Archive for the ‘Christian’ Category

The argument I made every Christmas was always “It’s our holiday, why are you taking our holiday”. Growing up I was always frustrated that Christmas was robbed by the masses, perverted and twisted into a spending frenzy so the message of the Birth of Christ was muted and dulled. Then Easter came around, and I was equally disgruntled at Capturethe world for turning the death and resurrection of our lord and savior into the celebration of a massive bunny that poops chocolate.  I wondered why Ramadan, Hanukah or other major world religious holidays didn’t get the same treatment. Why do no other faiths have to contend with the world to keep their faith and their celebrated days pure and untarnished by the world.

 

Even writing that piece above it got me a bit bitter. Thinking that I’ve resolved my issues and I’m ready to write it down and solidify my thoughts on the issue I realize that I’m still a work in progress. I’ve got a long way to go but I’m happy to be on the journey. What led me here was the thought that we get ANGRY if not FURIOUS that the story of “Love, Grace, Forgiveness, and Redemption” is being ruined or distorted by a world in dire need of Love, Grace, Forgiveness and Redemption. We have come to hate our fellow man because they need love but have “stolen” our story of love.

It just feels so ironic.

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Many Christians beg the world with slogans, lawn signs, posters, posts, tweets, instaposts (?) and whatever resource we have to “KEEP THE CHRIST IN CHRISTMAS” 1297498459570_ORIGINALwhile in their haste and bitterness, frustrations and sadness fail to “KEEP THE CHRIST IN CHRISTIAN”. That’s a bold statement – and lets be clear, it does not apply to most and it shouldn’t apply to any Christians. Unfortunately it does, and too often.  When I first heard the line “If you want to Keep the Christ in Christmas, maybe learn first to Keep the Christ In Christian” I was a bit ticked off. I thought “Quit stealing our holidays and maybe we would!” Haha…. Terrible. Once again our own words were being hurled at us and we once again had to justify our position and intentions.   Urgh… will this attack on our faith ever end? (hint: No)

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But that statement didn’t leave me. It hung on like Klingon for a few days, weeks then years. It really took a bite out of me and it wasn’t even a bible verse, it was just a thought, a concept. I was challenged to think, “am I missing something here”? Did Jesus put any focus or attention on his Birth? Did he ever drive home the importance of celebrating his birth? Did Jesus himself, the one in which we claim to follow, celebrate, worship and emulate (to the best of our ability) ever put his foot down on these types of issues? When He died and rose again was the purpose to stick a flag in the sand and claim that day as Christmas for Christians globally and in perpetuity, or… was it to send a bigger message? (hint: Love, Grace, Forgivness, Hope, Redemption, Salvation).

I’m a husband to a wonderful wife, a dad of 3 unbelievable girls, and have a very wide extended family of whom I love dearly. We LOVE the holidays. In the face of my bitterness that the world has stolen and commercialized the sweet celebration of the birth of Jesus I sill indulged and continue to indulge in every single Christmas shopping extravaganza, movie (especially the horrific made for TV ones starring famous 80’s and 90’s sitcom stars long forgotten.)Candace Cameron_jpeg I don’t/can’t miss a holiday treat, a holiday meal, I drown my bitterness in eggnog, truffles, Lindors, icy-mints, clementine’s. Okay, I’m getting distracted… sorry. My point is… I LOVE what the holiday has become for my family.  From the story of the Birth of our Saviour, to candle light services, caroling, Snacks, gifts and National Lampoons Christmas Vacation and all of it in between. My wife and I have “cleverly” blended the commercialization with the deep profound love and respect and celebration of the story of Jesus, but I can admit to fumbling with the message of hope a few too many times over the season as we get lost in the commercialization. In the end, I think we’ve done it well so I’ve felt justified in allowing some bitterness towards my fellow humans to grow if they don’t or haven’t (in my most humble opinion).

“If you want to keep the Christ in Christmas, maybe learn first to Keep the Christ In Christian”. Back to this. What does it mean to keep the Christ in Christian? I think the bible teaches throughout it’s entirety that it means to love people, embrace them, feed them, clothe them, honour them and even give grace to those who don’t celebrate this season for what it means to me or the Christian faith.10428014_10152403692345940_93995036958062967_n That seems easy. I mean it really does. I know the idea of loving our enemy is not easy but if we consider the atrocities that I personally have committed while claiming to be a man of faith and STILL I’m loved, forgiven, and embraced by a holy and Just God, then I should find it easy to simply love someone who doesn’t love me back. (1 John 4:19 “We Love because he first loved us”).

So Christmas, for me, has changed over the past decade. I’ve learned that this world is LOADED with different people, faiths, personalities, viewpoints, ideals, preferences, etc. My goal, if I am a follower of Christ is to make the incredible story of the gospel known (see the end of this writing for more info on that) to all people, and I attempt do that by honestly just loving people over this season. Regardless of all the above points, just love people. I have failed at that. I still fail. There’s probably someone reading this who feels like I haven’t done well at showing them or people they know that they are loved. My apologies, I’m working on it, and I will continue to do so. When I don’t love, when I don’t show grace, or compassion, forgiveness or mercy then I have failed the message of the Gospel. There is an UNBELIEVEABLE story of hope and salvation that is available for ANY man, woman or child, that is shrouded, covered up and muddied when those who claim to subscribe to that message do nothing but hate, judge, impose and attack.

