Tuesday, December 20, 2016

Christmas posts from 2005-2012


Adoption Joy
December 24, 2012
Blink. That’s what I did and 2012 is already coming to a close. How does that happen? As fast as each year continues to fly by…. this year by far is the fastest. 2012 started out with the best news ever at the end of January as we finally got the LONG awaited phone call that we had received approval to bring Bella HOME!  I knew what that meant. It was time to whirl around and start getting my head and heart ready to travel to a far away land. So much to do! In February the Indian Courts granted us custody of Bella. We then just had to wait on her passport to be processed in India and we could travel to pick her up in just a few short weeks.  Time was just whipping by as I was grappling at the clock arms to slow them a bit to get everything in order. And sadly they did. March came and went and still, no passport. Hearts sinking we wondered if we’d be in a similar situation as last summer with more long and unexpected waiting.
But finally on April 12th we got word that the passport had arrived and it was time to travel and that painful 4-year wait would finally come to an end. So, on April 22nd of this year, Jeff, Jonah and myself all boarded a plane and traveled across the world into a foreign land. After 2 full days and 5 flights, ending with a tiny prop plane that finally landed us on a small airstrip in the middle of mountains, jungles and rivers (a scene you only see on National Geographic), followed by a 2-hour car trip, winding up a mountain on a narrow one lane road through breathtaking jungles, waterfalls, and bamboo huts, we arrived. Normally, this kind of trip would have had me heaving my insides. But I was just too excited to be carsick. Our eyes just could not believe what we were beholding.  We were on the other side of the world gazing at a little town mixed with both beauty and poverty on terrain that seemed totally surreal. And this….this was the place our daughter awaited us.
Full of adrenaline at this point and with only about 2 hours of sleep, we could not wait to lay eyes on the one that the LORD had chosen for us to call our own. Walking down a steep flight of stairs on the side of a mountain we turned the corner into a little orphanage and there as we stepped foot in, peeked a little beautiful big brown-eyed girl with just as much anticipation to meet us. There are no words to describe that moment. Locking eyes, arms and hearts for the very first time with our daughter all the way around the world. It was one of the happiest and most beautiful days of our lives.  We spent two weeks in the birth country of our daughter, sightseeing, learning her culture, and also getting the necessary legalities in place to get Bella’s visa to finally come home. It was truly the trip of our lives. The things we saw, experienced, and felt will forever be etched in our hearts.
And then, just like that, it was all over. We were back on familiar turf, yet we found ourselves in unfamiliar, “new” family territory.  We were home at last, but no longer as a family of 4. We were now a family of 5, with a new daughter/sister.  Immediately the trials and challenges came, some expected, and some very unexpected.  Though Bella is a phenomenal little girl and has done so well since coming home, the struggles we faced with adjustments as a family were extremely difficult.  In addition, we endured hardships this summer like none we have experienced thus far. Bella struggled with a number of medical issues as her little body tried to assimilate to a new environment and climate. We also dealt with broken bones, injuries, casts, braces, physical therapy, surgeries, and stitches to name a few. Not to mention a mound of medical bills that took a natural toll on our finances.  We were “all” out of sorts in every way with our new little family and the anguish seemed unbearable at times.
I kept thinking to myself, this was supposed to be a year of JOY!!! In January of this year, I was convinced this WAS going to be the year of Joy. After all, we would finally have our daughter home. Not to mention, as a church, our 2012 sermon series was focusing on JOY! The verses I was studying and the bible studies I had chosen also spoke so much about joy that I was confident this was the year for it! Wallowing in my pity and sorrow when most of the year was almost gone I wondered where all this joy was because I wasn’t feeling it. Then the verse came to my mind from James 1:2-3, “Consider it great joy my brothers whenever you experience various trials knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance.” Joy and trials together? I was reminded of our pastor’s definition this year that joy is the supernatural delight and deep satisfaction in God for the sheer beauty and worth of who He is.
 There it is. Joy is not based on our circumstances but in who God is! And according to James, anguish and joy can coexist because God’s glory and the testing of our faith, to bring forth what is ahead, is of much more value. Jesus understood this truth as stated in Hebrews 12:2, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God. Jesus endured the sufferings of the cross because He knew of the joy set before Him. What was that JOY? That we His children would be home with Him forever. That our adoption would be complete.  Ephesians 1:4-5 But when the fullness of time had come, God sent forth his Son, born of woman, born under the law, to redeem those who were under the law, so that we might receive adoption as sons.  
This is what it’s all about.  Adoption.  The Gospel. That Christ came and died for us so that we might be called the children of God. Adoption will cost suffering. But just last week, as we stood before the judge here in the States, as she officially declared Bella ours, and her adoption complete, I could look back at our year of trials and consider it all JOY.... because of  who God is and what Christ has done.  This Christmas may you experience God’s Adoption Joy. 
Brittnie
Waiting on Jesus
December 24, 2011

