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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.

When Elizabeth was six months along with John

When Elizabeth was six months along with John, an angel met with Mary who was engaged to be married to Joseph.
Gabriel appeared to her in Luke 1:28 and he said,
“Greetings, favored woman! The Lord is with you!”
Now we must stop for a second and remember she was only 16, not quite a woman; but God knew.
It said she was, confused and disturbed as she thought about what the angel had said to her.
Wouldn’t that be the normal response when hearing a greeting like that?
The other thing to remember; women who were pregnant and not married were often stoned to death.
It was a serious issue not only for her, for Joseph and their families involved.
She must have had many questions and concerns.
Then the angel said,
“Don’t be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God!
You will conceive and give birth to a son, and you will name him Jesus.
He will be very great and will be called the Son of the Most High.”
Mary asked the angel, “How can this happen? I am a virgin.”
The angel replied,
“The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you.
So, the baby to be born will be holy, and will be called the Son of God.
What’s more, your relative Elizabeth has become pregnant in her old age!
People used to say she was barren, but now she is in her sixth month.
For nothing is impossible with God.”
Mary’s response to the angel was,
“I am the Lord’s servant. May everything you have said about me come true,”
Then the angel left her.
{I truly think the angel brought the news about Elizabeth to Mary, so she would believe more intensely and with more reality.
She knew Elizabeth was old and barren. She also knew she must go see her and see for herself what the angel had said.}
When Elizabeth was six months along with John, Mary went to visit her.

It was all taking place to complete the story

It was all taking place to complete the story.
When I think of the Christmas story; I am in awe and in amazement of the number of players that were used to create the scenes.
It is orchestrated like a screen play with everyone doing every little part, to make the whole, story complete.
God was so wise to use a simple teenager, and a humble man.
Of course, HE was wise, He is God the Almighty Father.
It was perhaps a love story; that would be tested from the moment the angel met with Mary.
She was a teen, so young and being told. “You are to be the chosen one.”
She had a tender heart full of acceptance and honor.
Can you even imagine how it started? Being startled by an angel in the room?
“Don’t be afraid.” (Of course, he would have to say that!) I would be terrified.
I have always been amazed over the fact that the angel spoke in a language Mary could understand.
We don’t think of angels having language or sound other than singing.
I wonder if sometimes WE get an angel among us telling us things that we hear, but not realizing Who was telling us?
Mary was the chosen one to be the mother of Jesus.
In Luke 1: The story is written and played out and it unravels with each and every character.
The beginning of it began with Zechariah and Elizabeth who were relatives of Mary.
It was the miracle before the miracle.
Their son, John would be born before Jesus.
Elizabeth was barren for many years and then Zechariah was told they would have a son.
He didn’t believe the angel and so the angel told him to be quiet until the birth took place.
I don’t blame him for doubting, that would be the reaction of many in the same situation.
But God… can do miracles.
A miracle before the miracle.
When I think of the Christmas story I am always in awe of the details and the obedience.
It was all taking place to complete the story.

There is an empty chair

There is an empty chair when someone in the family passes away.
Traditional seating becomes a reminder that this holiday will be different, and the chair will be empty.
We have known two people who were very significant in their family leave this month.
One had celebrated his 50th wedding anniversary with his wife, and three days later his heart attack happened.
One had been fighting cancer for two years. Long struggle, sweet memories made while saying goodbye.
One had a tragic death of a grandchild.
Around the table it will be a reminder that someone who was loved, is now not here.
I know it is life changing, and very hard.
Grief is not easy at any point in time.
Around the holidays it is magnified.
Things that were traditional reminders, getting the tree at Christmas.
Decorating the tree, hanging socks with one less, on the rack.
It is not easy, and it is always a very intense reminder, it’s different now.
Thanksgiving is a time of being together.
The chair that is empty is a reminder that life won’t ever be the same.
I don’t know how those who grieve move through the moments.
It is very hard to walk through the stores with festive music and celebrations when one has a broken heart.
I am very aware that this is a sad and difficult time.
Then we also know that the last few years many have lost loved ones.
The quarantine didn’t stop the loss. It magnified it.
Life It is empty but filled with memories that are sweet and good for the heart.
I don’t know how those who grieve move through the motions.
It would be tempting to curl up under blankets and tell others, “Not today”.
There is an empty chair when someone in the family passes away.
Nothing can change the tears that fall as the heart remembers.

It was 49 years ago

It was 49 years ago. A fall wedding featuring the colors of fall.

We were young. I was 18 and he was 19. At the time I had no place to go after I turned 18, so we got married.
It worked for us. It wasn’t easy growing up together, but God was with us, and we did it.

