Tuesday, November 12, 2013

What's in a Name?

This second pregnancy has definitely gone a bit differently than I expected.  I'm surprised I'm already into my 3rd trimester and yet I still haven't done some of the things on my "to-do-while-pregnant" list.  I should have expected that it would be different this time around, since last time I didn't have an adorable, active, wonderful toddler running around me every day!  Courage is my joy and brings so much love and life to me every day! <3 I love him soooo much!!!

Which brings me to my next Happy Thought --> the one growing and dancing inside my belly!  When we found out we were pregnant we were surprised and elated!  Another baby!! I thought, Could it be our little Story girl? And so we started to plan and expand our horizons - in other words my organizational skills really set in and I focused on creating more space to accommodate for another child in our family and home.  But amidst all the "nesting" and preparing, my heart wondered at this mystery - who is it?  Who is this child?  

As much as I assumed it must be Story, there was still that inkling inside me that said "what if it's a boy?"  I was so excited to bring out the fairy wings and tutus and to meet our daughter that we always dreamed about...but of course I had to factor in that it could be another boy, another son.  But who is our other son?  What is his name?  Preston and I never really thought about another boy.  We just always thought of Courage and Story.  I know that not every parent names their children before they are even pregnant...but we did.  We thought up Courage and Story, and we dreamed them, and we prayed for them, and then...we created.  And first came Courage.  Next, I thought would be Story.

Preston always called this baby our little Mystery.  There is such uncertainty in the unknown.  And also joy and excitement in searching out the mystery.  When the day came that we all eagerly anticipated - the day of our baby's gender reveal party, I tried to not have my heart set on a girl.  I tried to be excited either way.  But I cannot deny that deep down I really hoped it was Story...because 1. I can't wait to meet her, and 2. I think I was afraid of the "unknown" of this being a boy - another son that I hadn't imagined yet.  A surprise.  A Mystery.  And when those blue balloons flew out of that box, I was indeed surprised...and confused.  I had thought I would feel closer to this baby once I found out "who" it was, but since it was a boy I still felt like I didn't know who he was.

So after the party, Preston and I sat down and decided we needed to name him.  I needed to name him because I needed to know who he was (and is).  Preston and I believe so much in the power of naming - not just in names themselves, but in the prophetic act of naming our son and declaring who he is as a child of God.

So we opened our Hebrew translation books and searched online for meaningful names - we started with words that meant "Mystery" or "Revealed," or "Secret," something along those lines. But nothing sounded right.

One word (or name) that Preston found is the Hebrew word Yarah.  When he started reading the meaning of the word: "to shoot an arrow, to hit the mark, to teach, to instruct, to direct..." it immediately caught my attention.  Since discovering I was pregnant, I developed an obsession for arrows.  I decided I would decorate the baby's crib and room with arrow print and the like.  So when Preston said that Yarah can be translated "to shoot an arrow," I got excited!  I knew we were getting close.

One of the first things Preston said after we found out we were having another son is that he felt that it is very significant in God's timing for Courage to have a brother next, rather than a sister.  
This perspective was encouraging to me in my emotional response to the gender reveal.  And so when we were trying to find a name for him, it made sense when the word (or name) Kairos popped into my head out of "nowhere."  I believe it literally dropped into my spirit.

Kairos is the Greek word for "right opportune moment, or supreme moment."  In rhetoric, it is "a passing instant when an opening appears which must be driven through with force if success is to be achieved." <-- this rhetoric description reminds me of an archer aiming at his target with his arrow.  In the New Testament, Kairos means "the appointed time in the purpose of God," which reminds me of what Preston had said about God's timing in this being a boy.  Needless to say, a great joy came alive inside me, like a big laugh, when we put these two words together:
Kairos Yarah.

This is our "Kairos moment."  

This is our "Riddle in the middle of a Mystery" (as Preston once said long ago in the beginning of our love story).  

This is our son, my arrow boy, Courage's younger brother, powerful and perfect with his own beautiful destiny.

I have two sons: Courage Ruah and Kairos Yarah.  Each son is unique and powerful in the way God has (and is) created/creating him.  Each name has its own beautiful and unique identity (Ruah is Hebrew for "Breath/Spirit of God; Wind").  Each boy will grow up as a son, a child of God, as brothers who will change this world and bring Heaven to earth!

