5 Occurrences Pointing to a Messiah

A pregnancy. A young girl. Unwed. It looks like all the makings of a very made-up story. According to commentator Matthew Henry, Luke 1:48 shows us the state of Mary. He looked with pity on the humble estate of His servant. Mary wasn’t just a poor girl, she was likely the least of her family. Unjustly neglected.

It’s God’s M.O. throughout the Scripture. Using the lowly, especially women, for His purpose and glory.

  • Leah – hated by the people – the Lord “opened her womb”. The lineage of Jesus.
  • Hannah – provoked and insulted – the Lord gave her a son, Samuel.
  • And Mary – the lowliest among her people – mother of our Savior.

Just as we lack faith when God has promised us something, I’m sure Mary did too. Just as the Lord needs to give us “signs” along the way, He did for Mary too.

First, He sent an angel. Wow! If a big ol’ angel came down and told you something, I’m thinking you would believe it! But, first, she doubted. After he greeted her with a booming “Greetings, O favored one, the Lord is with you!” (Luke 1:28), the Scripture says she was “greatly troubled” and tried to figure out what he was saying.




She must have thought “Why would an angel call me ‘favored one’? He must be talking to someone else.” As she looks around to see whom else he is talking to. Until she realized there is no one. It is her and her alone. So, she listens. She hears what he says. Still questioning, in the middle of Gabriel’s declaration she interrupts, “How? I’m a virgin!” Gabriel continues and her heart begins to believe. She feels an inkling of hope that the God of the universe has picked her. Nerves swirling inside her stomach, hands trembling, she humbly accepts the proclamation.

Second, Elizabeth. Mary’s cousin. Gabriel told Mary Elizabeth was with child. Mary knew Elizabeth was beyond childbearing. She was barren. She had to see for herself. It was so important to her, she traveled 80-100 miles through hill country to visit her. Maybe by foot, maybe on a donkey. Either way, not easy. She had to know, and she needed to tell someone. Those must have been the longest 3-4 days to her. Wondering how Elizabeth would receive her. Knowing she needed confirmation, but would she get it? Small, timid, and exhausted, I imagine a tear beginning to stream down her face as she approaches the house. Fear is finding its place in her heart again. Then God. Faithful. Kind. Gentle. Offers the assurance Mary needs. Elizabeth runs to hug her cousin calling her “the mother of my Lord”. Elizabeth telling her the baby inside her lept as she approached. Affirming over her “… blessed are you who believed…”

Third, Joseph. How would he take this? We speculate she didn’t see him until after her return from Elizabeth’s. By then, the baby bump was appearing. When Joseph saw her, he didn’t know what to make of it. He heard what Mary said, but couldn’t quite believe that story! Again, God. In a dream, the angel tells Joseph everything, confirming Mary’s story. God chose him to raise the Messiah. He takes Mary as his wife, humbled, scared, awed. His charge was to protect her and the baby and he would do it well.

Fourth, here come the shepherds. Minding their own business. Doing their job. Then suddenly, the glory of the Lord shone around them. This isn’t like a flashlight turned on, this is doxa, Heavenly brightness! Shading their eyes, looking upward and around trying to figure out where it’s coming from. And the big angel voice booms, “Fear not!” Yeah, right. Yet, a calmness comes over them as they hear what the angel is saying. A birth? A Savior? In Bethlehem? But, if the angel speaking wasn’t enough, an entire angel army appears singing and praising God, proclaiming peace over the Earth. The angels leave and the shepherds make haste back to Bethlehem. They find Mary and Joseph and a baby in a manger, just as it was told to them. Here is little Mary. Just her, her husband and the baby. She had to swaddle Him after the birth. No midwife or mother to help her. Alone in a stable. Only place to lay her baby was in a feeding trough. Doubt overwhelming her yet again. Then shepherds. They tell the story and Mary fades into the background. Finds her quiet place and the most profound thing happens.

“Mary treasured up all these things, pondering them in her heart.”

She pondered the angel. She pondered her visit with Elizabeth. She pondered Joseph’s dream. And now shepherds. There was no more doubt. At this moment. She believed all that had happened, and she treasured it. Stored it deep in her heart. Little did she know how much she would need to remember it all in a short 33 years.

