His Eye

By Jonni Sliver

I had one of the happiest experiences in a long time yesterday.  It involves a precious young lady I have kind of adopted. Her name is Cris and she is here with her husband, John and daughter Leota for a short time (relatively speaking, they will be here almost six months when they leave). She is nearly eight months pregnant and they to have their second baby here in Brazil because John and Cris hope to return permanently when John retires.  For right now, Cris needs a little extra support because John had to return to work for six weeks (he works as an engineer on oil rigs, his current assignment is in Singapore). So Cris is here with a two year old princess, a big tummy and as much Portuguese as you can learn in two months.

I have been trying to be a good aunty to Cris – taking her shopping, helping her make new friends, getting her language lessons, and just plain visiting! One of the more important little jobs I have had has been taking her to doctor appointments, and I finally come to the blessing I received yesterday! Cris needed one more ultra-sound, and as she doesn’t speak medical Portuguese, I went with. I have seen ultra-sounds before, but it has been a while. I was so amazed to see Faith Karen’s (this precious new baby’s name) face on the screen, as clear as a photograph! Her cute little nose, her hand pressed against her cheek, she even wiggled her fingers at us (I am positive she knew she was posing for photos!). It was amazing to see this little one, still in the womb, almost ready to join us!

I have mentioned before that Psalm 139 is one of my favorite texts;  you can imagine how that passage came to mind! Seeing this precious little one is a gift from God, who gave talents and intelligence to men to create something like an ultra-sound, but none of this is a novelty for our Father. He has seen each one of us as we were being formed, as He knit us in our mothers’ wombs. Yesterday I saw just a glimpse, but the Father’s eye has been on this little girl since before her mother knew she was being carried!

Faith Karen hasn’t done a single thing to earn God’s favor, but His hand of blessing is on her and He has already dreamed great dreams for her. Do you ever feel like you haven’t done enough, or you aren’t important enough to warrant God’s grace and favor? You are correct – you haven’t warranted it, but you have it just the same! The Father loves you with an eternal love. When you lie down tonight He will be with you, when you wake in the morning He will still be there; your frame is ever before Him and he doesn’t even need an ultra-sound to see you!

LIVING IN THE MUNDANE

by Sarah Langness

My days are fairly predictable. I can roughly tell you what time Zeke and I will be out for our morning walk and down for our afternoon nap. I usually do my grocery shopping on Mondays after lunch. I can tell you what days I typically do laundry. Day-to-day, my life tends to look extremely similar. Sure, there are days with a few surprises, like when my husband decides to be spontaneous and come home from work early. Or like last week when Zeke pooped out his diaper for the first time in months and I had to rinse his pants off in the toilet. Or when I’m able to grab coffee with a dear friend back for a short visit.

Yesterday, though, I broke the mold. I skipped my morning walk, left the men at home and headed to Bismarck to run a few errands. (I know, I know: real exciting. But hey, I live in western North Dakota; cut me some slack.) As I was driving across the familiar 79-mile stretch of farmland, I did something I rarely do: I listened to the radio. Family Life Today was on, and my apologies to the name of their guest whose name is lost on my mind somewhere on I-94. And actually, apologies to Family Life Today as I hardly even recall what the broadcast topic was about. Something about loving your spouse. I forget because of something that forgotten guest said that rang over and over and over in my mind:

“We only make three or four big decisions in life. But we live in the every day, in the mundane.”

It’s so easy to seek Christ in the big decisions, the big issues. Where we should go to college. Who (or if) we should get married. To take that job far from family or stay closer to home.

But what about the every day? The ordinary, mundane things? Jesus doesn’t want just a part of the “big” things in life – He wants the little ones too.

Not that I need to pray about switching my laundry day. Or that there is anything wrong with a fairly predictable routine. But in those every day, mundane, day-to-day tasks, who am I living for? Am I living selfishly, putting my desires over those of my families? Do I have eyes of compassion for the hurting around me, or am I to focused on me to notice them? Am I content with what I have, with who the Lord has made me to be, or am I envious of that other mom who seems to have it made?

“For you were called to freedom, brethren; only do not turn your freedom into an opportunity for the flesh, but through love serve one another. Now those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. If we live by the Spiritlet us also walk by the Spirit. Let us not become boastful, challenging one another, envying one another.” – Galatians 5:13, 24-26, NASB (emphasis mine)

It is in the mundane moments that I choose to put Jordan’s needs over my own. It is the every day moments that become Kingdom teaching moments for little Ezekiel. It is in the ordinary moments that I live for the Extraordinary One.

“For the love of Christ controls us, having concluded this, that one died for all, therefore all died; and He died for all, so that they who live might no longer live for themselves, but for Him who died and rose again on their behalf.” – 2 Corinthians 5:14-15, NASB (emphasis mine)

No matter how ordinary, how everyday, how mundane our daily tasks may seem to be, may we ever be guilty of living for Jesus.