I am SO excited to meet you, Kairos Yarah. <3

Monday, September 23, 2013

Supernatural Pregnancy & Childbirth

At the beginning of the summer we discovered we were PREGNANT!  And much further along than we realized!  So this summer has been a time of dreaming and planning for a second little one!  Yay!  It has been such an easy pregnancy (I'm 23 weeks! Due January 20th), and I literally JUST started showing last week - like all of a sudden.  I've had great steady energy and no real negative symptoms.  Can a girl ask for anything more?!  Thank You Jesus!

Being pregnant, I've picked up a few books again: Ina May's Guide to Childbirth by Ina May Gaskins, and Supernatural Childbirth by Jackie Mize.  These two books are seriously the two MUST READS for any pregnant woman (in my opinion), even if they are the ONLY two books you read during your pregnancy!  I am being so encouraged and filled by re-reading these books, and I've decided to pass on some of what I'm learning, particularly from the Supernatural Childbirth book.

This book is wonderful, and full of beautiful testimonies of women with breakthrough in getting pregnant, having pain-free childbirths, and more.  And the authors lay out a great foundation on biblical references of what God says about pain, childbirth, fear, and faith.  I am dedicating my next 17 weeks to ingrain myself with Truth and build my faith as I eagerly anticipate my labor and the coming of my second child.

The following is a lengthy explanation and list of what I am praying, agreeing with God, and declaring over myself (my body, my baby, my soul/mind and spirit) daily.  Hope you can benefit from this as much as I am!

<3 love, Bethany

Spiritual Declarations and Scripture verses
for Pregnancy and Childbirth     
"Death and Life are in the power of the tongue" 

*There were two curses: 1) the curse in the Garden; 2) the curse of the Law
The curse in the Garden separated God from man.  And God immediately set into motion a plan of Redemption (with JESUS) to fix that relationship!  The most beautiful Love Story…

            Galatians 3:13,14,29 (The Voice)
            Jesus, the Anointed One – the Liberating King – has redeemed us from the curse of the Law by becoming a curse for us…This is what God had in mind all along: the blessing He gave Abraham might extend to ALL nations through Jesus; and we are the beneficiaries of this promise of the Spirit that comes only through faith!
(v29): Since you belong to Jesus and are now subject to His power, you are the descendent of Abraham and the heir of God’s glory according to the promise!

*It’s important to understand that the curse in the Garden does not mean women will have “pain” in childbirth.  The correct translation is “sorrow.”  Which is the same word used in Adam’s curse: “in sorrow you shall eat (food of the ground) all the days of your life.” 
            Isaiah 53:4,5 (ESV; The Voice)
            Jesus has borne our griefs and carried our SORROWS…He was wounded for our transgressions, He was crushed for our iniquities.  Upon Him was the chastisement that brought us peace (He endured the breaking that made us whole), and with His stripes we are healed!!
            1 Peter 2:24 (ESV)
            He Himself bore our sins in His body on the tree, that we might die to sin and live to righteousness.  By His wounds you have been healed.

            Philippians 4:13 (ESV)
            I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me!

            Luke 1:37
            Nothing is impossible with God!

            John 10:10
            Jesus says: I came to give you life more abundantly (that you may have life, and have it more abundantly)

            Philippians 1:6 (ESV)
            He who began a good work in you will bring it to completion!

            Hebrews 10:23 (ESV)
            Hold fast the confession of your hope (faith) without wavering, for He who promised is faithful!

            Psalm 1:3
            v.2 ESV: (Blessed is the man whose delight is in the law of the Lord, and on His law he meditates day and night…)
            You are like a tree, planted by flowing cool streams of water that never runs dry.  Your fruit ripens in its time; your leaves never fade or curl in the summer sun.  No matter what you do, you prosper! (The Voice)

            Acts 10:38 (ESV)
            Jesus was anointed by the Holy Spirit with power, and He went about doing good and healing ALL who were oppressed by the devil, for God was with Him.

            Romans 8:37 (ESV)
            We are more than conquerors through Him who loved us!
            (v.32: He who did not spare His own Son but gave Him up for us all, how will He not also with Him graciously give us ALL things?)

Philippians 4:19 (The Voice)
            Know this: my God will also fill every need you have according to His glorious riches in Jesus the Anointed, the Liberating King!

            Luke 6:38 (The Voice)
            Jesus said: Don’t hold back – give freely, and you’ll have plenty poured back into your lap – a good measure, pressed down, shaken together, brimming over.  You’ll receive in the same measure you give.

