Unique Women of Christmas

In Hebrew, her name “Elisheva” means God’s oath or God’s promise. In the Greek, “Elizabeth” is further described as God’s abundance.

Cousin to Mary and wife to Zacharias, she played a pivotal role in the pre-Christmas story.

Elizabeth is listed in Luke chapter one as a righteous and blameless woman yet she suffered with infertility. In those days, barrenness was considered a curse from God.

But what Elizabeth did not know for many years was that God had not denied her request for a child; he just delayed the answer.

Until the perfect time…until Yahweh was ready to send an angel to Zacharias and plant His seed within a virgin.

We aren’t told how old Elizabeth was when she suddenly conceived a boy child who would become John the Baptist. But she and Zacharias were both old enough to consider their answered prayer a miracle.

During Elizabeth’s sixth month of pregnancy, her young cousin Mary became pregnant through another miracle – a conception through the Holy Spirit, prophesied for centuries and containing the Divine.

Mary’s Magnificat, also called the Song of Mary, declares her praise to God for his indescribable gift:

“My soul proclaims the greatness of the Lord,
my spirit rejoices in God my Savior
for he has looked with favor on his lowly servant.
From this day all generations will call me blessed:
the Almighty has done great things for me,
and holy is his Name.

He has mercy on those who fear him
in every generation.
He has shown the strength of his arm,
he has scattered the proud in their conceit.

He has cast down the mighty from their thrones,
and has lifted up the lowly.
He has filled the hungry with good things,
and the rich he has sent away empty.

He has come to the help of his servant Israel
for he remembered his promise of mercy,
the promise he made to our fathers,
to Abraham and his children forever.”  – Luke 1:46-55

Mary traveled to Elizabeth’s house to spend time with her. What conversations they must have had – both of them pregnant, one with a Messenger – the other with the Messiah.

Elizabeth no doubt mentored Mary even while she protected her from the wagging tongues of gossips. Mary no doubt blessed Elizabeth who felt her child leap in the womb when Mary entered the house.

After Elizabeth gave birth, she supported her husband in the choice of their son’s name. “John,” she said. “His name shall be John.”

From the beginning of the Christmas story, God included women and their giftings to pave the way for His Son’s ministry.  He designated Elizabeth as a main character and a parallel element in the greatest story ever told.

We can imagine Mary and Elizabeth spending countless hours together as they watched their sons grow, taught them proper manners and showed them how to appreciate godly women.

And in the candlelight at day’s end, Elizabeth and Mary no doubt prayed together for their boys who they knew would have a major role in the salvation of mankind.

Each woman bore a son, then gave that son back to God, trusting in Yahweh’s divine purpose.

©2016 GateWay of Hope – Hope, Healing and Wholeness for Women

Unique Women of Christmas

In Hebrew, her name “Elisheva” means God’s oath or God’s promise. In the Greek, “Elizabeth” is further described as God’s abundance.Mary and Jesus

Cousin to Mary and wife to Zacharias, she played a pivotal role in the pre-Christmas story.

Elizabeth is listed in Luke chapter 1 as a righteous and blameless woman yet she suffered with infertility. In those days, barrenness was considered a curse from God.

But what Elizabeth did not know for many years was that God had not denied her request for a child; he just delayed the answer.

Until the perfect time…until Yahweh was ready to send an angel to Zacharias and plant His seed within a virgin.

We aren’t told how old Elizabeth was when she suddenly conceived a boy child who would become John the Baptist. But she and Zacharias were both old enough to consider their answered prayer a miracle.

During Elizabeth’s sixth month of pregnancy, her young cousin Mary became pregnant through another miracle – a conception through the Holy Spirit, prophesied for centuries and containing the Divine.

Mary traveled to Elizabeth’s house to spend time with her. What conversations they must have had – both of them pregnant, one with a messenger and the other with the Messiah.

Elizabeth no doubt mentored Mary even while she protected her from the wagging tongues of gossips. Mary no doubt blessed Elizabeth who felt her child leap in the womb when Mary entered the house.

After Elizabeth gave birth, she supported her husband in the choice of their son’s name. “John,” she said. “His name shall be John.”

From the beginning of the Christmas story, God included women and their giftings to pave the way for His Son’s ministry.  He designated Elizabeth as a main character and a parallel element in the greatest story ever told.

Perhaps Mary and Elizabeth spent countless hours together watching their sons grow, teaching them proper manners and showing them how to appreciate godly women.

And in the candlelight at day’s end, Elizabeth and Mary probably prayed for their boys who they knew would have a major role in the salvation of mankind.

Each woman bore a son, then gave that son back to God, trusting in Yahweh’s divine purpose.

©2015 GateWay of Hope

Finding Christmas Joy Throughout the Year

Anyone who follows me on FaceBook knows I love Christmas.Hope Tree - GW

Starting in January, I begin the holiday countdown. On the 25th of the month I proudly proclaim how many more months we have until Christmas. Those who share my joy quickly “like” the posts; others are tempted to block me.

Perhaps my love of Christmas is due, in part, to my December birthday. As a young child the 355-day wait to open presents seemed like an eternity. While my parents always maintained a separate birthday celebration from the Christmas holiday, the two are still intertwined.

And I now rejoice in sharing the same birth month as my Savior.

