Category Archives: simple

forgotten in the Nativity…

St Joseph and Baby Jesus (www.jasonjenick.com)

“mama, I cannot find Joseph. I have Mary and baby Jesus and shepherds and wise men. but I cannot find Joseph.”

“just use a shepherd, sweet pea.”

shoved in the background. mistaken for a shepherd. lost in the ages-old narrative. lost in history.

and yet, in the most important places, not lost at all.

we know, and regularly hear, of Mary’s pure heart, of how she allowed herself to be used in bringing Messiah to us, to carry and give birth to Immanuel.

but what of Joseph?

we can assume he was a man of integrity. he did, after all, listen to the angel. he obeyed precisely, despite the damage to his own reputation. we can only imagine the whispers in Nazareth, flung around carelessly and without heed to those involved.

he was not chosen on accident. he was not an incidental player in Jesus’ life, or in Mary’s. he was their main caretaker. when Herod was after Jesus, Joseph protected his family, and again, obeyed the angel’s instruction.

God does not move carelessly. He is patient and precise. In His omnipotence, He would have known Mary and watched her heart’s leaning toward Him. Joseph, too, would have been taken into account. they came as a couple, a new family. history has divided them and cut him out. but God intended this family for His Son. He intended this particular man to love and care for Mary, to nurture Jesus, to help him walk and run and talk, and yes, to be a carpenter. He trusted Joseph’s heart enough to place a tiny baby in his home, to know this was the man who would teach a young boy of Himself. under his leadership, the Torah would be taught and memorized, the Law followed, and the feasts observed.

there is precious little to know of Joseph. we know he was still alive when Jesus was twelve. and then he is gone. much speculation enters the picture at that point. but it is just that–speculation.

we do know he was:

spiritual (in the best ways possible)

steadfast

a man of integrity

obedient and open to God’s leading

the leader of their home

and I would assume he was also:

loving

caring

well-rounded and sure of himself as husband and father

a help to Mary when life overwhelmed her

strong in mind, body, soul, and spirit

a partner in raising Jesus and their other children

wondering when another angel might appear and uproot his life and family again

and probably overwhelmed by the task of raising God’s Son and the future ahead of them all.

he intrigues me in so many ways. when I get to Heaven, he is on my short list of people to track down and have some honest conversation together. his step-son (understandably and with good reason!) and wife have gotten all the attention through the last few millennia. he’s had a lot of time to do some pondering of his own. I wonder where it has led him. I wonder what he learned from the baby he helped raise.

he was not an incidental character in a time-honored narrative. he was intentionally placed by a loving and careful God. and he deserves better than to be mistaken for a shepherd.

(photo by jason jenick)

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the sweet and bitter…

friends holding hands

they are still best friends. and when you are four-almost-five, a year or two together is quite a significant portion of life. a year of separation, due to a family move, has not dimmed their friendship. two mother-hearts are torn when they mention missing one another.

she loves surprises, this sweet daughter-gift of ours. and we love giving them! this time it was a few precious hours, shared with others, but a chance to eat pizza and giggle and dance and just be friends together again. a time to renew and reaffirm the depth of childhood friendship. a time to forget the separation and miles and hours now required to enjoy what they once took for granted.

the inevitable tears came. copious tears. a child’s sorrow is hard for all to bear. the deep, unchecked emotion of childhood. the great joy replaced by grief.

as I tucked the still-sorrowing girl into bed, we talked about the roller coaster emotions of the day. was it worth having those precious few hours together when it made her so terribly sad now? “oh yes, mommy. I would rather see her for a little and be sad than not see her at all. she is my friend and I love her. even if I am sad now.”

I left her room with the refrain of Psalm 84 running through  my head, with its modern adaptation:

Better is one day in your courts

Better is one day in your house

Better is one day in your courts than thousands elsewhere

how amazing! better is one afternoon with a dear friend than not being together at all. better is one day in God’s presence, in His courts, than a thousand without Him.

even more amazing is that, unlike leaving a friend and feeling bereft of their presence, we have the gift, not only in the here and now, but into the infinite future, to live each day with God, to be in relationship with Him continually.

there is no bitterness of separation, only the sweetness of days, of life, together.

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Filed under abiding, aches and lessons, daughter-gift, simple, spiritual formation

the artistry of God

the artistry of God

she loves waving out the front window when someone leaves our home. and she loves it when we wave as she departs for school.

as she ran to her friend’s car, and buckled into the seat belt, I gathered the puppy so we could wave from the front window and blow kisses. imagine my surprise and delight to find deeply intricate frost patterns gracing the glass. multiple patterns, different and overlapping, added to the beauty. the camera was quickly found to capture the rare moment.

over the weekend, as part of a group study, I had been challenged to look for God and His hand in the details of life. a beautiful sunrise or sunset, the sparkle of the snow, some kind intervention to a bump in life’s road, or some such detail was anticipated. the miniature masterpiece gracing the front window took my breath away. it had me wondering how such different frost flakes could form on the same piece of glass, and in the same place.

God IS in the details. having been challenged to look for His hand in them is meant to keep us focused and look at His varied work in the world and our lives. some days He feels far away, silent, and seemingly uninterested. but He is close, perhaps offering a new challenge, a deeper lesson. and if He cares about details as small as the frost across a window pane, how much more about us, His made-in-Our-image creation?

the season for frost is nearly over. but there will be new masterpieces, new details, as the breath of spring begins to blow. and I pray my heart and eyes are open to see Him and His handiwork, to let Him do the careful detail work my soul needs, to allow Him the intricate steps that lead me to deeper Christ-likeness.

if He can create a fairy-dance across glass with such beauty, what can He do with a willing heart in His hand?

may I be willing enough to find out!

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