I have spent a lot of time this week stuck in my own head with a million swirling thoughts. Sometimes my brain can be a refuge and other times it can be a dangerous, self-defeating place.
Every year before one of the boys has a birthday I struggle significantly with flashbacks and dark memories. Yes, the day that each of them was born was a day full of miracles but they were also the days that God abruptly perched us at the base of some pretty big mountains.
Jake and I were talking about the conversations we were having exactly three years ago; how wild it would be to have a typical baby that came home from the hospital in just 2-3 days! How wonderful it would be to experience “normal” with a healthy newborn. What a thrill it would be to watch our child be born, and experience that moment firsthand. There was such an excitement and joy as we anticipated Levi’s birth day. We knew the day would have a level of unknown, as he would had to be born slightly premature (doctor’s orders) but we never imagined what was to come.
Instead of the joy filled day we had imagined, we watched as each bubble we had so excitedly created in our minds was popped. I had to go completely under for his birth and Jake was not permitted in the room…we have two children and neither of us got to be “present” for their births. Levi was taken to another hospital with a higher level NICU within the hour of his birth, and once again I was spending the first days of my baby’s life away from them. It just felt so unnatural. The days that followed were filled with shocking diagnoses, unexpected surgeries, and so much disappointment as we watched our “normal” morph to resemble a path that looked eerily similar to Malachi’s.
But nonetheless, it was the day that our beautiful Levi made his debut into this world. As they wheeled me to the operating room that day I remember feeling pressed by the Holy Spirit to pray over him. This same prompting happened when I was raced to the operating room for Malachi the night he was born, and on that night the Spirit put the words of Job on my lips “The Lord giveth, the Lord taketh away, blessed be the name of the Lord.”
But for Levi those words didn’t fit. Instead the words from Numbers starting pouring out of my mouth “The Lord bless you and keep you, make His face shine upon you and be gracious to you. The Lord turn his face towards you and give you peace.”
I had this vision of the light of God when it hit the face of Moses. He was so bright after his encounter with God that the people were afraid of him when he came down from the mountain. My prayer that night was that God would be so present in that operating room that the light of Him would literally reflect from the face of my son. That people would look at his beautiful face and see the countenance of God reflecting off of it.
I can’t say with confidence that the light from God visibly shined from Levi when he entered this world, but I can tell you that the hand and mark of God has clearly been on his life since that day.
I was singing a worship song this week on the way to appointments and the words struck my sensitive heart in such a beautiful way…
You turn mourning to dancing– If I am being truthful, there was more mourning than dancing the night Levi was born. But as God has continued to write our story we recognize that each painful detail of his story has been such an important and vital part of his testimony.
You give beauty for ashes– God scraped together the ashes from our broken and burned dreams and turned them into something so beautiful. I can choose to ignore the beauty and focus on the ashes, but oh how that would dishonor God!
You turn shame into glory– This is a hard one to verbalize. I have struggled with feeling shame as a mother. If we are being honest, my body is 0 for 2 in creating healthy children, and sometimes the devil uses that to influence my self worth. But the more I turn to God on this one, the more He is revealing to me a glory in motherhood that many others never get the chance to experience. I have the privilege of seeing early on that God has created these boys with a unique story, purpose, and calling. They were designed to point others to Him, even from birth.
You turn graves into gardens– I have dwelled on this one all week, and I keep flashing back to the night we arrived to Cincinnati. Levi and I had taken an air ambulance and I remember looking at the lights of Chattanooga under our plane as we started our ascent and feeling so hopeful. Several hours later we got Levi safely tucked into the NICU in Cincinnati and he very abruptly and suddenly coded. They started CPR on his tiny 4 pound body and for the first time those familiar fears of losing a child rushed back from Malachi’s early days. I sat helplessly by his bedside and watched as the doctors mechanically breathed life into his lifeless body. For the first time in his journey, the idea of graves entered the picture.
But as the months slowly ticked by I started to realize that Cincinnati was truly a garden we had been planted in. There is a familiar phrase “bloom where you are planted” and it was in that very unit that we watched our miracle bloom and turn into a beautiful, rare flower.
You turn bones into armies– Oh boy, this one is an easy one. God literally turned Levi’s rib bone into the tiny miracle we needed for him to breathe trach free. God can take ANYTHING, as minute as it may be, and create a miracle right from it right before our eyes. If you want a powerful devotional tonight, read Ezekiel 37:1-14 and apply it to a situation in your life that seems impossible.
You turn seas into highways– We watched this one unfold in Chattanooga as we faced a sea wall in front of us, separating us from willing and eager surgeons in Cincinnati. We faced an impossible situation and watched as God swiftly parted the waters for us to walk on dry land. If we don’t ever face the impassable sea walls, we will never recognize the power and gift of God parting them.
Not many people get to witness modern day miracles, but what a privilege it has been to watch so many unfold in the lives of my children.
Alright, now to venture towards a topic that could be full of land mines…
Let’s talk politics.
I have watched social media from afar this week and seen the myriad of emotions surrounding the election and it’s results. There seems to be a lot of despair among my Christian friends, and it has left me scratching my head a bit.
In the Bible we see time and time again where God has displayed some of His greatest works in dark situations. Without darkness, you can’t understand the power of the light.
The Bible tells us “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Maybe this discourse and lack of unity in our country is the exact weakness that God is talking about in this verse. Maybe we are about to see the power of God work through our nation in a transforming way.
We have learned in our personal lives that sometimes our outcome doesn’t match God’s in specific situations, and our wordly eyes tend to focus on the devastating nature of not getting what we envisioned. But God’s outcome is always more beautiful than the one we imagined and will always triumph.
“Not only that, but we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope.” Romans 5:3-4
I think we often read this verse and focus on the biggies: sufferings, endurance, character, and hope. But tonight I want to remind you of the repetitive word tucked in there: PRODUCES. Each quality is a direct result of success with the previous one.
My prayer is that we can all start to see things with a heavenly perspective. That we can remember that we are strangers wandering through a foreign land and this earth isn’t meant to look like heaven. Our world is ugly, depressing, and innately evil…exactly the type of world that needs a Savior.
Our focus shouldn’t solely be locked in on making this world a more tolerable place; that is a task that will continue to leave us unfulfilled as it is an impossible one…it is entrenched in too much evil. Instead we should be focused on introducing this evil world to our Savior, and trusting God to work through one willing heart at a time.
Neither of the presidential candidates are the answer to the problems in this world. And neither one has the power to undo the plan of God, I choose to believe that God has something big up His sleeve.
Even the godly, annointed, and chosen men that God placed into power in the Bible failed miserably, letting the world oversaturate the Lord’s calling on their lives.
When will we realize that the answer to the darkness in the world doesn’t lie in a party, a man, or a political stance? The Bible doesn’t tell us to put our hope and faith in a man made process.
The answer to the darkness is the light of Christ! Instead of trying to change this world with a vote for a faulty man, let’s change this world with sharing that light inside us with others and allowing God to create a bonfire from it.
Please be in prayer for our family as we continue to process what to do for our family service project this Christmas. I have a lead on something special but want to make sure it is God driven and not Leah driven. Also be in prayer with me about the future of the blog…I would love to continue writing but am trying to decide if weekly posts are still what God wants.