Parallel Purple Lines

My hand trembled to the rhythm of my pounding heart as I stared at the parallel purple lines on the home pregnancy test.

It was definitely positive.

NO. This was all wrong! I had been praying for my best friend Sue to get pregnant, NOT me!

I wasn’t unhappy to be expecting our third child; I was secretly thrilled. But I dreaded telling Sue, not wanting to add more pain to her and her husband’s long struggle to conceive.

I turned to the Scriptures for help and landed in Luke 1. Back in the days before pregnancy tests, two unlikely mothers–the elderly Elizabeth and her teenaged cousin Mary–found themselves unexpectedly expecting. Each was a tender and timely encouragement to the other as they prepared to welcome their famous firstborn sons. I noticed that their pregnancies overlapped for a trimester.

As I read their intertwined pregnancy stories, a new prayer rose up within me: that Sue and I would be pregnant together!

Hand still shaking, but with newfound courage and hope, I picked up the phone. Sue listened quietly as I shared the news of my surprise pregnancy, along with my simple prayer request. We tearfully agreed to trust the Lord together to grant it.

“For nothing will be impossible with God.” (Luke 1:37, NAS)

A few weeks later, high on faith (and pregnancy hormones), I impulsively shared my prayer request with my ladies’ Bible study group. And instantly regretted it. The request was so specific and measurable. I felt like I had climbed out on a limb, vulnerable and exposed. 

What if God didn’t come through? Now everyone would know!

Despite my fears, I continued to pray. Four months passed. Sue and I celebrated our 40th birthdays with two mutual close friends who were also 40–and pregnant! Sue was so gracious through it all, but I longed for her to join our ranks now more than ever.

My due date approached. Still no answer to our prayers. Even on the way to the hospital the misty morning of my scheduled C-section, I held onto the hope that Sue would conceive while I was still pregnant.

And you know what?

She didn’t.

I nursed my disappointment and confusion as I cared for my newborn daughter, Laurel. Sue and I had believed God. We had agreed together in prayer. But for some unknown reason, God had chosen not to grant our request.

Several months later, Sue and her husband felt led to pursue an international adoption. They chose Korea, because their orphaned infants were cared for in loving foster homes. After successfully completing their home study, my friends waited expectantly to be matched with a child. By this time Laurel was over a year old.

The call finally came. They had been selected to adopt a precious little boy! His name would be Luke. We rejoiced in God’s goodness together!

When they received more details about their son, however, they were surprised to discover that he was several months older than most babies who were adopted from Korea. They learned his birth date. We did the math.

I’ll never forget the moment we realized it. Luke was conceived two months BEFORE I gave birth to Laurel! Our babies were only seven months apart! God HAD answered our prayer, just not in the way we had expected! We were in awe of His faithfulness!

In my mind’s eye I could see her now. Somewhere in Korea, another unexpectedly expecting young mother, holding a positive pregnancy test in her trembling hand.

Two parallel purple lines, leading to one brave choice.

A sovereign God, orchestrating an incredible answer to prayer.

Fearful faith, becoming glorious sight.

 

Oh, how great are God’s riches and wisdom and knowledge! How impossible it is for us to understand his decisions and his ways! (Romans 11:33, NLT)

 

Note: This post was shared with Sue’s blessing! Thank you, Sue, for letting me tell the story of our divinely intertwined pregnancies!

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Calling Home

The twelve men had been with Jesus long enough to know that He enjoyed a unique relationship with God. On more than one occasion they discovered him missing, only to stumble upon him praying. Like someone on an extended journey, homesick, frequently compelled to call home.

They saw how He derived strength and serenity from those conversations. The intimacy He had with the Lord was intriguing. For months they had watched and now they wanted what He had.

One day, one of them finally had the courage to verbalize what they were all thinking.

“Lord, teach US to pray.”

They waited. Would He be willing to share His secrets?

Sensing their readiness for what He was about to reveal, the Rabbi began.

“When you pray, say…Father.”

Father?

Had they heard that right? Did He really just say…Abba?

Their Scriptures referred to God as “Father,” but only rarely. Just 15 times, to be exact. No God-fearing Jew would have the chutzpah to approach the Most High God and address Him as “Abba.” It felt irreverent. But, at the same time, inviting.

It was, indeed, an invitation into the intimate fellowship of Father and Son. A new way of relating to Almighty God was opening up. The Teacher continued to instruct and prepare them for this coming change.

