Mary gave birth to a son.

On this very special day, we remember Mary’s son — the One born in the middle of an unremarkable messy manger and whose birth was witnessed by unremarkable creatures on an otherwise unremarkable day.

The day of his birth has become remarkable because one girl was willing to surrender her whole life in service of another. As a young teenager, Mary understood what it takes a lifetime for many of us to figure out — living with legacy in mind is all that matters. This girl willingly agreed to serve God by allowing Him to do with her life whatever He so willed.

And that meant becoming a mother.

But not just any mother.

Mary surrendered her body first, then her heart, and then her identity throughout all of time as the mother of Christ Jesus, the baby king born in an ordinary stable on an ordinary day to an ordinary girl.

This is what made Mary different.

She was an ordinary person who decided to live with a legacy in mind.

On this very special day, we remember Wynter — the one we call our sister-cousin, niece, aunt, wife, sister, daughter, mother, and friend. She was one very remarkable girl with a remarkable name who lived a remarkable life.

It’s our first Christmas day without her.

I woke up this morning with an inkling of emptiness. At first, I couldn’t place the feeling. It’s almost like my gut remembered her absence before my mind or heart could make sense of what is different about today. Today’s the first Christmas day I won’t see her face. And my body knew.

Trying to distract myself from sadness, I picked up my phone and started scrolling through social media, yearning for images that would proclaim joy to the world and produce deep-rooted gratitude to balance out the feeling in the pit of my stomach. I saw plenty of them. There were numerous creative displays of the words “Merry Christmas”. Abundant use of red and green proliferated ornate designs, tree shapes, and Christmas decor such as ornaments, mistletoe, and poinsettias. And then there were the scripture verses — plenty of beautiful text-centered posts with quotes from Matthew, Luke, and Isaiah everywhere. They were all familiar to me. I’ve heard them many times and read or heard them read aloud during the Christmas season to reinforce the reason we celebrate the birth of the baby King.

Today, none of them made my heart leap.

None of them resonated with me the way they had in years gone by – years marked with wonderful memories, full houses and hearts, and every single member of my family on this side of heaven.

So I kept scrolling. Looking for hope. Looking for joy. Looking for something remarkable to influence the perspective I would have on this very special day.

And then something I saw made me stop scrolling and caused my heart to leap.

“She will give birth to a son. And you are to give him the name Jesus.” Matthew 1:21

In the first chapter of Matthew, an angel showed up to give insight to Joseph, the man Mary was engaged to marry. He told Joseph not to fear to take Mary as his wife because she was with child. A child conceived by the power of God who would have great purpose and be a gift for all of mankind. The angel told Joseph not to be afraid of embracing Mary’s life because of the legacy she carried.

This morning an angel reminds me too that there is no need to be afraid of embracing the memory and legacy of Wynter’s life this Christmas day. Wynter carried a legacy and she shared it with me.

She wasn’t just my sister-cousin. She was my friend. And she taught me what it looks like to be an ordinary woman who makes an extraordinary decision to live with legacy in mind. Wynter willingly agreed to serve God by allowing Him to do with her life whatever He so willed. She taught me what it means to live a surrendered life.

Wynter surrendered her life to her husband first then, through their union, she surrendered her body in carrying the life of her four girls.

She became a mother.

But not just any mother.

She decided early in her motherhood journey to find joy in this world by delighting herself in her relationship with God. This produced a deep-rooted gratitude inside of her and a trust in Him to give her the desires of her heart. That decision brought balance. Balance through the ups and the downs of her upbringing, marriage, motherhood, and the discovery of her life’s mission.

She would give birth to daughters. And they are her legacy.

Wynter relinquished the rights to her body first, then her heart, and then her identity throughout all of time as a mother of girls and a ministry to girls everywhere and the adults who love them. But the message of Wynter’s life is that her legacy took shape as she faithfully lived well through many unremarkable, ordinary days.

Today I remember “Little Wynt”. That’s what we call her. I remember her laugh. Her almond-shaped eyes. Her dainty hands. The way she curled into a ball in the corner of a couch. Her voice of reason. Her heart to serve. Her overwhelming gratitude for each day God allowed her to live.

This is what made Wynter different.

Thinking of her makes my heart leap. I remember her and I smile. I remember the lessons she taught me and is still teaching me when I hear her voice in my head.

I often think… “what would Wynter do?” because the legacy she left leaves a trail of right decisions.

In an unbroken string of many Christmas days with her, it’s my first Christmas day without her.

I woke up this morning with an inkling of emptiness, but I’m not empty now. I can now pinpoint the feeling in the pit of my stomach. It’s a mix of sadness swirled with joy and gratitude because I remember her and the legacy she left me. My mind and heart don’t have to make sense of all the ways today will be different. It just will be. And that’s okay.

There is no need to distract myself from the sadness. I let the tears fall and remember the legacy Wynter left and the reason she left it.

Wynter left a legacy because Mary gave birth to a son.

Wynter loved Him.

She lived for Him.

She is with Him.

And I have no need to fear. I can embrace the memory of Wynter on the same day as I embrace the birth of the Savior she served.

I can think the thoughts and have the feelings and let the tears come. I can also laugh when the joy comes too.

Wynter’s legacy is real, palpable, and lasting. This is what made her different.

And because of her, this Christmas day and for all of my days, I am forever made different too.