This year has been a big blur. It seems as if it’s only been a few weeks long, yet I hardly remember any of it. How can time past this fast without me knowing it? Does this have to do with my age? Is this what I have to look forward to from now on?...years passing by in a matter of minutes? I woke up this morning and realized that I have been living with a teenager for almost a year now. (This could explain some of the blur?) This year we celebrated our firstborns 13th birthday! Is this possible? And my baby? Well, the last time I gave birth was 10 years ago. So, there is no longer a baby in this house. What in the world has happened here? This just can’t be right. And both these boys cause us to be filled with wonder and swell full of proud joy and I hold tight to the precious moments flying by. Savoring every moment I can.

A friend said to me at the beginning of this year, “2011 has got to be better for your family than 2010. And a couple of days later, I got a terrifying phone call from Jeff- breathless and voice waning, I heard the words, “I crashed and it’s bad”. Knowing that he was at a motocross track that day with a friend and aware of his history of making jumps on his motorcycle that take my breath away, I imagined the worse. After hospitals, surgery and weeks of rehab, though it was tough, I’m so thankful that it wasn’t as bad as it could have been. But this was only January. What would February bring? To my shock and surprise, just shortly after Jeff’s accident, I got another phone call. This time, a phone call bringing the best news ever! Now I was hearing the words, “you have a daughter!" These are words we had waited to hear for a couple of years now. We finally have our Bella. Little did we know what was in store for us next.

After receiving an estimated time-frame of when paper work would be approved and travel would be possible we braced ourselves for a wild summer including a trip to India to bring our long awaited child home. In the meantime, we watched miracle after miracle unfold. The LORD began weaving different people into our story and we watched prayers being answered left and right. From bringing long sought out translators for Bella’s specific language that no one had heard about around here… to friends taking trips to visit our daughter with updates, pictures and videos...to God bringing in over $30,000 to meet our outrageous adoption costs to travel to pick up our girl. He was moving mountains and we were getting excited! Sweet friends showered us in June to help us with the many needed things to bring home a daughter while mom and I prepared a wonderland of a pink room for her and a place to forever call home.

And it all came to a screeching halt when summer came and went and we still had no daughter at home. We were given news that there were delays in India and paper work was not moving and it could be months. So, beginning in August we walked into a different kind of season of waiting. One that would bring so much heartache and hurt, one that would bring me to the end of myself and force to me to fix my eyes on Jesus alone. Waiting day after day, month after month, now no longer to hear words that speak, “we have a daughter”, but ones that bear news that we can “go get our daughter”. Knowing that we weren’t the only ones now waiting on this news, but that on the other side of the world waited another who longed for her mama and daddy to bring her home. This is now a longing and yearning so strong, that I eagerly awake every morning- before eyes even open - and reach for my phone to check for news that will bring two worlds together.

Yet we still we wait. But I know waiting is never in vain. God is teaching me even now as our family has transitioned into this Advent season and we have been reflecting on biblical History. “Advent.” The word comes from a Latin term that means “ toward the coming." I’ve been reminded of many others who long waited, yet did not wait in vain. Noah waited for the rains of salvation, Abraham waited to be the father of many nations, the Israelites waited for the Promise Land, David for a kingly throne as a young man and the list goes on and on. Ultimately they were all a part of a people who waited generation after generation for a LONG awaited and prophesied Messiah. A lineage of people who’s longing and yearning gave birth to the One who was to come. Jesus, the one in whom we now rejoice. Let’s face it…. waiting is very hard, and in a culture that has no patience to wait on anything, we as the Bride of Christ, now find ourselves waiting like the saints of old once again. Paul tells us, we ourselves groan within ourselves, waiting eagerly for our adoption as sons. Romans 8:23

