The last of the painting projects for 2012 is completed. The lime green dresser plus the bright orange walls in the baby’s room will most certainly instill in the child a love of all things neon and all things 80s.
Am I the only person who’s over the moon with excitement about Les Mis the movie? I’ve been listening to the soundtrack all day today and trying not to cry. I’m sure the neighbors have been enjoying my singing as well (windows are open due to painting). That’s one of the benefits about living in a neighborhood full of crime, homelessness and people with mental illnesses. You are never the weirdest person on the block. We’ve pushed this theory pretty far and have yet to be proven wrong.
There’s so much swirling in my brain today, but I want to tell you about Leora. Two months ago, I let the dog out before we went to bed, and she was sitting on our porch. Hard to tell, but she appears to be about 55 years old, very sick, clearly homeless. We spoke for a while. I gave her a blanket, dinner and some juice and said goodnight. I couldn’t sleep all night. It felt so ugly and so wrong. I have three empty beds in my apartment, and yet she was sleeping outside. Why couldn’t I get the courage to invite her in?
This morning, she was back. She looked slightly better but still struggling. We spoke again for a while. She was very excited about the pregnancy and offered lots of advice about how to stay healthy. This time, I invited her in for breakfast. She declined, and I was admittedly relieved. We spoke some more. She told be about her daughters. She has MRSA, which has rendered her left arm immobile and makes it virtually impossible for her to be admitted into any shelter. Then she asked if she could come in and use the bathroom.
My earlier courage had dwindled, but I couldn’t say no now! I led her inside. The Spirit was so loud in my mind, but the battle was raging. Scripture poured into my mind – love others as you love yourself, whatever you do to the least of these, you do to me, and of course, Isaiah 58:
“Is not this the kind of fasting I have chosen:
to loose the chains of injustice
and untie the cords of the yoke,
to set the oppressed free
and break every yoke?
Is it not to share your food with the hungry
and to provide the poor wanderer with shelter—
when you see the naked, to clothe them,
and not to turn away from your own flesh and blood?
At the same time, my mind was going over all the reasons why this was a terrible idea. Contagious, flesh-eating bacteria aside, I immediately panicked wondering if she might try to kill me once we got inside. [I know, I’m insane.] Considering she couldn’t use her left arm and could barely walk, I decided that even 8 months pregnant, I could take her.
Obviously, there were no incidents. Everyone survived the trip to the bathroom. [She did offer to clean my apartment. She was concerned the dust might harm the baby. Ok, ok! I’ll clean. Jeez.]
Ugh. I am so broken by this. Why is loving another human being so hard? I literally had to repeat to myself over and over – this is a child of God, a human being, someone’s daughter, someone’s mother. It’s quite disgusting the thoughts I was having and the concerns that kept popping into my head.
I always like to think that if we were missionaries living in Africa, we would have needy people parading through our home. Ha! That’s quite an elaborate fantasy. Will I be getting a brian transplant before we leave? Am I going to be a different person in that scenario?
I don’t have any answers. I do know that God is sending Leora to me to challenge me. I actually laughed with joy when I saw her this morning. So happy to have another opportunity to try again. I was honored that she felt safe enough to come back and remembered our last visit. Not for my own glory but because she must have felt loved in some small way. And she is! God loves her so much.
I feel a little like the Grinch when his small shriveled heart grew three sizes in one day. God blessed my small, insignificant, pathetic attempt at being a decent human being. God is molding me. It hurts, but it’s working.
Ok, Jean Valjean is singing “Who Am I,” and I’m seriously going to start weeping. Too much love in my heart!
For Advent this year, I want to reflect on the Old Testament verses that prophesied the coming of Jesus.
Today, we’ll start in the beginning – Genesis 3:15. This is God’s proclamation to the serpent after Adam and Eve sinned. It’s the very first reference to Jesus.
“I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and her offspring; he shall bruise your head, and you shall bruise his heel.”
I never really thought much about this verse before, but when since we learned it’s significance when we studied Genesis, I feel like it comes up all the time. Not only does it prophesy that Jesus will come as a man, but it addresses Jesus’ ultimate defeat of Satan. It also references the fact that Satan will get a good shot in and bruise Jesus (Jesus will suffer and die), but of course, Satan will be crushed.
