I recently returned from a month-long trip back east to visit and care for my 92-year-old mother Goldie. I wish I could say everything about it was great, but there were definitely some lows, including a trip for my mom to the emergency room. The final week of my stay I call my “miracle week," as we learned from a very observant nurse that my mom was severely dehydrated, which probably caused her seizure. We pumped her full of Pedialyte over the last few weeks and she has improved very much in alertness and clarity as well as significantly reduced pain. I praise God that I was able to have some amazing conversations with her during the last week I was there. One such conversation involved her difficult and humble beginnings, as she was the youngest of twelve children (two sisters died as toddlers). When my mom was five, her own mother, Rosie, passed away at the age of 48, her cause of death not known. I reflect on how difficult it would be to lose your mother as a five-year-old. My mom expressed how her sisters Violet and Dorothy, 16 and 14 years older than she, became like mothers to her, and a loving aunt would sew dresses for the four girls of the family. When my mom was 13 years old, my grandfather pulled her out of eighth grade so that she could contribute to the family income. This would have happened in 1936, around the middle of the Great Depression. My mom and her dad would catch a bus in the wee hours of the morning and travel to another town to work for eight hours straight, my grandfather in a broom factory and my mother in a shoe factory. They would make 40 cents an hour, and the bus fare was 40 cents a day. Can you imagine sending your middle schooler off to that kind of daily grind? They often walked the half-mile trek to the bus stop in knee-deep snow.
Why do I share this story? Stories mean something. They keep track of unique experiences and help inform greater understanding as we grow in grace. They speak of the joys and sorrows of life that impact each of us in unique ways. These stories of my mom mean a lot to me personally. More importantly, her story has informed mine, as I never knew that as a young child, she frequented church with her family and often gathered around a huge ornate family Bible for Scripture reading in their home. Amazing! This is part of my faith legacy that I am only discovering now! I cannot quite express how much this means to me as her daughter and as a believer.
What is a story you can share this Christmas with your family that can help them understand you better or discover God’s unique purpose? Just as our personal stories carry important meaning, the Nativity story weaves us into the tapestry that God is creating. Even Mary, as a young expectant mother, was aware of a bigger story being told (Luke 1:46-55). As we engage scriptures found in Isaiah and Micah, we are reminded that God was preparing for this arrival since the beginning of time.
As we begin this Advent season, may we be grateful for the humble beginnings of our Savior, the One who went from the cradle to the cross for us, the weary and the broken. The King of Glory came in lowly esteem. John 1 begins with Jesus, the Word, who was here from the beginning, forming history that would lead to His death and resurrection and the promise of His second coming. Let us worship Him in quietness and strength, being grateful that He has woven us into His story and continues in faithfulness to guide us.