It’s no coincidence this time of observing Advent has caused me to shift my focus of waiting on Bella, to a focus on my waiting of my own adoption. So many similarities. Am I just as eager each morning that I wake up to hear news of our daughter to anticipate also the coming of the One who will soon come back for me? Even now He too is preparing a home for us. Jesus says, “And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and will take you to myself, that where I am you may be also.” John 14:3 For our citizenship is in heaven, from which also we eagerly wait for a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ, Philippians 3:20. It’s so easy to eagerly anticipate the glittery things this season brings. But I wonder if we are eagerly waiting on Jesus for His return? He is coming again…..and this begs the question, “are we ready”? What if each morning we awake with eager expectation of a new day with the possible coming of a returning King? To be sure, some have grown weary and have even fallen asleep and we may question why He delays. The Lord is not slow to fulfill his promise as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing that any should perish, but that all should reach repentance. 2 Peter 3:9
Waiting on the Lord is never in vain. Our waiting on Bella has not been in vain. As the end of this year draws to a close, I’ll not only be eagerly waiting on our daughter, I’ll be eagerly anticipating the One “toward the coming”. I’ll be waiting on Jesus. Ready for His return. 
Brittnie

 

December 25, 2010

JESUS OUR MANNA


Another year has come and gone and who can fathom this great wonder of time flown by. 365 days passed yet again and countless times we (sometimes unknowingly) experience God’s mercy and grace. And what a year it has been. In our last Christmas letter we “ended” with the “beginnings” of building a new house. With mom’s move from Texas into our prior home, we needed a little more room and this year we have it! How very thankful we are for this huge blessing. We love our new house! The house has met all our needs as a growing family. More room to give mom space of her own. She now has her own “house” in the basement and she loves it! We also needed more room upstairs so we can bring those precious babies home that God has called us to through adoption. God has provided for what He has called us to and we so grateful.

We really had no idea of what we were getting ourselves into with building a new house. It nearly consumed our lives. It was however so much fun picking out all the things “we wanted” for it like colors, styles, flooring and cabinets etc. And we definitely tailored it to our liking…Texas style! How could we not? But between finishing the house (which we did a good bit ourselves) and moving into the house in early July, we really spent every waking minute for months getting things done and settled. We keep calling our summer, “the lost summer”. And it really was. We totally missed out on all the fun the summer brings. But outside of our house consumption…we actually did experience some unforgettable times that the LORD allowed us to have as “makeup” for our lost time. A grace-covering if you will.

One of those times was the LORD calling Jeff and providing for him to go to Africa. He spent two weeks in Uganda with a mission team to help orphaned children. Whoa. What an experience for us all. He had some incredible opportunities to feed children, help build a new walk-in cooler and freezer and even tie in some electricity for a couple of people to have a light bulb for the very first time. Can you imagine? How we take our blessed lives for granted. By far, opportunities to share the gospel to a people who have never heard were highlights. But witnessing extreme poverty firsthand was definitely eye opening to say the least. How all of our hearts have been changed. Another covering of God’s grace was the day our sweet Jadon gave his life to Jesus. With grateful hearts we praise the LORD for answering prayers that we have prayed for our children since their time in the womb.

Those were some definite highlights of our year. But, It would not be “real life” if I shared only our joys and the good times if I did not come transparent before you to show you our life’s sorrows and pains. Nothing hidden here. Just our lives sliced open wide for others to see that we get cut and we bleed like all humanity. And we have bled while we continue to wait for our Bella. I can’t believe an entire year has passed by and we still don’t have her. It’s truly heartbreaking to wait such a long time to bring home a little girl who desperately needs a family. Though, I guess waiting could have been more painful if we were sitting around twiddling our thumbs. But, this year’s busyness with the house has helped ease the pain a bit in our wait. We actually were so close to getting a little girl just a few weeks ago when we accepted a referral match….only to lose her at our saying “yes” and waiting to hear back to proceed. She went to another family who got in a “yes” before we could. So now we wait again trusting God to deliver our child at the right time. He knows what’s best.