            1 John 5:14,15 (ESV)
            And this is the confidence that we have toward Him (Jesus):  That if we ask anything according to His will, He will hear us.  And if we know that He hears us in whatever we ask, we know that we have the requests that we have asked of Him!
*(This is how I say it over myself: I have the confidence that if I ask anything according to Your will, You will hear me.  And since I know You hear me, I know that I know that I know that I have the requests that I've asked of You!  Thank You Jesus!)

            Romans 12:2 (ESV)
            (v.1: offer your body as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, your spiritual worship)
            Do not be conformed to this world – (or think the way others think negatively or fearfully about childbirth) – but be transformed by the renewal of your MIND that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.

*Fear and faith do not operate together.  Fear is the opposite of Faith (in God).  Fear = faith in the inferior reality.  You are called to and able to live in God’s reality – the superior reality!  Fear is the devil’s motivation, and it can be one of the greatest causes of pain during childbirth when it’s allowed to operate.  You only fear the unknown or past bad experiences.  Focus on what is true, on God’s Word and His promises for you.  Do not let fear rob you of LOVE and JOY and PEACE, and all the fruits of the Spirit, which abides in you (and you in Him!)
            Trust in the Lord and do not fear.  You have the mind of Christ and peace of God!  Your mind, body and spirit are relaxed and at peace

            Philippians 4:8,9 (ESV)
            Whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.  What you have learned and received and heard and seen in me – practice these things, and the God of peace will be with you!

            1 John 4:18 (ESV)
            There is NO FEAR in LOVE.  Perfect Love casts out fear!

            Psalm 34:4
            The Lord delivers you from all your fears!

            2 Timothy 1:7 (ESV)
            For God gave you a spirit not of fear, but of POWER, LOVE, and SELF CONTROL (SOUND MIND)

            1 Timothy 2:15 (ESV)
You will be safe and sound in childbirth as you continue in faith, love and holiness, with self control!

            Romans 10:17 (ESV) where to get faith?
            Faith comes from hearing, and hearing through the Word of Christ!

            John 14:27 (ESV)
            Jesus said: PEACE I leave with you; my peace I give to you.  Not as the world gives do I give to you.  Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid.

            Philippians 4:7 (ESV)
            And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your HEARTS and your MINDS in Christ Jesus!

            Jeremiah 29:11
            For I know the thoughts I think toward you, says the Lord, thoughts of peace (wholeness), not of evil, to give you a future and a hope!

            Isaiah 41:10 (ESV)
            Fear not, for I am with you.  Be not dismayed for I am your God; I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my righteous right hand!

            Isaiah 26:3,4 (The Voice)
            You (God) will keep the peace – a perfect peace – for all who trust in You, for those who dedicate their hearts and minds to You.  So trust in the Eternal One forever, for He is like a great ROCK!

            Isaiah 54:17 (ESV)
            No weapon formed against you shall succeed, and you shall confute every tongue that rises against you in judgment.  This is the heritage of the servants of the Lord, and their vindication from me, declares the Lord.

            Psalm 112:6-8 (ESV)
            The righteous will never be moved; he will be remembered forever.  He is not afraid of bad news; his heart is firm, trusting in the Lord.  His heart is steady, he will not be afraid, until he looks in triumph on his adversaries.

            Psalm 27:1 (ESV)
            The Lord is my light and my salvation; whom shall I fear?  The Lord is the stronghold of my life; of whom shall I be afraid?
            (The Eternal is my light amidst the darkness and my rescue in times of trouble.  So whom shall I fear?  He surrounds me with a fortress of protection, so nothing should cause me harm!) (The Voice)

            1 Peter 5:7 (The Voice)
            Since God cares for you, let Him carry ALL your burdens and worries.
            (Cast ALL your anxieties on Him, because He cares for you!) (ESV)

            Psalm 28:7
            The Lord is my strength and my shield; in Him my heart trusts, and I am helped; my heart exults and with my song I give thanks to Him!

Thou O Lord are a SHIELD ABOUT ME!

Psalm 91 (The Voice)
God covers you with His feathers.  Protects you under His great wings, His faithfulness will form a shield around you, a rock solid wall to protect you
The Eternal is your Refuge.  The Most High is your only home.  NO evil will come to you!


