Living with my feet in a few different cultures I’m always interested to see different traditions and how they change. On Monday we go for our next baby scan – 18 weeks and are hoping to find out if it is a boy or a girl. When we had our first I was faced with a cultural dilemma. In Malawi few people find out in advance the sex of the baby – mostly due to lack of scans, although that is changing. At home in Northern Ireland it seems that most people don’t find out by choice and if the do happen to find out few will share the results until the baby is born. In South African it seems like everyone finds out – you get asked so many times that it seems weird not to – and many are even sharing the babies name in advance.
I can see why some people keep it secret – they say it is the best surprise of your life, but knowing also has it benefits too. With no.2 we have so many very girly girl clothes stock piles – it will be nice to know if we need them or need to stock up on some macho stuff.
So I’m excited for Monday – mostly because of the wonder of all. I’m mindful as we get a peak of this growing new life that nothing of its (his or hers) is a secret from God:
Psalm 139:13-16 For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb. 14 I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well. 15 My frame was not hidden from you when I was made in the secret place. When I was woven together in the depths of the earth, 16 your eyes saw my unformed body. All the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be.
Did you or will you find out or not?
Update 10th Nov 2014 – avert you eyes if you are against knowing but we are expecting a little boy 🙂
A few people have tried to play peek-a-boo with Jenny, but she is not so excited about that. Apparently she is too young to appreciate the game – in her mind when she can’t see you your gone. She is too young to have a concept that you still exist even when you are behind something or in another room so peak-a-boo is quite stressful. If you want to get Jenny excited don’t hide yourself away and pop out, instead come close to her. She loves to chat nose to nose and smiles ear to ear when you sit cheek to cheek. She wants to touch your face and you lips when you talk.
In many ways we are the same with God. When we don’t see Him at work in our lives, or we don’t feel Him, then we doubt His existence. When God is not obvious in our situation we begin to question Him, fear sets in and faith waivers.
Psalms 10:1 Why, O LORD, do you stand far off? Why do you hide yourself in times of trouble?
Like a infant we panic when we feel alone. Even though I tell Jenny that I would never leave her alone and that even when I leave her with her nanny I will always come and get her, she doesn’t understand. At the moment when she wants me and I am not there she is sad. Even though I always come back she doesn’t remember back to that, instead she panics because mum is gone. How often have I done that with God? No matter how many times He comes through for me I still panic when circumstances make me feel like I am alone.
Romans 8:35-39 Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword? 36 As it is written: “For your sake we face death all day long; we are considered as sheep to be slaughtered.” 37 No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. 38 For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, 39 neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.
Yet instead of looking at the circumstances I need to remember that God says even when I can’t see Him, He sees me and He loves me. Lord, help me to trust your presence with me, even when I can’t see or feel you.
I am so sorry for all the silence and tumble weeds you have encountered in this blog lately without any explanation. The simple reason has been that life interrupted. Six days ago we were blessed with the birth of our first child – Jenny Madalo (Madalo means Blessings in Chichewa). During the period waiting for her I thought many times I should post something, but then wondered how many people really wanted to read post after post about waiting! So I am hoping that as I adjust to motherhood the posts may start appearing a bit more regularly. However I am well aware that life will continue to interrupt so please bear with me.
Thankfully for God none of these interruptions take Him by surprise. Jenny’s late arrival and her emergency c-section were unknowns to us, but God was already aware. As we waited nearly a week past the due date wondering when she would come, God already had earmarked her birthday. As I look at this little bundle, who loves nothing more than to curl into a ball and sleep close to a heartbeat, I am thankful that her Heavenly Father knows exactly what lies ahead for her. He has been with her before we even knew she existed and every step she will take is known to Him.
Psalms 139:14-16 I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well. 15 My frame was not hidden from you when I was made in the secret place. When I was woven together in the depths of the earth, 16 your eyes saw my unformed body. All the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be.
