your parents, may you embrace the love of our Heavenly Father and His physical representatives on earth as your family.

~ Ardis A. Nelson

My God, My God, Why Have You Forsaken Me?


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I have felt forsaken, especially at specific times in my youth. During this Holy Week it really does something for me to know that Jesus also felt forsaken. What this means for all of us who have suffered and felt abandoned, writer Jasona Brown expresses well:

The Deepest Love

I agreed to speak on these words at our church’s Good Friday service.  Then I thought, What have I done? I now must teach on the worst words in the entire Bible?  Campion_Hall_Jesus

Jesus cried these words moments before his death, not long before he screamed, gave up his spirit, and died.

Exposure and Vulnerability

The Romans stripped Jesus of his clothes, exposing his body; they stripped him of his skin by scourging, exposing his sinews and muscles; but with these words, Jesus himself exposed his heart, laying it bare and raw before the human race. He could not have made himself more vulnerable.

So, I move forward with trembling. How can I presume to speak of the mystery of this most excruciating, vulnerable moment in my savior’s life?

Joy Under Despair

I must speak, however, not only because I said I would, but because the longer I sit with these words the…

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What to do with Sadness ~ Maundy Thursday and Good Friday

Journeys To Mother Love

William Blake's Holy Thursday (1794). William Blake’s Holy Thursday (1794)

“Holy Week” (the week before Easter during which the last days of Christ’s life are commemorated) was not a term I grew up hearing a lot. In our family and church we celebrated the joy of Palm Sunday and the victory of Easter Sunday. But we didn’t have Maundy Thursday or Good Friday services that I can remember. Our denomination emphasized that we serve a risen savior and he has provided for us the grace to live in resurrection life, and I’m thankful for that heritage. Yes, the cross was sung about and preached about. I remember my father calling people to repentance and faith based on Jesus’ finished work on the cross. And all during the year we sang rousing hymns and gospel songs about the power of the cross and the blood. But Easter week was altogether a joyous experience of colored eggs…

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My mother turned 99 in January. She resides in a nursing home that feels like a prison. I must always wait in a glassed-in foyer to be buzzed into the hallway that leads to my mother’s room. And, I must always wait for a go-ahead signal in order to exit the building.

One of the nurses affectionately calls Mom, “99.” Mom laughs at her nickname. She recognizes the love behind it, and she appreciates the humor and attention. My mother is blind, cannot walk, eats only pureed food, sleeps most of the day, and will not—at 5 o’clock in the late afternoon—remember that one of her children visited at lunchtime. My siblings and I keep a calendar taped on the side of the wardrobe in her room, so we can sign our names on the days when we visit.

“See here where Ella came yesterday,” I say in order to make conversation.

“No,” Mom emphatically responses. “Ella has not been to visit for a long time.” My siblings and I never correct Mom. Why try to set her straight?

Once Mom asked me to go upstairs and get a blanket for her. There is no upstairs. In Mom’s mind, we are back in my childhood home. “There’s one right here,” I say as I walk over and open the wardrobe. Mom is satisfied, and the fact that there is no upstairs—that we are not in my childhood home—never becomes an issue.

Then, on another occasion, Mom invited me to eat with her. We were sitting together in the nursing home dining hall. Mom thought we were in a restaurant. “No,” I replied. “I’ll wait to eat with Joe when I go home.” She accepted my reason for not eating in the “restaurant.”

But, after the meal as I was pushing her wheel chair out of the room, she turned her head back to me and said, “Did you pay?”

“It’s taken care of,” I replied.

Lately, my mother wants to sleep through lunch. She is too exhausted to raise the spoon to her mouth. And when she tries to feed herself, the result is a mess. “Want me to feed you?” I now ask.

And, my mother replies, “Yes, please.”

I feed her like I used to feed my children when they were babies in the highchair. The task of feeding her brings fond memories to mind of my urchins with their beautiful, happy faces, playing “pat-a-cake, pat-a-cake, baker’s man; roll ’em up, roll ’em up; pitch ’em in a pan.”

My mother’s plate of food looks like the contents of baby food jars were deposited on it. I am forced to read her menu in order to learn that the light tan mush is chicken and gravy, and that the mossy green blob is seasoned green beans. I feed her like I used to feed my toddlers, even scraping food off her chin and from the corners of her mouth.

