For all of you who belong to MCC, here is the song Aron played today. We hope it continues to bring you peace and healing.
For everyone else, Aron wrote this song and played it today, and it speaks of the faithfulness of our God...even amidst our greatest failures. We have hope, not in our perfection, but in a God who loves his children relentlessly. A God takes what we have shattered and restores it to its intended glory.
The weekend has been quite busy, but a good busy for sure. Aron has been planning/preparing for a passion night worship experience for weeks, and it finally came to fruition tonight (that's why you haven't heard much from him lately). After leading 2 services this morning and then leading and speaking for tonight's session...he is simply spent. He won't like me bragging on him, but I am so proud of the way he opens his heart and allows God to speak through his life.
The next two days show no signs of slowing down, but we are sooooo looking forward to getting away for a few days over the Thanksgiving holiday & catching up on some much needed quality time.
I love the unique way autumn makes my heart come alive. Inviting smells, warm colors, soft light. The promise of the seed in spring now fully present in the fruit of the harvest.
What a treasure to stop our busy lives to consider the blessings of yet another year of life. Today I am thanking God for the breath that fills my lungs. He is truly my sustainer.
We are attempting to teach Isabelle the high importance of the Thanksgiving holiday in our life - a time to truly thank God for his great love & his provision.
We made a blessing turkey traced from her footprints and handprints, and each night at dinner we help her to think of something for which she is grateful, write it on her handprint, and paste in on the turkey as his "thankful feathers". Its small and silly, but we want to instill in her gratitude as an attitude for the rest of her life.
I am also thankful for this wildly idealistic man...with his heart to God and His head constantly wrapped around an idea or chiseling a melody...he truly amazes me. He has written a song this week that just blows my mind. I hope he gets to record it; it is quite possibly his best one yet.
Sometimes it feels like you say the same things...over and over and over and over. Who am I kidding? You do as a parent, but take heart. Despite their absentmindedness and often erratic bahavior...they are listening.
Just now I said something about being afraid. Isabelle looked at me and said,
"But my daddy tells me, he tells me, 'The Lord will fight for you; you need only to be still.'"
I cannot thank those of you who have been praying for us enough. Indeed, through your conversations with God on our behalf, he is infusing us with strength, wisdom, and perspective after a week that left us feeling beat up.
This morning I read a verse in Genesis that God used to comfort me:
"Do not be afraid, Abram.
I am your shield,
your very great reward." Genesis 15:1
I can barely fathom this verse. But I knew God used this idea, which popped up right in the middle of my scheduled reading for this day, to remind me that he is my protector.
No matter what new adversity or trial that threatens us, my hope can rest in His strength.
And he is my very great reward. Beth Moore expands on this idea in her Inheritance bible study I recently did. I cannot begin to comprehend the implications of this, but can you just imagine? All of almighty God - his very being - is our very great reward. (shiver...goosebumps..and cold chills).
And this verse from someone's post on facebook this morning:
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.
We are not consumed, and God is holding us, loving us, shielding us through adversity. Deepening our dependence on him, causing us to trust him, proving himself faithful.
I am humbled by his ways
ps. Aron accompanied me to my follow-up appt. @ Occupational Health for my exposure, and all of my source's lab work came back negative for bloodbourne pathogens (hiv, hepatitis b & c). This is awesome news! It was a huge sacrifice for Aron to come with me...it really crunched his schedule for the day & he had to miss eating lunch & reschedule a meeting, but he said he really wanted to be there for me in case of bad news. I felt very loved by this (for all you small groupies!).
I told Aron tonight at dinner that I when I discovered we were expecting a boy, a piece of me was really scared. I couldn't imagine a more amazing man than Aron and inwardly wondered how a new boy would ever live up to the place his daddy holds in my heart.
Now I understand. He warms my heart in ways I couldn't have imagined, and his unique little soul brings a new, fresh joy to our family. I couldn't imagine our life without him - such a breathtaking, bubbly gift our Father has given us. His smiles and coos have nestled right in to our collective heart, and mom, dad, and sister alike adore our boy.
I closed our conversation about Judah tonight by telling Aron that Judah could do nothing more in all his life, and I would love him so entirely to the core of his little soul. But if he grows to be half the man his daddy is, an amazing man he will be.
