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Growing Grasshopper

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My last post, about a month ago, focused on the emotions associated with pregnancy after loss.  I was struggling with the juxtaposition of excitement and fear.  I was envious of women who do not have that conflict in their pregnancies.  I think what I was trying to get across in that post that women who are “PALs” (pregnancy after loss) have some struggles to which those around them should be sensitive.  We’re happy and excited.  But we’re also keenly aware of the fragility of pregnancy at any stage. I don’t know if I conveyed that or not.

I would like to let any of my faithful readers know that even as I wrote that, I was working with my health care team to address my anxieties and issues in a healthy and beneficial way.  To that end, I’m doing much better now.  That is not to say that anxiety is eradicated, but I’m managing it well.

And Grasshopper is growing (as am I)! We had our anatomy scan this past Friday.  Steven is still not allowed in the appointments with me (we’re hoping that will change by July) and I was slightly apprehensive.  However, the first thing the technician did was confirm Grasshopper’s strong heartbeat and then we moved from his (I’m just picking a pronoun. . .) head to his toes.

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Grasshopper gets ready to hide his face.

All of the anatomy was accounted for and located in the appropriate places.  The tiny little kidneys were both getting blood.  The belly didn’t look so tiny, though I’m sure it’s perspective.  My favorite was a little video of the arm coming up to the face.  It’s as if he’s waving and saying, “Hi, Mama!” I was also amused that every time she turned on the 3D scanner, he would waste little time getting his hands and arms up around his face.  My doctor has declared everything “beautiful” and predicted a big baby in our future. . .Grasshopper measured 2 weeks further along than I actually am.  No, the due date isn’t wrong. Both sides of the family just grow ’em big.  (I was a whopping 12lbs 9oz. . .but that’s a story for later). When Steven saw the pictures (he was waiting in the parking lot) he said, “I think he has your nose.” But he also says that Grasshopper looks like Gollum, so I’m not entirely sure how to take that.

It is at this point that I feel true excitement.  I felt a lot of weight lift after this appointment.  This is not to say that I think I’m free and clear now.  Because I’m not…reality is all to real to me.  But I have noticed the difference in the way I share information. . .my own tone and excitement.  I spent the day with my best friend after that appointment, and I got sick of me talking about it.  I can’t imagine what she was feeling.  But she is full of grace, so she just let me gush.

Our lives have been so completely changed by each pregnancy and this one is no different. How blessed we are.

 

God’s Gift: Christ, our Saviour

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Thank you for taking a few minutes each day over the last month to travel to this final gift with me.  I hope you have found the journey rewarding, and it has been a blessing for you.  As we continue to walk towards Epiphany in these twelve days of Christmas, may God show Himself in tangible and unmistakable ways to you. With the love of Christ, Season

Bible Reading: Luke 2:6-21

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The Shepherds and the angel, Carl Bloch, 1879

Shepherds.  They see Christ first.  They are the images used in Old Testament prophecy.

Shepherds who protect, guide, discipline. Shepherds who restore their relationships with the lost of their flock.

Christ is here! He is here to restore what was broken in the Garden.  He is here to provide the peace that surpasses understanding. . .because it is His peace, not human peace.  He is here to draw us closer to the kingdom of Heaven, the rule of God

He is what we have been waiting for.

Thoughts for today:

How does knowing that Christ is here change your time of waiting?

What does this, the final gift of God, mean to you personally?

Oh, how undeserving we are of this gift.  But how grateful we should be. Jesus. What is there to say in response to the enormity of this gift? Our reliance on His embodiment of every other gift from God is the only way to show our gratitude.  God doesn’t say that it will be easy. He understands our human hearts. He knows that while we want to do right, we won’t. But He’s here, while we wait, while we struggle, while we try.  

And He loves us. He is our gift.

God’s Gift: Fulfillment

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Day 25 of Advent and God’s Gift.

Merry Christmas! May the peace and love of Christ light your day with joy.

Bible Reading: Matthew 1:18-25

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Joseph’s Dream in the Stable, Rembrant, 1645.

Joseph, a man trying to do what is right and good in the eyes of the Lord through His law. Probably heartbroken.  His betrothed appears sullied, unclean, a liar even.

Even in his hurt he shows mercy.

In the dream from the Lord, he’s given the explanation and the instruction. And like Abraham many centuries before him, he doesn’t question.  He simply puts one foot in front of the other to move the way God last told him.

It doesn’t make sense. But he’s assured that it is part of the fulfillment of the Lord.  So, in the time of waiting, he does it.

Thought for today:

As you wait, what is the last instruction you received from God?

How can you feel confident, even in uncertainty, in moving forward with that instruction?

Like Joseph, do you need to show mercy?

God doesn’t owe us any explanation, but He will give us enough instruction to move forward.  The strength it takes to move one foot in front of the other while we wait comes from the Lord.  He will take all we do in His confidence and exalt it.

God’s Gift: Evidence

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Day 24 of Advent and God’s Gift.

Bible Reading: Luke 1:26-38

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Annunciation scene from Jesus of Nazareth, Franco Zeffirelli, 1977.

Mary, mother of Jesus.

But in these verses, she’s just a girl.  A troubled girl at that. She heard a proclamation that seems impossible; it goes against everything she understands about the world.

But Gabriel provides evidence that nothing is impossible in God’s hands. . .that this is not to be understood by the world’s standards.

Mary claims her servanthood to the Lord.  She claims her part in a plan much bigger than herself despite the earthly ramifications she is sure to face.

She puts her faith in God.

Thoughts for today:

Can you recall a time when God provided you with evidence to ease your heart?

How does the gift of evidence prove that God understands our human-ness?

