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December 13, 2013

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Mary Had a Choice

Stained Glass Nativity

I’ve never seen an angel, though I’ve longed to.  I suspect if one came to me I’d either not recognize it or be scared to death, just like Mary was when Gabriel visited her in Nazareth over 2,000 years ago.  Luke tells us Mary felt greatly troubled and tried to figure out why an angel would come to speak with her. 

The angel Gabriel presented Mary with a life-changing proposition.  God wanted to turn her world upside down.  He had chosen her to bear His offspring.  He wanted Mary to be the mother of God.

Frightened and confused, Mary didn’t understand.  How could she get pregnant? She was a virgin. This made no sense to her.   The mother of God?  How can this be?  And yet, despite Mary’s confusion, uncertainty, and fear of the future, Mary chose surrender. She said yes to God. Without hesitating she said,  “Behold, I am the servant of the Lord; let it be to me according to your word” (Luke 1:38).

What would have been different if Mary had told the angel “No!  I’m not ready to have a baby. What would people think of me?  I don’t’ want to lose Joseph.  I don’t’ want this grave responsibility – to raise the Son of God to adulthood? No thanks.”

Mary’s refusal would not have thwarted God’s plan.  He would chosen another young virgin who was willing and Jesus would have been born despite Mary’s no. Yet Mary would have missed her calling. She would have missed the opportunity to be a central figure in human history and God’s story.

God’s work did not end at the birth or death of Christ.  Each day He presents opportunities to you and me to say Yes to him.  He invites us to be his partner in shaping history.  To partner with him in his STORY.   These opportunities might not come through the message of an angel. Most often they come through difficult life circumstances that we find ourselves in.  But however and whenever they come, they feel just as confusing, scary and uncertain as Mary’s invitation did.

Mary didn’t know what would happened but chose to courageously face the wagging tongues and public shame of being an unmarried woman who was pregnant. She accepted the risk of being rejected by Joseph. She knew her whole future life was about to shift from what she wanted and what she planned to what God wanted.  Still, she was wiling to embrace God’s plan for her, not knowing for sure what lay ahead. 

How many times do you and I refuse to embrace what God brings us to carry?  It feels too hard, too scary, too costly.  We don’t’ want to be burdened, rejected, embarassed, inconvienced, or deprived of what we want.  We don’t want to give birth to God’s character in us if it means suffering, sacrifice, loss, or humuliation. 

God invites us to embrace the moment he brings to us, not run from it.  He invites us to partner with him, like Mary and Joseph, in His plans.  He doesn’t always let us see the big picture, He just asks us to trust Him and yield. To choose Yes!

This season I invite you to choose to say Yes to God.  Allow God to birth Christ in you so that your life is not about you or for you, but about allowing Him to use you to magnify Him.

Merry Christmas friends.

P.S. I want to warmly welcome ALL new subscribers who have joined our community since last month! You are going to love the resources you find to help you grow. I'm thrilled to have you here!

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Leslie Answers Your Questions

News! Boundaries and Consequences

Question: I am unsure how to set up boundaries and consequences with my alcoholic, pot-smoking husband. He thinks neither should be a concern of mine. He says it doesn’t affect me. When he has too much to drink, his verbal cocky language, insinuations, and controlling attitude are horrible.

He thinks nothing of drinking 6-10 beers at one time. He is bi-polar but doesn’t think it is an issue anymore. He was on lithium years ago for this.  I am so tired of this relationship with him. I want to do what God wants me to do. I know that with God He can handle this marital issue. I just need to release it totally to Him.

Please give me guidance on setting up specific boundaries and consequences. I have read your book How to Act Right When Your Spouse Acts Wrong, but I need more specific advice in my particular situation.  Thank you.

Answer: In my book, How to Act Right When Your Spouse Acts Wrong I introduced the idea of the Gift of Consequences as a loving gesture to help wake a spouse up to behaviors or attitudes that were affecting (or destroying) the marriage. (This particular gift of love often does not feel loving to the one receiving it at the time)

In past blogs and in my other books on destructive relationships and marriage I give many more reasons and examples how not to enable destructive behavior to continue unchallenged by mitigating or removing negative consequences from the destructive person’s life.

Specifically in your situation you need to ask yourself the question how does his behaviors affect you? For starters you indicate that when he’s drunk or high, he treats you differently.  He’s controlling, cocky and makes remarks that offend you and hurt your feelings. What would be a natural consequence for someone who treats you that way?


Add your (or view other) comments to Leslie's answer to this question by clicking the link below.


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Mary Had a Choice


Coaching Spots Available



Take look at the upcoming events to watch for from Leslie.



The Emotionally Destructive Relationship by Leslie Vernick. Plus see the winner of the previous give away!



News! Boundaries and Consequences


For more information on Leslie's coaching program, please click below.

Leslie Vernick Coaching Programs



The Emotionally Destructive Relationship

The Emotionally Destructive Relationship
by Leslie Vernick


Stop. Dare to ask the question: What’s going wrong in the relationship?

Maybe it doesn’t seem to be “abuse”. No bruises, no sexual violation. Even smiles on the surface. Nonetheless, before your eyes, a person is being destroyed emotionally.

Perhaps that person is someone you want to help. Perhaps it’s you.

Author and counselor Leslie Vernick has witnessed the devastating effects of emotional abuse in families and relationships.  She knows it must be talked about if healing and hope are to be found. Step by Step, Leslie shows you to how to…

  • Recognize behaviors that are meant to control, punish, and hurt
  • Confront and speak truth when the timing is right
  • Determine when to keep trying and when to shift your approach
  • Gets safe and stay safe
  • Continue to be transformed by God as you build an identity in Christ

Do you want to change? Within the pages of this book, you will find biblically sound, straight-forward help to take the first step today.

To win this book, please email your name to assistant@leslievernick.com with "Book Give Away" in the subject line by midnight Sunday, December 15th.

The winners of How To Find Selfless Joy In A Me-First World by Leslie Vernick are: Bambi S and Karol H.



Dec 19 Focus on the Family, Broadcast of Responding Well in Marital Conflict Part One

Dec 20 Focus on the Family, Broadcast of Responding Well in Marital Conflict Part Two

January 2014

Jan 18  Women’s Event, Jordan UCC Church, Allentown PA

Jan 31  Emotionally Destructive Relationships (Open to the Public), hosted at Bayside Church in Sarasota, FL for more information contact Eagle’s Wing Counseling Center

February 2014

Feb 1  Emotionally Destructive Relationships (for Ministry Leaders, Marriage Mentors, Pastors and Counselors), hosted at Bayside Church in Sarasota, FL for more information contact Eagle’s Wing Counseling Center

Invite Leslie to speak at one of your events.
Call us at 1-877-837-7931
leslie@leslievernick.com or
visit www.leslievernick.com



"We were blessed by the truths that she presented so clearly. Throughout the weekend and since that time, our staff has received numerous comments on how helpful, practical, powerful, and timely Leslie's messages were to them. Leslie was able to share deep truths of God's Word regarding how to live a life that pleases God in the midst of difficult circumstances and relationships in a way that people could understand and relate to."

— Carla Smith
Emmanuel Baptist Church
Johnstown, PA


Leslie wants to help you grow in your personal and relational effectiveness. Send your questions about dealing with difficult people, stress, or relationship issues to:


Then, visit Leslie's Blog as she posts her responses to one question per week.

Note: Due to the volume of questions that Leslie receives, she is unable to respond to every question.