My goal is not to challenge how people celebrate their holiday. Frankly, happy Ramadan brother, happy Hanukah friend, Season’s Greetings Sister, happy holiday loved one. To love is to set aside my bias and opinions (which are sinful by nature). To love is to build a relationship, friendship, some trust, in hopes to create an opportunity for dialogue.

I can’t forget that true love speaks truth. At some point love requires that honest conversation.  Frankly, if I’ve been diligent in my quest to show people they are loved as they are, then I don’t think that’ll be an issue. I know the truth, I’ve been set free by the truth, and it’s absolutely incredible. I would LOVE to tell you that beautiful incredible truth that you are LOVED by a God (John 3:16) that loved you so much he died in your place, to cover your brokenness and sin (While we were still sinners Christ died for US – Romans 5:8). I’d love to sit and tell you that you are loved more than you will ever understand or comprehend by a God bigger than the Universe and more intimate than a friend who knew you before you were even formed in your mothers womb. I’d love to offer you the message of hope that says all your flaws and failures, those deep dark broken places that break you and keep you weighed down with burdens you can’t release can be simply washed away, forgiven, covered, healed, and mended by a personal Jesus. That’s my goal. My hope is to be able to share with you the true message of Hope that Christmas brings all humanity through Jesus Christ. Maybe someday I’ll get that chance.  Maybe not. But what I can do, what I can offer is love. It’s been given to me when I have not deserved it, so how can I not show that same love to a fellow brother or sister regardless of whatever.

Thanks for reading. Love one another.

John 13:34-35 says “A new command I give you, Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples.”

(Sorry for all my grammar errors, I’ll fix them as I see them)

 

The Gospel and Christmas

The Story of Christmas. Firstly I’d ask you to put this away, because the bible tells it much better. I’d say open the Book of LUKE (in the latter half of the Bible) and just start reading. It’s an incredible story. That being said while I have you hear let me make it simple.

We are flawed. If you think you are perfect than you can stop here. But if you have ever stolen anything in your life, ever lied to anyone, ever looked at anyone with lust, ever thought anything dirty or inappropriate, then you are essentially a Thieving, lying, lustful, perverted, sinner. That’s heavy. But it’s everyone in history if that helps. We all struggle with sin. We all have a sinful nature. (Romans 3:23). That sin separates us from God.

The story of Christmas is about God looking down on us and in love sending His Son to cover the cost of that sin (that would ultimately end in death. Eternal death. The COST of sin is death (Romans 6:23) but the Gift of God gave us was eternal life through Jesus). Jesus (God in the Flesh) came down. Born as a child to suffer as we did, to be tempted as we have, to live and to die, to be hungry and thirsty, to struggle and to live just as we do. Jesus was sinless, perfect, and the sins of the world was placed on his shoulders. As a result he was crucified and suffered in our place. A Sinless Jesus, died in our place to pay the cost for our sins. Doesn’t end there. Death did not defeat him. Jesus then rose again, from the grave, with death and sin defeated and offers us the hope of that resurrection. Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and you will be saved the bible promises. (Acts 16:31). Accept his forgiveness and be forgiven. It’s that easy. There’s no good deeds, no work, no earning that salvation. It’s free, the cost has been paid.

Connect with me to talk more, lastly. I’ll end with a story I LOVE called The Judge. It’s an amazing metaphor to explain some of what I mentioned above.

The Judge: I’ve taken it from the site www.snapshotsofgod.com/the-judge/

The Judge

Upholding what is right comes at a cost.

There’’s a story about a judge whose own son was brought before her for a crime he had committed. The judge felt a deep grief that her son would violate the laws upon which she based her entire life. Tears welled in her eyes and she listened painfully as the evidence against her son was presented. The courtroom sat in silence wondering how the judge would rule. Would she just give him a reprimand in an act of mercy? Would she give him the minimum penalty for the offense? Much to their surprise, she handed down the maximum fine, upholding the law to its fullest degree. The son was in shock, for he knew that he couldn’t pay the fine and was anguished at the thought of imprisonment. He looked up at her in disbelief.

But then something happened that nobody expected. She stepped down from the bench, took off her judge’s robe, told her son how much she loved him and then paid, out of her own pocket, the fine she had just handed down.  Not everyone understood what she had done. As a judge, she showed her commitment to honor the law to its fullest, but she then stepped down from that seat of honor and showed her love for her child. Her son never understood the depth of his mother’s commitment to the law until that moment, and, until that moment, he never knew the depth of his mother’s love for him. He felt deep sorrow for the pain he had caused her and for those he had hurt by his act of crime. With his head bowed, and his tears flowing freely, he asked for her forgiveness, which she willingly and freely gave to him.

