Sunday, March 31, 2013

Rejoice for He is RISEN!

Jesus is the LAMB of GOD!
The next day John saw Jesus coming toward him and said, "Look, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world!
John 1:29

When Jesus is called the Lamb of God in John 1:29 and John 1:36, it is referring to Him as the perfect and ultimate sacrifice for sin. In order to understand who Christ was and what He did, we must begin with the Old Testament, which contains prophecies concerning the coming of Christ as a “guilt offering” (Isaiah 53:10). In fact, the whole sacrificial system established by God in the Old Testament set the stage for the coming of Jesus Christ, who is the perfect sacrifice God would provide as atonement for the sins of His people (Romans 8:3; Hebrews 10).

The sacrifice of lambs played a very important role in the Jewish religious life and sacrificial system. When John the Baptist referred to Jesus as the “Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world” (John 1:29), the Jews who heard him might have immediately thought of any one of several important sacrifices. With the time of the Passover feast being very near, the first thought might be the sacrifice of the Passover lamb. The Passover feast was one of the main Jewish holidays and a celebration in remembrance of God’s deliverance of the Israelites from bondage in Egypt. In fact, the slaying of the Passover lamb and the applying of the blood to doorposts of the houses (Exodus 12:11-13) is a beautiful picture of Christ’s atoning work on the cross. Those for whom He died are covered by His blood, protecting us from the angel of (spiritual) death.

Another important sacrifice involving lambs was the daily sacrifice at the temple in Jerusalem. Every morning and evening, a lamb was sacrificed in the temple for the sins of the people (Exodus 29:38-42). These daily sacrifices, like all others, were simply to point people towards the perfect sacrifice of Christ on the cross. In fact, the time of Jesus’ death on the cross corresponds to the time the evening sacrifice was being made in the temple. The Jews at that time would have also been familiar with the Old Testament prophets Jeremiah and Isaiah, who foretold the coming of One who would be brought “like a lamb led to the slaughter” (Jeremiah 11:19; Isaiah 53:7) and whose sufferings and sacrifice would provide redemption for Israel. Of course, that person was none other than Jesus Christ, “the Lamb of God.”

While the idea of a sacrificial system might seem strange to us today, the concept of payment or restitution is still one we can easily understand. We know that the wages of sin is death (Romans 6:23) and that our sin separates us from God. We also know the Bible teaches we are all sinners and none of us is righteous before God (Romans 3:23). Because of our sin, we are separated from God, and we stand guilty before Him. Therefore, the only hope we can have is if He provides a way for us to be reconciled to Himself, and that is what He did in sending His Son Jesus Christ to die on the cross. Christ died to make atonement for sin and to pay the penalty of the sins of all who believe in Him.

It is through His death on the cross as God’s perfect sacrifice for sin and His resurrection three days later that we can now have eternal life if we believe in Him. The fact that God Himself has provided the offering that atones for our sin is part of the glorious good news of the gospel that is so clearly declared in 1 Peter 1:18-21: “For you know that it was not with perishable things such as silver or gold that you were redeemed from the empty way of life handed down to you from your forefathers, but with the precious blood of Christ, a lamb without blemish or defect. He was chosen before the creation of the world, but was revealed in these last times for your sake. Through him you believe in God, who raised him from the dead and glorified him, and so your faith and hope are in God."

Taken from http://www.gotquestions.org/Jesus-Lamb-of-God.html

Jesus said to her, "I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in me will live, even though he dies; and whoever lives and believes in me will never die. John 11:25-26

And Jesus Christ our Lord was shown to be the Son of God when God powerfully raised him from the dead by means of the Holy Spirit. Through Christ, God has given us the privilege and authority to tell Gentiles everywhere what God has done for them, so that they will believe and obey him, bringing glory to his name. Romans 1:4-5

Jesus said to her, "I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in me will live, even though he dies; and whoever lives and believes in me will never die. John 11:25-26

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Thoughts on Mommy-hood and Giving up Control

