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mangerThe gifts are all wrapped, the house has been cleaned, everything at work has been completed.  All the deadlines of newsletters, Christmas cards, and shopping have been met.  In just a few hours, our church will begin their Christmas Eve services, family will be coming over, and I’ll be bombarded with the eager excited voices of my children.  In this quiet time at work, I just want to breathe and to reflect on Christmas.

Tonight is the night we have chosen to celebrate the birth of Jesus.  What must it have been like for the shepherds?  I imagine they were humble people for they were considered to be the “bottom rung” of society. Feeling the boredom of watching the sheep graze,  they  probably huddled together in attempts to keep warm, quietly chatting to keep themselves awake not realizing the miracle that was about to unfold.

What of the wise men?  Even though they weren’t there for the birth, but were there 2 years later, what struggles did they face in their journey?  To step out into the unknown, leaving behind what they knew, to reach for something based upon their studies and a star shows an extreme act of faith!  How many of us would do that?

What of Mary?  Being nine months pregnant, balancing herself and her big belly on top of a wobbly donkey, and sleeping on the hard ground, must have been torture; and yet, she did it.  And Joseph?  The feelings that he must have wrestled with knowing that the baby was not his and not fully understanding the miracle that he was chosen to take part in.

And Jesus?  I imagine his little pudgy baby arms flailing in the cold as he was introduced to this new harsh world.  As Mary, Joseph and the shepherds watched, did they know that those little hands would someday have a nail driven through them?  Did they know that his tiny infant cries would turn into screams of agony as he takes the punishment of the whole world?  Did they understand how his heart would break for thousands of years to come as people would reject his love and sacrifice?  Did they know that someday, this little baby would come back as a King and right the world?  Most likely not, but we can know.

Christmas is the day we’ve chosen to celebrate not just Jesus’ birth, but the beginning of our redemption.  If you have not yet accepted his gift of forgiveness and sacrifice, I urge you to do so.

I’d like to wish you all a Merry Christmas!

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Christmas Lived Out

I’m a Hallmark Christmas movie fanatic.  There’s nothing better than making it through a long work week to come home curl up with a cup of hot chocolate and watch a movie about love and sacrifice.  This past weekend, I felt as if I was in one of those movies.

Our non-profit, The Trail Youth Outreach, held its first Christmas event for people in crisis.   All over the community, people rose to the occasion to give and to collect warm coats, hats, gloves, hoodies, hand warmers, and toiletries.                     Teams of peopleCopy of IMG_5448 tirelessly wrapped each item in colorful festive Christmas paper.  When all the gifts were brought to one place, I stood amazed at the generosity of the community.  There was such an abundance that we had to move the gift tables outside!  As those in crisis came to the Community Hall for the normal dinner hour, they were shocked and excited.  They had a lot of fun digging through packages to find what they needed.  Thank you to all of you who donated, collected, and wrapped the gifts!

Copy of IMG_5471A shout out also needs to go to Maggiano’s who provided a real Italian experience with their cuisine.  Josh Roth, the restaurant’s manager stayed and worked alongside another community group in the set up and serving of the food.

No event is complete without music!  Dan Hegelund and his Common Copy of IMG_5489Ground Choir made a special appearance gracing us with Christmas carols.  To top off the evening, everyone was sent off with a cup of specialty hot chocolate and coffee made by the teens of the Trail Youth.

The left over gifts and coats were divided up and sent to our sister outreach in Tacoma and the Teen Challenge Rehab. in Graham!

What is the true meaning of Christmas?  The movies often get it right, it’s about giving not receiving.  Christmas is about love, sacrifice, and the giving of hope.  On December 12th, Christmas was lived out.  Thank you to all of you who participated!

Copy of IMG_5510    Merry Christmas, from the Trail Youth Team

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December 12th!!!  Today is the day!  I feel as if I’m reading a mystery book.  As I’m drawing closer to the end, my anticipation builds with excitement and curiosity.  How is this going to end?

