The Great Exchange

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I would exchange my life in a heartbeat for his! My precious 1 day old grandbaby boy!IMG_0889

His mommy’s uterus ruptured and he was delivered into her abdomen where he struggled for too many minutes without oxygen. Once flown 200 miles away to the NICU nursery, we were told by the neurosurgeon that the flat lines on the EEG “worried” him.IMG_1042

I knew right then and there as I watched my grandbaby fighting for his life that I would gladly give him anything he needed for survival!!

My kidneys? Take them! Liver? Lungs? Take them and while you are at it take my heart and my brain and give them to little Micah so he can live!! It would be a sacrifice I would more than gladly make!

But instead I had to helplessly stand by and watch as he lost the fight after 5 short days.IMG_0885

This heart-wrenching experience has given me a whole new perspective on Jesus’ great sacrifice for me!

I would have done anything to trade my life for Micah’s but I didn’t have the ability.

But Jesus! He could exchange His life for mine. And He did! He gave up His life so I could have life eternal! His blood poured out onto the ground so I could live! He bore my sin and shame on that cross so I could be clean and righteous!

He did this because of His immense love for me! He looked down and saw…ME! My sin and eternal life in darkness broke His heart. He was moved to action and made the sacrifice of His life so I could live!IMG_0933

I understand this now like never before.

Jesus loves me. It’s why He made the great exchange…His life for mine.

Will you accept the exchange He would like to make with you? He already made the sacrifice…all you need to do is except His free gift of life.IMG_0973

God put into effect a different plan to save us. He sent His own Son in a human body like ours, except that ours are sinful. God destroyed sin’s control over us by giving His Son as a sacrifice for our sins. Romans 8:3

For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life through Christ Jesus our Lord. Romans 6:23

If you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord, and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved. Romans 10:9

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When Suffering Leaves its Mark

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1 Peter 4:12 Beloved, do not be surprised at the fiery trial when it comes upon you to test you, as though something strange were happening to you.

As I was writing this post, 12:55 am…Micah is Dancing With Jesus, I felt as though someone was pressing as hard as they could into my chest with a red-hot branding iron. The very next day I heard a sermon entitled, “What’s Your Favorite Brand?” (Mark Kirk) I was blown away!

He said that a fiery trial is very much like receiving a brand. Our hardships are painful but purposeful!

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Photo Credit Jill Williams Cook

A brand takes 5-10 seconds but is excruciating and feels like the end has come. When you think of the life of an animal … 5-10 seconds is nothing. But it leaves an indelible mark that lasts a lifetime.

The same is true with a fiery trial. Even if our fiery trial lasts a lifetime…it is nothing when we compare it to eternity with Christ!

A brand shows that this animal has been set apart from the herd, marked with ownership. When we are branded by suffering and trust Christ through it, it leaves an undeniable mark that shows God’s glory on us and that we are His.

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Photo Credit Jill Williams Cook

 

Trials brand us with the character of Christ. Through the hardest, most painful things in life, He marks us as His own with:

HOPE … PEACE … JOY… CHARACTER … LOVE!

2 Corinthians 4:17 For our present troubles are small and won’t last very long. Yet they produce for us a glory that vastly outweighs them and will last forever! So we don’t look at the troubles we can see now; rather, we fix our gaze on things that cannot be seen. For the things we see now will soon be gone, but the things we cannot see will last forever.

 

My 2016 Word

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Have you been praying for a word that would represent what God would like to speak over your life for 2016?

For several weeks I have been praying for one from the Lord that would sort of capture 2016 and His will for me. He finally gave it to me a few nights ago!

Rest.

Right before bed, the Lord gave me the word “rest” while I was doing my regular, every day reading through the Bible. I love how He can interrupt the “mundane” and speak so powerfully into our lives!

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“So God set another time for entering his rest, and that time is today” (Hebrews 4:7).

What?! Rest?! I don’t have time for­ that.  But God has so much better for me than I could ever choose for myself!! He has only good for me! And rest is on His list of gifts He so desires to give me. Will I accept it? Will I accept Him?

This is a little bit of a crazy time! LOTS of great changes for me and a few scary moments with Leah’s pregnancy have made me feel a bit overwhelmed.

