Posts for Tag: Christmas

Between the Doubt and the Wonder

   Many times in my life I have stood in a place, perplexed, frustrated and afraid, thinking to myself that surely something was wrong with me, or with the manner in which I was praying, for surely the way things were headed could not possible be the way God intended them to be. They certainty were not going in the way that I imagined they would.

   This morning, as I stood on a high bluff overlooking the Albuquerque valley awaiting the sunrise, with the sounds of the song "Mary Did You Know' playing softly on the car radio, my thoughts were drawn from Mary, the subject of the song, to her husband Joseph. Not much is known about Joseph and I thought of him and how he may have felt and what he might have experienced on that long ago day.

 Joseph was a man, in a man's world, a member of a religious society with a long set of moral rules. Here he was married to his beloved and her pregnant well before the wedding date. Scandalous for such a time as his regardless of whether society deemed him the father or not. According to societies rules he was well within his rights to put her aside publically, to shame and humiliate her. Now it is said that he, being a fair man, did not want to do this, and he had determined that he would put her aside privately. But then Joseph had a dream, and in his dream an angel told him ""Joseph son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary home as your wife, because what is conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit." he did just that.

 Now I imagine that he must have thought that since this child was from God that everything would be okay. God would work it all out in some glorious and amazing way. There was nothing to worry about and no need for concern. God has this.  

 And then the Roman governor called a census and Joseph now has to figure out how to get his heavily pregnant wife to a town 90 miles away, because the census requires him and his family to be counted in the town of his birth. Bethlehem, in Judea. Surely God couldn't intend for him to take his young, pregnant wife on such a difficult journey? How can this be happening? A 90 mile journey was no easy task in that time, and was for sure not something you wanted to do when pregnant. I had difficulty waddling to the mailbox with both my pregnancies and I cannot imagine the stress my husband would have gone through had he been tasked with getting me across 90 miles of ancient roads with probably nothing more than a donkey for me to sit on.

 What a sigh of relief Joseph must have breathed out when they finally arrived safely to the gates of Bethlehem. Mary was probably already exhibiting signs that the babe was coming and he would have most likely been desperate to find a safe place for her..........but there was no place. Every room was full. The place was packed. Nobody cared. Here he was with his young wife about to give birth in the street! God? Are You sure this is right? You said this baby was special? You said this baby was conceived by the Holy Spirit? And yet here I am in Bethlehem, with a bunch of other people and there is no place for me to take her! No place for her to bear this child! Surely this isn't what you intended?

  Hours later I imagine Joseph, on his knees inside the stable, with the stain of manure upon his garments and the smell of animal waste heavy in the air. There he is on the straw, perhaps holding the hand of his young wife as she labors and sweats and bleeds to expel this child. Surely this is not the way it was supposed to be! I wonder if he knew, as the child at last was delivered, as they wrapped Him and lay him in a manger, as he squeezed the hand of young Mary, I wonder if he knew that just a few miles away, the heavens had split open and angels were serenading a group of shepherds?  That the glory of it all had lit up the night sky and struck these hardened shepherds with such an awe and wonder that they would leave their flocks and come and see the babe that the angel chorus sang about. Joseph....did you know?

    Or was he sitting there exhausted and afraid,  stuck between doubt and wonder, the doubt picking at his soul because surely, if he had heard that angel right, the one he had dreamed about, then surely things would have gone down differently than he and her, and the newborn babe, stuck in a stable 90 miles from home. Did he hover, as I so often do, between doubt and wonder? Did he question himself regarding the dream? Did he question Mary's sanity? Did he ask himself if perhaps he had gotten it all wrong? Maybe the dream was just some crazy dream......maybe he misheard.... 

   I wonder what he thought when the shepherds showed up, there at the stable, kneeling at the feet of the child, their faces all aglow with the wonder of it all as they recounted the story of the angels singing "Glory to God in the highest heaven,and on earth peace to those on whom his favor rests!" I wonder what he thought when the shepherds told him the messge the angel had proclaimed of "Do not be afraid. I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people.  Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is the Messiah, the Lord. This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.” I imagine that he must have been pretty awe struck by that. If he had harbored doubts, if he was afraid and wondering how in the world all this was going down like it was, I imagine that put a stop to it all and left him in awe of the wonder of it all.

  My thoughts are speculation. Not much is said about Joseph. Nothing is said about what he thought about it all, whether he ever doubted, whether he was ever afraid. I expect he was. He was human. We humans are often afraid, we often doubt, especially when we are caught in the hard places.

