I look forward to holidays throughout the year and especially Christmas time. The sights, sounds and aroma of a season filled with holiday magic. I don’t know of another time of year when we give such priority to setting aside the busyness of our everyday lives to relax and enjoy each other. Oh, we’re involved beforehand with countless preparations; but then we manage to settle down, be still and soak up the spirit that surrounds us. We quiet our minds and hearts as we encounter love, in its truest sense, and reflect on the reason for this celebration. We spent days, weeks, even months planning and preparing; and hopefully you’ve shared a special time of celebration with those you love as I’ve done. Now the pace has slowed a bit as we enjoy these few days that are tucked quietly in between Christmas and New Year’s festivities. Relatives have traveled back to their homes. We took advantage of those after-Christmas sales and finished up the leftovers. It’s a perfect time to pause and reflect on what life has brought our way and how God has guided us through the past year. To share those remembrances with those we love and then to tuck away those special memories in the closets of our hearts – treasures that will offer hope, joy and peace in the days ahead. In the quiet of this winter afternoon as I enjoy a warm cup of tea and some Christmas music, I’ve been pondering thoughts about Mary, Jesus’ mother. A young woman who was simply living life as she knew best with a love for God and a commitment to share her life with a carpenter named Joseph who was to be her husband. It was an ordinary life. That is, until an angel appeared to her and told her she would give birth to God’s Son whom she would call Jesus. If you read Chapter 1 of the Gospel of Luke in the Bible you’ll see how the angel Gabriel shared the news with Mary. I can hardly imagine how she must have felt when Gabriel came to her with the news that she, a young virgin girl, had been chosen by God to bring His love into the world in this most amazing way. In fact, Luke wrote that Mary’s first words were, “How can this be?” Mary loved God; yet she was having difficulty understanding how things would take place as Gabriel said. The angel shared with her, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Highest will overshadow you” (Luke 1:35, NKJV.) He explained how God’s miraculous plan would unfold in her life. A plan designed to open the door to salvation for all of us through His Son, Jesus. It must have been overwhelming and seemingly impossible as Mary tried to comprehend it all. Read Luke 1:37 and you’ll see Gabriel’s assuring declaration: “For with God nothing will be impossible.” Holding onto that promise and her trust in God, Mary responded with her commitment, “Behold the maidservant of the Lord. Let it be to me according to your word” (vs. 38.) She went on to sing, “My soul magnifies the Lord and my spirit has rejoiced in God my Savior” (vs. 46.) God chose Mary to fulfill His promise of Salvation through the coming of His Son into the world. An ordinary woman who believed in God and was willing to trust, even when she didn’t understand. Her song was one of praise and her life was one of faith and obedience. As we step into this New Year, God seeks the same kind of commitment from us. That we love Him with all our hearts, with all our minds and with all our souls. That we offer ourselves as instruments for Him to accomplish His work in the world. That we trust Him, even when we don’t understand what He is doing in our lives. That we step out in faith wherever He leads. May we begin 2010 with hearts committed to loving God, to praising Him, to serving Him as He leads and to trusting Him completely. Blessings to you in this New Year. Nancy Williams, LPC is a licensed counselor, life coach, speaker and writer. Send questions or comments to her at www.nancywilliams.net.