The Loudest Voice

I’m not so sure it was a silent night. Anybody who has given birth knows that it is NOT a quiet process. When Jesus was born in that manger, was his newborn cry tiny and frail? Could Mary and Joseph hear it over the sounds of the animals in the nearby stalls? Or was His the loudest voice of all?

When my babies were born, I saw nothing in that delivery room except that baby. Did he have hair? “How small she looks!” I counted all the fingers and toes… 40 fingers and 40 toes altogether over the years. “She has so much hair and its sticking straight up!!” “Look at his back… It’s covered in fuzz and there are rolls of fat.” I was so grateful and thankful to finally get that baby here, my focus was only on him. On her. And when I heard that first cry, I laughed and cried at the same time. Every time. It’s the most beautiful sound in the world!!

I think that Jesus’ voice was all his mother, Mary, heard that night. I think the sound of cattle and sheep, chickens and donkeys, and anything else in that stable receded into the background so far that Jesus’ voice is all she heard. She was listening for it at His birth, waiting to hear that first cry. And she was grateful and thankful to God for that sweet beautiful sound!

Jesus’ love is still the loudest voice. It reaches us in the middle of all the chaos of our lives. If we listen for His voice, everything else recedes into the background and HIS will be the only voice we hear. The world would have us believe otherwise. So many other voices are thrown at us all day every day, and if we aren’t paying attention, we could miss the sweet precious voice of Jesus and His love… His love that washes us in peace at Christmas time and every other time.

Departures and Arrivals

Leaving hurts. Even if what you’re going to is exactly where you want to be, it still hurts to leave (insert person, place, or thing here) behind. Yesterday, I had to leave my beautiful daughter and her family behind in Denmark and make my way back to Kentucky and home. Home is where I need to be, and I was excited to come home. But it hurt so badly to leave them standing on the other side of airport security, the baby sleeping in his daddy’s arms with his quilt wrapped around him.

Knowing when to leave. It’s a valuable skill. I went to be a help to my daughter with her new baby. I cooked meals and cleaned the kitchen, helped with laundry, and took care of the baby so she could sleep some. I cherished the time we had together, talking and sharing the “how to” information every new momma needs from her own mother. Precious time. But I couldn’t stay forever (even though I could’ve rocked that baby at least another month!) She is already a great mother, and I needed to come home so she can get on with raising her child.

Jesus knew it was time to leave. He had been walking with his disciples every day, dust collecting in their sandals. They had been learning “how to” bring God’s kingdom here on earth… “How to” live without him all along and hadn’t realized it. When the time came for Jesus to return to his Father, it was painful for those left behind. Jesus said himself in John 16:7, “I tell you the truth: it is to your advantage that I go away, for if I do not go away, the Helper [Holy Spirit] will not come to you. But if I go, I will send him to you.”

Hindsight is always so much clearer. Jesus knew his friends and followers were too dependent on his physical person, but they didn’t know it. They didn’t know how strong they were, or how much they had learned until Jesus was gone, and they had to put into practice everything he had told them. And I think it hurt Jesus to leave them, too. After all, he had poured himself into them… Spent every day with them… Shared every meal, laughed and cried with them… But it was time for him to go Home.

I’m thankful Jesus left the Holy Spirit here with us, our comforter, our helper. And I’m thankful for technology! Skype and other smart phone apps allow me to talk to my daughter, see her face and watch that baby grow. It helps take the sting out of having to leave.

I have a Carol King song in my head this morning. “Where you lead, I will follow. Anywhere that you tell me to.”

Quiet Reflections

I’m out of my routine. And I love having a routine. I’m in this vastly beautiful and different environment, yet I’ve developed a routine of a sort. My body isn’t exactly on Denmark time, and it’s not exactly on Home time either, which may make it easier to transition when I return next week. I’m staying up too late (reading) and sleeping later than I normally would at home. I have coffee with my newborn grandson while his mom and dad try to catch another hour of sleep. I cook breakfast for us all while he eats again. Try to beat the time difference (6 hours) and catch my husband at his breakfast time before he heads off to work at home. Text a few minutes. Take a walk. Plan dinner. Nothing earth shattering. But quiet… Peaceful… Restful.

Despite a newborn in the house, this is one of the quietest and most peaceful weeks I’ve ever had. I’m a quiet-loving person, and everyday life just… Isn’t. Quiet, that is. I’ve actually been able to turn off my brain a little, turn down the noise in my head, and just listen. Yes, there are birds and the breeze in the trees, soft rain falling, quiet house noises, clocks ticking and quiet new baby sounds. Let me just state categorically that there is NOTHING more precious in this world than the soft sound of a newborn sleeping in your arms.

Even the music in my head has quieted some. It’s always there, but for over a week now I’ve had just a couple of different lyrics running on a loop in the background. Soft and sure, but always there.

Your love never fails
It never gives up
It never runs out on me

It’s very comforting and reassuring to think that God sings over me no matter where I am in this wide world. His grace and mercy find me. I can hear it in the music he gives me. Sometimes I feel him with me when I’m painting, just… present. Sometimes, like this morning, I see God’s grace and mercy, his lovingkindness, in my new grandsons sweet face and chubby cheeks, fresh with Grandmomma kisses on them. And I am overcome with emotion that this great God would love me so very much. That His son, Jesus, would die for me… For this precious baby right here with me. And I am grateful.

