Basket Case

babyinabasket

A new king, who had not known Joseph, came to power in Egypt.  He said to his people, “Look, the Israelite people are more numerous and powerful than we are.  Let us deal shrewdly with them; otherwise they will multiply further, and if war breaks out, they may join our enemies, fight against us, and leave the country.” 

So the Egyptians assigned taskmasters over the Israelites to oppress them with forced labor. They built Pithom and Rameses as supply cities for Pharaoh.  But the more they oppressed them, the more they multiplied and spread so that the Egyptians came to dread the Israelites. They worked the Israelites ruthlessly and made their lives bitter with difficult labor in brick and mortar, and in all kinds of fieldwork. They ruthlessly imposed all this work on them. 

Then the king of Egypt said to the Hebrew midwives, one of whom was named Shiphrah and the other Puah, “When you help the Hebrew women give birth, observe them as they deliver. If the child is a son, kill him, but if it’s a daughter, she may live.” 

The Hebrew midwives, however, feared God and did not do as the king of Egypt had told them; they let the boys live. So the king of Egypt summoned the midwives and asked them, “Why have you done this and let the boys live?” The midwives said to Pharaoh, “The Hebrew women are not like the Egyptian women, for they are vigorous and give birth before a midwife can get to them.”

So God was good to the midwives, and the people multiplied and became very numerous.  Since the midwives feared God, He gave them families.Pharaoh then commanded all his people: “You must throw every son born to the Hebrews into the Nile, but let every daughter live.”

Now a man from the family of Levi married a Levite woman.  The woman became pregnant and gave birth to a son; when she saw that he was beautiful, she hid him for three months. But when she could no longer hide him, she got a papyrus basket for him and coated it with asphalt and pitch. She placed the child in it and set it among the reeds by the bank of the Nile. Then his sister stood at a distance in order to see what would happen to him. 

Pharaoh’s daughter went down to bathe at the Nile while her servant girls walked along the riverbank. Seeing the basket among the reeds, she sent her slave girl to get it.  When she opened it, she saw the child-a little boy, crying. She felt sorry for him and said, “This is one of the Hebrew boys.” 

Then his sister said to Pharaoh’s daughter, “Should I go and call a woman from the Hebrews to nurse the boy for you?” 

“Go.” Pharaoh’s daughter told her. So the girl went and called the boy’s mother.  Then Pharaoh’s daughter said to her, “Take this child and nurse him for me, and I will pay your wages.” So the woman took the boy and nursed him.  When the child grew older, she brought him to Pharaoh’s daughter, and he became her son. She named him Moses,

“Because,” she said, “I drew him out of the water.” {Exodus 1:8-2:8} 

This selection from the book of Exodus has so many awe inspiring aspects to it, that I don’t know if I even have caught them all in the hundreds of times that I have read it. As a mother, I immediately sympathize and my heart breaks for Moses’ biological mother. She is caught in a circumstance that no mother wants to face and once she realizes that she can no longer provide the protection that her baby needs, she makes the agonizing decision to trust the plans of God and that if her baby cannot be with her without being put to death, he will somehow be rescued.

It’s then my attention goes to the sister. She has seen this child grow in her mother’s protection, witnessing the care to hide him and keep him from the death that I’m sure she witnessed other families grieving from. And then to be told that they can no longer risk the safety of the family and that they will have to trust that he will be better off in a basket in the Nile, than ripped from their hands and drowned by anyone who discovers him. I imagine how she must have felt helpless and yet responsible in the same instance, causing her to watch over the infant’s basket from the shore. I have five siblings and I am older than all but one, so I have observed parenting from an older sibling point of view and had a few instances where I questioned if my parents were doing what was best for them. I can imagine that Miriam might have been second-guessing her mother’s plan until she saw the Princess. I bet she never could have guessed how she was going to be instrumental in her brother’s rescue.

Finally, I’m overwhelmed by the role of the Egyptian princess. She has been raised to see the Hebrew race as property and can immediately identify that the baby she has pulled from the water was from this race of slaves that her father has warned her against. By law she should have thrown him right back in to the river, yet she is captivated by his innocence and regardless of her fathers edict and her obligation to seal the child’s fate, she ignores her duty and uses her position as a princess to rescue this child. Then she unknowingly makes provision for the child’s own mother as his care giver, who is also a slave and should not be paid, but out of her own wealth secures longevity for that family by offering this woman wages for nursing the baby. She wouldn’t have worshipped God, but the gods of Egypt so she wasn’t directly obeying God but His love for his people and His plan to rescue the Israelites was brought into action by a mother’s sacrifice and trust, a sister’s watchful eye, and a princess’ compassion towards a baby.

