Christmas Presence

Christmas in much of America overflows with celebration: gatherings of friends and family, decorations, lights, music, food, gifts to give and receive, and special programs at church. In the midst of all the gala events, those of us who celebrate the birth of Christ also diligently try to prepare our hearts for the meaning of Christmas. We don’t want the priceless “reason for the season” to get buried in an avalanche of gift wrap, bows, and parties. Sometimes we become desperate for a moment of quiet reflection while busily completing our to-do lists. Cards? Check. Gifts? Check. Food prep? Check. Gifts wrapped … well, maybe by midnight Christmas Eve if all the toys and bikes are properly assembled?

I will never forget an unusual Christmas I experienced eight years ago. I learned more spiritual truth in that unique celebration than any other in my lifetime. It was Christmas Eve. I was all alone … well almost. I was with my eighteen-month-old grandbaby, but she was barely talking, and her bedtime was at seven p.m.

I can still hear my daughter’s voice on the phone  just a few days before Christmas. Sadly, we were across the continent from each other, from the east to the west coast. Her baby boy had been admitted to Children’s Hospital with congestive heart failure. He was born with a sizable hole in his heart, but the cardiologist was hoping he could grow a little more before surgery. “Mom, I need you. NOW,” she said breathlessly. Our eighteen-month-old granddaughter needed care. Her parents needed to be with our six-week-old grandson who was now immediately scheduled for open heart surgery.

I hopped the next flight out while my husband stayed home to welcome another daughter and her family who were driving from out of state to spend Christmas with us. It was hectic. It wasn’t planned. It was scary. So much was at stake, and naturally, our attention was diverted from the usual Christmas traditions. We fervently prayed Psalm 91 prayers for our baby whose life was on the line. We asked everyone we knew to pray for this tiny one, his mommy and daddy, and the medical team into whose hands his life was entrusted.

Christmas Eve arrived, and my adorable little toddler’s scheduled naps, meals, and bedtime negated a church service. At dusk, I loaded my little blonde bundle in her wagon, and we began a Christmas Eve walk through the neighborhood. In the simple expression of the Whos of Whoville (from The Grinch) when Christmas was stripped of its busyiness and trappings, I still had worship for the One it was all about. In simplicity. I sang every Christmas Carol I had ever learned — one baby girl, me, and songs of worship from ages past. My heart was full, and I felt the peace that passes all understanding. Not my peace as my heart was anxious. His peace.

Why did I have peace when our circumstances were filled with such scary possibilities? Just as Mary sang, the young mother of Jesus, my heart was filled with praise for the Mighty One, my God, my Savior. “My soul glorifies the Lord and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior, for he has been mindful of the humble state of his servant” (Luke 1:46-47 NIV). Christ’s coming so I could have a relationship with Holy God was the greatest gift ever. What we were celebrating wasn’t dependent on traditions.

As one with family scattered across the country, it’s easy to reminisce. There were once hectic holidays with large family gatherings with our own little ones, their grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins, etc. I remember the chaos and fun with fondness. Yet, sometimes it takes having all of our usual customs stripped away to see the greater treasure.

I will never forget the love and quiet reflection I felt on that unusual Christmas Eve. It helps me step back into time, and imagine the fear mixed with blessing that the young Mary experienced. “Glory to God in the highest heaven, and on earth peace to those on whom his favor rests” (Luke 2:14 NIV). May you also know His peace and presence this Christmas.

 

 

 

Open the Eyes of My Heart, Lord

worms eyeview of green trees

Photo by Inactive. on Pexels.com

Did you ever “find” animals and shapes in the clouds when you were a child? My father and I used to have such fun doing that. Later in life, I tried identifying optical illusions, searching for images that were not immediately recognizable. I confess, I don’t always discover the hidden objects as quickly as others. I have read that “seeing” what is hidden within the “visible” is a function of our perception, our ability to respond and interpret sensory information.

In Scripture, we learn that God performed miraculous healing of physical eyes on a number of occasions so people could see. But, He also opened the eyes of humans to perceive things which were, at first, unseen in the natural. In one instance in 2 Kings, God encouraged the Israelites of the spiritual armaments He had prepared to protect them.