Ahava is 10 Months old today!  (Adjusted she is almost 6 months)
We did this photo for our friend Hope!
I was laying in bed tonight and God showed me a treasure...that is what I call them, the little jewels of wisdom or enlightenment's He shows my heart so I can explore their orgins and discover more about His Love.  It begins the treasure hunt!!!!  And I am enticed with His nuggets of gold and sparkling emeralds!!!!  I used to write a lot at night.  It was my time with God and I have missed it so much.  I honestly don't have much time to sit down and think, but I am realizing that I must do these things that have drawn my heart to my Precious God, so I can grow and be healthy even when it means I am not getting the sleep I so desperately want!!!  There is so much He desires me to see right now and I am ready to look and I am ready for it to seep into my veins and ignite my heart on fire! Come God, my heart is open to only You, please speak to me and show me Your beauty.  Here is what I got:
All you need is ONE BOOT right? 
They were never mine and now I am learning that in a different way. Perhaps God taught me something I didn't know I had been learning all along, Ahava is not mine, she is His and I must learn how to let her go like I have all our other kids, into His hands that He will do His will with her life. All I can do is seek Him for her and ask the Lord to help me be a loving Mom who will teach her the reality of a Loving God who not only saved her for a great purpose, but who can use her life beautifully no matter what happens. But the letting go is the point and the "aahh-haa" here.  I was forced to let go my children who are in heaven right now, but now I must make a choice to let Ahava go in the Lord as she grows and serves Him. Her life is not about me, it is about what God is doing in her and for Him through her.  I just have to be a Mom to helps her discover this and support her in the Lord as He repeatedly shows her this as she grows.  It is a great lesson and something that I will have to keep re-learning. I have to find ways to show her God exists and that will take purposeful intention to do so because the world has a different agenda. We can no longer leave it up to education, family or even church anymore to guide our children. We are coming into a time and age where we have to know what we believe in our hearts and allow that to show our children the Truth.  We do not know the future, what we will be living in and how the world will treat those who Believe.  What we believe MUST be printed ON OUR HEARTS.  Do I live this way?  I want to, and to be a good steward of what God has given me (Ahava), I am determined to find ways to do this.  The Truth is not just something written, it is alive and active and brings life

John 1:1-5 "In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.  He {the Word} was with God in the beginning.  Through him {talking about the Word because "him" is not capitalized} all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made.  In him {the Word} was life, and that life was the light of men.  The light shines in the darkness, but the darkness has not understood it."

Having fun with Cousin Lisa
We can determine from this verse that the Word = (equals) God, all things were made by word and through the word life was given, and the life that words give, are the light of men.  The words we can chose to learn and speak will give life.  The words we read from the Bible and from Jesus' words are this exact LIFE they are talking about!!!!!!!!!  It is is "alive and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart."  Hebrews 4:12

And not forgetting that words have power: "The tongue has the power of life and death,..." Proverbs 18:21  I must know and seek Truth for my heart and for my daughter.  I must study the Words of Jesus, the greatest weapon.

I want Ahava to know I Love her and I want her to know this, because I know God's Love. I can't give her something I don't have...or don't seek for myself. My love for her is not good enough, not powerful enough and not faultless. I already have made mistakes and I know I will in the future. My Mommy-Ahava guide book is Jesus' Words. ("The weapons we fight with are not the weapons of the world. On the contrary, they have divine power to demolish strongholds" 2 Cor. 10:4) She has always been my butterfly and it would be really easy to want to control her, but I want to be different, I want to be wise and help her seek wisdom's jewels instead. Even at 10 months, she knows Jesus and I have even seen her have an angelic experience! She knows the difference in my voice of happiness or frustration and is super sensitive. She is yearning to connect with the world and explore it...it is now that I can continue to lead her to Truth in Who God is! And like a child, we must all come to explore together!!!! I am excited to journey with Ahava as she sees this beauty! I am privileged to have a front row seat to being challenged by her (yes by my 10 month old daughter!) to discover the Joy's of this world of our creator. "I am confident of this: I will see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living. Wait for the Lord, take heart, and wait for the Lord." Ps. 27:13 
Playing taggie kick ball with Papa and Mama and making
everyone laugh!
God,

