Thursday, December 8, 2016

Advent 2016 Mary Letter Day 11


Now the festival of Unleavened Bread, which is called the Passover, was near. The chief priests and the scribes were looking for a way to put Jesus to death, for they were afraid of the people. Then Satan entered into Judas called Iscariot, who was one of the twelve; he went away and conferred with the chief priests and officers of the temple police about how he might betray him to them. They were greatly pleased and agreed to give him money. So he consented and began to look for an opportunity to betray him to them when no crowd was present.
Then came the day of Unleavened Bread, on which the Passover lamb had to be sacrificed. So Jesus sent Peter and John, saying, “Go and prepare the Passover meal for us that we may eat it.” They asked him, “Where do you want us to make preparations for it?” “Listen,” he said to them, “when you have entered the city, a man carrying a jar of water will meet you; follow him into the house he enters and say to the owner of the house, ‘The teacher asks you, “Where is the guest room, where I may eat the Passover with my disciples?”‘ He will show you a large room upstairs, already furnished. Make preparations for us there.” So they went and found everything as he had told them; and they prepared the Passover meal. Luke 22:1-13

Dear Auntie Elizabeth,

Today was like the days before Passover, a madness of preparation, cleaning and packing. Although we probably won't leave for several days, we thought it best to make sure everything was ready and packed for the journey. The plan is to take several detours to stay with family along the way, so that I am not tired or hurt on the journey. I am not made of glass but they act like it!

Sarah came today! My beautiful sister and her daughter Hannah are staying for a time until we get going and will accompany us to their home for our first nights. She brought hand me downs from Hannah for the baby, so in case I deliver on the journey I will have some things. It is so fun to have them here and it makes my confinement during the day so much easier. We seemed to spend all day around the table, cooking, eating, laughing and sewing. I forgot how wonderful it is to have her around. And Hannah! She is such a bright and curious child and she loves Joseph. He kept her busy playing games outside while we cooked and chatted away.

I am tired tonight but that sweet sleepiness of a full day of laughter and conversation. Surrounded by family makes the days go quickly, especially when it's Sarah. She has a way of making everything fun. She always tried to make me laugh when we were growing up. She thinks it's hilarious when I laugh so hard I spit out my drink. She is the best big sister a girl could ever hope for. I hope I am as good a mother as she is!

Goodnight with love,

Mary

Wednesday, December 7, 2016

Advent 2016 Mary Letters Day 10


Then each of them went home, while Jesus went to the Mount of Olives. Early in the morning he came again to the temple. All the people came to him and he sat down and began to teach them. The scribes and the Pharisees brought a woman who had been caught in adultery; and making her stand before all of them, they said to him, “Teacher, this woman was caught in the very act of committing adultery. Now in the law Moses commanded us to stone such women. Now what do you say?” They said this to test him, so that they might have some charge to bring against him. Jesus bent down and wrote with his finger on the ground. When they kept on questioning him, he straightened up and said to them, “Let anyone among you who is without sin be the first to throw a stone at her.” And once again he bent down and wrote on the ground. When they heard it, they went away, one by one, beginning with the elders; and Jesus was left alone with the woman standing before him. Jesus straightened up and said to her, “Woman, where are they? Has no one condemned you?” She said, “No one, sir.” And Jesus said, “Neither do I condemn you. Go your way, and from now on do not sin again.” John 7:53—8:11

Dear Auntie,

I am always amazed at how one day I can be so full of hope and faith and the very next my heart is on the ground. We were well asleep last night when someone threw rocks at our home, rousing us all in a panic. Papa went outside and found notes tied to the rocks which declared me to be a sinner, a fallen woman, and my parents sinners as well.  They threatened violence to us as well. Papa tossed the notes in the fire but it was clear that he was terribly shook up. I learned from Mama what the notes had said this morning when Joseph arrived to continue to plan with my father. None of us got much sleep after that.

