"Once our eyes are opened, we cannot pretend we don't know what to do. God, who weighs our hearts and keeps our souls, knows that we know, and holds us responsible to act." Proverbs 24:12

“There are no strangers here; Only friends you haven’t yet met.”- William Butler Yeats

Friday, January 17, 2014

I am Fearfully and Wonderfully Made

"For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well. My frame was not hidden from you when I was made in the secret place,when I was woven together in the depths of the earth. Your eyes saw my unformed body; all the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be. How precious to me are your thoughts,[a] God,How vast is the sum of them! Were I to count them,they would outnumber the grains of sand — when I awake, I am still with you."

- Psalm 139:13-18 

You are, indeed!  You're perfect in every way!

As I read this verse and was studying this morning for my Sunday School class this weekend, I was awestruck again by the awesomeness of God's incomparable attributes.  His omniscience, omnipotence and omnipresence doesn't allow one small detail of our lives to escape from his grasp.

Former Surgeon General, Everett Koop said, "When I graduated medical school the idea was, "How can I save this life?   Today, medical school graduates instead say, "Should I save this life?"   That saddens me, to the core of my being.  If it breaks my heart, can you imagine what it does to God's heart?

Every life he creates, every single one that he knits together in the womb of that mother, he creates with a purpose.  God makes no mistakes.  Ever.

Most of you know, but for new readers, I have six precious gifts that God has allowed to call me, "Mama". We intentionally adopted two special needs sweeties, and a third one of our adoptions that wasn't to be a special need, was born with a heart defect, which by the Grace of God, healed itself.

Several times, especially with our biggest 'need' boy, who is looking at yet another surgery in the very near future, we hear, "But, why me?" or  "Why was I born with this?"   As a Mama, it is heartbreaking and I wish I could take that cup away from them, but I know, with every fiber of my being , and I'll repeat it again, God makes NO mistakes!  Ever!  (Yes, you just read that in the previous paragraph.)  

Although it didn't appear like he was in much distress in this picture, here's our little trooper being Life Flighted to Miami, after doctors realized that his needs were beyond their expertise, in the city where we lived.  He received there his 7th surgery.

My response to them when these questions arise, always goes back to Ephesians 2:10.

I've looked into sadden, or pain filled eyes and many times said something like this:

"You know, God created every single, little part of you.  He knows every hair on your head and every cell in your body, because he made you!  When you were born, he held you up, looked closely at you and said, "AJ/Kai/Anna Grace, YOU are my masterpiece!!   There is no one in the entire world, out of all of those billions of people I created, that is like you.  YOU ARE PERFECT!"  Always remember that, because he does not make mistakes.  He can't!  He's God!  And, do you know why I know this?  Because he says so in his Word.  Ephesians 2:10 says, "For we are God's masterpiece.  He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so we can do the good things He planned for us long ago."  He has big plans for you, just like he promised in Jeremiah 29:11, and maybe those plans have something to do with that very special gift you were born with."

Our baby girl going through her 2nd hand surgery to repair a part of her birth defect.

Whenever they question their imperfections, I remind them of who they are in Christ, and they believe it....with all of their little hearts, because it's true.  Oh, if we as adults could have the faith of a child.  If we could see ourselves the way that Christ sees us, what a different world we would live in.  Not because we'd all go around thinking we're perfect, but because we'd all go around knowing a perfect God created us and is in every detail, of every second of our lives.  What a mighty God we serve!

Kai sleeping during one of the many, many, MANY sleep studies he has had due 
to his apnea, caused by his severe cleft palate.

This year we will be celebrating acknowledging the 41st anniversary of Roe vs. Wade.  In 2013, there were approximately 1.21 million abortions performed in the U.S. alone.  


That figure would be like wiping out the entire state of Rhode Island AND one third of the state of Delaware!   121,000,000 BABIES....dead.  121,000,000 lives that could have changed the world we live in.  

Did you know that most women in a crisis pregnancies who are given a glimpse of the life within them, choose life?  Yes, up to 70% of women who see their baby in an ultrasound, will not have an abortion.  Yet, our current administration, with the most radical pro-abortion president in the history of our nation, continues to use taxpayer monies to fund Planned Parenthood, the number one baby killing machine in the world.