Help me let go. Every good and perfect gift is from above (Ja. 1:7)...they are Yours and for Your glory! Help me give Ahava to You now Lord. You have given her to me as my daughter to raise and I will raise her well in Your Truth. Help teach me how to Love and seek You for me, so that she sees this and knows that it comes from You and will desire that deeply in her soul. Help me release the agenda of the world...micromanaging, keeping kids busy and not using the minds, over stimulation, knowledge instead of wisdom, acceptance instead of truth. I surrender her to You Jesus because it is only You Who can lead us to Your Will and throne. Help me be a good Mom and show me what that looks like.

Olivia

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Ahava in the News

The following excerpt is from an article in the Abilene Reporter News (click on link to see full article by Brian Bethel)


Nellie Doneva/Reporter-News Olivia Brigham (left) watches her 9-month-old daughter, Ahava, work with physical therapist Elyse Perry (center), pet specialist Donna McGehee and McGehee’s dog Patricia III at the Hendrick Center for Rehabilitation. Ahava was born at 23 weeks and five days, instead of going the full 40 weeks, and needs to strengthen her trunk and neck muscles.






For Olivia Brigham, being involved in the pet therapy program at Hendrick Health System has been an “incredible blessing” on both sides of the coin. Brigham and her dog Gracey, a Chihuahua-dachshund mix, have been part of Hendrick’s program for years. Brigham was inspired to join the program after she was visited by a therapy dog while undergoing chemotherapy. “These animals just have a connection, and when they’re in the therapy program, they’re there for a reason,” she said. “It’s because they know how to love.” After her daughter Ahava’s premature birth almost 10 months ago, Brigham has seen the program from the other side — as the mother of a patient — and considers it no less profound. “She knew that dog was there to love her and be there for her,” Brigham said, recalling a recent therapy session with her daughter, who still struggles with issues such as muscle tone. Watching her daughter work with therapy dogs at Hendrick’s Center for Rehabilitation has reinforced for Brigham the importance and profound nature of human-animal connections. “In her (Ahava’s) case, it’s a very, very neat, encouraging distraction to have a furry little animal there that is helping her use her muscles,” she said. “It wasn’t just someone just sitting there banging a toy or things like that — it was an actual dog that was wagging its tail. And I really feel like they were really communicating in ways even a therapist couldn’t.” To Brigham, it’s just more evidence of the healing potential of animals, something she’d already seen firsthand in her role as a volunteer. “There’s no way you can be on any side of this program and not have your life changed,” she said.

Monday, March 18, 2013

Happy 2nd Angel Day Josiah Keith

I feel very sad right now.  I am stuck in between the greatest Joy and Miracle I have ever seen (Ahava)  and then remembering two years ago...our Josiah....my Josiah....my son.  It almost doesn't make sense in my mind really.  I have longed for the Promise God made my heart and I am walking, breathing and rejoicing in it everyday.  Yet there is a deep sadness whose clouds have settled over my sunshine and I am torn between what the two symbolize and what to walk in today. 

If you know the sadness I speak of and have lived through the Angel Day of your precious baby, you may spend it similarly...I light a candle that burns all day long, dress in black (although I am not sure I am today), go out to the grave and bring a flower or do something special to remember them by (I may play my guitar today), go through photos of them, sit and remember how everything happened minute by minute until you get to the point where you held them and had to let them go, be buried, and say good-bye forever.  I may look at sonogram photos and try hard to remember how happy we were and what we wanted for Josiah.  It is a painful, yet, a releasing process.  I see an image of a hand closed shut in sadness and mourning and then as these things happen throughout the day, they slowly open up and let go of the hurt that has been inside and Jesus is there holding onto my hands and taking the pain away.  And every Angel Day I must allow Him to do this.