We had a great Thanksgiving in Cincinnati with my in-laws. It was the first time we’ve all been together in five years, and it was a lot of fun. We have five nephews ages 3-10, and they played together so well. Reminds me of holidays growing up, playing with my cousins. It felt like a real holiday.
The only real downside was that so many people were sick. It will be a real Thanksgiving miracle if I don’t get deathly ill this week. Kids are little germ machines. Not sure I will ever be able to get over that.
I love the holiday season. I cooked all afternoon today listening to my Neil Diamond Christmas Pandora station. We haven’t put up our tree yet, but hope to this week. BB is singing a Messiah concert on Saturday and a Christmas concert on Sunday. I plan to make cookies tomorrow. The holiday traditions are so cheery.
I love the anticipation of Christmas. Yesterday’s sermon was called The Awaited Son. The idea of the Jews, angels, shepherds, Magi, Mary all waiting for this cosmic miracle fills me with wonder and joy. What a day. The birth of Jesus is the most important moment in human history.
I feel some extra anticipation this year with the birth of our child expected in January. While not a cosmic miracle with all the ramifications, it’s certainly a miracle we’ve waited for for many years. I have all the fears and expectations you would expect.
Spending Thanksgiving with our family really made me feel loved. We have had so much love and support from everyone in our family through infertility, IVF, adoption and now pregnancy. It’s quite encouraging that everyone has stuck with us from the beginning. I couldn’t help but feel overwhelmed. There’s such anticipation with this baby, and I can’t help but worry that I will let everyone down again. I know it’s out of my control, but when it’s your body, you can’t help but feel responsible. So many people are counting on this joy. I must turn it over to Him. It’s a good reminder of my weakness. My lack of trust. Makes me extra thankful for Jesus’ coming.
Being with family always leads to good discussion about our sin. It’s so easy to see where our weaknesses are when we are with people related to us and people who challenge us. We spent a lot of time discussing how it would be so nice if we could really conquer our sin – we know what it is. We know how to stop it. But our flesh is so weak. So much so that God had to orchestrate a supernatural occurrence to save us. No amount of our efforts will ever make a dent in our sin. It’s discouraging, but a message of hope. Jesus conquered our sin for us. We will continue to struggle until our own death, but the real battle was won in the days that followed the birth of the Savior.
Ask and you shall receive. I’m not going to lie. For three months, it’s been sort of nice just focusing on the day to day, dreaming about just having one little baby to take care of next year, paying off our debt, and otherwise enjoying drama-free life.
You have to remember that I spent four months of this year believing that I would be having four kids at the same time. I started off 2012 adopting two kids, then we added a third in March, and by May, we were pregnant. As my friend put it, we were collecting kids like some people collect bobbleheads. It was nutty, people! At the same time, it was exciting. It’s fun to be pushed beyond your limit by a God who can provide all you need. I liked really being able to test his promises and had been looking forward to doing it more so once we got the kids home.
Alas, life has been a little boring over here. We are ready to spice things up. No, there are no more kids to add in 2012 (as far as I know). But, God is back at work – stirring up the pot and giving me way more than I can handle. I don’t have any details or news. I can just sense that God is working to throw another wrench in my life. My sabbatical will likely be coming to a close soon.
Yesterday, our pastor spoke on the fruit of the spirit. Galatians 5:17 says: “For the flesh desires what is contrary to the Spirit, and the Spirit what is contrary to the flesh. They are in conflict with each other, so that you are not to do whatever you want.” My flesh wants predictability, ease, comfort, plans. The Spirit is contrary to that. The Spirit is fighting a war, bringing about big change in the world. The pruning is painful and involves suffering. Rebirth is bloody and messy.
I don’t know for sure what God has in store for us (He never tells me his plans). I’ve been “dating” a lot of different ministries for the past year. I’ve got irons in the fire all over the place – waiting for my cue to jump in with both feet. My heart is on fire for about 10 different issues. Last week alone I went to events on women in the sex industry, the church and the gay community and sex trafficking in America. I’m ready for God to push me on one direction, and I think He will very soon.
I knew it wouldn’t last. Rest on earth is always only temporary. There’s work to be done, and I can’t sit on the sidelines (nor do I want to). God has big plans, and I asked for them.