This story is actually an allegory for God’s relationship to us. Our crimes are our willful departure from the laws given us by God for the way we are to live. When we break those laws, God is grieved and pained. Inevitably there are natural consequences of our failings that hurt others, sometimes affecting lives for generations to come. This is why God’s laws say that the penalty for sin is death. His holy nature demands that He not just let us off the hook or go easy on us. So what did He do? He came down from heaven to us in Jesus Christ to help us to understand His laws, to show us the depth of His love for us and to pay the price of our sin with His own life. This never made sense to me until I understood how I fell short of God’s standards for life and how deeply that had hurt those who depended on me the most. But once I knew the love and forgiveness of God, I turned away in disgust from my deepest sins and understood, in a way I never had before, how to love and forgive others.

 

 

 

 

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Screamers

The HOUNDS of HELL were calling me the Child of the Devil…

I was walking during lunch. I usually try to walk downtown for the hour, taking different streets and seeing different faces. Downtown London can be scary. I’m 6’5 and I’ve eaten enough in my life to look a bit intimidating and I cover of my face with a sizeable beard so people usually don’t bother me too much. Not that it’s my intention, it’s just the way the cookie has crumbled. Today was different. It was quarter to, and I thought I’d better take a left and head back.

As I crossed the street I saw London Ontario’s screaming street preachers with massive sandwich boards over their bodies with KJV scripture all over it. I ran in to them the previous week where they heard that I was a Christian but called me a vile demonic child of satan (one of their reasons was because I was wearing shorts which was “women’s underwear”). They screamed from their megaphone the threats of coming wrath and how evil we all were. I decided not to pass at their corner as I was late on time and I needed to get back. I didn’t care to get into an argument with them… the vile demonic creature that I was. So I just kept going straight until for some reason at the last second I turned, it was an awkward turn so last minute that I just about hit the building standing at the corner. I don’t know why I turned but as I walked past the screaming preachers, I passed a man that was behind them who was shaking his head and looking right at me trying to make contact. He was short, maybe mid 40’s, roughly shaven, a cigarette between each ear, dirty clothes and he smelled of strong alcohol.

His name was Brian. The screaming preachers never asked him that, but his name was Brian. He reached his hand out for me as I passed and I grabbed it. Extra firm. Coarse as sandpaper, and firm. I took out my earbuds and asked him how he was doing. His face dropped and he was upset. The screamers had just spent the past 30 minutes berating him, calling him out for the struggles he was clearly well aware of, and hammering on ministries he had been a part of in the past when he was trying to get clean.

Brian let go of my hand and asked me if I was a Christian. I said “yes”. He stepped back a bit, seemed surprised and then asked “like them?” to which I replied. “I don’t know… but I doubt it.” He rubbed his face, his eyes were strained and he was fairly upset. He started to ramble for a bit, so I leaned against the broken brick wall on the corner and zeroed in. He had a lot to say and I was happy to just listen.

Brian was once a graduate from an amazing… AMAZING organization called Teen Challenge. If you don’t know it, look it up. Brian has relapsed a dozen times in his life. “Over and Over again I keep failing. Over and over again I keep failing God.” He repeated with real shame in his eyes. I could only console him with the words “me too Brian, me too”.

My heart broke for Brian. I’m absolutely no different. My sin overwhelms me daily and over and over again I fail to live up to the faith to which I subscribe. Brian seems to wear his struggles on his sleeve a little more than I. The world can see, smell and hear Brian’s struggles. His mouth wasn’t tamed, his words were raw and crass. His clothes were worn and stained. His breath was thick with alcohol. What an amazing guy this was. So bold to say he was struggling and broken to someone he’d never met. So bold to list his failures, his shame, his emptiness, and his frustrations. This guy was amazing.

The screamers looked over to me, saw me talking to the man they spent 30 minutes berating and raised their voices. Over their megaphone they started to almost curse us, and threaten spiritual consequences at me while telling Brian I was spawn of the devil (actual words)

The noise they squawked by divine intervention literally faded away as Brian’s ramblings continued. He spoke of a desperation to have God “come lift him up from this s#i+”. He would say “how the hell can… oops heck, how the heck can I find some hope when I can’t stop drinking”. Brian spoke of being old school and getting into fights in the same breath that he spoke of reading the Bible this morning. Matthew 11 and Philippians 4:6 he kept quoting. He actually knew his Bible, he seemed to have a real love for it. “I have a beginners Bible Marshal. I have a beginners bible and I read it every day. I know Jesus. I love Jesus but I can’t fight this addiction. I can’t win this thing”. In a huff of frustration he said “all these tornados, all these floods, all these addictions, all these people hurting… sometimes I think God has just given up on us. He’s just given up.” Only to counter himself in the next sentence “But it’s me, he’s still there, he’s still God, He’s never changed, I have. I’ve walked away, and I’m too embarrassed to come back, I don’t even know how to come back”….on he went.

I just sat and listened. He needed to be heard and I wanted to hear.

The preachers came close. Borderline intimidating (if I found Tilly hats, Khaki cargos and sandwich boards intimidating). They tried to jump in a few times and he just kept rolling. I paid them no attention, ignored them completely and like a good dog they backed off.

Brian ended his rant. He looked and felt depleted. We talked a bit, I gave him some comforting words of scripture. I reminded him that we are all struggling, we are all broken, but we are forgiven and we need to keep fighting and praying and reading and talking to God, crying out for help and surrender our failures and weaknesses to him because in our weakness HE is made strong. Some of the basic stuff, as I type this I wonder if I said or did enough. I wonder if it was all to cliché.

