Deeper Longing

Author: Josh Hawes

It is that time of the year again. We all know it’s coming. It’s the season where everyone thinks I’m a grinch. That’s right. I am the guy who doesn’t want to hear Christmas music before Thanksgiving. The guy who likes to question traditions, much to the discomfort of many in my family. I have even risked asking, “but why do we have a tree? Could we not celebrate the birth of Christ without having to rearrange our furniture this year?” Much to the dismay of my wife and daughter.

Josh Hawes Christmas longingRelax, we have a tree up and decorated. All that to say that I do, in fact, love Christmas. I love family time spent together, and I love the deeper look into the coming, and inference of the anticipation, of the second coming of Christ.

Yet, this year is a little bit different. I say that because my wife and I are at a new place in regards to growing our family. We have just started the process of adopting an infant. And I do mean just starting, in that it could be two years before we meet the baby that God has in mind for us. This means the child may not even be conceived yet.

As most adoptive families will be able to tell you, most adoptions begin at a place of great pain and struggle for both the parents and the childours is no different. Years of negative pregnancy tests, a miscarriage, and two adoptions, while in our hearts forever, did not come to be. Not a month goes by that I don’t think “maybe this is the month” almost 7 years into my wife and I trying.

There is a deep longing for my wife and I, and an ever increasing anticipation that has been created by these trials. We wait for the moment when we will be able to hold in our arms that which we have dreamed about for years.

Christmas longing Josh HawesThis longing has become something of which I am keenly aware. It makes me reflect on what it must have been like for those in Israel before God’s promise became flesh in the form of a baby who would deliver them from their hopelessness. Within my soul I can feel that deep longing, the ache,  they must have felt, not just for their families, but for their nation, and ultimately, the world! They held to the promise:

 

 

“For to us a child is born,

   to us a son is given;

and the government shall be upon his shoulder,

   and his name shall be called

Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God,

   Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.” -Isaiah 9:6

I too can have that longing messily entwined with hope. Not for Jesus coming to save us, for he has done that to completion, but for His Second Coming. Where it says “He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away.” A place where the sorrow, and effects of sin on this world, such as our struggle with infertility, will be no more. That longing is my deepest longing. That is the hope this season heralds—God is with us and He will make all things right.

“Rejoice greatly, O daughter of Zion!

   Shout aloud, O daughter of Jerusalem!

Behold, your king is coming to you;

   righteous and having salvation is he,” -Zechariah 9:9


476f7-dsc_5558Josh Hawes is a hard worker, husband, and father who is trying to faithfully walk through life as he is made more like Christ.

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Anchored Printable: Christmas

MERRY CHRISTMAS!!!

We here at Anchored Voices hope that this season is filled with joy, even if you are facing deep sorrow, because we know both can exist within one person simultaneously. Our circumstances may be hard, but our souls can be at rest in the truth that our SAVIOR was born!

We hope this printable, created by Sarah Dohman of Isaiah 9:6  will encourage you this holiday season.

 

Click Here to Grab Your Printable
Isaiah 9_6

Wisdom’s Doorway

Author: Kimberley Mulder

Garland, on a fantastic sale, roped me in. Soon I was deep in the scrolling, pictures of fake evergreen to festoon my doorway flitting before me. Fantasies of sparkling greenery shimmering in new-fallen snow glimmered in my imagination. Until I realized how much time had passed and that I had purposed to write today about the doorway to wisdom! Wisdom’s doorway is not draped with discount plastic greenery!

Proverbs 8 is the personification of Wisdom, and in it she calls out to us. In verse 34 we read:

“Blessed are those who listen to me, watching daily at my doors, waiting at my doorway.” Prov. 8:34

How inviting, how decked out would Wisdom’s house be? Would it be the grandest on the block? The simplest but most elegant? The unadorned? What would cry out to the passersby “Wisdom lives here!”