In reference to my previous post...let me just tell you
The message God has given to Aron for next Sunday night (Nov 22 @ 6pm) is just what I needed to hear. He just walked through what is on his heart, and oh, oh, oh...God is so wise and loving. I cannot wait...hope to see you there.
Its been a rough past few days, but we are hanging in there.
For me personally, I could feel emotional attacks of the enemy begin on Wednesday, and it snowballed from there. Without going into detail, Satan is crafty in his timing...waiting until you are most vulnerable to 'shoot an arrow' at an old healing wound.
Through this, Aron was quick to point out, "I can see why you feel that way, but I think Satan is manipulating your emotions." He is exactly right. Often times when circumstances arise that cause us pain, we allow ourselves to believe false assumptions planted by Satan. He is the master deceiver...which means unless we are on our guard, we may not even realize we are deceived.
Thursday we had Belle's opthalmologist appointment. She was very fearful the entire way there. And her physician, who has so awesome our first visit, was very short and impatient. Belle was scared to answer questions, and at one point he scolded us both telling me her uncooperative behavior was "unacceptable". As we were leaving, Belle asked for a sticker. I communicated her request to the tech, who then replied that the Doctor wanted me to show her the stickers and then tell her she didn't get any today for not cooperating. Next time, if she answered questions she would get a sticker. This did not go over well with my barely 3 year old who has had one too many traumatic medical experiences this year (can you say VCUG?).
So he wasn't able to do a thorough exam, but said he could tell by doing a test with a prism that she isn't using her left eye enough yet. He instructed us to begin patching 6 hours a day for 6 weeks. We began as soon as we got home. The first few hours were rough...really rough. Enough so that we thought it best to cancel plans for our family to visit this weekend. This was especially hard because Aron's sister & her sweet baby were coming for a visit, and we didn't want to miss out on an opportunity to spend some quality time with them as well as his mom & dad.
They had some needs at work Friday on the afternoon shift, so I decided to go in. Bad idea. I ended up in the ER after being sprayed in the eye with gastric contents from a PEG tube (permanent feeding tube inserted through the abdominal wall). Thankfully the rapid HIV test on the patient was negative, but I'm still waiting to hear about a few other infectious diseases they test for when you have an exposure. Very unnerving. I should know by Monday, but I struggle whether to nurse Judah or not until I find out if I am all clear.
So I got home at midnight last night feeling overwhelmed with despair and fear. Despair for all the brokenness I had just encountered in my very ill patients at the hospital, worry over my own health and that of my babies, and emotionally exhausted from the roller coaster.
I simply prayed for God to restore my strength and my hope. Judah slept 8 solid hours, which allowed me to rest (albeit a few bad dreams about the whole week). Rest does wonders to grant you a new perspective. God is giving me peace this morning, and I am soaking in my family. There is nothing more precious in the world.
I am looking forward to worship tomorrow. Aron will be playing a song he wrote (which is always a highlight for me), and in the evening we get to hang out with our small group groupies - a promise of a good laugh and some great conversations (we're doing a marriage study) with our friends.
We would appreciate your prayers in this transition time with Belle as well as for healing for little eye. I would also appreciate your prayers as I wait to hear about this exposure. And while you're talking to God on our behalf...don't forget Aron. He'll be speaking and leading a worship service next Sunday night, and without fail we experience intense spiritual attacks every week before he speaks as he is preparing to communicate the message God has given him.
Our friend and mentor, Mike, had some awesome thoughts on his blog this morning regarding our freedom and the stewardship of its blessings. Check it out (I've highlighted the parts that really spoke to me):
Do you realize that tens of thousands of Christians are killed every year…simply because they are Christians? Did you know that more people were killed for their faith in the 20th century than in the previous 19 centuries combined?
It's easy to forget this truth in America. Everyday, we enjoy freedoms that are inconceivable to many believers around the world. We can claim the name of Christ without fearing for our lives. We can gather to worship in plain view instead of meeting in secret.
As Christ-followers in America, this should prompt us to do several things… 1. Thank God. We are blessed beyond measure, and we don't thank Him enough for that. 2. Use our freedom to advance the cause of Christ. Too often our enormous freedom breeds apathy instead of action. 3. Thank the men and women who have served our country to ensure that we continue to enjoy these freedoms. In honor of Veteran's Day and in gratitude for everything they have given us…find a veteran today and say, "thank you."
