So I've never been one for New Years resolutions. I think if you want to change something you should do it when you think about it instead of waiting for the New Year. I don't think that when God said in Jeremiah 'for I know the plans I have for you' He meant...I have a plan for you so when January 1st rolls around...you need to get on it! I believe that when a change comes about in your heart, mind, spirit...whatever the case may be...it's a challenge to get to the next thing. Sometimes the next thing is difficult, sometimes...not so much.
Where am I going with this? Well, as I said I'm not much for the whole resolution thing, but this year...I'm half doing it my way and half doing it the worlds way. I need to lose weight...that's a given right after having had a baby...need to get in shape... yada yada yada...but since the holidays are here and I seem to be lacking some self control at the moment...I will keep eating and enjoying every bite until January 1st rolls around...then it is focus on the POUNDS...or lack there of hopefully. The here and change it now thing? Prayer. I am going to confess to you that in September when all the TV shows were premiering on TV I decided I wanted to watch Greys Anatomy again. So one night after one of the shows...I was sitting on my bed thinking 'I think I need to fast, but I can't because I'm nursing...so where does that leave me' and then I hear this: 'well...you could stop watching junk like Greys Anatomy' EEK! Okay it's settled. I not only won't watch Grey's Anatomy...I won't watch TV. A HERE AND NOW resolution. Here is the confession part - instead of filling my NON TV time up with our Father...I filled up with OTHER not so TVish things that had nothing to do with Him. I know the point of fasting...but I failed miserably at fasting from TV and being with Him.
So here we go...another Here and Now resolution (feel free to steal that term and use it for yourself) I need time with my Father and I need to do it when all the shows are raging on TV. I need to chat with Him, tell Him how miserably I failed at believing Him (again), I need to tell him about those of you who have precious hearts that are breaking, I need to sit in quiet and listen for His voice and I need to do it NOW!
There are a lot of you out there that are formulating your resolutions. You are deciding what that goal looks like, how you will achieve it, and by all means we don't even have to ask when it will start. Here is my question to you: Is the goal you are making a goal benefiting your walk with our Father? If the answer to that is yes...then you have a Here and Now Resolution and you can start right now...YES right now...start it NOW! READ MY LIPS: N O W
The Spirit is talking and you don't know if you are going to even have a new year to start the thing...so if you are going to change something...do it now and stop ignoring the Father when He calls you to a greater challenge. The probability that you will achieve this over all the resolutions you are holding out to start on New Years day is pretty big.
Jeremiah 29:11 For I know the plans I have for you," declares the LORD, "plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.
I am already working on my Here and Now Resolution of Prayer...and by the time January 1st rolls around and I start working on the Pounds part...maybe I'll have the Prayer thing down...then I can have Pounds and Prayer...who knows...we may start a revolution with it!
In my life time, I have not seen this much hoopla over an election. Each candidate is fighting for issues, slamming each other, and neither one are willing to admit their own failings. Instead its point their finger at each other and shame, shame, shame on you. The threat to national security, sanctity of marriage and the plight to save the unborn life is all paramount and weighs so heavy on our hearts. The choice for president has turned into an emotional decision. To be truthful, I have likes and dislikes about both candidates. But to even be more truthful, my dislikes outweigh the likes.
The question I have been asking myself these last few months is this: Is there a possibility that no matter who wins this election, God’s man will be our president? I think the answer to that (in my mind) is a resounding ‘Yes’. I could write a dissertation on the men used in the Bible who were not Godly saints…just so God could change a nation…but I don’t have time. I’m not saying we have no voice…and I’m not saying just because ‘God’s will be done’ it negates our responsibility to do what is right. What I’m saying is when did we decide God was not in control anymore?
There seems to be this out of control move to get people voting, because we are panicked that one or the other is going flush our country down the toilet. I’ve got news for you: We’ve been spinning in the bowl for a long time! This nation as a whole lost its perspective a LONG time ago. We no longer believe in ‘One nation under God’, let alone trusting Him that no matter what we decide, His will is going to be done and…AND…that it is what is best for us and for His kingdom. Here is my example on this (and yes a bit of a pro-life slant, but I believe I can speak on this one from experience):
I was asked several times in one day to have an abortion. I had a nurse look me in the eyes and tell me I was going to have a boy, ten fingers, ten toes, eyes, nose and mouth…and THEN ask me to terminate my pregnancy.
I have to interject this real quick…I believe abortion is murder and it if flat out wrong no matter what the circumstances….I do not however believe it ends a life. I believe if you are a woman who is agonizing over your decision to have an abortion, there is grace for you and there is hope. We can make horribly wrong decision in life, changing the course of our own forever, but your baby…lives. If we believe in eternal life, Heaven or hell, we know that there is no end. So if you are reading this and you are struggling, please know God is such a good and gracious God, He is not only willing to forgive you, but He’s also got your little one safe! It has taken me a long time to come to terms with women who abort, especially ones with babies that have a Trisomy disorder, but I want you to know that with all my heart I love you and I am praying for you.