I picture a palace; a high, gilded doorway, rich with gold and fancy with filigree. Floors of exquisite colored tiles. Enormous, breathtaking paintings. This would make me want to linger in awe like a tourist in an exotic palace.

Maybe Wisdom’s doorway would be filled with ancient splendor that only the attentive archaeologist knows is valuable. The uninformed or fad follower would pass by it as old junk.

Christmas Kimberley MulderHow does one recognize Wisdom’s doorway?

By knowing who lives inside. The doorway is marked by the presence, not the decorations, not the gilded ornament, not the scuff marks. It is recognizable by the life lived inside. And it is found only by those willing to look for it.

The Magi wanted to find Wisdom. They saw and followed Wisdom, by starlight, to a wooden stable. Hinges loose, door banging, straw and refuse on the floor. Splintering wood beams. The doorway they stood in as they offered their gifts of sacrifice and love to Wisdom himself was nothing like a king’s.

But the Magi understood something that we often ignore or dispute – and that is that wisdom often leads in unlikely ways to unlikely places. They humbled themselves to the unlikely.

Kimberley Mulder ChristmasThey sought, watched, listened, waited, and anticipated with hope. They trusted that “I love those who love me, and those who seek me find me. With me are riches and honor, enduring wealth and prosperity.” Prov. 8:17-18

And when the star led them to foreign lands, to the living quarters of livestock, they did not balk. Instead, they lingered in the splinter-beamed doorway of the King. What unlikely place might wisdom be leading you? It might be a low doorway under which you need to bow your head. You will know it by the Presence inside.

Consider: Jesus said that he is the gate (John 10:7 and 9). Now marry that with Proverb 8 and we see that “Blessed are those who listen to me, watching daily at my gates, waiting beside my doors.” Prov. 8:34

So I consider: At which doorway am I lingering daily? Am I looking for flash and fancy when Wisdom is in the mundane? Am I trying to gloss and decorate the truth? Am I too busy hunting down the best bargain on a gift (or a garland) to seek the treasure of life? Am I lingering at Wisdom’s doorway or at Walmart’s?


2016-11-02 13.10.06Kimberley Mulder is a contemplative at heart who deeply enjoys the company of Jesus in the day-to-day of caring for her family of 5 (plus a dog and a cat), teaching English to immigrants, growing her garden, and writing. Currently, her walk with Jesus is taking her more deeply into writing as she leads a spiritual formation group at her church, and records the reflections and connections Jesus gives her to share with others.  She treasures the truth that God’s Word does not go back to him without accomplishing the purpose for which he sent it, and that that Word is embodied in our lives. (Isaiah 55:11)

The Christmas Baby

This Christmas season of tinsel, trees, and treats brings only joy—for some. For others, it feels like a cruel reminder of life’s disappointments or awakens emotions about absent family members.  For both, Christmas might be a time when the magic of the manger gets lost in the pressing realities of life. This year for me, I find myself looking up, thinking not of a babe in a manger, but of Jesus on the cross or of the great, supreme, and holy God who sent Him there.

Christmas Sarah Clews“When I look at the night sky and see the work of your fingers—
    the moon and the stars you set in place—
 what are mere mortals that you should think about them,
    human beings that you should care for them?Psalm 8:3-4 (NLT)

Thinking about the God of the universe can be a frightening and intimidating thought. He, God the Father, is so big, so majestic, so all knowing, and sometimes, feels so far away. Does the God who created the whole world care about me? Do the life events of my family and friends affect Him at all?

I saw a friend post on Facebook, “Sometimes I wonder if God even cares.” While I felt a surge of sadness reading that, I have to admit at times I’ve wondered the same thing. If I think about it too hard, my mind starts swirling and I feel utterly helpless and insignificant—a blip in time that will soon fade.

That’s why, as Christmas approaches, the reminder of the gift of God’s son is so incredible. Immanuel—“God is with us.”

