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A new year brings a new month

A new year brings a new month that is almost over.
Hard to believe time is just flying right on by.
My husband had a birthday, he is 69 now.
We survived the holiday season and quietly moved into a new year.
Wonder what we will experience! Anything could happen right?
In our age group of people we have experienced the death of one spouse, leaving new widows to navigate grief.
It is so hard to believe and so sad.
I have projects on my mind of things to do and get done and organize.
I want to paint a few walls in a few rooms.
I will be organizing closets and drawers.
It is time, we have lived here for four years this April.
Most of what we had when we moved in was just dumped into closets and cupboards.
I will take my time and purge right.
Not leaving any ‘junk’ when I am done.
Clothing can go if I have not worn it, or I don’t fit it.
Shoes can be gone through too.
Papers need to be purged and shredded then make way for new ones.
Lots of books to read so I can try for a book every two months.
Then there are friends who we want to get together with and see.
There are vacation places we want to explore, and the time is good to travel a little.
Our to do list will grow as we go, and it will get done one step at a time.
I will not shame myself for moving slow for that will do nothing but frustrate me.
I think it is a very good thing to plan ahead as we can and not get frustrated when it doesn’t get done.
A new year brings a new month, and we will challenge ourselves to move forward.

My husband and I have been watching

My husband and I have been watching the Chosen movie.
It’s an amazing telling of the men and women who followed Jesus and it really is captivating.
Mary is also one of the followers, and it flashed back to a very moving scene between Joseph and Jesus as a young boy.
We are on the last few sessions then there will be a pause.
I have been thinking of one scene where there were crippled people laying around near a pool of water that spouted out every hour.
Apparently, the pool had healing powers within it.
The one man in the scene tried and tried to pull himself to the water. Over and over. Many times, failing, to get in the water.
At one point in a day Jesu walked by and said to him, “why are you here?” The man answered him.
“I have waited to get in the water, but no one has helped me.” Jesus said, “Do you want to be healed?”
The man explained again, why he had not gotten into the water, and Jesus said, “That is not what I asked you, do you want to be healed?”
The man had excuse after excuse.
Jesus said, “Do you want to be healed?” If you do, then stand up.”
The man tried to explain why his legs didn’t work.
Jesus just looked at him and asked again, “do you want to be healed?”
Part of the process of getting healed was for the man to rise up and start walking.
He would have to participate in the healing process.
He would have to trust.
Finally, HE did rise up and began rejoicing in the new ‘healed legs’ that he received.
I really loved this scene among many others in this series.
Jesus did not just ‘create’ miracles he expected participation, and involvement.
When he turned the water into wine, he told the wedding party to ‘give him the barrels’.
They had to trust him and his process.
I love the way he centers into the situation.
“Do you want to be healed?” that is a question for all of us.
What would it look like to not identify yourself as a cripple? As a leper? As a non-believer?
We identify in what we have been comfortable with. Perhaps the cripple had attention given to him in that condition.
Once we are healed, and we receive his QUESTION in our hearts then we must act on the changes made within us.
If the Savior asks, “do you want to be healed?” we must be willing to do what it would take for that to happen.
My husband and I have been watching this very special series and I encourage others to watch it too.

Christmas is almost here

Christmas is almost here.
The shopping is done, cards mailed, wrapped gifts are around our tree and food is in the pantry and refrigerator.
The weather is changing so hopefully we will be able to go to our son’s house for brunch.
They are predicting ice and freezing rain. That is NO fun to be out in.
The holiday is fast approaching.
I also have a birthday coming up. Turning 68 and that is just fine with me.
The aging process doesn’t bother me, it’s the body that doesn’t want to always co-operate.
For example, today the air outside is very cold, and my body does not respond to it very well.
I have a great deal of pain, if I get too cold.
So, I stay in where it’s warm and do my best to stay comfortable.
The family will soon be together and that will warm my heart immensely.
Our decorating has been very simple this year, and the focus has been to not do too much.
We have watched a few Christmas movies and also have discovered music on you tube.
I have limited my time in public on purpose so I can stay healthy for the rest of the year.
Mamy people we know have had bad bugs and I certainly do my part to stay away.
I mask up if I am in public places and I even wear winter gloves.
One cannot be too careful.
I treasure this time of year and I love the songs and the spirit.
The nativity story is the reason for the season.
I think my favorite song is “oh Holy Night”.
When it says, fall on your knees… it reminds me of the simple.
It reminds me of hope, of love and of God coming to us in a way that we could understand.
Christmas is almost here, and we rejoice in the message.