In 2 Kings 6:16, the Lord encouraged the servant of Elisha in this way. The king of Syria was making war against Israel, and had sent a great army specifically to capture Elisha. “And Elisha prayed and said, “Lord, I pray, open his eyes that he may see,” (2 Kings 6:17 KJV). The servant had seen the physical presence of the enormous threat against them … with his own eyes. He was afraid of what seemed to be Elisha’s certain death. But God intervened and opened the servant’s eyes. He suddenly saw God’s army, horses, and chariots of fire all around Elisha, a compelling counterforce.

God allowed the vision, the spiritual revelation, so they would regain courage in face of a seemingly insurmountable Enemy. At first, they had only seen with their physical eyes, and the threat was real. Yet, there was more provision behind the scenes. God had His invisible army, even more powerful than the Syrian forces prepared to defend His children.

We live in a physical world, yet as humans with a mind, body, and spirit nature, why should we be surprised that there might be more to “see” in any given circumstance? Are we looking for God’s spiritual viewpoint when we face our trials and “insurmountables”? We often cannot see more than the present circumstances, and when those are painfully difficult, we lose heart.

King David prayed to the Lord: “Open my eyes that I may see wondrous things from Your law,” (Psalm 119:18 KJV). Maybe we would be wise to pray the Lord open our eyes so we can see things in a dimension that God sees. What might we be missing by not praying that prayer? Maybe we need courage in times of attack. Perhaps, we don’t see the invisible forces He has already provided for us when we think we are alone.

God made it clear that He wants a relationship with us. He loved us while we were yet far from Him, out doing our own thing, apart from His will. How do we know this?  He sent Jesus, His Son, to take the penalty of our sins so our most perfect, loving God could once again walk with us and talk with us as He had originally planned. After that, it was left to us to choose to align our lives by asking forgiveness, and accepting His free gift of relationship. We can be confident in our prayers that God is for us. He chose not to stay apart from us, and made a way for us to have relationship again after sin had, by its very nature, separated us from His Perfect Love.

As the worship song lyrics by Michael W. Smith affirms, “Open the eyes of my heart, Lord, Open the eyes of my heart, I want to see You, I want to see You …” Let Him show you the spiritual dimension of life, tearing back the curtain of our physical and mental limitations. “I want to see You, Lord.”

https://www.youtube.com/results?search_query=open+the+eyes+of+my+heart+lord+michael+w+smithhttps://

Where is the Son?

photo of woman in a sunflower field

Photo by Noelle Otto on Pexels.com

 

While visiting our seven-year-old Kansas grandson recently, Max excitedly burst into the house carrying a bouquet of sunflowers … for me! He had convinced his mama to buy them for me when they were shopping. The uniqueness of this spray of flowers was that each large flower head was drooping, bowing down from its stem, rather than standing upright.

Maxwell explained with confidence that they were simply being sunflowers which are always looking for the sun. Of course, I graciously accepted his gift with an exclamation of his thoughtfulness. His daddy brought some filler plants in from the yard, which somewhat improved their countenance.

In reflecting on the downcast sunflowers, I was taken back by the image above of the girl gazing in the opposite direction. If the flowers symbolically seek the Sun, shouldn’t we also seek the Son, Jesus, for our Source? Yes, of course. There are times and seasons when we may be tempted to think we’re capable of handling life all on our own. All is well, finances are secure, health is good, and we have done it all ourselves. We may pat ourselves on the back and expect our fans to applaud because we’re successfully sailing along in our strength. Who needs God anyway, one might ask?

But, often that isn’t the way life works. You know that. I know that. Sometimes, nothing seems to go our way. So in those times we can misguidedly plunder through our days, lacking the Son in the messiness of life, lacking His strength, peace, and His Omnipotent wisdom for guidance. Scripture is replete with advice for living a complete and satisfying life, in the good times and bad.

In Hebrews 12:1-2 we are reminded to “… fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter or our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.” Yes, indeed, as the sunflowers seek the sun, we are advised to “fix our eyes ….” Where? On the Son.