It is sad to see all this decline, but there is something very special about these times together. We are a very quiet twosome. Except for an occasional softly-spoken comment or question from me, we sit in silence. The moment is ours, and I do not want to share it with any of the other residents or nurses’ aides as they scurry about from table to table. “You’re doing a great job,” I say. “The plate is almost empty,” I inform. “Does it taste good?” I ask. “Do you want to eat more, or are you full?” I inquire.

Mother and child sit together in the “restaurant,” located in the “downstairs of my childhood home.” We share the quiet, reverent moment. But, who is the mother? Who is the child? Our roles have become as blurred as the space around us. I can’t imagine anyone around us, who is as happy as we are because our imaginations—rooted in faith—have knocked down the prison walls and have built a staircase to a better place and time.

When Mother Love Must Be Tough Love


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Water Under the Bridge

A mother’s love may be tested and tried almost beyond endurance, until it has the opportunity to shine like gold refined in a furnace.

Such is the case with the mother described in the novel, Water Under the Bridge, by Verna Simms (Verna is also a contributor to the book, Journeys to Mother Love and this blog.)

Verna’s novel surprised me with its vivid characters and setting and its powerful themes. If you have read Verna’s short memoir in the Journeys to Mother Love, this novel will provide background that will give you even more appreciation for Verna’s personal story. While Water Under the Bridge is fiction, it is based on Verna’s experience as a child. I am sure the wonderful main character of the story, a nine-year-old girl named Amelia, is very much like our Verna was as a child.

What was it like in the early 20th Century, when a father converted to Mormonism, sold the farm in Missouri and moved his family to the dry desert of Arizona, where he found freedom to embrace the teaching of polygamy? As the family struggled to make ends meet during the Great Depression, what was it like for the wife and children to have their husband and father bring into their home young wives no older than his eldest children? What was it like for the young daughter to deal with conflicting feelings of love for her family, normal experiences of growing up, and yet increasing disappointment and disdain for her father … and finally fear for her own future as she overhears what her father has planned for her?!

Where should the wife and mother’s loyalties lie?

An unusual and profound story! In places it is, perhaps, not for the faint of heart. But if you read it (and it is available in both paperback and Kindle) you will be rewarded with a great read, an engrossing story, and a beautiful picture of tough mother love!

Filling the Mother-Loss with Tangible Grace


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When your mother dies, especially if she is still quite young, you can feel forsaken and forlorn. And even when your heart embraces the mercy of these true words: “When my mother and father forsake me, the Lord will take me up” — there remains a mother-shaped cavern in your heart that reminds you every day of your loss.

But the Lord has shown me that He wants to fill that hole in my life with the most unexpected, beautiful gifts. I have been wanting to tell my readers about the wondrous gifts that have been coming to me. And I think it is time now. So, with a sense of Heaven’s nearness, a smile of awe, and a few tears, I’ll share the rest of the story….

This week my pastor concluded his sermon with the words, “Filling our imagination with Jesus, we increasingly live in touch with reality, while the whole world is out of touch with reality.” I know this is true. I’ve experienced Jesus working through my imagination to enter and heal the losses and wounds of my life. Our minds can believe all sorts of lies, and our hearts can be oppressed by darkness; but when Jesus steps in to fill a mind and a heart, light shines out the darkness, and loving truth dispels crippling falsehood.

You can read my story — of how Jesus “took me up” and healed my heart — in Journeys to Mother Love. Part of that story is that for many years I have lived with a mother-cavern in my heart since my mother died when I was in my twenties. Since Mother was adopted as a young child out of a large family fallen on hard times (during the Great Depression, her mother died of TB and her father left to find work) … and then, adopted, she was raised as an only child … I have had no relatives on my mother’s side.

Then, 18 months ago, after years of searching, I found my mother’s birth family — living within an hour’s drive of my husband and me! I found a cousin the same age as my mother who had been a toddler in the same home with Mother and always wondered what happened to little Imogene. At 83 she was the last of the generation that remembered my mother, Imogene. So I found her in the nick of time.

This new-found cousin, Mary Lou, was as thrilled to find me as I was to find her. We felt a bond immediately, and the mother-cavern in my heart didn’t feel so empty. And gradually I learned that she was a person of faith who loved the Lord and prayed for her family.