I asked Brian if I could pray with him. He instantly dropped his head and clenched his fists and closed his eyes. Hands on his shoulder, on the street with people screaming from behind I prayed with Brian. We prayed for direction, for help, for a strengthened prayer life, for strength of the will to overcome temptations, for strength in the body to overcome addictions.

After a few minutes I looked up and Brian was still head down. Tears dripping on the pavement. It seemed like a silent moment. We ended our prayer and I looked at my phone. It was still quarter to. Don’t ask me how, but not a moment had passed since I last minute turned that corner and grabbed Brian’s strong hand.

The hounds of hell came closer now. Like his sandwich board was rubbing my shoulder. I looked at Brian and said find a church (which they HATED, because they think all churches are corrupt), so they screamed in protest calling me the “mouth of the devil” I shook Brian’s hand, and said I will see him again, we will pray again. I asked if he wanted to walk with me back but he had a bus coming. As I left the Screaming preachers chased me down.

Screamer: “I see you have a tattoo”

Me: “I have 9”

Screamer: “what you are doing is wrong, you are violating the purity of scripture, you will be held accountable for your false prayer and false teachings against this man”

Me: “How?”

Screamer: “You are perverting truth with worldly sin” (all this on the megaphone) “his friend chimed in calling me a “vile, vile man of the devil, with words of hell written on you” (my ankle says “SAVED”, so….)

They both continued to walk with me and try to berate me. I put in my headphones, pressed play and one of my favorite songs came on. “No Longer Slaves” (Timely) I smiled at them as their mouths flapped but all I heard was the fantastic harmonies of Shane and Shane. And I moved on.

Love God… Love Others. I hope to see Brian again, but not the two screaming preacher meatheads.

Love God…. Love Others.  I’m not going to spend time writing about why they were wrong. I can tell you where I was wrong. Where I didn’t pray for those guys as they were clearly lost, where I didn’t stand for scripture, where I didn’t expose darkness…. but I won’t.  the story says enough. I’ve failed, I’m a failure but I’ll keep trying to love.  I need to love LOUDER than their megaphones and more actively than their sandwich boards.

And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love. 1 Corinthians 13:13

 

(IF YOU WANT MORE INFORMATION ABOUT WHO THESE GUYS ARE AND WHAT THEY ACTUALLY BELIEVE  Check out my second post The Cult Behind the Screaming)

I need to discuss a Pet Peeve of mine. So here we go!

“Just You Wait….” Every new/newer parent hears this countless times through their parenting journey of the early stages of life.  I usually hear it the most right after some grand moment with one of my girls.  That moment opens the doors for the Just-you-waiters, they see that moment and seize it every time.   Just when my little girl runs up and gives me a great big hug after Sunday school while we stand in the church atrium chatting about.  I’ll scoop her up, swing her around, and share a moment and a laugh.  She proceeds to unload handfuls of half done colouring pages and a difficult to decipher crafts and takes off through the masses of cookie snacking, coffee drinking fellowshippers to find her own post-church treats.

This is the moment the door is open.

wait-traffic-sign-k-7650Only moments after she’s taken off, the inevitable comment comes from the experienced parent nearby… They casually side-step up to you, maybe offer a friendly up-nod, or just a slight elbow/shoulder nudge, followed by a head shake and a long exhausted sigh.  Then it comes, as you both watch her dart into the masses: “Just you wait” they say.  In an arrogant tone of grand precautionary warning they offer their words of endless wisdom.  “Just. You. Wait.”  Then the storm of negativity comes flooding in – rushing in over that wonderful moment washing away every trace of happiness.

“Just wait till she’s a teenager” – “Enjoy it while it lasts” – “It doesn’t last long, just you wait and see” and on it goes. Wow. I mean… wow. Great advice and terrific perspective. Thanks for that! How terrific of you to overwhelm me with the reality of my limited precious moments with my little girl.

waitThen there is the other side of the Just-You-Waiters . These people have it WAY better than you. And believe them… you think this moment is good?  YOU HAVE NO IDEA! “JUST. YOU. WAIT.” In their most humble opinion… you have simply not experienced happiness. At all. Not on any level like they have. This moment… it’s nothing. Just you wait for it though… they’ll promise you that much. They will strip you of everything and hand you back a small promise of hope all in those boastful 3 words. But you have to wait for it. Just wait.  When my littlest baby is gripping my finger and giving me a smile (that likely is just the result of gas, but I accept it as deepest expression of admiration) they come.  They come when I’m clinging onto the beginnings of new expressions and changes in life with the ultimate hammer-down of “Just. You. Wait”

“You think that finger hug is good? Just wait till they can wrap their arms around your neck, then you will really know love from a child.”

“You think that smile is good? Just you wait until they can say I love you, so much better”

Whammo – knocked down to size. Boom. No longer permitted to enjoy the moment as it is. Instead, It has been recommended, that I just wait….

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The Problem with Waiting.

“Just you wait”, they said. So I waited.  I waited for those long nights of screaming and needing me every 30 minutes to pass.  / All of a sudden I’m not needed, I no longer run to their room at night to cradle them in my arms, to feel their heart beat slow and their eyes close as they find deep peace from the comfort of my arms.

