This is a New Season!

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There is a new season that I believe God is leading us all into. He is whispering in our ears, He is wooing us with His love, He is drawing us to follow Him out of the desert.  The desert season was full of disappointment and wounds.  It was full of waiting and hope deferred.  Yet God was saying through one of His prophets (Sue Roby), “The Delay is in your favor.”  I tried to hold on to that thought, to continue to believe that all would work out for the good…but I let some of my faith slip away.

A few months ago another prophet (Tony Brazelton) came proclaiming, “The Delay is over!”  My spirit leapt when I heard it. Could it really be time?  The time I had been praying for?  Yet the fear of disappointment almost choked this new hope to death.

In September God gave me two scriptures to read, Isaiah 65 and Psalm 144.  These same scriptures had been a source of strength during the lowest point in our lives as a family.

Is 65 had been God’s way of announcing to me that I was pregnant, back in 2010.  Verse 9 says, “I will bring forth descendants from Jacob, and from Judah those who will possess my mountains; my chosen people will inherit them, and there will my servants live.”

I was happy to be pregnant and to feel the presence of a fresh new spirit within me.  I didn’t even need to take a pregnancy test.  Yet also I was ashamed.  Ashamed that I was pregnant for the fourth time in 5 years.  Ashamed that we still lived in a two bedroom townhouse and had to go to the health clinic for lower income families in Colorado Springs.  Ashamed that we struggled to pay our bills and had to set up a nursery for our baby in our walk-in closet.

The baby girl was due in January.  Right before Christmas Chris was laid off from his job.  We didn’t know what we would do.  We tried to enjoy Christmas as the debts grew.  I had a difficult time with Ashlyn’s birth which I wrote about in Birth Story Part 3.  Yet when she was born I was filled with peace and bliss.  My perfect baby girl!  God was so good!

The very next day the doctor informed us (devoid of compassion) that something was definitely wrong with our baby, but they didn’t know what.  Then began the many tests and scans.  Problems were found in her lungs, diaphragm, and heart.  We didn’t know what was going on.  We asked our church to pray and the only word they had for us was that this was my fault, that I was being too prideful.  I asked God if they were right.

That is when God gave me Ps. 144.  I felt peace flood my soul as I read:

“Then our sons in their youth will be like well-nurtured plants, and our daughters will be like pillars carved to adorn a palace.  Our barns will be filled with every kind of provision. Our sheep will increase by thousands, by tens of thousands in our fields; our oxen will draw heavy loads. There will be no breaching of walls, no going into captivity, no cry of distress in our streets.”

Amazingly Ashlyn was cleared and was released to go home after just two days, a perfectly healthy baby girl!

ashlynA perfect baby girl…until the results of the Chromosomal analysis came back.  A part of her 6th chromosome was missing but no one knew what that meant.  No one had ever seen this before.  We began this journey of parenting a special child, one who didn’t grow and develop like the other children.  One who had to wear a brace for a dislocated hip and a patch for strabismus in her eyes.  A child who needed physical therapy to learn to sit up and occupational therapy to learn to drink from a cup.

This is when Is. 65 became even more meaningful.  God had brought her forth and had told me that she was destined to take mountains.  She was not a mistake!

By April Chris still hadn’t found a full time job.  Our church kicked us out and shunned us.  Our mortgage and second mortgage were threatening to foreclose.  Our townhome association was threatening to take us to court.  Ps 144 didn’t appear to be true for us.

Yet God worked His miracles, one at a time.  He gave Chris a new job, sold our townhouse, brought us home to Pennsylvania, led us out of debt, and blessed Ashlyn with supernatural health.  More financial struggles, hardships with the children, and failed business ventures followed.  But we were home in the land of our inheritance.  We had friends, family, and a church that loved us!

When I started reading Is. 65 and Ps. 144 again this September, I was reminded of the encouragement I had received from them years ago.  Yet, I didn’t really want to delve into them, to relive the pain we had been through.  I kinda thought, “I know these verses inside and out.  I’ve been there and done that and I DON’T want to do it again.  Can’t I read something else?”

But I felt God saying, “Take another look.”

