Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Time for a Caption Contest!

UPDATE: Contest closed, there will be a poll to follow, don't forget to vote! 

So many things I could say....

Here's the deal: If I have at least 10 caption entries (from 10 different people) by 11:00 pm on Friday (approximately 48 hours from now), I will then post a poll with the entries and allow voting. The caption with the most votes will receive a prize... Fitting with the picture theme, I'll be giving away a heated ice scraper to the winner. :)
Happy Captioning!!
(Though I'm sure it won't be an issue, any caption that may be considered as disrespectful will be promptly removed)

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

"I am the Lord's servant..."

I was flipping through my women’s devotional calendar today, reading the devotionals for the days I wasn’t at work, and the verse for Christmas caught my attention. “Mary responded, ‘I am the Lord’s servant, and I am willing to accept whatever he wants. May everything you have said come true.’” Luke 1:38.

“I am the Lord’s servant, and I am willing to accept whatever he wants.” Mary’s statement seems so simple. Have you ever thought about what Mary stood to lose? She’d been told she’d give birth to the Son of God. I’m sure she had to have wondered how Joseph would respond to that. If he hadn’t trusted God or the angel hadn’t reassured him, he very likely would have left Mary to be a single mom. I’m sure being a single mom in that place and time would not have been a very comfortable life... especially for a woman who claimed that the seemingly absent father was God Himself. She risked her comfort, her relationship, her reputation- her future. She was willing to give it all up because God had a plan for her and she trusted Him.

“Lord, I am your servant, and I am willing to accept whatever You want” can be a very scary thing to pray. We never know what He may want because we can’t see the full picture. We can’t know what is coming next and what He may want to use to help prepare us. Sometimes it’s not so hard, but sometimes, it can be devastatingly painful. To pray, “I am willing to accept whatever You want,” we have to be prepared for whatever that may be, though sometimes, I think there is little we can do to truly be “prepared.”

I’d prayed a similar prayer many times before Carys. I knew it might be painful, but I also knew that God loves me, so He would have my best interest in mind. I don’t regret it. As painful as this past year has been, it’s also been beautiful. December 15th marked 1 year from her initial diagnosis, and the 21st was the day her diagnosis was confirmed. Aaron and I have reflected on the past year often over this holiday season. Last Christmas was so difficult. I’d even jokingly asked my friend Leslie if it was possible to pickle your face from crying so much. This Christmas, it all still hurts, but we’re okay. On the way home from work last week, I caught myself in tears and smiling at the same time, thinking of everything that’s happened. The thought crossed my mind that if anyone saw me, they’d think I must be nuts… and that made me laugh… and cry. It was an odd moment, but so characteristic of the way this year has gone. Bittersweet. Maranomi.

I wouldn’t change it. God knows what He’s doing, and He loves me. He’s proven that to me time and time again. If this is where He wants me, there is a purpose in it, and I choose to accept that. Some day, every heartache will fade away. Pain won’t last forever. The bitter will leave and the sweet will remain. I’m so thankful for that promise!

Heavenly Father, I am your servant, and I am willing to accept whatever You want.

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Solomon Was A Rainbow Baby

     Many times, it seems like we skip over the genealogy of Christ as we read the Christmas story in Matthew, but as with all scripture, it’s included for a purpose. As I was reading back through the lineage of Christ recently, a few connections stood out to me a bit more than they once did.
     One name in particular that has always caught my attention is Rahab, or “the prostitute Rahab,” as she was commonly known. Rahab was known by her risqué profession. She was known for her behavior. That is, before she made a life-altering choice. She decided to follow the one and only living God. That choice superseded all previous choices. Her life was no longer the same, and she was able to pass down a legacy of redemption. Can you imagine the story she may have told her children and grand children? “…and then I learned that God loved ME… in spite of all I’d done!”
     Speaking of Rahab’s children and grandchildren, She had a son named Boaz. Boaz grew to be a godly man and was the kinsman-redeemer for Ruth when her husband (his relative) died without giving her children. Boaz did what was right and took responsibility for Ruth, giving her hope for a future; because God had a plan. (I’d written a while back about Ruth and her mother-in-law Naomi in “The New Normal.”) God used Rahab’s dedication and redemption to provide hope for Ruth, who was also dedicated to doing what was right for not only her, but for her mother-in-law.
     Ruth and Boaz then had a son named Obed, who grew to father Jesse. Jesse became the father of King David. Keep in mind the legacy that was being passed along! Each ancestor had such raw, human moments. Mistakes were made, and life was painful at times. There were losses and tears. King David was known as a man after God’s own heart, but even David made sinful, selfish mistakes with painful consequences.
     After David’s affair with Bathsheba and after David had Bathsheba’s husband Uriah murdered, the child that resulted from David’s moment of selfish pleasure became very ill and died, despite David’s pleading. David repented. Solomon was then born to David and his then wife, Bathsheba. Solomon was what is known in the “baby loss world” as a rainbow baby- the baby after the loss of a child, (a storm). From Solomon, the lineage continues, story after story. These are only a few of the ancestors of Jesus’ earthly family. Each generation had storms, but God had a plan. God knew at the time of Rahab what was going to happen in the life of Joseph, years and years down the line. God knew that generations later, He would be sending another child into the world who was going to save the world by reconciling mankind with the Father through the cross. He knew that He would be sending His own son to bridge the gap that was created during the fall in the garden of Eden. God knew. God has a majestic way of working through our painful storms and selfish mistakes to make beautiful things happen. Looking at the genealogy of the Christmas story, we once again have proof that there is a promise of life and hope after the rain.