  I have been there. In that place where I could not see what God was doing, or even know if He was doing anything at all about the situation I was so desperate for Him to change, so desperate for Him to make an appearance, to make it stop, to deliver, to save, to redeem............and yet in looking back through these things I find that He was always doing, He was always right there in the thick of it with me, He was always in the business of delivering, or saving, of redeeming. He always will be.

  The Christmas story is a wonderful story, a glorious and miraculous and amazing story that leaves us in awe and wonder of the way God planned all that out. But we know the end of the story. At the time that the story was unfolding they did not know all that we know. Sort of like our stories. We cannot see the end of it yet, and we often get scared at the way things appear to be unfolding, how they seem to be unfair, how it all seems just a little too hard sometimes. We should take comfort in knowing that our God is great at unfolding glorious stories, full of awe and wonder, an awe and wonder that is sometimes difficult to see when you are in the story and the end hasn't played out yet.

 'Do not be afraid.......step away from the doubt and into the wonder of it all.



Christmas 2015

  It's Christmas morning and as a mom I couldn't be happier. With my sons both being grown, 27 and 21 years of age, it is a rare time when I have them both under my roof at the same time. For the first time in a long time I went to sleep last night with my sons both under my roof. It's a small thing, but the older I get the more I realize that it is the small things that most often matter.

  The Griego clan had a wonderful Christmas Eve last night. We laughed, we ate, we opened our gifts to each other and we just enjoyed time together. In this hectic world it's often difficult to find time to just be together. I am very thankful for this Christmas. Everyone loved their gifts and it was fun opening them but another thing I have learned in life is that stuff really doesn't matter. I would gladly burn every last bit of the stuff accumulated over the years to see the ones I love most well and content, safe and joyful. It's the people that matter. Like Paul I have learned to rejoice in plenty and in little. God has abundantly blessed us, with a warm safe roof over our heads, with enough to enjoy some of the finer things in life and with love, much love, but I can recall times where there was none of these things.

 As a youngster I once walked the streets of Baltimore, with blistered feet and no home to rest in. As a child I have lived with the bare minimums and very few "things" to call my own. I have sold my blood to purchase food. I have been very hungry. It is good to remember these times, and to reflect on the blessings God has given.

 As I sit here this Christmas morning, reflecting on the wonder of it all, I rejoice in knowing that there is always an end to a period of waiting. The world waited for a very long time for the promised One to come, waited in darkness and sin, waited such a long time that I imagine folks began to think that they had somehow misunderstood the promise (and many did). But He came, that first Christmas morning, came to humble settings, came as a tiny babe, came to save a lost and suffering world. I do not know what you are waiting for now, perhaps you are waiting on a loved one to get better, perhaps you are waiting on a time when you don't have to struggle so hard to make ends meet, maybe you are waiting on love, waiting on that person that you hope to spend your life with, the truth of the matter is most of us are waiting for something. When you belong to Christ, when you are His, you can know with assurance that there will always be an end time to your waiting. God is at work, and His work is always amazing. So keep praying for the thing you yearn for, and rest in the knowledge that in His time He will bring about even more than what you hope and long for.

 I have been so very blessed this year, I am blessed with a wonderful family. A family that understands loyalty and grace. I happen to have three of the most wondrous men in my life daily and am very proud of them all. We have had some tough times, but these times have strengthened our bond and taught us much about what is truly important. I am so very thankful.

  This Christmas season we saw the launch of a new church, Mosaic Church, and we as a family have begun to see some positive change in the many things we have been praying for. For all these things I am most truly grateful.

  Yesterday we got to watch our son's silly service dog sporting her new sweater, and I got to watch my sons open their gifts from my husband and I.  I got to watch my eldest veteran son hand my younger son a special coin, and tell him that he has everything in him that he will need to be Infantry should he choose to do so, and also told him to just consider it carefully, very carefully.

  I enjoyed sitting around the table with the ones I love most, eating the Christmas Eve feast, laughing and talking and remembering old times long past.

 This morning I was blessed to wake up in a house with both my sons present, and made a nice breakfast for everyone. For me it just doesn't get any better than this.

 I got to watch my granddog running around in her new sweater.

 I am very thankful for this 2015 Christmas.


God Came Down


I have been thinking this week about that first Christmas, so long ago.

The people had been awaiting their Messiah for a very long time. It had been 400 years since God had spoken to His people.

On that first Christmas there must have been a great deal of stress. Imagine Joseph, all stressed out because he had to travel to Bethlehem with his very pregnant wife for the purposes of registering for a census. Having the government demand such a thing alone is enough to have someone all stressed out. Add to that the long journey, the fear of bandits, the fear of Mary delivering her child somewhere along the way, and then once they arrive, and they breathe a small breath of relief......more fear and stress, there is no room, no room anywhere, and frantically Joseph seeks somewhere, someplace for them to stay.