The American church is in a unique position in the world. We have more money, more resources, and more freedom than any other believers on this planet. That should cause us to live with immense gratitude and and intense urgency.
Considering how I can use my freedom to advance the cause of Christ today...
We took full advantage of the 60 degree November weather and headed out to the beach for a little sunset enjoyment. We caught some great photos, but the 3 year olds could only stand a few minutes of the whipping wind before begging to go play with their toys in the Mounty. At least we got a few pictures with Judah...he didn't seem to mind the wind.
I cannot get enough of my babies as of late. It seems my heart for them grows each day. I count it such a privilege to nurture them, to teach them of God & his great love for them.
It has been a joy to have my sister, Elizabeth, and her daughter, Chloe, here. They are beautiful and strong and full of life.
Aron was dreaming yesterday of the camaraderie he hopes to one day have with his son...hitting a bucket of balls, camping, building hatchets, climbing mountains, maybe even playing music together.
These girls are two peas in a pod. Chloe is Elizabeth's mini-me.
And my boys...I am so thankful for the husband God has given to me. I count him my biggest blessing, and from his love more and greater blessings abound in our children.
"[Love] keeps no record of wrongs." - 1 Corinthians 13:5
"Forgive and forget." We've all heard that a thousand times. But how it plays out in our lives is more like, "Forgive, but remember what they did wrong or how you got hurt, you know, just in case they need reminded." That way, you have ammo later on to humble the proud or to defend yourself from being hurt again. The truth is, though, we deceive ourselves if we think we've offered forgiveness while choosing to remember the offenses against us.
Webster defines the act of forgiving as "ceasing to feel resentment" or "granting relief from payment of". Since we are not God and cannot physically erase memories from our consciousness, this must look more like choosing to separate the offense from the offender. As the Psalm 103 says, "As far as the east is from the west, so far has he removed our transgressions from us."
When we fail to forgive, we are condemning this person to be the personification of this offense for the rest of their life. With their repentance, Jesus has spoken complete grace over them, yet with unforgiveness we are acting on behalf of the enemy to shackle their soul with the very sin for which Christ died. We are essentially robbing them of the opportunity to be a new creation - whole and restored - and making a mockery of the death of our Lord as powerless to offer forgiveness for sins.
Understand, though, that forgiveness is imperative even when repentance has not occurred. Love has the power to transform a person, and forgiveness is quite possibly its most powerful vehicle. When we truly forgive, we offer love when it is least deserved. Even when the wrong cannot be made right. This does not mean we fail to acknowledge a wrong has been committed or that we ignore the pain or suffering involved (by definition the need for forgiveness merits a wrong to have taken place). On the contrary, by fully accepting the pain and choosing to walk through it without demanding recompense, we unleash the full power of love's transforming nature.
Forgiveness offers life. The Bible says that, "while we were still powerless, Christ died for the ungodly." He didn't die for the righteous, he died to forgive those who least deserved it. As the Bible says in another way, "while we were still sinners Christ died for us."
Perhaps the most powerful imagery of forgiveness is that of Christ on the cross. Talk about a fresh wound from a severe offense. These people had moments ago nailed him to a crude piece of wood, and yet, as he hung there dying he looked up toward the heavens and said, "Forgive them, Father."
Let's love the people in our lives the same way Jesus loved us, when they least deserve it and letting go of resentment even as they commit offenses against us. Then we will experience the full measure of true love, because love is forgiving.
"[Love] is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered" - 1 Corinthians 13:5
One of my friends who goes to our church told me about how he used to become easily angered with his kids. At his children's slightest disobedience, he would lose it: yelling, spanking, punishing, words of condemnation, etc. After years of parenting this way, he became a Christian and started attending our church. As he started to submit himself to the Way of love, God gave him an epiphany about becoming easily angered. He told me how God showed him that he became angry so easily not because his kids' trespasses were so great, but rather because they were so inconvenient for him. He began to see that his anger was really quite selfish because he didn't want to have to deal with disobedient or unruly kids.
Being rude and getting angry easily are really symptoms of a larger disease: selfishness. What causes us to be rude or become easily angry are not offenses so morally deplorable that they merit a strong reaction. No, they're usually just inconvenient for us (think traffic jam or kid crying at the grocery store; someone didn't do their job and now you're stuck making up for it).