 

Precious Life . . . From the Start

By Sarah Langness

One of the scariest moments of my life happened when I was pregnant with Ezekiel. I was about 11 or 12 weeks along. We had just released the news of our coming little one to family and friends. Although initially scared and shocked, I was excited and already in love with that little baby. One morning, I had a tiny bit of spotting. It wasn’t much and I almost didn’t even call the doctor about it. But the doctor was unable to find baby’s heartbeat, which heightened concern because just one week prior she could find it. I was petrified. The drive to the hospital in Hazen was the longest seven-mile drive of my life. Praise the Lord that the ultrasound revealed a kicking, squirming, heart-beating baby.

But I know that many are not so fortunate. I know many who have dealt with the pain of miscarriage.

I remember telling my mom after the scare with Zeke, “I know he’s only 12 weeks old, but it was still really scary.” To which she replied, “Of course you were! That is three months of falling in love with that little baby.”

12 weeks. Three months. Our baby was the size of a plum. But still loved. Still valuable. Still a child. Because life begins at conception.

“You formed my inward parts; you wove me in my mother’s womb . . . I am fearfully and wonderfully made; wonderful are Your works . . . My frame was not hidden from you, when I was made in secret and skillfully wrought in the depths of the earth; Your eyes have seen my unformed substance; and in Your book were all written the days that were ordained for me, when as yet there was none of them.” – Psalm 139:13-16; NASB

Recently it was National Infant Loss and Remembrance Day. A difficult, but important day for those who have lost babies, whether through miscarriage, a stillborn birth or other tragedy. Because life does indeed begin at conception. And no matter the size of the child, loss is hard.

To my friends who have lost those little ones, my heart goes out to you. Not just tomorrow, but when you hear news of others’ pregnancies. When your baby’s due date rolls around. When you see the joyous smiles of other little ones.

And my prayers are with you. You have dealt with a pain I cannot imagine nor fathom. My prayer is that you will cling to the One who knows your heartache and pain. That you will find strength for each moment and every day in Him. That in the midst of the pain, you are able to remember His great lovingkindess.

“Remember my affliction and my wandering, the wormwood and bitterness. Surely my soul remembers and is bowed down within me. This I recall to mind, therefore I have hope. The LORD’s lovingkindnesses indeed never cease, for His compassions never fail. They are new every morning; great is Your faithfulness. ‘The LORD is my portion,’ says my soul, ‘Therefore I have hope in Him.” . . . If He causes grief, then He will have compassion according to His abundant lovingkindness.” – Lamentations 3:19-24, 32; NASB (emphasis mine)

God Knows Us

by Velma Amundson

I thought I knew exactly where this blog was going this morning. And, I was exactly wrong…or only partially right.

It’s been an interesting week, or day. We’ve literally gone from birth to death…all in one day. Kind of changes things. But not really.

In March our son called to tell us he and his wife were expecting in November. Today he called to say they are having a little girl. I thought of this verse:

“Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, and before you were born I consecrated you; I appointed you a prophet to the nations.”  Jeremiah 1:5

I thought, isn’t it nice to know that God already knows my granddaughter!  Even before she is born He already cares for her and loves her. Of course, we pray daily that He will watch over her and her mother, to keep them safe and for a safe and healthy delivery. After she is born, we will have the pleasure and duty to be sure that she knows God. That’s true for all of us. Even before we were born, God knew us. I like to think that while we were nestled beneath our mother’s heart, God spoke to us. I know it’s a bit of fancy, but it could be.

Then there is the promise that God walks with us daily and has plans for us. In Jeremiah 29:11 we are told:

“For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for wholeness and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope.”

God plans good things for us. Even the trials that we go through are to strengthen us and make us fit for Him. I know He walks with me, and I know that He will walk with my new granddaughter-to-be. I know that whatever we face, we face it with God at our side.

Which leaves the final journey. John had a call yesterday that one of our parishioners had fallen and broken his hip. He had surgery to repair it today. It’s a surgery that he did not survive. While his family grieved, they also commented that they knew where he was now. Now he was beginning his new life with Christ and they could not imagine anything better for him. John 14:1-3 says:

“Let not your hearts be troubled. Believe in God; believe also in me. In my Father’s house are many rooms. If it were not so, would I have told you that I go to prepare a place for you? And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and will take you to myself, that where I am you may be also.”

Cool. From before we are born until we are “born again” into our new life in Christ on this earth, and then finally meet Him in heaven, God walks with us, to guide us, comfort us, love us. I think of the song “In the Garden” where it says:

“And I walk with him and I talk with him, and he tells me I am his own. And the joy we share as we tarry there, none other has ever known.”

I wish you daily the joy of walking with Christ and leaning on his strength.