Psalm 34:5-6 tells us that “Those who look to him are radiant; their faces are never covered with shame. This poor man called, and the Lord heard him; he saved him out of all his troubles.” More evidence that when we don’t look to ourselves, in our good old American independence, we will become radiant. We will be the sunflowers of humanity, with faces tilted upward with dignity, grace, and assurance. If you are feeling downcast today, pick up the Bible, and look to God’s Word to you. He will be your strength and radiance.

I don’t know about you, but I need to seek the light of Christ … daily. Whenever I try to go it alone, I quickly become the wilty-headed sunflower, looking at the problems at my feet, instead of the Son’s LIGHT as my Source. I encourage all of us to not lose sight of God’s amazing gift, even in the hard times. When we “look up,” we will find the resources necessary to finish the race victoriously. Not because of our own tremendous capabilities, but because of our loving God and Provider. Look up to the Son, beloved children of God, and become all you are meant to be.

“But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus, his Son, purifies us from all sin,” 1 John 1:7. 

 

 

For You Are WITH Me

Have you ever felt like you were alone? SO alone that nobody cared what was going on in your life? No one understood what you were going through? No one was WITH you to help give you strength, encouragement, or even just a bit of compassion. Most of us have been there at one time or another. There are so many instances when I have witnessed people in need of “withness.”

When I was a busy teacher and working mom, if I didn’t tune in to the running discourse of my then-kindergartener, she would reach up to my face with her little hands. She would place one hand on each cheek and turn my head to face her. Although I was answering (likely “um, uh-huh, sure, nice”), she knew when my mind and spirit were not WITH her. Those beautiful blue eyes spoke to mine, as she said, “Mama …” I knew I had not tuned in, and she needed me to do so. We all need someone to hear our hearts. Even if they don’t, or can’t, offer advice or change our circumstances, we desire someone to know us, and even share the joys in our journey.

A few years ago, a friend told me that the word WITH had become her prayer to God. I didn’t get it. She didn’t feel a close togetherness, an emotional intimacy, with her church friends or even her husband. There was something missing — that key ingredient of a listening heart and truly concerned soul. Someone who cared enough to pray with her and to share the ups and downs of daily living. Her heart ached to be “known” and understood as well as the opportunity to know and understand others, if they would let her.

Upon rereading the Twenty-third Psalm, my eyes were suddenly opened the other day. I knew that sweet and wonderful passage from childhood, but it had never spoken so clearly as it did that day. Being a timid flight passenger, and wary of all things weather-related to air travel, I pray for God’s peace upon boarding any flight. That day, I read, “I will fear no evil, for YOU ARE WITH ME.” Simple truth was illuminated. If there are fires, floods, storms, losses of any kind, God has promised to be WITH me. I need not fear. Just based on His presence with me “in the valley of the shadow of death,” I need not fear that thing, whatever it is. God promises a new dimension of reality that should replace fear with PRESENCE. I was nearly dancing in my seat-belted state! He was with me. God was really with me!

I pray that you have others in your life who are intimately with you, but even if not, remember that promise. HE. IS. WITH. YOU. Let Him show His presence. Look for Him. HE. IS. WITH. YOU.

“STOP!”

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Most of us, including me, love sunshine. The old John Denver song (for those of you old enough to remember) comes to mind: “Sunshine on My Shoulders” of course … makes me happy! Somehow the sun has the power to transform a cold winter day from dreary to cheery. Sunshine delights the eyes as it illuminates and accentuates the early blooms of spring. Sunshine intensifies the glory of crimson and yellow fall leaves, leaving an onlooker breathless from its vibrant display.

However, in real life, not every day is so perfectly beautiful and filled with light. Your “skies” may turn dark. Storm clouds might roll in hard and fast.  If you are from Tornado Alley, like I am, you may run to take cover as the green-gray cloud soup drapes itself over the land, and tiny funnel-shaped structures dip and dance overhead. There are certainly vivid Bible stories depicting the fears and consequences of storms at sea. Think of dear old Jonah who was trying to escape God’s directives. The Lord sent a great wind and a storm so wicked that the sailors were all afraid their ship would break up, leaving them to drown in the sea. God needed to get Jonah’s attention. And, he used that storm to speak to Jonah’s heart. When storm clouds threaten, do you call on the Lord?