Along with all the good that came with the move into a new house…. there was some not so good. There were particular situations that came about during the building of this house that caught us completely off guard. Never have we experience such hardship. The unforeseen challenges tested us in every way physically, emotionally and spiritually. With those challenges came also the difficulty of carrying two mortgages (which we knew was a great probability). Our old house has still not sold in this crazy economy and we continue to foot the bill for two houses. I think it goes with out saying that this has left huge financial burdens. I have said on numerous occasions that this year we are just trusting God for daily bread. Truly we have depended on Him daily for our every need. And over and over He has provided. It has caused me to focus on these particular verses here recently. Jesus says, “I am the bread of life. Your ancestors ate the manna in the wilderness, yet they died. But here is the bread that comes down from heaven, which anyone may eat and not die.” John 6:48-50

This particular verse refers back to a period of time in the Old Testament where God’s people were in the wilderness after having just been delivered from slavery in Egypt. God brought them to a desert land where they literally had to trust God for daily bread. It was total dependence and God was faithful to provide daily through a honey wafer called manna. His provisions are most certainly sweet. Clearly, it’s the times in the wilderness when we see God’s hand of provision most clearly. This has been true of us…to be able to watch as He shows up at the right time and place to provide for our every need. To witness firsthand how He very clearly makes Himself known as Jehovah Jireh. (The LORD provides) We praise Him for His goodness. But, if we were left with just temporal earthly blessings alone, this indeed would not be sweet. Even the Israelites died in the wilderness after eating the “mystery bread.” Even it did not preserve life then and it does not preserve it now. We need something more.

We are in desperate need of another “manna,” the true bread that comes down from heaven to give us eternal life. Jesus says, “I am the bread of life” and anyone who eats of this bread will not die. Praise God that He does more than provide for our earthly needs.... He provides for our eternal ones. Now this is eternal life: that they know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom you have sent. John 17:3 This is truly the mystery. That God would step out of Heaven and come down to us as manna. Real food. Real Life. Is this not the real meaning of Christmas? This is why we celebrate this time of year. If we fall short of just looking forward to getting life’s earthly temporal pleasures and possessions during this Holiday, we would still go hungry. But we now no longer have to be starved from the only thing that can satisfy. We now have all we need. We have the bread that comes down from heaven. Jesus our manna. Will you partake of this bread with us this Christmas?
Brittnie

 

Born To Die

December 24, 2009

I have just one question. Where did 2009 go? So many things happened in such a short amount of time I can hardly believe a year has come and gone. As with any year, we had the good and the bad as always. But lots of big events took place this For starters we sold mom’s house in Texas. This obviously was a very hard thing to do. Not physically, but emotionally. Initially we thought that a friend of moms was going to buy her house, so she didn’t bother with putting the house on the market and instead focused all her attention on doing some packing and retiring from the Texas school system. But, just before it was time to move, plans had changed and mom needed to locate a Realtor.
We put her house on the market and would you believe that the house had a contract on it in just 3 days! The LORD took care of that one in a heart beat. He is so amazing! We witnessed His mighty hand at work all around us during the entire process. The move went very well and mom was on her way to Alabama. We moved her in with us in early June and at that point spent the entire summer looking for houses that would work for all of us to live in together. But to no avail. In the mean time, the LORD was continuing His hand of provision in landing mom a new job at the middle school here (just before the school year started) doing what she loves most…teaching Special Ed. students. And while it was evident we weren’t going to find that perfect home for us, the LORD had something different planned all along. He was building us a house.

I wish I could tell you all of the details that go along with that statement. They are truly amazing. This house is exactly what we were looking for all along. (Of course it is, The LORD is building it!) Another neat thing about this house is that it not only has the perfect set up for mom, but it has lots of extra bedrooms for kids! And since we only have 2 kids….you may be wondering (if you don’t already know) that we are expecting more! The LORD has drawn our hearts toward adoption over the last year and we’ve got our sights set for a baby girl in India! We have been through the most interesting journey of our lives going through the process of adopting a child. We have filled out mounds of paper work and had our family raked over with a fine tooth comb. It has been interesting to say the least.

But we have learned so much about the LORD than we ever expected in this journey of adoption. We’ve learned more about the Father’s heart for the orphan as well as the whole concept of our own spiritual adoption in Christ Jesus. It’s been a mind blowing awakening. In my statement earlier I mentioned “kids”. We are working through the possibility of getting a sibling group of girls from India, but if the LORD wills just for us to have one this time around….then we plan to adopt again. There are too many babies out there that need a home for us just to stop with one. We’ll leave all the rest up to the LORD and just walk forward in obedience as He leads. I hope to be writing this time next year about a new member of our family!

So, lots of good as I mentioned this year but along with the good, came the bad. We had to endure yet another loss this year. I wasn’t sure my heart could actually take losing another loved one. This makes three years in a row that we’ve had to say goodbye to one of my closest family members. First it was my mamaw, then my father and this year it was my papaw. That’s too tough to even absorb. When we lost my papaw, we lost one of the kindest and most gentle souls I’ve ever known. He was a man who gave of himself to others all the time. I watched him literally give up the things on earth that he dearly enjoyed to care for my mamaw when her health was declining. With what little he did have he was always sending me checks in the mail letting me know that “he couldn’t think of anyone he’d rather give his money to”. He probably did that with everyone. Such a precious man. My papaw was loved by everyone and he is dearly missed.