I feel like the Lord is saying…”Enter into My rest. I’ve got this. Enjoy every minute. Rest in Me. No rushing or fretting. Just rest.”

I don’t want to miss one exciting second of the here and now fretting over what might or might not happen in the future.  I want the rest He has for my soul!

This is what the LORD says: “Stand at the crossroads and look; ask for the ancient paths, ask where the good way is, and walk in it, and you will find rest for your souls”  (Jeremiah 6:16).

He is saying, “You’ve asked me…Now trust Me. Obey Me. Rest in Me.”

Thank You, Jesus! I choose You! I choose to snuggle up and rest on Your chest! I choose to enjoy every moment of this crazy, wonderful adventure you have me on!

Jesus longs to give you the same thing. Himself. Will you choose this amazing gift of rest that only He can provide?

“Let the beloved of the LORD rest secure in him, for he shields him all day long, and the one the LORD loves rests between his shoulders.” Deuteronomy 33:12

“Take my yoke upon you. Let me teach you, because I am humble and gentle at heart, and you will find rest for your souls.” Matthew 11:29

 

 

Happy Birthday, Micah!

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My sweet grandbaby, Micah Lee Fahrlender! Today you would have turned one.

Every fiber of my being misses you.

IMG_0832There’s a new baby growing inside that uterus that ripped wide open and spilled you out. Fear could terrorize my heart for your precious little brother or sister inside that womb and for your mommy that almost lost her life.

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But God! He has made me His child. I am no longer a slave to fear.

The Spirit you received does not make you slaves, so that you live in fear again; rather, the Spirit you received brought about your adoption to sonship. And by him we cry, “Abba, Father.” Romans 8:15

Slaves have no choice! They must do as they are told. They are controlled…often by chains and whips. Children, on the other hand, are tenderly loved, taught and disciplined to truly enjoy freedom.

Fear is not my master. I am God’s child. He has taken my life that used to be governed by fear and has delivered me into His family and into freedom.

As with anything dark and daunting that looms over our life, we have a choice.

Will we allow our minds to dwell on the future and worst case scenarios? Or will we take those thoughts captive to the obedience of Christ and live a life of thanksgiving? Worry can’t change the past or change the future. It just ruins today.

We can choose to trust our Father and release all our fears to Him knowing that He is faithful and trustworthy. Or we can cling to anxiety and make it our slave-master. When we worry, we are not factoring in the grace God will provide or the ways He will miraculously work and move.

We are continually throwing insults at God when we allow fear to rule our hearts and minds. We are going over and over how weak, inept and untrustworthy we perceive Him to be.  I want nothing to do with that!!

I know from my relationship with Him in the past that He is my hero God (El Gibbor). He is fighting for me and He is trustworthy!

I have no idea how everything will turn out. All I know is that I am choosing to trust my Abba, Father.

We do not trust in horses or chariots/modern medicine. We trust in the name of the Lord our God.

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You will never be replaced, Micah. A day will never go by that I won’t think about you. But what joy fills my heart to see your new brother or sister swimming around inside your mommy. I can’t wait for the day I get to hold him and kiss him. He will remind me of you and how much we love and miss you. He is truly a gift from God… just like you!

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Happy birthday, Micah!  How thankful I am for the 5 days I got to spend with you! Please give Jesus a great big hug for me! I can’t wait for the day I see you both face to face!

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Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done.  Then you will experience God’s peace, which exceeds anything we can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus.

And now, dear brothers and sisters, one final thing. Fix your thoughts on what is true, and honorable, and right, and pure, and lovely, and admirable. Think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise. Keep putting into practice all you learned and received from me—everything you heard from me and saw me doing. Then the God of peace will be with you.

Philippians 4:4-9

 This Bethel song has been my anthem!!

12:55 am…Micah is Dancing With Jesus :)

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12:55 am…Micah is dancing with Jesus : )

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After 5 agonizing days of watching her baby on every machine imaginable…

After 5 days of crying out to the Lord for a miracle…

After 5 hours of holding her precious baby boy on her chest as his breathing became more and more shallow…

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She sent out this text.