When Jesus and his disciples were crossing the Sea of Galilee, a sudden and furious squall arose. (Mark 4:35-42) Waves crashed over the boat, nearly swamping it. The disciples thought they might die, yet Jesus slept in the stern of the fishing vessel until they awakened him. He fussed a bit at their unbelief. “Do you still have no faith?” he asked. But, before he spoke to the disciples, he got up, rebuked the wind and said to the waves, “Quiet! Be still!” Wow. Just like that. The storm subsided. The disciples were in disbelief even though they had been following him for awhile! Yet, they feared death and destruction in that moment, when they couldn’t see the sunshine, but felt the wind. Yet, Jesus was right there. He was with them in that boat. Do we ever doubt where He is during the storms, or do we remember He is with us?

I know we cannot always rebuke every storm in our lives and see it instantly dissolve. Yet, I want to take this analogy one step further. Oftentimes, our storms are not physical or environmental. Sometimes, they take place in our heads and hearts … a heaviness, a loneliness, a lack of joy, a grief that doesn’t seem to end. I want to encourage you to take heart. Though you may not see miracles every day, Jesus did tell the disciples in John 14:12, “,,, whoever believes in me will do the works I have been doing, and they will do even greater things than these, because I am going to the Father.” 

When you feel some torment from your spiritual antagonist, Satan himself, put on your spiritual armor and stand your ground. In James 4:7 we are reminded to submit ourselves, to God. Then, “Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.” 

I had a bad dream a week ago and it was a reminder of this principle. A dark and shadowy cloud formation was following me. I noticed it but kept walking. Then, I began running. It followed relentlessly. In this dream, I suddenly turned around to face that fearsome thing, and shouted, “STOP!” And, it did!

I know. This was a dream. There was no real threat to me or my loved ones.  Yet, I do believe the Lord speaks to us in dreams. The dark cloud stopped in its tracks, and I, in joyful amazement, praised God. It was only a dream, but symbolic, no doubt.  I will wear my spiritual armor (Ephesians 6:10-18). When I feel the darkness of the Enemy discouraging me from fulfilling God’s purposes, I will boldly proclaim, “STOP! In the name of Jesus!” I pray this imagery will be an encouragement to you as well. I pray that you won’t be overcome by the one who wants you to lose hope in the storms of life.    

The Virtue of Vigilance

architecture beautiful bloom blooming

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2 Peter 1:5-8 (NLT) “In view of all this, make every effort to respond to God’s promises. Supplement your faith with a generous provision of moral excellence, and moral excellence with knowledge, and knowledge with self-control, and self-control with patient endurance, and patient endurance with godliness, and godliness with brotherly affection, and brotherly affection with love for everyone. The more you grow like this, the more productive and useful you will be in your knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.”

I have always loved flowers. From my earliest memories of planting marigold seeds with my sweet mama, flowers have been a beautiful part of my life. They make me smile on the gloomiest of days. Flowers have long inspired poets and artists. The great artist Claude Monet said, “I must have flowers, always, and always.”  Henry Ward Beecher, a clergyman and abolitionist of the 1880s said, “Flowers may beckon towards us, but they speak toward heaven and God.”

Scripture also refers to flowers with frequency. Close your eyes and imagine a flower adorned garden in which God placed his first children. I’m sure it was decorated with an abundance of variety and a vast array of colors. In Luke 12:27, Jesus tells the disciples to consider how the lilies grow. He points out that even Solomon with all his wealth was not dressed like the beautiful flowers God created.

However, unlike the Garden of Eden, with its natural mist to maintain moisture, my flowers must be tended. One hot summer day, as I watered my front flower beds, I glanced up to where once-bountifully blooming flower baskets were hanging.

“Oh, NO! Look!” I cried to my husband. “They looked fine Friday!” I cried.

My husband surveyed the damage, and suggested we soak them in a revival attempt. Sadly, the soaking was “too little, too late.” I knew it had been hot, but we had received three inches of rain mid-week. The last time I had assessed the baskets, they seemed healthy. Apparently, I had not been vigilant.

