loggerhead-turtle“I am the Lord’s servant,” Mary answered. “May Your word to me be fulfilled.” Luke 1:38


According to the National Wildlife Federation, loggerhead sea turtles “were named for their relatively large heads, which support powerful jaws and enable them to feed on hard-shelled prey….The loggerhead sea turtle was listed as threatened throughout its range…under the Endangered Species Act of 1973, and has received Federal protection since that time.” Every two to three years, adult female loggerheads “mate in coastal waters and then return to nest on the very same beach where they were hatched, called the ‘natal” beach.’” Mother turtles dig pits in the damp sand on these sacred beaches. When the pits are large enough for the mother’s body, she then digs an even deeper hole in order to lay about a hundred golf ball-sized eggs. With great effort, she covers the eggs. Then she restores herself from her exhausting work before lumbering back to the sea.


The tiny baby turtles hatch about eight weeks later. No bigger than dollar pancakes, the hatchlings use miniscule flippers to climb out of the holes of their birth and follow in their mothers’ paths to the sea. Only one in a thousand of these babies will survive.


Travel back in time to another young mother, Mary of Nazareth. The Holy Spirit called to her from the ages and told her of her incomprehensible commission to bear the Son of God in human form. Though Mary must have been terrified, she answered God’s call and said, “I am the Lord’s servant. May Your word to me be fulfilled.” Did Mary understand, at the moment of the Divine Conception, that she would walk a walk of sorrow, carrying the weight of her humble assignment in her heart each step of the way? Did she know, at the moment the Holy Spirit “overshadowed” her, that she was signing up for thirty-three years of knowing her firstborn Son would someday save His people and all of mankind? Did Mary, like the loggerhead turtle mothers, understand the dangers of bringing this little Prince into an uncertain world where people who at first loved Him would cry, “Crucify Him!” and revile Him and spit on Him? But Mary simply said, “Let it be,” and it was.


Praise You, God, for choosing this perfect earthly mother for Your only Son. Amen


thanksgiving-soup-kitchenThanks be to God, who delivers me through Jesus Christ our Lord! Romans 7:25


There’s a reason Thanksgiving comes before Christmas. No, I don’t mean because of where the days land on the calendar. The “First Thanksgiving” in America was celebrated by the Pilgrims. Wikipedia reports that the event occurred in the New World in 1621, and was attended by ninety Native Americans and fifty-three Pilgrims. These New England colonists held regular “thanksgivings”—days of prayer, thanking God for their blessings. Today in the United States, Thanksgiving falls on the fourth Thursday of November and is celebrated by all kinds of people from well-to-do families to homeless folks at soup kitchens.


Which brings me back to why it seems logical that Thanksgiving occurs before Christmas. Paul said it clearly in Romans 7:25: we are thankful to God for making the path clear to His only Son, Jesus Christ, the Lord and Savior of humankind. We come with thankful hearts to celebrate the birth of Jesus, who makes possible all for which we are thankful. From the achingly beautiful first snow of winter to the first cries of a newborn child, to the tiny green shoots of spring, to the crimson drops of blood shed by our Savior on the cross on which He willingly hung for our sins—each day, each moment, there is something for which we can be grateful.


For many people today, Christmas is all about the “stuff:” the various packages and surprises and fancy meals and expensive wines. But we miss the whole point of the Season if we do not look for the Love in all there is between Thanksgiving and the New Year. After all the gifts have been opened and the wine and fine foods consumed, we still have “a God-shaped hole in our hearts which,” as French philosopher Blaise Pascal said, “cannot be filled by any created thing, but only by God, the Creator, made known through Jesus.” We can’t fill that hole with material things or status or money or even our own sense of importance. All else pales in the marvelous light of Jesus, born of a virgin, in the fullness of time, to bring meaning to all our thanksgivings into eternity.


Come, Lord Jesus, be born in us today as we celebrate those things for which we are thankful—all gifts from Your hand. Amen


fuzzy-mathTruly I tell you, anyone who gives you a cup of water in My name because you belong to the Messiah will certainly not lose their reward. Mark 9:41


I was not good at math in school, and I admit, I still have trouble balancing my checkbook. The basics—addition, subtraction, multiplication and division—didn’t bother me so much. But when we got to formulas, I was scratching my head. Determining the relationship between variables always tied my brain in knots. What did I care if Timmy left his lunch at home and his mother started out a half-hour later than him to try to catch up? Timmy should have been smart enough to get his act together before he left the house. I disliked math so much growing up, I would stop at nothing to avoid negative numbers. I found geometry too graphic, but statistics could sometimes provide some variable comic relief. At least in college I learned not to drink and derive.


To some people, it might seem as though God works in “fuzzy math” too. If you have a thing and you give it away, then you don’t have the thing any more, right? Wrong! In God’s math class, giving gets you more than receiving. You not only feel good about giving whatever you gave away; you also get the joy returned to you when the receiver of your gift it happy about the thing she got from you. And if you do something nice for someone but the person never finds out who did it, everybody wins. The caring act you perform helps you grow kinder as a person. And the receiver of your good deed realizes that there are really people in this world who do selfless things for which they will never receive any reward. These exchanges are the foundation of a loving world, a world that makes God smile.


When we give of ourselves freely without expecting anything in return—whether down the block or on the other side of the world—we are putting love into action. And that’s an equation we can all understand.


Father of Love and Light, You created us to love You and to love each other. Kindle generosity in our souls and lead us to opportunities to reap the rewards of doing things for others. Amen


navajo-code-talkersNow what I am commanding you today is not too difficult for you or beyond your reach. Deuteronomy 30:11


According to Wikipedia, “code talkers were people in the 20th century who used obscure languages as a means of secret communication during wartime. The term is now usually associated with the United States soldiers during the world wars who used their knowledge of Native American languages as a basis to transmit coded messages. In particular, there were approximately 400–500 Native Americans in the United States Marine Corps whose primary job was the transmission of secret tactical messages. Code talkers transmitted these messages over military telephone or radio communications nets using formal or informally developed codes built upon their native languages. Their service improved the speed of encryption of communications at both ends in front line operations during World War II.


“The name code talkers is strongly associated with bilingual Navajo speakers specially recruited during World War II by the Marines to serve in their standard communications units in the Pacific Theater. Code talking, however, was pioneered by Cherokee and Choctaw Indians during World War I.

Other Native American code talkers were deployed by the United States Army during World War II, including Lakota, Meskawi, and Comanche soldiers. Soldiers of Basque ancestry were also used for code talking by the U.S. Marines during World War II in areas where other Basque speakers were not expected to be operating.”


First Corinthians 1:18 says, “the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God.” This means that God doesn’t speak in code except to those who do not believe in Him. Those of us who believe have greater understanding and discernment in reading and grasping God’s Word. And HIs Word “will not return to (Him) empty, but will accomplish what (He) desire(s) and achieve the purpose for which (He) sent it” (Isaiah 55:11).


Satan and the demons believe and tremble (James 2:19). Christians believe and trust. You have the power within you to “decode” the Word of God. Ask the Holy Spirit, Who dwells in all believers, to help you understand God’s Word and all that it means for you.


Eternal Father, Your ways are far beyond what mortals can completely understand. Grant that we may know what You wish for us to know. Amen