It takes my breath away every time I think about it. This is the God we serve! He takes what a person’s free-will and hatred has caused and “works it together according to His purpose for the good of those who love Him.” {Romans 8:28} In this instance that same child was God’s plan to save and free His people, the nation of Israel, in his adulthood. This story is almost duplicated in the New Testament, this time for all the nations:

After Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea in the days of King Herod, wise men from the east arrived unexpectedly in Jerusalem, saying, “Where is He who has been born King of the Jews? For we saw His star in the east and have come to worship Him.”  When King Herod heard this, he was deeply disturbed, and all Jerusalem with him.  So he assembled all the chief priests and scribes of the people and asked them where the Messiah would be born. “In Bethlehem of Judea,” they told him, “because this is what was written by the prophet:   And you, Bethlehem, in the land of Judah, are by no means least among the leaders of Judah: because out of you will come a leader who will shepherd My people Israel.” Then Herod secretly summoned the wise men and asked them the exact time the star appeared.  He sent them to Bethlehem and said, “Go and search carefully for the child. When you find Him, report back to me so that I too can go and worship Him.” After hearing the king, they went on their way.

And there it was-the star they had seen in the east! It led them until it came and stopped above the place where the child was. When they saw the star, they were overjoyed beyond measure. Entering the house, they saw the child with Mary His mother, and falling to their knees, they worshiped Him. Then they opened their treasures and presented Him with gifts: gold, frankincense, and myrrh.  And being warned in a dream not to go back to Herod, they returned to their own country by another route.

After they were gone, an angel of the Lord suddenly appeared to Joseph in a dream, saying, “Get up! Take the child and His mother, flee to Egypt, and stay there until I tell you. For Herod is about to search for the child to destroy Him.”  So he got up, took the child and His mother during the night, and escaped to Egypt.  He stayed there until Herod’s death, so that what was spoken by the Lord through the prophet might be fulfilled: Out of Egypt I called My Son.

Then Herod, when he saw that he had been outwitted by the wise men, flew into a rage. He gave orders to massacre all the male children in and around Bethlehem who were two years old and under, in keeping with the time he had learned from the wise men.  Then what was spoken through Jeremiah the prophet was fulfilled: A voice was heard in Ramah, weeping, and great mourning, Rachel weeping for her children; and she refused to be consoled, because they were no more. {Matthew 2, CSB}

We don’t often realize that twice, a king’s hatred and fear caused such tragedies for the nation of Israel. We tend to question God on why He would allow such a thing to happen to these innocent children and we miss that He rescued us all through a few and in turn saving us all. He strategically had people in the right place and the right time, knowing that these men would succumb to their fear. He placed boldness into the hearts of the two midwives and Moses’ mother and sister. He gave dreams to the wise men and Joseph to protect and direct them to safety. He rewarded those who chose not to play into the hands of the kings and His plans developed into the grace we live in today.

It’s those revelations that cause me to give importance to what each of us choose to obey. Did my voice offering a suggestion of help to someone in need echo like Miriam’s to the princess? Is my stance on love and giving people grace to change visible to the point where others are inspired to stand up for what is right? Have I chose to take a different road and not given someone in the wrong the information to destroy another person’s life? Am I going to obey when my emotions say it will be long and hard but in the end God will be glorified? Each of these are opportunities that I face daily. They are baskets in the water that I can choose to ignore and let float down the river or I can pull them out and play my part. It is not just my destiny I am effecting.

What about you? What’s in your basket?

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Dream Sequence

dream_sequence

I have awoke from many dreams. Some I can tell were induced by a late night movie or some crazy food combo, others stem from life circumstances that try to recreate themselves in very unrealistic settings. In my sleep I have participated in guerrilla warfare through my high school hallways, celebrated family events for complete strangers, swam oceans without oxygen, fought ninja’s outside of convenience stores, discovered the secrets of people I’ve only met once, held conversations with animals, and danced as a courtier in castles that most likely have never existed. There are certain dreams that I wish would have a “to be continued” tag, while others have caused me to purposely avoid sleep. The ones that are the craziest for me are the ones that feel like I can subconsciously make decisions to alter the dream and I yet I know that I am dreaming. And like everyone, I hate the dreams where nothing I do changes the situation and the whole dream feels like an out of body experience, and I can talk or scream as loud as I can, yet no one hears me.