We had been studying 2 Peter 1:5-8, Peter’s “formula” for living well as followers of Christ. Basically, Peter tells us if we attend to his plan, we will have certainty of being “productive and useful” to the Kingdom of God. We will grow spiritually strong, he says, when we add moral excellence to our faith. Peter unpacks other essentials that we need to achieve God’s promised blessings: knowledge, self-control, patient endurance, godliness, brotherly affection, and LOVE for everyone! Oh, how I long to have these virtues growing in me daily.

The Lord spoke to my heart with a spiritual application from my pitiful dead flowers. It appeared that my plants went from thriving to dying “almost overnight.” I was shocked, in fact, with their quick demise. My judgment had lapsed when I assumed they didn’t need immediate attention. The result? Disappointing consequences.

My loss of my flowers is a minor consequence compared to many of life’s unexpected detours. To live in a spiritually effective way, to receive the blessings God has prepared for me, I need to be watchful, attentive … vigilant, in fact. A person can’t simply throw together Peter’s hefty spiritual goals and expect instant attainment. Maybe this is what our Christian fathers have referred to as the “spiritual disciplines.” Goodness knows, my self-control needs hourly monitoring! Perhaps my lesson is that to acquire spiritual strength and blessing, I must tend to my daily progress.

This does not equate spiritual growth  (sanctification) with “good works” to somehow earn salvation. “Earning salvation” is not Biblical. Eternal life in Heaven is freely given by grace through the gift of Jesus Christ. He took the penalty of my sin, providing a way for me to have a relationship with Father God.

However, Peter admonishes us to “make every effort” to respond to God’s promises. My dead flowers remind me to be vigilant in this task. Join me. Pledge to yourself to be vigilant in seeking Holy Spirit empowerment. Why? so you can “finish well” in this race of life. I aim for the greatest of all treasures, to grow in the image and likeness of Jesus Christ.

 

My Daddy’s Face

“Where is daddy’s face?” asked my six-year-old granddaughter. “I can’t find him!”

The child turned over random puzzle pieces, examining the details for clues. The puzzle had been a gift created from family photos, each image represented a favorite memory.

Shrugging her little shoulders, Cassie replied, “I know he’s here! I just need to look harder.”

“Look, Cass, is this Daddy’s eye and nose?” I asked, holding up a piece. “Yes, yes, I see him!” my sweet grandchild answered.

I was reminded that sometimes I, too, have searched for my Father’s “face” among the disassembled puzzle pieces of my life. I’ve even cried out. “Where are you?” In those times of darkness, I have to trust and remember who my Heavenly Father is. Like Cassie, I need to remember to “look harder” for evidence of God’s presence, instead of fixating on the unsolved problem. It seems to be human nature to painfully focus on what is wrong, those missing pieces.

Yet we have assurance that God has not abandoned us. In Romans 8:38-39, He comforts His children. “For I am convinced that nothing can ever separate us from God’s love. Neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither our fears for today nor our worries about tomorrow–not even the powers of hell can separate us from God’s love. No power in the sky above or in the earth below–indeed, nothing in all creation will ever be able to separate us from the love of God that is revealed in Christ Jesus our Lord.” ((NLT).  What an all-encompassing promise!

Exodus explains that God’s face is hidden from view because He is so holy. “But you may not look directly at my face, for no one may see me and live,” Exodus 33:20 (NLT). The Bible is explicit. God is not withholding his presence because he is an unkind Father, but He is so sinless that we could not survive a face-to-face encounter. Thus, enters Christ. He is why we can have relationship with this Holy God. Through the sacrifice of Christ, the penalty for our sins have been laid to rest, absolved, on the cross. Father God can now see us as forgiven and perfect in His sight! The gift of Christ made a way for us to be brought back into an intimate relationship with perfect Father God!

We have been given the promise of seeing Father God face to face … someday … in heaven. “And they will see his face, and his name will be written on their foreheads. And there will be no night there–no need for lamps or sun–for the Lord God will shine on them,” Revelation 22:3-5a (NLT). I will then be perfected, and though in awe, I’m sure, I will see Him clearly, face to face. As the song title says, “I can only imagine …” what that will be like.