It took some getting used to, this idea of familiarity with Yahweh. His was a name so holy it could not be spoken out loud, and could only be written if the vowels were omitted. It seemed outrageous that the great “I AM” would now answer to the name “Abba.” He was a God to be kept at a safe distance.

What they didn’t understand at the time was that Jesus Himself was The Way to closeness with the Father. He was the means by which men could be brought near to God. He was the path to Heaven, which would be paved by His death, and opened by the Spirit upon His return to the Father.

Soon it would all make sense. Then they would begin to call Him Abba, Father.

He invites us to call Him Father, too.

Regardless of what kind of dad you had, whether he’s in heaven or still on earth, you can experience the love of a perfect Heavenly Father. Jesus makes this possible. He closed the gap between Holy God and unholy man. He brings us before His Father’s throne and introduces us as family. We are welcomed as sons and daughters.

We are Embraced. Chosen. Forgiven. Adopted. Loved.

When we pray, we say Abba, Father.

He Hears. Responds. Cares. Answers. Acts.

It’s Father’s Day. Why don’t you call home? Your Father is waiting to hear from you.

Father

Notes:

–Some of the thoughts I shared in this blog were inspired by a commentary on the Fatherhood of God by Robert H. Stein. Here is an excerpt: “The teaching of the Fatherhood of God takes a decided turn with Jesus, for “Father” was his favorite term for addressing God. It appears on his lips some sixty-five times in the Synoptic Gospels and over one hundred times in John. The uniqueness of Jesus’ teaching on this subject is evident for several reasons. For one, the rarity of this designation for God is striking. There is no evidence in pre-Christian Jewish literature that Jews addressed God as “Abba.” A second unique feature about Jesus’ use of Abba as a designation for God involves the intimacy of the term. Abba was a term little children used. This was not just a way Jesus taught his disciples to address God; it was the way.”

–Jesus’ teaching on prayer can be found in Matthew 6:5-13 and Luke 11:1-13.

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The Many Faces of Miracle

I sat across the table from two miracles yesterday.

The first was a precious, five-month-old baby girl, with ebony hair and pewter eyes. She looks just like her mama. You’d never guess she was adopted.

As we visited over tea, my friend shared how her daughter’s birth mother had used drugs, unaware that she was pregnant. How her morning sickness eventually became so severe that she had no other option but to stop using. How this possibly spared both of their lives.

A godly family took her under their wing. With their encouragement and support, she chose to carry her baby to term and place her in a loving home. Which is where her story and my friend’s story became divinely, mercifully intertwined.

What does this brave birth mom think of her decision now? She recently said this to my friend:

She is your missing puzzle piece and my saving grace.”

Amazing, miraculous grace.

That same evening I slid into a restaurant booth across from a slender, sweet-spirited teen, with braided ombre hair and dark almond eyes. I knew she was adopted, because she looks nothing like her mom.

As we chatted over a late dinner of pasta, she shared a little of her story. How her first “home” was a Chinese orphanage, which only housed children up to the age of twelve. How these twelve-year-old orphanage “graduates” were then put out on the streets. How as an infant she was adopted by her parents right before the Chinese government began restricting foreign adoptions.

She stated all of this information quite matter-of-factly. But I knew that, for the second time that day, I was beholding the face of a miracle.

A little over a month ago I went back to work part-time as a “Client Advocate” at our local pregnancy center. It wasn’t the position I applied for. But apparently it’s the position God had in mind for me.

I’m not gonna lie. It isn’t easy.

“STDs”…”LMPs”…abortion risks and procedures…these are not topics in my usual dinnertime–or any time–conversation. But these words are now a regular part of my new workplace vocabulary. Women come into our center seeking free pregnancy tests, options counseling, ultrasounds.

After a client checks in and fills out the necessary paperwork, I welcome them into my upstairs office and direct them to the comfy swivel chair opposite mine. I look into their faces. I ask questions. I take notes. I listen to their story, the one that’s unfolding in real time, right in front of me.

And I silently pray.

I ask for wisdom and compassion.

I try to point them to the Source of Life. The Giver of Living Water. The Miracle Worker.

Yes, some days are discouraging. Many conversations are difficult. But I’m walking by faith and trusting that God has put me right where He wants me to be. And that He will do what only HE can do.

I sat across the table from two miracles yesterday.

You just never know when you might come face to face with a miracle in the making.

Mother holding baby

You are the God who performs miracles; you display your power among the peoples. (Psalm 77:14, NIV)

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