Praising, Like Mary – Advent Awaits

Make praising God your second nature.

Years ago, I had written those words in my Bible, alongside “Mary’s Song,” verses 46-55 in Luke, Chapter One. Now, in this Advent season, the words remind me that Mary was a young woman who praised God! In fact, it seemed “second nature” to her!

The angel Gabriel, sent from God, had recently visited Mary, bringing a specific message, informing her that although she was a virgin, she would give birth to a son, the “Son of the Most High.”  Gabriel also told her that even her relative, Elizabeth, though old, would give birth, as well, leading to  the last words he said,  as we are told in Luke, Chapter One: “For nothing is impossible with God.” 

“Nothing is impossible with God.”  I’ve trusted in those words in the past, and I’m trusting in those very words right now, as I write this article: “Nothing is impossible with God.”

So Mary, the young woman with child, visited Elizabeth, the old woman with child. Click here to read Elizabeth’s story, “Waiting, Like Elizabeth.” It’s a sweet meeting. Read about it in Luke 1:39-45. Some of the sweetest words of that meeting are Elizabeth’s to Mary: “Blessed is she who has believed that what the Lord has said to her will be accomplished!” Mary believed. She is blessed. And we are blessed, as well, when we believe the Word of the Lord.

Immediately, Mary praises God. And this is where I must ask myself if I, too, make praising God my “second nature.” So very natural that the praise just simply flows from my mouth.

Make praising God your second nature.

It came natural for Mary to praise God. Does it come natural to you? 

Mary models praise: 

My soul glorifies the Lord . . my spirit rejoices . . . the Mighty One has done great things for me – holy is his name. His mercy extends . . . He has performed mighty deeds  . . . lifted the humble . . . filled the hungry . . . helped Israel . . . merciful to Abraham and to his descendants . . . 

There is SO much for which to praise our God. All of Mary’s praise should be our praise, as well! As believers, we have been made partakers of the promises to Abraham – to Israel. We have been grafted in. He looks on us with favor.

In favor, God had taken away Elizabeth’s disgrace. When I trusted Jesus Christ as Savior, He took away all my disgrace (vs. 25). I praise Him for the favor He shows me.

Mary speaks of God as the Mighty One. She rejoices in Him. She undoubtedly knows of His might. She knows the Scripture. 

Recently, I reviewed Zephaniah 3:17:

The LORD your God is with you, the Mighty Warrior who saves. He will take great delight in you; in his love he will no longer rebuke you, but will rejoice over you with singing.

He’s the Mighty Warrior, fighting my battles. He delights in me! His love is so great, it quiets me – calms me. Not only do I rejoice in Him – but He rejoices over me, with singing. What love! The praise flows from my lips! I hope it is “second nature” to me!

This Advent season, I am reminded that “Nothing is impossible” with this great God! And that I am blessed to believe!

Have you read the first Advent post,  “Advent Awaits!”? Click here.

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Waiting like Elizabeth – Advent Awaits

She had probably attended the births of her nieces and nephews, had rejoiced with her sisters and cousins and friends at the births of their babies, had seen their babies at breast while her own breasts yearned the suckle of a child yet unconceived. I suspect she had gone home crying, once again pleading with the Lord for a baby of her own.  I watched my sister go through this agony for years – baby showers for others, never for her own. Many of you know her pain.


Advent Awaits!

This is certainly a different season than usual for me and for my family.

It is strange. Just months ago, I wrote a series of posts on my website titled “Adventure Awaits,” the theme for our big trip. How exciting it was for me and for my husband, Ron, to venture 32 days across the Northwest US, 11-states, 7323 miles, hauling our cute little travel trailer – just the perfect size for the two of us. Our adventure took us over 10,000 ft. mountain passes, sometimes our truck and trailer slowly climbing  miles up steep grades along hot, winding highways cut into the sides of mountains, with cliffs dropping beside us thousands of feet. Mountain goats climbed rocky cliffs beside us. Trails led us to bear nibbling berries and pasture grass. and buffalo stepping alongside us, close enough to touch. Coastline roads took us to bobs of barking seals in colonies on small islands; large walruses, like granite rocks lay amongst them. Green ferns the size of men and Redwoods towering like skyscrapers, demanded our attention and created an awe in our inmost spirits, which will not soon be forgotten. The heat poured out of the atmosphere like an open oven door in the July western climate, and wildfires trailed us as we turned from our southernmost point and headed northeast during the last days. The dictionary defines “adventure” as an “exciting undertaking,” and that it was indeed! It was amazing and we loved every minute. (Click here to read the first of the “Adventure Awaits” posts about the trip.)

I had prepared for our July “Adventure Awaits” trip for  months, diligently planning our route and reserving campsites, booking boat trips and National Park entrance passes, preparing meals ahead, and finally, packing the trailer. The preparation and anticipation were nearly as exciting as the trip itself.

Now the Advent season is here. “Advent Awaits” has become our next theme. Advent is normally an exciting time, too, filled with joy! Preparing for Christmas is a blessed. Buying gifts for those we love. Decorating the house – the tree. Cherishing memories of Christmases past – sometimes bringing joy – sometimes bringing tears to our eyes. Contemplating the manger scene. Recognizing why Jesus came to Earth. Hearing carols – “O Holy Night  . . Truly He taught us to love one another . . . Chains shall he break, for the slave is His brother.” We sing our favorite Christmas carol. I listen to a recording of my mother’s – “It Came Upon a Midnight Clear.” But this year is different. I’ve done very little shopping. I haven’t yet placed a single piece of Christmas decoration in our home. I’m not sure when the Christmas gathering with our beloved three grown children’s families will actually take place. Our son is ill. My heart breaks.

