Monday, 27 April 2009

Loss, hope and new life

With the death of sweet Georgia last week, along with the new birth announcements I've heard in church and family, as well as Stellan's continuing struggle in the hospital, I've really been thinking about loss, hope and new life.

We all experience loss. It seems as though some experience it more frequently and to a greater degree than others, but we all experience it. Whether it's the loss of a relationship through divorce or the end of a friendship, the loss of innocence, or the loss of a loved one through death - we all experience it. And, unless Jesus returns before, we will all die ourselves.

We also all experience new life. Whether it's the birth of a new baby, a marriage or even spring - we all experience the blessings of new life.

It's so easy to have the head knowledge, so easy to spout glib or even trite expressions, especially before we experience a deep loss, but it's so much harder when that head knowledge is forced to become heart knowledge.

It's also so easy to blame God for the hard times, yet give Him little to no credit for the good. But God has not promised us an easy journey. How I wish that was true - simply become a Christian and POOF! God waves His magic wand and you go through the rest of your life dancing and singing through the meadows until finally at the age of 100, still physically and mentally healthy, you and your husband both die peacefully in your sleep the same night.

No, it doesn't work that way.

Consider the following lyrics

God hath not promised skies always blue
Flower strewn pathways, all our lives through;
God hath not promised sun without rain,
Joy without sorrow, peace without pain.

But God hath promised strength for the day,
Rest for the labour, light for the way,
Grace for the trials, help from above,
Unfailing kindness, undying love.

God hath not promised we shall not know
Toil and temptations, trouble and woe;
He hath not told us we shall not bear
Many a burden, many a care.

But God hath promised strength for the day,
Rest for the labour, light for the way,
Grace for the trials, help from above,
Unfailing kindness, undying love.

God hath not promised smooth roads and wide,
Swift, easy travel, needing no guide;
Never a mountain, rocky and steep,
Never a river turbid and deep.

But God hath promised strength for the day,
Rest for the labour, light for the way,
Grace for the trials, help from above,
Unfailing kindness, undying love.

`Annie Johnson Flint

Sin and destruction and all the bad things that happen to us on this earth are a direct result of the fall of man. And when Christ returns we who believe in Him will eternally experience the perfect life that He wanted for us all along.

Remind anyone else of Easter weekend?

We're stuck in Saturday right now. Sometimes it's a great day, and sometimes it's really, really not. But God has promised to be with us, every step of the journey. He has promised us His love, peace, compassion and joy.

And don't forget - even though some days it may not feel like it, Sunday IS coming. And so we have hope.

“My splendor is gone and all that I had hoped from the Lord. I remember my affliction and my wandering, the bitterness and the gall. I well remember them, and my soul is downcast within me. Yet this I call to mind and therefore I have hope: because of the Lord’s great love we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail. They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness.” Lamentations 3:18-23

Come quickly Lord Jesus!

Tuesday, 21 April 2009

Update on Stellan

Thank you for praying for Stellan. The surgery was described by the surgeon as "making a good play when being dealt an awful hand". The next few days will be important ones and many more decisions about his future care/meds/surgery will need to be made. Stellan is still in Intensive Care but is now awake and doing well. Please continue to pray.

Georgia has gone to meet Jesus

6 month old Georgia took her last breath at around 11:30 this morning. Please pray for her parents, Kristen & Mike and her sisters, Calla & Maya.

Monday, 20 April 2009

Pray for Stellan's surgery Tuesday morning

Please pray for Stellan, his family and the medical staff as they are scheduled to have surgery tomorrow (Tuesday) morning at 8:30am Boston time. There seem to be some complications arising tonight as his heart has been back in SVT for awhile now - not sure what that means exactly for the surgery. See MckMama's blog for more information.

Thank you for praying.

Book Review - The Jesus Storybook Bible

I recently purchased a new children's Bible after seeing it recommended a few times by Angie Smith on her blog and I wanted to review it here. It is called The Jesus Storybook Bible - Every story whispers his name, written by Sally Lloyd-Jones and illustrated by Jago.

This has got to be my favourite kid's Bible. The Jesus Storybook Bible tells the Story that connects all the stories of the Bible - Jesus is the centre of the Story, He is the piece that completes the puzzle. Here is part of the introduction that she writes....

Now, some people think the Bible is a book of rules, telling you what you should and shouldn't do. The Bible certainly does have some rules in it. They show you how life works best. But the Bible isn't mainly about you and what you should be doing. It's about God and what he has done.

