{holy moments}

Baby’s First Christmas!

It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas here in Valdez, Alaska. Snow has fallen, our Alaskan spruce tree is up, decorated, and taking up way too much room in our tiny cabin’s living room. I’ve spent the last three days a slave in the kitchen baking tons of yummy goodies to give away. I’ve got lists of groceries to buy and last minute gifts to get since we’re hosting my family this year. I’ve been inspired to make this Christmas extra special because of one little reason I didn’t have last year –

Teagan Noelle.

She turned 10 months old on December 2nd and stares with wonder at the lights on the Christmas tree (before yanking down the lowest hanging ornaments).

Her middle name is appropriate for this time of year- Noelle is the female version of Noel which means Christmas in French. It’s the name of theologian and pastor John Piper’s wife. Tyler and I both thought it was beautiful. She was born in February but she’s our Christmas girl.

This time last year, December 2015, I was 8 months pregnant. I couldn’t help but think of Mary awaiting the birth of her first born son as I waited (impatiently) to meet our first born daughter.

But as much as I thought about Mary carrying baby Jesus in her womb last Christmas, it doesn’t even compare to the connection I feel to her this year. I think of her in the holy moments of motherhood, like when Teagan falls asleep in my arms. Moments like that bring a new found sense of wonder at the story of that other young mother holding her own sleeping baby over 2,000 years ago.

Mary and I. We have so much and yet so little in common.

Her baby was born in a stable or a cave and laid in a manger. Mine was born in a comfortable birth center and laid in a padded cradle.

Her baby was greeted by unknown shepherds from a field nearby. Mine was greeted by a large family who waited expectantly for her arrival.

But her baby had flesh and blood and new baby skin, and so did mine.

Her baby was fed by the breast milk of his mother, and so is mine.

Her baby had wet diapers and took first steps and said first words, and so did mine.

But Mary’s baby was born to die, so that mine might be born to live. Her baby came to take on the task that no one else could. For he was all human baby but also divine.

“Who, although He existed in the form of God, did not regard equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied Himself, taking the form of a bondservant and being made in the likeness of men.” Philippians 2:7

While Teagan didn’t have a choice… Jesus didn’t have to be born in painful childbirth. He didn’t have to grow up in the harshness of the first century, or to parents who had to work so hard to survive. He was God. He was the king of the universe. But He gave it all up at a certain time in history, at a certain place on earth. In Bethlehem. All so that he could die at a certain time in history, at a certain place on earth. At Golgotha. Death by the cross.

“Being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.” Philippians 2:8

Her baby was born to be obedient to God, to the point of death. So that He might rise again in victory over it and be shown as the Son of God, as Jesus Christ the Lord.

“For this reason also, God highly exalted Him, and bestowed on Him the name which is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus every knee will bow, of those who are in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and that every tongue will confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.” Philippians 2:9-11

Her baby was born for a tragic purpose. He died a horrific death. Mary didn’t choose this for Him, His Father did. God had it all planned, and Mary acting in trusting obedience played her part of the story and then had to watch it all unfold. Maybe she didn’t know what it was all for, maybe she didn’t know it was God’s great love to send His son to die. She certainly couldn’t just turn to John 3:16 and read…

“For God so loved the world that he sent His only begotten Son that who so ever believes in Him will have eternal life.” John 3:16

Eternal life with God.

Mary may not have known the great purpose for her little baby’s life. She was a woman living in a pivotal time in history when God came down to dwell on the earth. But we don’t know what Mary did or didn’t know. We only know that she obeyed. When given the news of her part to play, the news of what her life would become if she said yes to God, she said,

“Behold, the bondslave of the Lord; may it be done to me according to your word.” Luke 1:38

Like Mary, I don’t know the exact purpose of my baby’s life. I don’t know exactly the hardships or tests that she will face. Like Mary, I can’t stop the pain and suffering that will inevitably effect my child. The only thing I can do, is act in obedience to God myself. To be like Mary and live obediently. That’s the best thing Mary could do for her son Jesus. Because she submitted to God’s will she got to be directly involved in God’s work, and the whole world benefitted.

I don’t expect my obedience to be that far reaching, to change the whole world. But I do think that my submission to God in obedience might at least affect my little girl’s world. I want to teach Teagan His ways by directing her to His word, so she will know the truth about Mary’s son Jesus.

Despite what other traditions believe, Mary was just young woman. There was nothing really different about her that set her apart for the high calling of being Jesus’ mom. She simply obeyed God. So by her example as an ordinary mom I’ve learned that I too can obey God, I just have to listen to Him like she did. I can do that by reading His word . And I can pray, as Mary also prayed. Now that I am a mom, I pray. I pray every night for my baby. I count on the promise in 1 John 5:14 that if I pray according to His will, He will hear me. I pray every time it comes to mind that MY baby will kneel and bow before the one true God. I pray that once we teach her the truth, her tongue will confess that Mary’s baby is Lord. That Jesus is God. And that she will know, He alone gives purpose to her life. That by trusting in Him, confessing, and believing she will rise with Him again and live forever too.

The Christmas season is so fun and so busy. It’s full of traditions, and events, and food, and family. I’m enjoying it and looking forward to more. But this year, my first year as a mom, I’m stealing away holy moments. I’m pausing in the car on my way to the post office, in the kitchen washing cookie sheets, to let the Lord speak and remind me what it’s all for. What it’s all in celebration of- Her baby.