The birth of Jesus was well orchestrated

The birth of Jesus was well orchestrated with many different characters.
Each had a role given to them for the specific purpose within the story.
Beginning with Mary, and the Angel Gabriel, then Joseph, Elizabeth (and even baby John), and Zechariah.
Then we find the Shepherds out in the field with more angels greeting them with song: and Gabriel again.
Then we find Simeon and Anna in the temple, who had waited many years for this very special moment.
Then we also add in Herod who was an angry man tricking the Wise men who were told to find the baby.
I think I would also add the donkey, who went with Mary and Joseph and helped with the journey.
Remembering that the donkey brought her to his birth, the donkey also brought him later to his death.
Scripture had to be fulfilled.
Each character had to do their part, not too different than in the story of his death.
Each one played a role, and each one was needed.
There were many others in the verses that I read, but these were the key players who formed the beautiful story.
As we sing, Oh little town of Bethlehem,
we visualize ‘our picture’ based on Christmas cards of nativity scenes.
We love to sing silent night, Holy Night, all is calm… all is bright.
But really it wasn’t.
Yes, it was a Holy night, but it was dim and probably not well lighted with anything but a lantern.
I love the Song, Sweet little Jesus boy, for it says, “We didn’t know who you were.”
I believe that to be true.
No one expected a Savior to come the way HE did.
Even Mary might not have fully understood the baby she gave birth to, as the Holy One.
Too much to take in, too much to think on.
Silence was within the 400 years from the Old Testament to the birth of Jesus.
The silence was broken by a baby’s cry.
I think a lot about Mary, so young and alone maybe only having Joseph with her.
I think of Joseph with a huge responsibility put upon Him,
because God saw that HE could do it and He knew his heart was right.
We hear very little about him after Jesus was born. I wonder so much about him.
I am sure he stayed with Mary, and they had other children; but did they ever talk about this
special Holy Birth?
May we read with a new awareness of all that it took,
for this baby to bring Hope to a very dark world.
The birth of Jesus was well orchestrated with many characters.

The wise men were the next ones

The wise men were the next ones to arrive on the scene with Mary and Joseph.
We often see the manger story with them near the manger, where Mary had the baby.
That is actually not accurate.
In Matthew 2 we find a different kind of story.
beginning in vs 2:
About that time (when Jesus was born) some wise men (or Maji) from eastern lands arrived in Jerusalem, asking,
“Where is the newborn king of the Jews? We saw his star (or star in the east) as it rose, and we have come to worship him.”
King Herod was deeply disturbed when he heard this, as was the whole land.
He called a meeting leading priest and teachers of the law and asked,
“Where is this Messiah supposed to be born?”
“In Bethlehem in Judea,” they said, “for this is what the prophet wrote:
vs 6b “a ruler will come from you O Bethlehem, who will be the shepherd for my people Israel.”
“Then Herod told the wise men to go to Bethlehem and search for him,
come back and tell me so I can worship him too.”
vs 9: After this interview the wise men went their way.
And the star in the east guided them to Bethlehem.
It went ahead of them and stopped over the place where the child was.
When they saw the star, they were filled with joy!
They entered the house [notice it is not a manger scene] and saw the child with Mary his mother,
and they bowed down and worshiped him.
Then they opened their treasure chests and gave him gold, frankincense and myrrh.
(These gifts were symbolic of what was to come.)
When it was time to leave, they returned to their own country by another route,
for God had warned them in a dream not to return to Herod.
vs 13: After the wise men were gone, an angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream.
“Get up! Flee to Egypt with the child and his mother,” the angel said,
“Stay there until I tell you to return, because Herod is going to search for the child to kill him.”
That night Joseph left for Egypt with the child and Mary, his mother and stayed there until Herod’s death.
[I don’t know how long that was for them, but it was very important for them to stay away as long as possible.]
The wise men were the next ones to arrive on the scene with Mary and Joseph.

