Tuesday, January 5, 2016

Mary, The Mother of Christ

Henry Ossawa Tanner: The Annunciation
So today's attempt to make January go back in time to December (since it was robbed from us by the flu), I stopped researching  glucose conversion and keeping your toes warm to studying about Mary.

The mother of the Savior.
After doing some laundry in between the moments of taking down some Christmas, glucose conversion, etc.; I came across an article about Mary which instigated the research deviation

"Oh perfect, let's start with her!" I said.

Mary was asked  if she'd be the one to carry the Savior. That had to be a heavy question..

Here is part of the article, with my interjections, because I have to be honest- I feel like the last two weeks have been pretty much filled with, well, Jaden. We had a good two week break. Despite the flu ending and the wrap up of that- it was enjoyable to have him home, his friends come over and laughter ring through the house.

I could have done without one of the Nerf guns he likes to just cock over and over, but for the most part it wasn't too big of a battle.

The sacrifices we make at this time of year, they don't have any idea about if we are trying to bring them the meaning of Christmas: The Great Surprise that God has in store for us if we just


Right? It has to be a surprise. The magic.... is real. The gifts of eternal life are real. And we have to wait in order for that morning to see what He has in store for us. And it can be great. No matter what you give. Or the lack thereof. He has to come...... whether now or later.

(In the Arms of Mary. Simon Dewey)

For Mary, it was in 9 months. Not a lot of prep time for bringing forth the Savior of the World!

Back to the article on lds.org.....

'despite the lack of information about Mary, there is much to be gained from studying the few recorded words about her; and in doing so, we can gain some insight into how we might approach some of the questions facing us in life.
For example, one of the pervasive decisions we face is the choice between self-denial and self-fulfillment: do we seek first to serve others, or do we try to satisfy our own needs?
For some years, popular trends have focused on the rights of individuals to “do their own thing,” seeking their own happiness.

(scenes from the nativity movie on lds.org)

" Many people see achieving personal goals as the ultimate meaning of life. Some psychologists support this emphasis by pointing out the negative effects of the “martyr complex” and by asserting that a person becomes a nonperson if he never does what he wants to do.
In sharp contrast are the ascetic practices of self-denial focusing on sacrifice for other people or causes. For those who pursue this course, the individual becomes less important than the group or the goal: there is something higher than self to live for.

Most people do not live either of these extremes. They try to pursue a course which neither totally denies themselves nor shuns service to others. At some times it seems appropriate to them to try to fill their own needs, and at other times it is important to sacrifice for something else.

(sadly, this paper nativity wasn't brought out this year! But I love it! Santa/winter elf made the shelf, however.)
Reading about Mary and the choices she made suggests an entirely different approach to the problem of choosing between self-denial and self-fulfilment. Suddenly, both choices seemed to carry with them too much emphasis on self.

Mary focused on God, not on herself, putting her faith in him rather than in her own abilities. Rather than seeking to fulfill herself, she consecrated herself to fulfill the will of God. But in making that choice, she did not deny herself: God fulfilled her needs better than she could ever have fulfilled them herself.'

This can be hard as a new mom. Do you let yourself take a potty break and let the little one work himself into a two hour crying tantrum? Or just let him cry. Answer is the latter. Do you take a shower for the same reasons? Or take a nap cause he's napping. That's debatable.
'From Mary’s experiences as recorded in the scriptures, we can identify four steps that may be useful in trying to develop her qualities in our own lives:

(what Nativities are your favorite? It would be so hard to choose, wouldn't it? Lots of artists out there with amazing talent.)

First, discover God’s will. To do this we must become aware of his commandments. Mary was already aware of the commandments and promises God made to Abraham, Jacob, and David centuries before (see Luke 1:54–55); and when the angel was sent to her, her sense of historic continuity was extended into the future as well, as she realized that her unique mission would influence all the children of God born on earth: “For, behold, from henceforth all generations shall call me blessed” (Luke 1:48). Likewise, we too are promised that we can know God’s will if we are willing to follow his counsel that we pray, study the scriptures, and learn how to hear the whisperings of the Holy Ghost (see D&C 19:23).
Second, we must develop faith in God. Mary was declared blessed for believing that the Lord really would fulfill the things he had told her (see Luke 1:45). We too must develop a sure knowledge of God’s perfect love for us, and faith in his ability to choose for us the path that will lead us to maximum possible joy.
Third, we must submit to God’s will. Mary’s expression of this willingness to submit is beautifully direct: “Behold the handmaid of the Lord; be it unto me according to thy word” (Luke 1:38). This reminds us of the words of her son as he was about to do the most difficult thing ever done on this earth: “Not as I will, but as thou wilt” (Matt. 26:39).
Fourth, we should praise God. This step is much neglected, but Mary’s example is again most beautiful. It reflects not only her own outpourings of praise for God, but also her knowledge of the praises sung by the prophets and kings before her:
My soul doth magnify the Lord,
And my spirit rejoiceth in God my Savior.
For he hath regarded the low estate of his handmaiden:

For, behold, from henceforth all generations shall call me blessed.
For he who is mighty hath done to me great things;
And I will magnify his holy name,
For his mercy on those who fear him
From generation to generation.
He hath showed strength with his arm;
He hath scattered the proud in the imagination of their hearts.
He hath put down the mighty from their high seats;
And exalted them of low degree.
He hath filled the hungry with good things;
But the rich he hath sent empty away.
He hath helped his servant Israel
In remembrance of mercy,
As he spake to our fathers,
To Abraham, and to his seed forever.
(JST, Luke 1:46–55).
We often hear expressions of thanks and gratitude given to God for his blessings, but perhaps not often enough do we hear praise for his greatness and goodness. The best examples are the outpourings of praise and adoration that characterize the feelings of those who have been closest to the Lord, who have known him best.
To focus on God rather than self by seeking to know his will, having faith in him, submitting to his will, and praising him can result in an inner peace and joy that can sustain one through any pain or sorrow.
Although Mary devoted herself to God’s will, she was not guaranteed comfort and ease in this life. In fact, Simeon prophesied to Mary that

“a sword shall pierce through thy own soul also”
(Luke 2:35).

*It must have been one of the most difficult things imaginable for her to watch her son give his life on the cross. And all the other times he was treated harshly. Truly we feel for our kids.

Beautiful feet:

But Mary’s anchor was not in herself or in any mortal, imperfect thing. Her faith was in God. Such faith brings the confidence and courage to accomplish missions that otherwise might be too difficult to bear.

In a world where many people see the major choices of their lives revolving around the question of living for the moment (self-indulgence) versus living for the future (self-control), we can, as Mary did, gain a sense of heritage and of eternity which can dispel the selfishness that overshadows the age in which we live.

*had a thought on the living for the future while having certain conditions or even the flu. hmm.

"Mary lived a pure life, a life so pure that the Holy Ghost could come upon her. She had faith that “with God nothing shall be impossible” (Luke 1:37). She was willing to live her life according to God’s plan. For these reasons she was able to be the mother of the Son of God, the mother of our Savior and Redeemer. Surely she is blessed, and through her we have all been blessed."

Sheryl Condie Kempton, mother of five, is Primary president in her Provo, Utah, ward.

*I need to go back through and edit this piece but I wanted to get it out there. The pictures are lovely.
And I need to get the artists to the right picture. I apologize for not doing it before hand. I don't want to get too far behind.

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