Other people think the Bible is a book of heroes, showing you people you should copy. The Bible does have some heroes in it, but (as you'll soon find out) most of the people in the Bible aren't heroes at all. They make some big mistakes (sometimes on purpose). They get afraid and run away. At times they are downright mean.

No, the Bible isn't a book of rules, or a book of heroes. The Bible is most of all a Story. It's an adventure story about a young Hero who comes from a far country to win back his lost treasure. It's a love story about a brave Prince who leaves his palace, his throne - everything - to rescue the one he loves. It's like the most wonderful of fairy tales that has come true in real life!

You see, the best thing about this Story is - it's true.

There are lots of stories in the Bible, but all the stories are telling one Big Story. The Story of how God loves his children and comes to rescue them.

It takes the whole Bible to tell this Story. And at the center of the Story, there is a baby. Every Story in the Bible whispers his names. He is like the missing piece in a puzzle - the piece that makes all the other pieces fit together, and suddenly you can see a beautiful picture.

After every Old Testament story, she adds an allusion to Jesus. Here are some examples...

After the story of Noah and the Ark she writes...
It wasn't long before everything went wrong again but God wasn't surprised, he knew this would happen. That's why, before the beginning of time, he had another plan - a batter plan. A plan not to destroy the world, but to rescue it - a plan to one day send his own Son, the Rescuer...

After the story of the Tower of Babel she writes..
You see, God knew, however high they reached, however hard they tried, people could never get back to heaven by themselves. People didn't need a staircase; they needed a Rescuer. Because the way back to heaven wasn't a staircase; it was a Person.
People could never reach up to Heaven, so Heaven would have to come down to them.
And, one day, it would.

After the story of God asking Abraham to sacrifice Isaac she writes...
Many years later, another Son would climb another hill, carrying wood on his back. Like Isaac, he would trust his Father and do what his Father asked. He wouldn't struggle or run away.
Who was he? God's Son, his only Son - the Son he loved.
The Lamb of God.

After the story of Joseph she writes...
One day, God would send another Prince, a young Prince whose heart would break. Like Joseph, he would leave his home and his Father. His brothers would hate him and want him dead. He would be sold for pieces of silver. He would be punished even though he had done nothing wrong.
But God would use everything that happened to this young Prince - even the bad things - to do something good: to forgive the sins of the whole world.

After the story of Moses and the rescue from Egypt and slavery....
God's people would always remember this great rescue and call it "Passover." But an even Greater Rescue was coming.
Many years later, God was going to do it again. He was going to come down once more to rescue his people. But this time God was going to set them free forever and ever.

And sometimes, she writes something that I hadn't even realized. You know all the stories, but sometimes you just don't put 2 + 2 together. Yes, I know that Jesus came from the line of Judah but I have never thought of it in the context of the story of Jacob, Rachel and Leah.
But God didn't think [Leah] was ugly. And when he saw that Leah was not loved and that no one wanted her, God chose her - to love her specially, to give her a very important job. One day, God was going to rescue the whole world - through Leah's family.... So when Leah had a baby boy she called him Juday, which means, "This time I will praise the Lord!"......You see, when God looked at Leah, he saw a princess. And sure enough, that's exactly what she became. One of Leah's children's children's children would be a prince - the Prince of Heaven - God's Son.
This Prince would love God's people. They wouldn't need to be beautiful for him to love them. He would love them with all of his heart. And they would be beautiful because he loved them. Like Leah.

Jesus' lineage is traced through Leah, not Rebecca! Nope, I'd hever put 2 + 2 together until I read that.
And the Ten Commandments....
No matter how hard they tried, they could never keep God's rules all the time.
God knew they couldn't. And he wanted them to know it, too.
Only on Person could keep all the rules. And many years later God would send him - to stand in their place and be perfect for them.
Because the rules couldn't save them.
Only God could save them.

One thing to keep in mind - this is a children's storybook bible. Lloyd-Jones does take some liberties with the biblical text (ex - in the story of Jacob & Rachel/Leah it is Laban's idea for Jacob to work for his daughters, instead of Jacob's). These are not word for word retellings of the Bible - after all, the reason it's a children's bible is to make it easier for children to understand. They are paraphrases, loose retellings. But they are not allegories. The few negative reviews on Amazon (105 5* ratings and only seven 1*) are generally concerned with this looseness aspect. But I love the way she writes and the way all the stories point to Jesus, that I can overlook the looseness. This is a children's book, not directly the inspired word of God - but it absolutely is a tool used to point us, and children in particular, to the Word. It definitely comes down on the love side of the love/law continuum. It talks about sin, but talks about grace more. And it is up to parents to ensure that they are teaching their children about all the aspects of God - His holiness, His justice, His mercy, His grace and on and on. But the gospel message comes shining through in Lloyd-Jones fun and inspiring writing style.

