Thursday, June 27, 2013

Fruitful Little Plants

I am not a great gardener.
But several things I planted this year have met with some success.
My peas are bearing.
And we have been pulling radishes and eating them.
I brought a bowl of fresh peas to my sister's house today,
where several of the children and she and I
savored opening each pod and eating them raw.
As I opened each one, I thought about the one pea
I planted in the ground for each plant,
and wondered how many peas each one turns out on average.
Thirty fold? Sixty fold? A hundred fold?
These are fruitful little plants.
Seemingly more so than any of the tomatoes I have ever nurtured.
One dry pea, planted alone.
And these are they who are sown on good ground; 
such as hear the word, and receive it, and bring forth fruit,
 some thirty-fold, some sixty, and some a hundred.
~Mark 4:20 

Sunday, June 16, 2013

In Union With Us

My mind is preoccupied lately with thoughts of reproduction.
Of intimate connection that results in living beings.
Jesus said, "Abide in Me, and you will bear much fruit."
He said, "I am the Vine, and you are the branches..."
We bear no fruit apart from Him,
but He also has His fruit in union with us.

Human fruitfulness, too, depends on physical union.
Union without barriers.
My children are equally his and mine.
They bear both our DNA.

In a fruitful marriage, this is not a one-time occurrence.
It is conceived,
and gestated,
and birthed,
and washed,
and nurtured,
and matured,
and fed,
and clothed,
and taught.
And there may be multiple fruits
in various stages of maturity
being looked after simultaneously.

Bearing fruit is the work of the physically mature.
But its preparation begins at conception.
At birth, that immature child's equipment is already there,
waiting for growth and transformation and union.
It is mind-boggling to think that my body
has had stored in it for more than thirty-five years
half the child whose heart beats now inside me.

I read about a couple who consulted a fertility specialist
a number of years ago.
They had been married for some time, and wanted children very much.
But there were no children.
There were some tests done, and extensive, invasive questions asked.
And finally, the doctor got to the bottom of the problem.
These people had never had intercourse.
All the working equipment in the world
doesn't produce fruit without union.

Thursday, June 13, 2013

Afraid to Eat

Satan is an abusive father.
When we move from darkness to light,
being translated by God's Holy Spirit,
and adopted as sons into His household,
many of us continue to cringe at meals;
to be afraid of our baths.

We're afraid to eat;
afraid to sleep;
afraid to play;
and afraid to be alone with our new Father.
We're afraid to open His gifts.

But our Father in heaven is kind.
He wants to feed us good food.
To give us rest; to afford us pleasure.
To clothe us in glory.
To make us brothers and cared-for children.

We're afraid, but not with reasonable fear.
We fear abuse and neglect and hurt and duty.
We're afraid of being spoken to,
and afraid silence is brooding cruelness.
We are wary of the very One we most ought to trust.

"Who remembered us in our lowly state,
for His mercy endures forever;
and rescued us from our enemies,
for His mercy endures forever...
Oh, give thanks to the God of heaven!
For His mercy endures forever."
~From Psalm 136

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Makes Rich

We took our youngest in for oral surgery
to remove a lump that should not have been there.
I've undergone several surgeries myself,
and my anxiety over him being anesthetized was shaking me badly.
Weak knees, heart palpitations, shortness of breath.
With all my attention focused in prayer on him,
I heard a Scripture in my head that did not seem to apply.

"The blessing of the Lord makes rich, 
and He adds no sorrow with it."
I didn't even know where it was.
Were the words right?
Yes, they were.
Could they be for me?
I set that on the shelf in my heart and wondered.
I had been setting a few things there over the last few weeks,
like lost property whose owner was unknown --
and hoping I could claim them.

I begged the Lord to speak to me about him,
whether I should cancel the surgery or not.
The day before the surgery, my guts twisted with angst, I heard that Scripture.
It confused me.
What blessing?
I read, "The Lord is good, a stronghold in the day of trouble; 
and He knows those that trust in Him."
And, "God is our refuge and strength, 
a very present help in trouble."

