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A new year and a new challenge for ourselves

A new year and a new challenge for ourselves is here; as we begin a new season of life for us.
This is a month of change for us, my husband will turn sixty five and begin his journey into Medicare.
It is a great savings for us from paying out of pocket premiums and now it is 80% reduced for him.
I am not there yet so I still have to pay a premium out of pocket but it is still less than last year.
It is a year of perhaps new changes as we consider a move from our current home.
We moved into this one in 1986 I think and it was fun while it was a bigger home and something different.
The years have pursued us and we don’t want stairs anymore. It is time for us to find a single level easy living situation for seniors with easy access and nice rooms.
I cannot even imagine the amount of work it will take to get packed and ready to move but, I think it can be done and in the end will be very good.
I am looking forward to something fresh and new, although I do not want our neighbors to find out we are thinking about it. They have stated over and over we are good neighbors and they enjoy our friendship.
Reality is, we need a flat space and a single level and something we can live in for the rest of our ‘life’ together. I am going to be very picky about where, and what kind of place.
I have my criteria for choosing something else, it must have no stairs, a fresh clean look, privacy and good neighbors.
We have found that already. So now the decision will be when to move and how to move.
It is a challenge and a hope. It will be emotionally hard, yet freeing. It will be good, no matter where we go and when we go it will be the right decision and we will have peace in the choice made.
A new year is beginning and we have many things to look forward to and many things will take place.
Let’s make it a good one. 

It is a new year for us and a time of new beginning

It is a new year for us and a time of new beginning. We have moved from 2018 to now 2019.
Time has flown by for us, I guess that is what happens when you grow older and age each month.
The grand children are growing like little flowers who have been given the rain water.
They are taller and just so grown up. Of course this grandma would say that.
It is really true. Time is moving quickly and right before us we see needs met.
My husband turns 65 in a few weeks, official Medi-care age. Never have we wanted to see that red, white and blue card, than now. It will save dollars on insurance premium and we also save on other things.
He gets a pool pass because he is now an official senior. I will be there the end of this year.
There is an advantage of being older but I also see us age and I think NO we are not going to waste these years or experiences together. Life is short.
Too short to live with regrets or sorrow. Each day is a new one, brush off your mistakes from yesterday and start again. New and refreshed.
Trust in the process. Trust in the system even though it has failed many it is all we have to work with.
I want to write more and on a deeper level. Once again sharing my heart and my thoughts and my ‘journey.’
This is a going to be a new good year. I am thankful and full of praise for what God has done for us and what He continues to do. We are considering a move from this home of 25 years.
It will be hard, and maybe emotional but we are ready for something new.
Pray with us for an answer and may we find contentment in our decisions and peace in the final choice.
It is a new year, a time of new beginnings and choices.
It is a good thing.

What we have remembered

What we have remembered in the last few weeks; it took great amount of planning and orchestration to complete the Christmas story.
Like the many characters making up a play, each had a specific role and circumstance that brought them in at their appointed time.
God directed and placed each and every one of them so that the story could be fulfilled.
John 3:16
[16 For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.
17 For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved.]
God sent a Savior. HE sent Hope into a dark world.
He sent life giving hope to a world seeking something that could save them.
I believe nothing was by accident.
God knew Mary would need Joseph. He also knew Joseph would need Mary.
He also knew Mary would need the encouragement from Elizabeth.
He knew Jesus would need John to pave the way for him.
He knew the Shepherds would not be believed as credible witnesses, unless they SAW with their eyes and shared what they seen with great conviction and truth.
He knew the wise men had to bring specific gifts so scripture could be fulfilled.
He knew Simeon would need a sign that the one he had been waiting for was born.
He knew Anna would need Simeon to agree that this child was the one.
God knew a Savior was the only way.
He had Gabriel show up and make a ‘point’ through the words, “Do not be afraid, I am here to say something to you.” Even Gabriel was a carefully planned out character.
Isn’t it like a God who cares, to create the need for relationship?
Without relationship we cannot know God’s love for us.
We cannot know love for others either.
He used relationship as an example for us to live more fully and He gave His Son so we could SEE Him.
Isn’t it so simple and so lovely?
The brutality of birth and later the brutality of death was all a part of the Christmas story.
Isn’t it like God to use life and death as an example of love and hope?
And I often even wonder about the donkey Mary rode on; while going to the stable.
Jesus also had a donkey later on as he entered the road towards his death.
There are years between the birth of a baby and the death of a man.
We are not told about what he did, or what Joseph did.
We do know there was relationship.
There is so much to think about in this ‘whole’ Christmas story.
I pray I have challenged you to do your own searching and study.
It is the greatest story ever told. The story of love.