All in all, I highly recommend The Jesus Storybook Bible. The stories are a little on the long side - so not as great for 3 & 4 yr olds (depending on personality of course). But it's been an absolute hit with our 6 & 8 yr olds!

And myself as well...

In the New Testament the way she writes sometimes literally brings tears to my eyes. I believe this is my favourite page in the entire book.....

They nailed Jesus to the cross.
"Father, forgive them," Jesus gasped. "They don't understand what they're doing."
"You say you've come to rescue us!" people shouted. "But you can't even rescue yourself!"
But they were wrong. Jesus could have rescued himself. A legion of angels would have flown to his side - if he'd called.
"If you were really the Son of God, you could just climb down off that cross!" they said.
And of course they were right. Jesus could have just climbed down. Actually, he could have just said a word and made it all stop. Like when he healed that little girl. And stilled the storm. And fed 5,000 people.
But Jesus stayed.
You see, they didn't understand. It wasn't the nails that kept Jesus there. It was love.

Saturday, 18 April 2009

Please pray for Georgia and her family

Please pray for a family who is going through a tremendous loss right now. They have 3 girls and their youngest daughter Georgia (6 months) was recently diagnosed with Spinal Muscular Atrophy and was given only weeks to live. She almost died on Easter weekend, but recovered and is still holding on. They are enjoying every day with her that they possibly can. Please pray for Mike & Kristen, and their daughters Calla, Maya and Georgia. You can find their blog here.

Sunday, 12 April 2009

The Truth About Easter

I was planning to write an Easter post - but then I read one that MckMama wrote, and since I absolutely agree with every single word she said (and she likely said it much better!), I'm just going to put her post on my blog instead!

From the mouth of MckMama

the truth about Easter

We all sin.

There is no one who does not suffer from Adam's curse, nor a human who has not done wrong, not a soul who can claim no membership in the depravity of man club. We all have fallen short; we all enter this world, at birth, with a sin nature. And as for me? I rank right up there on the list of all the world's imperfect people.

In fact, Romans 3:23 reminds us that we all do, when Paul wrote, "For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God."

For that very reason, I love this stanza from Horatio Spafford's well-known hymn, It Is Well With My Soul:

My sin, oh, the bliss of this glorious thought!
My sin, not in part but the whole,
Is nailed to the cross, and I bear it no more,
Praise the Lord, praise the Lord, O my soul!

Our sins, all of our wrongdoings, icky thoughts, and impure motives can be nailed to the cross. We needn't bear them any longer, nor suffer under any guilt because of them.

That is the truth about Easter!

The truth is, Jesus died for everyone. His blood was spilled for me, for Stellan, for you.

And He did not stay dead. After three days, He rose again. To this day, He lives. And our sins can all be forgiven because of what He did on the cross!

If you're thinking of tuning the rest of this post out, because it sounds like I'm starting to get awful religious, let me have you consider this:

I am not religious at all!

No, I mean, seriously. I'm not. I do not follow a religion but rather a Person. I follow Jesus Christ. Grace has set me free. I am not bound by any traditions, ceremonies, rules or any religious formulae. I know for an absolute fact that I am going to Heaven, and let me tell you, it's not because of anything I have done in my life. And, by the same token, I wouldn't not get to Heaven because of anything I didn't do. I could never be a good enough person to earn my way into Heaven. Nor will I get into Heaven by just trying hard enough. Neither will I miss out on Heaven because I sin too much.

I have already mentioned that I am a sinner, right?

You see, the truth about Easter, and about Jesus, is that no one can earn or behave their way into Heaven. When I die, I will go to Heaven simply because I believed in Jesus and accepted the fact that He died for me, forgiving my sins, and letting me into Heaven because of what He did for me on the cross, not because of anything I did or did not do on earth.

I have written about this exact topic of truth on my blog before. I believe Easter is a good time to reiterate it, because this season represents the most pivotal point about Christianity, the one act upon which everything else hinges: that Jesus died for us. If we only but believe in Him, we can have life everlasting, beyond this earthly existence.

No. Strings. Attached. It's just truth, plain and simple.