"I know that whatever God does,
it shall be FOREVER."  Ecc.3:14
I guess what I wish could happen on these days, would be that I could glimpse reality.  That heaven could be so real on these Angel Days that the thought of how Josiah is in heaven would literally make me leap for Joy and excitement.  I know that death is not the end. I know that most of the sadness that comes from death is because we must live without that person and it hurts deep inside us to think we must live without the memories and love created from them.  They somehow just abruptly stop and cut off like a movie real that was just getting to the good parts and then just blank black and white speckles take over what should be so much more.  I want to see Heaven and somehow make it the Truth.  I wish I could walk where Josiah is and see what he sees.  Heaven is so much more than what we must live with here in earth.  I want perspective, and I want assurance that my pain will be redeemed.  I have Faith in the Word and in the Promise of my Savior...that we will be with Him in heaven, and so I wait.

So, today I am going to get quiet.  I am going to remember Josiah and hug my Ahava.  I am going to cry uncontrollable tears (and I have already started that) and hope that he will be remembered well

Josiah,

You are a big brother!  Your sister, Ahava, looks like you!  You can tell you are family.  I think about you so often.  I think about your brothers and sisters and you all running around and playing here on earth...all together!  It gives me so much joy.  Since your sister was born, I have seen little holes everywhere.  Holes when I should be seeing you, Jireh and Malachi running around and jumping mud puddles and trying not to get Natalie, Rachel and Ahava all muddy.  I would have loved a huge family and I would have been so proud of all of you.  You would have been so strong, Josiah.  You really already were.  I loved your name from the beginning and it means "God Heals."  God has done great healing, Josiah!!!!!  He has.  If only the world knew how real you are more than what we see that is real here in earth!  You are a prince of the Most High God.  I am so thankful for you.  I miss you so much and long for you.  You are my precious son.  My precious son......my precious.....son......my son.......

Love,
Mama

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Ahava Safari!!!!!!!

We went on a Safari today!!!!!!!!!!!

First we saw a GIANT Giraffe!!!!!!!  Look how BIG he was!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

OH MY!!!!  What is that I see coming???????????????

I better turn over to get a good look!  This must be the main attraction at the safari!!!!!!!!!  I am
kind of nervous..........

IT's the WILD Gracey CHAWENNIE!!!!  (be careful...they kiss!!!!)

Whew!  That was some trip, I need a rest now!!!!!!

Saturday, March 09, 2013

My Heart

Almost 13 lbs now! Sit's unassisted briefly, babbling, raises arms to
be picked up, almost 10 months (on 21st, 6 months adjusted),
eating is getting better!!!!!
So many know that feeling of seeing your baby for the fist time...how exciting and new it was...how it seemed the world had stopped for you,...that nothing else on the planet mattered as much as that moment of time.  It is overwhelming and of all the times in ones life, it is the one parents remember above so many other events.  I confess though...I can't get rid of this feeling!  Every time I see Ahava I feel this way.  I am in shock and awe that I have a child who is ALIVE.  I have always wondered what it would feel like to have a baby that would live.  This thought is so hard for some people to comprehend.  And for those who do understand it, it is that deep hole that we must walk around with for the rest of our lives wondering and imagining what the child would look like today at such and such an age that we had to bury and say earthly good-byes too.  A parent should never have to bury a child.  It is as simple as that, but it happens more than we would like to admit.  It is the things that don't make sense that drive us mad sometimes.  The things that we throw back and forth in our heads battling and warring until only tears can quiet the mess inside.  After I buried Natalie, I became very angry.  I didn't exactly hate God per say.  I just was mad and furious and angry.  I felt so alone, so forgotten and so embarrassed because I thought God would heal me and heal Natalie and it did not happen.  But in my anger, God pursued my heart, gently and quietly, like a Father guiding His child into His Loving arms.  It was then I decided that I did not have to know the answer of "why" this happened to me or to Natalie.  I had to decide IN FAITH (not a coffee cup word or a "let's have Faith to make our house payment")...but a deeper faith that says, "Ok, God, I do not understand, but I Trust You and I Love You and I am going to lay this pain and sorrow down at Your feet and Trust that You will redeem this and that even if I only find out in heaven the glory of my pain, I know You are real and I am living my life for YOU for the ONE TRUE GOD.  So I don't have to know why."