Our wedding was beautiful although I remember very little of it.
Too much to process and take in and we were young.
We had two children a son and a daughter, and our son had three sons and our daughter had three daughters. We are incredibly blessed to be called grandma and grandpa.
Years later we met our pastor who married us. It was very special to see this giant of a man and share in our journey with him.
We are older now.
The golden years is what they call them.
So much has taken place for us. So much memory making, with our kids and their kids and just life in general.
We have lost siblings, parents and friends. Life has a way of doing that, loss is always a part of it.
After 30 years, we moved from our two-story house where he has had double knee replacements and shoulder surgeries and recovery was a part of our journey then. The Lord blessed us with a small cozy home now and really that is all you need.
(These pictures are just a few of us in the years. They are not recent.)
We are at a time in our lives where the golden years are good. We will continue to make them good.
My recent journey was going through breast cancer recovery. We did survive it and we did ok.
It was not easy going through surgery and radiation, but I was able to ring the bell and God willing it won’t happen again.
It was 49 years ago, and our wedding was the beautiful colors of fall.
This picture is from the Hood River area of the Columbia River area near the gorge, The pacific Northwest in Oregon we took it on a fall drive.

Summer is over and fall is here

Summer is over and fall is here.
The air is cooler and the days that were full of heat and sun are now full of cool and rain.
I love this time of year.
I have waited for cooler days, and drizzle of rain sprinkling around the areas.
I am a sweater person; I love to bundle up and hunker down in the middle of rainy days.
Having a hot cup of tea in a large mug given to me by a friend. Is comforting.
I took down some of the normal decorations of the home and added in fake leaves and pumpkins.
It is fall. It is almost our anniversary. Forty-nine years this November.
That is a long time.
We just had a close friend of ours pass away, they were married 50 years and he was gone a few days later.
Makes one realize that life is short and unpredictable, and nothing is ‘for sure.’
It was shocking to hear he passed away, but we know he loved God and is in the ‘peaceful’ place now.
Heaven is our goal if we are believers.
He was an incredible man, and HE KNEW and walked with God.
I feel bad for the family left here to grieve. It is always so hard.
The holidays are soon to be here, and traditions will be different.
I pray for my special friend; I have a heart for widows.
It is a journey that is lonely, and sometimes empty and always alone.
I think for now we can be thankful that we KNEW him, and we KNEW his life to be a good one.
I am thankful we knew them as friends in the Lord and we remember the times we shared together.
I pray for all of those who are heading into this season with new heart pains and new losses.
It is very hard for many.
Summer is over and fall is here. We move through this time slowly and intentionally.

So many changes

So many changes are taking place.
Our three grandchildren are moved into college now and adjusting in little ways.
It’s nice because they all three are at the same campus and they can keep each other company.
It’s hard when you move away from home.
Your comfort zone is now a new one, your safe place must be established in the middle of college days and new people.
New rules or none are the norm now. Although when one is 18 the rules that work for an adult is what they have to pay attention to.
They are learning to manage daytime structure and how to navigate the expansive campus.
One has already changed her direction of study. The other two are doing the tasks to make it work.
I miss them a lot, but I know this is necessary for them to grow and become independent.
The weather is still nice and so far, they have had no difficult roads to navigate.
How are the parents doing? They are missing them.
It is a road of life for them. When I was their age, I got married.
None of them are ready for that. I am not saying we were either, but it was what everyone did in the 70’s.
We pray for them always. We try to encourage and keep an open wallet, if they need something.
They have no jobs at this point.
It is a major life change and how it all works out will be a wait and see for us adults waiting at home.
Soon fall will bring rain and the mountains will be harder to travel.
Thanksgiving and Christmas will be vacation times if they can come home.
I actually think this time of learning for them is good.
Becoming an adult is not easy and if you can do it together it is much easier for everyone.
They are becoming close cousins.
So many changes are happening in our lives, and we pray and turn our hearts to our loved ones.

I am waiting for autumn to arrive

I am waiting for autumn to arrive.
Fall foliage and crispy air, with sweaters and warm pants. My soul is peaceful in this setting.
Soon we will watch the trees change.
I read a message about how the trees teach us how to let go and right now we are feeling it.
Next week three of our grandchildren move from home and head to college.
Life changes for all of us. They are 18 and considered ‘adult’ but wow it is a big world out there.
I pray always for safety. I pray always for wisdom in their decision making. I pray for health.
It will be a change for sure to have them gone.
When I was 18, I graduated in June and got married in November.
I am not recommending that these days, but it worked for us.
One granddaughter thinks she wants to pursue a forestry program, one wants to be a writer, (they are twins).
Our grandson wants to pursue criminal justice and maybe law. It’s really hard to know what you want to do at this age.
Autumn is a time for change and a time for renewal and a time for school for many children to return to.
The leaves are always so beautiful and often times we get in our car and go for a drive to find the colors.
It is amazing. Not as defined as some states but we do have some beautiful valleys.
I am also waiting for the rain.
The parched land and rivers need it desperately we have had forest fires and without water it’s difficult.
The firefighters are doing their best to put out the fires by helicopters and by land.
It’s definitely a serious time and a time for rain to come and stay for a while.
I am waiting for autumn to arrive.