Or perhaps my love of Christmas is due to the temporary transformation of the ordinary. As the popular Christmas song, Silver Bells, states, common everyday street lights become holiday decorations with their green and red lights glowing at the intersection.

In residential neighborhoods, twinkling white lights decorate otherwise drab winter streets. Evergreen wreaths and bright red bows greet weary shoppers.

I can’t help but smile and feel joy at this time of year.

Perhaps it is because Christmas is steeped in family traditions. We break out the eggnog, carols, and holiday decorations the Friday after Thanksgiving and deck the halls with trees and holly.

We build Gingerbread Houses in December and then eat them on New Years. We bake our favorite Christmas cookies and enjoy sharing them with co-workers and friends.

We dust off the holiday movies and watch them throughout the season: White Christmas, Preacher’s Wife, It’s a Wonderful Life, and Miracle on 34th Street. The Italian vigil on Christmas Eve is the climax of the season.

My eldest, who shares my love of the holiday, told me recently, “Mom, you always made Christmas magical.”

She was referring to the individually wrapped stocking gifts for each and person. And Santa always visits our house, leaving something special for adults and children alike. Some may argue this is placing an improper emphasis on the holiday, but I disagree.

Christmas is magical. A young virgin was selected by God Almighty to carry His son, our Savior, Jesus Christ.  From the time He was born in a Bethlehem stable until his crucifixion and resurrection, over 300 Old Testament scriptures were fulfilled.

“And there were shepherds living out in the fields nearby, keeping watch over their flocks at night. An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. But the angel said to them, “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.” Suddenly a great company of the heavenly host appeared with the angel, praising God and saying, “Glory to God in the highest heaven, and on earth peace to those on whom his favor rests.”  – Luke 2:8-14

The Christmas Story is indeed a magical fairy tale, and as JRR Tokien once said, “It is the greatest myth ever told because it is TRUE.”

Christ came to abolish the law so we might live free of its tyranny. Love, forgiveness and acceptance of others are the only rules to govern us today. Christmas Joy is indeed worthy of celebration every day of the year.

©2015 Molly Totoro for GateWay of Hope

Molly Totoro is a writer who has a heart and passion for authentic living. She firmly believes “Everyone has a story to share.” Molly helps others write their stories to impact future generations. Follow Molly’s new blog series, “How to Journal” at Revising Life after 50.

Women of Christmas – Elizabeth and Mary

Women of ChristmasIn Hebrew, her name “Elisheva” means God’s oath or God’s promise. In the Greek, “Elizabeth” is further described as God’s abundance.

Cousin to Mary and wife to Zacharias, she played a pivotal role in the pre-Christmas story.

Elizabeth is listed in Luke Chapter One as a righteous and blameless woman, yet she suffered with infertility. In those days, barrenness was considered a curse from God.

But what Elizabeth didn’t know for many years was that God had not denied her request for a child; he just delayed the answer.

Until the perfect time…until Yahweh was ready to send an angel to Zacharias and plant His seed within a virgin.

We aren’t told how old Elizabeth was when she suddenly conceived a boy child who would become John the Baptist. But she and Zacharias were both old enough that it was considered a miracle.

During Elizabeth’s sixth month of pregnancy, her young cousin Mary became pregnant through another miracle – a conception through the Holy Spirit, prophesied for centuries and containing the Divine.

Mary traveled to Elizabeth’s house to spend time with her. What conversations they must have had – both of them pregnant, one with a Messenger and the other with the Messiah.

Elizabeth no doubt mentored Mary even while she protected her from the wagging tongues of gossips. Mary no doubt blessed Elizabeth who felt her child leap in the womb when Mary entered the house.

After Elizabeth gave birth, she supported her husband in the choice of their son’s name. “John,” she said. “His name shall be John.”

Perhaps Mary and Elizabeth spent countless hours together watching their sons grow, teaching them proper manners and showing them how to appreciate godly women.

And in the candlelight at day’s end, Elizabeth and Mary probably prayed for their boys who they knew would have a major role in the salvation of mankind.

Each woman bore a son, then gave that son back to God, trusting in Yahweh’s divine purpose.

From the beginning of the Christmas story, God included women and their giftings to pave the way for His Son’s ministry. He designated Elizabeth as a main character and a parallel element in the Greatest Story ever told.

©2014 GateWay of Hope – The Helping Place for Hurting Women

Afraid but Available – Luke 1:26-38

It’s part of the Christmas story. The angel Gabriel appears to Mary. This teenage girl from Nazareth is “greatly troubled.” The angel says, “Do not be afraid.” He then tells her she’s going to bear God’s Son even though she’s a virgin. This pregnancy will happen by the power of the Holy Spirit. And what was her response to all this news? “I am the Lord’s servant. May it be to me as you have said.”

Imagine Mary’s experience:
• She saw and talked with an angel.
• She was told that she was going to have a baby even though she was a virgin.
• She was told that the power of God would overshadow her.
• She was told that her older barren cousin is already pregnant.

All these were extraordinary or impossible! It’s no wonder she was afraid and confused. But look at her response. She was willing to do anything God wanted her to do.
God had a plan and chose Mary to carry it out. It was an impossible plan as far as Mary was concerned. It was a fearful plan, too, since being pregnant and not married could result in stoning. But it was clearly God’s plan. The only thing she could do was trust God and be available. She didn’t let her fear stop her from being used for God’s purposes.
What has God chosen you to do? Even if you’re afraid, will you still be available?