Most of you know my story, but a piece you do not know is I had another condition that threatened my life if I carried to term and delivered. I knew without a shadow of doubt God was going to do what was necessary to protect me, even if that meant I would be delivered into His arms at the same time Isaac was. Was I scared? Yes. Did that sway me? NO. Why? Because I trust God and I know no matter what the outcome: He is in control. My other point is you may make all the right choices, but the outcome may not be what you want. I know I made the right choice to carry my son and deliver him, but in my heart I ache for him. I miss him so much and am holding tight to the day that dawns when I get to grab him and hug him and mother him like nobody’s business!
When I was pregnant with Isaac and getting ready to deliver him at 39 weeks, hoping and praying we would get to hold his BREATHING body for just a little while, it wasn’t about whether or not I had the right choice to not have an abortion, it wasn’t about whether I had made the wrong choice endangering my life, it was all about whether or not I had chosen to trust God and believed He was still in control NO MATTER THE OUTCOME.
So I beg the question do you trust Him that no matter what vote you cast He has it under control? I’m not choosing a savior for America with my vote…I already have one for my life. That is all that matters…and HE is still in control.
My prediction on who wins the election? God does. Whether it’s Obama or McCain, the battle belongs to our God…and we have already won.
There is nothing that grounds you in reality more than the loss of a friend, parent, sibling or worse a child. The reality however does not always have to drop you into a depressive state. We all know it's horrible to lose someone, but I would hope you know this world is not our end. So it's time for me to tell the story again. I believe part of the ongoing grieving process of losing someone is to retell the story and realize the blessing in it. Here is my story:
On September 8th 2006 I sat anxiously awaiting the result of my 19 week ultra sound. For the event, my husband sat at my side and my mother and father stood watching the ultra sound tech scan my belly. With great excitement, we waited to hear the words "this is definitely a boy". Those words were perfect...and then preceded by sentences like "this looks normal" and "that is on track". As her words permeated the air, our perfect moment was covered with false assurance, and my heart began to sink. Why would she have the need to point out what was RIGHT? Slowly, she reached up, shut the machine off, turned to my mom and dad and said: "Why don't you go to the waiting room for a bit while I talk to mom and dad here." The world was crashing and the bed I was sitting on was the only thing holding me up. Everything in that instant seemed wrong. The color of the paint on the walls, the bed was cold, my hands ceased to work and my eyes could no longer see. The next words we heard were slow, precise and definite: "I believe your baby has Trisomy 18...." and then the long explanation of what that meant to two people who had never even been aware of the term. The short of it? Our baby was not going to live. We drove to a specialist within minutes where the #2 Doctor in the world for ultra sound technology confirmed the diagnosis. We were asked 4 times that day to terminate. We responded 4 times that day there would, under no circumstances be a time we would be responsible for ending this life. If God's will was to take our son, we would let Him do it on His terms, not ours.
Days turned into weeks, weeks turned into months and a name was bestowed on our son: Isaac Matthew Pipkin. He continued to thrive and live in me. The hardest part of the process was knowing as long as he was inside me, he was safe. However we grounded ourselves in the reality there would be a time when he HAD to come out. He had to meet his fate and journey on to the next thing God had planned for him. We had to meet our fate and journey on to the next thing God had planned for us. We lived day by day in the trenches with God. We begged for Him to ease our pain, we cried in His arms and spent many nights reading the words in Isaiah "our God is an everlasting God..." this was not the end...
On January 2nd at 39 weeks gestation, Isaac met the pain of the world and never drew a breath. You may read this and think 'how horrible' but here is where it gets good. God spared us and our son in more ways than one. When Isaac's heart stopped beating minutes before he was born I was spared the torment of holding him, watching his every move, listening to his every breath...wondering if that was the last one. I held him in my arms, examining every toe, every fingernail...he was a perfect 3lb baby. He was beautiful and he will ALWAYS be my first son. I held him in my arms while God held me in his.
I believe Isaac still lives, this is not the cliche "he will always live in my heart", his life is real and he is thriving. God has a plan for Isaac and it's a plan that can not be understood in human terms. I believe that about all our babies lost before they get to have life here on earth. We lose them in our understanding, but we gain them for eternity. Our world is so temporary. If a God could create THIS for us, I can't imagine what he has in store for us in our future life. I have said it a million times and I will continue to say it, I am blessed above mothers...my son was chosen by God before he had to make the decision to chose God. We raise our babies into adults and agonize over whether they will make that choice. The right choice.
