Mary

Proper Care and Feeding for an Introvert at Christmas

There are many fantastic things about Christmas, including:  wonderful music, festivities, eggnog, generosity, beautiful lights and lots more!  Of course, the best thing about Christmas is thinking about Jesus coming into human existence as a newborn and the whole Christmas story.  When I ponder Jesus’ birth and the surrounding events, like the angelic visitation to the shepherds and magi following a star, I’m deeply awed when I consider all of this as a vibrant expression of God loving humanity.

But alas, sometimes Christmas can get swallowed up in the frenzy of parties, cookies, concerts, caroling, wrapping, decorating, shopping, baking and heaps more.  And coming from an introvert’s point of view, sometimes Christmas can be overwhelming.  So if you know an introvert (coworker, family member, spouse, neighbor, classmate, etc.), here might be some helpful suggestions that could sooth that introvert and keep them less prickly.

  • Space:  whenever introverts have heavy obligations or frequent demands (office parties, school programs, Christmas concerts, secret Santa exchanges), they will need space (breathing room) to offset these expectations.
  • Quiet:  loud Christmas music, raucous parties and blaring noises can necessitate some quiet for your introvert.  They can struggle if noise (background TV, carols, concerts, programs) seems to be endless.
  • Solitude:  Christmas is a social season and while introverts can be social, it’s helpful to remember that they recover and get refueled with solitude or quiet company
  • Depth:  Lots of times Christmas overflows with superficial conversations about the weather, getting shopping done, being ready for Christmas, kids activities, reindeer accessories, etc.  Introverts flourish in deep conversations and shrivel in the shallow exchanges.
  • Feeding:  sometimes you can lure an introvert from their den with a plate of cookies, or their favorite snack J

My daughter and I were talking about the whole introvert and extrovert Christmas experience and we both enjoyed chatting about these respective viewpoints and how we process Christmas.  No matter if you’re an introvert, extrovert or ambivert, Christmas is the celebration and evidence of God expressing genuine love for humanity.

And as we think about Jesus’ birth, I’m often riveted by the shepherd’s experience in Luke 2 because maybe they were introverts, keeping watch over their sheep in a field at night.  Shepherds at this time in history lived a more solitary existence, since sheep required abundant pastures for foraging, along with quiet brooks for clean water.  And when their work had become the most quiet and settled, in the night watches, they were freaked out with an angelic visit, complete with God’s glory shining around them.  Of course, the angel, Gabriel, told them not to be afraid, because they were astounded!

Furthermore, after Gabriel’s announcement, heaps more angels popped onto the scene with singing and celebration – an incredible divine interruption and display of jubilant revelry!  The shepherds responded to this experience by hustling into Bethlehem to find the baby, wrapped in swaddling clothes and laying in a manger.  I’m pretty sure that Mary, Jesus’ mom, was somewhat surprised to see these strangers celebrating her sons’ birth and maybe she was also an introvert, pondering these things in her heart.

Whatever your personality is, let’s remember that Jesus’ birth is the crosshairs for Christmas and let’s stay in grateful awe of God’s extravagant genuine love for us, personified in the birth, life, death and resurrection of Jesus, God’s Son.

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Posted by sarahbowling in busy, Christmas, cooking, family, fellowship, Genuine love, grow, Heavenly Help, Holy Spirit, listen, living, relationships, spiritual, thought life, values, watch, 1 comment

The Jesus Thing

Now that we’ve entered December, the Christmas festivities are in full swing.  There are parties to attend, cookies to bake, packages to wrap, trees to decorate, concerts to enjoy, potlucks to cook for, school programs to assist with, . . . .  and it seems to me that the list is endless.  The truth be told, when I hear the word, “Christmas” it makes me tired before anything starts, maybe like Pavlov’s dogs who salivated when they heard a bell chime.   To make it more challenging for me, I have lots of friends and family members who love the Christmas festivities and countdown the days until the frolicking can commence.  I watch my friends and family with curiosity, perplexed and awed by their ease and grace to enjoy this season.

From their point of view, sometimes they think I’m like the Christmas Grinch, as it may seem like I’d prefer to find a quiet cave and disappear from the noise, obligations, hubbub and seasonal delicious treats.  And it’s not that I don’t like the yummy food, beautiful music or serene snow that can christen this season.

My deal is that it’s easy for Jesus’ birth to get swallowed up in the season’s bustle, hustle, duties, celebrations, cookies, wrapping paper, gifts, decorations, glitz and glam.  So I find it challenging to stay focused on Jesus in the midst of this hectic season.  In the past, I’ve tried to keep this season less hectic so I could focus on Jesus better.  That’s been a really constructive tactic to help me keep Jesus in the Christmas crosshairs.

For whatever reason, this year seems different.  I was looking at my December calendar to find some empty space for lunch with a friend and I was disheartened to see almost every day booked.  How did I let this month get away from me and it’s just the beginning of the month?  Where did Jesus go for me in this month?  Maybe I should call this month my Jesus Month instead of Christmas, as a purposeful reminder for my focus.

And maybe it would be helpful to think about Mary, Jesus’ mother, this month as we celebrate Jesus’ birth.  She was obviously the key player for Jesus’ birth, after she was overshadowed by Holy Spirit, nine months earlier.  So when I think about Mary giving birth to Jesus in this month, I’m reminded about what it was like for me in the last month of pregnancy with my three kids.  I was tired and trying to keep my focus on the finish line of giving each of my babies a healthy and safe delivery / introduction to their separate existence.