I discovered that these words, written thousands of years ago, were perfectly tailored for my life.  Not just my life back in 2010, but my life in 2017 and beyond.  I received revelations that I was not able to receive back then.  That our church in Colorado was not pleasing to God, but HE HAD BROUGHT US OUT OF IT to possess His Mountains.  Not because of anything we had done but because His faithfulness, He saved us from that situation and now we are taking mountains for His Kingdom.

Then I saw all the promises that God had for His servants (Is. 65, verse 13).  We will eat, drink, rejoice, and never be put to shame!  This has happened in our lives.

Then I read a verse that I had never noticed before, verse 16b.

“For the past troubles will be forgotten and hidden from my eyes.”

If God can forget the past, why couldn’t I?  I felt Him saying to me, “I am bringing you into something new, something you haven’t seen before.  You don’t have to interpret current events through your past experiences.  You don’t have to look into the future through the lens of the past.  I am going to give you a new perspective.”

I had been gaining a different perspective, an aerial view like that of an eagle.  I didn’t want my thinking to be clouded by people’s opinions, ever changing circumstances, or the dark clouds of depression.  I wanted to be seated with Christ in heavenly places, to see things from his Eternal perspective.  God was telling me that I was meant to be an eagle.   I was trying to fly, but I really needed some help.

I asked God to let me see a real eagle, and He answered my prayer just weeks later on our family vacation up north.  See my previous articles, “A Hawk, A Vulture, and an Eagle Part 1 and Part 2.”  I felt elated!  I felt inspired!  I felt ready to fly!

Of course vacation has to end and normal life has to begin again.  Could I see an eagle during the course of my daily routine? Chances were no.

I have made a weekly trek to a farm for years now.  At first I never noticed the birds flying in the sky.  Not because they were not there, but because I was not looking.  After God started speaking to me about being an eagle, I began to search the skies.  I loved watching all the birds – the swallows, the robins, the wrens, the sparrows, and even the crows.  They looked so free.  Even better that those birds were the large birds that flew high above the rest.  I felt inspired by their flight…until I realized that they were vultures.

Months I spent searching the sky for eagles only to see vultures, buzzards, and more vultures!  Ahggggggg!  At the end of October I made this trip for the 20 zillionth time.  I saw a large bird swooping down over the highway.  Another vulture, I said to myself.  Still, when I got close enough I turned my eyes away from the highway and up to the sky just long enough to see…

A bald eagle!  I saw the brilliant white head and the powerful straight wings!  I was not expecting that at all!  An eagle in my own neck of the woods!  In the midst of my normal routine!

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This seemed very significant so I asked God if there was something He wanted to tell me.  Immediately I heard this verse on my Bible CD:

“‘The One who is coming will come.  He will not be late.  The person who is right with me will have life because of his faith.  But if he turns back with fear, I will not be please with him.’

But we are not those who turn back and are lost.  We are people who have faith and are saved.” Hebrews 10:35-39 (ICB)

Fear has been my normal reaction to many things, so normal I hardly realize that I am choosing fear over faith.  But I am not one who turns back!  I am one who believes!  I will choose faith!

I heard God say to me, “I want you to be ready to see eagles where in the past only the vultures flew.”

Christmas and the Seasons of My Life

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I love the Christmas season.  I am sorry to see it end so quickly.  As I enjoyed the sights and sounds and smells of this glorious time, I remembered all of the Christmases that I have known.

As a child, the magic of Christmas emerged from the basement and took residence in our home once again, as we hung our stockings, trimmed our tree and set up the manger scene.  I would study the solemn cast of characters in the small wooden stable all covered with moss.  I would lie under our artificial tree, looking up through the branches at the multicolored lights and soak in the wonder of it all.  We would attend our Quaker Meeting’s yearly tradition; a potluck dinner (with an entire room full of desserts) followed by a carol sing and candlelight service.

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I would sit on a bench in that meeting room surrounded by the scent of evergreen branches and the flickering, golden light.  I would listen to the members of the congregation read the Christmas story from the Bible.  The words sounded so beautiful and sacred to me.

I remember the Christmases of my teenage years.  I had a small group of friends who were all very talented singers.  I could sing a melody clear and true.  My friends could harmonize any song in the most beautiful way.  We began a tradition of gathering at my house and then venturing out into the cold to sing carols to my neighbors.  The most beautiful music I have ever heard was made by our voices lifted into the frosty night air.  I felt so blessed to be a part of that wonderful sound of praise.  I have not been able to make such beautiful melodies matched with such lovely harmonies since that season, and I miss it, especially at Christmas.  I console myself with the thought that someday heaven will be filled with music like that all the time!

