Tag Archives: Mary

My First True Christmas

The Story of My First True Christmas

I recall the time that I met Jesus, the day of His birth on my first true Christmas.

my first true Christmas
Christmas Card 2020 by Janis Cox

When did the Christmas Story take hold of me?

One Christmas Eve, we visited a different church in our small town. It was dark when we arrived at the little church.

Haliburton United Church — personal photo

Stained glass windows adorned the walls. We walked in through the narthex at the back of the church.

my first true Christmas

At the front of Haliburton United church. Personal photo.

A buzz of voices greeted us as we entered. A lovely small woman met us at the door and welcomed us to the Christmas Eve service. We found a seat.

A few people said hello but I will never forget the smile on that lovely woman’s face when she said, “Hello, my name is Eleanor.”

We sang Christmas carols and then it was time for the message. The minister rose and walked to the podium.

Then something happened.

My ears were opened that night. I don’t know what he said exactly but he explained the Incarnation in a way that I had never heard. I was a believer at the time. I had been baptized.

But I didn’t understand that:

God came down to earth. He lived here. He walked among us. He was God incarnate.

That hit me deeply. God loved me so much that He left heaven and the heavenly connection He was used to, to come to His people. To rescue them and me.

From that night on, Christmas Eve has never been the same.

I have taken the place of each character that night.

Mary as she birthed her baby (I felt that one).
Joseph as he admired his new child. (I’ve seen that in my husband’s eyes.)
The Shepherds who were astounded, filled with fear but told not to be afraid (how many times have I felt that?)
The Angel — proclaiming the Good News. (When I sing Christmas songs about the Angels, I am carried to the heavens.)
I have even put myself in the spot of Jesus (I was a baby once).

So much happened that night.

From the star in the sky to the shepherds’ arrival, the Incarnation is the most wonderful story of all. And my true first Christmas began.

May I pray for you and me?

Father, thank You for sending Jesus to live on earth, to teach us, to comfort and heal us, to take our sins upon Himself and reconnect us to the Father. We are grateful and happy for knowing Jesus. In His name, we pray. Amen.

If you have read this far, I have a special gift for you this Christmas.

Please visit this page: A Free Gift of a Colouring page 


my first true Christmas

Another place for free gifts until December 31:

End-of-year  SpecialMy first true Christmas

Friday Features – Three Top Posts from Sunday Stillness

Friday Features – Three Top Posts from Sunday Stillness

Laurie Collett – No Room for Him

What blessings will our nation lose because we no longer have room for Him in our schools, our courtrooms, and our public squares? (Laurie Collett)


Kimberly – What Did Mary Know?

Grumpy Cat

How did the song Mary Did You Know? change the author’s view, outlook and meaning of Christmas. Great post. Don’t miss it.

I can’t resist putting up the video too for Mary Did You Know?

Sharon – The Fingerprint of God

My Photo

A very enlightening look at our fingerprints – and God’s fingerprint on us.


Take a peek at the top 3 posts from Sunday Stillness. (Click to tweet)

Merry Christmas

Merry Christmas


Watercolour by Janis Cox, Christmas 2013


 After they had heard the king, they went on their way, and the star they had seen when it rose went ahead of them until it stopped over the place where the child was. When they saw the star, they were overjoyed.  On coming to the house, they saw the child with his mother Mary, and they bowed down and worshiped him. Then they opened their treasures and presented him with gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh. (Matthew 2:9-11, NIV).


May the Lord bless each of you as you rest in Him. Remember to be still and listen to His voice.

Merry Christmas,


What’s Up, God?

What’s Up, God?

by Janis Cox

What's Up God?

Sometimes this is my question to God.

“What’s Up, God?”

I try live in the moment, be aware what God is doing around me and follow Him. That’s my Mary heart.

Then there is, “I need to do” personality. My list gets longer. Time gets shorter. My head is full.

STOP – ask the question:

“What’s Up, God? Where are You in this?”

My conversation continues as I listen to His answers.

Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything (James 1:4, NIV).

Then I remember –

I am a work in progress with God’s Hand on me. (tweet this)

Hurrah! I don’t have to fret about whether I am Mary or Martha as long as I am connected to Jesus.