God created us.  He understands our needs better than we do. He knows when we need reassurance.  In your time of waiting, don’t be hesitant to ask God for that evidence. He wants to give us all that He has.

God’s Gift: Preparation

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Day 23 of Advent and God’s Gift.

Bible Reading: Matthew 3:1-6

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John the Baptist, Juan de Juanes, c. 1560

A season of waiting does not negate the need to prepare.  John the Baptist extols that need.

Repent–make radical changes to prepare yourself for the coming of God’s kingdom. Make straight the path for Christ to follow into your heart.

Preparation takes work.  It is not merely sitting in the quiet, though that is part of the task to hear God’s voice.  It is taking the knowledge of His promises and the evidence of His blessings and putting them to use.  

God worked to prepare the way for Christ’s coming. We should follow His example.

Thoughts for today:

Do you find it easy in a time of waiting to become lax in your own preparation?

In what area of your life are you waiting for something to change?

What could you do today that would be active preparation during your waiting?

Our body, mind, and soul need to be prepared for all that God calls us to.  It takes work to make each of these elements stronger. God, help us to do the work that is required to be strong in You during Advent.

God’s Gift: Favor

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Day 22 of Advent and God’s Gift, an advent devotional I wrote in the past year to help me work through my personal grief.

Bible Reading: Luke 1:5-25

Moving closer to the birth of Christ, John comes to Zechariah and Elizabeth.  Advent, the season of waiting, is mirrored in the waiting of Zechariah and Elizabeth for their child.

Even in the midst of what many saw as divine disfavor through their childless marriage, they remained upright and followed the Lord’s commandments. They waited.

And when the seemingly impossible was bestowed they continued to wait in the presence of the Lord and His favor, His approval.

Thoughts for today:

Have you ever sought the approval of someone?

What actions did you engage to try and achieve that favor?

How can maintaining the commandments help you remain in God’s favor?

How can doing things in love help you remain in God’s favor?

God approves of us.  He created us and it was good.  But it is our responsibility to do our part to maintain that favor.  While we can do nothing to earn His grace, we can do much to remain in His love. We need His guidance and His commandments to continue to remain upright in His presence.  May we be like Zechariah and Elizabeth as we wait.

God’s Gift: Hope

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Day 21 of Advent and God’s Gift.

Bible Reading: Habakkuk 2:1, 3:16-19

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Image: public domain

Standing on the tower–waiting and watching. . .doing it with the knowledge that destruction is probable.

But, hope.

Hope is a powerful equalizer.  It lifts up despair, and like Habakkuk declares, makes one sure-footed, confident, as a deer.

There is hope even in the midst of the trials coming, or the trials now.  There is hope in the promises of God, in the evidence of blessings He has provided. 

There is hope in God’s sovereignty.

Thoughts for today:

How does remembering God’s promises help you have hope?

While you wait, what do you do to nurture hope?

Our God does not leave us in despair.  He provides us with a hope and peace that is very different from the rest of the world.  We can be confident in that hope. Sure-footed as we move forward in our time of waiting.  He will direct our paths.

God’s Gift: Tenacity

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Day 20 of Advent and God’s Gift.

Bible reading: Esther 4:10-17

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 image from One Night with the King, 2006, directed by Michael O. Sajbel

Esther is my favorite Old Testament book and this is my favorite passage. . .”For such a time as this.”

God’s plans and thoughts are higher than our own.  We have no way of knowing or understanding what He orchestrates when we are in the thick of it.  But we can have peace–wholeness–knowing that where and when we are can be for His glory in such a time as this.

Esther faced the unknown with this peace, granting her tenacity to address the king and possible death.  She did not deny her Father. And He had her in an environment that would reveal His power.

Thoughts for today:

In your season of waiting, is God asking you to step out in faith to face an uncertainty?

We may not understand why God has us where He does at the moment.  It could be a job, a relationship, a medical condition. But we can be certain that He is granting us the power to glorify Him in this time.

God’s Gift: His Choice

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Day 19 of Advent and God’s Gift.

Bible Reading: Micah 5:2-5

“Though you are small.”

What a significant phrase because we so often feel small in God’s great plan.  How can we ever do something that measures against the patriarchs, the martyrs, the church leaders?

But praise Him that we don’t have to!

Though you are small you are one for God.  God chose the smallest of nations for His son’s earthly birth.  

Though you are small, you will do great things through God’s anointing.

He has chosen YOU!

Thoughts for today:

What emotions do you experience when you are the one picked?

How can you bless others with that same sensation?

How can you help others understand that they too have been chosen by God?

Thank God that this life is not a schoolyard game of kick-ball where the captains alternate picking their teams and you just hope you’re not picked last.  We have been chosen first. Every. Single. One. There is no competition for God’s love and His choice. There is no fear that we don’t play the game well enough.  He chooses you.

God’s Gift: Compassion

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Day 18 of Advent and God’s Gift.

Bible Reading: Jonah 3:1-4:4, 11

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Jakob Steinhardt, Jonah Preaches in Nineveh, 1923, hand-colored woodcut

Jonah’s repentance while in the great fish is the part of the story that is well known.

But it’s what comes after that reveals the character of God and His next gift.

The Ninevites repent–up to the king on the throne down to the domestic animals.  They are not Israelites, and so Jonah bemoans God’s compassion towards them. They aren’t the “right” people.

But our God rebukes Jonah.  He claims the Ninevites and all the beasts.  His compassion is not for a select few, but for all His created.

Thoughts for today:

Have you ever passed judgement because someone wasn’t the “right” group?

What do you feel God is saying to you now about that action?

How can you be intentional about avoiding such behavior in the future?

God knows that we are weak.  We often focus too much on the outward, the perception, while He knows all.  May we work towards being more like Him and consider all possibilities in deciding our actions.

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