Just you wait, they said. So I waited. I waited for the moment when my baby could finally crawl and walk and explore the area around them. /  All of a sudden those cozy moments in the morning of overwhelming trust and epic new smiles, mini hands grasping  at my fingers, supported bounces on my lap all seem to disappear, lost to a world of new independent exploring.

Just you wait, they said. So I waited. Wait until they are finally out of diapers and can go to the bathroom and get changed on their own. / All of a sudden those funny moments of giggles and peek-a-boo on the change table, those little bare bum cheeks sliding off the bed and running around the kitchen squealing with naughty delight have faded.

Wait until they go to school. / Now the house is so empty.

Wait until they have friends / Now they never want to be home for movie nights.

tt meWait, wait, wait. If it’s good, just wait cause it’ll all go away.  If it’s new and amazing, just wait, cause you don’t even know… No! I won’t.  I’ll enjoy every difficult rotten overwhelming moment and live in the present. I’ll appreciate every area of growth and love.  I’ll enjoy exactly what I have now. I’ll be glad someday knowing that I never waited, but just lived in that amazing, precious, endless moment and gladly let it passed into the next. My mind will slow down that dance in the atrium at church, She will forever swing in my arms as her golden curls bounce… and THAT moment wont’ be lost, not from my past and not from my future.

So Just-you-waiters… I’m looking forward to your next comment… trust me. Just you wait!

There’s Joy in the Mourning

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On January 1st 2009 we experienced our first miscarriage.

My wife and I were on a cruise with her family, and it was nearing the end of the adventure, one day left.  It was at about 12:30 am on New Year’s Day and we were in the middle of an ocean somewhere in the Caribbean. My wife had gone to bed early as the New Year’s celebrations went on into the night.  I stayed up a bit later, then came back to the room around midnight.  The memory of every moment surrounding the next hour or so still haunts me today.  I came in and something was wrong.  Pale, weak, crying.  There was my wife suffering alone, and no matter how close I was now, she still felt so alone. I remember her face, seeing the sadness in her eyes as our hope faded away into the darkness.  She was a nurse and she knew what was happening.  She also knew she was losing blood and her blood sugar was low.  I ran to my mother in laws room who had been a maternity nurse for 30+ years to get some help.  She came quickly and sent me off to the buffet to get some brownies or something with sugar to help with the blood sugar.

Typing this brings it all back. That’s 7 years ago now, but every moment seems to flood back in detail. I ran back to the room with a small plate, and I remember looking off the ship into the middle of blackness.  Feeling so hopeless and so broken.  I was so sad.  It wasn’t three weeks before that night that we had passed the 3 month “safe” mark and decided as a Christmas gift to tell the family and the world of our new, and first pregnancy.  We discussed names, and guessed the sex.  We talked with my siblings about hand me downs and what we would definitely need and not need to buy.  We discussed everything.  It consumed us with joy.

As I sprinted along the deck going to get some needed food for her this all came back but hit me like shattered glass and I ran with tears falling over my shoulders. At this moment my concern would rest with my wife.  We had support through her mother, and we were safe.  She was going to be okay physically but I knew how her heart had wrapped around this little gift of a child.  I knew how her hopes were laces like praying fingers through the details of the next few months.  I knew that this was a loss larger than we could handle alone.  (God is Faithful)

We mourned through the night. We sat heavy and silent for hours. We cried and slept into the morning. Jan 1st 2009 we sat on the deck of the ship in the sun.  Very quiet.  The beginning of our new year was broken and sad.  We were just so sad while the world celebrated the birth of a new year around us.

(There’s hope in front of me)

For the following few weeks I told some family and friends of the loss. My wife kept away from people so she wouldn’t have to hear reminders or condolences.  They knew and she knew.

Little did I know that this deep pain would bring so much joy. I couldn’t see the plan then.  We were frustrated and lost, but we never lost faith.  We were confused but never got angry with God.  We were hurt.  We told Him.  We were desperately sad.  He heard our cries and saw our tears.  We gave our fears, and hope and sorrow to Him to find rest and eventually we did.

In an odd turn of events we found the starting to our new year to be powerfully moving, and full of beautiful change in the midst of our loss.   We found a new fervor for our faith, a new closeness with each other, a fresh desire to dive deeper into our faith and heavier need for prayer, a desire to seek solace in scripture.  All that led to a fullness in our lives, but not to joy… our joy was yet to come.

I remember early in April my wife started to feel the weight of frustration again. Getting pregnant again didn’t have the ease for us it seemed to have for others and we wanted desperately to have a child.  Then that moment came.  I was asked to go get some pregnancy tests from the local pharmacy and I came back with a no-name brand package.  She rolled her eyes and couldn’t believe I cheaped out for this event.  She tried….It read positive.  I was sent back out for a name brand type now. The next morning we tried again and again, it read positive.  There should be joy now… right?  We should be elated.  We watch all these posts on social media where the wife surprises her hubby with a positive stick.  He goes crazy, and they cry tears of joy.  Not us.  We didn’t even let our hearts beat for a moment. We talked with false excitement but our hearts were guarded.  For the following few months we were scared, nervous, expectant but defensive.  There was truly no joy in the process at all until we reached the 4 month mark.  Until a doctor could tell us that we were in a safe place and we could celebrate. Slowly our hope started to rise, and we began to dream.  We shared with friends and family again, and their elation gave us some freedom to celebrate.