So I continue on my Mary/Martha journey, excited with each insight God gives me.

I grow. I learn. I question. I get answers. I continue. I repeat.

That is prayer – talking to God.


Thanks, Lord, for the way you have made us able to connect to You, at any time, or place. Thanks for listening. Thanks for Your advice in the Bible. Thanks for speaking thoughts into my mind. In Jesus’ name. AMEN.

Janis Cox

Janis Cox - Author and Illustrator

Janis, a former school teacher and small business owner, found a new passion in writing in her retirement. A writer since 2003, Janis co-ordinates a group blog called Under the Cover of Prayer. She is also a contributor to a group blog called Family and Faith Matters.

Janis is the author of the award winning children’s book, Tadeo Turtle, published by Word Alive Press. She is the author and watercolour illustrator. For more information visit Janis on her website He Cares for You. She is a member of The Word Guild andInscribe Writers Fellowship.

OPPORTUNITY – Five Minute Friday

Opportunity – Five Minute Friday

Taking My First Steps in 2013 – Walking with Jesus

I know – it is Saturday but yesterday I was not well at all. So I listened to my body and went to bed early. I feel much better today.

Linking in again to Lisa-Jo for Five-Minute Fridays. With the word “opportunity” I take 5 minutes to write – no editing. GO

This is 2013 – and a year filled with opportunities. My main focus has always been “live for Jesus”. But how? I don’t need to “do” anything to “earn” His love. I know that. But I still want to LIVE for Him.

Every opportunity I have to bless someone – to help someone – to encourage someone – I want to be able to stop my Martha – and live with Mary. Can they both work together this year? In order to do something I need my Martha but in order to be with Jesus I need my Mary.

Does anyone else feel that way?

Mary – I love the opportunity to just sit with God in the mornings – read His Word, study and pray. Then I make myself sit still and listen to Him. This is always the hardest part as my “mental racket” (taken from Ron Hughes, Refresh) is so loud that I can’t hear God’s voice. OUCH.

Martha – I love to be task-oriented. I love jobs to do. Sometimes I do them too quickly; make errors; but I do produce a lot. Is that good? I don’t know.

I want to take this year to delve into things that will bring me closer and closer to Jesus. I want to walk boldly into situations and not fear anything. I need Him. I am learning I can’t go in my own strength. But I can move mountains when I am with Him.


Do you have something to say about the word OPPORTUNITY? Please write to me in the comments or if you bog about this put your link in the comments too. I hope to make a LINKY myself one day when Martha has time.



Five-Minute Fridays

FOCUS – Five-Minute Fridays

Linking again to Lisa-Jo and Five-Minute Fridays.

Word today is FOCUS.    Go


Focus – Do you see a forest or a tree?

The following Scriptures spoke to me this morning:

“…we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ” (2 Corinthians 10:5 NIV).

“Above all else, guard your heart,
for everything you do flows from it” (Proverbs 4:3 NIV).

So I need to bring every thought captive in obedience to Christ. That takes focus – choice. And lots of prayer. Do I do that? – NO. Am I trying? – YES.

Where is my focus?

When I lived as a Martha – my focus was ME and what I could accomplish. As I lean toward becoming a Mary – I focus on GOD.

Does that make a difference? I looked at what I think I looked like to others before:

        • scattered
        • worried about everything being perfect
        • tense

Hopefully what they see now:

        • More focused when I do something – one thing at a time
        • a relaxed nature
        • more God time
        • adding a new pursuit – piano

Relearning to play the piano.

I figure I can add another pursuit because if God wants me to do it – He will make the time.

What have I learned in my Mary pursuit:

        • relax in all endeavours
        • break away to refresh when needed
        • balance my time
        • don’t look at the forest – focus on each tree
        • remember people – FOCUS on them, they are more important than “things”
        • most important – my morning time with God – listening to Him
        • God is enough



STRETCH – Five-Minute Fridays

Stretch – Five-Minute Fridays

One way of stretching myself

Linking to Five-Minute Fridays and the word today is STRETCH. I have five minutes to write. GO

I learned to stretch my body when I knew that my back and my knees didn’t work very well. A physiotherapist told me to stretch. And I did – I stretched and I stretched and eventually along with other helps my body returned to “normal”.

