Saturday, April 16, 2011

Sharing a Devotional by Brett Hilliard - With me, or without me?

I wanted to share this devotional written by the senior pastor Brett Hilliard at our church Island Evangelical Community Church. Both Jong and I were deeply touched by this devotion - I think it is because we did go through a period of time wondering why we had to go through so much pain and grieving, during the early days when Isaac was so tiny and struggling in NICU after losing Rachel. Yet, we were and have been able to cling on to the truth that God is always good, faithful and merciful. And now we are at a point where we could reflect back and and see clearly just how much He loves us and has blessed us through all that we have gone through. It is really, really good to know that Jesus knows exactly how we felt. I hope this devotional can be an encouragement to all those who are going through grief, or a painful or lonely time.

Devotional - With me, or without me?

By Brett Hilliard

I’ve always said that it’s the people I’m with that really make a difference. No matter how difficult a situation, a job, a location – if you are with people that you enjoy, then you can make it. It’s who you are with that matters most.

This personal conviction of mine is certainly even more vivid when it comes to experiencing the presence of God. Knowing God is with you is vital. Now of course we know this intellectually, but there are certainly times in which we feel this reality more experientially.

Knowing God is near can make all the difference. And those times of doubt or when God seems distant can be agonising, and make us vulnerable.

Matthew seems to point this out in the most unusual of ways.

There are only two times in which Matthew actually translates the original spoken language of Aramaic into Greek (the language the New Testament was written in).

Matthew 1.23 says, … that shall call His name Immanuel, which translated means, “God with us”.

Matthew 27.46 says, “Eloi, Eloi, Lama Sabachtani?” that is, “My God, My God, why has Thou forsaken Me?”

These two verses retain the original spoken language, but then provide a translation. The Man who is named, “God with Us”, questions God by asking, “Are you with Me?”

Do you catch the irony?

I’m strangely encouraged by this not-so-obvious point that Matthew makes. Because even though we know that God is always with us, we certainly feel His presence more at some times than others. And we are the most vulnerable to sin when we somehow question whether God is near.

Yet even in Jesus’ doubt, he clung to truth. Even in His anguish, He chose to stay.

As we approach Easter and reflect on the cross, I’m struck by the oft-overlooked aspect of Jesus’ words from that tree – the gritty, raw, words of questioning. The sense of abandonment expressed by Jesus, but coupled with devotion even amid the emotional pain.

Who we are with matters. Or better yet, Who is with us matters even more. And whether we feel it or not, the truth of God’s constant presence in our lives is a grounding truth for our lives.

Sunday, April 3, 2011

Happy 5th Birthday Isaac! (and Happy Angel Day Rachel!)

Wow Isaac! I can't believe you are turning 5 years old. How is it possible that you are already that big! When you were born, the width of your head was barely half the size of my index finger. Now, most people can't tell you were a 23 weeker micro preemie except that you are on the skinny side.

I am so incredibly proud of you my son. You have worked so hard. When you first got assessed over 2 years ago shortly after we arrived in Hong Kong, you were about a year behind in your expressive langauge, fine and gross motor skills. 2 years later, you have not only basically caught up in EVERYTHING, you are ahead in your expressive language skills - my little boy who was almost completely non verbal a little over 2 years ago! (So you are still a little behind in self help skills but putting on shoes on the correct foot and getting a jacket on right can be hard!)

You inspire me. You have such a loving and gentle spirit with a quiet strength that can only be from our Lord. The other day, you told mommy, "Even when things are hard, you have to keep trying." Hasn't that been the understatement of your life! *tears in my eyes* I am so incredibly grateful that Father God let you stay with us despite the incredible odds against you.

I am so humbled that God has seen to it that I would be reminded EVERYDAY of his awesome power, mercy, grace and goodness by seeing you every day. So Happy Birthday my little boy. Please don't ever lose your love for Jesus and the Bible!

And my dear sweet Rachel in heaven. I know you are smiling on us from heaven to see us so blessed by the sacrifices you made. I know you will be having the BEST birthday party in heaven. We love you and miss you so much!


Happy 3rd Birthday Abigail!

Happy Birthday my darling Abigail, who turned 3 going onto 5 (bc that's how old Oppa will be tomorrow). My funny girl who is so full of ideas and opinions. She shows us how to love life, laugh and we just love to watch her sparkle! ♥ ♥ ♥