Yesterday was another God moment.  A women’s Bible study group met together to wrap the gifts they all had gathered.  Clothes and coats were heaped along with hand warmers and goodies.  With much care, these ladies took sweaters and matched them up with hats, scarves, and gloves wrapping them as a set.  When they were all finished, they called me in (I was in the office working).  It was so hard to thank them for the tears kept coming!  We had to call in another vehicle to transport all the gifts!

This is the true meaning of Christmas being lived out in the lives of all these people.  Jesus gave of Himself for all of us, how can we do any less?

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Along with all the donations of clothing, one community group really wanted to be responsible for providing the food for the December 12 Christmas Extravaganza for the homeless.  A week ago, I received a phone call from one of the men who was organizing it.  He said that he ordered meals from Maggiano’s Italian Restaurant!    For those of you who aren’t familiar with Maggiano’s, it’s a very popular place out here in Seattle – absolutely wonderful food.

In the course of ordering the food, Maggiano’s asked what the food was for.  After the man explained about this special event, Maggiano told him not to worry about payment, they would like to provide this for free and will throw in some extra!

God provides for every detail!

A Teenager’s Vision

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It was just a simple question that started this whole December 12th event.  The ladies Bible study at my church wanted to know if they could do a project for our non-profit.  We didn’t really have anything for them to do, so I asked if they could find some items such as coats, socks, hats, etc.  From that point on, this event grew.

The free meals was willing to let us serve a meal, bring a choir, serve specialty coffees, read the Christmas story, and pass out gifts.  As people began hearing about it through word of mouth, the interest grew.  Soon, my parents’ community group was asking to help.  One woman from the group told her teenage daughter about it.  After hearing about this, the daughter wanted to get involved.  She made 90+ fliers and passed them out in the neighborhood!

I just received the email this morning that she was able to collect 7 trash bags filled with clothes, 6 grocery bags filled with items, 39 bags of toiletries, ciders, hot chocolate packets, hand warmers, and the list goes on AND this is only the beginning!

Never did I imagine that the news would spread and so many would step up to help.  With God, ALL things are possible!

A Disaster Thwarted

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Along with doing something good, often something bad will occur to offset the good.  Preparations for this Friday’s Christmas Extravaganza for the homeless have been going very well.  In the back of my mind, I kept wondering when the “bad” was going to creep in, not because I’m a negative person.  It’s just that I have been through 19 years of being in the ministry, and I’ve seen the pattern and have learned to watch for it.  Sure enough it happened.

I received a call one day from one of the women that attends the free meals.  She is a special lady to us, always in our corner.  She expressed a need for a car to get to her doctor’s appointments.  Through a series of miracles, we were able to obtain a car for free!

The car had one problem though, the cellanoid had to be replaced, but she said that she had the money to get it fixed.  She was ecstatic and we were thrilled along with her.  Then all of a sudden her attitude changed.  She began accusing Linda, our team member who gave her the car, of tampering with the it.  We were shocked and dismayed.  Because she is considered to be the “grandma” of the free meals, we were worried how her public accusations would hurt the event and our reputation.  There was nothing we could do but to pray and to continue to show her kindness.

Last Friday, my husband, Josh, went to free meals in hopes to talk to her.  Much to his surprise, as he walked into free meals, he saw “grandma” eating at the same table with Linda!  The two of them were chatting as if nothing had ever happened.  When the meal was over, Linda gave her a ride home.

This Friday is a special night and God protected this event!  God is the revealer of truth and the healer of relationships!  All is well and we are on track to have a great evening!

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Terrified excitement is what I’m feeling this week!  Coming Friday, Dec. 12th, our non-profit is hosting its first ever Christmas Extravaganza for the homeless complete with a choir, catered food, specialty coffees/hot chocolates, and presents!  It was a simple spark of an idea which spread into a forest fire.  I feel as if I am a bystander watching God move in unimaginable ways!  That’s what makes it so exciting, yet terrifying because I have little control on the outcome.

Amazing heart felt stories fire which bring tears to my eyes are already coming from this little spark turned forest fire.   Each day leading up to the 12th, I am going to attempt to share these stories.  Our desire is that everyone sees and feels the love of Jesus this Christmas season whether it’s through a cup of coffee, a warm coat, or a story on a blog.