Sarah Clews ChristmasIn case we doubted whether God could sympathize, or whether our daily lives matter to Him, He sent His only son—a gift of love. In case we doubted whether God was invested in the outcome of humanity, or whether He might destroy us in a fit of disgust, He sent His son to take on a human form. Jesus is a sign to us of the significance God attributes to the human race. He is invested! So invested that He sent His only Son to join humanity on earth and later sacrifice His life on the cross to purchase our freedom.

Recently I heard again the familiar lyrics of “Silent Night.” This time one line really stood out. “Silent night! Holy night! Son of God, love’s pure light.”

That old familiar story of a baby lying in a manger in a stable does have magic after all. Because that baby was Jesus—“love’s pure light.” The purest form of love and the most tangible reminder of God’s heart for us.


sarah-c-squareSarah Clews is a wife, mother of two little girls, and prolific reader. She received her BS from Corban University in English and still loves writing. She helps her husband run their martial arts school, and in her free time, enjoys sewing, experimenting with makeup, and reading blogs.

When Peace on Earth Seems Impossible

I love reading by Christmas tree light. In the faint warmth of its incandescent illumination I feel hope. The gentle radiance enfolds me into a brief retreat during the bustle of the holiday season. The calm soothes in the midst of the distresses of our broken world, and collides with the disquiet hiding in the corners of my soul.

I find my mind tranquilly wandering into history and the pastoral suburbs of shepherds living under stars, watching woolly animals breathing in, breathing out. I mull over what those men might have been thinking as they watched the calm repose taking place on the fields in front of them. How could they have known that in the provincial life they had become so accustomed to, they would be met by the miraculous?

I long for an angel to appear in front of me proclaiming “Fear not, for behold, I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people.” Luke2:10-11. I wait for the miraculous in my own life and am sometimes discouraged by the mundane tasks I find it hiding behind. However, I see myself as no more than a shepherd longing to be met by the Savior of the world. Humbled, I am again reminded the ways of God are not (usually) my ways, and find myself dwelling deeply in mystery that is woven together by penetrating truth and profound beauty.

Even as a person sure in her faith, peace on Earth seems such an impossible ideal. I am painfully aware of the fallen nature of the world. I cannot fool myself into dreaming about this tolerant peace the Christmas specials preach as trees spring up in homes and plastic Santa faces watch through snow-flocked windows.

I know Jesus brought peace to Earth that night in the city of David, but I can’t help but wonder if He took it with Him when He ascended into heaven? His presence through the Holy Spirit provides rest for all that seek Him, and salvation for those He calls His own, and yet, peace seems elusive; rumors of wars, racial injustice, and unspeakable terror plague our daily existence. I am assured of the peace within my soul, but peace on Earth?

Jesus told us “”Let not your hearts be troubled. Believe in God; believe also in me. In my Father’s house are many rooms. If it were not so, would I have told you that I go to prepare a place for you? I will come again and will take you to myself, that where I am you may be also.” John 14:3. We are promised peace, in its fullness, is coming to Earth once more, and He has made room for us to join Him.

This anticipation, this wondering what it will look like, and this falling asleep begging Him to move, all point me to that baby in the manger who grew to be the savior on the cross. Seeing Him gives me the strength to engage in moving towards peace by praying for patience and holding tight to His word as carols hang in December’s crisp air.

I can have hope in the dark, for I know the light is coming. Widowed father of six and literary great Henry Wadsworth Longfellow endured in his asking for a harmonious world and goodwill towards men as He listened carefully to holy cantatas calling through the noise of the Civil War. Through sorrow He wrote “I Heard the Bells on Christmas Day” from the hospital bed side of his severely injured son, a war time Lieutenant.

“…Till ringing, singing on its way,

The world revolved from night to day,

A voice, a chime,

A chant sublime

Of peace on Earth, good-will to men!

Then from each black, accursed mouth

The cannon thundered in the South,

And with the sound

The carols drowned

Of peace on Earth, good-will to men!…

…Then pealed the bells more loud and deep:

‘God is not dead, nor doth He sleep;

The Wrong shall fail,

The Right prevail,

With peace on earth, good-will to men.'”

