Thursday, December 22, 2011

Merry Christmas!

One of my favorite parts of the Christmas season is hearing the good news of Jesus being born proclaimed by Christians and non-Christians alike through Christmas carols. People of all ages know the story of Jesus coming to earth as a baby, even if only because they are singing about it 

Perhaps God knew that Jesus coming as a baby would make a longer lasting impression than a king coming to earth, like the Jews expected to see Him. If Jesus had come as a king, the people of that day would have treated him differently. The world's attention would be captivated by this "king" and every move He made, but would that wonder have remained through the decades and centuries to follow? If He had come as a king, my guess is that people would have looked back at Him as just another ruler who wanted to bring His way to the earth. Many men have made a resounding impact on history as a ruler. No one, except Jesus, has made a resounding impact because they were born.

Let me put it this way: If God has come in a big, grandiose way, perhaps the wonder of His coming that leaves people singing songs about it today wouldn't have mesmerized the world for years to come.

God knows how we as humans think. He knows that the unassuming birth of a baby in a stable - with miraculous happenings surrounding the birth - would captivate the attention of the world throughout all time.

Speaking of attention and fascination, last night Erik and I were reading Luke chapter 2, probably the most common telling of the Christmas story. After the shepherds were visited by the angels, this is what happens (verses 15-18):

And it came to pass, as the angels were gone away from them into heaven, the shepherds said one to another, Let us now go even unto Bethlehem, and see this thing which is come to pass, which the Lord hath made known unto us.
And they came with haste, and found Mary, and Joseph, and the babe lying in a manger.
And when they had seen it, they made known abroad the saying which was told them concerning this child.
And all they that heard it wondered at those things which were told them by the shepherds.

I noticed that after the shepherds spread the news of baby Jesus, "all they that heard it wondered at those things which were told them by the shepherds." 

They wondered and marveled at the news - but they didn't rush to see Jesus. I don't know if that happened or the Bible didn't include that part or it wasn't the culture of the day to visit new babies, but I got stuck on that last night. In my head, that "wonder" the Bible records could have been, "Wow, that's a great story!" or "Really? That's crazy!" and as soon as the shepherds left, "Wonder if that really happened!"

Did they chalk up the story to drunkeness or craziness on the shepherd's part? Shepherds were low on the totem pole of life in those days. Did they truly believe what had just happened? Maybe they did and they were truly fascinated, but I wonder if the news changed any of their lives. 

So I ask myself this: do the wonder and miracles of the Christmas story mesmerize me? If so, do I let that wonder transform my belief in God and remind me of His miracle-working power? Or do I just chalk it up to a crazy tale?

All that to say, may the glory of Christmas and the wonder of God's story truly fill your hearts and lives this Christmas season. 

Merry Christmas! 

Love, Erik, Laura, and Baby Brayden...

....and Tucker!

P.S. Last year, I wrote another post about Christmas that also explores the wonder of the Christmas story. If you're up for another read, you can read the full post here.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

unanswered prayer

It's hard in our finite, limited knowledge to know what to do when we don't see our prayers answered the way we expect God to. Why doesn't God just give us what He says He will... healing, deliverance, financial freedom, etc.?

I don't know. I know enough Scripture to be dangerous and give you a bunch of rules and regulations - essentially a checklist for your prayers. Make sure you ask in faith, without doubt, with the right heart motive, etc. But God is not a checklist to be followed. You'll see variety throughout the Bible - even variety in the way He answers prayers. I think back to all the people Jesus healed and how every healing looked different. I think the same remains true today. Every healing and every answered prayer will look different. Sometimes it will look exactly as you had planned; other times it will be completely unexpected. I think it's important to seek God for yourself and find out what God wants you to do in each situation that arises.

I googled "unanswered prayer" and Garth Brooks' song came up (dear heaven, am I really using a country song again in my blog? What's happening!!). It's called Unanswered Prayers. The verse basically says that he and his wife were visiting his hometown and ran into his high school flame - the lady he had prayed God would let him marry. He quickly came to the conclusion he was glad he hadn't married her! The chorus goes:

Sometimes I thank God, for unanswered prayers 
Remember when you’re talkin’ to the man upstairs 
That just because he doesn’t answer doesn’t mean he don’t care 
Some of God’s greatest gifts, are unanswered prayers.

It reminds me that we have an idea in our heads of how our lives should turn out. In this case, that high school beauty queen was exactly who Garth wanted to marry - when he was 18. God knows, though, the whole story. He knows what we'll need at 18, 30, 50, and 76. He knows what other people will need from us. He also knows how the whole world works together and how our lives fit into the bigger picture.

And somehow if my little world crumbles because my prayers go unanswered once again, I should do my best to remember:

a) Isaiah 55:8-9 "For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways," declares the Lord. "As the heavens are higher than the earth so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts." (a.k.a. God is smarter than me)

b) Galatians 6:9 "Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up." (a.k.a. Don't quit!)