Even when I feel like young Cassie, searching for the comfort of my Father’s face and presence, I can say with the confidence of a child, I know He is with me. Look for His presence around you. Listen for His voice, and watch for evidence in all ways. As you search for your Spiritual Father  in the middle of your unsolved puzzle, know He is near. You can encounter His presence. “Come close to God, and God will come close to you,” James 4:8 (NLT). His desire is to comfort you with great love and compassion. Look up from your despair, and He will show His face when you need it most.

His Glory and Majesty … and Me?

“Lord, our Lord, how majestic is your name in all the earth! You have set your glory in the heavens.” Psalm 8:1

Have you ever felt small as you looked into the night skies, stood on a mountaintop, or gazed into what seems like an endless sea from the shoreline? My human life, which is of utmost importance to me, is but an infinitesimal dot in one unfathomable universe … among many universes. In Psalm 8:3, David, the Psalmist, raises the question with this: “When I consider your heavens, the work of your fingers, the moon and the stars, which you have set in place, what is mankind that you are mindful of them, human beings that you care for them?” (NIV) 

[Enjoy listening to and watching this musical expression of Psalm 8:3 on Youtube:  https://youtu.be/6_f0aOp0EPE ]

The Scriptures proclaim His creativity in Psalm 104: 24: “How many are your works, Lord! In wisdom you made them all; the earth is full of your creatures.”  When I view the intricate details of nature, I am in awe. My heart is stirred at the exquisite pinks, reds, and yellows of a setting sun, at times dispersing its glory into clouds and reflecting waters.  Upon delighting in the scent of honeysuckle or a delicate rose bloom, I am humbled by God’s meticulous design. The calming song of a dove’s “cooooo-coooo,” or a lyrical human voice can lift my spirits even in turbulent times. How can I hold a newborn baby, so helpless, yet brimming with potential, and not see His works? I have only to let myself see, feel, hear, and touch what is all around me, and it becomes evident that God has allowed us glimpses of His Glory now. I can only imagine what Heaven will be as we then gaze upon the One who is the Creator!

It would take greater faith than I have to believe that my world came into being from some astonishing accident of nuclear particles. Or that the complexity of human life evolved from amoeba emerging from its watery habitat. Even the precision of the tilt of the Earth as it rotates, scientists say, is “just about right” (like perfect?) for advanced life to flourish. Such a “coincidence”?

It is no wonder that I am overwhelmed that God, The One who has formed not only my “tiny” yet miraculous life, but the whole of all universes, should care for me. “But God,” I ask. “How can you care about me?” I am but one among the myriads. My heart is so selfish. My woes must are surely fleeting and unremarkable among the countless multitudes in Your creation. And You? So Eternal, Omnipotent, Omnipresent, Omniscient … all that I am not. My mind is incapable of grasping the wonder of You.

And yet. I can know absolutely that He cares … for me … and you. We do see the beauty of His handiwork and His revelation through our senses. But, even greater evidence is that same all-powerful, creative God wants to have a relationship with me! And you! If you wonder how I know this, I can be certain because He sent His Son, Jesus, to dwell among us on this planet. He came to teach, to heal, and to make a way for me, and all of us who seek God, to have relationship with his Almighty Majestic, Perfect Father. Jesus embodies the words of Eternal Life. Jesus, the only Son of God.

“This is how God showed his love among us: He sent his one and only Son into the world that we might live through Him. This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins.” – 1 John 4:9-11 (NIV)

“You have made them (human beings) a little lower than the angels and crowned them with glory and honor. … Lord, our Lord, how majestic is your name in all the earth!” Psalm 8:5,9 (NIV)

Hallelujah!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Adoption

In the cultural/social climate of 2019, few women choose adoption as an unplanned pregnancy option. Abortion or parenting are the more popular choices. Disinformation abounds with lines blurred between foster children and adopted children. Many young people know little about adoption and what it looks like today.

As one studies the changes in the culture over the past 75 years, a most obvious cultural shift is that single parenting is commonly accepted today.  Often people end up single parenting even if they were once married due to the high frequency of divorce. Finances can be challenging, but not impossible with many forms of social services to assist a single parent. Therefore, the question begs an answer: “Why would I consider going through a pregnancy, becoming attached to the little one in my body, and then hand it over to someone else?”