When the heaviness of the world presses in, I can turn to the mighty promises of a Living God for strength. He cannot be shaken, so I am emboldened to move forward as a peacemaker. With great joy I offer myself as an ambassador carrying the promise of powerful reconciliation, because this hope I have—the Prince of Peace has interrupted the routine of common men with the glory of the Lord before, and He will do it again. Just because I have trouble wrapping my mind around what that will look like doesn’t keep it from being true. So, come Jesus, come. I want to believe. I am praying for peace on Earth.

~~~

Readers, Whatever Christmas looks like for you this year, remember there is no greater gift than the one that is yours through Christ Jesus. Whether your Christmas season has been filled with sorrow or joy, the hope that is yours through Jesus cannot be shaken. Christmas is the celebration of the redemption of God breaking into dark places. Fear not, He has overcome and because of that there is joy! 

e9d88-chara2bbio2bpic2bsquare2b600pxChara is a freelance writer, certified biblical counselor, and speaker. She holds a MSEd from Corban University and is passionate about seeing people set free through God’s truths. She loves to write about faith, culture,  and the deep truths that drive our fascinations with it. Chara is the founder and editor of  Anchored Voices and can be found on multiple social media platforms @CharaDonahue.

On the Twelfth Day of Christmas (My Single Mother Gave to Me)

When pine trees and baking supplies started making their way into my home as a young child, I, accompanied by my stealth-like snooping skills, made my way to my mother’s best kept hiding places. I was a peeker. A present-peeker to be precise, and Christmas mornings were filled with anticipation not because of the surprise that awaited, but because I already knew what the wrapping cloaked. I couldn’t wait to get my hands on the toys I had already previewed.

As a wise single mom, my mother would intentionally start purchasing gifts months ahead of time, so her budget could handle blessing her three children. This gave me plenty of time to seek and find. I would climb over dressers and toss sleeping bags that shouldn’t have been touched till summer all in an effort to spoil her surprise. I never once wondered “Will we get anything?” What I didn’t understand was the amount of sacrifice my mother made to ensure that we never considered questions like that.

Now as a mother of four, I marvel at all she did. Breaking up my children’s tiny-bodied, big-voiced arguments, instructing them in life skills like using a toilet, and trying to teach young hearts about maturing faith can leave me feeling exhausted, but my husband is in the thick of it with me, tagging in when I tap out. My mother held to Jesus and persevered. As her children slept, she pushed through exhaustion to correct the homework I finally did, sew the flags my sister spun, and figure out how she could afford to buy her son’s first instrument, who (unbeknownst to her) would one day play at Carnegie Hall.

She may have been a single mother, but she offered us a home that felt complete, whole. She changed my sister’s diapers and attended my brother’s games. She pulled me away from parties and lifted us up with prayers. She showed us all what it was to be at rest when the world demanded we strive, and nurtured an imperfect situation into a life that did not lack.

Sneaking through my house as a child, I wasn’t aware that our most precious things were not things at all, but memories, people, and faith. I was too distracted by the deluge of bows, desserts, and carols to see my mother draw strength from the baby depicted in the old wooden manger she put on display through out the holidays. She offered me the luxury of being so busy with childish things that I forgot to be thankful for her unwavering determination to create a home that offered sanctuary from the harshness of the world.

