Breaking Lent to reflect on purpose….

I’m breaking my fast from “social networking” in the evenings for just a moment to reflect on what flooded my emotions tonight.

Just by chance, on two separate occasions today, I was asked to recount the circumstances of my firstborn’s birth. A very long story short, Erin was born, by emergency c-section, over two months early weighing 2# 14oz because I had HELLP Syndrome. The nurses told me a few days later that I almost died from complications including the rupture of my liver. As I reflect, there were SO MANY details of the story that I KNOW God stepped in and changed the trajectory of where I was headed. (Those amazing details will be saved for a later, much longer post.)

Also tonight, I was taking care of updating some billing information for a mission we give to–New Missions Systems International. On their front page they tell of a mom of four in their organization that died recently from brain bleeding complications from eclampsia (most likely the same as the HELLP Syndrome that I had). My heart hurts for her family. I was overwhelmed by the fact that my family’s life would be totally different (and basically non-existent) if God had not stepped in during those couple weeks previous to Erin’s birth.

Why me, Lord? Why did you save me? What do you want of me? What do you want of our family? We have been given a second chance. I don’t want to miss you in the mundane of life. I want to make everything I do count. I do not want to get so busy with our American, self-sufficient way of life that I forget that you are my Creator, my Redeemer, My Savior (in more ways than one), my Lord. I know I don’t have to do giant things to be worthy of your love and approval, but I do want to please you in the little things and allow you to work through me so that whatever I do, big or small, it is ONLY because of your grace and only for YOUR glory. Whether I am a big toe or a shoulder, an eyelash or an eyeball, I truly want to know that I am following YOUR purposes for me. Lord, “thank you” is not enough, but I don’t know what else to say…..

“Ama-se-ganalo” (thank you in Amharic/Ethiopian).

Some Christmas Perspective

I don’t know how likely it is that I can get anyone to watch a couple videos during this busy season, but I would like to challenge you to take 12 minutes to watch some of my favorite YouTube videos. They help remind me of what is most important in life and all we have to be grateful for, as well as a challenge to myself to try to make a difference. It is especially relevant during the Christmas season. I now challenge you–it will be worth your time, or your money back!  Please comment if any of them moved you so you can, in turn, encourage others.

Does your Christmas nativity scene have a dragon?

I saw a large red dragon… He stood before the woman as she was about to give birth to her child, ready to devour the baby as soon as it was born. She gave birth to a boy who was to rule all nations with an iron rod. And the child was snatched away from the dragon and was caught up to God and to his throne.

Most of us know the Christmas story from the Biblical accounts in Matthew and Luke. Those of us who grew up watching the classic TV special “A Charlie Brown Christmas” likely remember Linus’ recitation of Luke 2.8-14:

And there were in the same country shepherds abiding in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night. And, lo, the angel of the Lord came upon them, and the glory of the Lord shone round about them: and they were sore afraid. And the angel said unto them, Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord. And this shall be a sign unto you; Ye shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger. And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God, and saying, Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men.

Did you know that there’s another version of the Christmas story in the Bible, one without shepherds and sheep, one that portrays what was most certainly not a silent night?

Our friend and mentor, Dr. Bob Lowery, points to the story in Revelation 12.1-5.

Yes, Revelation.

Dr. Lowery suggests that this version written by the apostle John is “a PG-13, if not R-rated, rendering of the story.” John’s story doesn’t have lowing cattle and a straw-filled manger but instead has a fierce and terrible dragon, hungry for the flesh of a newborn baby.

Read Dr. Lowery’s meditation and see if your nativity scene needs a dragon, too.

The photo above shows one of our nativity scenes with the dragon poised to snatch up the baby. (IMPORTANT: if you read to the end of the story, the baby wins.)

Early Christmas present!

Thanks so much for your prayers! We finally got the call today (after 11 weeks!) that our background clearance papers had come through! Now we will have our home study completed and be able to pass it on to the next place. There will possibly be another long wait, so please keep praying!

I would like to share a couple things that God is teaching me through all this. One is that while I was reading Revelation last night, I was reminded of how much Satan is not wanting adoptions to happen. In my understanding of Scripture, orphans and others who are often forgotten are who God wants as our top priorities. And just like the red dragon in Rev. 12 is waiting to snatch that baby away from Mary, and then he goes on “to make war against the rest of her offspring–those who obey God’s commandments and and hold to the testimony of Jesus” (v. 17), he is still doing his best to ruin the plans of God and so many families obeying Him through adoption. But Satan doesn’t win. God snatches the baby to Himself before the dragon can even blink an eye (v. 5)! And if God cares so much for orphans, then He is watching over them wherever they are, whether they are “home” with us or not. They belong to Him first and foremost! It is not about us or our wait–it is about those children, and we can rest assured that He is taking care of them! I have to trust Him with ALL my children–they are HIS first.

Secondly, I wanted to share another special gift God gave me today. Almost a month ago, I decided that I needed to be praying and fasting about this paperwork that was taking so long. So I chose Tuesdays to do so with today being the last day (before all the Christmas traveling). I also invited a good friend to participate with me. Today she asked to come over so we could pray together. When she got here I checked my email once more to see if there was any word, but there was none. So we talked about our emotions, about Scripture, and about what God was doing in us through this. Just before we were about to pray, I got the phone call with news that our paperwork had finally come! Not only was this a gift of good news, but also a gift of timing. He didn’t have to do things that way. So to me He was showing us that he was honoring our small sacrifice of food and heard our earnest prayers, and that He is right “here with us” in all of our struggles and our service to Him. Thank you Immanuel, for all of your gifts, great and small, during this Christmas season!

Paper Pregnant

We are still waiting on that little piece of paper. I think this is comparable to the 2nd month of pregnancy when you don’t feel good and you think that 9 months will be FOREVER!! But as I was praying about it and reading Revelation (where I happen to be in my reading plan), I was reminded that God is on His THRONE, and that nothing happens–good or bad–without His approval. Maybe there is a good reason for the wait that I will understand later, maybe not. But I know that no matter what, I can trust the One Who Sits on the Throne.

Day and night they never stop saying: “Holy, holy, holy is the Lord God Almighty, who was, and is, and is to come.” (Rev 4:8b)

“You are worthy, our Lord and God,
to receive glory and honor and power,
for you created all things,
and by your will they were created
and have their being.” (Rev 4:11)