How have I been so busy? I feel like I’m barely home these days. BB keeps nagging me about never being around – somehow I’ve been a busy woman.
On Saturday I had the pleasure of attending a workshop featuring the ministry of Eve’s Angels (http://www.evesangels.org/). I met Anny in September when she spoke at the Moody Church. Anny shared her amazing testimony about how she had been working in the sex industry for a number of years when God God radically saved her and rescued her from a very dark place. Since her own rescue, she has made it her life’s mission to show the love of God to other women in similar situations.
Eve’s Angels leads Bible studies for women, visits them at the clubs, delivers gift bags to them, operates a booth at the national porn conventions, prays for the women, and helps them get out when they want to leave. Anny’s passion is contagious, and she so clearly loves these women as children of God. In fact, while at the conference, a woman raised her hand and asked for help getting out of the industry. That night, Anny took her to clean out her locker, and she was baptized the next day. I so believe in this ministry, and I can’t wait to see how the Lord leads me to be more involved. Praise God for Anny!
Hearing Anny’s story and seeing her passion is truly convicting to me. I left feeling invigorated and excited. I was somewhat disheartened though, realizing that I just don’t get fired up for the Lord that often. There have been times in my life where I was more regularly seeing God work around me, but lately, I haven’t been paying attention or putting myself in spots to see how powerful he and real he is.
It’s made me want to pray for him to keep pushing me outside my comfort zone and take me to places where he is changing lives. It’s hard to believe in a God that you don’t see, and it’s hard to truly believe that he is real if you aren’t seeing him really work. I want to keep getting stretched. These are risky prayers because God usually answers them with a yes. I think my rest period is coming to an end. It’s time to get back out on the front line.
I voted. I don’t feel great about it this year.
It’s not political. Regarding the presidential choices, I just don’t think there’s much of a difference this year. I honestly don’t think that in 4 years you would be able to say who was President if you didn’t know. So, I don’t see much reason to get worked up about it.
Everyone gets nauseated about the vitriole spewed and the dramatic language people use. It’s always been that way. It’s not getting worse. If you go back and read about the race between John Adams and Thomas Jefferson, you will see the same thing. I’m sure lots of old white men threatened to move back to England if their candidate didn’t win.
So, we voted. Now what? We get fired up about issues every 2 or 4 years and do all this work posting on FB about our political beliefs and arguing at dinner parties about the issues, but I can’t help but feel like voting is just one of the many ways we have to try and change society.
It’s easy to vote. It’s one day, and it’s basically fun. You have an excuse to be late to work. It’s hard to actually do things.
For instance, let’s take abortion. I’m picking this because it’s a huge voting issue for a lot of people, even though in my personal opinion, voting does very little to change this issue in either direction. But, it’s an issue people feel passionately about, and I get it.
The interesting thing about abortion is that most people believe that it would be good if the number of abortions went down. The groups tend to disagree about the method of getting that number down, focusing mostly on legality and access. This morning, as I listened to people at my church talk about how important it is to vote for candidates who don’t support the legalization of abortion [none of which is running for President, mind you], the Holy Spirit spoke to my heart.
I know so many people who are passionately against abortion, but I don’t know a lot of people who are actively trying to help women who are considering it. I started thinking about the ways we as a body of believers can get in the trenches to support women in difficult situations.
What if our churches provided free day cares for single parents?
What if we were willing to have our taxes increased to pay for support services, good education, and health care for women? Or if you freak out about raising taxes, what if we donated the money?
What if we supported programs to mentor young girls and empower them to make healthy choices?
What if we were willing to adopt babies with special needs?
What if we took in foster children and raised them as our own?
What if we fostered adolescent girls in our homes with their babies?
Would some of these things actually help to lower the abortion rates in our country?
See, it’s easy to vote. To pass out flyers and videos with gruesome photos. To call people murderers. To tell people to get a job. To say it’s not my problem.
Those aren’t biblical values. Jesus calls us to sell everything and give it to the poor. He commands that we love our neighbors as ourselves. He tells us to take up the cross and follow him – to be crucified alongside of him.
Vote or don’t vote. I’ve not seen a no biblical command to do either. But, Jesus did say “as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers, you did it to me.” That command I want to take seriously.