I think back to our very first Christmas as a married couple.  We were excited to have some family and friends over to our very first place for Christmas dinner.  It was only a tiny apartment with no real furniture, but it was ours.  We got a little tree and decorated it with the set of tiny, wooden ornaments that my grandmother had given us…our only ornaments!

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Those precious little things have since gone into hiding, being choking hazards and not suitable for a house perpetually inhabited by at least one baby and one toddler.  But that Christmas, there were no babies yet.  I wanted to make some dessert for our dinner, yet I hadn’t planned ahead.  I had only flour, sugar, and some Hershey Kisses.  I made a trip to the closest gas station (the only place open on Christmas morning) and made some short bread.  That evening, everyone piled into our small kitchen to eat around card tables, and it seemed a very joyous occasion.

I remember Christmases with little ones.  It was hard to keep the ornaments on the tree, and the wrapping paper was much more appreciated than the gifts themselves.  I remember the 7 Christmases that I was pregnant.  I wasn’t feeling very good during most of those, and didn’t care if we even put up a tree.  But I still enjoyed the joy and excitement in those little faces.

One of our children was conceived over the Christmas holiday.  What a precious gift!  The baby was a boy, and all our boys have names that begin with the letter “C.”  Chris and I joked that we should name him, Colorado Christmas Conception.  We decided to go with Chai Erik instead!

This year was a lovely Christmas.  I was pregnant but feeling very good!

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We had our 8th annual Christmas party with a house full of friends and caroling around the neighbor hood.

Chai demonstrating the joy of caroling!

Chai demonstrating the joy of caroling!

We attended the candlelight service at our church and felt that holiness again.  On Christmas morning our house was full of two parents, one grandmother, teenagers, preteens, children, and a toddler.

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We had a little of everything from toys to video games,

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from big helpers to little messer-uppers.

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  A glorious chaos of noise and joy,

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frustration and love!

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I wanted to soak in every detail of the present Christmas, as I knew it would never come around again.

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The teenagers will be thinking about college.  The preteens will become teens.  The younger ones will grow into more mature ones.

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We will get older and wiser and never be quite the same people we are right now.  Only God knows what each new Christmas will bring.  My vision of Christmas future is a huge dining room table surrounded by my children, their spouses, and their children; my grandchildren!  There could end up being quite a lot of them…perhaps 10, 20, 30, or more!

Looking back over all the Christmas seasons of my life there is a common thread.  Always there is Jesus, lying in the manger; whether he is small or large,

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made from wood or ceramic,

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set up high on a self or cradled in the arms of a child.

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Jesus is always there.  Yet the baby Jesus is just a symbol…a symbol of God’s amazing, crazy, unfathomable love!

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Jesus is a baby so longer.  He grew and became a man.  He pleased his Father in every way.  He was obedient in everything, even obedient to die on a cross.  He was revealed as the Lamb that was slain before the foundations of the world.  He decided to die for us before any of us were even here.  He set us free to enjoy all the wonderment and joy that the human heart can possess!

Yet looking back, I also see him as a Lion.  The Lion of the Tribe of Judah, always at my side, whether I knew He was there or not.  A strong and ferocious kind of God; violent in dealing with my enemies and fears and doubts, unrelenting in His jealousy for me, bold and courageous in the ways He loves me, yet soft and gentle when He draws me near.  That Lion was always with me; during the innocent years of childlike faith when I would talk to Him every night before falling asleep.  During the cynical early teenage years when I sat in that candlelight service and thought how foolish someone must be to believe that a baby born in Bethlehem was actually God.  During my last years in High School, discovering the wonder of a real God who loved me just as I was.  During my young married years when I didn’t know very much about anything.  During all of the pregnancies and births and babies and toddlers and growing and learning and sorrows and joys.  Jesus was there!

The Great I AM limited Himself to the smallness and helplessness of a baby just so He could always and forever BE WITH US!  May we never get over the miracle of Christmas; that the Lion and the Lamb, the Almighty God IS WITH US!  And we can spend eternity exploring the height and depth and breadth of His great love for us.

Merry Christmas!!!