He finds a stable.

I think it might be fairly safe to assume that since Bethlehem was packed to the gills, the stable was pretty packed too. Oxen and donkeys most likely, as horses were not that common for the average person back then. The staff at the inn was probably stretched pretty thin, so the stable would be the last place to receive any attention. I imagine it smelled fairly ripe.

It is probably also safe to assume that the crowds of people, the innkeeper, the staff and pretty much everyone were living in a state of stress. There was a lot to do, the people visiting would be nervous, they traveled far, because their government demanded it, there would be uncertainty, there would be stress over money, people spending more than they could really afford, there would be people who had spent all and were now wondering how they were going to eat and of course the people who lived there would be thinking up every kind of scheme possible to make some cash off of all these people pouring in.

Into this mess of humanity, into a stinking stable, filled with livestock, came the Lord of everything.

He who created all things, steps into the clay He created, clothes Himself with flesh, steps away from majesty and glory, into abject mire and misery.

He comes not as a strong and mighty man, He comes not as a giant, He comes as a tiny helpless baby. He comes from the womb of a virgin girl. The first breath these lungs of flesh take in, filled with the reek of animal waste.

God became flesh. God became a man, fully God, fully man. He breathed, he hungered, he felt pain…….He was as you and as I. God did that! Why in the world would the eternal, majestic and holy God of all creation want to stoop down to our level?

The Bible tells us that God so loved us that He gave His only Son. He loved me and you enough to leave glory and walk in filth, to live amongst broken and sinful people, to die upon the most devious instrument of torture known to man, to endure the sins of the world, my sins and your sins, heaped upon His perfect soul.

  If He loved enough to do that, do you think He does not care for us now? Do you think He does not see our suffering, our sorrows, do you think He cares not for the things you endure here?

  Think about it……..the Lord of glory, the One who created all things, the One who created you, stepped out of glory into all our stinking mess, to redeem us! That’s how much we mean to Him.

  So no matter what is going on around you, no matter the sorrows your heart is carrying today, I say that if your heart belongs to Him, rejoice, rejoice, and rejoice. Cause everything is going to be okay… fact it’s gonna be more than okay.

My heart melts at the love of Jesus,
my brother, bone of my bone, flesh of my flesh,
married to me, dead for me, risen for me;
He is mine and I am His,
given to me as well as for me;
I am never so much mine as when I am His,
or so much lost to myself until lost in Him;
then I find my true self.
But my love is frost and cold, ice and snow;
Let His love warm me,
lighten my burden,
be my heaven;
May it be more revealed to me in all its influences
that my love to Him may be more fervent
and glowing;
Let the mighty tide of His everlasting love
cover the rocks of my sin and care;
Then let my spirit float above those things
which had else wrecked my life.
Make me fruitful by living to that love,
my character becoming more beautiful every day.
If traces of Christ’s love-artistry be upon me,
may He work on with His divine brush
until the complete image be obtained
and I be made a perfect copy of Him,
my Master.

 May your Christmas be blessed.  Hope has come, Peace has come, Joy has come, and Love has come. CHRIST HAS COME!



"It came without ribbons! It came without tags! It came without packages, boxes or bags!"... Then the Grinch thought of something he hadn't before! "Maybe Christmas," he thought, "doesn't come from a store. Maybe Christmas... perhaps... means a little bit more!" ~Dr. Seuss, How the Grinch Stole Christmas!”

“I will honor Christmas in my heart, and try to keep it all the year. ~Charles Dickens”

“Fail not to call to mind, in the course of the twenty-fifth of this month, that the Divinest Heart that ever walked the earth was born on that day; and then smile and enjoy yourselves for the rest of it; for mirth is also of Heaven's making. ~Leigh Hunt”


Have you ever wept uncertain if your tears are tears of sorrow or tears of joy?

  I awoke this morning, this Christmas Eve, and listened to a song.  

I know You came to rescue me
This baby boy would grow to be
A man and one day die for me and you
My sins would drive the nails in You?
That rugged cross was my cross, too?
Still every breath You drew was Hallelujah

The tears were rolling down my cheeks.  As I listened, I prayed, I prayed for just one day lived for His glory, just one day where there was no hint of me in anything that I do, in anything that I say. Just one day Lord.

For I have walked with Him for 25 years, since that day when He called me out of darkness and into His light, and yet when I sit and reflect upon it, in all my efforts across the years,  I do not recall a time when I ever had one full day, lived only unto Him.