Of course, in our enlightened day and age, is totally hip to be self-focused. To search for your own truth. To do what makes you happy. To simply find what floats your boat. To cling to what seems to ring true to you. To believe in whatever you want to believe in, with the thought that your belief makes whatever it is true for you. Oh, and to afford all others that same right, of course.

Have you noticed the errant, yet all-too-common, mentality in our politically correct, inclusive, tolerant society that what works for you, spiritually, might not work for me, and vice versa?

I have. And today on Easter Sunday, I want to say something very pointed.

Truth is truth.

Truth is not relative. There is no truth for you, and truth for me. Truth is absolute.

It is as absolute as the fact that our son Stellan is currently wearing striped leggings on his legs as he sleeps in his hospital bed. Whether you believe in something or not, does not have any bearing on whether or not it is really true! Either Stellan is wearing leggings, or he is not! There is no, "If you want to believe Stellan has stripey leggings on, that's great for you, but I don't believe it and that's okay for me."

Like it or not, it does not work that way.

There is an absolute truth about Stellan's legs. Either they are adorned with leggings right now, or they are not. Now, you may not know if he has leggings on or not, but that does not change the fact that there is an absolute truth. Either he's wearing them, or he's not. Truth is not relative. It does not hang in the balance. It hinges on nothing. That is what truth means!!! Either Stellan is sporting leggings, or he is not! There is no room for any middle ground.

And, either Jesus is real, and He died on the cross and rose again as the only way to Heaven--for everyone in the world--or He did not.

There are no other alternatives.

Personal truth has no place here. In fact, there is no such thing! Personal truth is an oxymoron. There are not many ways to Heaven. I happen to believe that Jesus offers the only path to life after we die. And you do not have to believe that! But simply because some people choose not to believe that, doesn't mean it's not true! The choice to not believe in something has no power in and of itself: disbelief in something can't make it not true!

You might believe, deep in your heart, that Stellan is not wearing leggings on his legs right now. But the fact of the matter is, Stellan is wearing leggings! You can believe all you want that he is not, but that won't change the truth!!

Therefore, by the same token...

You might believe, deep in your heart, that Jesus' death on the cross is not the only means of salvation beyond this earth. But the fact of the matter is, Jesus is the only way! You can believe all you want that He is not, but that won't change the truth!

The truth about Easter is absolute. And it can change your life. The truth about Jesus, and His forgiveness of my sin, continues to change my life every day. And, in the spirit of Easter, as you nibble on chocolate and watch your children hunt for eggs, I want to encourage you to seek real truth. And I don't mean to find a truth that works for you, but to instead seek the one real truth, and to make it work for you.

Because, if truth is really truth, there are no other options, are there?

There is a way to know for sure what will happen when you die and I believe it is through a relationship with Jesus Christ, who died and rose again on Easter to break us free from our sin, and nothing else.

The truth about Easter is nothing less than paramount in my life.


I wanted to add just a little bit to MckMama's amazing post.

The fact that your baby might not be wearing leggings has nothing to do with the truth that Stellan is wearing leggings. (This was an argument I read in the comments of her post - that her truth was different because her baby was not wearing leggings). Since we're only talking about Stellan's leggings, it makes not one iota of difference what anybody else's baby is wearing. Either Stellan is wearing leggings or he's not. It's that simple.

Now - what does make a difference is this question. Is MckMama trustworthy? Can her word be counted as true? If she says Stellan is wearing leggings, can you believe her? Absolutely!

By the same token - can Jesus be trusted? Is the Bible accurate? If the Bible claims that Jesus is God - can we believe it? Again, absolutely!

If you are struggling with questions like that, I'd like to highly recommend the book "The Case for Christ" by Lee Strobel. He is an investigative journalist who set out to prove that Christianity was false - and ended up finding that the evidence actually proved the opposite.

Strobel tackles the following questions....
Part 1: Examining the Record
1) The Eyewitness Evidence - Can the biographies of Jesus be trusted?
2) Testing the Eyewitness Evidence - Do the biographies of Jesus stand up to scrutiny?
3) The Doumentary Evidence - Were Jesus' biographies reliably preserved for us?
4) The Corroborating Evidence - Is there credible evidence for Jesus outside His biographies?
5) The Scientific Evidence - Does archaeology confirm or contradict Jesus' biographies?
6) The Rebuttal Evidence - Is the Jesus of history the same as the Jesus of faith?

Part 2: Analyzing Jesus
7) The Identity Evidence - Was Jesus really convinced that He was the Son of God?
8) The Psychological Evidence - Was Jesus crazy when He claimed to be the Son of God?
9) The Profile Evidence - Did Jesus fulfill the attributes of God?
10) The Fingerprint Evidence - Did Jesus and Jesus alone match the identity of the Messiah?