The girls of my lovely cell group lured me to a house last week under false pretences – it was my surprise baby shower. I was spoilt, pampered and loved. Silly games were played including the chocolate nappy game, my waters broke and baby pictures. Thankfully I manage to avoid sampling more than one baby food. Throughout the whole proceedings I sat like a Queen on a throne and was given a lovely pedicure – definitely I was spoilt. Amongst all the beautiful gifts for baby there was one gift for all the girls that really touched me. Each one thought of a word to describe me and why they thought I would be a good mum. They then wrote the words on a canvas so that I could be reminded of them on the days when I doubted myself. I’m very sure there will be days in the next few months and years when I panicking and doubting my ability to deal with this little girl who is on her way so the canvas has taken pride of place in the baby’s room.
So it is the same in our walk with God – sometimes we get overwhelmed with the situation we are in and we forget who we are. I love the lists that Neil Anderson has in the back of his book Bondage Breaker – he has a list of who God says I am. When the world, the devil or my own mind whisper to me that I’m not good enough I have a list to turn to that says differently – and after all I figure God knows me better than I do.
Some of the verses on my list are:
I am created by God:
Psalms 139:13-14 For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb. 14 I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well.
I am adopted by God:
Ephesians 1:4-6 For he chose us in him before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless in his sight. In love 5 he predestined us to be adopted as his sons through Jesus Christ, in accordance with his pleasure and will 6 to the praise of his glorious grace, which he has freely given us in the One he loves.
I am forgiven:
1 John 1:9 If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.
I am not condemned:
Romans 8:1-2 Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus, 2 because through Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit of life set me free from the law of sin and death.
Times of doubt will come. How are you prepared to deal with them? What verses make you list of doubt beaters? Lord in times of doubt may your Word and your thoughts about me bring peace and faith.
We are on a countdown – six weeks left if baby follows the doctor’s text book. Some days I am excited, others nervous & others a bit fearful. What will she be like? Will she look more like me than her Dad? Will she pick up my good habits or my bad habits? Whose temperament will she have – will she be talkative like me or thoughtful like her Dad? Will she be a contented baby? According to science she won’t get my blue eyes but curls are very likely. At the top is a photo of my mum & I 35 years ago – many people have mistaken it for me and a baby – we are enough a like that some people get sad me because I remind them so much of mum. My prayer for our baby though is not that she would take after her Mum or her Dad but that each of us would take after Jesus instead:
2 Corinthians 3:18 All of us! Nothing between us and God, our faces shining with the brightness of his face. And so we are transfigured much like the Messiah, our lives gradually becoming brighter and more beautiful as God enters our lives and we become like him. (The Message)
The future is both exciting and unknown. What will her life be like – I know we won’t be able to shield her from every hard time, but what lies in store for her? I’m sure I will do my best to protect her from all life’s faults and for a long time I’m sure she will think her Dad hangs the sun out for her every day. Yet the best gift we can give her is to know that know that all things are in the hands of the One who made her:
Colossians 1:15-17 We look at this Son and see the God who cannot be seen. We look at this Son and see God’s original purpose in everything created. 16 For everything, absolutely everything, above and below, visible and invisible, rank after rank after rank of angels–everything got started in him and finds its purpose in him. 17 He was there before any of it came into existence and holds it all together right up to this moment. (The Message)
What will she be like – well we’ll just have to wait and see. What we do know for sure is that she will be well loved, not just by her family but more importantly by the One who made her.
I promise you my blog won’t become baby obsessed but obviously baby stuff is what is on my mind at the moment. Over this last month as baby’s kicks and pokes have been getting strong I have found myself amazed a bewildered by the thought of those ladies who go into labour and say that they had no clue that they were even pregnant! I know I am not an expert in any way, but in my limited experience I find myself sceptical and find their claims hard to believe – even if they didn’t know they were pregnant surely they knew something wasn’t right? Being kicked in the bladder they must have dismissed as some mad bowel movements or a strange parasite? Again I am no expert so I can quite happily and probably very easily be proved wrong but I really find it hard to believe. I find myself wondering if they are just in deep denial of what is happening to them.