God never promised life was going to be a blast of fun. What I can tell you is when you hit the bottom of desperation and He picks you up to hold you close, the peace that is promised to us, THAT peace is real. There is joy in pain. There is blessing in trouble. There is calm in the storm. God is good even when....and even if....
God is real, He chose Isaac and He is holding out for you...
So this morning, over coffee, convicted and ever increasing my way towards depression I had a talk with Him and was delicately reminded that reading a book or finding blogs to fill my daily bread was about as good as going to church every Sunday and never doing anything with it.
He has to be first and foremost.
That being said...close the window...and find a place to meet Him. He has some things He wants to say.
I started thinking about how so many of us are patients in the hospital of life, we move about unsuspecting of the time when our name is called up. A whisper is spoken across our world and suddenly we are being prepped for surgery. Our once perceived whole bodies are readied and laid out in preparation for the Doctors handiwork. What once was an unblemished canvas of skin (or life) is now cut into and bleeding. We tremble at the sight of the suffering blood and without knowing we are there to be healed, we cry out in pain because the cut is not restoration to us, only damage. Silently the Doctor works His way into our Spiritual bodies, cutting deeper to remove the cancer of sin or to mend the cause of our pain. Only as we begin to recover do we see the handiwork of the Doctor. We slowly begin to feel the added strength of restoration our Spirit has (unbeknownst to us) been longing for. Suddenly, we are out of the hospital, mended from the brokenness, or the sin, or the deep rooted transgression that was silently killing us...and we gently touch the emotional scar where the Doctor cut so deep and thankfully bow to the sweet grace of a saved life.
For my friend, her call for healing had been sweeping across the clouds of heaven for a time. Isaiah 65:24 says this: Before they call I will answer; while they are still speaking I will hear. The Doctor had listened, and without us knowing had planned healing for her beyond our comprehension or understanding and at 33, her restoration would be evident in death.
You see if we consistently cry out for healing and redemption, we should not be so surprised when the whisper is spoken and the Doctor without asking removes the pain from which our bones have been so burdened. So often we lament to our Savior without faith that He hears us. All the while the Doctor, the Creator of Healing Himself is waiting in the wings, listening to our every pained cry. We say we have faith, we believe in the One true God, but we never expect Him to really heal us. We might unrealistically dream to be given a magic pill that takes the burden away, but the idea we may have to be cut and bleed for the change to take place never occurs to us. The thought we might hurt in the process of changing is not an option. The possibility we don't even know we are sick before we end up on the Doctors table has never crossed our minds. I'm confident we may never fully understand His way of healing us. We may cry out in prayer, never expecting to be heard, but this I can assure you of: He hears us and before we call, He is ready to answer.
Psalm 10:17 You hear, O LORD, the desire of the afflicted;
you encourage them, and you listen to their cry
Psalm 34:5-7 Those who look to him are radiant;
their faces are never covered with shame. This poor man called, and the LORD heard him;
he saved him out of all his troubles. The angel of the LORD encamps around those who fear him, and he delivers them.
I am not one to boast the Doctor has never cut deep into my flesh. I have scars I will cherish forever, some small, some so large they will never or should ever be disguised. I was not anticipating the decision of my Father to take my friend home, but I rest peacefully in His judgment, His wisdom, His skillful touch and His sovereignty. Even in this loss I can feel the scalpel cutting deep into my flesh, digging for whatever He sees needs out of me. So I will praise Him as He works, cling to Him when the pain is too much, and rest in His arms as I heal from His cuts all the while knowing the scar it leaves behind is the change I need.
Yesterday we attended the funeral for fallen soldier Matthew R. Vandegrift. The testimony of how he lived his life and the life of the parents who raised him echoed in my ears as I climbed into our car for a very quiet drive home. The morning was sad, but so filled with God. I was so humbled and grateful from the front seat of my car to have been a part of such an amazing ceremony where the main event of the day was Jesus saves, not a soldier is dead. The whole idea of the morning struck a question of how many people in that room really got what matters. This family did a tremendous job of sharing the risen Savior with the crowd and that matters. The idea of it brought me to my mental knees of how to live a life that shows what matters. Catch that…I don’t want to live a life that matters, because then it is about me…I want to live a life that SHOWS what and who matters.