The prophecy of Anna the prophetess

The prophecy of Anna the prophetess came right after Simeon met Joseph, Mary and the baby.
Anna lived in the same Temple Mary and Joseph went to when they dedicated Jesus.
It tells us in Luke 2:36 that she was very old, similar to Simeon.
Most likely she knew him as they were in the same setting for a very long time.
She was a widow for eighty-four years and lived in the Temple and never left there, after her husband died.
The word said she had been married seven years before he died.
She may have been between the ages of 90-104 having been married so long.
She worshipped and prayed day and night worshipping God with fasting and prayer.
She came near the room where Simeon was talking to Mary and Joseph; and we are told she began to praise and worship God.
I imagine her walking by and noticing this scene with Simeon, perhaps overhearing his words proclaimed.
I often wonder how would she know this was the child, the baby Jesus? The one they had waited for.
Did he look different? was there an aura around him or maybe a deep confirmation in her heart about him?
She talked about the child to everyone around her, who had been waiting expectantly for God to rescue Jerusalem.
Not long after that Mary and Joseph returned to Nazareth in Galilee, where Jesus grew filled with wisdom and God’s favor was on him.
[I find it fascinating that both Simeon and Anna were able to SEE and meet Mary and Joseph and fulfill parts of the story.
God uses ordinary people to set the stage and allows us to see and feel the great anticipation for the coming Messiah.
I often wonder if Mary and Joseph ever truly ‘got it’…
the word said Mary hid it in her heart and thought about them often.
That would be a very amazing amount of remembering for her.
Could she really know deep in her heart that her baby was the Messiah, the Savior who would come to save the world?]
There is a song that is played this time of year called, Mary did you know?
It is a wonderful song with many questions.
The prophecy of Anna came right after Simeon met Joseph and Mary and the baby.
It continued to set the stage for many other scenes to come as the story unfolds of his birth.
The prophecy of Anna the prophetess came to be completed on that day.

Jesus was presented in the temple

Jesus was presented in the temple eight days after he was born, and he was circumcised as was the custom and given the proper name.
The name Jesus, the name given to him by the angel even before he was conceived.
His parents took him to the temple for a purification offering in Jerusalem, to present him to the Lord.
The law required a first child who was a son to be dedicated to the Lord.
Luke 2:25
At the time there was a man in Jerusalem named Simeon.
He was an old man who had waited his entire life for the Messiah to come rescue Israel.
The Holy Spirit was upon him and had revealed to him that he would not die, until he had seen the Lord’s Messiah.
That day the Spirit led him to the Temple.
So, when Mary and Joseph came to present baby Jesus, Simeon was there.
He took the baby in his arms and praised God, saying,
“Sovereign Lord, now let your servant die in peace, as you have promised.
I have seen your salvation which you have prepared for all people.
He is a light to reveal God to the nations, and he is the glory of your people Israel!”
Jesus’s parents were amazed at what was being said about him.
Then Simeon blessed them, and he said to Mary,
“This child is destined to cause many in Israel to fall, but he will be a joy to many others.
He has been sent as a sign from God, but many will oppose him.
As a result, the deepest thoughts of many hearts will be revealed.
And a sword will pierce your very soul.”
I love this story about Simeon.
He waited and prayed, and every day wondered.
Would this be the day?
[Can you even imagine the moment Simeon saw the baby?
With great anticipation and confirmation in his spirit, this is the ONE.]
Have you ever anxiously waited for something and when it finally happened your JOY was complete?
I believe Simeon was like that. Now I have seen him. I finally can say I saw him.
I held him in my arms.
I can release myself and leave this world knowing that I saw HIM.
Just as it was promised to me.]
Jesus was presented in the temple to fulfill more of the prophecy surrounding his birth.

