Love. So many thoughts ran through my head as I tried to prepare for this week's Artful Advent theme. Which aspect of love do I focus on as we approach Christmas? The love of God sending His only son to save us. The love of Christ to willingly go to the cross for our sins. Or... how about the love of Mary to humbly give birth to our Savior?

In the spirit of advent, it is expected that I should talk about the love of Jesus. How his love changes everything. And it does, and I truly believe that.

But this year, I can't stop thinking about His birth. And Mary.

God could have sent Jesus down to earth as a grown man. But instead, He sent him as a baby. A newborn, who came into the world the same way you and I did. Through a labor. A hard, painful, uncomfortable labor. And in a stable, of all places.

Mary was no saint, or picture of perfection - but she was highly favored by God. Meaning, God had favor on her and gave her the ability to handle whatever was coming her way. Did you hear that? He gave her favor. She didn't earn it. And she humbly accepted the call on her life to be Jesus' birth mother.

Her love and devotion to trusting God sets her apart in my mind. She is an example for all of us. Especially now, for me, as a mother.

I am preparing to give birth to our second child in just a few months. Having been through this experience so recently, like 15 months ago, you would think this would make me more ready... or something. But really, I'm just as nervous as I was the first time.

Labor is hard and painful. It wore me out. I remember lying in bed afterwards, wondering what ridiculous woman came up with the lie that you "forget the pain" right after the child is born. I remembered and still felt a lot of it.

But holding my son today, I get it. I did forget the pain. And today, the only thing I can recall for you clearly... is the love I felt when I saw my little boy's face for the first time. Nothing in the world like it.

And Mary was able to experience the greatest love of all, by giving birth to the one who IS Love.

Amazing, isn't it?

Today I want to share I song I have been singing for years. But this is the first time I am singing it as a mother. As one who experienced labor, today, I am holding hands with Mary and rejoicing that God gave us both the gift of motherhood.

Only, hers was the labor of love that changed everything.

Labor of Love

It was not a silent night There was blood on the ground You could hear a woman cry In the alleyways that night On the streets of David's town

And the stable was not clean And the cobblestones were cold And little Mary full of grace With the tears upon her face Had no mother's hand to hold

It was a labor of pain It was a cold sky above But for the girl on the ground in the dark Every beat of her beautiful heart was a labor of love

Noble Joseph at her side Callused hands and weary eyes There were no midwives to be found In the streets of David's town In the middle of the night

So he held her and he prayed Shafts of moonlight on his face But the baby in her womb He was the maker of the moon He was the Author of the faith That could make the mountains move

It was a labor of pain It was a cold sky above But for the girl on the ground in the dark With every beat of her beautiful heart It was a labor of love For little Mary full of grace With the tears upon her face It was a labor of love

// See past Artful Advent entries here.

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