Part 3: Researching the Resurrection
11) The Medical Evidence - was Jesus' death a sham and His resurrection a hoax?
12) The Evidence of the Missing Body - Was Jesus' body really absent from His tomb?
13) The Evidence of Appearances - Was Jesus seen alive after His death on the cross?
14) The Circumstantial Evidence - Are there any supporting facts that point to the resurrection?

Conclusion: The Verdict of History
What does the evidence establish - and what does it mean today?

It's an excellent book and I highly recommend it. He has a few others in the same "series" such as The Case for a Creator as well as children and teen versions. The same website also has combo packs available if you're interested in more than one.

And that's the truth about Easter!

Saturday, 11 April 2009

It's Friday But Sunday is Coming!

Friday would've been heartbreaking and bewildering. Saturday must've been so hopeless. I'm not sure which day would've been worse. If they only knew, Sunday is coming!

Lyrics to the song Sunday by Tree 63

Nothing's sacred, the days are cheap
Truth is thin on the ground
Still our prophets are crucified
Nobody believes we're stumbling
It's Friday, but Sunday is coming

Someone's saying a prayer tonight
For hungry mouths to be filled
Someone kneels in the dark somewhere
And darkness is already crumbling
It's Friday, but Sunday comes

Sunday! Hallelujah! It's not so far, it's not so far away
Sunday! Hallelujah! It's not so far, it's not so far away

Broken promises, weary hearts
But one promise remains:
Crucified, he will come again
It's Friday, but Sunday is coming
It's Friday, but Sunday comes

Sunday! Hallelujah! It's not so far, it's not so far away
Sunday! Hallelujah! It's not so far, it's not so far away

Darkness is already crumbling

It's Friday, but Sunday is coming
Yeah, it's Friday, but Sunday is comin'.
Can you feel it? Here it comes.

Sunday! Hallelujah! It's not so far, it's not so far away.
Sunday! Hallelujah! It's not so far, our God will have His day!

Thursday, 9 April 2009

Cuts for Cancer

Emma & Sophia have been wanting to cut their hair for some time now - especially Sophia who is rather vocal when I comb too roughly! When I heard their school was doing Cuts for Cancer right before Spring Break I asked them if they'd be interested in doing that. They were thrilled. Unfortunately, they were not so thrilled when it was cancelled due to school cancellation - especially since I wasn't particularly paying attention to the weather that day and only realized school was cancelled when they were ready and waiting by the door and we were wondering where their friends were staying!

Anyway, it was rescheduled for today and they were, once again, thrilled. The local newspaper even came out to cover the event, so I'm looking forward to seeing that! I'm rather annoyed at myself for forgetting to do a specific "before" picture this morning, but here are the before and after pictures.

Tuesday, 7 April 2009

Today Only!

One year ago today Todd & Angie Smith welcomed their 4th daughter, Audrey Caroline, into the world for two and a half short hours. In honour of her sweet baby girl, Angie has teamed up with Baby Be Blessed in order to make this offer - anyone who sponsors a child with Compassion through Angie's blog TODAY only will have a handmade lamb (with scripture) sent to their sponsored child as a gift.

So, if you have been considering sponsoring a child, today is the today to do so!

See Angie's blog for complete details.

We have been sponsoring a boy named Jonathan (from Burkina Faso) through Compassion for years already. He is the same age as Emma. We have been wanting to sponsor more children that are the same ages as our other children for quite some time now, and so today we added Lesly from Guatemala (Olivia's age) and Christena from India (Sophia's age) to our family. This is the first time my tendency to procrastinate has paid off. :) I'm so excited that they're going to get one of those amazing dolls!

Won't you do the same for a child today?

Also - please keep the Smith family in your prayers as they must be filled with every emotion possible today as they remember their daughter.

Friday, 3 April 2009

Praying for Stellan

A few months back I recommended a few blogs that I like to read and My Charming Kids was one of them. After being diagnosed with a serious heart problem at 20 weeks pregnant, Stellan was born miraculously completely healthy! He is now 5 months old. 2 weeks ago his heart went back into SVT (SupraVentricular Tachycardia) which is very rapid heartbeat along with the electric pulse beginning in the wrong part of the heart. His condition has gradually started to improve, but they really need prayer. You can click on the button at the top left of my blog, or on the link above to read more about Stellan's story.


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