12:55 am…Micah is dancing with Jesus : )

When my mom said she wanted those words about our grandson on a plaque, I thought she was crazy! I couldn’t bear to see them every day. Those words burned deep into my chest like a red-hot branding iron!

But my mom explained the joy and hope that text held for us. We get to spend eternity together with Christ as a family!

My mom also said, “That night she used a smiley face with her announcement… that so spoke to me… she felt God’s comfort… she KNEW truth and rejoiced in it despite the fact that she was experiencing the greatest pain and sorrow a mother’s heart could ever know. To know daily that Micah is happy and full of comfort relieves the agony of heart I have because of my great loss.”

Leah wasn’t full of despair or desperation. She reminded us of our greatest hope. We grieve, but not in the same way as those who have no hope.  That absolute hope encourages us and sustains us!

All is not lost. We will see our handsome little Micah again!

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I’ve heard it said, Character is not made in crisis, it is only exhibited.

Leah’s character was surely exhibited…In the midst of her agonizing heartbreak, she blessed us all with the true joy and hope embedded deep inside her.

12:55 am…Micah is dancing with Jesus : )

I now have these precious words hanging in my kitchen. They will be forever branded on my heart!

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Every time I see them, I am reminded that no circumstance can steal the Hope and Joy the Lord is to me! I can’t wait for the day I get to see Jesus face to face! And my sweet little Micah Lee!!

A Heart Woven Together with Love

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How does a girl choose to do life after her heart explodes into a thousand pieces?

IMG_0889She could choose to become self-consumed and irreconcilable. She could choose to alienate herself from the ones who love her. She could choose depression, anger and bitterness.

Or…

She could CHOOSE to live.

She could choose to learn something new…to be creative. She could choose to share her tear-splattered creations with others whose hearts have also exploded.

imageThree short months after the heart-wrenching death of Micah Lee, her precious 6 lbs., 13 oz. baby boy, Leah has learned to crochet! Already she has crocheted an adorable beanie for her two year old, and awesome slippers for me and her sister. Now she is working on the most amazing pair of “converse” slippers for a hurting teenager whose world is spinning out of control.image

imageimageWhen you have nothing to give, but you love Jesus…you give Him! She is choosing to give her Jesus!!

Yes, grief still pulls her out of deep sleep in the middle of the night. Yes, she sobs for Micah in the morning when she wakes up. Yes, she thinks about him every waking moment. Yes, her eyes fill with tears uncontrollably by numerous reminders throughout the day. Yes, she knows she will never hear his first laugh or see him take his first steps.

IMG_0832But she is deciding to continue to love and to be present in the land of the living.

The world can go ahead and explode. Just give me that — Let the name of Jesus be written so deep into me that my heart could explode and His name would be found on every shard. Ann Voskamp

I see Jesus written on every beautiful shard!

As she sits and stitches these loving gifts for others, God is stitching together a sweet gift for her. Her heart.

Feed the hungry, and help those in trouble.
Then your light will shine out from the darkness,
and the darkness around you will be as bright as noon.
The Lord will guide you continually,
giving you water when you are dry
and restoring your strength.
You will be like a well-watered garden,
like an ever-flowing spring.
Some of you will rebuild the deserted ruins of your cities.
Then you will be known as a rebuilder of walls
and a restorer of homes. Isaiah 58:10-12

God knows the formula for healing and wholeness. Leah is walking in it.

Leah! You amaze me!! You bless me!! You are so much like my sweet Jesus!

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1000 Thank You’s

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There I was! A Wednesday night and sitting on a plane? My head was spinning as I flew over the sea of clouds into the sunset! In a fog, I wrote down my thank you’s to Jesus in my journal.

850… 851…

My goal was 1000 in 2014. Three a day and voila! A whole mindset change! God has used Ann Voskamp in such a powerful way in my life to encourage me to be intentional about counting my blessings!

Earlier that day I had received several frantic phone calls. Something went terribly wrong with the birth of my grandbaby. “Leah might not make it.” … “They have flown baby Micah to the neonatal intensive care unit!” I’m yelling in my little office for the whole building to hear, “What?!! What are you saying?!!!!!! What do you mean?!!!!”

I couldn’t wrap my mind around what was being said…the words were making no sense!