In his book "Walking With God," John Eldredge writes that when a person's negative reaction to a situation in their life is significantly more severe than the situation merits, it's usually a sign of a wound in their heart that the situation has brought to the surface. This world is full people who are the walking wounded, and selfishness is their best attempt to protect their wounds or save themselves from further pain. And in our vain attempts to save ourselves, we commit grievous acts against others, which usually merit selfish and sinful responses from those we hurt as they try to protect their wounds.
This viscous cycle will continue until someone is willing to love selflessly. That means someone who is willing to take the offense, the inconvenience, the pain, and not retaliate. The Bible says that when Jesus was being tried to die on the cross, he did not open his mouth to defend himself. He knew that he was innocent. He knew that he was God's son. But he also knew that his act of selfless love on the cross could bring healing and restoration to the entire world. As 1 Peter 4:8 says, "Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers a multitude of sin."
Jesus' one act of love on the cross covered the sin of the entire world. But he doesn't just want us to say, "thanks, man, heaven's gonna be great!" and go on living in the same old patterns of selfishness and depravity. He wants to see us follow his example and see our realm of influence be transformed by love, but that means the selfishness within us has to die.
Jesus said, "if anyone would come after me, he must take up his cross and follow me." I used to think that was such a condemning statement. Like Jesus was standing there shaking his finger and saying, "I died. You have to die too!" But I'm starting to realize Jesus made that demanding statement because he just wants us to love each other. And love is selfless.
They may only be 3, but these girls love each other dearly, and have been anticipating their reunion for weeks. Every time Elizabeth & Chloe got in the car she'd ask, "Mommy, is this the way to Aron & Erica's? I want to go see Isabelle!" Dad even said she was trying to get him to bring her up while he was babysitting her. Belle could hardly wait for her to arrive.
This last shot of Judah is random...and doesn't fit with this post at all, but I thought I'd squeeze it in. He LOVES his classic pooh mobile just like his sister did. When the music plays he sings along and kicks his little arms and legs so excitedly.
It (Love) does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud.
As I have been turning this over in mind the past week, it seems there is a common denominator linking these three 'anti-love' verbs.
It seems that both envy and pride are the result of one thing: looking in the wrong place for validation (assurance of one's self worth). And this begins with an action we mindlessly do countless times a day:
"Does he better provide for his family than me?"
"Am I more beautiful than her?"
"Do my friends like me more than so and so?"
"Could I perform better than him in that role?"
When we ask these internal questions, we have two possible scenarios:
#1 The answer is "Yes...I am better than this person" in some way. As soon as the satisfaction from this answer touches our heart, we're inviting pride to take residence.
#2 The answer is "No... this person exceeds my capabilities." While there is humility in acknowledging the giftedness of others, when we compare to see if we 'measure up', we are allowing seeds of envy to be planted.
Boasting, it seems, follows when we externalize this internal struggle for worth. We need to ensure others are aware of the reasons we should be valued.
The world casts value based on appearance, performance, beauty, success, pleasure...
Those who don't measure up are cast aside as worthless. We are left to compare ourselves to man-made standards, and envy and pride grow where love should abide.
Love speaks a different language. Love says you are infinitely valuable because of whose you are. Because you are made in the image of your creator, and you are his beloved child. There is no need to perform, no need to measure up. You - even in your wounded, broken shell of a person - are precious beyond comprehension. Love crossed heaven and earth to help us understand just how valued we truly are. And finding validation or self worth by any other standard leaves us hating each other or hating ourselves. It turns what was intended as a gift of community filled with genuine bonds of love with one another into a cut-throat competition laden with self-serving motives and shallow relationships.
So you see, comparing ourselves against other mutually insecure humans makes a mockery of the true worth we were intended to experience in relationship with Christ. It is for this reason...
Love does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud.
He's a happy little guy...(sis is in an "Arthur" induced coma...I'm standing in the way of the TV)
Just along for the ride most days. As long as he's fed, he's content. But if you want to light up his world, just stop and give him a moment of attention. His face will light up, and yours will in response...I promise! Moments after taking the above picture, I came back to find him peacefully dozing. Sissy's comfy-cozy bed is too enticing to resist. my sweet boy, i love you more than words.