Sometimes I watch a video I made on December 25th 2008.  It’s our announcement video.  The whole family slowly catches onto our surprise and they scream and cry and dance….  If we only knew then what we know now.  But that video gives me joy.  I now know that about 6 days after that video we would be very broken, and feel so alone, a price we seemed to have had to pay for unspeakable joy.  God is Faithful.

18970_247262615939_6256683_nOne year later on January 9th 2010 we gave birth to our first little girl.  Keziah Jordyn Burnham.  An incredibly big baby who screamed with life and colic for the next 6 months.  A little girl that has changed everything about me.  Everything.  My passions, my life, my dreams, my direction, my desires, my hope. On January 9th I looked down at this little bundle the nurse handed me, full of slime, guk, blood, and eye cream, matted wet hair and I felt unrelenting joy. This is what God had in store. This is what He wanted me to have. God is Faithful.

Now I don’t pretend to think that God made our miscarriage happen. I don’t know what goes on outside of my understanding.  I know we are living in a broken world.  I know that things happen that we can never understand, that don’t make sense, that don’t seem to have a purpose or a plan.  I know that I rarely have any answers, but on that day I knew one thing was certain.  This was God’s plan.  Whatever we went through was worth it, whatever it took to get this little girl into my arms – it was worth it. God is Faithful.

These little arms that screamed to be hugged, little legs that begged to be chased, little fingers that I needed to teach to play piano, or write stories. Little eyes that needed guidance, little ears that needed protection.  A rapidly pumping heart that needed guarding.  All of this was ours.  Joy, unrelenting.  Joy, unspeakable.   Tears flowed from my eyes as I looked at this little baby, knowing that without our great loss, she would have never been in my arms. My God, is faithful.

Today Kezzy is 6. We sat together not too long ago to talk about life in a very real way.  I explained that before she was born that mommy had a little baby in her tummy.  “I don’t know why babe, but I’m thankful.  I know that if that never happened, then you and me wouldn’t be sitting here talking.  I would have loved that baby, but I never would have known you, loved you, played with you, danced with you.  You are my Joy in the mourning.”  Kezzy looked at me as I welled up and said in a quiet voice “I’m glad that God took that baby to heaven, so I could be your little girl.”  Perfection. God, you are faithful.

A year after Kezzy we experienced another loss. We were guarded again for this one, and never went public as my wife couldn’t handle the pain of another loss in front of family and friends.   She suffered in silence for some time.  I told some family in private and we wept together, prayed together.  Again the sadness swept over us and like a heavy blanket on a roaring fire and snuffed out our joy for some time.  In all of it, I never forgot my lesson I learned in our first loss.  There was something great coming.  There was someone incredible just on the horizon.  It took us two years but we were once again blessed with our second little girl.  Zoey Belle Burnham. God is Faithful.

This one wild, funny, crazy endlessly sweet little girl has sent my world into more bliss that I expected.  When we wrestle and play I couldn’t imagine any other little baby… She’s exactly what I could hope for or dream of.  Exactly what I needed and wanted. God is Faithful.

I truly don’t know how all this works, I don’t know the divine plan in it all. I know in the midst of the pain it’s impossible to see joy.  In the darkest moments of life, any light just seems to hurt.  I know from our now 6 miscarriages that there’s no ease, no freedom from tears.  But I also know that through those most difficult times we found incredible joy.

Our happiness is lost in the moments of getting pregnant. Any couple who has suffered multiple miscarriages knows how painful even a positive reading can be.  The day to day expectation of loss is heartbreaking.  We refuse to connect, refuse to think of names or give life to that future.  It is a desperate time that can drag on for months and be stolen away from you in an instant.

This isn’t a plea to find joy in your mourning. It’s just a word of hope that you will.

Mourn. Feel that loss.  We have, we do, we will.  Even as I type I feel sorrow for the losses we’ve had, those unknown faces I would have loved.  But know also that there is hope beyond your situation.  There is joy on the horizon.  There is a future in front of you that you can’t even imagine.

Now as I type this, I have a little frame beside me I got for my birthday. We have been low on funds lately and I was out of work for 6 months so our birthday gifts involved paying bills with limited funds and celebrating a meal together.  But my kids and wife got me this little wooden frame.  Inside is a picture of me and my two little girls hugging me on either side with wild smiles.  Our three elated faces smushed into this little wooden frame.  I don’t know what that picture would look like without our miscarriages, but I know what it looks like with them, and I’m filled with joy…..

UPDATE: thump-thump, thump-thump, thump-thump….

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UPDATE: thump-thump, thump-thump, thump-thump.  My wife  leans in closer,  trying to hear the sound of a little healthy heartbeat over the shouts of our 4 and 6 year old scrapping joyously in the doctors office. I get a call from her in my silent office where she excitedly describes the sound of our little heartbeat pulsing rapidly. There’s finally joy in her voice.  Hope has returned to a very saddened and frustrated heart.  After 4 years,  and many prayers… My God is faithful. Just a month after writing this we discover we are pregnant. And after a few more months of fear,  we find ourselves finally, after many years,  in a place where we can celebrate new life…. Thump-thump,  thump-thump…. Can’t wait to meet you little baby, I’m going to be an amazing daddy.