In front of us a brand new white Audi TT moved in position to lead the way up the street. Temporary plates hung in the back window as my eyes rested on the sleek vehicle gliding up the way. It was a brilliant white and the leather seemed so perfect I could almost smell it from the front seat of my beat up Bonneville. Then as my eyes fell to the back of the car I was struck by something unexpected; the brilliant, silver Audi symbol on the back of the car was perfectly in place and underneath it…barely visible, unless you were very close an Ichthys (fish symbol). The air escaped my lungs, but I could barely take another breath in. Don’t get me wrong, the fact the person who owned this car was willing to stand out for what they believed in was admirable. But I couldn’t help wonder if they knew how they had just minimized the body of Christ by using a symbol of modern day Babylon to denigrate the representation of Christ. Then it dawned on me as a society we have so minimized God that He is just that, a symbol of something we believe in, but not big enough to stand out as something we would die for. We live in a society where we could scarcely believe someone would die for our freedom, because the gesture is not viewed as a grand one, but something that just doesn’t make sense. We have so minimized the God we serve that we can’t even fathom Him being bigger than what is right in front of our eyes. We can’t comprehend the sacrifice of God’s only son for our freedom, but what really matters is how shiny the car is, not the One who blessed us enough to buy the car in the first place. Whether the point was not to mess the backside of the car up with TWO big symbols, or to make sure everyone knew it really was an Audi seemed pointless to me. Why even put the symbol on there if you couldn’t see it? If God can’t be a bigger symbol on your car than the car symbol itself, what was the point?
What really matters? The life of Matthew matters and still does. I could go on forever regarding the ignorance of people who were bold enough to post messages under news articles about the loss of his life and how senseless it was, but what really matters is this: it isn’t about the price Matthew paid for our freedom today, but the price that was paid for his freedom for eternity. Whether YOU believe it as useless or senseless that your freedom has already been paid for doesn’t matter. It has, and there is no changing it. Leave your comments wherever you must. Spread your ignorance across the globe, but guess what…it doesn’t matter. Someday your comments as well as your useless perspective will be obliterated from the face of this earth and when you stand before the throne of the ONE WHO MATTERS, truth will arise. He is bigger and will remain bigger than anything you can imagine…yes even bigger than the Audi symbol on the back of a brand new beautiful car.
I don't have much to say other than I am blessed. Out of the million things I wanted to speak on, I left out my life motto that we believe God is good even if....and even when.
So before tomorrow I wanted to publicly tell my Father you are good even if...tomorrow is held in your hands and we will praise you no matter what.
You are good even if and even when and I am still so blessed to be in your care and in your grace.
I love you.
As the words rolled off my tongue my phone rang. Wet arms grabbed the call as my husband was trying to reach me to give me the news that he had been offered a new job...minutes away from home...and more money...and he was so happy. The later was all I cared about. The tone of his voice was relieved and peaceful...and he quietly said to me "baby, it's all going to be ok...2008 is really going to be our year". Only moments before I had felt so defeated, I felt like nothing would change and now...NOW...I was carrying another baby and what would that mean for this little one. What if beyond Isaac's purpose in Heaven, it was also a test for my faith and life. Had I passed? Would I have to take the test again? What would prove me authentic? Would God ever really have all of me...ALL the time? You see, I know He has me, but like so many of us, I fall short of the consistency of ALL the time. I so desperately want to give Him ALL of me ALL the time. He is not here for crisis management. He's the creator of the day timer for Pete's sake! He is our every second, of every day. All of me....
So between January 2nd and January 18th, things started to change, but an upset started in the Pipkin house I was not prepared for. I found out a few days before Isaac's birthday that the cemetery had never delivered and placed Isaac's headstone. To make a very long story short, the DA was called to be involved, attorneys' were alerted, the media was contacted and my husband turned into a Lion...and the manager of the cemetery quickly promised my husband the headstone would be in place no later than the 20th of January. So now the 18th rolled around. Hallie was with Grandma and Grandpa Pipkin while Jason and I goofed off and eventually met the greatest friends we have ever been blessed with at the Melting Pot for a beautiful dinner. Dessert rolled around and our waiter came over after passing the plates around and said to me "let me go ahead and change out that plate for you" and placed a new plate with a gift on it in front of me. I couldn't for the life of me figure out what was going on, but I looked at Joni and realized the shape of the box and started crying right away. The box contained a bracelet...a new one...and new charms were on their way. It was a new beginning. A new bracelet...a new start...God's timing was as usual perfect.
This week has a lot. Let me break down what I believe is truly the beginning for us:
Saturday - new bracelet
Sunday - Isaac's headstone was confirmed in place, and Hallie...the big sister got to finally see where her brother was laid to rest
Sunday afternoon - my Bible study so appropriately was on Abraham and the test of sacrificing Isaac - I cried all the way through as I remembered it's not the test but our obedience that is important - Will we give Him all of us...ALL the time
Tuesday - Jason starts his new job
Thursday - the test to know if our new baby is ok.
Friday - just breath and praise Him "even if...and even when..."