When I don't give up - I keep living for God as best as I can while trusting Him to perform His Word - God will respond. It may not look exactly like I had planned (see point a) and I can almost guarantee it won't happen when I planned (see point a) but it doesn't give me a reason to quit (see point b).

It reminds me of one other song - a worship one by Rita Springer - that calms me when I hear it.

I don't understand Your ways
Oh but I will give You my song
Give You all of my praise
You hold on to all my pain
With it You are pulling me closer
And pulling me into Your ways

Now around every corner
And up every mountain
I'm not looking for crowns
Or the water from fountains
I'm desperate in seeking, frantic believing
That the sight of Your face
Is all that I need
I will say to You

It's gonna be worth it
It's gonna be worth it
It's gonna be worth it all
I believe this
It's gonna be worth it
It's gonna be worth it
It's gonna be worth it all
I believe this

You're gonna be worth it
You're gonna be worth it
You're gonna be worth it all
I believe this
You're gonna be worth it
You're gonna be worth it
You're gonna be worth it all
I believe this 

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

my pregnancy story continues

I'm learning more and more that everyone has a story in life. Everyone has difficulties and things they will face that make up their story. Some stories are complicated and start early on. Some complications don't wrinkle stories until later on in life.

The crazy thing is that you will always (repeat: always!) be able to find a story that is "worse" than yours and one that is "better" than yours. The solution, I'm finding, is to take your story and make do with it the best you can. Don't compare your highs and lows to other people; just keep trucking along to live out the story that is your life. God knows your story; He knows other people's stories and He knows why you got the story you did and someone else got a different story.

I never realized how many different pregnancy stories there could be. Some people's story is infertility. Other people's story is miscarriages. Others yet, the baby doesn't make it inside the womb. Other yet, the mother's body doesn't carry to full-term all that well.

Each of these types of stories have victories and tragedies at the end. From adoption to full-term babies to miracle preterm births to who knows what else, happy endings are always a possibility. Unfortunately, the happy endings often start with heartbreak.

For me, the first pregnancy was great, and we didn't know there was a problem until too late. During this second pregnancy, we are aware my body is the one that has potential problems in going full-term. As a result, we've been able to take precautionary measures that have kept baby in until 34 weeks and 4 days--and counting!

It hasn't been easy. On Monday I went in with preterm labor, although I wasn't sure if it was a false alarm or what was going on. Thankfully, I did go in and they could stop the labor. They also gave baby a steroid that helps stabilize and build his lungs even quicker, in case he would come early. (Thank you, Lord, for all these technological advancements!)

Last night I ended up back in the hospital with questionable things going on. Turns out I got a huge infection common to pregnancy that somehow popped up between Monday and Thursday. I'm on an antibiotic now, and doing my best to rest well!

All that to say, baby and I are well. I'm tired. Baby's active, and we're both still truckin' to the finish line. Soon I'll be posting with pictures of our baby! I can't even fathom it. I'm sure I'll be crying many times in the future over my gratefulness.

Friday, December 9, 2011

today's top 5 (12/9/11)

1. 33 weeks 4 days, baby is still cooking! The countdown continues... three days until I'm 34 weeks along, two and a half weeks until the cerclage comes out, after which baby will be free to come when he wants. We're hoping for 38-40 weeks, which is four and a half to six and a half weeks away. Wow! I'm so grateful I'm this far along and baby is healthy. I'm glad I'm healthy and we only have a few more weeks of waiting. Thank you, Lord, for bringing me this far and that you'll continue to bring me and baby all the way to full-term!

2. Podcasts. Yesterday and today I listened to the same podcast message from Pastor John Hagee. It encourages me and reminds me that God is on my side. No matter what circumstances look like, God is stable and faithful and will bring about His deliverance and freedom in the end. A couple quotes I liked (I could literally copy down the first five minutes it was so encouraging!):
"Never rewrite your theology to accommodate a tragedy going on in your life."
"Fit your situation to the Bible and press forward to the destiny God has for you."

3. Friends. Okay this one often makes it on my top 5 list just because every time I see my friends, I'm grateful for them. :-) They make me smile and laugh; they give me a place to share my thoughts, and they take care of me. Thank you to my wonderful friends for being such a light and encouraging part of my life!

4. Laughter. So a week or so ago I was telling Erik something and starting laughing pretty hard at my story and Erik looked at me and said something like, "You've been cooped up way too long." Since then I realized that I've been laughing perhaps a little too hard at my own jokes! I think I've been holed up on the sofa so long just dealing with the regular ins and outs of our house life as well as a heightened sensitivity to this pregnancy... all that to say, I haven't been out much with people and I fully take advantage of any opportunity to laugh and sometimes it might be harder than the joke warrants, but laughter is wonderful and makes me feel good. :-)

5. Food! LOL... I just had an amazing piece of garlic bread (compliments of a wonderful friend who brought over dinner) and I love enjoying wonderful bits of goodness like that!

I guess I have a #6 today... it's Friday and that means we're heading into another weekend! Which means at the end of the weekend I'll be 34 weeks along... every single day and moment counts for my baby!

Have a wonderful weekend!