Mary’s baby was born to die, so that my baby might be born to live.

Thank you Lord.

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stuck in the secondary

The past few months I have been at home. Letting the Lord grow this baby inside me and taking on a more proactive role in running our household.

Just like anything this off time has it’s pros and cons. I have plenty of time  which has been used either to feel sorry for myself that I am not out living some grand adventure or to really DIG IN to scripture and learn to live in awe of this grand adventure as a daughter of the King that I actually am on…thankfully the days filled with the latter outweigh the former.

The word has come ALIVE to me in this season. Why now? Why do I suddenly hunger and thirst for more of it? Because I’m reading it.

Ironic? The more I GET by really studying and meditating and taking TIME, the more I WANT. It’s such a no brainer, and yet so profound. God really does know me and want me to know more of Him and He WILL reveal Himself through His word. The catch is I have to BE IN IT! duh.

A girlfriend I met at church here in Valdez and I would go on regular coffee dates almost since we moved here last January. We’d mostly vent to each other and then offer some encouragement for whatever crisis what currently taking over most of our brain capacity that week. We both longer for great fellowship and to get back into studying the Word. So we started meeting at her house on Tuesday mornings and decided to read through 1 Corinthians together instead of just venting:) Whoa. What a difference.

Not one week later we had grown from the two of us to 5 of us women. With each new addition our individual eagerness to glean something from these Tuesday mornings really grew. Now every Tuesday at 10, we all come on time, we all ask for prayer, we remember what the others had asked for last week and genuinely want to know how God is working in each other’s lives. We all do outside reading and studying of the agreed on chapters so our discussion can be more than just speculation and opinion based. It’s so refreshing.

And it’s hilarious that I’m so surprised by this development in my life- By this group of young women who really don’t have much in common besides the primary thing. I have had this before. I have LIVED this before. But it’s been about 5 years and it’s a much different context than a dorm full of best friends who not only read together but eat, sleep, dream, study, laugh and cry together too. I spent the first 2 years of our marriage really mourning the loss of community I had with my besties and roommates who really are my sisters in Christ. It had a lot to do with the fact that I transferred colleges to finish up at the University of Alaska and get married in the meantime. My husband was now my live in community and whoa was that a change. But it was so purposeful. Leave and cleave. It was harder for me, but now we both see the immeasurable value of literally moving away from all of our friends and family to a small Alaskan village to learn how to be married. That was such a tumultuous season, but so necessary.

Now, in our 4th year of our still imperfect but now solid (PRAISE THE LORD) marriage I have been blessed with female community again. Not the live in kind (gosh I still miss them) that knows immediately if I get a zit, that shares groceries but makes me buy my own jar of peanut butter, and knows first hand my guilty pleasure of sleeping 10 hours a night. But the adult kind that knows what I mean when I say meal planning on Monday morning has changed my life. It’s a new season and the Lord has brought along new friends for a new time.

But the POINT IS whether it is for a grade in Exodus/Deuteronomy class sitting beside my roommate in front of Dr. Yarchin, or whether it is to have something to share around the coffee table with the ladies on Tuesday morning- studying the word in community is the kind of accountability that I need.

It’s given me a renewed excitement for the text, a renewed surprise for the constant application it has for my life, a renewed JOY at the guidelines for living God’s way.

I WANT MORE.

And it literally brings me to tears what the Holy Spirit has revealed to me about that desire. That THIS is what this time off was about all along. THIS is the preparation I need before becoming a mother. The do-to lists before baby comes on Pinterest are NOTHING compared to the preparation of the heart that the Lord is working in me through this time of study.

Because more than being the mom who has all the answers, who has it all together, I want to be the mom on her knees before the living God day after day after day running the race for an imperishable crown (1 Cor. 9:25)

Because even this profound new role of mother is SECONDARY.

I am first, and foremost a child of God set on this earth to bring glory to HIM by becoming a partaker in HIS gospel (1 Cor. 23).

As Paul answers the Corinthians urgent questions of circumcision (1 Cor. 7:19), of the eating of idol meat (1 Cor. 8), and marriage (1 Cor. 7), he does have answers that helped guide them in the direction of God’s will but the overall theme is clear- these aspects of life are ALL secondary.

The SECONDARY question should be- should I get married?

The PRIMARY questions should be- how can I honor God in my earthly relationships?

The SECONDARY question- Do I buy the Chicco key fit carseat or the Graco snug ride?

The PRIMARY– Am I living as an obedient daughter of the Lord so that even from an infant my child will learn from my example?

And so my prayer in this season of life is that I would be no longer STUCK in the SECONDARY.

That I might be so in tune with the Holy Spirit in me through the spending of TIME in His Word, that I might start to live with the PRIMARY in mind. That I might care more about the spiritual growth of my child than his or her worldly performance, and on and on.

God reveal to me the areas in my life where I put primary what you put secondary so that I might live in greater communion with you…

That I might “run in such a way, as not without aim; box in such a way, as not beating the air; but (that I might) discipline my body and make it my slave, so that, after I have preached to others (after I have lived out my life in this secondary realm with YOUR primary focus), I myself will not be disqualified.” 1 Cor. 9:26-27

There is SO much more. Take me deeper in.