During this time I also stretched my soul. I came to know Christ and His saving love. I yearned for that. My spirit stretched and I found out more about me – who I am and who God wants me to be.

Also my personality took a big stretch – from being a Martha to learning to be a Mary (at least some of the time). Jesus said “let Mary do this, it is the better way” – so I listened and learned to stop, breathe, feel the quiet and the stillness.

The next stretch along my path will be to market my new little children’s book, Tadeo Turtle. Lots of stretching here. During the past ten years I have learned to write, to paint; I attended writers’ conferences; I listened and stretched. With God leading me the next stage will be fun and full of new experiences.

What are you stretching? Your body, your mind or your spirit? Or all three. I would love to know – please comment and let’s get a discussion going.

My time is UP. Your turn.





Simply Saturday – Discipline

Once again I am giving myself five minutes – five minutes only to write something on a topic.

Today I have decided to write about discipline.

I guess there are two ways to live – with free spirit or disciplined. Or somewhere in the middle.

I tend to the disciplined manner. I like order; knowing what my plans are; planning meals; getting things done. Sometimes, though, I need time to just not to anything. Maybe lie in the sun; sit in a chair and just think or pray.

I know I have a “Martha” tendency. But I still want a “Mary” spirit. I have to find the right amount of each so that my life is full but not overburdened.

Discipline has helped me with my diet. I have found new foods that don’t agree with me. Potatoes and soy. To be able to watch what has these ingredients is not easy. Thankfully God made me have the gift of discipline so I can read labels and make wise decisions.

Time is up – I think my thoughts were scattered today. Probably because this post is for July 30th and it is only July 16th. I head out on Tuesday, July 19th for a two-week mission trip to Poland. Lots still to do.

Hopefully this has made some sense to you.

Are you a free spirit or disciplined? Do you book hotel rooms in advance of a trip? Do you eat at regular times? Go to bed at the same time? Get up at the same time?


God of the Impossible

by Violet Nesdoly (reprinted with permission May 31, 2011)

Mary and Elizabeth
by Harold Copping – 1927

TODAY’S SPECIAL: Luke 1:39-56

TO CHEW ON: “He has shown strength with his arm; he has scattered the proud in the thoughts of their hearts; he has brought down the mighty from their thrones and exalted those of humble estate; he has filled the hungry with good things and the rich he has sent empty away.” Luke 1:51-53 ESV

Wow – could those Bible women pray! Hanna’s prayer of yesterday’s reading, Mary’s of today’s show that these godly women had keen insights about God and His ways.

A thought that occurs in both of these prayers is that the unlikely person will triumph because God comes to his or her aid.

Hannah prays that God will weigh and evaluate the unworthy actions that are masked by proud and arrogant speech. She boasts about Him giving strength to the feeble as He breaks the weaponry of the mighty. He feeds the hungry while those who were always full before end up hiring themselves out for bread. He gives he barren woman a complete family (seven children!) even as the mother of many is forlorn. She speaks of Him making the poor rich, exalting the lowly, raising the poor and needy to sit with princes – 1 Samuel 2:3-8.

Mary thanks God for raising her, a humble woman, to a position where all people will call her blessed. She boasts about God frustrating those with proud thoughts, bringing down the mighty from their thrones, sending the rich away empty while filling the hungry with good things – Luke 1:51-53.

These aren’t selfish, vindictive prayers of needy women who want the tables turned for self-serving reasons. Rather, they are prayers of women for whom God has shown Himself strong in amazing ways (Hannah has borne a son after years of barrenness, Mary has recently become pregnant with Jesus — God in the flesh).

They are also pronouncements of faith saying, in effect, if God has done this for me, He can do this in any and every situation.

They are above all, prayers that proclaim trust in God over riches, position, power or natural ability, to change impossible situations.

What is my impossible situation today? What is yours? From personal needs involving ourselves, our families and friends, to big requests for our nation and the world, let’s let the faith of Hannah and Mary inspire us to bring our impossible circumstances to God, who has the power and resources to turn them on their heads.