The wise men’s story continues

The wise men’s story continues in Matthew 2 the first book of the New Testament.
[Matthew 2 King James Version (KJV)
2 Now when Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judaea in the days of Herod the king, behold, there came wise men from the east to Jerusalem,
2 Saying, “Where is he that is born King of the Jews? for we have seen his star in the east, and are come to worship him.”
3 When Herod the king had heard these things, he was troubled, and all Jerusalem with him.
4 And when he had gathered all the chief priests and scribes of the people together, he demanded of them where Christ should be born.
5 And they said unto him, In Bethlehem of Judaea: for thus it is written by the prophet,
6 And thou Bethlehem, in the land of Juda, art not the least among the princes of Juda: for out of thee shall come a Governor, that shall rule my people Israel.
7 Then Herod, when he had privily called the wise men, enquired of them diligently what time the star appeared.
8 And he sent them to Bethlehem, and said, “Go and search diligently for the young child; and when ye have found him, bring me word again, that I may come and worship him also.”
9 When they had heard the king, they departed; and, lo, the star, which they saw in the east, went before them, till it came and stood over where the young child was.
10 When they saw the star, they rejoiced with exceeding great joy.
11 And when they were come into the house, they saw the young child with Mary his mother, and fell down, and worshipped him: and when they had opened their treasures, they presented unto him gifts; gold, and frankincense and myrrh.
12 And being warned of God in a dream that they should not return to Herod, they departed into their own country another way.
13 And when they were departed, behold, the angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream, saying, Arise, and take the young child and his mother, and flee into Egypt, and be thou there until I bring thee word: for Herod will seek the young child to destroy him.
14 When he arose, he took the young child and his mother by night, and departed into Egypt]
So they eventually headed to Nazareth where they stayed for many years.
The birth of Jesus is full of intensity, miracles, and communication between angels and men.
It is a wonderful outpouring of God’s great love for us.
A baby was born so we could see; that God would go to great length’s for us to be saved and have salvation through a Savior.
As we read the Christmas story I pray we can see and feel; this wonderful orchestration of love through what God has done for us. I also pray we find hope and renewing of spirit and soul.
{Till he appeared and the soul found it’s worth}

What we learn about the next ones

What we learn about the next ones we are introduced to within the story; the wise men.
In our modern day nativities we often have them standing next to Joseph and Mary and the Shepherd and angel; maybe a camel or two.
That is actually not very accurate to what really took place.
Modern scholars say it was almost a year before they showed up to see baby Jesus.
They had to travel far and follow the star, and although we were never told names modern theologians believe they were Gaspar, Melchor and Bathasar.
I am not sure how any one knew that, but some say these men were the magi or wise men.
They brought the baby Jesus special gifts that were not normally given to a new mom and child.
Gold was considered to be a symbol of divinity, frankincense was a symbol of righteousness, myrhh was a spice used for embalming; symbolizes bitterness, suffering an affliction.
Now if Mary or Joseph knew any of this information it would be quite unsettling for them; to receive these gifts for their baby.
As young parents you are not really expecting more visitors who traveled 800-900 miles by foot or by camel just to see you.
There were no Uber drivers or fast ways of travel back then; it was all by foot.
They were sent by Herod to check out this little baby born; and his motive was unknown to them as they traveled to see where he was located.
They were doing a duty for him and later on we will find out it back fired on Herod.
Some of the nativity story as we know it has been created to make a wonderful Christmas story.
The reality of long tiresome journeys were a part of it. The roads were not easy and the tremendous difficulty was real for everyone.
The next cast of characters were the wise men fulfilling the scriptures and playing a role that God had created for them.
They followed the star and trusted the process.
They teach us to listen to the stillness of God; as they followed what they knew to be true.
They humbled themselves and they recognized the worth of their gifts, for they knew it was a special appointment for them.
The story continues as we learn and read more. The story of Christmas was all orchestrated by God.
It also was about obedience, and trust and the power of love within the story.

What we can be thankful for

What we can be thankful for.

As they were in the temple with Simeon, Mary and Joseph met another one who had been waiting for years for this moment.