The last few days, I have been reflecting on yet another who gave himself for others. My mind races to Philippians 2:6-9 that says, “Though he (Jesus) was God, he did not think of equality with God as something to cling to. Instead, he gave up his divine privileges; he took the humble position of a servant and was born as a human being. When he appeared in human form, he humbled himself in obedience to God and died a criminal’s death on a cross.” (NLT) Our pastor says every year “that the main emphasis of Christmas is not on the infancy of Jesus but on the deity of Jesus.” When you look at it like that you begin to realize (as much as humanly possible) all that He gave up to be born in human likeness. Jesus Christ gave up all that was rightly His to step into time to be born as a human being and ultimately humbled himself in obedience unto death.

Let’s be honest. When we think of Christmas, do we just see a baby lying in a manger, or do we see the King of the universe stepping out of heaven, giving up all His privileges to become an ordinary baby headed for the cross? Yes, He was born in Bethlehem but He was headed for Calvary. Putting it another way, He was born to die. Why? Love. It was love that drove Christ to such a humble state for our sinful account so that for all who truly believe might be saved! It’s one of those things you have to ponder deeply to even begin to conceive the slightest bit of its profundity. I’m still trying to wrap my mind around it. Ephesians 3:18-19 That you may have strength to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth, and to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled with all the fullness of God. Trees, lights, presents, family and food are all nice at Christmas. But, I’ll take the humble King. Will you worship Jesus with us this Christmas? Not as an infant but as King, born to die so that we might be saved!
Brittnie

At the Feet of Jesus 

December 18, 2008

As 2008 comes to a close, I find myself in awe over Jesus. Each year I get to know Him in a different way. It absolutely blows my mind that I can personally know the Creator of Heaven and earth. As I look back over different seasons of my life I always find that Jesus not only shapes me and conforms me to His image, He also reveals new characters of Himself to me. I usually can name a new one each time. If I could use one word to describe God’s character revealed to me this year it would be, “Mercy”.

While preparing this letter, I reflected on the past 3 Christmas letters that I have written and I found that each one had particular difficult situations. In 2005 we were waiting on a job. Just around the corner in 2006 we picked up our family and moved to another state for ministry. Last year we lost my grandmother and watched my father battle a nasty cancer. But, none of our family was prepared for what would happen this year. None of us knew that dad would leave our world so soon and enter our Saviors. No one was ready for this! The pain, confusion and grief were indescribable. But during this unbelievable time we witnessed the hand of God and felt His presence like never before. What Mercy!

After spending nearly all of January in Texas with my mom, I whirled home in order to prepare for a brand new women’s ministry the LORD had called me to. Already sure that I was totally incapable of the calling before me, taking on a new ministry while dealing with terrible grief seemed an impossible task. Buried in studies and overcome with speaking anxieties each month, the LORD became my confidence. I was met with intense spiritual battles head on all along the way while serving in this new capacity. But God in His great mercy clothed me with strength to endure every bit of it.

The love and gratitude I have for Jesus overflows with in me. I’m drawn to the text in the gospel of John where I find Mary of Bethany at the feet of Jesus. The account reads, “Mary took a bottle of very expensive perfume made from pure nard and poured it on Jesus' feet. Then she dried his feet with her hair.”(John 12:3) I love this picture. Mary, out of love and gratitude for Jesus is found anointing Jesus’ feet with a very costly perfume. Spending time at someone’s feet was the work of a servant and a woman with her hair unbound was not a common sight in public. The incredible picture that we find in this biblical text is Mary pouring out her life in an intense personal devotion to Christ.