I treasure the times we spent together: visits in my home and in her apartment, sharing lunches together, looking through photo albums, finding so many ways our paths have intersected unbeknown to us, feeling her strong grasp of my hands, her kisses on my cheeks, hearing her heartfelt, “I love you!”

Then this winter she was diagnosed with a brain tumor. Long vigils in the hospital brought my husband and me together with her children and grandchildren. And the heart-cavern of impending loss filled with cousins who enfolded me and I have found myself surrounded by family I never expected to have.

Last Friday night my husband and I stood with 16 of Mary Lou’s family members around her ICU bed as she lay at death’s door. We had each had opportunity to sit with her, express our love, and say good-bye. But the grief and sadness were creating a huge cavern of grief in the room, felt by everyone present.

Then this family, with tears, each at various stages of belief and doubt, gathered round the beloved mother and grandmother who had been their strong, caring, faithful hub and, instead of calling the hospital chaplain, asked one of her sons, who had been a steady church attender, to pray. I doubt the family had ever done that before. But as gentle, simple, real, heartfelt words poured from that brother (one of my new-found cousins, who has had much suffering in his life) grace like rain poured sweetness into the gaping cavern of sadness. Surely every heart, no matter how unaccustomed to praying, was touched. … How can sadness be so sweet?!

Soon after that I read my friend Jasona’s blog in which she writes, “I see loss, difficulty, and uncertainty as cavernous places, and I have hope that when we open them to Jesus he fills them with grace so they can become … like settings for diamonds.” (You can read her entire blog post here.) Jasona’s post came to me as another gracious gift that helped me fill my imagination with Jesus, helped me deal with the grief in a way that was in touch with reality — the realities of Life in the midst of death, Light in the midst of darkness, Heaven in the midst of our earthy lives, and the Wonders of God’s ways.

~ Catherine Lawton

Generations of Blessing


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Grandchild-1A few years ago, when my daughter-in-law was pregnant with our first grandchild, I sat in church as she and our son participated in the worship team—David playing guitar and Hannah singing. I thought of the baby Hannah was carrying—just past her first trimester. I watched the parents-to-be standing before the Lord and the congregation pouring forth the praise, proclaiming their faith with all their energies, their hearts, their voices.

It dawned on me that the baby—who by now had formed arms and legs—would be sensing this devotion and somehow experiencing the glory and presence of God.

Gratitude and joy rose within me, and the Lord assured my heart that His hand was already on that child as it has been on past generations; that the devotion and faithfulness of the parents would bear fruit in the children, again.

When my mother carried me, she and Daddy—just 20 and 25 years old—were preaching and praying and singing and piano playing. Honestly, I think the “language” of music and prayer were the first languages with which I became familiar.

Twenty-four years later I carried David and, during those nine months, often sat at the piano playing classical music, church music, choir music, and quartet music. My husband was singing; we were often in the midst of praying. And though we had struggles within and without, our faith was bedrock, rooted in “the ground of our being,” deeper even than the dark, moist bed of new life, the womb.

And now it comes to me like a revelation that God is continuing His faithfulness, His friendship with us—to the next generation, to our grandchildren! What a reward, what a hope, what a comfort, what a joy!

Alone at home the next day, Monday, I thought on this again, and the Holy Spirit moved my heart to rejoice and weep and pray for this new life. A sort of sing-song prayer came to me, and I wrote the words out in poem form:

God Bless the Baby
Oh, sweet baby,
Little baby Lawton,
Baby, do you hear it?
Hear your mama singing?
Hear your daddy praying?
Baby, do you hear them?
Blessed little baby.
God bless Hannah;
Bless her little baby.
Let it hear the singing,
Hear her heart’s devotion;
Make the Maker real,
Present every moment.
God bless David;
Bless his little baby.
Let it hear the praying,
Hear the strong assurance,
Feel the Father’s nearness,
There for His baby.
Oh, sweet baby,
Little baby Lawton,
Baby, do you hear it?
Hear your daddy singing?
Hear your mama praying?
Baby, do you hear them?
God bless the baby.


–Catherine Lawton

Leaving a Legacy of Healing


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Evening Light on the Grasses

Lately I’ve been struck with reminders of the importance of legacy and purpose in our lives—most recently while attending a memorial service for someone I knew at church who died suddenly before Christmas. She was a vibrant part of our church community, serving in many capacities, but most notably as Lady Jellybean, a beloved clown in the children’s ministry. Her passing was a great loss to all who knew her.