Featured image: again, the fjord in Kisserup where we are staying for a few days. I love the way the sky is reflected in the water. A wonderful place to be still and quiet and reflect on the goodness of God.

Instincts

Copenhagen is a beautiful city and seems to be fairly easy to navigate by foot. We’ve walked all over the city in different directions, but (so far) I have managed to find my way back to the apartment. And if I do happen to get turned around or lose my bearings, I don’t have to wander aimlessly hoping for rescue… I can ask for directions or look at my map. Or I can trust my traveling companion. If I’m walking with my husband or my daughter, I can trust that they know where they’re going and how to get there.

These were my thoughts this morning when I woke up to Unspoken singing Who You Are in my head. Here are the lyrics to the chorus:

You can never fall too hard, so fast, so far
That you can’t get back. When you’re lost,
Where you are is never too late, so bad, so much
That you can’t change Who you are.

The Holy Spirit is my traveling companion in this life until I find my way Home. It doesn’t matter where I walk or how far I go, I can always get back. It’s never too late. What I’ve done or said is never so bad or so much that I can’t change who I am and be what God wants me to be. I’m never alone in this life as long as I’m walking with and trusting The Lord to guide me. I can ask for directions from His holy word… I have the Bible as my guidebook. It’s all mapped out for me, if I’ll take the time to look.

My newborn grandson is snoozing close by while I write this morning. I’m watching closely and listening for his precious newborn noises, ready to pick him up and hold him close at the first sign of distress. He isn’t aware that I’m here, but he instinctively knows that I will care for his every need and he trusts me. I believe God is right here with us as we walk through this life, watching and listening for any opportunity to pick us up, hold us close, and comfort us. We just have to trust… From the deepest, most instinctive part of us.

Click here to listen to Who You Are by Unspoken.

I posted about this song in early June from a different perspective. Just like music you love to listen to, God sometimes lets me hear a song more than once, and teaches me new things. Click here to read Who You Are.

One Thing Remains

Rule number one in a house with a newborn: If the baby ain’t sleepin’, ain’t nobody sleepin’! Especially not his momma. I watched her all night with her baby boy, up and down, nursing, changing, rocking, burping, quieting, changing, feeding, on an endless loop. She’s a natural. Born to be a momma, though her younger brothers may have a different opinion about that, she has a naturally quiet way with her son. Quiet whispers, gentle soothing sounds, confident hands-on nurturing and loving and caring for her baby until he can care for himself someday. (And it won’t stop there!)

“Your love never fails, it never gives up, it never runs out on me.” I woke up with these words in my head from Kristian Stanfill’s song, One Thing Remains.

Higher than the mountains that I face
Stronger than the power of the grave
Constant in the trial and the change
One thing remains

On and on and on and on it goes
It overwhelms and satisfies my soul
And I never, ever, have to be afraid
One thing remains

Your love never fails, never gives up
Never runs out on me

In death, in life
I’m confident and covered by the power of Your great love
My debt is paid
There’s nothing that can separate my heart from Your great love

God’s love never fails us. Ever. Like a new mother, God has a naturally quiet way with his children. He speaks in quiet whispers, gentle soothing sounds, confident hands-on nurturing and loving. His Holy Spirit guides us in the way we should go. When we are stressed, in pain, struggling to hang on, God is there in the middle of it, carrying us through until we can stand on our own. In the middle of it all, one thing remains. God’s perfect love.

Click here to listen to One Thing Remains by Kristian Stanfill.

Featured image: I love baby hands!! This is Samuel’s hand in mine. And as precious as it is to hold his sweet perfect hand in mine, it cannot compare to how God holds my hand, my life, in his hands.

Music to my Ears

After months of waiting and talking about what’s to come, my newest grandchild is finally here. A precious baby boy, so soft and warm, who already has his Grandmomma wrapped around his finger.

We arrived yesterday after a series of uneventful flights. My daughter’s beautiful new family met us at the airport… Waving a Danish flag! It was so good so see her again after almost a year, and to give her a huge hug. And to finally hold my daughter and then my newest grandson, only five days old.

I crashed on the couch for a short nap after a busy day of catching up, long walks, doctor appointments and more. I was awakened from my travel-foggy sleep by Samuel’s crying. Hungry and ready to eat, he was letting his momma know it’s supper time. And it was music to my ears!! There’s just something so pure and holy about a newborn’s cry.

I still cannot look at a newborn baby without thinking how good and how awesome is our God. All the fine details… Long fingers and toes with all the joints. Tiny little ears, so delicate and small. Seeing features in this baby that I saw in my own children at birth, yet so similar to his daddy’s features at the same time.

How God must love us and trust us to make us co-creators with Him. I can’t help but think of these words from the 139th Psalm.

For you formed my inward parts;
you knitted me together in my mother’s womb.
I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made.
Wonderful are your works;
my soul knows it very well.
My frame was not hidden from you,
when I was being made in secret,
intricately woven in the depths of the earth.
Your eyes saw my unformed substance;
in your book were written, every one of them,
the days that were formed for me,
when as yet there was none of them.

And just like Samuel’s crying, God’s word is music to my ears.