Monday, April 15, 2013

Martha - a poor woman with a rich heart

My heart always comes alive around the homeless.  Something always stirs in my heart when I pass that man on the corner holding the cardboard sign, or when the one with crazy hair and body odor comes into the coffee shop to use the bathroom.  I find myself becoming defensive when I overhear two women, dressed in the latest fashion and adorned in expensive jewelry, whisper their criticisms and turn up their noses in disgust at the "weird" guy standing outside the restaurant...as if he is less than human and should not be allowed to share the same air as other humans.  Maybe those judgmental women are just afraid because their small worldview just got bumped a little.  And maybe it's just that I have a passion to open people's eyes and break their small thinking.  But I also think that God is opening something in me too, as I ask myself "Why is there an awakening inside me when I come across a homeless person, or that 'weird' quiet man with body odor, or the lady who talks to herself on the street?  Why is it that all I want to do is hang out with them, talk to them and hear their stories, and be their friend?"

On New Years Eve I was walking out to my car, just leaving work, when I noticed that lady walking on the street.  I had seen her twice before walking this same busy street talking to herself - more like shouting something in a strange language.  And on this day, she had a sign pinned on her back that said "Jesus is King."  I thought to myself, 'what can I give this woman?'  It was very cold and there was snow on the ground, and I noticed she had bags over her shoes.  I  felt very strongly the Lord suggest, "give her some snow boots."  I was on my to pick up my son and I didn't want to keep the babysitter waiting.  As I was driving, I racked my brain on how to give her some snow boots... Do I invite her into my car and take her shopping?  But I didn't think that was a safe choice with my son in the car.  Do I ask her what size shoe she wears and go pick some up for her?  Then I thought, I know!  I'll get her a gift card!  So I decided to buy a generous gift card to a local sporting goods store that has a variety of quality winter attire.  This seemed like the perfect gift since she could go pick out what she wanted or needed.  It also seemed perfect since we were right in the middle of winter and I felt she would benefit from this gift.  So I excitedly picked up my son and headed for the store, planning to then return to that busy street where I had seen this woman.

Because I felt like the Lord had spoken to me, I was convinced this would all play out how I expected.  But there was a problem: It was New Years Eve, which meant the stores were closed.  And after picking up my son, the woman was nowhere in sight.  Disappointed, I went home and planned to pick up the gift card first thing after the holiday.  I was sure I would see the woman walking up and down that street again, and I was certain I could carry out my mission in the next week or so.  But day after day, week after week, I did not see that African woman chanting to herself.  I even drove up and down that street in search for her, but always came up empty-handed (or rather, not empty-handed since I still held the gift card!!).  I became discouraged as the weeks went by because I felt that soon the gift card for some winter boots would no longer be useful in the coming months.

At one point I even succumbed to trying to find a homeless person - any homeless person will do, I thought - to give the gift card to.  I figured I'd better get it to someone who can use it while there's still snow on the ground!  But even when I set out to do this, there was no opportunity.  So I waited...and trusted God that He would not let this whole effort be a total waste.

Then one day - in MARCH (3 months later!!) - my husband and son and I were out shopping.  We were at a stoplight, and there she was, walking across the street right in front of us!  "There she is!!  That's her!!"  I exclaimed to my husband who was driving.  "I have to get out!"  I told him as we were driving through the light.  I had him pull into the parking lot of my workplace (where it all began) and I got out and walked down the long sidewalk to meet the woman for this long-awaited encounter.  As I walked, I started to wonder if she would listen to me or let me talk to her.  All I knew about her was that she shouted to herself, so I was unsure of her mental stability.  I also questioned for just a moment if this was a stupid idea.  But I prayed to calm my nerves and I became determined to carry out this mission.  It was like a treasure hunt to me, and I had finally found the treasure!

As I came closer and approached her, I greeted her, interrupting her chanting.  "Hi!"  I said, excitedly, "My name is Bethany and I have something for you..."  She glared at me over her glasses, as I held the gift card in my hand and proceeded to tell her the story of how I felt the Lord tell me to give it to her.  Her glare, which was actually more of an expression of curiosity, softened as she acknowledged what I was giving her.

"Wow, oh wow...this is a generous gift...thank you..."  she said in her thick accent, as I explained that I had been searching for her since New Years Eve.  She then held the gift card up toward the heavens, closed her eyes and began to pray for me!!  In her beautiful African accent, she thanked God for me and proceeded to bless me and ask God to increase His favor on my family and me.  I was so filled with love by her gesture, by her blessing, by this beautiful spiritual encounter.  Right there on that busy street, heaven showed up in the purest form, in the beauty of this interaction, where I gave a poor woman a gift card, and she gave me a heavenly blessing.  And I realized that this is what it's all about.  This is Jesus.  This is Heaven.  This is Love.