This got me to thinking more about the legacy that I’m leaving. What will people say about me after I’m gone? How will my family remember me? I’m the first to admit that I don’t have it all together, that I am at times overwhelmed by all the irons I have in the fire, and even that I’ve fallen short of my kids’ or my husband’s expectations.

I came into marriage over thirty years ago carrying a lot of baggage from a turbulent and empty childhood. I didn’t have the kind of parents who modeled a godly marriage or who poured into my siblings and me in ways that bonded us on an emotional level. Quite the contrary, we didn’t know anything about emotional bonding.

It wasn’t until much later in life, when I re-dedicated my life to Christ, and started attending Bible studies, spiritual growth classes, and Celebrate Recovery, that I realized the damage I was causing in my own family and in myself.

As I started to understand things about myself, learned what I hadn’t received emotionally (or have modeled to me), I began to make changes in my parenting and my relationship with my husband—though both are still far from perfect. The point is, we can make changes in our lives that will affect the legacy we leave behind.

Case in point: although my mother was mentally ill all her life, I realized in her passing three years ago that she didn’t leave me a legacy of mental illness as I had feared she would. She left me a great legacy of faith by modeling that to me. I didn’t appreciate it when I was young, but see it now as a vibrant part of who I am.

Before my father passed away the following year, there was a great deal of healing between us as well. Those last few months gave both of us peace in his passing. Those are the memories that stand out to me now as I think of what he gave me. I attribute that to God’s work in me and my ability to forgive both of my parents early on in my recovery and healing process.

I am breaking the generational curse of dysfunction by modeling biblical principles with my sons. I wish I had known then—when my kids were young—what I know now. It wouldn’t surprise me in the least if they enter into the therapeutic process because of things I said or did out of my parenting and biblical ignorance.

My hope in all of this is that, when I’m dead and gone, my sons will remember that I had a heart for Jesus and that He became the foundation of my life. And when they decide to enter into the healing process, I hope and pray that they will embrace it with grace for themselves and their imperfect parents, along with embracing their Abba Father, who is the Healer of all wounds.

“Lord my God, I called to you for help, and you healed me.” Psalm 30:2, NIV

~ Ardis A. Nelson

What? You Can’t Stop Crying


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Alice-poetry-bookWHAT? YOU CAN’T STOP CRYING

What? You can’t stop crying.
I hear you. Been there.
You say you left your grocery cart in frozen foods.
You’re telling me it was loaded with food
and every kind of whatnot
from all the other aisles,
And then you hightailed it to your car.
There you hid behind sunglasses and drove home.
Did you remember to wipe your fingerprints
off the handle of the loaded, abandoned cart
in frozen foods?
Just kidding.

You complain you couldn’t sleep because your slumber
was interrupted by the need to blow your nose.
David of the Old Testament cried on his bed.
See, we are in good company.

Let’s look at the list of life’s events that can trigger
such an avalanche of emotion.
Just check the one that fits, or mark “Other”
at the bottom.

All right, here we go.
You poured your life into the children.
All the children left home.
The empty nest doesn’t feel as good as you thought it would.

You lost your job.
You’re too old to be hired.
You’re not sure whether this reinventing is right for you.

You moved your mother into a nursing home.
You tried to manage Mom at home.
You moved your mother back into the home.

There is an injustice in your life.
You try to think of ways to address it.
Every idea leads to a dead end.
You choose to remain silent.

You have just received a bad diagnosis.
Many well-intentioned people are offering suggestions.

Someone who is dear to you is very ill.
That loved one says, “Just sit with me.”

An important person in your life passes away.


Listen, if you weren’t crying, I’d be worried about you.
I sympathize with you.
God empathizes with you.
That’s the reason He included people
like Joseph, David, Job, and Paul in His Book.
Think about them; think about the Lord; and think about me.
And, in the near future,
you’ll be able to leave your empty cart in the corral,
go home, store the perishables in the refrigerator,
and then sit on the sofa and have a good cry.
Now, that will be progress. That will be hope.

~ A.R. (Alice) Cecil

Editor’s note: This poem is taken from the book, IN THAT PLACE CALLED DAY: Poems and Reflections That Witness God’s Love.

