Tag Archives: Christmas

Confessions From a Magnified Soul

“ Do you think you could paint a life-sized, pregnant Mary?”

Came the text from my friend who helps operate our local care pregnancy center.  Our little town hosts an “open house” Christmas event every year and the Center was offered a space on the main strip. Mary, the world’s most honored “unwed and pregnant teenaged mother” needed to be there. My friend had some funds set aside for the project and I was the “first person who came to mind.”

“Can you do this?” she asked.
Well, gee.

Confessions from a Magnified Soul

Honestly, I was “greatly troubled” trying to discern what sort of greeting— or project— this might be. I’d never attempted anything like this before; I’m not “that kind” of artist. Seriously, there are people I greatly admire who do this sort of thing with a level of realism and depth that I can only dream of. When they paint a person, it actually looks like a person. Me? I’m a folk artist. I work with the “essence” of things and basically take “sow’s ears” and turn them into a reasonable level of “silk purse”. I call it “redemptive art”— taking what others ignore or throw away and craft it into something beautiful, worthy and useful.  It’s what God did in me.

Could I do this?
I wasn’t sure.

However, I was certain of two things: this “starving” artist could certainly use the extra cash. Also, I’ve come to realize in my middle ages, that these types of opportunities and challenges have the potential to draw me into newer and deeper territories in my walk with God. I’ve learned that even, and maybe especially, in the things I do not know or understand, that to lean in past the fear and embrace the challenge before me often means the difference between growing or going stagnant in what I (think) I already know.

So, I said yes.

Plain BoardMary Beginning

Then God did two truly remarkable things. Just one short week before, He split open my heart and mind during one of our annual performance jobs with the liturgical dance company, Praise In Motion. They had reworked their Christmas offering and this year, one of the opening scenes depicted the moment of visitation through Mary’s point of view. The angel Gabriel appeared and the girl from Nazareth danced, working out her salvation with fear and trembling before God. It was a song I’d never heard before: “Be Born In Me”

The song,
the Spirit,
the sentiment…this Season.
I was overwhelmed.

Then I knew what God was showing me. I could see what He was asking me… asking you..again.    Anew.

If that wasn’t enough, God performed a virtual “miracle” at this busy time of the year; He cleared my calendar. I had two full, wide-open days to fully explore and experience this encounter with God through Mary’s eyes.

Line Drawn FaceIt was an invitation to dance with Him and my imagination through Luke chapter one. There I read and re-read every word. Mary; visited by the angel, embraced by the Spirit, overshadowed by God and enfleshed with the Child; our Savior and Lord, Jesus Christ. Then, with the allowed perspective of a 21st century Christian, I dove deeper beneath the surface to the Spirit-filled space in between and amongst each recorded word to soak in the emotion, the danger and fear, then the promise, the recognition and finally, the resolve.

The powerful, life-giving resolve of a submitted servant entrusted to the perfect will of God:  “Behold, I am the maidservant of the Lord. May it be to me according to your Word.” (Luke 1:38a)

I believe, at that very moment in Mary’s story she, overcome by the Spirit and overshadowed by the Word of the Lord— as terrified as she could be, submitted and obeyed and thus, conceived Jesus.  It was in the very moment of submission and obedience that the promise and salvation of God was conceived.

Sit with that for a moment.

I was stunned.
Because it’s no different today.

Line drawn hand Even now, as we go about our “business and busyness”, God presents His great gift of
salvation to us. Through the Spirit, by His Word, God offers that Jesus be born in us again, now… in all these daily moments.

Today. Watching and waiting, He’s making a way for us to also say, “I am the servant of the Lord. May it be to me according to your Word.


Life-long Christian or brand-new Believer.
The Seeker. The Confused. The Hopeless and the Lost.


Nearly Finished FaceIt was from this perspective and with the smallest hint of Mary-like courage that I picked up my brush and got to work. The song became my sound track, playing over and over while the Spirit of Christmas permeated and revived my soul.

I worked, inviting, at times begging. Jesus to once again this Christmas, be born in and through me . Deeply, the words recorded in Scripture mingled with the song

“I am not brave. I’ll never be.
The only thing my heart can offer is a vacancy.
I’m just a girl. Nothing more.
But I am willing. I am yours…… Be born in me.”

There it is:  resolve.

Finished MaryMy friend… I truly hope that in whatever circumstances may be bearing down hard on you or if maybe you feel carried along on the wave of this “modern day” celebration, barely able to keep your head above waters… somehow, you can slip away to that quiet place with Jesus this Christmas — expecting— and find that if you will simply submit,  He’ll be born.. anew.. in you too.

Behold, I am the servant of the Lord; may it be to me according to your Word.  Amen.

Linked today at Tell His Story

Spending Well At Christmas

Picture yourself: hunkered down with a  watchful eye trained in all directions, scanning for any sign of enemy movement. Ears straining, listening intently for any foreign sound. The tension is mounting; attack is inevitable— it’s about that time.

Spending Well

Almost out of nowhere, the buzz of aircraft fills the skies seeming to come from every direction. Hundreds of chutes deploy sailing through the air and firing in your direction. The noise is deafening, sulphuric smoke fills the air, clouding your senses; blocking your view. But you’re prepared; unloading round after round you and your team take out every. single. one. The ammunition is gone but with no movement from enemy territory, you’re feeling  it: victory.