Fifth, and last, just in case there was any more doubt, Simeon. A devout man in Jerusalem, God had revealed Himself to him many years prior, confirming he would see the Christ before he died. On the day Mary and Joseph were taking Jesus to the temple to present Him to God, Simeon felt a nudge to go to the temple as well. He saw the little family, took the baby in his arms and said,

“Lord, now you are letting your servant depart in peace, according to your word; for my eyes have seen your salvation that you have prepared in the presence of all peoples, a light for revelation to the Gentiles, and for glory to your people Israel.”

~Luke 2:29-32

Mary and Joseph marveled at what he said. Not only did Simeon confirm this was the Messiah, but this Messiah was for all people. Gentiles and Jews.

With so many occurrences pointing to a Messiah, how could anyone not believe? Yet, they didn’t. Many didn’t. We see it from this end and just know we would have believed. But, would we? What is pointing to the Messiah in your life right now? What is pointing to the return of a Messiah today? Luke tells us that Mary was blessed. Well, sure, we can see that. She was the mother of God. Yet, that isn’t why Luke called her blessed. Before the baby bump, before Elizabeth, before the shepherds, she believed. And because she did, she was blessed.

May you believe what the Lord is pointing to in your life. May you treasure and ponder all He has shown you. Then, your life will be blessed beyond anything you can imagine.

Merry Christmas, friends! And a blessed New Year! 🎉

What is Your Reason for Celebrating Christmas?

What is your fondest memory of Christmas? Were you a child or is it more recent? Do you love big family gatherings with friends all around? Or do you prefer small, intimate dinners with a few friends or immediate family?

I come from a large extended family. Forty plus people would gather in my grandparents little 4 room house Christmas Eve night. Rooms filled with people and laughter. I loved catching up with my cousins and aunts and uncles. I loved the smells coming from the kitchen – ham, potatoes, pies. I loved not feeling alone; feeling part of something big.

I remember watching the presents build up under the tree as more people came to the house. It was so exciting even though I knew only one was for me. They were for the matriarch. Grandma. When dinner was over and the long awaited anticipation of opening presents was upon us, as many as possible would crowd into that little living room. Grandma would sit in her little rocker and I and my cousins would play the elves and distribute the gifts. I loved watching the pile of gifts begin to tower up around my spry little 5 foot grandmother. As we placed another one at her feet she would exclaim, “You all really shouldn’t buy me so much…” while, at the same time, the glow on her face displayed the love she felt. It was one of two days in the year Grandma was truly honored. Christmas and her birthday. What I remember most about watching her was thinking “I can’t wait to be a grandma one day and be honored.” I did not understand what all that entailed! (One day I’ll blog just about Grandma)

Although there was lots of love and laughter on those Christmas Eve nights, there was very little Jesus. Grandma certainly loved Jesus, but to the others He was for Sunday mornings. I mean we all knew Christmas was a celebration of the birth of Jesus, but it didn’t go much beyond that. There was a small nativity, made of wood on the bookshelf in the living room. Everything else pointed to the red and green and Santa Claus. But, I knew Grandma believed deeper than the rest of us. I watched her read her devotion every day at the kitchen table. I watched her write a tithe check every week to the church. And because I knew, there is one gift, in all the years of gift giving to Grandma, I will never forget.

I had to be around 10 years old; old enough to walk to WalMart and shop by myself. I remember looking at all the shelves trying to find that one special gift to let Grandma know I loved her. And I saw it! A large print Bible. It was huge! I mean, large print takes up a lot of space. It came with it’s own wooden easel stand that you could set on a table with the Bible open to your favorite verse. I was so excited to give it to her. Over 40 years ago. I still remember. Everyone laughed when she opened it because of the large print. But, she looked at me and with a gleam in her eye said “It’s perfect.” That Bible sat open on different verses on top of the console TV until she died over 20 years later. I wish I had kept it, but in my 30s at the time I’m sure I saw no need for a large print Bible.

After I married Scott and had children, it became important to me to honor Jesus on Christmas above everyone else. I would bake a big birthday cake and decorate with the words HAPPY BIRTHDAY JESUS across the top. I would take that cake to the big family gathering. I know they all thought it a little cheesy, but I didn’t care. It was those years, toward the end of grandmas life, that things began to change. She would ask me to read a poem or a story about the birth of Jesus. She would ask Scott to pray before we all herded through the food line. 