Little Baby Beaux Aurora Burnham (I call her ‘Lil Beaux Peep’) was born on March 30th 2017. Healthy and 10.6 lbs. (wowza) She is an unbelievable addition to our growing crazy family. thank you for all your love, comments, shares and prayers.

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Ecclesiastes 11:5

“Just as you do not know how the life breath enters the human frame in the mother’s womb, So you do not know the work of God who is working in everything.”

(Click, Shutter Opens) It’s absolutely pitch black.  There isn’t a sound except for the wolves miles away calling into the dark.  I’m freezing cold. my fingers are numb as I fumble through the menu for the right settings on my camera.  My breath in the frigid -42 freezes to my beard instantly as my lungs struggle to breathe in the shards of icy oxygen.  In this moment time is irrelevant. the world is behind me and there is nothing but myself staring into the mind of the creator himself.  There is no where in the world I’d rather be. Alone in the darkness, miles away from civilization standing on the side of the only desolate northern highway in the Yukon in the middle of the night I point my camera to the sky trying desperately to catch this rare moment… (Click, shutter opens.)

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Above me, I watch God paint his latest masterpiece in real time directly onto the canvass of heaven.  Maybe it’s the frozen air or maybe I’m struck by the intense beauty of it all,  but for a moment my breath is stolen from me.  Its hard to breathe. I stand silently between the snaps of the camera almost convincing myself the distant sound of the wind is actually the roar of the emerald fire above me.

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Like a green and yellow fire His strokes spread across the sky dancing around the stars in a continually moving masterpiece of perfection.  Every few seconds a completely new design, different lines and curls, new colours and shading, shapes and patterns.  I never knew it was like this.  I never knew the brilliant Aurora Borealis could dance and move across the sky like a herd of a billion shooting stars.

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Frustration sets in.  What I’m seeing above me, all around me, what I’m experiencing is not being captured on my little display screen.  I’m trying to squeeze this life changing moment, this miracle of the heavens into a digital display to share but I’m failing wildly.  I can’t stop from shooting. To think that I can’t share this beauty with those around me in life kills me.  I need to capture all this… It has to be shared.

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My shutter opens.  This moment reminds me of what it’s like to know my Creator and desperately want to share that experience.  To have all this life changing experience.  To walk and talk to be in a living relationship with my God is wildly overwhelming, but when I try to share it, when I try to capture it into words or posts, shares or status’ it becomes some cliché or mundane old newspaper headline.  It kills me inside a little.  If only the entire world could experience these lights.  If only the entire world could experience the beauty, depth, the majesty of this one moment and be forever changed, they would know true joy in the face of sorrow. Life in the face of loss. Hope in the face of darkness. If they could experience God like I experience these lights everything would change. If only I could capture it into that one perfect picture, status, or post. That perfect message or sentence.  If only I had the gift to make someone experience it… things would be different.

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but I can’t can I… I can’t.  That experience can’t be forced it needs to be a decision.   Not many people want to come to the Yukon mid winter, go out in the middle of the night on a work week, bundle up for a violent -42, sit and wait, to drive out to a desolate highway.  Not many people want to remove the city lights and sounds and venture into the cold and dark highway to look up and just see some lights. But for those who have seen them who have sat and stared into the heart of these beautiful lights, every single one of them will tell you that it’s worth everything to get there.  I’m blessed and in these moments I recognize it more then ever.  I’m blessed to see creation and know the one that made the stars, then asked them to dance.  I’m blessed because I’ve found purpose and understanding to the “who am I” question because I know the maker of the stars.   I’m blessed because I took that risk to get away from the man made lights and seek the most amazing God made Northern lights.  Blessed to know the creator. blessed to know that there is Hope in the Darkness

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Be Blessed.

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If you want to see the LIGHTS IN ACTION… watch this clip I made by merging hundreds of pictures together, This way you can see what I see.  Enjoy LIGHTS IN ACTION

If you haven’t noticed, things globally are falling apart. In the name of: religion, tradition, culture, God, war, peace, and mostly hate, this world is slowly being dismantled piece by piece. Most that know me, know that I claim a faith (not a religion) in Jesus. I don’t make it a secret, but often I fail at making it evident. My actions don’t always, and haven’t always represented my faith as well as I’d hoped. However in the midst of all the horror and be-headings, and rapes and murders in the name of some god going on in the world right now as I type this, I would fail you all who read this even more if I didn’t offer this truth:

Hope has a name.
Joy has a name.
Peace has a name.
Love has a name.

JESUS.

Maybe you don’t know what that means.
Maybe you agree and you feel elated.
Maybe it makes you shutter with fear.
Maybe it makes you laugh out loud.
Maybe it makes you quietly curious.
Worse, maybe it makes you furious.

