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

Being vs. Doing

Molly TotoroThis past weekend Americans celebrated Labor Day. Traditionally this holiday signals the end of summer and the beginning of fall. Officially, however, the first Monday in September is reserved to honor the achievements of American workers.

Labor Day focuses on productivity, efficiency, and economic gain. It is about doing our job – whatever it may be – to the best of our ability. It focuses on determination, perseverance, and self-sacrifice. After all, striving for success is the American way.

For many women, however, our jobs do not end after an eight-hour shift. We push ourselves to go above-and-beyond at the office, and then return home to provide that same level of care for our family.

We ensure our home is well-organized with enough food to eat and clean clothes to wear. We are available to shuttle children to after-school activities, assist them with homework, and listen to their problems and concerns.

We strive to maintain a joyful attitude because we know “If Mom ain’t happy, ain’t nobody happy” and we desire a cheerful family.

Then of course there is the ministry aspect of our lives. We are grateful for the gifts and talents the Lord has given us, and we desire to give back. We volunteer our time in several areas because there is so much need and not enough workers. Many of us log as many hours at church as we work in the office.

When we finally have a moment for ourselves, we are exhausted and simply collapse into bed. We reason that tomorrow we will take time to rejuvenate… but tomorrow is a repeat of yesterday… and last week… and last year.

I was interested in reviewing synonyms for labor. Many of them encompass, as I expected, a positive connotation: employment, job, effort. But there were also a few surprises, which held a darker, more negative meaning such as: chore, drudgery, stress.

It is when our hard work and effort give way to drudgery and resentment that we need to stop and refocus. 

I think this is what Jesus was trying to convey to Martha.

I used to dislike this particular Bible story. I thought Jesus was comparing Martha to Mary and voicing a preference for the latter. Since I embody the characteristics of workaholic Martha, I felt as though Christ was rejecting me.

I would often rationalize, but if we all just sat around like Mary, who would do the work?

But Christ recently showed me He does not compare, nor does He play favorites. It is only because of His deep love and compassion for all of us that He wants us to take a break, to sit for a while, to re-energize at His feet.

Christ knew my energizer-bunny lifestyle was taking its toll. The constant activities created undo stress, which affected my physical health.

And I was the one comparing my work to others, creating resentment toward the Marys in my life. This, in turn, deteriorated my spiritual well-being.

So in celebration of this Labor Day I urge you to follow Colossians 3:23, Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart as working for the Lord, but also take the time to sit at His feet, bask in His love, and rejoice in simply being His child.

©2015 Molly Totoro

Molly Totoro is a writer and a recently retired English teacher who has a heart and passion for authentic living. She firmly believes “Everyone has a story to share” and is currently establishing a ministry, Milestone Memoirs, where she helps others discover and write their stories to impact future generations.  Molly frequently writes about the need to leave a legacy on her Stepping Stones blog.

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Reason for Christmas

“Now it came about in those days that a decree went out from Caesar Augustus, that a census be taken of all the inhabited earth.

This was the first census taken while Quirinius was governor of Syria.

And all were proceeding to register for the census, everyone to his own city.

And Joseph also went up from Galilee, from the city of Nazareth, to Judea, to the city of David, which is called Bethlehem, because he was of the house and family of David, in order to register, along with Mary, who was engaged to him, and was with child.

And it came about that while they were there, the days were completed for her to give birth.nativity

And she gave birth to her first-born son; and she wrapped Him in cloths, and laid Him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the inn.

And in the same region there were some shepherds staying out in the fields, and keeping watch over their flock by night.

And an angel of the Lord suddenly stood before them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them; and they were terribly frightened.

And the angel said to them, ‘Do not be afraid; for behold, I bring you good news of a great joy which shall be for all the people; for today in the city of David there has been born for you a Savior, who is Christ the Lord.

And this will be a sign for you: you will find a baby wrapped in cloths, and lying in a manger.’

And suddenly there appeared with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God, and saying, ‘Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace among men with whom He is pleased.’

And it came about when the angels had gone away from them into heaven, that the shepherds began saying to one another, ‘Let us go straight to Bethlehem then, and see this thing that has happened which the Lord has made known to us.’

And they came in haste and found their way to Mary and Joseph, and the baby as He lay in the manger.”

Luke 2:1-16 NASB

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

God’s Promise through Elizabeth

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

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 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.”

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.

2013 GateWay of Hope – The Helping Place for Hurting Women

Women’s History Month – Part 1

Women's History MonthAs we celebrate Women’s History Month, we remember all the Christian women who made a difference for the Kingdom of Christ. These were women of courage and foresight who marched against the traditions of their culture in order to follow their Lord. But who were some of these women?

Mary and Martha, friends of Jesus, provided a place where he could rest. Legend tells us that Martha was a wealthy widow and the homeowner who supported her brother, Lazarus, and her sister, Mary. Martha organized the work, supervised her servants and – as scripture implies – used her type A personality to get things done.

We need the Martha’s of our world, just as much as we need the Mary’s.