PRAYER: Dear God, than You for the faith and inspiration of Hannah and Mary, simple women who trusted You to do the impossible. Help me to trust You for my impossible thing (___) today. Amen

MORE: Feast of Visitation

Today the church celebrates the Feast of the Visitation of the Blessed Virgin

The liturgy for this day begins with this collect:

“Father in heaven, by your grace the virgin mother of your incarnate Son was blessed in bearing him, but still more blessed in keeping your word: Grant us who honor the exaltation of her lowliness to follow the example of her devotion to your will; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.”


Violet Nesdoly

Violet freelances in several genres and has been published in a variety of print and online publications. Her articles, stories, and activities have appeared in Keys for Kids, Devotions for Girls, Devotions for Boys, Clubhouse, Guide, Primary Treasure, Partners, Pockets and others. She has also published two books of poetry and is an avid blogger. She is a member of Inscribe Christian Writers’ Fellowship and a professional member of The Word Guild.


Mark Roberts writes a daily devotional at High Calling blogs. I am reprinting two of these as they deal with Mary and Martha. The first one deals specifically with Martha. On Thursday we see Mary.

Welcoming Jesus

by Mark D. Roberts (reprinted with permission)

Read: Luke 10:38-42 NLT

“As Jesus and the disciples continued on their way to Jerusalem, they came to a certain village where a woman named Martha welcomed them into her home” [Luke 10:38].

As Jesus and his disciples continued on their way to Jerusalem, they came upon a small village. There, “a woman named Martha welcomed them into her home” (10:38). In fact, the Greek original of this verse is even more specific. It says that Martha “welcomed him,” which is to say, Jesus, into her home. From the Gospel of John, we know that Jesus was a friend of Martha and her family (see John 11), but Luke does not mention this. He begins his short account of Jesus’ visit by focusing on Martha’s act of receiving Jesus graciously into her home.

The main point of this short story in Luke comes later in the passage, when Jesus gently rebukes Martha for worrying too much about “all these details” after Martha complains that her sister, Mary, isn’t helping out. I’ll reflect on the end of the story tomorrow. Today, however, I want to dwell on Martha’s welcoming of Jesus. Luke puts it simply at the end of verse 38: “Martha welcomed him.”

The verb translated here as “welcome” means “to receive warmly and graciously.” By using this verb, Luke indicates that Martha did more than simply letting Jesus and his entourage stay in her home. Rather, she opened, not just the front door, but also her heart. No doubt, she offered Jesus an opportunity to rest and be refreshed. In fact, her effort to prepare a “big dinner” was part of her hospitality. Martha wanted Jesus to feel truly at home with her and her family.

Martha’s example makes me wonder if I welcome Jesus into the home of my life. Forty-eight years ago, at a Billy Graham crusade, I prayed to “accept Jesus as my Savior.” At that time, I “asked him to come into my heart.” To the extent that a six-year-old boy was able to do so, I welcomed Jesus. But what about today? I still believe in Jesus, but do I really welcome him into my life. Do I really want him to be at home in me? Do I make myself available to him each day? Are there parts of myself that I withhold from Jesus?
… Now, I’d encourage you to consider the same questions I’ve been asking myself.

QUESTIONS FOR FURTHER REFLECTION: When did you first welcome Jesus into your life? Do you welcome him each day? Why or why not? Are there parts of your life that are “off limits” to Jesus? How might you welcome him more consistently and generously?

PRAYER: Dear Lord, even as Martha once welcomed you into her home, I want to receive you in my life. I want to throw open the door and embrace you. I want to give you the best place in my life. I want you to be fully at home with me.

I do want all of these things, Lord. But, I must confess, there are times when I keep you knocking at the door. There are other times when I let you in, but don’t pay attention to you. And then there are times when I allow you to come into my life, but do not give you run of the house. Forgive me, Lord, when I am an ungracious host to you.

O Lord, may I welcome you fully, eagerly, and without restraint. May I welcome you, not only into the tidy living room, but also into the messy places of my life. Come into my heart, Lord Jesus! Amen.