As I continued reading about the newest statistics, I read that the Down Syndrome rate had greatly dropped in the US.  Yaay!  I was excited!  Wonderful news!  Umm...until I read why.  Then, once again, my heart broke into pieces.  According to research reviews done by Dr. Brian Skotko, a pediatric geneticist at Children's Hospital in Boston, he states that "An estimated 92% of all women who receive a prenatal diagnosis of Down Syndrome, choose to terminate their pregnancies."  Most insurance companies now cover genetic testing for chromosomal abnormalities, including Down Syndrome, in utero, because it is much less expensive for them to kill a baby, than it is to have one born with a genetic birth defect.

Meet precious Colin.  This scrumptious little man belongs to a long-distance, sweet friend of mine, who allowed me to share his overwhelming cuteness with you.   I have the honor of  not only keeping up with his adorable antics and giggles, but sharing in the joy that he brings his family.  Colin is a treasured, blessing from God.

There are waiting lists filled with families wanting to adopt these special angels.  I read somewhere once, that "having a child with Down Syndrome, is like taking the scenic route.  It may take you a little longer to get there, but it is so worth the trip."

Colin eating his first Oreo cookie.  Think this is a happy baby?   Hmmm.  Just a tad, eh?  

There, I gave y'all a triple dose of pure cuteness, cause I'm nice like that.  :)

Having so many friends with special needs children, not to mention with our own sweet babies, I am blessed to witness daily what a difference love and a family make in the life of a child.. Special needs does not necessarily mean being 'disabled'. Special needs can range from a child that is wheelchair bound, to Attachment Disorders, to a congenital or birth defect to what may seem as simple as a child with ADHD.

I have yet to meet a parent of a child with any special need, who has regretted having that child in their life. Don't get me wrong.  I'm not saying it's easy, for the child or the parent.  There have been times when I've cried out in complete frustration, "Why God?", or "I don't think I could handle this, Lord", or "It's not fair!"   But, for those few and far between moments of insanity , there are thousands of blessed moments when you look at that child and gasp at their inner or outer beauty (or both!), when the kindness and compassion they share, even though they are struggling, make you learn a lesson you will never forget, or when you tuck them in safely at night, and they softly whisper, "Goodnight, Mama. I love you." as they wrap their arms around you for one more kiss.  Those are the moments that are worth every second of every tough situation you will ever face.

Every Mama and Daddy I know, grow to fiercely love and protect their children, especially those with a special needs. The fear of the unknown melted away when they held that child for the first time, whether at birth or an adopted older child.  They've withstood stranger's looks and rude remarks in grocery stores and in parks.  They've cried and hugged their child when others have made fun of them, and they've spent many sleepless nights wondering what tomorrow will bring, what the doctor will say, or will their child ever be healed.  But, most importantly, they've made their child feel like they are exactly what God created them to be, "a masterpiece", regardless of what the world thinks or says.

Friends, each and every person God creates is fearfully and wonderfully made. After David praised God for his magnificent works in creating him, he made sure to note the days ahead of him were filled with God's plans.  The days God gives us are in keeping with his perfect plan for our lives.  Even before you lived your first day as a baby, the Lord had a plan for you.  And, it wasn't just any 'ol plan, it was a plan to prosper you and give you hope and a future. A good future, filled with abundant joy.

No matter what our days bring, and it won't always be rainbows and butterflies, we have the blessed assurance that God has a plan for each and every one of us.  He considers our life precious and perfect and sacred, as is everything he does.  We may not always understand the whys of what happens, but nothing's a surprise to him.  If we could pick up the phone and call him, I'm pretty sure he'd be saying, "I know.  I know.  You don't fully understand, and that's okay.  I made it that way intentionally.  You don't need to.  I've got this!"    He reminds us of this in his Word.  Proverbs 3:5, "Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your understanding." He repeats Himself in Isaiah 55:9, "For as the Heavens are the higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts higher than your thoughts."

I will end this post with a poem written by Erma Bombeck that I read many years ago.  I am honored, privileged and blessed that God thought enough of me, a whiny, selfish, lacking-patience, ordinary woman, to be called Mama by such amazing children.  I take no credit, but if there's anything special about me, it's the fact that I was chosen by HIM for the job!   Thank you, Jesus!

The Special Mother
by Erma Bombeck

Most women become mothers by accident, some by choice, a few by social pressures and a couple by habit.

This year nearly 100,000 women will become mothers of handicapped children. Did you ever wonder how mothers of handicapped children are chosen?

Somehow I visualize God hovering over earth selecting his instruments for propagation with great care and deliberation. As He observes, He instructs His angels to make notes in a giant ledger.

"Armstrong, Beth; son. Patron saint...give her Gerard. He's used to profanity."