A Season for Everything


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Christmas tree still standing on Jan. 4

The presents are gone but the tree still stands

This is the Saturday after New Years—the weather has turned cold, an Arctic blast has hit, and snow is falling outside. Inside I’m puttering, trying to catch up from the holidays, tending to various tasks. But I still haven’t taken down the Christmas tree and put away all the decorations. I guess there’s no rush. Instead, as I sort through old desk calendars, I come upon an diary that I kept when my children were very young. Reading through it consumes part of my day.

What a gift I gave to myself, and hopefully to my children someday, when I took time in those busy years—constantly on the run as a wife, mother, daughter, sister, friend, church worker—to record many of our family activities and some my thoughts.

On this same day 30 years ago—Saturday after New Years—this entry appears in my little diary:

“I took down the Christmas tree and all the decorations—organized them in boxes. Cleaned the house.

“Christmas is over for another year. I love the bright things in the house. But there is a season for everything. Now is the season to internalize the brightness, letting it motivate me to action. For the same Jesus whose coming we have celebrated, will come again! Then we’ll have a celebration that will make our Christmas festivities seem very dim in comparison.”

Regaining perspective, letting my soul be renewed, that is what this kind of day is all about.

And like the toy train chugging around the Christmas tree, the cycles and seasons of life continue.

~Catherine Lawton

Growth Rings in the New Year


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Fishing with my parents as a girl

Showing off the little trout I caught, about age nine, with my parents at Big Sur, California, circa 1959

It’s January 2 and why am I thinking about fish?

Well, taking a walk down memory lane and looking through old photos, I find plenty of snapshots of my family fishing. My mother and sister and I followed Daddy down trout streams in the California coastal hills and in the high Sierras many times. Those are some of my happiest memories: jumping from rock to rock along crystal-clear creeks, collecting colorful pebbles, learning to hold my little pink fishing pole, savoring fresh-caught trout fried over a fire.

Now that my husband and I live in Colorado, we often see fisher men and women along city ponds, thigh-deep in cascading mountain rivers, and casting flies into high-meadow streams and beaver ponds. This winter, as lakes are freezing over, we’ll soon see ice-fishing huts.


Many times in my life I’ve considered the secretive, flashing beauty of fish, heard them slap the water when they jump, watched my dad snag and reel in silvery beauties, gut and clean the keepers, scrape off scales. Not until this year, though, have I looked closely enough to consider the intricacy of a single fish scale and what it has to teach us.

In her book, Unwrapping Wonder: Finding Hope in the Gift of Nature, Carol O’Casey explains:

“What intrigues me about fish scales is … the rings of a fish scale represent years of growth. Similarly, our lives are inscribed with growth rings. God desires to enlarge our lives, our territory, and our character. However, unlike fish, our greatest growth occurs during the darkest times. Can we depend on ourselves during this time? Forget about it. It is precisely in rough waters, and when our resources are exhausted, that we cannot depend on ourselves. Growth occurs on the rim of risk. You risk failure, disappointment, loss. You gain growth. Occasionally, God has to nudge (okay, shove is more like it) us out of our comfort zones to enlarge our rings.”

As this new year begins, I’m asking myself: How has the Lord been nudging me out of my comfort zone in the past year? What growth rings will I, as a result, carry with me into the coming year and beyond? Will I continue to cooperate with Him in developing my “scales” as both a protective covering and a display of beauty created by His presence and grace in my life?

~ Catherine Lawton

Hope Realized


Nativity (Photo credit: maury.mccown)


Naively, I thought that the innocent babe of Bethlehem
would always be mine to hold.
The child who ran to me with an injured knee
was completely content to receive my comfort.
I thought that I had all the answers.
Now I cling to that small window of time,
when I was able to convey a mother’s
love, values, and beliefs.

When the door of His childhood closed,
He seemed to be a million miles away.
I felt He was beyond my reach.
He spent His days in reflective silence.

What is He intently preparing to do? I pondered.
Who is this person who stands before me?
I—who bore Him, fed Him, trained Him—
shouldn’t I have some say?

But here He was in front of me, taller than me.
His confidence and focus made me wonder:
Other than bringing Him into the world
and helping Him grow physically,
what role did I play?

The circumstances of His life moved Him many miles away.
I could no longer embrace Him.
I thought about Him every day.
Where was His life taking Him?
Did He realize that the distance between us
would determine our destinies?
Did He, like me, ever reminisce about the good old days
when we lived in sweet simplicity?