I suspect that Mary, being away from her family to register in Bethlehem with Joseph her husband, maybe she was a little jittery or possibly overwhelmed with the unknown (child birth) looming in her immediate future.  Or maybe Holy Spirit helped her all the way through her pregnancy, so that she didn’t deliver Jesus in a completely frazzled and unraveled experience.

So when I think about Holy Spirit helping Mary through her pregnancy to deliver the only begotten Son of God, it encourages me to focus on Holy Spirit to help me through this season to stay focused on Jesus.

This is my prayer for you, as you finish this blog.  May Holy Spirit overshadow you throughout this season so that Jesus’ birth is fresh in your heart and outlook, not just on Christmas day, but for each day that leads to December 25th.  Let’s remember that Christmas is the Jesus thing 🙂

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Posted by sarahbowling in busy, Christmas, cooking, enemies to intimacy, family, fellowship, Genuine love, grow, Heavenly Help, Holy Spirit, listen, living, prayer, relationships, seeing Jesus, spiritual, thought life, uncertainty, values, watch, 0 comments

What Do You Repeat?

Do you have mindless habits? All of us have things that we do without giving much thought to them, such as brushing our teeth, driving home, morning routines, etc. It can be really helpful to have these kind of routines, but sometimes they’re counterproductive.

For example, in Luke 10, Martha & Mary had Jesus come to their house for dinner. Based on Martha’s behavior in other stories in the Gospels, it seems like she fell into the routine of cooking, serving & being busy with getting stuff done. All of these things aren’t inherently wicked, but if we allow our routines to sabotage our fellowship with Jesus, then they become more of a hindrance than a help.
Let’s always remember that Jesus said in Matthew 6:33 to seek His kingdom first & we’ll have what we need! Let’s be sure our routines reinforce our intimacy with Jesus rather than distract us in mindless disconnect 🙂

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Posted by sarahbowling in busy, cooking, enemies to intimacy, Genuine love, grow, Heavenly Help, Holy Spirit, Jesus Chix, listen, living, prayer, spiritual, travel, values, watch, 0 comments

Jesus Chix: just love

There is a chick who followed Jesus who always takes my breath away: Mary of Bethany. I love watching her because of her devotion to Jesus & her authenticity. The first time we read of her, she’s sitting at Jesus’ feet listening to Him – a place reserved for men who were learning from a teacher, not women who weren’t deemed as worthy to receive education nor instruction. Mary should’ve been helping Martha in the kitchen, doing domestic stuff. But Jesus applauds Mary & says that “this one thing won’t be taken from her.”
Mary’s devotion to Jesus is tested when her brother Lazarus dies, even though Jesus could have prevented his death. Mary is extremely upset by Lazarus’ death & it seems to me that she let her emotions prevent her from seeing her brother raised from the dead (John 11).
The final time we read much about Mary is when she is washing Jesus’ feet with her tears, drying them with her hair & anointing Jesus with costly oil. Her love & devotion to Jesus were nothing less than authentic & extravagant. May I love Jesus as Mary did

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Posted by sarahbowling in enemies to intimacy, Genuine love, Holy Spirit, Jesus Chix, listen, living, prayer, relationships, seeing Jesus, spiritual, values, 0 comments

Jesus Chix: Mary

Over the last few days, I’ve been reading about Jesus’ mom, Mary and how Gabriel came & announced Jesus’ birth to her.  Mary was an AMAZING chick!!  She wasn’t married, lived in a male dominated society & became pregnant out of wedlock, overshadowed by the Holy Spirit.  According to the religious & traditional norms of her day, she should’ve been killed.  But she was brave and courageous.  She spent a few months with her elderly cousin, Elizabeth, who was miraculously pregnant in her old age and I think these months helped both women:

  • Mary – who was young, vulnerable & probably somewhat naive when it came to issues related to pregnancy
  • Elizabeth – elderly, toward the end of her pregnancy & probably tired, like we get in our third trimester

Mary, the mother of Jesus, a teenage girl, pregnant without being married – carrying in her womb the Savior of the world.  Let’s live like Mary:  Luke 1:45 “blessed is she who believed that there would be a fulfillment of what had been spoken to her by the Lord.”

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Posted by sarahbowling in enemies to intimacy, family, Genuine love, Holy Spirit, Jesus Chix, listen, living, prayer, relationships, saving moses, seeing Jesus, spiritual, 0 comments

distance #3

Ok, sunday i had the privilege of speaking about letting Jesus get close.  Just to be totally honest – i had way too much fun getting to share on this topic.  Seriously, this was a blast for me!!!

Here’s my gist:  i think that we keep Jesus at a distance for lots of reasons, but some common ones include: 

  • busy-ness (i’m too busy, like Martha in Luke 10, i think),
  • hurt / emotions (i’m disappointed or hurt by Jesus so i’m going to keep my distance, like Mary in John 11)
  • unworthy (i’ve got WAY too much garbage in my life for Jesus to get too close, like the centurion in Luke 11).

Its unfortunate that we use these reasons to keep Jesus at arms length.  I’ve found that if I ask Him to help me w my busy-ness, i feel closer to Him & He often does help me!  I also find that Jesus is deeply moved by my pain & wants to be involved in helping me resolve it.  Finally, the reality is that we all have huge quantities of garbage – but Jesus came to make us worthy.  Keeping Jesus at a distance from our personal lives isn’t constructive.  the end

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Posted by sarahbowling in spiritual, 0 comments