"Forrest, Marjorie; daughter. Patron saint, Cecelia."

"Rutledge, Carrie; twins. Patron saint, Matthew."

Finally He passes a name to an angel and smiles, "Give her a handicapped child."

The angel is curious. "Why this one God? She's so happy."

"Exactly," smiles God, "Could I give a handicapped child to a mother who does not know laughter? That would be cruel."

"But has she patience?" asks the angel.

"I don't want her to have too much patience or she will drown in a sea of self-pity and despair. Once the shock and resentment wears off, she'll handle it."
"I watched her today. She has that feeling of self and independence that is so rare and so necessary in a mother. You see, the child I'm going to give her has her own world. She has to make her live in her world and that's not going to be easy."

"But, Lord, I don't think she even believes in you." God smiles, "No matter, I can fix that. This one is perfect - she has just enough selfishness." 

The angel gasps - "selfishness? is that a virtue?"

God nods. "If she can't separate herself from the child occasionally, she'll never survive. Yes, here is a woman whom I will bless with a child less than perfect. She doesn't realize it yet, but she is to be envied. She will never take for granted a 'spoken word'". She will never consider a "step" ordinary. When her child says 'Mama' for the first time, she will be present at a miracle, and will know it!"

"I will permit her to see clearly the things I see...ignorance, cruelty, prejudice....and allow her to rise above them. She will never be alone. I will be at her side every minute of every day of her life, because she is doing My work as surely as if she is here by My side".

"And what about her Patron saint?" asks the angel, his pen poised in mid-air.

God smiles, "A mirror will suffice."


Dear friends, be blessed and continue to be a voice for those who cannot speak up for themselves.

*Special thanks to Melissa M. for letting me share her piece of heaven, Colin, with the blog world.


Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Wanting to Be Radiantly Radical!

As I sit in a world filled with political correctness, and with people trying to be tolerant and accepting of everyone and everything, I've been thinking about how radical Jesus is and was. Jesus always swam upstream. He never went with the flow. 

Everything surrounding Jesus brought dissension to a world that had never encountered anyone like Him.  He didn't waiver.  He remained firm in the Father.

From birth to death, His life was controversial. He intentionally created it to be that way.

Mary, a young virgin girl, was gossiped about and shunned by many in her village because of the child she was carrying in her womb. Joseph considered leaving his betrothed because of the controversy Mary's pregnancy would bring about.

Jesus was God's answer to humanity's desperate need for salvation.  Yet, even as a babe, delivered in the most humble of ways into a world He owned and created, Kings felt threatened by Him.

One of His most radical teachings, especially during that time period was found in Matthew 5:43, "You have heard that it was said, “Love your neighbor and hate your enemy.” But I tell you: Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you..."   The way of life back in the first century was to HATE your enemy, especially if you were religious.  If you despised and killed those that were against God, the sinners, you were righteous.  The most common, and obviously erroneous belief, among the Jews awaiting the Messiah, is that He would come as a warrior, a King that would destroy all the evil of the world.  Jesus debunked that with His "LOVE YOUR ENEMIES" teachings.  When asked, "What is the greatest commandment?", again He had no fear in telling a particular Pharisee that was an expert in the law, "Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments." (Matthew 22:37-40)   Pretty darn radical, I'd say, especially when they expected to hear something to the effect of slaughter all those that oppose God.

We find many instances where Jesus, in today's world, would be thought of as a trouble maker, or a rebel.  It was scandalous and almost hard to comprehend that a Jew, claiming to be the Son of God, would extend God's Grace and Mercies to Gentiles.  In Acts 15, the Council at Jerusalem argued the fact that if indeed, this was the case, Gentiles would need to be circumcised and follow the law.  It was always about the law with the righteous.  They didn't get it.

Can you imagine the amount frustration that the Apostles might have had?  At this very important meeting, Peter's frustration showed, as he was trying to get them to understand that it was Grace through faith that saved man, not all the laws they kept insisting upon. Peter said, "
God, who knows the heart, showed that he accepted them by giving the Holy Spirit to them, just as he did to us. He did not discriminate between us and them, for he purified their hearts by faith. Now then, why do you try to test God by putting on the necks of Gentiles a yoke that neither we nor our ancestors have been able to bear? No! We believe it is through the grace of our Lord Jesus that we are saved, just as they are.” (Acts 15:8-11)

So, if they were that frustrated, can you envision Jesus' frustration?  He had traveled the countryside performing miracles, healing the sick, making the lame walk, giving sight to the blind, and yet, the Pharisees and Jews that were threatened by Him, refused to believe who He said He was.  