I insisted that they include me in the discussions since it had a bearing on my life directly. Reluctantly they agreed. I understand the men want to protect me and I love them for it. I also know that I need to be strong and aware as possible during these treacherous times. Despite the hurt and anger I feel, I am compelled to do everything in my power to protect the child, the promise of God within me. People can be so cruel and mean. Why is that? I know you too had some challenges during your pregnancy from stupid and cruel people. I hope you will lift me up in prayer as my spirits are surely flagging. More tomorrow.

All my love,

Mary

Tuesday, December 6, 2016

Advent 2016 Mary Letter Day 9


Then Jesus told them a parable: “Look at the fig tree and all the trees; as soon as they sprout leaves you can see for yourselves and know that summer is already near. So also, when you see these things taking place, you know that the kingdom of God is near. Truly I tell you, this generation will not pass away until all things have taken place. Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will not pass away.
“Be on guard so that your hearts are not weighed down with dissipation and drunkenness and the worries of this life, and that day does not catch you unexpectedly, like a trap. For it will come upon all who live on the face of the whole earth. Be alert at all times, praying that you may have the strength to escape all these things that will take place, and to stand before the Son of Man.”
Every day he was teaching in the temple, and at night he would go out and spend the night on the Mount of Olives, as it was called. And all the people would get up early in the morning to listen to him in the temple. Luke 21:29-38

Dear Aunt Elizabeth,

last night it was cool and dry and I sat for a good long while out underneath the big fig tree in our yard. We have a soft reclining couch we take outside at night and I stayed out there quite late. I enjoy my evenings outside, since during the day it is too dangerous for me. Daylight hour I spend reading, as much as I can get my hands on. We will not be able to take anything but food and necessities on our journey. I was reflecting on the many stories about Miriam last night after having read her story again during the day. I think I dozed off for a time and have a wondrous dream. I saw the baby within me as a grown man, and love and peace radiated from him. He was teaching to a large crowd, which was filled with rich and poor alike. These words came to me from the Psalms of David -

Blessed is the LORD!
for you have heard the voice of my prayer.
The LORD is my strength and my shield;
my heart trusts in you, and I have been helped;
Therefore my heart dances for joy,
and in my song will I praise you.
You, O LORD, are the strength of your people,
a safe refuge for your anointed.
Save your people and bless your inheritance;
shepherd them and carry them for ever.

After so much worry and anxiety surrounding me, I felt light and safe for the first time in many days. It is so easy to give into fear, but I want to trust God completely and be a vessel for love and compassion, not a container for guilt, pain and fear. I had a brief glimpse into what God has in store, and I know this child has so much to teach me and to give to the world. I just pray I am strong and faithful in what I have been given.

Much love,

Mary


Monday, December 5, 2016

Advent 2016 Mary Letter Day 8


Jesus said, “When you see Jerusalem surrounded by armies, then know that its desolation has come near. Then those in Judea must flee to the mountains, and those inside the city must leave it, and those out in the country must not enter it; for these are days of vengeance, as a fulfillment of all that is written. Woe to those who are pregnant and to those who are nursing infants in those days! For there will be great distress on the earth and wrath against this people; they will fall by the edge of the sword and be taken away as captives among all nations; and Jerusalem will be trampled on by the Gentiles, until the times of the Gentiles are fulfilled.
“There will be signs in the sun, the moon, and the stars, and on the earth distress among nations confused by the roaring of the sea and the waves. People will faint from fear and foreboding of what is coming upon the world, for the powers of the heavens will be shaken. Then they will see ‘the Son of Man coming in a cloud’ with power and great glory. Now when these things begin to take place, stand up and raise your heads, because your redemption is drawing near.” Luke 21:20-28

Dear Auntie,

I am so frightened! Last night old friends of my parents stopped by after returning from a trip to the cities. They told us that there are armed soldiers everywhere and they said it felt like a city at war. Little Bethlehem wasn't much better. The official word is that the soldiers are there for crowd control since so many will be flooding in to be registered. They recommended that we be very circumspect as we travel. We too will join that crowd in a war zone! Pappa and Joseph stayed up late last night plotting our trip and trying to figure the safest way for us to go. Of course, they excluded me from the conversation. I could help and I will be one of the two people traveling!