I think most of these dream sequences are “normal” for those who can remember their dreams, and I would also bet that 90% of my dreams are just by-products of the intensity I chose to live daily. However, there are dreams that cause me to question my skepticism. I know almost immediately when I am having one of those dreams. They tend to repeat every so often with only certain little details changing from time to time and almost immediately I know what’s about to take place in the dream. I haven’t seen the direct outcome or these dreams, at least not yet. I would have to admit that these dreams feel so real that if I see anything in real life that closely resembles something in those dreams, like a moment of deja vu, my heart starts to race and I start looking around wondering if that conclusion is just around the corner, ready for me to take action and determine the outcome in real life.

One specific dream that I have that experience with I believe I have been having since I was at least 10 or 12. The part of the dream that becomes immediately recognizable is when I am riding as a passenger in a vehicle and the driver and I are traveling down a two lane highway near fields of wheat. It is summer time during the day so I have my window rolled down and I am looking into the side view mirror as we go around a curve and pass a speed limit sign. It’s then I realize what dream I am having, and I start looking into the fields because I know that I am looking for a pick up truck parked in one of these fields. The driver notices that I’m now intently looking for something and not long after that moment I spot the truck in the field and I yell at the driver to pull over. I then go rushing to the truck because I know what is in the bed of the truck. It’s a newborn, exposed to the elements, barely alive, lying wrapped in a black trash bag. In some of the dreams I call the police, in others we rush the baby to my home, but in all the dreams I spend the rest of my sleep fighting for this child’s survival swearing to protect him no matter the cost and fight not let him out of my sight. In some of the dreams, the police and I work together and they start calling me each time they find a newborn but I never know if I succeed in keeping or protecting these children but I wake up feeling like I have somehow abandoned them.

I can’t say that this dream really means that one day I will find an infant abandoned in a field somewhere, but for me I feel like this dream was the prequel to the physical dream I want to accomplish in this life. As soon as Ever After started taking shape in my mind and in my heart, and I began to speak the possibilities of Ever After out loud, I don’t remember having that specific dream again.

There are a several references in the Bible that site people dreaming, and especially having repetitive dreams. Each of those individuals experiencing these dreams sought out the meanings of their dreams because they knew there was something more to the dream. In all of those cases there was an action that needed to happen, a translation of the dream’s symbolism into instructions in order to take care of His people. In fact, very few of the people recorded having such dreams were God-fearing individuals, but they were in the position to make what needed to happen, so He used someone who did believe in Him to translate or interpret the dreams and accomplish the goal. This is huge to me because in each of the instances where these dreams took place, there was a purpose and a plan to be initiated for a greater purpose, which was often a rescue.

I will not say that I believe that my dream is prophetic, but I do believe that it further awoke something inside of me, and heightened my attention and my feelings toward rescuing the abandoned. I do not believe that God creates a person to be passionate towards certain causes for no reason. I believe that He equips people to accomplish exactly what He has called them to do, by any means necessary, turning their hearts toward Him in the process of it. It is humbling to think that God has such compassion towards people in every circumstance and has written such a complex story in the midst of it. I can only hope to have the opportunity to walk out my story and be apart of the ones He needs me to be.

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Information Overload

hydrant

Researching has two positions:

1. Under-informed.

2. Overwhelmed.

I would say I have been dreading researching out how to make this dream a reality for a decade. I wish I could say information just drops into my lap and I know exactly what to do with it, but it doesn’t and I don’t. Google is pretty much my point of reference. I type my version of what I hope to God that someone has put together as a “How To” or at least get a few successful webpage/blog hits that I can glean from.

Today’s Google adventure was “How to open an Orphanage” (aka Smack in the Face, USA).

I did find some helpful information, OK really I’m sure all of it was helpful, just most of it was overwhelming and somewhat deflating. I am not delusional enough to believe that this would be a quick process or easy in the respect that it wouldn’t take time or effort, but I am realizing that so many people must quit their dreams at this point. Even from what I read, some blogs suggested that I should. Not happening.

I spoke with a close friend of mine today who is on a similar journey and she reminded me how she prays in these situations:

God, give me a clear picture of your design, so that I know it’s You without a shadow of a doubt and I can clearly see what You want me to do in this.

I love having friends with immediate wisdom. I need them. Often.

Here’s what I have come up with on today’s researching journey.

  • I need to know more about non-profit everything.
  • My state has VERY few orphanages, which leads me to believe we either have a really good foster care system, or there is a huge need for someone to walk this out.
  • God and I are going to have to have some more one-on-one for this to get into focus.

Ready, set, grow.