Denial is not uncommon in most of our lives. With increased financial problems and stresses the ostrich syndrome is a refuge for many of us. Even when it comes to God many people are in denial – it is safer and more convenient to ‘believe’ that he doesn’t exist. God Himself is not surprised by this strategy:
Romans 1:18-21 The wrath of God is being revealed from heaven against all the godlessness and wickedness of men who suppress the truth by their wickedness, 19 since what may be known about God is plain to them, because God has made it plain to them. 20 For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities–his eternal power and divine nature–have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that men are without excuse. 21 For although they knew God, they neither glorified him as God nor gave thanks to him, but their thinking became futile and their foolish hearts were darkened.
Even with all the evidence of creation many people choose to live as if there is no God. As we approach Christmas time we also see in the nativity story how even with the birth of the Son of God some folks were in denial.
Matthew 2:12-16 And having been warned in a dream not to go back to Herod, they returned to their country by another route. 13 When they had gone, an angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream. “Get up,” he said, “take the child and his mother and escape to Egypt. Stay there until I tell you, for Herod is going to search for the child to kill him.” 14 So he got up, took the child and his mother during the night and left for Egypt, 15 where he stayed until the death of Herod. And so was fulfilled what the Lord had said through the prophet: “Out of Egypt I called my son.” 16 When Herod realized that he had been outwitted by the Magi, he was furious, and he gave orders to kill all the boys in Bethlehem and its vicinity who were two years old and under, in accordance with the time he had learned from the Magi.
Herod – who was from a Jewish background should have been expecting the Messiah, yet his first response when the Magi came looking for the new King at the Palace was anger. Herod set out to kill the only one who could save him. Jesus was a threat to his power and position – for Herod a saviour was inconvenient so he denied him and refused to bow his knee. As I look around at the hustle and bustle of Christmas I see many people merrily denying Jesus. It would be too inconvenient to admit He is alive, to bow the knee. We don’t like to give up our power and throne to anyone else.
I pray that this Christmas I would not deny the place of Jesus as King. Help me Lord to bow my knee to you, even when it is inconvenient for me.
Last week I went for a check up and got to see a glimpse of Baby Soko again. This is the third scan now and each time she is proving to be camera shy. For the ‘big scan’ at 20 weeks she wrapped herself in a ball and refused to budge – to the extent that nurse couldn’t find her arms. She tried to reassure me that there must be arms as she could find hands! When the doc came in to check the scan he also struggled and was about to send me for a walk to see if she would wake up and unravel, but thankfully at the last minute she stretched enough to be measured. It seems that my baby doctor doesn’t share the same softly softly approach as the doctor at the radiographer’s place.
At last week’s scan Baby Soko again was playing hard to get. Doc wanted to get a nice photo for us, but baby was covering her face with her hands. But instead of suggesting a gentle walk Doc just placed his on my tummy and shook it! On the screen baby woke up, moved her hands and doc managed to get a good shot before the hands went back to the place again. I guess the difference between the two docs is that the second one spends his time delivering so knows that they are not as breakable as you would think.
Our heavenly Father seems to have the same opinion as us – we are not a fragile and breakable as we think we are.
1 Corinthians 10:12-13 So, if you think you are standing firm, be careful that you don’t fall! 13 No temptation has seized you except what is common to man. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can stand up under it.
We often think that God should protect us from having to go through hard times and from having to make hard decisions. When it comes to temptation God knows our limits and knows that we are not as breakable as we think. It would be lovely never to be tempted and therefore never have to make hard choices, but God knows us better than that – he knows we are more resilient than we feel we are.
One of my favourite verses that got me through many a hard time has been:
Isaiah 54:10 Though the mountains be shaken and the hills be removed, yet my unfailing love for you will not be shaken nor my covenant of peace be removed,” says the LORD, who has compassion on you.
God hasn’t created us to live in a protected bubble – temptations and hard times will come – but even though it feels like we are living through earthquakes God’s love for us remains unshaken.
Help me Lord to trust you in hard times, for you love me and know my limits of what I can bear better than I do.