I am getting larger and larger by the day. I have totally lost my center of gravity and balance is a big problem, as is getting up from a chair. I am also growing very pale as I am inside so much. When I try to go outside in the sunshine Mama blocked the door with her substantial body. I may be big right now but I am no match for Mama!

Please keep us in your prayers as it looks we will be going sooner than later. The trip is now longer with stops with relatives and friends along the way. I really want to get there quickly so I can get home to have this child, but the men seem to know what's best for me. I'm praying for patience!

much love,

Mary

Sunday, December 4, 2016

Advent 2016 Mary letter day 7




ln those days John the Baptist appeared in the wilderness of Judea, proclaiming,
 “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven has come near.” This is the one of whom the
prophet Isaiah spoke when he said,
“The voice of one crying out in the wilderness:
‘Prepare the way of the Lord,
make his paths straight.’”
Now John wore clothing of camel’s hair with a leather belt around his waist,
 and his food was locusts and wild honey. Then the people of Jerusalem and
 all Judea were going out to him, and all the region along the Jordan, and they
 were baptized by him in the river Jordan, confessing their sins.
But when he saw many Pharisees and Sadducees coming for baptism,
 he said to them, “You brood of vipers! Who warned you to flee
 from the wrath to come? Bear fruit worthy of repentance.
Do not presume to say to yourselves, ‘We have Abraham as
our ancestor’; for I tell you, God is able from these stones to
 raise up children to Abraham. Even now the ax is lying at
 the root of the trees; every tree therefore that does not bear
 good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire.
“I baptize you with water for repentance, but one who is
more powerful than I is coming after me; I am not worthy
to carry his sandals. He will baptize you with the Holy
 Spirit and fire. His winnowing fork is in his hand, and
 he will clear his threshing floor and will gather his
wheat into the granary; but the chaff he will burn
with unquenchable fire.” Matthew 3:1-12

Dear Aunt Elizabeth,

I am sorry I didn't write yesterday. I got to sit
 outside in the early morning and was
enjoying the song of the birds and the
 gentle breeze when I became quite faint.
Mama rushed to my side and made me
 go right to bed, refusing to let me up at all.
She fed me broth and worried over me all
day and into the night. Her recent anger has
 turned to worry, for which I am grateful.
 I wasn'the sick, but just dizzy. I guess she
thought the babe might be coming. All is
well though, and Joseph was here all day
 as well. They'really finally making room for
 him,  as he is my husband.

I got up today and washed myself. Auntie,
 I cannot believe how huge my belly is!
 The babe likes to kick a good bit but he
 must be squashed up inside me. It is all
 such a mystery, such a blessing, and also
 so confusing. At least for us. Following  God
 demands such patience, such trust in the
 dark and a willingness to go blindly forward.
 I know you can understand.  At least your
 husband was silent throughout your
 pregnancy!  I've got people telling me
 what to do and how to do it every minute
 of the day. I think they believe they are
 helping, but sometimes, it is such a pain!
 Well, I best get back to my preparations  .
 We have a big journey ahead and I am huge
 -such a challenge for us all.

Love forever,

Mary

Friday, December 2, 2016

Advent 2016 Mary Letter Day 6


Then Jesus said to them, “How can they say that the Messiah is David’s son? For David himself says in the book of Psalms, ‘The Lord said to my Lord, “Sit at my right hand, until I make your enemies your footstool.”‘ David thus calls him Lord; so how can he be his son?” In the hearing of all the people he said to the disciples, “Beware of the scribes, who like to walk around in long robes, and love to be greeted with respect in the marketplaces, and to have the best seats in the synagogues and places of honor at banquets. They devour widows’ houses and for the sake of appearance say long prayers. They will receive the greater condemnation.”
He looked up and saw rich people putting their gifts into the treasury; he also saw a poor widow put in two small copper coins. He said, “Truly I tell you, this poor widow has put in more than all of them; for all of them have contributed out of their abundance, but she out of her poverty has put in all she had to live on.” Luke 20:41 – 21:4 


Dear Aunt Elizabeth,

These days have been very trying and often thrilling at the same time.  We learned yesterday that the leaders of the synagogue are planning to punish us in some way. Fortunately, we don't have a verdict yet. Mama and Poppa are trying to be very clam and prayerful but it can be too much some days. They are beginning to look to relatives that could keep us until the baby comes. They want us somewhere safe and fear the wrath of the people in our village, people we have known all of our lives. Can you imagine, one day you have dear friends and next they treat us as the enemy?

