Justice is coming

Today marks another little leg of our journey, and I wanted to share it with you… Jeff and I had the joy today of discovering it is a little BOY who is coming to join our family.

I shared a bit of our journey back here: Our Hope Is in HeavenBack in the fall of 2016, when we were praying and fasting through whether to pursue having more kids, God gave us two names: A girl (Honor) and a boy. We lost Honor, and then later miscarried Hope, but God was in all of that, and He used it mightily in our lives. I can honestly say that God was so GOOD and did so much GOOD in our lives through those losses, even though it was heart-breaking.

During the September-October time period, God continued to speak some certain promises to us, although some of them didn’t quite make sense. Honestly, I still don’t understand how it’s all going to work, so I’m waiting to share some of it, but He generously allowed us to get pregnant in October, and I assumed it was another girl.

Since we had lost baby Hope at exactly 11 weeks, I found myself becoming anxious as my 11-week mark neared. At 10.5 weeks, a precious friend of mine miscarried, and I was devastated for her. I also found myself shaken at the news, and kept seeking every moment to TRUST. On Christmas Day I was 2 days shy of 11 weeks, and I had a lot of cramping that day. I told myself it was nothing, and pretended it wasn’t there, but it lingered. Finally I texted friends and asked them to pray. That night when I got home, I had a message from another friend that she had miscarried as well. My mind swam, so sad for her, and again seeking to keep my eyes on Him. No matter what. Trust. Trust. Trust. Tuesday morning the cramping continued, so I left my midwife a message, but I never got a call back. That night, Tuesday night, 1 day shy of 11 weeks, I went to bed with a heavy heart, praying myself to sleep.

And I had a dream.

It was one of those remarkably vivid ones, that’s like living real life. In my dream I was holding a precious, healthy, baby boy. I was testifying to everyone around about God’s faithfulness. There were some other parts of the dream that I’ll wait to see how they play out, but I knew the significance:

This baby boy would live. 

The next morning I woke with joy. My midwife had me come in for an ultrasound, just to check things out, and sure enough: A happy baby bounced around that screen. Relieved and rejoicing, the cramping stopped and hasn’t come back since.

Since then, I felt, deep down, this was a boy: This was Justice Scott Patterson.

And today we saw him wiggle around on that screen, and we rejoice! 

Why the name Justice? Of course I don’t pretend to know completely. I don’t know what his life will be like, or the calling God has for him. But I know that God talks about justice 130 times in the Scriptures. The Lord loves Justice …

And Justice is coming.

The message of the past year has been unmistakably clear: Honor is lost, or Hope is in heaven, but Justice is coming. 

What is God’s justice? My dear friend put it this way, “Justice restores what has been stolen by the enemy.”

We know:

For the Lord is righteous, he loves justice; the upright will see his face. Ps. 11:7

The Lord loves righteousness and justice; the earth is full of his unfailing love. Ps. 33:5

And the heavens proclaim his righteousness, for he is a God of justice. Ps. 50:6

For I, the Lord, love justice. Is. 61:8

And so I pray that this boy will become a man who does justly, loves mercy, and walks humbly with His God (Micah 6:8), that he will “administer true justice; show mercy and compassion to one another” (Zech 7:9), that he will “learn to do right; seek justice. Defend the oppressed. Take up the cause of the fatherless; plead the case of the widow. (Is. 1:17). I pray that he will be a defender of the weak, a mighty force upholding righteousness and honor, that he will be a strong man who loves and serves others well. And even more than who he is, I know who He is, and God is the Just and the Justifier, and Christ’s power sets free all who are oppressed and restores what has been stolen.

And for today … I simply pray that this tiny boy will continue to grow healthy and strong. That I can carry him all the way until he is destined to be born. Continuing to trust God each day of this journey. Thanks for praying for this little one; and thanks for reading. 

Our homeschool day-in-the-life 2018

 

mentioned before that this is our “Experiment Year,” but little did I know then that I’d be trying something else I’ve never done before: Homeschooling while pregnant!

Though I’m feeling great now, I spent three months wiped out with morning sickness. Thankfully, we were able to keep chugging along with our school routine, which tells me that our routine works for us, because our days went fairly smoothly even when I was couch-ridden. So grateful! {Read the rest over here at Simple Homeschool… thanks!}

A quiet revival

I slipped under the covers and sighed, exhausted, closing my burning eyes and sniffing my running nose, trying to tilt my head just right so I could breathe. It was just a cold, but a cold plus pregnancy plus a heavy heart … I just longed for sleep. Jeff turned toward me.

“What did she say?”

I told him. Our sweet little Heidi has had this little struggle for awhile now, but some days it seems to consume her. She has the most precious, tender heart, and sometimes it feels like she’s a flower planted too close to a footpath.

Her petals are so easily crushed. 

The next morn I felt a little better, but a number of concerns still weighed on me as I headed out for my walk. Two hours later, three more weights had managed to heft themselves upon my heart, and by the time I bathed and was dressed for the day I wanted nothing more than to crawl back into bed.

So I did. 

Thankful for a flexible schedule, I slid back under the covers and finally let the tears flow, and as the tears flowed, I saw the weights cascading around me like a heap of boulders. I could see them named, so clear. Some small, some huge, but all legitimate cares. I let my prayer flow freely too…

“Jesus, I desperately love you. I love my country, I love these precious neighbors who don’t know you. I love my mom, my family, I love my church, my children. The weight of care feels crushing. Please, show me what to do.”

Not so much a word or voice but a knowing filled my head, heart, soul, the very room:

PRAY.

YOU MUST PRAY.