On surgery day, I read this:
"In my distress, I prayed to the Lord, 
and the Lord answered me and set me free.
The Lord is for me, so I will have no fear: 
what can mere people do to me?
Yes, the Lord is for me; He will help me.
It is better to take refuge in the Lord than to trust in people.
It is better to take refuge in the Lord than to trust in princes.
The Lord is my strength and my song; He has given me victory.
Songs of joy and victory are sung in the camp of the godly.
The strong right arm of the Lord has done glorious things!
The strong right arm of the Lord is raised in triumph.
I will not die; instead I will live to tell what the Lord has done."
And, "The path of life leads upward for the wise; 
they leave the grave behind."

The surgery went well.
I am certain the office staff labeled me a nutcase,
because I called them up the day before
and demanded to know if the support staff
were trained in advanced life support techniques.
Were they equipped for airway obstructions?
Did they know he was small for his age?
And yes, I did tell them I was concerned they were going to overdose him.
They assured me they were competent 'in all codes',
and they weighed him again in my presence before dosing him.
I was so relieved, and thanking the Lord for my baby
when we took him from the office walking;
but kind of holding my breath still.

Later, after the surgery, I found the verse in Proverbs,
and looked more closely at it.
"Berâkâh: benediction; 
by implication prosperity: 
blessing, liberal, pool, present."
That was the definition of 'blessing' in the verse.
It wasn't just a newspaper fact, it was a promise to me while I was in distress.
I read from a devotional written by George Mueller.
Titled More Grace, he said he wanted to encourage younger believers
"to expect greater things from the Lord, who delights in giving abundantly...
Let us look out for it, for God delights to give more grace...
It is the joy and delight of His heart to give more and more and more."

If it was the Lord speaking it to me,
I was certain He was telling me I was pregnant.
I was afraid to get my hopes up,
that the Lord intended to bless us, and to keep Silas, too.
That it was time to stop bracing myself for loss and hurt.
That there was a sea change already in progress.

I wanted this blessing.
I wanted this promise.
I didn't plan it, and I didn't seek it, but I wanted it hungrily.
Because this was His will, His favor, His blessing --
and He was offering it to me?
Riches? Abundant prosperity?
Without sorrow?!
It was like hope: living, and breathing, and growing, given as a token.
Mercy offered to me, and to my children.
Yes, please.
Please let me have this.

I looked through baby names for meanings that suited that verse.
Using a website, I looked them up by meanings.
A first and middle name from a list of name combinations we liked
that I made years ago surfaced.
If this all turned out to be true,
I wanted to be ready with a name that would remember it.
The first name came up in more than one place.
One of its meanings was 'a standing pool'.
It was connected with riches.

I wrote in my journal, "I have been waiting for the next blow for six years, I think.
Six years of hyper-vigilance, fear, and expectation of no good thing.
I want to walk in hope.
I want to walk in the light of Your grace."

We bought a pregnancy test and a bottle of prenatal vitamins.
I was afraid to take it when I got home, because if this was all in my head,
I was afraid I would plunge into depression.
This hope felt like a promise, and the loss of it would feel like a curse.
I took the test.
It was positive.

Jeff read to us from the Psalms that night, the day after Silas's surgery:
"He turns a wilderness into pools of water
and dry lands into watersprings...
He also blesses them and they multiply greatly...
When they are diminished 
and brought low through oppression, affliction, and sorrow, 
He pours contempt on princes, 
and causes them to wander in the wilderness where there is no way; 
yet He sets the poor on high, far from affliction, 
and makes their families like a flock.
The righteous see it and rejoice, and all iniquity stops its mouth.
Whoever is wise will observe these things, 
and they will understand the lovingkindness of the Lord."

If the name that keeps cropping up is any indication, this is a girl.
And I will be graduating from a multipara
to a grand multipara of advanced maternal age.
We saw our baby's heartbeat yesterday. 
I already get to be a grand multigravida.