There are similarities between adoption and abortion. Someone unprepared to parent can be relieved of that responsibility — by either choice. However, the glaring difference is that the baby is given life in adoption. In abortion, that little one, his or her God-given purposes, gifts, and talents are extinguished forever. An abortion decision is permanent and final with no replacement possibilities.

Today there are many dimensions and opportunities in making an adoption plan. The doors have opened to biological mothers/fathers to have more involvement in their child’s future if they so choose. The extent of contact can be predetermined in the initial stages of planning. Perhaps a young mom will decide she only wants to receive updates and photos so she knows how her child is developing. Or maybe, she desires an open adoption in which she will spend time with her child, giving that child knowledge of who she is from the beginning of life. Some people feel that it is in the best interest of the child to grow up with an understanding that they have only one family, those who are responsible for raising them. Yet, having some contact with biological family has worked well for many adopted children and parents.

Adoption has evolved over the years. It was once done in secret to protect both the biological mother’s future as well as the adoptive family’s. Legal rights of the biological mother were severed upon the decision to place the child into an adoptive home. The adoptive couple became the legal parents/guardians and even birth certificates were changed to represent the new family unit.  In the early 20th century, it was common to hide an adoption from a child who was often never told the truth about his or her biological family. Then, after “surprising truths” were discovered as the child became an adult, there was an emotional toll to resolve. By the middle of the century and beyond, social practices evolved. Adopted children were usually told “their stories” before they were even old enough to understand the meaning. Adopted babies learned that they were special and chosen by their adoptive parents. They were taught that their birth parent loved unselfishly by choosing parents who were better prepared to parent.

In 2019, adoption still provides many opportunities for a parent who feels she is unable to parent. Yes, grief and loss may accompany carrying a child full term and relinquishing parenting to someone else. However, the child is alive, the parent can become involved, or in the least of contact, have the satisfaction of knowing her child is thriving. In abortion choices, there may be initial relief, but there can be also substantial risks: emotionally, relationally, spiritually, and even physically. And, that one little life has ended. Forever.

I Have a Choice?

Liv, did you know? You really DO have a choice to make. If you are not ready to parent, and you believe it is in your best interest not to try, there is still another option beyond abortion. You will not be parenting now, and you can continue working or going to school. You can continue the goals you had before this unplanned pregnancy. It IS a significant decision that involves loss and grief, but not one that ends a life. You can even experience the joy of knowing your child if you choose to do so.

“What choice?” Liv cried out. “There is a no good choice!”

Twenty-year-old Liv had just found out she was pregnant, which was certainly not in her plans. After taking multiple pregnancy tests, she knew she needed help.

“I sure don’t want HIM in my life,” she said to her friend Talia.

“Tell me about ‘him,‘” Talia said, prompting another tirade from Liv.

“He completely misrepresented himself on social media. This guy is so mixed up. Last week, he even said he was thinking of suicide.”

Talia didn’t interrupt, but listened intently.

“He seemed so together and strong, when we first met, but I really wouldn’t want him to parent. The irony of it all.  You know how I’ve wanted to have a child. So now I have one. But, I will have to do this alone, and you know, I’m not really financially ready for that.”

“This is something to take your time with, Liv. Your choice is going to have long-lasting  effects for you … and that little one,” Talia replied.

“You know, Talia. I’ve always wanted to feel what it would be like to having a baby growing inside me. But, I really can’t take on raising a child right now!”

“Do you know anything about adoption?” Talia asked.

“No, not really.”

“In some ways, it offers the same relief as an abortion,” Talia offered.

Liv sat quietly for a few minutes.

“I know it would give the baby a future. Most likely a better life than I can give it,” Liv said thoughtfully. “But, could I go through with it?”

“You are a brave, Liv, to even think about these possibilities,” Talia said, giving her friend a big hug.

Dear Lord, I pray for Liv and all the young women facing her decision. Help them to see beyond the moment of turmoil they face. Open their eyes to the reality that you have purpose and meaning for this little life. Let Liv know that You will be there through it all if she puts her trust in You. In Jesus Name, Amen.