Of course. The story from the kids’ history lesson the day before rushed back into my memory:

The quiet revival of Jeremiah Lanphier.

It was 1857. The country was in severe turmoil and the Civil War was brewing. Tension was at fever pitch. Jeremiah Lanphier was no politician, orator, statesman. He wasn’t even a member of the clergy. He was a layman evangelist, who saw the needs around him and had the simple idea:

Pray. 

So he posted a notice:

Prayer Meeting from 12 to 1 o’clock—Stop 5, 10, or 20 minutes, or the whole hour, as your time admits.

That was it.

At 12 o’clock noon on September 23, 1857, he climbed the stairs to the 3rd story of the old church building. No one else had shown up. No doubt he felt disheartened, but he dropped to his knees and determined to pray, whether or not anyone arrived.

At 12:30, another man quietly climbed the stairs, and joined him.

Then another, until there were six in total.

Just six.

They prayed for a few minutes, then agreed to return the next week.

The next week there were 20.

The following week, 40. 

Within six months, there were some 10,000 gathering to pray in New York City every week, in different locations. Prayer meetings cropped up nationwide, in every denomination, bringing thousands to Christ each week. One account reads:

When the revival was at high tide through the nation, it was judged that 50,000 persons a week were converted. And the number who joined the churches in 1858 amounted to almost 10 percent of the country’s total church membership! If the estimate of one million converts is correct (some say the number is closer to 300,000), that accounts for one-thirtieth of the total United States population of that time—and almost all in one year! (CS Lewis institute)

This quiet revival quaked our entire country. 

All through bended knee.

Did all this prayer keep our country from Civil War? No, but it undoubtedly influenced the course of our nation and saved the souls of thousands who would soon be swept into eternity through the bloody years that followed, through the war that would claim more lives than any other our nation has ever seen.

All because a man most of us have never heard of decided to pray. 

Friends, there’s no shame in tears shed out of love, out of burden, out of heartbreak. That’s the Fellowship of the Brokenhearted. But we cannot let that drive us to despair, or anger, or overwhelm. God has made a way for us to be mighty in Him …

…it is on our knees. 

{There is nothing so urgent as prayer. Thank you so much for reading.}

 

The real weather outside

I stumbled downstairs, turned on the hot-water kettle, and looked at the weather on my phone. Seven days of rain. That’s not unusual up here in the PNW, of course, but it still strikes you as a bit dreary. Nothing much to look forward to.

And yet, as I curled up with my Bible, sipped my chai, and watched the sun slowly rise, I realized … it wasn’t raining. In fact, it didn’t rain at all that morning. We slipped on sweatshirts and went outside, walking and playing, enjoying the cool, crisp air, whispering thanks to God for His glorious creation.

At some point that day, sure, it rained some. I’m not sure when because we were inside curled up under a quilt, reading books and savoring the season of slower days.

I noticed, each day that week, that roughly the same thing happened. In fact, on Sunday after church, I emerged into the parking lot to a glorious blue sky, 62-degrees, and sun shining warm on my face. We rolled down the windows halfway as we began our drive home. It was brisk but beautiful.

Then I remembered that I needed gas, so I pulled in, and as the tank was being filled, I marveled again at the beautiful weather. I thought today was supposed to … I pulled out my phone, clicked the weather app and sure enough:

Current weather in Oregon City: Raining.  The app showed rain drops pouring from the sky. From the looks of that screen, it was the darkest, dreariest day you could imagine. Stay inside, people!

But the actual weather outside was lovely.

I sat there in my car, considering how true this dynamic is of life in general. If I look at the world through my screen—social media, news feeds, secular sources, etc. I am convinced that there is nothing but pouring rain in this world. Every day. No breaks. The forecast is bleak, and I better just hole up inside myself because that world out there is just. so. bad.

And yet.

When I get outside and visit my neighbors—who are incredibly diverse I might add—I am encouraged. When I sit with the 85-year-old widow who “doesn’t want to talk about God stuff” but who loves my homemade bread and applesauce 😉 I get to pray over her soul and show her, I hope, a little glimpse of God’s love. As I serve lunch to the homeless, I look in their eyes and see pain, confusion, anger, fear. I have an opportunity to treat them as they really are—made in the image of God. When I spend time with people face-to-face, even people I don’t agree with, I find myself longing to understand them, I enjoy them. When I spend time with my church family, when we do life together, when I interact with others at the store, at the doctor, in the post office … there’s an opportunity for redemption, kindness, and maybe, just maybe, an tiny crack of an open door for the message and love of Jesus Christ.

But if I only see the world through my screen, I’ll just hole up inside. Too dark and dreary out there.

This last fall, several of us came to the same conclusion: God is the only One who can handle ALL the sorrow of the world. He’s the only One with the capacity to process (and do something about) all the world’s pain. We are so tiny. We are so finite.

He didn’t create us with the capacity to carry the whole world’s weight.

Because we don’t need to.

This doesn’t mean we stick our heads in the sand and ignore everything. That would be the other ditch. But could it be that we bite off more than we can chew? That is, we inform ourselves of more things than we can possibly pray for or actually do anything about. We over-inform. Compulsively.  So we often miss the blue-sky outside, the opportunities to engage in the world right outside us, because we’re sucked into the online forecast, taking on the whole world’s sorrows, so heavy we can’t carry out the good work He’s given us right where we are.

So, friends, I resolve: Figure out the weather by looking outside. I don’t need to fret over the whole 7-day forecast. When I was little my grandpa had a “Weather Rock” in his garden. There are lots of variations of these, but his read something like this:

Let’s engage with the real weather outside, loving those near us now, and not let a screen scare us into hiding out inside. Have a great week. {Thanks for reading.}