Sometimes at the moment of truly choosing Faith over the lies of the enemy, I feel an overwhelming urgency on my heart as if I am breaking through the darkness and a Light is shining and leading my way.  Faith is a weapon, a true weapon of God and it has carried me through this journey of God's Promise for our baby Ahava.

Ahava's NICU friend got to go home yesterday!  Praise GOD!!!
Next week we will be celebrating Josiah's 2nd Angel Birthday.  When Ahava was born I wondered how my heart would fair with the losses we have endured before with Natalie Grace, Malachi Bryan, Rachel Elizabeth, Jireh Tamas and Josiah Keith.  We were able to hold and see Natalie and Josiah's sweet little bodies.  There has been moments of deep release and sadness as I have seen Ahava and I have seen her brother Josiah in her.  They look just like brother and sister to me.  He would be 2 years old and I could see them just loving on each other like siblings.  It pains my heart to imagine this.  And I know the Promise is beautiful and I must not allow pain to steal this joy, but there is a healthy mourning process as I let go of these sadness and ask God to begin turning them into a greater Joy.  Bryan and I also lost an adoption several years ago.  We were driving home with the sweet baby girl that we had helped deliver, cut the chord, and whose birth parents allowed us into their lives for several months having dinner and gathering clothes and stuff for our baby.  The devastation of this failed adoption still haunts me, but it was another instance where I had to use my Faith to crawl onto Jesus' lap and say "make this into something beautiful please Jesus."  I didn't want all these horrible things to make me an angry person.  I still believed God Promised us a baby.  My doctors were very unsupportive.  "Look at what has been happening...do you want to be sick again?  Do you want your kidneys to fail again?  I don't think this is wise."  But I knew God had Promised me and I Believed Him, and so with all the fear I had about pregnancy, I was more excited to listen to my Powerful God then to miss out on something.  Even when we were pregnant and began bleeding and lost the baby after having to do 2 DNC's (YES 2!!! because they did not clear everything the first time), then we had a heart beat!, and then I bleed and she was gone.  Then another miscarry. And then our pregnancy with Josiah.  I LIVED in faith everyday with him and I chased fear out of my heart.  It would poke its head out everyday.  I would read, worship, pray, and talk with friends to help me.  But mostly I would just be still and know that He is God.  I did not feel Josiah one day.  He was not a big mover, so I was not worried.  I didn't want to live in fear.  So by the next day I still did not feel him and then I called to go in (another sono wouldn't be that bad right?  We would just check it out and see our munchkin and go home), but no.  I saw "the look ."  The same look I saw on faces years before when Natalie had no heart beat.  All the blood rushed out of my head.  I felt like I failed somehow.  I could this be happening to me AGAIN????????????!!!!!!!!!!!!!!


Ahava helping Papa with the DREADED Taxes
We had an amazing doctor who truly loves the Lord and he helped me deliver Josiah with respect, love and sorrow.  I had never seen a man of the Lord giving his all to Jesus in such a raw and real circumstance.  He is a hero to me.  But I was there again, holding my son Josiah...not breathing....not moving.....oh God!!!!!!!!!!!  Do You see me???????????????  (I wrote a blog about this point in the delivery: click here to read it)

When there is Victory, there is also a pouting party that lost.  That thing is the father of lies and only pursues death, destruction, and lies.  Expect retaliation, yet cover yourself in prayer and in His Love you will be more than safe.  So I will live completely in awe and Joy with AHAVA OUR VICTORY in the LORD.  I will ask that God would show me how to be a good Mom and Wife and how we can give Him glory for what He has done for us and Ahava!

The thankfulness I feel for God's gift of Ahava flat out stops my breath sometimes.  I am not used to seeing MY child....the child that.... LOOKS LIKE ME!!!!!!!!!!!!!  The child that LIVED being born at 23 wks and 5 days at 1.2lbs!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!  God You are Amazing and I Praise Your Holy Name!  I am not worthy of You gifts, but I am humbled at Your treasures.  You have heard my heart and have answered my cries and You have kept Your Promise to me.  I exalt You Jesus above the heavens.  I Praise Your Holy Holy Name!!!!!!