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God is with us

Now the birth of Jesus the Messiah took place in this way. When his mother Mary had been engaged to Joseph, but before they lived together, she was found to be with child from the Holy Spirit. Her husband Joseph, being a righteous man and unwilling to expose her to public disgrace, planned to dismiss her quietly.  But just when he had resolved to do this, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream and said, “Joseph, son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary as your wife, for the child conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit.  She will bear a son, and you are to name him Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins.”  All this took place to fulfill what had been spoken by the Lord through the prophet: 

“Look, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son,  and they shall name him Emmanuel,”

which means, “God is with us.”  When Joseph awoke from sleep, he did as the angel of the Lord commanded him; he took her as his wife,  but had no marital relations with her until she had borne a son; and he named him Jesus. (Matthew 1:18-25)

The Advent Season, which we find ourselves in presently, is a time of preparation as excitement builds and we await the wonder of Christmas morning.  The weeks prior to Christmas are filled with sentimentality— listening to Christmas music on the radio, decorating the house, making cookies from Grandma’s recipe, setting out the nativity scene… Because of the memories associated with this season and the place the Biblical narrative of Jesus’ birth has within it, we often sentimentalize the story as well— thinking of how quaint the stable is, how beautiful and innocent young marry appears, how the animals would have quietly been waiting for Jesus to be born, how the shepherds would have been dressed in clean white linens and humbly made their procession to the place of the birth. We neglect just how radical and other the story really is: God taking a risk by becoming human and entrusting his earthly life to an unwed mother, being brought into this world in the midst of the dirtiness of a barn, greeted by the lowly outcasts (shepherds) and the non Jewish wise men from another region.  We neglect to notice how God is working throughout the entire narrative, calming fears, motivating belief, encouraging action, and patiently waiting on the human participants to embrace their role in the salvation plan.  We forget what a gift it is to proclaim that God is indeed WITH us, that God chooses to communicate, chooses to walk among us, chooses to be in relationship with us.  We fail to notice how terrifying this situation would be for Mary, Joseph and all of the human participants— to have God call them to this, to have God entrust them with this, to have God expect this of them.

The truth of this passage isn’t a claim on that small moment in history, or even the 30+ years of Jesus’ life on earth, it is a claim on all of our lives— GOD IS WITH US. Do we live our lives in a way that reflects this belief?  Do our daily interaction show the world that we believe that there is something to hope for, to hope in?  Do we recognize God in our own life stories?

I was in fourth grade when I was diagnosed with Juvenile Rheumatoid Arthritis.  Early on in my diagnosis, before they were able to balance the dozens of medications I was on, I remember lying awake at night in my parent’s bed, pretending to be asleep so that my mom would sleep too.  I remember one night her weeping, letting go of the strong face that she put on throughout the day and allowing the uncertainty and the pain of watching her daughter suffer wash over her.  I also remember feeling God there with me and a certainty that everything was going to be okay that this wasn’t the end.

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Life in the Unknown


Where have I been? Why the 3 month hiatus?

It has been a crazy three months.  Soon after my last post in August we found out I was pregnant. I can make all sorts of excuses— I felt awful, I was tired all of the time, and I just didn’t have the time… to be honest for the first bit those were pretty accurate.  But once November came, I was feeling pretty back to normal, but still couldn’t bring myself to write anything.

Then it hit me.

Writing is my way of making sense of things— it is how I process, it is how I think, it is how I come to terms with reality.  The reason I wasn’t up for writing is because I wasn’t ready to face my reality— to face my anxieties and fears, my doubts and reservations.

I mean I am pregnant, I knew that.  I had known that since August.  But at first it was “Well I didn’t make it past the first trimester last time”, so until after that bench mark it was hard to really revel in the joy of an anticipated addition to our family.  Then the first trimester came and I found myself saying “yeah but until the anatomy scan at 18 weeks we won’t really know if the baby will make it”.  Then we had the ultrasound and everything looks great and we found out that to our dismay we are having a GIRL!.  Brandon and I just assumed we only make boys and honestly we were okay with that, we know boys, we have boys stuff, another boy would be … well another boy.  But what a hit to find out we are having a GIRL— a great surprise for sure, but a surprise none the less. Even after the ultrasound and the “all looks good” from the doctor, I still find myself incredibly uncertain and anxious.  Like any day it all could change and my heart could be broken again.

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Getting Stuck

School starts next week, summer is just about coming to a close.  What does that mean in eastern Montana? It is FAIR TIME! My boys know that as we start to gear up for the school year, their favorite summer event is coming to town.  At dinner last night they both talked about what rides they think they are tall enough for this year, and how many times they think they will go down the giant slide on the potato sack.  Graham remembered that there will be cotton candy, and Micah chimed in “don’t forget the kettle corn”.  We love the fair. It calls to mind all of the fun we have had with the kids as they run around marveling at the rides, amuse themselves in the fun houses, and try their luck at the games.  Most of the memories we have from the fair are magical.

I say most because two years ago was the first time the boys went on the Farris Wheel. I was nine month pregnant at the time, so I stood below and let Brandon have the fun of taking them on the giant wheel.  Micah was so excited.  He had seen a Farris Wheel in Seattle the year before and had been talking on and off throughout the year of how great it would be to ride it at the fair.  So it was the first ride on the list when we arrived.  Brandon, Micah and Graham all piled into one of the gondolas— the boys with wide, expectant eyes.  Graham was sitting by Brandon and Micah was sitting across.  As they started their ascent, apparently Micah’s wonder and excitement was replaced by a terrified realization of just how high they were.  He was mortified.  Brandon was spending all of his energy trying to keep Micah calm and focused on him instead of the height, and Graham was just sitting next to him quietly enjoying the ride.  Or so we thought.  About halfway around Graham whispered to Brandon “Dad, I’m stuck.” Not making sense of his three year olds whispers, Brandon asked for clarification, “Dad, my finger is stuck.”  graham holeSure enough, while Brandon and Micah had been consumed with Micah’s new fear of heights, Graham had been exploring the physical make up of the cart they were sitting in.  It seemed like one piece of molded metal.  There weren’t joints to get your fingers caught in, or levers to get smushed by… but right next to Graham there was a small hole drilled through the seat.  Not big enough really for anything… well anything but a little three year old’s finger.  So there on the Farris Wheel, Graham inserted his finger into the random hole and got it stuck.  Stuck, stuck.  He had pushed it in all the way past the fatty padded part, and now couldn’t get it pulled back out.


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