So, what did Jesus do?  Did he take the PC way and say, "It's okay.  You have your right to your own opinions. We should all just live and let live.  Let's all just get along."  Hec no! He got in their faces and said, "Why is my language not clear to you? Because you are unable to hear what I say. You belong to your father, the devil, and you want to carry out your father’s desires. He was a murderer from the beginning, not holding to the truth, for there is no truth in him. When he lies, he speaks his native language, for he is a liar and the father of lies. Yet because I tell the truth, you do not believe me!" (John 8:43-45)  Yeah, He was frustrated! He spoke how I speak to my children sometimes in moment of frustration where I say, "What language do I speak in that you do not understand, "pick up your toys!"  If you're a real Mama, I know you know that level of frustration.  Jesus did, too.  He didn't mince words.  In fact, He went further.  He told them that they 'belong to the devil'.  Yikes!  Strong stuff!

The Jews hated the Samaritans because they were half-breeds. They were thought to be unclean. They'd walk from Jerusalem to Jericho, and up the Jordan valley, for days instead of taking the direct route through Samaria, which was only 70 miles, just so they wouldn't have contact with any Samaritans. Jesus went through Samaria, where he ended up meeting the woman at the well. (John 4)

It doesn't get any plainer, folks.  He had a purpose, and He focused on that purpose, disregarding what others may have thought about Him going through 'unclean' territory. Imagine that.  The Son of God, the King of Kings, walking through 'the hood'!

"While he was in Bethany, reclining at the table in the home of Simon the Leper, a woman came with an alabaster jar of very expensive perfume, made of pure nard. She broke the jar and poured the perfume on his head.  Some of those present were saying indignantly to one another, “Why this waste of perfume? It could have been sold for more than a year’s wages and the money given to the poor.” And they rebuked her harshly. “Leave her alone,” said Jesus. “Why are you bothering her? She has done a beautiful thing to me. The poor you will always have with you, and you can help them any time you want. But you will not always have me." - Mark 14:3-7

"LEAVE HER ALONE!", He said.   He wasn't really rollin' with the punches there, was He?

The righteous that were dining with Jesus could only see dollar signs.  The perfume was worth 300 denarii, more than a year's worth of pay.  They again, just didn't 'get it'.  The sacrifice this woman made to honor who she knew was the Son of God, was so much greater at that moment, that it didn't make her think twice.  She gave not because she wanted something in return, but because she knew He was IT.  HE WAS THE ONE!  Jesus knew this and went against what everyone surrounding Him believed, that money should have gone to the poor.  He saw her heart.  They saw a waste of worldly deeds.

These are just very few examples of how Jesus revolutionized the world He came into with his radical teachings.  A couple of others off of the top of my head was the turning of the tables at the temple and the adulterous woman he saved from stoning.  Which, by the way, He wasn't being tolerant of, He made it clear that sin was not okay, when He told her to go and sin no more.

The Old Testament is filled with laws, laws that eventually showed man that they were not, and are not capable of being good and righteous enough, ever, to the extent of what God is and expects. Paul tells us that "we all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God."  (Romans 3:23)  God knew this, so He sent His Son to stand in the gap.  Jesus is the ONLY way to salvation.  Ever. (John 14:6)Jesus was controversial all the way to the cross. Even after death, they feared Him and there was controversy.

But, Jesus didn't come into the world to candy coat the Father's message.  His words were sharp, radical, and poignant.  Colossans 3:23 tells us that "whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for men."

Do I live my life like that?  Do I stop and think, "Am I swimming upstream for Jesus?"  Could I, a mere stay-at-home-Mom, make a difference in a world so fallen that it seems at times that there is no turning back?  Is my love for Jesus showing by living a lukewarm life, or am I carrying Jesus' radical character when it comes to standing for the Father?  Do I remember who I am in God?  He not only desires this of me, but He expects it.

A. W. Tozer said, "What I believe about God, is the most important thing about me."   I believe that with all my  heart.  I want to be a fool for Jesus!  I want to be radical in serving Him!  I want to be a branch overflowing with fruit!  I want to be on fire and passionate for Him, filled with His love and Grace!  I want to always be able to forgive and stand up for what is right, even if I am the only one standing! 

But mostly, I want to be the reason He created me, I want to be like Christ.

How about you?

"Am I now trying to win the approval of human beings, or of God? Or am I trying to please people? If I were still trying to please people, I would not be a servant of Christ." - Galatians 1:10


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