The night there were shepherds staying

The night there were shepherds staying in the fields nearby, guarding their flocks of sheep.
Luke 2:9-20
[Suddenly, an angel of the Lord appeared among them, and the radiance of the Lord’s glory surrounded them.
They were terrified, but the angel reassured them.
“Don’t be afraid! he said. “I bring you good news that will bring great joy to all people.
The Savior-yes, the Messiah, The Lord has been born today in Bethlehem, the city of David!
And you will recognize him by this sign: You will find a baby wrapped snugly in strips of cloth, lying in a manger.”
Suddenly, the angel was joined by a vast host of others-the armies of heaven-praising God and saying,
“Glory to God in highest heaven, and peace on earth to those with whom God is pleased.”
When the angels had returned to heaven, the shepherds said to each other,
“Let’s go to Bethlehem! Let’s see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has told us about.”
They hurried to the village leaving their flocks behind and found Mary and Joseph.
And there was the baby, lying in a manger, just as they were told.
After seeing him the shepherds told everyone in the village, what had happened and what the angel had said to them about this child.
All who heard the shepherd’s story were astonished,
but Mary kept all these things in her heart and thought about them often.
The shepherds went back to their flocks, glorifying and praising God for all they had heard and seen.
It was just as the angel had told them.]
Can you even imagine the excitement and the joy they must have felt?
They all saw it, they all heard it, they all were a part of the glorious singing.
We must remember a part of this story, is the fact that shepherds were marginalized people.
Most people left them alone and gave them no credit or worth.
They were out in the fields, dirty and rough. Left alone.
But God…chose them, chose them to be a part of the story forever in time.
They were not what we could call credible witnesses and yet; the people listened and believed them.
I wonder if God planned for them to be chosen, so the story could be told in an amazing way,
through those who normally would not be listened to by others.
Value is always given when God has a hand in a chosen moment. *
They were given value and purpose and a reason to share, and because of their excitement others believed too.
Isn’t that hopeful for those who seem to think they have no voice?
The night there were shepherds staying in the fields and their lives would be changed forever.

The angel of the Lord met with Joseph

The angel of the lord met with Joseph while he was sleeping, just like he met with Mary.
He told Joseph, Mary was expecting, and it was from the Holy Spirit and when the baby was born, his name was to be Jesus.
When Joseph woke up from his dream, he did what the angel of the Lord commanded and took Mary as his wife.
But he did not have relations with her until her son was born and Joseph named him Jesus. (Matthew 1:24)
Luke 2 we learn of the birth of Jesus.
At the time of Jesus birth there was a census that was called, and all the people were to return to their ancestral town to register for this census.
And because Joseph was a descendant of King David, he had to go to Bethlehem, in Judea David’s ancient home.
He traveled there from the village of Nazareth in Galilee.
He took with him Mary, his fiancée, who was now obviously pregnant.
While they were there, the time came for her baby to be born.
She gave birth to her first-born child, a son.
She wrapped him snugly in strips of cloth and laid him in a manger, because there was no lodging available to them.
[Now let’s stop here for a second.]
There was no lodging available because of the census and there were many people in the town.
Also, it sounds so simple the way Luke writes it, but I would imagine it was not that simple.
If I think of both Mary and Joseph; they would be tired after all that traveling, and perhaps feeling a bit desperate to settle in for the night.
Maybe Mary was already in labor and giving Joseph the full details of what she had shared and experienced with Elizabeth while watching John’s birth.
We can only guess and imagine, what it was like for this young couple who would be responsible for the ‘Son of God.’
Both were chosen and both were given, a role like no other and a place in history forever.
The angel of the Lord met with Joseph while he was sleeping.

A few days later after the angel met with Mary

A few days later after the angel met with Mary, she hurried to the hill country of Judea to see Elizabeth.
I am not sure how far that was to walk but it says she hurried, so it was a fast exit out of Galilee to Judea.
The story unfolds like this in Luke 1:
When Elizabeth saw Mary and greeted her, Elizabeth’s child leaped within her, and Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit.
Elizabeth gave a good cry and exclaimed to Mary, “God has blessed you above all women, and your child is blessed.
Why am I so honored, that the Mother of my Lord should visit me? When I heard your greeting, the baby in my womb jumped for joy.
You are blessed because you believed that the Lord would do what he said.”
Now let us stop for a second.
This is Elizabeth, a relative of Mary’s who has known her all her life.
Can you even imagine the moment between them?
And I often think of the baby Elizabeth was carrying, responding to Mary.
That in itself is a miracle.
The story continues.
Mary’s response to her was amazing.
It is called the Magnificat: Mary’s song of praise
Found in Luke 1:46-56
When she was finished with her praise and honor she stayed with Elizabeth; about three months and then went back to her own home.
I am not sure about her own family, or the responses from Joseph or even how the news was received.
What I do know is the angel met with Joseph.
In the book of Matthew chapter 1 vs 19
Joseph, her fiancé was a good man and did not want to disgrace her publicly, so he decided to break the engagement quietly.
As he considered this, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream.
“Joseph, Son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary as your wife.
For the child within her was conceived by the Holy Spirit.
And she will have a son, and you are to name him Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins.”
(Fulfilling prophecy from the Old Testament)
Perhaps while Mary was visiting Elizabeth John was born, the time frame would certainly be about right for the delivery.
A few days later, after the angel met with Mary she left to be with Elizabeth.