Today I had the unique opportunity to have lunch with all three of my children. This is a rare treat since they are all grown and pursing their careers and passions in three different states at times.

This day, however, we were all gathered to celebrate seeing the youngest graduate from Basic Combat Training and Advanced Individual Training as a military police officer. For the last five months he had been in a different state and almost completely out of touch with us.

After graduation everyone who had come left to drive home. But the kids and I all wanted a little more time together. So we went to lunch. As the four of us sat there visiting in a part of the nation unfamiliar to all of us –a young couple came in with a very sweet and happy little baby.

I was struck at how quickly time has passed. It seemed I just blinked and my babies went from diapers and bottles to graduation hats. I looked at that baby with his parents sitting next to us and then at my three – one a graphic artist, one a hunting guide, and now one a soldier and military police officer coming home for college.

Months and months of separation under extreme stress finally culminated with tears and hugs as we gathered. So many prayers had been prayed for endurance. So many days had been counted down. And after months of two minute phone calls our hearts were finally at peace as we sat together with him!

I couldn't help but think of what Mary must have felt to be the mother of baby Jesus. As she prepared for his birth, what great anticipation she must have had in her heart. Was it like my anticipation waiting to see my own son? Did she sing soft lullabies as she did her daily chores as a pregnant young woman? Did she imagine holding her baby and rocking him? Did she pray for him as I did my son?

Did she know in her heart that this precious child would not be like any other babe ever born? What hopes and dreams did she have for him? Surely she would rather her son not be the sacrifice for the world's sin. 

As a mother, I think of how difficult it must have been for Mary.

Did she feel out of place and uneasy in a bustling Bethlehem? Did everything seem unfamiliar?

What must Joseph have felt, not being able to secure a room for Mary to give birth? Did he disappointingly lead her to the manger? Did he have to clear out the animals?

What did Mary think when shepherds came to see her baby? Did they tell her about the angel appearing to them?

This Christmas as you anticipate family coming home, dinners, baking, presents and programs — don't forget the anticipation of the birth of our precious Savior born that night, in a stable, in the middle of a very busy little town. Don't forget that because of his incredible gift, we can anticipate eternal life in which the moments like I had today with my children will be forevermore.

Sherry Shepherd is an experienced, adaptable professional specialized in writing for faith-based organizations. She has worked as an editor and writer for newspaper, movie guides, publishing houses, churches and several non-profits. Her scope of work includes corporate and fundraising materials, advertising, web, brochures, booklets, books, blogs and biblical training materials. However, her heart is drawn to any type of creative writing, where she can motivate while conveying a biblical message and telling a story. Sherry is the mother of three grown children, who have been the source of some of her greatest joy, laughter and material!