Wednesday, December 18, 2013

On Trusting Well

Last week, I talked about waiting well this Advent season. But Advent is not just about waiting well, it's also about trusting well. Nowhere do we see this more clearly than in the story of Mary, the mother of Jesus.

Imagine being a teenage girl, a virgin at that, and suddenly being told (by an angel) that you are going to become pregnant. And not just pregnant, but pregnant by God. And not just pregnant by God, but pregnant with God incarnate. I remember being a teenager and I don't know how I would have handled that news. Most likely way worse than Mary did.

In a few short moments, Mary's entire world was turned upside down. She was betrothed to a man. She was suddenly pregnant with a baby that did not come from this man. And in her culture this was a literal death sentence. In an instant, she was faced with the possibility of sudden death or lifelong banishment from society.

Yet, how does she respond?

"Behold, I am the servant of the Lord; let it be to me according to your word" (Luke 1:38).

Here, in these short verses, Mary is exhibiting great trust in God and his word. She is not questioning God or his plan. She is not fretting over what could happen to her. She is not talking back or trying to control the situation. She is simply trusting God and taking him at his word.

Wherever you are this Christmas season, you most likely are in a time of having to trust God. The same God who was worthy of Mary's trust is worthy of yours as well. The God who came to earth and fulfilled all of his promises through his own birth, death, and resurrection still speaks today.

Mary, like Zechariah and Elizabeth, was waiting on this promised Messiah. When her circumstances looked at best uncertain, and at worst very dire, she trusted in the God who fulfills all of his promises. May we have faith to do the same.

Friday, December 13, 2013

10 Months: A Twin Update

It is so hard to believe they are 10 months already. Getting into the double digits with them makes me feel like this baby stage is quickly leaving us. And while I'm excited about the future with them, there is something about the cuddliness and sweetness of the baby stage that I will most certainly miss. It has been a while since I updated on these little twinsies, so I figured it was about time.
They are growing every day and busy as can be. They are all boy. They like to crawl, climb, pull up, and get into anything they can get their little hands on. Zach is a "swiper", as we like to call him. If you aren't careful, he will swipe anything, things like knives off the table, food off your plate, or the paper that seems out of reach. Luke is our bouncer. He likes to bounce all of the time. He also likes to stand, which can prove challenging at times. They are very happy little guys. And social. I am pretty sure they have never met a stranger. This is very comforting for me when I leave them in the nursery at church or have a babysitter for them.
Luke is still in physical therapy and helmet therapy, but doing better every week. We are so pleased with his progress. Zach is still bigger than Luke. He even likes to exert his physical dominance by stealing toys from Luke regularly. Poor Lukey doesn't mind, but Zach minds a lot when Luke takes his toys! They are learning how to babble and say things like "ma-ma" and "da-da" and even can wave and say "ba-ba"! Zach can't say it much yet, but Luke is getting there!
They absolutely love each other. It is such a joy to watch. They are never far away from each other, and if they are, they quickly come back together. Zach makes Luke laugh all of the time and I only wish I knew what he was doing that was so funny to him!
It's hard to believe that a mere 10 months ago they were my little NICU babies. God has done so much in growing them, changing them, and protecting them. They are the sweetest blessing to us and we are so very thankful for them. When I think of the Christmases without a baby, and how my heart longed for full arms, I never imagined both of my arms would be full. And full they are! We are truly celebrating God's kindness to us this Christmas. His kindness in sustaining us in the years of miscarriage and infertility. And his kindness in giving us these little miracles. We love them so!

Here are some more pictures of them in action!

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

On Waiting Well

I mentioned last week that I am going to be writing a brief series on the wonder of Christmas. The Gospel accounts of Christ's birth never cease to amaze me. Every year I find myself overwhelmed by all that God reveals to us through these short verses in the Bible.

One such story that moves me is the one of Zechariah and Elizabeth. During our period of infertility (brief by their standards!) this story ministered to me in so many ways. In that time period, to be barren was a cultural death sentence. To be unable to bring a child into the world meant you were viewed as cursed. Yet, they remained faithful. Luke 1:6 tells us:

"And they were both righteous before God, walking blamelessly in all the commandments and statues of the Lord."

I can only imagine what years of infertility would do to a person and their trust in God. It can go two ways, can't it? You can either renounce God for his perceived failure to give you what you've asked for, or you can trust him for his good plan for your life. Zechariah and Elizabeth did the latter. And  God remembered them.

And isn't that just like God--to wait until the man-made attempts at anything are completely out of the question? There was no physical way possible for Elizabeth to conceive, and yet she did. God keeps his promises.

So what does it look like to wait well this Advent season, and every season? Luke goes on to say that Zechariah continued to serve in his role as priest (vs. 8). And he continued to pray. In all of his years of longing and waiting for God to open his wife's womb, in his old age he remained faithful. Faithfulness is measured by the daily obedience's. It is seen over the long haul, when hope seems gone and circumstances are overwhelming. Faithfulness is seen in trusting in the One who keeps us faithful to the end. That is what Zechariah and Elizabeth did. Every year, when God seemed to be forgetting them yet again, they continued to trust him.

But they didn't just trust him for their personal lives. They trusted him for the salvation of their own people as well. I don't think it is a coincidence that the waiting of Zechariah and Elizabeth for a child is placed within the greater story of the people of Israel waiting on their Messiah. They weren't just waiting for a baby. They were waiting for God to fulfill his promises to them through the long-awaited Christ. Their righteousness before God was evidenced by their faithfulness in waiting for both of these things when many around them would (and had) long given up.

We can learn a lot from them about waiting well. Whether we are waiting for God to answer a personal prayer or a collective prayer for his return, we are all waiting for something. Do we give up when it feels like it's never going to be realized in our lifetime? Or do we continue to entrust ourselves to the God who hears and answers every prayer in his time?

May we all learn to wait well this Advent season and in the years to come.

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

The Wonder of the Incarnation

Christmas is my favorite time of year. I love Christmas so much that I have been known to bust out the Christmas music in October. My husband loves Thanksgiving, so he makes sure we don't let his favorite holiday get eclipsed by the Christmas creep. If it were up to me, we would start spreading the Christmas cheer November 1. But alas.

As I've gotten older, Christmas has become more and more meaningful to me. Maybe it's the abundance of childhood memories I can draw upon every time I decorate the Christmas tree with thirty years worth of ornaments from my mom. Maybe it's the excitement of watching (and reciting) A Charlie Brown Christmas one more time. But I think it's something even more than that. Christmas continues to move me because I've grown in my love for the Savior we celebrate. Christmas moves me because, as our pastor said last Sunday, it's about the greatest miracle that ever happened--the eternal Word became flesh. God became a man. And not just a man, but a baby.

The wonder of Christmas for me is not in the traditions, decorating, presents, or even time with family (though these are all wonderful blessings I greatly enjoy). The wonder of Christmas is in the amazing reality of the incarnation. The God who made and sustains everything humbled himself by becoming a little baby so he could rescue us from our sins.

What good news!

So as I begin this Advent season, I want to take this in and treasure it for all it is worth. I want to marvel at the kindness of God to send his Son for us. I want to worship at the feet of this Christ, who made himself nothing so we could have everything. I want to sing the familiar Christmas tunes with greater zeal because my heart has been stirred to see Christ in greater measure. And I want to long for his return again.

Christmas is truly the most wonderful time of the year.

Because Christmas is the most wonderful time of the year (in my opinion!), this is the first in a series of posts about the wonder and anticipation of Christmas. Stay tuned for more!