Time passed, and I spied Him through the crowd
in the marketplace with His disciples.
He was always glad to reunite with me;
He always hugged me hard.

Then, I witnessed the reason for His life . . .

As I looked up at Him on the cross,
I understood everything was pointing
to that horrible day.

After three hours, He said, “It is finished,”
And my heart broke within me.
And my soul, like the tabernacle curtain, tore in two.*

. . .

Once again, He stands before me.
He cannot hide the nail-punctured wounds.
His thoughts are laid out like building blocks
of all that is noble, true, and pure.
His heart pours out with rivers of love.

I thank God for our small window of time together.
I am blessed beyond measure to be His mother.

*Matthew 27:51

~ A.R. (Alice) Cecil

Editor’s Note: This poem, written from the viewpoint of Mary, the mother of Jesus, is taken from Alice’s just-released book of poetry, In That Place Called Day: Poems and Reflections That Witness God’s Love.

Treasuring Christmas in our Hearts


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Christ-NativityAt this time of year as I try to set aside the holiday rush and connect with the real reason for the season, I find myself wondering what it was like to be a witness to what God was doing in the lives of Mary and Joseph. The Bible doesn’t say what their immediate families thought about Mary’s claims to be a virgin with child. The only glimpse of unbelief comes from Joseph when he considers divorcing Mary.

Looking at how Mary and Joseph kept their faith in the midst of such possible ridicule and shame helps me to see how God operates in our lives. Here are a few ways that God reminded Mary and Joseph what He was capable of:

  1. An angel told Mary she would give birth—as a virgin.
  2. Mary visited Elizabeth and received confirmation of what the angel told her.
  3. Mary carried Jesus in her womb as a constant reminder of God’s promise to her.
  4. Shepherds were sent by angels to worship Jesus.
  5. The wise men bearing gifts were guided by a star to visit Jesus.
  6. God protected the young family as they escaped to Egypt to avoid Herod’s murderous spree.

While it may seem like a stretch to compare ourselves to Mary and Joseph, they were human and I imagine that they needed these reminders as well—especially when it came to watching Jesus be crucified on the cross.

In my pastor’s Sunday message, he noted one way to experience peace this Christmas is to find ways to remind ourselves of what God is capable of. The verse that comes to my mind as I look back at how God has shown up in my life is also from the Christmas story. It is Luke 2:19: But Mary treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart.

Like Mary’s story, God gives us glimpses of Himself in our lives. He wants us to treasure them, to remind ourselves of them, and sometimes even cling to them in times of trials and tribulations. When we remind ourselves of God’s goodness in our lives, we can trust Him in the dark periods too. It builds our faith and it gives us His peace.

~ Ardis A. Nelson

Sorrow and Hope at Christmas


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Journeys To Mother Love

Ah, Christmas! Bright lights, hustle and bustle, joyous music and celebrations….

Yet, hidden behind all the glitter, many people feel the pangs of sadness and loneliness more acutely during the Christmas season. If you have ever experienced a great loss at Christmastime, the holiday season awakens that grief again each year.

I know. My mother died on December 19, 1977. My father was the pastor of a loving church at the time, and the people were sweet to us, though they also grieved the death of their beloved pastor’s wife. Our family found comfort in togetherness—my husband and I with our two toddlers, my sister, and our dad. After the funeral, we stayed and spent Christmas in our parents’ home, with everything around us to remind us of Mother. … But no mother. She was not there and would never be again.

At a time when we celebrated the birth…

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Mothers Weeping for their Children

Journeys To Mother Love

English: child Jesus with the virgin Mary, wit...

Update: Dec. 2013 — Another school shooting — this time in my home state of Colorado — and it’s Christmastime again —and another mother’s child is dead. Reminds me of just a year ago when I wrote this as a response to the awful Sandy Hook school shooting…

How can a mother be consoled when her little child is taken from her? Perhaps a mother in Sandy Hook, Connecticut hurried her son or daughter to school that morning a year ago, with a little scolding and a few reminders and a quick kiss on the cheek … only to be informed a few hours later that her child has fallen dead with her first-grade class, victims in a senseless, bloody massacre.

How can any of us wrap our minds around this? Since it is Christmas, we listen for words of comfort. We usually only hear the beautiful music, the softness…

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