Luke 2:36-38 [ Anna the prophetess was also there, She was by now a very old women. She had been married seven years, and a widow for 84. She never left the temple area, worshiping night and day with her fasting and prayers.

At the very time Simeon was praying, she showed up, broke into an anthem of praise to God, and talked about the child to all who were waiting expectantly for the freeing of Jerusalem.]

Anna becomes the more important character in the cast of characters. She was married at a young age, we can assume since her husband passed away after seven years. (which is a biblical number)

Then it says she was a widow for 84 years so like Simeon she was very old.

She had waited patiently for the messiah to come.  Week after week,.

The patience and trust it took for her to wait and know and believe.

Every time a young couple would come with their baby she would wonder. Is this the one? When she saw Simeon and his reaction she KNEW.

How exciting and how final for her. Did that mean she could leave the temple? we are not told that. All we know is God orchestrated each character to tell the story.

A baby would be born in and HE would be the Messiah. Luke 2:19

What we begin to understand

What we begin to understand in the story of baby Jesus; he was not an ordinary baby and this was no ordinary birth. As they learned to be parents I believe they were learning to love each other along with this little child. In Luke 2:21 it tells us that they had to go to the temple and name him and he would also be consecrated as the scripture recorded. It was a formal gathering and on that particular day it was extremely special. [Luke 2:25-32 

25 Now there was a man in Jerusalem whose name was Simeon; this man was righteous and devout, looking forward to the consolation of Israel, and the Holy Spirit rested on him. 26 It had been revealed to him by the Holy Spirit that he would not see death before he had seen the Lord’s Messiah. 27 Guided by the Spirit, Simeon came into the temple; and when the parents brought in the child Jesus, to do for him what was customary under the law, 28 Simeon took him in his arms and praised God, saying,

29 “Master, now you are dismissing your servant in peace,
    according to your word;
30 for my eyes have seen your salvation,
31 which you have prepared in the presence of all peoples,
32 a light for revelation to the Gentiles
    and for glory to your people Israel.”

33 And the child’s father and mother were amazed at what was being said about him. 34 Then Simeon blessed them and said to his mother Mary, “This child is destined for the falling and the rising of many in Israel, and to be a sign that will be opposed 35 so that the inner thoughts of many will be revealed—and a sword will pierce your own soul too.”

There was also a prophet, Anna the daughter of Phanuel, of the tribe of Asher. She was of a great age, having lived with her husband seven years after her marriage, 37 then as a widow to the age of eighty-four. She never left the temple but worshiped there with fasting and prayer night and day. 38 At that moment she came, and began to praise God and to speak about the child to all who were looking for the redemption of Jerusalem.]

 I am sure when Mary and Joseph headed to the Temple they had no idea scripture would be fulfilled again. God set it up for Simeon to see him, (again seeing with our eyes). He had waited all his life for this moment and because he was in tune to the spirit HE KNEW this was the one. What we begin to understand over and over is the orchestration of God. It had to happen at the right time, for the right reason, with the right people, so scripture could be fulfilled.

What we can learn from the story

What we can learn from the story is obedience changes lives.
When we read about the sheepherders we have to understand they were marginalized people.
Not overly accepted in the towns because of appearance and their dirty jobs.
The majority of people in the villages had nothing to do with them.
They were rough and rugged and very little would terrify them.
We are not told what the angel looked like when it was standing next to them around the fire.
I would imagine it was startling to see someone there.
The sky brilliantly showing choirs of angels and light had to have been startling for them too.
They knew the skies they had seen them every night, but this night was different for them.
I find it interesting the angels sang in the language of the sheepherders; so they could hear and understand the words that were spoken.
What would it have been like to see the angel choir come from heaven and then go back?
When they decided to ‘go see’ this baby born in the manger; we are told they ran as fast as they could.
Now we have to remember, they would never leave their sheep. It was never an option to leave them unprotected, yet we are told that’s what they did.
What can we learn from these rough and rowdy men? They had a deep desire to go see for themselves.
They left to go see Mary and Joseph and baby Jesus. Seeing, made them believe and then they became credible witnesses declaring what they saw to everyone in the town.
They spoke with impressionable language and believable attitudes and for the first time others were impressed by them. They had value.
The verse said, [all were impressed] not some, but everyone.
They were sort of like the first missionaries declaring the truth of what they had experienced.
What we can learn from the story is the life changing ability of little baby who is the Savior.
They were marginalized men whose only purpose was to tend to sheep and then they became truth tellers.
Transforming them as their life altering experience took place.
It is all a part of the miracle.