As we continued to walk, she told me her name was Martha, and we talked about her life, faith, and her mission to walk the streets and praise God.  It all made sense to me - the crazy woman who shouts to herself on the streets was really a worshipper who praises the King in her native tongue.  And I believe she brings Heaven to this city through her "chants."

Upon reaching the parking lot where my husband and son were waiting, I pointed out to her where I work and told her to stop by anytime.  We parted ways with a hug and I got into the car with a greater joy than I had before

A couple days later, while I was working in the coffee shop in walked Martha.  "Oh there's my friend!"  I said, excited to see her.  A man was with her and they both eagerly extended their hands to me for a warm hand shake (which is more of an expression of honor and love in their culture than it is in the American culture).  I felt a closeness to them in that simple greeting - like they were family.  She wanted to show me what she bought with the gift card, and she pulled out a beautiful white sun hat, "for summer," she said, and the man pulled out a box of snow boots!!  It turns out the gift card was for snow boots after all :)

I look forward to the next time I see my friend Martha walking that busy street, perhaps in her new white sun hat, singing praises to our King Jesus!

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Who are the Little Ones?

Luke 17, Jesus says: “Temptations to sin are sure to come, but woe to the one through whom they come!  It would be better for him if a millstone were hung around his neck and he were cast into the sea than that he should cause one of these little ones to sin (stumble)…” and then he goes right into “If your brother sins, rebuke him, and if he repents, forgive him…” (even if it takes 7 times).

This made me think…where is the ‘line,’ so-to-speak, where you are a “little one” who is “caused to sin/stumble” on one side, and on the other you are the one who “causes others to sin” and would be better off if you were cast into the sea with a millstone hung around your neck?  If a child learns to sin from his father’s sins, and he grows up likewise with bad habits and brokenness, and in turn has a son and, sadly, his son learns how to sin from him… is the child, who is now a father, still a “little one?”  Or has he become that man who Jesus says “woe to you!”  Is there a line?  And at what point does God “cast him into the sea” because he is causing others to stumble…and at what point does God look at that man, and see the child in him that was “doomed” because he was dealt a bad hand, had a bad father (or just a broken father), and then has compassion on him even though he has caused a “little one” to sin? 
I am sure it must have something to do with whether the man, who was once a little one who was caused to sin, has a repentant heart or not.  But what if he is bounded by the temptations he learned as an innocent “little one,” who was not protected by, say, righteous parents, for example?  What if he is in bondage to his sin that even with a repentant heart, he is not strong enough to break his sinful habits, and thus he sins-repents-sins-repents-sins-repents…seven times…and seven times seventy?  Does he ever get free?  And is it only by his choice that he gets free, or does God ever intervene?  Does God watch and wait because he believes in this man, or does he see him struggle and say “I will pull him out of his vicious cycle, for he was lead into that wrongful path, and now he is trapped and cannot get out…so I will come down and free him, that he may be innocent again.”
And that sounds exactly what Jesus did.  Exactly.  And yet, I still see the struggle in people today, even in myself.  And I still wonder where that ‘line’ is…when a child, afflicted by a mental disability (most likely an evil spirit), who as a “little one” enters this world and spends his childhood not understanding life, his disability, or his emotions… and is withdrawn, doesn’t know how to make friends, or even want to.  This “little one” who was dealt a bad hand, born into a sinful world as an innocent babe, and yet has a mental dysfunction…and grows up to his teenage years and walks into an elementary school and kills several precious, innocent “little ones…”  Who caused this one to sin?  Because I scream with all my heart, “Woe to the one who caused this young man to sin!!”  “Woe to the evil that was upon this little one when he entered this world…and woe to the evil that he brought to other little ones!!”  At what point do I look at a murderer and see the small, innocent child that was lead down a path of destruction?  And at what point does God say “Enough!” 
But God did say “Enough,” and sent his Son into the world in the most vulnerable way – as an innocent babe.  And He watched him grow amidst the evil in the world, and watched him give his life for such a world…because He believed in the people he created.  Some wept as Jesus died, and some laughed.  And yet even today, thousands of years later, God still fights for His little ones - big and small – and forgives again and again because of what Jesus paid for.  Wow.  Jesus’ sacrifice really was “enough.”  But if we really believed that, it would change the way we live our lives…and this world would look a lot different.