In the verses following we find out that the perfume was worth 3 hundred denarii. (The equivalence of about a year’s wage) Matthew and Marks gospels give testimony that some thought this was a total waste. (Mk 14:4; Matt 26:8) I have a feeling many today would scorn the behavior of one who would pour out a years worth of wages on Jesus’ feet. Think about that for a minute. What do people these days do when they have saved a year’s salary? If it is all spent in devotion to Jesus how do people react? Sadly, I believe that most would exclaim as those already mentioned, “what a waste”. Yet, Jesus describes it as a beautiful thing! (Mark 14:6)

When we get a glimpse of who He really is and what He has done for us, one can’t help but fall at His feet and give it all away! As the great hymn by Isaac Watts says, “Were the whole realm of nature mine- That were an offering far too small- Love so amazing, so divine- Demands my soul, my life, my all.” I can not think of myself in any other place than my life poured out at the feet of Jesus in total devotion, giving everything to Him for all He has done in my life. Saving me from the pit of hell was alone more than I deserve. But the fact that he goes way beyond that and gets personally involved in individuals lives and gives hope, comfort, strength and great mercy when we need it is something I’ll never understand.

At Christmas, in the midst of all the buying, decorating and celebrating some may give Jesus a glance. Others may perhaps meditate on what the birth of Jesus meant. But I hope you do more. I hope you’ll find that there is no greater place to be in this life than to be poured out at the feet of Jesus. Not just at Christmas time but at all times. There you’ll find that there is really no cost and no loss. Nothing wasted. There you’ll find all you need.

Soli Deo Gloria,
Brittnie

 

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

The Word Became Flesh

Wow! What a year it has been. I think that we have been in Alabama long enough now that it is safe to say that our feet have been firmly planted in our new home and place of ministry. We love it! No doubt God has bestowed on us blessing after blessing. We have been in awe while watching the hand of the LORD work in marvelous ways. However, this year has been far from easy. There have been some real heartaches that we have had to deal with all throughout the year.

As most of you know-we lost my grandmother this year. She was the only grandmother that I knew and I was the only grandchild she knew. So, needless to say our relationship was very special. Her death allowed me to spend lots of time reflecting on wonderful memories that God had given me with her. And for those memories I am so thankful. She was precious and I miss her dearly. Another heartache - has been the news of my father being diagnosed with cancer. I can’t describe the pain that I have faced while watching my parents endure such a difficult road. Being far away from them during this time has been excruciating. Its times like these that make life far more valuable and precious than we often realize.

Mingled in with the heartaches have been many challenges this year as well. I think that we’d all agree that life is not easy. Honestly, it is just plain hard sometimes. But, the one thing on earth that I can not fathom is living through life’s difficulties without the One who became flesh and dwelt among us. In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth. John 1:1-2; 14.
We can see through the Inspired penmanship of the Beloved Disciple, that in the beginning the WORD was God and He became flesh and dwelt among us. Jesus- the Eternal Son of God stepped out of eternity- broke into time and put on human flesh. God, remaining fully divine now also fully man. Why? So He could dwell among us. There are really no words in our language to describe the incarnation of Christ. The word amazing falls extremely short.

God dwelt among us. The original Greek word for dwelt is eskhnwsen. It literally means to fix one's tabernacle, to live in a tabernacle (or tent). In other words, God set up His tent and lived right where we are so He could interact with us and get personal with us. Truly this is more than we can understand. To touch the Transcendent- how can this be?

He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation. For by him all things were created………through him and for him. And he is before all things, and in him all things hold together. …..For in him all the fullness of God was pleased to dwell, and through him to reconcile to himself all things…… making peace by the blood of his cross. Colossians 1:15-20.
Through this incredible act on the cross, the all satisfying God has made it possible for us to have our sins forgiven so we can know Him and fellowship with Him now. We can have an intimate relationship with El Elyon (The Most High God). There is no greater joy.

This Christmas we can choose to allow the birth of Christ to be some distant historical story or we can recognize and receive this Divine intervention made available to us now. This is the reason for all the joy we proclaim during the Christmas season. We can have every pleasure and find the deepest comfort in times of pain in this life through Jesus Christ. This is how someone on earth can endure life’s difficulties. The Word became flesh and pitched his tent among us so we could know Him. Embrace Jesus with me today.

Brittnie


December 14, 2006
The Gift of Jesus

This year has been such a blessing from the LORD. Our family has been on a wonderful journey. As you may remember last year was quite a difficult year for our family as we sought God and waited patiently for Him to show us where we were to serve. But this year, not only did God give Jeff an incredible place to serve in ministry; He has allowed me to stay home with our precious children. What an experience this has been and a complete change in our lifestyle! For Jeff- from part time ministry and seminary to Full time ministry. For me- from a full time business career to full time motherhood. Not to mention all of this taking place 3 states away from Texas.