There have been good days, and there have been days which I thought were good days, only to find I was living them unto self, or unto some religious motive.  There have been the awful days, when not a single thought of my Lord crossed my mind and there have been the joyful days, lived in His presence for the most part……..but in honesty, not one full day only for Him, not one full day lived for Him, where every moment was spent in gratitude, where every choice was placed before Him first, where every hurt was forgiven as He would forgive, where every opportunity to extend His grace was acted on to His glory…..NOT ONE DAY!

What a sobering thought. Praise God for His grace,  which rains down on us, without which we are unable no matter how much we wish it, no matter how much we want it, we are unable to give Him anything, we are unable to live for Him as He demands,  unable to be the saints we so desperately wish to be.

And that’s okay, that’s how it is supposed to be. Only one man ever walked out a perfect life lived in perfect union with God, only one man ever did 100 percent of what was required, only one man ever put every single choice he made before God first and always chose the path that pleased Him. Only one man, the God man, Jesus Christ, Yeshua, Messiah,  Prince of Peace, King of Kings, Lord of Lords, that little babe born long ago, who grew to manhood, who preached  good news, who took my place, died in my stead, satisfied God’s wrath and rose from the dead. He did it, so that I could be clothed in His righteousness.

So we keep striving, keep walking, tears of joy and tears of sorrow, broken, but rejoicing, broken but singing…..Hallelujah!

Just before work this morning, I stopped by to visit my daughter in law. The song I had heard earlier was in my heart but I did not have it to listen to, so I listened to the original. As I sat and brushed dirt from her headstone, listening to the words to the original Hallelujah, once again the tears began to fall. Sorrow mingled with joy.

It’s the eve of His birth, the One who is Hope, who is Peace, who is Joy, who is Love…….even so come Lord Jesus, come.

And even though, It all went wrong
I'll stand before the Lord of song
With nothing on my tongue but hallelujah”

“It’s gonna be okay, more than okay”………..I believe it, I believe it with all my heart, so today, this Christmas Eve, I will sing Hallelujah, there will be the moments when it is as good as it can get, when my heart is one with His, when the hallelujah coming from my soul is like the worship of the angels……..and there will be those moments when it is broken, cold, when the sound is only faintly heard and the soul weeps.

It’s not about religion. Religion gives you a set of rules, so you can compare. You compare yourself to the rules and you think you are doing pretty well. You compare yourself to others who are so obviously breaking all the rules….and you think you are doing real good. You lift your voice to the heavens shouting “Lord I am so glad I am not like _____”.  And in your quest to meet the obligations of your religion you miss all the grace moments, you miss all the opportunities He gives to you, to allow you to love as He loved, to allow you to preach as He preached, to allow you to be His hands, His feet, His voice. Lord Jesus stamp out religion in my heart and replace it with You.

May our prayer ever be the prayer of the tax collector.

No, it’s not about religion.  It’s about relationship. Relationship with Him.  

He also told this parable to some who trusted in themselves that they were righteous, and treated others with contempt: “Two men went up into the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector. The Pharisee, standing by himself, prayed thus: ‘God, I thank you that I am not like other men, extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even like this tax collector. I fast twice a week; I give tithes of all that I get. ‘But the tax collector, standing far off, would not even lift up his eyes to heaven, but beat his breast, saying, ‘God, be merciful to me, a sinner! ‘I tell you, this man went down to his house justified, rather than the other. For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, but the one who humbles himself will be exalted.”

May He find room in your heart this Christmas.


A Hallelujah Christmas

 “I've heard about this baby boy
Who's come to earth to bring us joy
And I just want to sing this song to you
It goes like this, the fourth, the fifth
The minor fall, the major lift
With every breath I'm singing Hallelujah

A couple came to Bethlehem
Expecting child, they searched the inn
To find a place for You were coming soon
There was no room for them to stay
So in a manger filled with hay
God's only Son was born, oh Hallelujah

The shepherds left their flocks by night
To see this baby wrapped in light
A host of angels led them all to You
It was just as the angels said
You'll find Him in a manger bed
Immanuel and Savior, Hallelujah

A star shown bright up in the east
To Bethlehem, the wisemen three
Came many miles and journeyed long for You
And to the place at which You were
Their frankincense and gold and myrrh
They gave to You and cried out Hallelujah

I know You came to rescue me
This baby boy would grow to be
A man and one day die for me and you
My sins would drive the nails in You
That rugged cross was my cross, too
Still every breath You drew was Hallelujah