The memories she has given me offer riches greater than any reindeer-papered gift could ever give. I have them tucked away into the treasuries of my heart for the days when I need hope. I will always be grateful for the worn Bible that often laid open upon her bed, her constant presence, and the way she offered children who had experienced deep sorrow a place of peace.

“Her children rise up and call her blessed…” Proverbs 31:28

Readers, Are you a single mom? Thank you for all you do. I know it’s not easy, but those kids will someday be grateful. They just got to grow up a little ;).

Do you know a single mom who could use some encouragement today? How could you be the one to offer it?

Chara is a freelance writer, certified biblical counselor, and speaker. She holds a MSEd from Corban University and is passionate about seeing people set free through God’s truths. She loves to write about faith, culture,  and the deep truths that drive our fascinations with it. Chara is the founder and editor of  Anchored Voices and can be found on multiple social media platforms @CharaDonahue.

Christmas Moments Amongst the Mundane

Last year, when Christmas tunes began to ring out from the radio, our mostly quiet family of three became a raucous party of seven. My husband and I have one teenage daughter and, while we weren’t on the list for emergency foster care, four siblings (ranging in ages from 7-15) were delivered to our home during a crisp late fall morning so they could spend the holidays together, connected.

As we folded new family members into daily life, I realized they knew very little of the true story of Christmas. The way in which we celebrated Christmas was drastically different from what these kids commonly expected. The holiday season became a time of learning about these kids and their traditions, and articulating our own. Christmas for us tends to go deeper than the kinds of food, type of music, and activities we participate in. As we explained that, we began to see opportunities woven throughout our days to speak the truth of God’s grand plan to seek out, love, and mend hearts.

God instructed his people in Deuteronomy 6:4-8 to teach their children of Him in all aspects of life, to let the everyday moments become meaningful.

You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might. And these words that I command you today shall be on your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise.

Deuteronomy 6:4b-8

We too can speak the good news throughout our days, sharing that the Savior came in the form of a fragile baby who would change the world. There may be no other season that presents more opportunities to connect the dots between our lives and the story of God in a way that deeply matters to our children, our neighbors, and our own souls.

To be honest, I didn’t plan to have any of the conversations that came about. Instead, the light of the world began to illuminate in the moments I least expected. In the car the youngest exclaimed “Jesus is the King of Love,” as she remembered the lyrics to a song she had heard. On another occasion, as we were hurrying along, the preteen asked me in a public restroom, “Why is it important that Jesus was born. Wasn’t he just another baby?” I didn’t expect to get to explain the whole story of redemption as we washed our hands and talked over the whir of the electric hand drier, but I had the privilege to do so.

Isn’t that exactly how God intersects with our lives? The moments we could never plan are when He makes Himself known.

Though these siblings were able to be reunited with family by the time Christmas morning arrived, I came away from the season acutely aware of the meaning of each moment. The real story of Christmas just needed to be pointed out. Not in a grand production, or lengthy speech, but in the simple moments wherever the Holy Spirit brought about a connection.

Today, may we ask God to illuminate the places where His overarching story of glory and grace melds the mundane moments with the eternal epic. May God connect the dots of the busy with the dots of the meaningful. Let us ponder with awe the baby in the manger and share with glad and sincere hearts of the hope He brings. May this season be steeped in moments that deepen our faith and point us to Christ.