We have had so much fun getting adjusted to a new place, making new friends and watching God unfold His plan for our lives. But amidst all the fun, there have also been hard lessons learned. God obviously had a lot that He needed to show me this year. He used our changes and transitions as teachable moments. Interestingly enough, most of my lessons were revealing how sinful in nature that I really am. In comparison to a Holy God I know that even my righteous acts are as filthy rags. (Isaiah 64:6) But this time, God showed me some of my not so righteous ways. He uncovered areas in my life that I had not recognized before.

Now before you get to thinking that there is some deep secret or hidden sin that I am talking about, let me clarify. To sum it all up in one word it would be called “selfishness”. (NO, not this only child who grew up thinking that life was all about her?!!) I don’t know about you, but whenever something unpleasant in my own life is laid bare, it’s not fun at all. Nobody likes to have the ugly things exposed. There were days that felt almost gloomy when I would get a good inside look of myself. Why would God allow a season of such hard lessons? Yes, some changes were needed for sure….but, was God being cruel? Would He really want to cause me to feel worthless? Before you are quick to answer, let me say that this revealing of my sinfulness was actually a treasure- A beautiful gift. I’ll tell you why.

Isaiah 53:5 says “But He was pierced because of our transgressions, crushed because of our iniquities; punishment for our peace was on Him, and we are healed by His wounds.” Today God reminded me that all my sin was placed on Jesus when He died on the cross. He paid the full price for all my sin and gave me peace and healing in its place. You see, I’ll never be good enough or sinless but because of Jesus and having received Him, my life is beautiful to God even in my sinfulness. God allowed me to go through a time of seeing more of who I really am without Him and in return, it caused me to have a much deeper love and appreciation for my Savior. What a GIFT!

There is nothing more fulfilling than knowing and loving Jesus more. To think that God would reveal more of Himself to me in this way is amazing! Today my heart rejoices in God alone! I could not live with out Him. He has covered all my transgressions and iniquities. This season as you reflect on Christmas and it’s meaning, do not leave Jesus in the manger. Yes, He was born and placed in a manger, but He did not stay there!!! He is now our risen and victorious LORD who has given us the most beautiful gift. Himself.

Adoring Jesus this Christmas.

Brittnie

December 22, 2005
Our Immanuel

This year during the Christmas season, God has brought the name Immanuel to the forefront of my mind. It has been a name on which I have spent a lot of time reflecting. Matthew 1:23 says, “The virgin will be with child and will give birth to a son, and they will call him Immanuel which means, God with us”. Think about that for a moment. God with us! I can’t think of anything more profound.

The God of the universe, Creator of heaven and earth, Everlasting Father, King of kings, LORD of Lords, Self Sustaining, Omnipotent, Omniscient, All Sufficient GOD does not “need” us. He is complete and perfect just as He is! But He “wants” to be with us. Amazing! Immanuel, God became flesh. If you break into parts the name Immanuel, you would find this meaning. Im = with, An = us and El= God. So you might call Him the “With” us GOD. God with us! Have you ever heard of such a thing?

This year has been particularly difficult for our family due to Jeff’s final semester at the seminary as well as the journey we have been on now for 7 months of waiting for Gods unrevealed place of ministry for us. The last several months my focus has been on what we are “without”. But, because of Jesus, in contrast to the “without” I also have a really BIG “with”. I have a God who is with me and loves me. So I have no reason to dwell on the “without”.

Psalm 63:3 tells us that Gods love is better than life. This week, God reminded me of His personal love for me. Early one morning, I was up and spending my quiet time with the Lord at the kitchen table. I have really been trying to practice sitting quietly before Him to allow His word to sink in as I read it. (I am better at talking instead of listening) As I sat in the quiet and stillness of the moment, I requested from my heart to hear God speak to me. Just anything, Lord, will do. Oh, to hear an audible word from God! At that very moment, I heard little feet coming my way. I was irritated knowing that my quiet time with the Lord had ended and that now I would not hear from Him, as my youngest child was obviously awake and headed in my direction.

I want you to know what happened next. That precious child came over to me, quietly crawled up into my lap, put his small hands on my face, looked straight into my eyes and whispered, “I LOVE YOU SO MUCH”. Suddenly, I felt a feeling flood my body like nothing else. What I thought would be an interruption was actually an answer to prayer. I had just heard from my heavenly Father. Sure, it was in a four year old voice, but it was from the mouth of God. “I LOVE YOU” is what my God wanted to tell me as I eagerly awaited any word from HIM. Can you IMAGINE? Oh, yes Lord your love is better than life! I can testify with the psalmist now.

