And the greatest of these is love…

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Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see. (Hebrews 11:1 NIV84)

If faith is looking forward to God’s future promises, love looks around to the current need. Love is not a feeling, but expresses action. Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It is not rude, it is not self‑seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. (1 Corinthians 13:4-7 NIV84)

My faith that God’s care for my life is often tested, the storm swells around us, and the waves grow larger and more intense, yet I press on, looking only toward Christ as savior, and my Father as daily provider.

But as I fix my eyes on Jesus, and the waves fade from view, something else takes shape. I am more reminded of the people around me, going about their lives in darkness. Living in Northern Virginia reminds me wealth or power often become idols. There aren’t as many visible physical needs in this area and I think that makes it so much harder to recognize the necessity of God’s mercy. But what takes it’s place is an attitude of self-sufficiency and focus on things like career, goals, money, etc. Those things become gods of our life. And the fruit of our worship is not love.

I pray daily that my focus will always first turn to God and honor him as king, and secondly toward my neighbors, expressing my love through my actions.

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Faith lessons from my daughter.

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Genevieve is mobile. She quickly moved from crawling to standing, and is now pushing her walker. But what’s really amazing is how she’s been playing with blocks. Her blocks sit in a tray and she uses her tiny fingers to pry them out one at a time. She pushes and pulls them until she can grab them. It’s amazing to watch her develop.

Today I started think what a lesson she is teaching. While her parents worry about all the cares of life, Genevieve only thinks about those blocks. Faith in God should be like that. God knows his plans, and he knows the future. All we need to be concerned about is looking forward, our eyes fixed on the goal, the call of Christ. I pray that you will grow in faith like a child.

No one serving as a soldier gets involved in civilian affairs–he wants to please his commanding officer. 2 Timothy 2:4 NIV

And he said: “I tell you the truth, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. Matthew 18:3 NIV

A whisper that turned into a hurricane.

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I am so grateful lately for what God has done in our lives. I’m beginning to realize that faith is not mearly expecting God to do something, it’s waiting and allowing God to work in his will. I know that we must live day by day hour by hour in the will of God not expecting more than that. Planning for my future comfort often causes me to worry about the provision. And none of us know how much time we have left anyway.

I am grateful to God for his lessons in faith. May I learn more quickly in the future.

Grateful to, not just grateful for…

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Last year, I set myself to the task of writing everyday. I started with three things each day for which I was grateful. That lasted all of 15 days. I recently re-read what I had written and felt ashamed for letting it slip away. I purposed myself to begin again. So here we are.

I will begin with a lesson I’ve learned in the past few months. Gratefulness requires direction. It needs to point to someone else. I’m happy with the things I have, my family, money, and so on. But gratefulness requires humility. If I am the creator of my own fortune, or master of my own circumstances, to whom would I be grateful? So I will begin with this.

I am grateful for mercy. I am a sinner, deserving of nothing, yet, God loves me. I do not know why.

He will not always accuse, nor will he harbor his anger forever;
he does not treat us as our sins deserve or repay us according to our iniquities.
Psalm 103:9-10 (NIV)

To whom are you grateful?

 

A man un-done: A heroic rescue (Part 2)

We started the treatments for infertility in May of 2011. My fear of doctors was tested when I was asked to complete some tests. They discovered a small infection and treated me with an antibiotic. Fear combined with worry was so palpable that I often felt that my stomach would jump out of my throat. But I would be fine. The doctor’s official diagnosis for our infertility was “unexplained.” After everything we’d been through, after all the worries, tests, and waiting, the doctor didn’t know the cause. But he suggested that we move forward with in vitro fertilization.

That process meant my wife was going to start a course of multiple daily hormone shots for two weeks. I wanted to be a part of the process so I asked if I could give her the shots. It was hard to even think about the shots, but I girded myself and began.  I’m fairly sure it was more painful for me. My wife was a real trooper, every day, morning and evening, we sat in the kitchen and completed our task.

I should mention the complete process involved in our treatment. First, you complete two weeks of hormone shots designed to increase the number of eggs that are released in a given cycle. The doctor monitors them closely, measuring size and speed of growth. Finally, just before they’re ready to release, a trigger shot is administered, and within 48 hours, the doctor performs a procedure to remove the eggs and prepare them for the next phase.

I want to step back and address an important issue. When involving yourself in the IVF process, there are significant questions that arise, such as, when does life begin, what do you do with the ones left over, etc. My wife and I both believe that God creates life at conception. We specifically approached all of our decisions with this idea in mind. These children of ours are in God’s hands and we will give them birth if it be God’s will. Throughout the process, we refused any testing that would give us information about genetics, incurable diseases, or disorders. Because, they were living beings. Their condition wouldn’t matter, we would love them as they were.

The day of the trigger shot came. It is the final stage of the course and by far the longest needle. Because of the timing required, the clinic directed us to administer the shot within a 10 minute window. As the time approached, my wife and I sat in the kitchen and cried. Could this be it? After 12 years of marriage? What if it didn’t work? Could we afford another round? What if this were the end? What if we found out that we can’t have children?

Then like the downward slope of a roller-coaster, it began, in less than 48 hours we were in the clinic, the eggs were extracted, and our little children were conceived. The general procedure is to wait up to six days, checking once a day on their progress. Each day, a few stopped progressing. This is normal, and it even happens in the womb. We believe that God knows their names and they are in His purpose.

By the end of the week, we had three little babies ready for mom. The doctor recommended we implant two and the last one would be frozen for later. These babies are called snowflakes and there are even adoption agencies looking for loving families to have and care for them. If it be God’s will, we will try with our snowflake soon.

Two babies went in. My first picture of my daughter was at 6 days old next to her sibling. They both looked like hatching eggs. The wait began, two weeks of waiting to know if we were pregnant. On the day of the scheduled return to the doctor, we couldn’t wait any longer. My wife took a home pregnancy test and we were parents. We didn’t find out until later, but God had decided that we would only have one.

A rush of emotion like I have never felt washed over me. I wanted to be dad. I wanted to lay on the couch with my daughter on my chest, listening to her breathe. The doctor that delivered our daughter called it puppy breath. I wanted her to be safe. And I suddenly felt scared. What if she has Downs Syndrome? What if we couldn’t provide? What if my wife has a miscarriage? God help us!

And He did, but not in the way I thought.

This is the second part in a series of writings about parenthood and how I got there. More to come.