From Tree to Tree

Monday, December 23, 2013

Jamie and I have been married for over 10 years. We've collected our fair share of Christmas d├ęcor. Of all of it, my Christmas Tree is by far my favorite. Its not fancy and in fact its the same fake tree we bought 10 year ago. (getting thinner each year) Our first Christmas together, Jamie started a tradition of purchasing me an annual Precious Moments ornament. On my tree are all 11. I love them. He started the same thing with our kids for their first Christmas's. Brewer has 5 and Eva has 3. There are ornaments from my great grandmother's tree. There are ornaments from Romania and South Africa. My first Christmas ornament from 1978 and several from my childhood. We've got West Virginia Mountaineers. We've got both of my kids first Christmas, from our honeymoon, handmade from the kids, & special gifts from friends ... to say the least, our Christmas Tree is not just a tree, it's filled with memories. Every branch has a story. My kids love looking for their ornaments and love hearing the stories of where each one came from. The best part to me is how I get to weave our story into the story of Jesus. It all comes back to Him.

Did you know that this life we are living, its not about us? We are all playing a role in His story. His story began with creation. God spoke and we were. Adam and Eve lived in harmony with God and with all of creation, until sin was introduced into this world. When Adam and Eva both ate of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, they didn't become like God as Satan had promised, they became sinful. That very sin is what broke the harmony. You can read in Genesis all about creation and the first sin and how from the very beginning, God had a plan to restore and redeem.


Throughout this story its always been about Him. He was promised. There was a time when the Israelites waited for Him. They had been told He was coming by the prophets and all they had was hope. And they waited. Not always patently, not always productively, but they waited and they hoped.

                   OT Prophecy                     NT Fulfillment
                   Genesis 3:15                      Romans 5:6-8; Galatians 4:4-7; Colossians 2:13-15
                   Isaiah 9:2                           Matthew 4:12-17; John 1:4-5, 12:46
                   Isaiah 53:10-11                  Romans 5:1-2
                   Isaiah 53:4                         Matthew 8:14-17
                   Isaiah 61:1-4                      Luke 4:16-21

Then one night, in the small town of Bethlehem, a virgin girl gave birth. The Angels broke through the night sky to harold His arrival to some shepherds on a hill, announcing that this child was a gift for all people. What they had waited for and longed for and hoped for was here. But many did not see and many did not understand. They thought He would come as a valiant King who would wage war and win and restore. But that's not what happened. Yet. First He had to come to live and teach and make confusing things more clear, and to die. He was buried and rose back to life three days later, defeating death. His death and resurrection was the way to restoration. As we read in John 3, Jesus came not to condemn the world but to save it, anyone who believes will get this free gift of salvation.

But this gift, its just that, a gift and you have the right to refuse it. This right is called free will. Because our God, who loves you so much, will not force Himself on you. He calls you gently to Himself. He provides and protects and longs to be with you. But its your choice to accept or reject.

We are all playing a role in His story. The story of creation and the fall and hoping and longing and wondering ... He's made a way for you. A way for you to know and understand your role here. He's gifted you with talent and ability to be an active part of His story. He loves you and longs for you to love Him too.

So as we celebrate Christmas each year, I don't just see one tree, I see two. I can't see Christmas without the cross. It's why He came, for you and for me, to give us life more abundant and full. He came to save us from the wrath of sin. Not to destroy but to redeem.

Where ever you are on your journey here on earth, I wish the the very Merriest of Christmases!

He's Always Faithful

Sunday, December 15, 2013

As a mother, the most important thing to me is that my children learn to love the Lord God with all their hearts. Not only that they love Him, but they trust Him and follow Him and bring glory to His name all their lives. When I was pregnant with Brewer I had already lost 3 babies. I've written a little about that here if you want to take a look. I say that because at that point, I knew what it felt like to loose a baby. So as we were preparing for Brewer, Jamie and I would pray that if this child would not know, love and glorify the Lord with his life, then please don't let him be born either. You want to pray something hard? That's it. As much as I wanted to be a mother, I could not fathom bringing a life into the world that would not love and honor the very God that I trusted to bring me that child.

On June 28th of 2013, as we backed out of our parking place at church, the routine conversation began. What did you do at church today? Eva said something about the picture she drew and Brewer said, "I asked Jesus to come live in my heart." Jamie threw the car into park and we both turned around, "What? Tell me what happened? Who did you talk to? Why did no one tell us about this before we left?" My poor 5 year old boy, the questions were being hurled at him faster than he could answer. Jamie and I stopped and looked at each other and be both told ourselves to calm down. Let the boy speak. "Ok, Brewer, tell Mommy and Daddy what happened?"

"Well Mama, do you remember how we've been talking about how Jesus died on the cross for me?" Yes I did. "Well, remember how you said that you couldn't tell me when it was time but Jesus would let me know when it was time?" Yes I remembered. "Well today I was in the Club House (our preschooler's time of worship & bible story) and Mrs. Myra was signing and Jesus told me it was time. He said it in my heart. So I sat down and I prayed to Jesus to forgive me of all bad choices and to please come live in my heart and show me how to make wise choices."