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Just Plain Crazy

fish

I come from a short line of faith-based believers. My family has had religion for generations but faith is a relatively new idea for us. (If you are reading this and are insulted or confused, don’t be. It has nothing to do with your walk with God, just mine, so don’t get mad. If you are upset at the difference between faith and religion, ask God about it, He’ll let you know what I mean at one point or another. I promise.)

I have had many real life circumstances where “crazy faith” has come into play. I mean situations where most people would cock one eyebrow and hesitate to throw around the words miracle and impossible, but I will save those instances for another time. Right now I am exercising my crazy faith for a piece of this puzzle that I am feeling a little like Sarah about and wanting to laugh and scoff at the whole thing…(see Genesis 18:10-15).

Let’s be real here for a second: If you have never read the Bible and don’t intend to, some of this blog may not make sense to you. I intend to reference people and places from the Bible, not only because it is a book that is dear to my heart, but because most people have heard of the Bible or can access it for reference in some way shape or form, Christian or not. If you read my post “The Map,” the Bible is definitely one of those books that I like to map and reference things to and from.

Back to my analogy. Let’s set the background: Sarah is the wife of Abraham in the book of Genesis found in the Old Testament of the Bible. She and Abraham have lived not so perfect lives but serve God and love Him and He acknowledges their faith. They are an older couple in their 90′s and have had to endure the disappointment of becoming old without ever having children. This is heartbreaking to them because they will have to give all that is theirs to another relative or servant when they die, since there is no heir. Sarah feeling this desperation at one point even provides a surrogate through her servant and allows her husband to have a child with her. But this only causes jealousy and further heart-ache in the end. God knows that having their own family is a huge desire for them, and because He loves them and can see their faithfulness as His followers He makes a promise to them in Genesis 17:

When Abram was ninety-nine years old, the Lord appeared to him and said, “I am El-Shaddai—‘God Almighty.’ Serve me faithfully and live a blameless life. I will make a covenant with you, by which I will guarantee to give you countless descendants.” At this, Abram fell face down on the ground. Then God said to him, “This is my covenant with you: I will make you the father of a multitude of nations! What’s more, I am changing your name. It will no longer be Abram. Instead, you will be called Abraham, for you will be the father of many nations. I will make you extremely fruitful. Your descendants will become many nations, and kings will be among them!”

God then goes over the terms of the covenant and what Abraham’s part of the promise to uphold is and for time’s sake I will skip a little further down where He addresses Sarah, their surrogate son (Ishmael), and the reality of His promise:

Then God said to Abraham, “Regarding Sarai, your wife—her name will no longer be Sarai. From now on her name will be Sarah. And I will bless her and give you a son from her! Yes, I will bless her richly, and she will become the mother of many nations. Kings of nations will be among her descendants.” Then Abraham bowed down to the ground, but he laughed to himself in disbelief. “How could I become a father at the age of 100?” he thought. “And how can Sarah have a baby when she is ninety years old?”

So Abraham said to God, “May Ishmael live under your special blessing!” But God replied, “No—Sarah, your wife, will give birth to a son for you. You will name him Isaac, and I will confirm my covenant with him and his descendants as an everlasting covenant. As for Ishmael, I will bless him also, just as you have asked. I will make him extremely fruitful and multiply his descendants. He will become the father of twelve princes, and I will make him a great nation. But my covenant will be confirmed with Isaac, who will be born to you and Sarah about this time next year.” When God had finished speaking, he left Abraham.

At this point God did not leave them with specifics, just His promise to help them to achieve their dreams and exceed their expectations. In short He promised to make the impossible, possible. I consider Abraham and Sarah’s story a series of “crazy faith” moments. These are two people who obviously never stopped dreaming of a family but the circumstances surrounding them and their previous experience held them to the belief that they were most likely not going to achieve that dream. Then God says “I promise,” to their dreams and even more. At that point they have a choice to believe Him and set their sights to a journey that will most likely cause them scrutiny and raised eyebrows or become a scoffer and settle to walk away from their dreams.

We all face these very same choices.

I choose crazy.

I chose to walk this path, raised eyebrows and all, and see what my dreams will put into action. I know that statement seems bold and possibly irrational but consider this, Abraham and Sarah only wanted a family to enrich their lives and pass their possessions onto, God wanted nations and kings and a bloodline to send a Savior through. Their dream made a way for His ultimate design of Salvation.

What are our dreams really linked to?

I dream of an orphanage and a life my family can share helping people heal from the hurt of abandonment…but what will God bring from that?

I can’t wait to find out.

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Bits and Pieces

bitsandpieces

There are a few things that cause me to become squeamish when it comes to writing down a plan like this one:

1.) It challenges my faith, more so, it challenges me to examine whether or not I’m exercising it.