Advent, however, invites us to prepare our hearts, broken or not, no matter our present circumstances –  for Bethlehem. For Jesus. Advent opens the door – unveils the opportunity to look to Bethlehem. Because of Jesus. And with Advent comes Hope!

Louis Giglio recently wrote, 

“The word ‘Advent’ means expectation. What advent can do for us is provide a sense of hope.”

So, this Advent season, I look ahead. There, in the manger, lies the Hope of the world – the Savior. I’ve always needed Him – and the Hope He offers! And I’ve always found that Hope He promises and brings. I’ve written about Hope – in fact, an entire chapter – in When Life Roars, Jesus Whispers. This excerpt speaks of just one of the many times God brought us Hope:

God was renewing us through hope. We were fixing our eyes on what we could not see. As I read the Bible, I saw things that I had never before seen while reading the same words many times throughout my life. Was this the “Spirit of wisdom and revelation,” for which I had prayed, so that I could “know him better”?[i] Was it God highlighting the words I needed to see at this time? I believed it was. What a loving God I had, who would give me this wisdom and revelation so that I could “know Him better”[ii] and “know the hope to which He had called”[iii] me!

The Advent season invites us to Hope. Hope of a bright future. Hope of healing. All because of Bethlehem. Let’s prepare our hearts! And I’ll start the shopping! Join me. “Advent Awaits!”

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[i]  Ephesians 1:17 NIV

[ii]  Ephesians 1:17 NIV

[iii]  Ephesians 1:18 NIN

I Dig Deep

Bad news is frightening. The enemy wants me to forget the Lord’s faithfulness to me in the past and His promises of faithfulness in the present and future. Bad news pierces a knife into my stomach. The enemy twists and turns the blade. I’m suddenly nauseous. Discouraged. The outlook is uncertain.  Depressing. Fears enter my tired, worn mind.


If you ask anything . . .

This morning, as I most often do, with coffee beside me and Bible opened in front of me, I review my previous posts on social media, letting the Words of God speak to me again, as they had when I posted them. A post comes before my eyes from 2012, my most painful year. The Word speaks to my heart. Again. And again.
Here are bits of that post and present thoughts about it:
One November morning, 2012, I opened my Bible and read: “You may ask me for anything in my name, and I will do it.” My response then was – “Jesus, the precious name of Jesus!” I’ve read those verses, those Words of Jesus, recorded in John 14 and 15, over and over again through the years, before 2012 and since. Today, as I read that very promise, spoken by the Lord Jesus, Himself in the Gospel of John, I praise His name. Not only is His name “precious,” but it is “powerful.” It is the name above all names! The name from which the enemy flees. I speak it often throughout the day – in whispers – or in prayer. He tells us He will do what we ask because it’s for the Father’s glory. He tells us He will do what we ask if the Father is glorified through it.
Our son called us last night – from his hospital room. After days – weeks – of suffering – he asked us to join him in agreement for a specific prayer request – all in the name of Jesus. He quoted God’s promises in John 14 and 15. He knows God will grant his prayer if it brings glory to God. The trust and faith of my sick son is strengthening my own! And that very act of faith, I have no doubt, is bringing God glory. God confirms His Word over and over. The Word of God is unchanging. It is alive and powerful. And our Savior Jesus lives – He is unchanging – the same yesterday, today, and tomorrow.
On that same bleak November 2012 morning, God used a friend who sent me a prayer from Daniel 9. I read it again today:
“17 Now, our God, hear the prayers and petitions of your servant. For your sake, O Lord, look with favor on your broken, (children). 18 Give ear, O God, and hear; open your eyes and see these broken people that bear your Name. We do not make requests of you because we are righteous, but because of your great mercy. 19 O Lord, listen! O Lord, forgive! O Lord, hear and act! For your sake, O my God, do not delay, because this family bears your Name.”
“This family bears Your Name.”
Yes, we do.
We, our family, are still His people – as we were back in 2012, when my friend – and my God – comforted me with His Word.
Now, in this dreadfully disturbing present time, a distant cousin, writes, “Kathi, in my local Bible Study, I’ve just been studying the book of Daniel, and I encourage you. God answers that prayer of His servant, Daniel!”
God uses His Word – unchanging and alive. He uses my cousin, Julie, as a faith-strengthener, to confirm His Word. In it all, I recognize His favor – for me, my son, and for all whom He loves. I hope my writing encourages others in the same manner – of God’s promises, His love, and His favor upon us. (I am writing about favor, a post I will soon publish.)
Today, as I look back upon His faithfulness to me, I am so very thankful that the Word is in my mouth and in my heart (Romans 10:8).
coffee GIF

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Everyone loves getting books for Christmas. This year, put  When Life Roars, Jesus Whispers and/or Shh! Listen to His Whispers! under your loved one’s tree! Let me tell you a bit about these publications:


The Playoffs

I sit outside on bleachers in the wind and the snow at freezing temps. Not a typical evening for me, but I do it without reservation. Why? For Jacob! To “root” him on – so he will know Nana is there.

            Two minutes remain in the game. The Orioles are close to the end zone, a much needed touchdown


Learning to Listen

     Each summer when I was young, I attended Vacation Bible School at the little country church around the corner from our big yellow house. There, I was encouraged to memorize Bible verses – perhaps the one “key” verse each day, which was the root of our daily lesson. But in addition,


Broom Tree Love

“Neighbors bring food with death,” Harper Lee had written in To Kill a Mockingbird.[i] It was a line I had read dozens of times in those last years, as I had taught concepts from the novel in one of my classes. One day I found that statement to be true.