What we can see with our eyes

What we can see with our eyes, and believe in our hearts, the road to the stable and delivery was long and hard.
As Mary remembered what had taken place; the Angel Gabriel telling her news that would alter the direction of her life forever.
You can imagine her exhaustion and sadness, for she had left her family and being great with child and weary from traveling.
I am also sure she was overwhelmed with the thought of this little baby boy being someone very special.
Just as the baby that Elizabeth had delivered.
As they rested she probably thought back on the conversations she had shared with Elizabeth and Zachariah.
She remembered how Elizabeth’s baby responded as she spoke a word and how powerful it was in the moment.
Remembering also the reaction of Elizabeth when seeing Mary.
We can imagine that this birth was so life changing and so miraculous both Mary and Joseph could barely take it all in. So much had to have been on her heart and mind.
Then to see the angels glorifying the sky with their presence.
The stars looking more bright with the intensity of light.
The next set of characters to arrive on the scene were the shepherds.
Luke tells us: [there were sheepherders camping in the neighborhood.
They had set night watches over the sheep.
Suddenly, God’s angel stood among them and God’s glory blazed around them.
They were terrified.
The angel said, “don’t be afraid. I’m here to announce a great and joyful event that is meant for everybody, worldwide.
A Savior has just been born in David’s town, a Savior who is Messiah and Master.
This is what you’re to look for; a baby wrapped in a blanket and lying in a manger.”
13-14 At once the angel was joined by a huge angelic choir singing God’s praises.
Glory to God in the heavenly heights, Peace to all men and women on earth who please him.
15-18 As the angel choir withdrew into heaven, the sheepherders talked it over.
“Let’s get over to Bethlehem as fast as we can and see for ourselves what God has revealed to us.”
They left, running, and found Mary and Joseph, and the baby lying in the manger.
Seeing was believing. (This is what we see with our eyes.)
They told everyone they met what the angels had said about this child.
All who heard the sheepherders were impressed.
19-20 Mary kept all these things to herself, holding them dear, deep within herself.
The sheepherders returned and let loose, glorifying and praising God for everything they had heard and seen. It turned out exactly the way they had been told!]

What we don’t really know

What we don’t really know about the Christmas story.
Mary went with Joseph on the trip to do the census in the town of Bethlehem.
She didn’t have to go as she was not his wife, and the custom was for families to be counted.
[Luke 2: He went with Mary his fiancée, who was pregnant.}
Our Pastor said there were a few ideas why she went with him.
Joseph was told by the angel to name the baby Jesus and if he had gone without her; the baby might have been born before he returned, and the baby might have been named something else.
The other idea was she was so far along Joseph didn’t feel right about leaving her alone, she he took her with him to be close to her.
Another idea was to protect her, for to be pregnant and not married would cause her to be in great harm.
He was saving her life by taking her with him.
Another idea was he had to follow the direction given for them to have a baby in a manger fulfilling the prophecy written.
[6-7 While they were there, the time came for her to give birth. She gave birth to a son, her firstborn.
She wrapped him in a blanket and laid him in a manger, because there was no room in the hostel there.]
Remember this is in the middle of a census which would mean many rooms would be full and many homes not available. We often remember the part of the story about Joseph going door to door asking for a room and the innkeeper said, “there is no room in the inn.”
We don’t really know if that actually happened.
I also read somewhere that if he was to meet family on his side they might have not accepted her, because of her condition.
What we do know, Mary and Joseph was to have their little baby in a quiet little stable among sheep and cows and the smell of hay.
Maybe after being with Elizabeth Mary knew more of what to expect during labor and delivery, there might not have been anyone to help her other than Joseph.
I’m not sure if they tore the donkey’s blanket and made a swaddling cloth for the baby.
Perhaps they packed a few baby item’s just incase they were needing it.
We are not told about the conversations between them, or the discomfort of Mary while traveling.
Anyone who has ever been pregnant in those late months knows how difficult this journey would be for her.
Whether she walked or rode the donkey we know it was not easy or comfortable for her.
We don’t know many things about this Christmas story but we do know it was supposed to take place.
In the little town of Bethlehem so scripture could be fulfilled.