2.) Buckets and buckets of every day life excuses (time, money, kids, job, unfinished projects, undetermined goals… you name it and its probably been a very convincing excuse at one time or another.)

3.) Continuously overcoming the fear of failure.

Depending on who you ask, #1 should cancel out #3, and I’m sure in any of my opinionated moments I would try to convince someone else of that exact thought process, but here I am and those are them and it’s what I’ve let keep me in this holding pattern for some time. That and a bucketful of #2.

If anyone has read my posts through until now, I do realize I have been completely allusive to what exactly this whole project is and again I will reference you to #3. With a heavy dose of #2 right on top of that. All joking aside, these are the Bits and Pieces of what I know.

Ever After is the name of a place that will be open to those who have been abandoned and need the hope of a “happily ever after.” They will be given a place in the family of Ever After, with both their physical and emotional needs being met. In time we hope that they find the security of family and come to know what it means to be loved.

It’s not a lot, but it is what I know. There are other little details that I can see in my minds eye, but it wouldn’t make a lot of sense at this point to even try to put them into focus for anyone else. I guess that is the benefit of a blog. Anyone reading can watch it unfold, one post at a time.

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Catalytic Reaction

Catalyst: noun \ˈka-tə-ləst\

: a substance that causes a chemical reaction to happen more quickly

: a person or event that quickly causes change or action

For years I have been tossing around an idea that dropped into my heart when I was still a child. I feel like I have gotten bits and pieces of this unfinished dream over a 15-20 year time span, and even now the picture isn’t complete. The whole project is beyond my current understanding, but I have been challenged more than once to just take a step towards it. “Even if the direction isn’t clear, take a step, otherwise, you will never walk it out.” So, like I posted on “The Map,” this is the journey – best foot forward.

Before I really get into the bits and pieces I feel like I have, I want you to watch something.

“The Drop Box” – Documentary Trailer from Arbella Studios on Vimeo.

I knew the minute I saw this video that I wasn’t imagining something impossible. Watching this gave me the spark that I needed to really grab on to the reality that I could do this. My thoughts turned from “It’s never been done, how are you ever going to make someone believe you that this is necessary…” to “It’s been done before, yes, in a foreign country, but they are making this happen. It can be done.”

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The Map

worldmap

MapQuest, Google Earth, Garman, GPS, Siri – most anything we use to generate maps and directions for our day to day activities are digital. We rarely use a physical map to search out a destination or even really try to read one to find it for ourselves. Not really an issue or complaint, just an observation. I will confess that even though I digitally map most everything, I still like to occasionally print out a map just because I like to see where my destination is in comparison to where I started.

We are a culture of beginnings. We like to start new quests daily, and it is our history to do so. Discovery is our design. We seek out new, hoping that we  can change life and make history. Isn’t it interesting that we are trailblazing to impact the future so that when people look back we have become an intricate part of the past? Probably too deep a thought for a blog like this but it is still a sign of our makeup.

It’s not to say we always fearlessly set out for those trailblazing experiences, for our culture also somehow fears change as well. We have antidotal warnings of “Hind sight is 20/20…” or “Those who do not know the past are doomed to repeat it…” giving us the image that history holds only heart-ache and mistake. It is true that there is so much tragedy in history but the stories of hope that rise up out of those instances have more than defined our culture, and in fact have changed history in more than one occasion.

Since childhood, I have loved absorbing history, even to the point where I will read any sort of historical application including historical fiction, just to get a perspective on what “maybe-could have” happened. It’s like a game to me to read and relate historical events to each other. My mind makes maps of the dates, times, and people and it becomes a treasure map of reference for me. The more relatable the history the less blanks on the reference map. Everything can be connected somewhere, therefore making it tangible and giving it place and purpose. I love seeing where something or someone started and what it developed into and then seeing the stories that have been wrote from those moments and how they overlap seams and all!

Having that kind of thought process, I tend to evaluate my life and everyone in it in that same “mapping” process. By linking the series of events that have seemed to directed all of us together, either by birth or placement but in all respects together, I feel like there is an understanding of purpose. It’s no surprise that every family has their share of oddities, nuances, lost tales, embellished stories, and secrets, but for me that is what I build my life and future out of. It’s my history and I want to find my place on “The Map.”

With all that being said…this blog is the journey.  Some of it may not always look relevant but there is a destination. Hopefully as this plan unfolds, the process will not only help others along the way but also give an accurate account of what I consider to be one of the most amazing journeys I have ever taken.  This is my Hope for Ever After.

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