After she passed, Christmas Eve was never the same. Her little house gone, different aunts would host it year after year. There was no matriarch to honor and the Jesus cake and story readings stopped. Although we still prayed before the meal. Eventually, my kids grew and going back to Missouri became more difficult. We began spending Christmases with just our little family, here in South Carolina. I baked the cake a couple of years, but for some reason I stopped. We read the Christmas story every Christmas morning before we opened the presents, but that stopped too. 

I am the matriarch now. Scary! I am the Grandma (the Gigi actually). It’s time to start new traditions with my boys. It’s time to get in the kitchen and make Christmas goodies. It’s time to bring back the Happy Birthday Jesus cake. There is no doubt in our household that Christmas is the celebration of a Savior but it’s time to slow down again and remember. The presents will get opened, the food will get eaten, the movies watched and the games played. But first we remember. We read the story, we light the candles. 

I think the biggest tradition in our little family is that we don’t have a tradition! And it doesn’t matter. The only thing that matters is Jesus. The joy He brings and the reason for celebrating. Can you slow down when you are all together? Be brave. Even start small. Maybe a prayer before the meal. Read the account of His birth in Luke chapter 2. Make a cake. Light the candles. Remember. Joy to the world, the Lord is come!

I pray you and yours have a blessed and joyful Christmas!!

~~~~~~~~~~~~~ Is Your Identity Real or Fake? ~~~~~~~~~~~~~

* the distinguishing character or personality of an individual
* condition of being the same with something described or asserted
* sameness of essential or generic character in different instances

I recently learned young people are actually maintaining 2 social media accounts. “Finsta” is the new term for fake Instagram. I knew people weren’t “real” on social media, but to operate the account for that sole purpose? What have we become? Here’s the really weird part – the Finsta accounts are more about the “real” person. The less edited version. Yet it’s the “fake” Instagram??

OK, before you read any further, would you hop down to the comments section and write out one sentence introducing yourself to me? Don’t overthink it, just as you would say if we met at a party. Mine would sound something like this…

“Hi, I’m Barb. I’m a writer. I’m married with 2 grown kids and 2 precious grandboys. I live near Hilton Head, SC.”

Write it, but don’t post it yet. I’ll have you add to it at the end. 🙂 

How we meet people is so telling of how we think about identity. The most common questions we ask are:

  • Where are you from? Identify as a Southerner or Midwesterner
  • What do you do? Identify as your career or life path
  • Are you married? Have kids? Identify as a wife, mother, single

Our identities will change over time, just as our seasons of life change. When I was very young, I identified as a boy. I know that has a whole different meaning now, but for me then, I was athletic and I loved doing “boy” things. I dressed like a boy, cut my hair like a boy. I wanted to be a boy. Then as I grew and went through puberty, I no longer wanted to be a boy, even though I was still a tomboy. Instead, I wanted boys to like me. I wanted to be a girlfriend. 

My favorite identity throughout high school was trumpet player. I loved being known as that great trumpet player, the girl trumpet player. Until a special young man replaced my identity with girlfriend, fiance, and eventually wife. Then those identities melded into Mom. Whatever season I was in was the identity I assumed. And for me, I had a difficult time juggling more than one. That makes it tough to be a wife when you’re all wrapped up into mom. But, that’s a topic for another day!

There were identities I longed for that I would never get to know. I wanted to be a sister. I longed for siblings. Until I got two step-brothers. Ha! What was I thinking? I also longed to be a “daddy’s girl”. I saw a lot of my friends have that identity and it looked so safe and comfortable. It was an identity I never thought I could have.

It took many years for me to understand there is only one identity. The rest are just labels. Labels that can be peeled off or a new one stuck on top of it. But, the core, the identity (reread the definition above), can only come from a lasting relationship with the One that provides it. Even after I had accepted Christ. Even after I began walking alongside Him and learning all I could about Him, I didn’t get it. I would hear people pray and call Him “Daddy”. I would hear messages on being a daughter of the King. Yet, it made no sense to me. 

“But to all who did receive him, who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God,” ~ John 1:12

For me, it took knowing who my earthly father was. Just a simple letter telling me all about him, since I could never meet him. It gave me a deep understanding that I had a father. From all appearances, a good man. A man who would have loved me. Somehow, God used that understanding in me to understand He too was my Father. A good, perfect, always there Father. Yes, I am a daughter of the most high King. I am joint heirs with Jesus Christ. I found my real identity.