I can’t think of anything more wonderful than to be loved by a God that is “with us”. Avoid all the busyness and chaos that has been brought into the Christmas season. Sit back with me and reflect on a God that loved us SO much that He stepped out of heaven and came to earth to be “with us”. What more could we ask for? He is with us this very moment. We are surrounded by Him and His love at all times. Today, you may be “without” someone or something like me. But, do not spend your time focusing on the “without”. For we have a greater focus. Jesus our IMMANUEL!

Friday, November 9, 2012

Understanding the Times


I wrote this several years ago, but it keeps coming to my mind and perhaps we need to consider it more than ever these days. 



Understanding the Times

Daniel 9:1-3 In the first year of Darius son of Ahasuerus, who was made ruler over the Babylonian kingdom- in the first year of his reign, I, Daniel, understood from the Scriptures, according to the word of the LORD given to Jeremiah the prophet, that the desolation of Jerusalem would last seventy years. So I turned to the Lord God and pleaded with him in prayer and petition, in fasting, and in sackcloth and ashes.

This passage is powerful and felt the need to write a little about it.

For a little background, All Israel had transgressed God’s law and turned away, refusing to obey the LORD their God. (Dan 9:11) and because of their unfaithfulness to the LORD, He scattered them both near and far in all the countries. (vs.7) In particular God had exiled Judah to Babylon and the people were in captivity. Daniel was one of those from the tribe of Judah who had been exiled to Babylon. But Daniel, even as a young teenage boy resolved not to let the pagan culture in which he now lived to be an influence on his life as a child of God. He lived in faithfulness to his God all the days of His life.

And here we are at this passage when Daniel was old in age and we see him searching the scriptures. He is reading the prophecies of Jeremiah which tell of a 70 year captivity and he understands that the LORD will deliver His people out of captivity just as He delivered them from slavery in Egypt. Daniel understands the times. He realizes that through the Prophecies of Jeremiah and the length the people have been exiled that the time of captivity is drawing to a close and the LORD will be faithful to restore His people.

Now Daniel, understanding the prophecies and believing in God’s soon coming restoration does something so interesting. He turns to the LORD God and pleads to him in prayer and petition, in fasting, and in sackcloth and ashes. Amazing! Why did He do this? Why wasn’t he sitting back and carrying on with his life while waiting for Gods restoration? We see very clearly through his incredibly passionate prayer that he offers up to the LORD in verses 4-19 that he is praying for his sins and the sins of God’s people will be forgiven and he is mourning over them. The people that bore the very name of GOD had been living life their way and were not turning to the LORD and God punished them. Daniel prayed for his people to turn from their sins and Return to God.

This raises the hair on the back of my neck. Daniel KNEW the times and he prayed and fasted for his people! Do we know the times that we are in? As believers are we searching scripture to understand where we are at in our day and age? In Matthew chapter 24 Jesus gives us signs of the close of the age. Jesus tells us in vs.12 that in the last days we will see an increase in wickedness and the love of many will grow cold. 2 Timothy 3:1-5 tells that in the last days there will come times of difficulty. For people will be lovers of self, lovers of money, proud, arrogant, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, heartless, unappeasable, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not loving good, treacherous, reckless, swollen with conceit, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, having the appearance of godliness, but denying its power.

I’d say that describes our day pretty accurately, wouldn’t you? And by reading these God breathed texts what are we doing about it? Jesus says in Matthew 24:32-33 that we can learn a good lesson from the fig tree: as soon as its branch becomes tender and puts out its leaves, you know that summer is near. So also, when you see all these things, you know that he (Jesus) is near, at the very gates. Check your own spiritual pulse and the pulse of professing believers today. Do we understand the times? Or are we still going about our daily lives unconcerned about the sin in our lives or the spreading of the Gospel and totally disconnected from the Kingdom work that is to be done before Jesus’ return.

I am quickly reminded of Matthew 24:37-40 which says for as were the days of Noah, so will be the coming of the Son of Man. For as in those days before the flood they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day when Noah entered the ark, and they were unaware until the flood came and swept them all away, so will be the coming of the Son of Man. Let this not be us! Let us be like Daniel who searched the scriptures and understood the times and cried out to God with prayers and petitions and with fasting on behalf of their sin and let us Return to the LORD with all our hearts to be ready on the day that the Son of Man returns. The time is drawing near.

Brittnie