~~~
Readers, How do you share the true meaning of Christmas with those around you? Tell us in the comments.

b0de0-holly2bsquareHolly is a wife, mother of one, and foster mother to many. She seeks to glorify God in all she does, for all her life. She studied Intercultural Studies at Corban University and loves to build bridges between cultures and people. She welcomes people into her life, into her heart, and into her home with hopes of offering encouragement. You can find more from Holly here at Anchored Voices or at her blog Called to Restore.

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Ready or Not

Author: Chara Donahue

I was in labor. All day I had paced my new apartment as dear friends helped me unpack boxes and deck the walls with pictures and trinkets. They inquired about where to put things as I kept track of the protracted pains separated by mere minutes. We had just moved to accommodate our growing family, and we were praying my husband would be able to finish out the day at work to guarantee he wouldn’t have to go back for two weeks. We were still a bit unprepared.

He arrived home when labor pains were five minutes apart. I handed a stack of Christmas Cards to my friend, asked her to drop them off, and they bravely followed us to a place no one wants to go the night before Christmas Eve—Toys ‘R Us. We screeched into the mega toy store’s parking lot in a scramble to buy a car seat; our first child was arriving a week before the doctors predicted and we didn’t have a way to take her home yet, at least, not any safe or legal method.

Not wanting to remain in the car (reconsidering my plans for pain management), I shuffled wobbly into the toddler mecca. My husband explained the urgency of the situation to the seventeen year-old clerk who stole a rubbernecked, terrified glance at me before he rushed to retrieve what we needed. I labored on the quarter-fed dinosaur that guarded the doors to the child’s dream world, as my husband paid for the travel system. Contractions were about four minutes apart and we were still not quite ready.

We got to the hospital just in time. Everything went as smoothly as pushing another human out of your body can, and I cradled her in my arms in the early hours of Christmas Eve. I knew I would love her, but as she laid against my chest swaddled in a stocking, I could feel my heart expanding. Nothing would ever be the same.

As Mary held her son in the company of animals and shepherds, God-come-down as a infant, she pondered the truths spoken to her from the mouths of angels and foretold by the prophets of old. She made room in her heart for this boy who would grow to redeem the world, but was she ready to give the trust that would be required? Would all her expectations of what life with Christ would look like be left behind in the wake of His majesty? So many had predicted His arrival and He was finally here — The Messiah, different than any anticipated but exactly who God said he would be. Not only did one mother’s heart expand, but the whole of humanity was now invited into the greatest love ever offered. Nothing would ever be the same.

Has life with Christ looked different than you imagined? This holiday season are you willing to prepare your heart for whatever comes next? Jesus’ fulfillment of over 300 prophesies changed the world and gave it hope. Sometimes we don’t feel ready for the things God calls us into, but if we make room for His glory in our lives we see that He knows exactly what He is doing. For he is the great author. The one who grants a world filled with pain this magnificent hope—He’ll be back. It will not be when we expect, so be ready.

 Therefore you also must be ready, for the Son of Man is coming at an hour you do not expect.

 

Matthew 24:44

Hope for the Nativity Set

Author: Holly Hawes
Shiny lights and glittery things are spilling out of windows around the world as we prepare for Christmas. Even the stingiest of Christmas decor purists have begun to decorate. Others, like me, are turning up the Christmas music with a triumphant cheer because NO ONE can tell us any longer that it isn’t time to begin celebrating Jesus’ birthday.
As I have been waiting for the Christmas season, I’ve been thinking about why I love the decorating part of Christmas so much.  In the end, it comes down to the special items that are visual reminders that Jesus is the hope the world needs. When I pull out each piece from storage, I am reminded of long-ago Christmas’ and the stories of each nick-knack fill my heart.
The headless shepherd who resides at my grandma’s house is one of my favorites. My most cherished Christmas tradition: Gluing on his head. Every year we pull out the now ragged box containing the brightly painted nativity from the 1970’s, complete with newspaper reused year after year from the first time it was gingerly wrapped and stored away. I remember reattaching that poor shepherd’s head with several kinds of glue as well as sweetened condensed milk. No luck; every year he still loses his head. We are completely unwilling to give up on the shepherd. He cannot be replaced!

Though the paint is wearing, this nativity is one of the ways that my family cherished Jesus and retained that Christmas about Him. That nativity, set on the child size table in the corner of the entryway wasn’t shiny and isn’t new, but it produced wonder in my heart as a child. I loved that we got to play with it. It wasn’t so precious that it had to be high up on a shelf or protected from tiny hands. Jesus, Emmanuel, was God with us. Down at the level of a little child.
This year I bought a nativity of my own, made of melamine to withstand time and be used over and over. The style is different but the goal the same. I started the wise men in the Kitchen to let them slowly make their way to discover Jesus. But sure enough, one of those wise men took a tumble when the littlest discovered them making their perilous journey across the desert of my countertop. He too, lost his head, but his sacrifice was worth it because it spurred questions from little voices. Who are these guys? Why are they going to Jesus?