On the other hand, Old Delilah, the widow how has no means and is our town's charity case arrived at our door. Mama got ready to give her some food but she refused. She wanted to see me. Mama brought her into my room where I was resting. She asked us both to sit for she had something to say that was very important. She's a little touched, so we played along but didn't think much of it. She then knelt down beside me, kissed my hand and told us she had a dream. She said that she saw the child, perfect and sweet and he was a prince and I was a queen. She told me she had heard me called the queen of heaven. Can you imagine? Then, she took my hand again and placed several silver coins in my hand. She said God told her I would know how to use it on the upcoming journey. And then she got up and left after telling me never to be afraid! Mama and I were shocked, we could barely get words out and she was gone. A years worth of money for a poor widow and she gave it to me. Tears came, for both of us. Mama tried to find her later, but no one had seen her in the village.

Auntie, God is always surprising us and as soon as we find ourselves in horrible circumstance, we are also given a tremendous blessing that give us hope for the future. It is truly a puzzle but I know that God is good, and I want to get better at trusting completely.

much love

Mary

Thursday, December 1, 2016

Advent 2016 Mary Letter Day 5


Some Sadducees, those who say there is no resurrection, came to Jesus and asked him a question, “Teacher, Moses wrote for us that if a man’s brother dies, leaving a wife but no children, the man shall marry the widow and raise up children for his brother. Now there were seven brothers; the first married, and died childless; then the second and the third married her, and so in the same way all seven died childless. Finally the woman also died. In the resurrection, therefore, whose wife will the woman be? For the seven had married her.” Jesus said to them, “Those who belong to this age marry and are given in marriage; but those who are considered worthy of a place in that age and in the resurrection from the dead neither marry nor are given in marriage. Indeed they cannot die anymore, because they are like angels and are children of God, being children of the resurrection. And the fact that the dead are raised Moses himself showed, in the story about the bush, where he speaks of the Lord as the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob. Now he is God not of the dead, but of the living; for to him all of them are alive.”
Then some of the scribes answered, “Teacher, you have spoken well.” For they no longer dared to ask him another question. Luke 20:27-40 

Dear Auntie,

I am both grateful and a little annoyed that you did not explain what the midwives do. Now I know and I have to say I am a bit overwhelmed and totally embarrassed.  Without any notice, these women can barging into our house (I found out later Mama had arranged this all), told me to undress and began examining me. They put their hands in places - oh, I am still too embarrassed to say - and touched me all over. Mama stood smiling in the corner of my room while they went over me thoroughly - and I mean Thoroughly - and pronounced that I was due in less than a month. Three weeks tops, they said! I knew it was getting close but I really didn't know how close it was going to be. They will be present when I deliver, they said and Mama agreed. Mama doesn't think our trip will happen before they baby comes. I'm still blushing all over.

Afterwards, Joseph came by and I told him about the wise women who visit - not in graphic detail, I admit. He held me and we laughed a little at my awkwardness and their thoroughness. Then he told me that we might have to leave sooner than he thought. The baby is coming and we might have to be on the road. Oh, I have to go with him as he is my husband, but now I'm really scared. Mama and Poppa asked at supper if there wasn't some way to delay or postpone the trip. Joseph said he would try to find out but that the government seemed very strict and insistent. What we don't need is trouble with the law as if we aren't in enough of a mess as it is.

Thank you Aunt Elizabeth for your nice letter and encouraging words. It sounds like baby John is the delight of your heart. I know this little one will be my delight. I keep holding on to the promises of God.

love always,

Mary