Jamie and I looked at each other kinda dumfounded. I mean, I always thought I would get to be there, I would get to pray with my son and see his face and hear his voice. But God reminded me that Brewer was first His son and given to me to teach him how to love God. It was personal. It was Holy. And it was between Brewer and God.

"What did you do after that?" "Well, I got back up and started to sing with Mrs. Myra again." "Did you tell anyone?" "No, was I supposed to?" It was as simple as that. A child, who for months had asked question after question, and thought, and questioned, finally believed. I was overjoyed! There are no words to adequately describe how a mother feels at that moment.

For the next couple of months we have spent many hours of conversation with Brewer. He's spoken to our Minister to Children. We've prayed and talked and prayed and asked and answered a lot of questions. I can say that he knows the choice he made. Its genuine and its real.

Today, in church this morning, we had a time of carols and communion. Brewer came to "big church" with us and for the first time I had communion with my son. At the close of our service, Pastor gave a traditional time of invitation. Brewer looked up at me and said, "Mama, I need to go tell Pastor that I already asked Jesus to live in my heart. Then can I get baptized?" This Mama's heart again was overjoyed! I am so proud of my boy. Today was a very special day in the Martin Family.

My prayers for my son have changed. I no longer pray and yearn for his salvation. Its happened, its been answered. Its sealed. He faithfully answered yes. Now I pray for his sanctification. For a maturity and a deep burning fire to know God and to make him known. And because of testimony's like my Friend Amanda's, I know that its possible.

Because He's Always Faithful.


Singing Over Me

Monday, December 9, 2013

When someone loves Jesus with all their heart, its evident. You don't have to wonder if they trust Him because they radiate Him. They love differently, they speak differently, they serve differently and they lead differently. How could you not love them? How could you not want to be around them?

Meet my friend Amanda. When I asked her if she would share a bit of her life here, she responded with, " ... I feel like my story is boring" BORING? You couldn't be more wrong my friend. There is nothing boring about giving your life to Christ at an early age. For those of us who didn't, who had to live through some things without Him first, there is encouragement there. It helps me to know that God can do what He says He can do. I know that I can trust Him no matter what. It gives me hope for my own children to know that they don't have to walk the same path I did. It pushes me to help them know Him early, whatever they do with that knowledge is between them and God. But I pray they cling to Him, like you did. Because of your story, I know that its possible.

Amanda and her husband Jamie leading Worship one Sunday morning. Always singing. Always praising.

 Singing Over Me ...

I remember laying in bed with my mom at night and in the morning singing to her. Little hands, little voice. I remember her asking me questions. I remember her saying how can you know He loves you? How can you see what heaven will be like? And then she saw, and she knew too.  Savior.
I remember singing Amazing Grace with my Dad holding his hand the whole way to school. I remember the way he looked at me when he was happy and the way he looked at me when he was disappointed. I knew they were both love and so is He. Father. 
I remember singing to Him as I went around and around the driveway on my banana-seat bike. Love songs I made up.  Friend.
I remember riding to school one last time with Dad. Last day, last dad-packed lunch. Bigger hands, but still holding his. One more time singing. Amazing grace how sweet the sound. Grace-giver.
I remember meeting him. Fireworks popping.  He was different. He wasn't just a boy meeting a girl, he was interested in me. Asking questions. Do you love Jesus? Asking the important questions. Telling stories like how he loves to sing and play guitar. I heard Him whisper "This one" and I knew. 15 years old and I knew he was my gift. Giver.

I remember driving back to college, singing all the way. Back and forth and so many songs. Protector.
I remember his story about how he was coming to surprise me, but his car broke down a mile from my house. I left to go get him and came home wearing a ring. He surprised me and my heart sang. Faithful One.

I remember holding his hands, ready to say "I do" and the singing.."the God of second chances, picked them up and let them dance through a world that is not kind, and all this time sharing with the One who holds them up.." and how He does. Tower.
I remember her kicking. I remember changing and waiting and counting days. I remember her cry and the relief and the miracle. Holding her in whole wonder of His handiwork and the gifts He gives and singing to her, "sweet little baby girl. Be strong in this great big world." Creator.

I remember watching him last week, learning a new song on the piano upstairs. "Sing" he said. So I was singing " I will call upon Your name, my soul will rest in your embrace, for I am Yours, and you are mine." And we sing, and he plays and He hears.  Lover of my Soul.
And I know. "He is with me. He is a Mighty Warrior who saves. He takes great delight in me and he rejoices over me with singing" Zephaniah 3:17

And I know all the time He was there "'whether I turned to the right or to the left, I could hear my Fathers voice behind me saying, 'here is the path I want you to take, so walk on it.'" Isaiah 30:21

Yesterday, Today and Forever. Singing.


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