As the madness gives way to silence, the signal comes to take stock of the casualties. Parachutes and their fallen lay in heaps around the field, hung up in trees, swaying in the breeze. Cautiously you edge forward, prepared for any sudden movement— except there is none.

Not a sound.
Not even blood.
Something isn’t right.

One by one, the reports come in that every “casualty” is a rubber dummy. Strapped with explosives, made to look like enemy paratroopers, you and your team have just spent all your energy and ammunition on decoys.

Worse, some of your own team got caught in the crossfire and now lay wounded. Worse still, the enemy…the REAL enemy is still coming and you’ve got nothing left to give. There’s no other choice but to regroup, retreat and give up this piece of territory.

Or be captured.

I first heard the basics of this story (which I’ve obviously laced with a divine bit of “holy imagination) in a Let My People Think broadcast entitled “Lessons from War in a Battle for Ideas ” by Apologist Ravi Zacharius. He’d been visiting a museum in France on the recent anniversary of the Normandy invasion and this story, along with a few others, gave him much to think about and share.

Because I have the American perspective of history and of living on the victorious side of the record books, I can smile a bit at the ingenuity of the soldiers and strategists who pulled off such a daring stunt. I mean,  HA! Rubber dummies! A purely genius moment of classic Psyops warfare. I suppose I do feel a little badly for how stupid those other guys must have felt but seriously?! Who’d fall for that?

Of course, there’s a valuable takeaway, which is the reason the story was told by a Christian for Christians. The point made is intended to help us recognize how each of us is also, at some level, engaging daily in a very real battle with a very real enemy. This enemy, satan, has most of his (temporary) successes bound up in moments like these.

Rather than attack us directly, satan can find better ways to make us think we’re being attacked. Before we know it, he’s drawn our fire and we’re giving it all we’ve got; wiping out our energy and reserves, our kindness and compassion and ultimately, our precious minutes and gospel witness.  All of it spent… on rubber dummies. Often then discovering that others— some we love or ought to love— were wounded in the skirmish and we’re the ones holding a smoking gun.

But they looked so real!

Rubber dummies take on many forms and they have their seasonal attire as well. Currently, there’s red cups, Starbucks and a variety of other holiday expressions. In today’s world they’re couched and cloaked in hashtags, sometimes wearing a particular skin color, creed or a badge. Sometimes they just don’t “do Jesus” and worship the right way any day of the week.  There are many others.

Each scenario holds just enough truth blended with a basket full of lies so that at first glance we’re deceived and go full throttle.  When the wreckage clears we’re left wondering how did we get so distracted AGAIN? How did we lose so much territory and waste so much time over something like THIS? It’s hard— because on the surface many of these things matter but I feel pretty confident in saying that Jesus hasn’t intended for us to stay and engage life at surface levels where most of these things take place.

Reading this morning from A Slice of Infinity, I was reminded again how the call of the Christian is to live as He did, counter-culturally, which is NOT the same thing as living anti-culturally. To be sure, it’s a life of constant tension, as we seek to engage the lost and model Christ to a rapidly disintegrating culture, often while having to simultaneously represent our faith and turn the other cheek.  A lot.

However, it’s our ability to embrace Christ and engage others in the midst of this tension while guarding our reactions that will— and must— look so dramatically different from the culture around us. It’s seldom a public, showy show-down.. it’s more often the humble and quiet, salt and light business of just doing the right things in the right ways for the right reasons that point others to Him.

The Weight of Glory2

It’s the willingness to live a life of surrender and standing, with God’s help, in the ever-widening cultural chasm that threatens to swallow us whole. Standing with our eyes so fixed on Jesus that when those rubber dummies descend from the skies and the pandemonium swirls all around, we are able to hear Him whisper, “Steady. Steady.” and instead of “unloading” we use our witness well.

At Christmastime …yes, please for the love of all that is holy…especially now when people all around are so confused about the meaning of Christmas or have divorced it from any meaning altogether.  So that maybe.. just maybe this would be the year that others might begin to see the meaning behind how we live because of the Hopeful Reason we have to truly celebrate and then… just maybe, like the shepherds keeping watch, they also might say, Wow…

“Let us go and see this thing made known to us by the Lord.”

Lorretta signature

an invitation to transfiguration

The radar was blanknot even a blip on the screen.

True, I’ve been distracted. There’s been so much action and activity surrounding my life recently— the usual busy-ness of our business’ seasonal work, planning for a wedding (here in 4 weeks!), getting a son into college, homeschool finals for the other, ministry commitments….laundry issues (now resolved!)— nothing major you know, just the common chaos.

Add to this, the holiday season on the horizon and how our usual plans for Thanksgiving were also nearly turned inside out by the discovery of water damage in our usual location. However, thanks to the willing work of an able family member, most of us were gathered in from various parts of 4 states, eating, visiting and goofing around under the same roof. As usual, it was different but we were thankful to be together again.

Similar is our goal and different is our family’s accepted “normal”!

Invitation to transfiguration Let me tell you more…