2000 miles away, I sat helpless on the other end of the line.
IMG_0832After arriving late that night, I was able to spend the next five days taking in little Micah Lee. My beautiful, perfect-in-every-way baby boy. Perfect-in-every-way…except…for his brain. It had been starved of oxygen for 40 short minutes. An eternity.
IMG_0859IMG_0845IMG_0915We loved him, kissed him, held him and then said good-bye to him. He went to dance in the arms of his sweet Jesus.
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I can’t open my thankful journal again.

I will whisper, “Thank you, Jesus, for Leah’s life,” as I wake up.

I will whisper, “Thank you, Jesus, for working all of this together for good,” as I go to sleep.

I will whisper thank you’s to Jesus throughout the day.

But I will not…I cannot pick up that journal.

A few weeks later, my son and I were reading Psalm 50 before bed. I read the words, “I know every Bird (my nickname) on the mountain…make thankfulness your sacrifice to God.” And then, “Giving thanks is a sacrifice that truly honors Me.”

The next morning as we got away, just me and Jesus for our morning coffee, He quietly reminded me of those verses. He tenderly spoke to my heart that my sacrifice of thanksgiving was precious to Him.

I cried.

And then I said, “Yes, Jesus. I will do what you are asking me to do.”

852…

Studies have shown that journaling gratitude can make us 25% happier, helps us sleep better, makes us feel more satisfied, increases our goodwill towards others, have fewer health complaints, helps marriages thrive and can actually help clinical depression! http://www.huffingtonpost.com/ocean-robbins/having-gratitude-_b_1073105.html

God never asks us to do arbitrary tasks just to keep us busy or to sap all the fun out of life. He is the giver of abundant life and deep, everlasting joy. He knows best how to bestow these amazing gifts upon His beloved!

Now that I took that step of obedience, I am able to thumb through my thankful journal and enjoy all the wonderful, documented memories.

imageAs I was doing this the other night, I was stunned to see how I began my journal one year ago. Psalm 50!

I was hit square in the face with God’s gentleness and loving kindness! He doesn’t grow tired of us or mind saying the same thing over and over and over. He says it just as tenderly the 100th time as He did the first time.

It is His kindness that leads us to repentance. Romans 2:4

He has truly made me fall in love with Him… all over again.

Thank you, Jesus!

Grieve with Grace

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Something that is so soothing and comforting to one person, cuts to the deep and is like salt in the wound to someone else.

We have been created so differently and so uniquely! Let’s extend grace to each other!! Let’s give each other a break!

Some things I have learned through my time of mourning:

  • People will say things that are offensive and hurtful–forgive them.
  • People will not acknowledge our pain–forgive them.
  • We can become very self-absorbed in our grief, thinking nothing else matters–It’s not true! Everyone else in the world is dealing with their own set of issues. Give of yourself to others…even in your mourning.
  • Since God didn’t answer our prayers the way we wanted Him to, we may be tempted to quit praying because it didn’t seem to make a difference anyway–pray, pray, pray!

When we are in the fog of grieving the worst loss we have ever experienced, it is so difficult to imagine that we also have to forgive those around us! But if we hold on to that unforgiveness, it will only cause our pain to worsen and delay our healing.

The people that we forgive are completely oblivious to what they have done to us…they only did what they thought was most helpful. Ha! It wasn’t! :p Chances are, though, that we are overly sensitive because we are in such a vulnerable state. If we hold on to that resentment, we will only hurt ourselves and the innocent ones around us.

Jesus, during His darkest time of betrayal, even while being ruthlessly murdered! …walked in forgiveness and love, continually thought of others and persisted in prayer!New Image1

With nails driven into His hands, He made sure His mom would be taken care of after He died. While being mocked and bleeding to death, He looked up to heaven and prayed that His Father would forgive the very ones killing Him. While gasping for air, He lovingly listened to the thief next to Him, forgave all his sins and ushered him into paradise with Him when he died! While dying an excruciating death, He thought of…ME! And even though I have sinned so hideously against Him…He forgave me!

We need to follow His example and walk out our darkest time with grace!

Lord, thank You for showing me how I can honor You in my time of deep sorrow.

Fill me with Your grace, love and strength so I can imitate You!!