December 7, 2016 – Waiting in Faith

I hope you were able to find someone to serve in a special way yesterday. I also hope that you saw the value in serving others, especially as you considered how Mary’s response to God’s Will is one of service.

When Mary arrives at Elizabeth’s home something special happened. As Mary approached, Elizabeth’s child (John the Baptist) “leaped for joy” in her womb and Elizabeth proclaimed the following profound words:

“Most blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb. And how does this happen to me, that the mother of my Lord should come to me?… Blessed are you who believed that what was spoken to you by the Lord would be fulfilled.” (Luke 1:42-43; 46)

Now, I know that the details are rather sparse in the early days of Jesus’ life. Part of reading the Bible is using what we know about the culture, the people, the author and historical context to help us see the passages in a fuller light. We know Elizabeth lived approximately 80 miles away based on our geographical knowledge of Judea. So by donkey, or on foot and early in a pregnancy which for most women means nausea and naps Mary chooses to travel to Elizabeth. Mary was a lot tougher than I will ever be.

Now consider this. As far as we know and I would argue, we can infer with a high degree of certainty, at this point no one has affirmed Mary in this pregnancy. A child conceived out of wedlock was a death sentence for the mother, literally. It is likely Mary could have been stoned if Joseph took her to court. This was a girl’s worst nightmare. Depending on how quickly she left for Elizabeth’s Mary may not have even had any physical confirmation that she was pregnant. All she has to go on is the words of the angel.

She arrives dusty, dirty, probably feeling sick, definitely exhausted, and probably unsure of what kind of greeting she will receive. Then Elizabeth speaks. She not only welcomes Mary, she says exactly what Mary needed to hear. Elizabeth blesses Mary, she affirms her as a woman and as a mother, and then goes on to say those most important words that we all long to hear:

Blessed are you who believed that what was spoken to you by the Lord would be fulfilled.

We all have moments of doubt. We all wonder or question what God’s plan is for us. While we may not all have Elizabeths who can affirm us so well, we do have her words to encourage us.

Sometimes we have to wait for the Lord, just like we are waiting for Christmas this Advent season. Elizabeth tells Mary, and us, that we are blessed while we wait in faith and hope.

Take some time today, perhaps before you go to bed, think about something you are waiting for. Are you waiting in faith and hope, as Mary did? Or are you anxious, worried, or despairing? Recite Elizabeth’s blessing and find comfort and support while you wait. And if you are struggling with doubts about something this Advent, keep in mind that we have a God who keeps His promises.

***What did it feel like to intentionally serve someone? Did you find that the moment of service pushed you a little out of your comfort zone? Please feel free to share your experience, thoughts and offer support to one another in the comments, on Twitter with the #DailyGraces or on the Facebook page.Daily Graces.



Just Around the Riverbend

I hope you all, whoever you all are =) , haven’t felt too neglected the past week or so. I had some family visiting and decided to take a little break to spend good quality time that I don’t often get with them. But, they are home now and we are re-finding our routines. It was a lovely visit and we all were sorry it was over. I know that my family will miss us as much as we will miss them, though there are probably a few things they are happy to be leaving behind them as they board their plane to head home.

One thing that they are likely happy to leave behind are all the movie soundtracks we listen to. All, day, long. Really, we have music playing pretty consistently during the day, periodically breaking out into song and dance to go with it. John has a sensitive side and is very drawn to visuals, so he loves movies and TV. However, he becomes overly committed emotionally to pretty much every character he encounters, good or bad. One way we are helping ease him into stories and plots is through the music. We can play a soundtrack and talk about who the characters are, what is happening, who is a “good guy” and who is a “bad guy.” We are also doing some music appreciation by letting the soundtracks play when it is only instrumental music so John and Rosie can try to figure out if it’s a happy song, a sad song, an angry song, etc.

Our current obsession just switched from Tarzan to Pocahontas, in case disney-pocahontasyou didn’t catch the reference in the title. I haven’t been able to get this song out of my head! Due to the fact that it’s on repeat, I’ve had a lot of time to think about it. Just before the song officially starts, Pocahontas’ father, Powhatan, has a few lines of song/dialogue. They are:

As the river cuts his path
Though the river’s proud and strong
He will choose the smoothest course
That’s why rivers live so long

They’re steady …
As the steady beating drum

Then the song starts:

What I love most about rivers is:
You can’t step in the same river twice
The water’s always changing, always flowing
But people, I guess, can’t live like that
We all must pay a price
To be safe, we lose our chance of ever knowing
What’s around the riverbend
Waiting just around the riverbend

(lyrics from

And so on. I was thinking about their two different perspectives on rivers. Chief Powhatan sees them as steady, constant and unchanging. Yet his daughter has a completely different take on it. I found myself thinking about how these two views of the river can be applied to life. In some ways, our lives are steady and constant. We have routine and ritual. We wake up, we live our day, we go to sleep, we do it all over again. But our lives are always constantly changing and evolving. I am seeing it every day as Clare grows. Just 10 days ago she was starting to cruise around on furniture, holding on with two hands and taking tentative steps. Today, literally 10 minutes ago as I type this, she was walking along a wall, got to the end, looked at me across the room, let go and took about 5 solo steps before falling. Incredible! What a change.

Sometimes change is hard. In life, there are always unknowns and uncertainty. We all have our own riverbends. We can’t quite see around them. As we get closer, we might get a bit of a glimpse, but we won’t see the full picture until we round that corner. Maybe there will be a calm stream. Perhaps a swift current or even some rapids. It’s difficult to anticipate what is unknown.

It is easy to be paralyzed by this unknowing. There is a lot of risk turning that corner. It may feel like the unknown is too big to risk the safety of our current spot on the river. This has been a challenge for me for a long time. I like to plan and as I’ve shared before, I am an excellent worrier. But God has been working on me, giving me lots of opportunities in this Air Force life to let go of the worry and the long-term plan in favor of His plan, both for me and for my family.

As I’ve let go, I think I’m starting to understand something about the riverbends in life. If I believe that God’s love and grace has been with me up until now, then I should logically believe that His love and grace is waiting for me around that riverbend. If His love and grace are waiting for me, then what’s around the riverbend isn’t necessarily unknown. Yes, I don’t know the exact situations or circumstances that I will be facing, but I do know where God will be, and isn’t that the most important thing? There is a great prayer that expresses this. It is part of a much longer prayer by St. Patrick.


Christ with me, Christ before me, Christ behind me,
Christ in me, Christ beneath me, Christ above me,
Christ on my right, Christ on my left,

(For full prayer, click here)

I just love the concrete imagery. Now, as I wonder about what will happen next for our family, especially if and when we will be moving to a new duty station, I can slow myself down and think of this prayer. I can even add to it.

Christ with me, Christ before me, Christ behind me,
Christ in me, Christ beneath me, Christ above me,
Christ on my right, Christ on my left,
Christ even beyond my sight.