Hallelujah originally by Leonard Cohen

"Now I've heard there was a secret chord
That David played, and it pleased the Lord
But you don't really care for music, do you?
It goes like this
The fourth, the fifth
The minor fall, the major lift
The baffled king composing Hallelujah

Hallelujah, Hallelujah
Hallelujah, Hallelujah

Your faith was strong but you needed proof
You saw her bathing on the roof
Her beauty and the moonlight overthrew you
She tied you
To a kitchen chair
She broke your throne, and she cut your hair
And from your lips she drew the Hallelujah

Hallelujah, Hallelujah
Hallelujah, Hallelujah

You say I took the name in vain
I don't even know the name
But if I did, well really, what's it to you?
There's a blaze of light
In every word
It doesn't matter which you heard
The holy or the broken Hallelujah

Hallelujah, Hallelujah
Hallelujah, Hallelujah

I did my best, it wasn't much
I couldn't feel, so I tried to touch
I've told the truth, I didn't come to fool you
And even though
It all went wrong
I'll stand before the Lord of Song
With nothing on my tongue but Hallelujah

Hallelujah, Hallelujah
Hallelujah, Hallelujah


Merry Christmas in heaven Mel Bell Griego

Merry Christmas in heaven Allen Young

Merry Christmas in heaven Myrtle Hall

Merry Christmas in heaven papa.

This Ain't No Norman Rockwell Painting

 We are in the middle of Advent, the time of preparation for Christmas. The time of anticipation. We remember the line of people, back to the beginning, as they waited for the promised Messiah, we remember and we wait, we wait for that glorious morning, that Christmas morning where we celebrate the birth of our Lord, Jesus Christ, where we remember that day where God took on the flesh of man, and came down to this dirty messed up world, to walk out His perfect life and die His sacrificial death that conquers sin, and rise again from the dead to conquer death.

 Christmas can be a hard time, even for the most balanced and blessed of folks. We all have those Norman Rockwell paintings in our heads, those ideas of the perfect Christmas and we labor hard at bringing about such a holiday in our own homes, and more often than not our plans are thwarted. Imperfect people, ourselves, our families, our situations, all come against our plans and we feel like failures. We or someone, or something, has ruined Christmas.


I propose a different approach this year. I propose that instead of setting our eyes on that perfect Norman Rockwell Christmas, let us instead set our eyes on seeing why Jesus came...did He come that we might have our homes decorated perfectly, that we might rise on Christmas morning in our perfect Christmas pajamas, that we might gather around our perfect Christmas trees and open our perfect presents, all while our children and family members and pets behave in the most perfect Christmas manner? Did He come that the Christmas goose might be perfectly baked and the Christmas table set in the most spectacular Christmas manner, did He come that we might have carolers outside our door on Christmas Eve while a perfect gentle snow falls?...Did He come for these reasons listed?

Or did He come for these?

   He came to conquer death, it does not have to be the end of things anymore. We miss those who have gone from us, but we hold fast to the knowledge that we will see them again.

  He came for the downtrodden. He came for the lost, the broken, the sick, the messed up, He came to destroy death and sin, to give us light and hope, to enable us to rise above the conditions we face here on this earth and live above them. He came to bring peace and goodwill. He came to set us free.

 Our house will be no Norman Rockwell painting this year, but it will be a place of hope, we will rise on Christmas morning, bruised but hopeful, for the Christ child was born, some 2000 years ago, in a tiny Bethlehem stable, and He grew to be a man, a perfect man, He healed the sick, set free the captives and lived approximately 33 years, keeping the law of God perfectly, and on the real black Friday, He carried an instrument of torture to a hilltop above Jerusalem, whereby he allowed a lost and broken people to nail him to that rough wood, after having beaten him and abused him, and lift Him up for all to see......Jesus..the King of the Jews....and after a time, He gave up His life, with a victorious cry of "It is Finished", and the veil that separated the holy of holies, the place where none but the high priest was allowed to go, the place where God dwelt, was torn from top to bottom, and we were allowed the right to enter in.

 And that my friends is Christmas, hope for a broken people, deliverance from sin and death and disease and war and hate and ugliness.

It Ain't no Norman Rockwell is far more beautiful, far more complex, far more wondrous. 

  So if things aren't perfect this Christmas, instead of allowing that fact to make you think yourself a failure, or to depress you into thinking your Christmas is not as it should be, look to Jesus, look to the end not the now. The promised One has come, and He accomplished all that He set out to accomplish.

Jesus Christ, the only Reason for the season.....I hope you know Him, I pray You come to know Him.

   Merry Christmas