It’s time to pull out the sweetened condensed milk, carry on this tradition that has found us, and as we bind our wise man’s head together we bond with each other. Each on our own trek to move closer, draw near, and discover where and who Jesus is.

~~~

Holly is a wife, mother of one, and foster mother to many. She seeks to glorify God in all she does, for all her life. She studied Intercultural Studies at Corban University and loves to build bridges between cultures and people. She welcomes people into her life, into her heart, and into her home with hopes of offering encouragement. You can find more from Holly at her blog Called to Restore.

When Holiday Expectations Go Unfulfilled

Author: Sarah Dohman

I was born the day after Christmas.  In fact, I was born at 2-something in the wee hours of the morning.  Had I come any sooner, I would have been a Christmas baby.  Every year growing up, and well into my 20s, my family would sort of roll the celebrations into one continuing party.  Happy Birthday Jesus! Happy Birthday Sarah!  This tradition roared on for many years.

Until one year, it stopped.

At least in the way I expected it to be every year. God had whispered into my older brother’s heart and led him to Virginia for an internship after dental school. There in the state that claims to be the “Mother of Presidents,” he met his girlfriend, now wife, and decided to not come home for Christmas, nor my birthday.  For the first time in 27 years, my constant partner in Christmas and birthday celebrations would not be in Oregon to join in the fun.  My holiday expectations were shattered.  I didn’t tell him at the time, but my heart ached.  A piece home as it had been, was missing.

For many during the holiday season, expectations go unfulfilled.  Maybe you’ve recently been through a divorce.  Perhaps you’ve lost a loved one.  Your family cannot afford the Christmas traditions you’ve come to know and love each year.  You have to work on Christmas Eve, Christmas Day, or the day after.  All your relatives canceled on your holiday party last minute.  You had to say goodbye to a furry friend.  For all one knows, your family is celebrating in various parts of the country this year, never to be that nuclear unit again.

When holiday expectations go unfulfilled, I cannot help but think of dear Mary and Joseph, Jesus’s parents.  I imagine Mary had dreamt about her wedding day, and the anticipation of children to come shortly thereafter.  I imagine Joseph envisioned a life with Mary, one where he worked a steady job, provided for his family, and led an honorable life.

Their expectations, much like ours, flew out the window.  In Matthew 1:18, the Bible shares of Mary and Joseph being engaged.  This was no normal engagement, as Mary “was found to be with child from the Holy Spirit.”  Scandalous!  So much so, Joseph wanted to throw in the towel and sneak away quietly.  Thankfully, God knew and understood Joseph’s fears and told him via an angel in his dream that Mary had conceived from the Holy Spirit.  Joseph was to have a son, and he was to call him Jesus, who was to save his people from their sins.  The angel’s message fulfilled a prophecy from the Old Testament, “Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and they shall call his name Immanuel” (Isaiah 7:14).

As the birth of Jesus neared, Mary and Joseph were traveling in a small town called Bethlehem, where Joseph was from.  They were to register here, as he was of the house and lineage of David.  Then in the sleepy town of Bethlehem, Mary was laboring.  She and Joseph were not able to obtain a conventional bed for the birth of their son.  Their expectations for a cozy, clean birth, were upset by the arrival of their son in a barn, filled with animals.  In Luke 2:7, it says “she gave birth to her firstborn son and wrapped him in swaddling cloths and laid him in a manger, because there was no place for them in the inn.”  Mary didn’t get to shower after her long and laborsome birth story.  But in her presence, there was a son like no other.  One who would fulfill all expectations.  The One who would be the King of Kings, Immanuel, Prince of Peace, Lord of Lords.

When holiday expectations go unfulfilled, I know I can rest in the One who fulfilled expectations of everlasting hope, joy, peace, and love.  Jesus, fully man, and fully God, came into this world humbly, and left this world to be cared for by His Holy Spirit.  He will accomplish all that is written of Him.  He will be our comforter, He will be our deliverer.  If ever your heart is to be sad or forlorn this holiday season, cling to the Hope we have in Jesus!