I don’t know. I don’t know where you are, who you are, or why you are the way you are, but I know one thing. That name… the name “Jesus” has not left you without emotion. Right now the name of Jesus has stirred some emotion in you for better or for worse. No name in the history of mankind has stirred more emotions, more curiosity, more hate and more joy then the name of Jesus Christ.

I don’t say this to start or cause debate – even though I know it will.

I don’t say this to be demeaning to other faiths, even though I know it is.

I don’t say this to be divisive to my friends or family, even though I know it will divide.

I say this because we are standing on the very edge of a cliff, and we are all are going to fall off.

We all face life with one constant – we all know it will end! Today, tomorrow, or 100 years from now we will all one day lean over that cliff and fall off. Some are hoping their paper wings will carry them to destinations unknown. Some are hoping they will land safely on their bed good deeds hoping the lesser good deeds are forgotten. Some don’t even have a hope. I say all this… I bring it all up in a time of global turmoil because I’m tied to a life line. I have information about the only life line, and it’s available to you (free of charge). I’m standing here with the ability to point you in the direction to that which can save you from your eternal fall. Why would I not tell you? Who am I to withhold any truth, that offers hope and rescue. Often my pride, and my sense of self-preservation will keep or beg me quiet, but this is a failing request. My love for fellow humanity wants to scream to everyone of their possible redemption, salvation, hope, eternal security. Regardless of my passionate plea, I know people won’t want to hear it, but a few will. A few will realize the desperate position they are in and turn and run for safety… So I type on. But I’m not alone. While I know speaking the name of Jesus in a non-cursing format will bring hate and dissension, Jesus was also plenty aware of the affect He was bringing to earth.

Luke 12:51 tells us Jesus was well aware that the message, the truth that he was bringing would cause division, in Mathew 10:34 he acknowledged that it would split apart families, friends, cities and nations. Jesus came to bring new hope, and new way of living, a new system of grace, and forgiveness that this world wasn’t accustomed to. He came to teach that the powerful held no power, that the “spiritual” weren’t filled with the spirit. He came to teach that it wasn’t by our actions, it wasn’t by our “goodness” or our pursuit in religious studies or memorization of the scripture that would save us…(Ephesians 2:8 For by grace you have been saved, through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God). It was Him… Jesus. His blood, his sacrifice. (John 14:6 Jesus answered “I am the way and the truth and the life, No one comes to the father except through me”) Jesus came to turn the political, religious and social world upside down by preaching that He was the only way to God the Father and He knew that this teaching would get him beaten to near death, mocked and ridiculed, and hung on a cross to die. Jesus also knew that because of this truth He would rise again from that death, and conquer the grave – death….for us. (Revelation 21:4 “He will wipe away every tear from their eyes; and there will no longer be any death; there will no longer be any mourning, or crying, or pain; the first things have passed away.”)

Jesus would take the comfortable and make them uncomfortable. He came to take the acceptable and make it unacceptable . He came to make the unforgiving, forgiven. The hopeless, hopeful. The broken, healed. The dead… alive.

Our world is hopeless, broken, lost, and most certainly dying. We as a human race are not beyond redemption, we are not beyond being saved, forgiven, and rescued. For decades signs and posters, and billboards have lifted the verse “John 3:16” high into the air from ball games, to political rallies, from parades, to times of war. This verse in John is mostly known by its address and rarely by its truth. It’s a verse that brings hope and healing, a verse that offers the way to salvation. “For God so loved the world, that he gave his ONE and ONLY Son so that WHOEVER Believes in Him shall not die, but have Everlasting life.” Without Jesus we will all perish, we will all die, we will spend eternity away from God, away from heaven, suffering eternally much worse then we suffer now. So all we need to do is confess our brokenness. Confess our sinful state and that we can’t make it here alone, we need to be rescued. We acknowledge the life Jesus lived and the words he spoke. We accept that He is the only risen Son of the one and only true God. We accept all the forgiveness, all the love, all the grace, all the security of Jesus and begin a daily relationship with our creator. No one is alone in their darkness (Romans 3:23 For all have sinned and fall short of the Glory of God). We all need to be rescued. I’m praying this will help some realize they need it, before they go under.

Isaiah 43: 1) Do not be afraid – I will save you. I have called you by name – YOU ARE MINE. (2) When you pass through deep waters, I will be with you, your troubles will not overwhelm you. When you pass through fire, you will not be burned; the hard trials that come will not hurt you. (3) For I am the Lord your God, the holy God of Israel, who saves you.”

I’m not ashamed to raise that banner still. I’m not afraid to say that the name of Jesus – the name that to the world fears, hates, mocks, curses, belittles and demeans- the same name that religion has used to insult, defeat, destroy and abuse … I’m not afraid to say that name because contrary to the world, for those who know him, He is a saviour, a healer, a redeemer, he is my God, My Rescuer, my Hope my Salvation, my Friend. To those who call upon his name… You Will Be Saved.

If you want to know more, contact me. If you want to read more, read about Jesus and his mission in the Bible maybe start with the books of Matthew, Mark, Luke or John. If you need a bible contact me, I’ll shop one to you asap.

For more about me and my journey please check out my book at http://www.raiseyourgloves.com or check out Amazon and search for Raise Your Gloves by Marshal Burnham
Marshal Burnham