2 Samuel 12:15-23
 15 After Nathan had gone home, the LORD struck the child that Uriah’s wife had borne to David, and he became ill. 16 David pleaded with God for the child. He fasted and spent the nights lying in sackcloth[b] on the ground. 17 The elders of his household stood beside him to get him up from the ground, but he refused, and he would not eat any food with them.
 18 On the seventh day the child died. David’s attendants were afraid to tell him that the child was dead, for they thought, “While the child was still living, he wouldn’t listen to us when we spoke to him. How can we now tell him the child is dead? He may do something desperate.”
 19 David noticed that his attendants were whispering among themselves, and he realized the child was dead. “Is the child dead?” he asked.
   “Yes,” they replied, “he is dead.”
 20 Then David got up from the ground. After he had washed, put on lotions and changed his clothes, he went into the house of the LORD and worshiped. Then he went to his own house, and at his request they served him food, and he ate.
 21 His attendants asked him, “Why are you acting this way? While the child was alive, you fasted and wept, but now that the child is dead, you get up and eat!”
 22 He answered, “While the child was still alive, I fasted and wept. I thought, ‘Who knows? The LORD may be gracious to me and let the child live.’ 23 But now that he is dead, why should I go on fasting? Can I bring him back again? I will go to him, but he will not return to me.”

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Joy's the Word

Last December, I first heard of The premise of the website is to choose a one-word theme for the year instead of setting the typical New Year’s resolutions. I loved the idea of choosing one word and really dwelling on it to allow God to reveal some truth through it. 
Because of my circumstances, I chose the word JOY. It may seem strange that in the circumstances as they were I chose joy, but I had a very intentional purpose in it. From the time of Carys’ fatal diagnosis in December, I knew the remainder of the pregnancy and the time that followed would be bittersweet. I knew I was going to have one healthy baby and one baby that wouldn’t be able to survive after birth. I also knew I was going to have to find a way to discover joy in the midst of sorrow, and I trusted that God would provide that joy.
In Psalm 30:11 (NIV), King David wrote,  “11 You turned my wailing into dancing; you removed my sackcloth and clothed me with joy…” I’ve learned first-hand that God can do that. He can take our brokenness and turn it into something beautiful. Our suffering can be the source of great joy.
This year has certainly been one of heartache and suffering for my family and me. I’ve never been more broken, beaten down, or utterly weary. At the same time, I’ve never experienced the degree of peace that I have during what would seem to be the worst of moments. However, I can’t truly say this year has been horrible because we’ve had some very amazing things happen along with the painful things. Bittersweet is a word I’ve often used, but it’s also been a year of extremes. The “bad” things have been unbelievably horrid…. But the good? Wow. We have the joy of watching all of Paxton’s firsts while we experience the sorrow of missing Carys. We’ve learned so much about God’s love and the peace of Heaven. We learned more about what is important and what is insignificant. We chose to trust rather than become bitter, and we’ve grown in the joy of a total trust in the Heavenly Father. We’ve worn the sackcloth, but we’ve also been clothed in joy. We’ve also learned that without the sackcloth, we wouldn’t have the ability to experience joy to the same magnificent degree. Circumstances don’t determine our joy; choosing to trust the loving Creator with our circumstances, however, does.