Other biblical women who exercised leadership and earned their way to biblical records include Lydia, Priscilla, Deborah, Abigail, Rahab, Jael, Mary Magdalene, Suzanna, Ruth, Joanna and of course, Mary – the mother of Jesus.

But what of the women beyond these biblical characters?

Many Christian women of history are listed as martyrs, those ladies who gave their all for the love of their Lord. Some of these noble warriors include Blandina (177 AD) from France, Perpetua and Felicitas (203AD), Faltonia (4th century AD) and Anne Askew (1546) an English Protestant martyr. Many others may not be recorded here, but they are definitely written in the Lamb’s Book of Life.

Many historical women were noted missionaries, who moved to another country and brought other people groups to Christ. To become a missionary in those days meant extreme hardship. These women truly left father, mother and homeland for the sake of the Gospel (Mark 10:29).

Some of these brave women include:
• Ann Lee (1736-1784: a Quaker missionary)
• Ann Judson (1789-1826: missionary to Burma)
• Lottie Moon (1840-1912: missionary to China)
• Mary Slessor (1848-1915: missionary to Africa)
• Ida Scudder (1870-1960: missionary to India)
• Evelyn Brand (1879-1974: missionary to India)
• Gladys Aylward (1903-1970: missionary to China)
• Elisabeth Elliott and Rachel Saint who helped reach the hearts of the Auca Indians in the 1950’s-60’s.

During Women’s History Month, we salute these brave women who left a legacy of faithfulness to Christ. As their sisters, we step forward to serve our Lord in whatever field He leads us to – for the glory of the One who created us to be His.

The Reason for Christmas

“Now it came about in those days that a decree went out from Caesar Augustus, that a census be taken of all the inhabited earth.

This was the first census taken while Quirinius was governor of Syria.

And all were proceeding to register for the census, everyone to his own city.

cross and Christmas treeAnd Joseph also went up from Galilee, from the city of Nazareth, to Judea, to the city of David, which is called Bethlehem, because he was of the house and family of David, in order to register, along with Mary, who was engaged to him, and was with child.

And it came about that while they were there, the days were completed for her to give birth.

And she gave birth to her first-born son; and she wrapped Him in cloths, and laid Him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the inn.

And in the same region there were some shepherds staying out in the fields, and keeping watch over their flock by night.

And an angel of the Lord suddenly stood before them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them; and they were terribly frightened.

And the angel said to them, ‘Do not be afraid; for behold, I bring you good news of a great joy which shall be for all the people; for today in the city of David there has been born for you a Savior, who is Christ the Lord.

And this will be a sign for you: you will find a baby wrapped in cloths, and lying in a manger.’

And suddenly there appeared with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God, and saying, ‘Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace among men with whom He is pleased.’

And it came about when the angels had gone away from them into heaven, that the shepherds began saying to one another, ‘Let us go straight to Bethlehem then, and see this thing that has happened which the Lord has made known to us.’

And they came in haste and found their way to Mary and Joseph, and the baby as He lay in the manger.”

Luke 2:1-16 NASB

Caesar Who?

He’s only mentioned one time in the Gospel accounts although history knows quite a bit about him. He came to power because he inherited the Roman kingdom from his great-uncle Julius Caesar. Most historians praise him because he restored peace after 100 years of civil war.

Caesar AugustusCaesar Augustus, a minor character in the Christmas story yet an important cog in the historical wheel, teaches us a vital lesson about current events.

C.A. maintained an honest government and a sound currency system. No problems with fiscal cliffs under his reign. He developed an efficient postal service and extended the highway system. These were the same refurbished highways that Paul later traveled on his missionary journeys.

Because C.A. brought organization, stability and order to the Roman world – he is considered to be one of the most successful Roman emperors.
So why do we focus on him in this post? Because God used Caesar Augustus to fulfill a 600-year old prophecy.

“But you, O Bethlehem Ephrathah, are only a small village among all the people of Judah. Yet a ruler of Israel will come from you, one whose origins are from the distant past” (Micah 5:2 New Living Translation).

600 years before the Christmas story took place, the prophet Micah wrote about the birth of a King – tiny King Jesus – in Bethlehem. But Mary and Joseph lived in Nazareth. How would God get them to Bethlehem?

“At that time the Roman emperor, Caesar Augustus, decreed that a census should be taken throughout the Roman Empire… All returned to their own ancestral towns to register for this census. And because Joseph was a descendant of King David, he had to go to Bethlehem in Judea, David’s ancient home. He traveled there from the village of Nazareth in Galilee. He took with him Mary, his fiancée, who was now obviously pregnant” (Luke 2:1-5 New Living Translation).

C.A. called for a census, so Joseph and Mary traveled the roughly 70 miles to Bethlehem where Jesus was born, where angels announced His birth, where shepherds came to worship Him.

Sometimes in our modern yet still struggling culture, we think only certain leaders can make a difference. Yet God used Caesar Augustus to get His Son, Jesus, to the right place at the right time.

God can still make miracles happen – even in the most unlikely of places.

© 2012 GateWay of Hope Ministries

God’s Promise through Elizabeth

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

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 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.”

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.