Now, write your identity again under the first one. Not your label, your identity. If you can’t then write why, so I can pray for you. Praying that the God of the universe would allow that one thing to happen, as He did for me, that will give you that deep understanding of who you are. 

Now it would be weird if I met someone and said, “Hi, I’m Barb. Daughter of the Most-High King. Joint heirs with Jesus.” or “Hi, I’m Barb. I live my life as Heavenly Royalty here on Earth, for a short time, with the sole purpose of introducing people to my Father so they can walk in freedom here and live for eternity in Heaven.” It would be weird. But, aren’t we called to be weird? 

4 Ways We Hide From Who We Are

Every time someone asked me about my father, I got a stabbing feeling in my gut. Like it was my fault I didn’t know him. So many times I would make up stories. 

“He was killed in the war; he was a hero!”

“He was killed in a car crash.”

“My mom and dad are divorced.” 

That last one, the divorce one, in the 70s, was about as bad as not knowing him. But, it was so much easier than saying “I don’t have one.” Of course, I have one right? Even 4-year-olds know that! But I just couldn’t face explaining to people I didn’t know him. I learned to hide who I was in as many ways as possible. 


The first was lying. Each of those statements above was a lie. But they diverted the real issue, and it worked. So I learned, lying works. It takes the attention off the negative. It ends the conversation. Until it doesn’t. Until the truth comes out and you’re in a deeper hole than when you started. I would lie that I didn’t take any cookies from the cookie drawer. This lie would lead to many years of dysfunctional eating. I would lie that I was spending the night at my girlfriend’s house when instead we would be out partying all night. 

Then as I aged and matured, I would lie at church and in my groups that my marriage was great. We did all the things right. We had date nights, devotions, regular sex, deep conversations. The reality? For a while, we had none of that. 

Those things weren’t happening because of the lie I would tell myself. The lie I would tell my husband. The lie I would tell my best friends. 

“I’m Fine!”

Oh, sister, how many of us live in that lie? We say it enough until we believe our situation is fine. When our reality is anything but. We believe the lie. 


When I realized it was too hard to keep lying, I secluded myself. If I hung out in my house, just me and the tv, no one could know. How often do we drive home every day, park in our garage and close the door? Close ourselves in. Away from the world. 

As an extravert, that only worked for so long. Yet, I found ways to stay secluded, even out in the world. I would busy myself with the kid’s school. I would walk around a shopping center or the mall. Anywhere I could hang out with people yet not be asked questions. I was the loneliest I had ever been amid a sea of people. 

But, you introverts, can hole up for days. Even though you too need some human interaction, there are words that keep you hidden. 

“I’d rather not talk about that. I’m a very private person.”

Interpreted – “I will not let you into my pain. I will deal with it myself so you will think I’m ok.” 


In Genesis 3, Adam and Eve hid from God. This is the first account of trying to hide from Him. 

8Then the man and his wife heard the sound of the Lord God walking in the garden at the time of the evening breeze, and they hid from the Lord God among the trees of the garden.

Why were they hiding? They had done the one thing He asked them not to do! They were ashamed. They thought if He couldn’t see them, couldn’t see their nakedness, He would not know. 

We speak so many words over children that can bring on a lifetime of shame. 

“Putting on a little weight aren’t you?”

“Stop slouching!”

“How can you be so stupid?”

I heard so many of these things. I would wear oversized boy clothes to hide the little pudge I was developing at age 11. Then I would sneak an extra Twinkie at night because it made me feel better. I would make up stories that would make me sound smarter. Steal clothes that we couldn’t afford so I would look more normal. All the while developing ulcers because I was so ashamed, knowing I was wrong. 

The worst feeling was making up stories about my mom. Stories that made her look like a strong, caring mother. Stories that would show the world I didn’t need a father. We were better because we didn’t have one. Didn’t need one. The truth? I was so ashamed of not having one, I couldn’t bear anyone knowing it. 

All of this led to the biggest way I found to hide…


I read something in a book the other day that rang so true for me. I don’t remember it exactly, so I’ll paraphrase. It said something about wanting to be the center of attention for all the wrong reasons. Man, that was my childhood. I was an only child, but I had a slew of cousins around a lot. I loved most of them like siblings since I didn’t have any. Yet I always felt like an outsider. I learned the best way to get the attention I so desired was to perform. 

If I performed well, nobody saw the pain inside me. Everything looked so good and accomplished on the outside. Except for my hair… it never looked good! 

One cousin always called me spoiled. He talked about all the games and toys I had. What he didn’t understand was I received those things when I performed well. So it fueled the wrong thinking –

The only way someone will love me is to put on a smile and perform well.

If I didn’t do those things, they chastised me. “Stop crying.” “Stop whining.” “Try harder.” So I hid behind the things I did well. If I couldn’t do something well, I quit. And that is the attitude I carried into my adult life of marriage and children.

Until next time, ponder what this means,

 “May the Lord lead your hearts into a full understanding and expression of the love of God and the patient endurance that comes from Christ.   ~ 2 Thessalonians 3:5


Is It Hard to Tell Your Story?

Photo by The Coach Space on Pexels.com

Have you ever told your story to someone? Have you told a friend over coffee or written it in a letter? Maybe you’re asking “What is my story?” “Do I have a story?” Well, yes, you do! Everyone has a story. The Lord doesn’t allow us to go through the trials without creating a story through it. But, why? And why should we tell? Because when we do, others gain insight and wisdom into their own pain and struggles. Wouldn’t it be easier to share your pain with someone if we knew 100% that what we told them would bring them peace and hope for their future? Some may say yes, while still others give a resounding NO! Vulnerability is hard. I know. But, what I’ve learned is to just step out once. Take a risk. Each time you do, the story gets easier and easier because nothing heals a wound faster than watching someone else heal. 

It took me 53 years to share my full story. As I began sharing, I learned how unique and miraculous it is. Over and over people would thank me for sharing, with tears in their eyes, because they too had father issues that kept them from fully engaging with a Heavenly Father. I didn’t feel special. Just a story of a little girl born to a single mom who refused to tell her who her father was. My norm. Nothing special. Until it was, by God’s grace. 

According to the CDC, in the mid-1960s, only 3.1% of white infants were born to single mothers. It was far from the norm. So, when this happened, it either happened in secret or in shame. My birth was the latter. No celebration of pregnancy while in the womb. In fact, no one knew I was in the womb! “How?” you say. Well, my mother was a large woman, and she wore big smock tops. But how?? My development. I developed high in the uterus near the rib cage. I didn’t produce much of a protruding belly. I hid, so she could hide. I sensed her shame, and I held onto it for many, many years to follow. 

Statistics say, in my school class of 150 students, I would be 1 of 4 fatherless children. I was the only one. I cringed every time someone asked me where my father was. My favorite answer was “He died in the war.” The only answer that justified my illegitimacy. So, I would ask my mom, “Where is my father?” “Who is my father?” I cannot remember an answer. I never got a real one. I knew, from a very young age, it was the question you do not ask. Mom lived in constant unwarranted fear of losing me. Unwarranted fear. How many of us live in that every day?

As much as I dreamed about my father, I never thought about him as a real person. Funny, I don’t remember people telling me who I looked like. I didn’t hear “You are the spitting image of your Mama.” I always wanted to look like my grandpa. He was a handsome fella, but I think it was my deep, intrinsic desire to link me to a father. I didn’t favor my mom, except for my eye shape and my curly hair. Never crossed my mind that I may look like my father or his side of the family. Never. He was so non-existent in my world.

So, here begins my story. A story of hidden pain and hidden shame. I hid it well. Placed in those recesses of my mind. We all have them. Those places only we know about. Places we put things too painful to tell anyone else. Things that cause so much shame we bury them deep. Until life happens and they surface. Until we have to face them. Until the day God says 

“Enough. I can’t watch you continue to do this yourself. You are my child. I love you and it grieves me to not see you healthy.” 

When that happens, we have a choice. We will face it and deal with it, or we shove it further down, refusing to give it light. Oh sister, please don’t do that. Those are the things that ruin relationships, cause cancers to grow, bring about addictions. Those are the things that hinder us from the full freedom and calling we were born to live. So tell your story. Not only to save yourself but, to save others.  Your pain. Your difficulties. Your insecurities are not for nothing. Tell your story the way that works best for you. That’s what I’ve done and we will walk this road to freedom over the next several posts that lead up to a book release!