Saturday, December 28, 2013

FROM ORPHAN TO HEIR


We have spent this month preparing for Christmas.
For the coming.
For the birth of the One both Isaiah and Jeremiah told us would be a descendant of King David.  (Isaiah 9:6-7, Jeremiah 23:5)

In the first 2 chapters of Luke, we read about the family God choose to love and raise His Son.  The mother that would carry him in her womb and the father that would adopt him.  The father that Luke made sure we knew was a descendant of David, just like we were told Jesus, the Rescuer, would be. (Luke 1:26-2732-3369-702:4)  Adoption was always part of God's plan.



"Don't miss the one fact we're told about Joseph in Luke's introductory account - he was a descendant of David. How awesome of God to purpose that Christ's royal lineage would come through His adoptive father.  We shouldn't be surprised at the profound significance with which God views adoption.   Ephesians 1:4-6 tells us something profound about God's view of adoption. In a peculiar kind of way, God the Father allowed His Son to be "adopted" into a family on earth so that we could be adopted into His family in heaven."

{Beth Moore :: Jesus, The One and Only}


The month of December, our family celebrates, not just one adoption, but two.
4 years ago today, the Ethiopian courts officially made this little guy a Harmon.


He was simply referred to as Misikir, the name given to him by his birth mother.
No middle name.  No last name.

Misikir.  A name that means 'witness' or 'testimony'.
Little Misikir took the last name Harmon and the first name Miles.
Miles.  A name that means 'gift from God'.

Could there be a more fitting name for the little boy who has changed our lives, our family, our witness, our story?

Every time I talk about Miles, my gift, it opens the door for me to tell people about Jesus, my Savior.  My adoption of Misikir gives me the opportunity to share about Jesus' adoption of me.

Just like there is no way Mary could have known what kind of impact her baby boy would have on the world, I am certain that Fikirte had no idea that her beautiful chocolate baby, the one she named Misikir, would have on me.

Two mommies.
Both who carried babies that have forever changed my life.

We spent the last month celebrating the birth and adoption of Jesus, and today, we celebrate the official adoption of Miles Misikir Harmon.


"I'm convinced: You can do anything and everything.
Nothing and no one can upset your plans."
{Job 42:2}

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Saturday, December 7, 2013

A GIFT WORTH CELEBRATING

The first time I met Keith I was 5 years old.

We were at local burger place and he was sitting in a booth with his Dad.  He had white bandages wrapped all around his head covering up the stitches he just received at the hospital.  Apparently, when you throw a brick up in the air and it lands on your head, it hurts.  And bleeds.  And stitches are required.

I used to make fun of the little boy who hit himself in the head with a brick.
And 17 years later, I ended up marrying him.

Life with Keith Harmon is fun, crazy and never ever dull.

Keith believes that every morning should begin with a ice cold Dr. Pepper, that ice cream should be eaten every night (preferably with Magic Shell) and that Haribo Fizzy Cola gummi candy should be ordered by the case.

Keith is a man of integrity, a hard worker, a team player, a servant leader, a faithful husband, a loving dad and a great friend to so many.

He doesn't complain, he easily forgives, he is careful not to let anyone out of his circle of love, and he has committed his life to telling and teaching people about Jesus.

Today is his day.
It's his birthday.
He is a gift.

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Wednesday, December 4, 2013

JOURNEY TO CHRISTMAS


As our family is in the process on refocusing and simplifying Christmas,
I have been reading in Matthew about the wise men’s journey to Jesus.
To Christmas.

We have packed our camels and we sticking close to them this season.
We are following them because, well, I read ahead, and they find Jesus.
And since that is who we are desperately looking for today and everyday,
we are choosing to follow people who know the way.

You are more than welcome to pack up and follow along.


“Where is He who has been born King of the Jews?”
{Matthew 2:2}

The wise men are looking for Jesus.  Seeking.  Searching.
They are on a mission that will lead them straight to the newborn King.

So we are asking ourselves that same question… “Where is He?”
We are seeking Him out by spending time in His Word everyday.

“Instructed by the king Herod, the wise men set off.
Then the star appeared again, the same star they had seen in the eastern skies.
It led them on until it hovered over the place of the child.”
{Matthew 2:9}

They are willing to go the distance.
They are willing to do whatever it takes to get to Jesus.
They have leaned in.  They are alert.  Watching.

We are 4 days into our 25-day journey.
We refocused and simplified to make it easier to follow the star.
We spend time every evening looking back and seeing how God has been preparing for this day.  Talking about what that must have been like for Him.

“When they saw the star, they were thrilled with ecstatic joy.”
{Matthew 2:10}

The journey, the anticipation,
the knowing they have arrived at the right place overwhelmed them with joy.
They can hardly contain themselves and they haven’t even seen Jesus yet!

If this season brings stress, anxiety and panic, then we missed the star

The month of December, the time of leaning in, the time of being led to Christ,
the time of following the star should result in us rejoicing with exceeding great joy.
A joy that only comes from walking a long journey of anticipating the Coming.
You cannot wait one more second... you have GOT to see the King!

“And on going into the house, they saw the Child with Mary, His mother,
and the fell down and worshiped Him…”
{Matthew 2:11a}

They didn’t complain about their journey to get to Him.
They didn’t waste time on small talk.
They threw themselves at the feet of Jesus.

When we get to where we're going, when we get to Jesus, we don’t even have to knock… just go on in the house, get on your face and worship Him!  After all, this is what we have been waiting for and preparing for.

“…Then opening their treasure bags, they presented to Him gifts –
gold and frankincense and myrrh.”
{Matthew 2:11b}

They presented themselves to Jesus before they presented their gifts.
The gifts they brought.
The gifts they were prepared to give.

We finished our shopping before we started the journey.
We packed all the gifts up before we headed out.
With everything in me, I want to be able to, for the first time in my life, walk with my family on a journey to Jesus.  A journey to Christmas.

When we are not prepared, when we forget who we were looking for to begin with, we end up making so many pit stops we exhaust ourselves.  We may even get close to the place where the star hovered, but we have to pull into a rest stop to catch our breath.  We don’t have enough energy to finish the journey.  We have worn ourselves out doing all the last minute shopping, baking, decorating and partying.
We might get close enough to fall at His feet but we don’t have the energy to worship Him.

“Wise men are only wise because they make their priority the seeking of Christ.”
{Ann Voskamp}

I am so thankful for the gift of God's Word and for men and women who chase after Jesus.  I am so thankful after 39 years of celebrating, God has a way of making the wonder and awe of Christmas flood my soul like I'm a little girl again.

Those of you who are braving this new journey with our family, please know that I am praying for you and can't wait to one day meet you at the place where the star will hover over the One who came to save us, to redeem us, to rescue us.

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Sunday, December 1, 2013

CHRISTMAS: REFOCUSED AND SIMPLIFIED

Christmas.
It hasn't looked the same since Miles came into our lives.
And this year, I can say that with a grateful heart.

I spent the last few years so discouraged and secretly felt sorry for myself.
I had an attic full of Christmas decorations but couldn't put them up because Miles couldn't handle it.  

We tried the first year he was home.  It was bad.
The tree and decorations were such a source of stress.
It all went up and came down in a matter of weeks.

We struggled with Miles so much the next year that we didn't even bother.
No decorations.
None.

Last year, Miles was making progress so we decided to put up the tree.
A pre-lit tree with burlap ribbon and a paper sack star.
Nothing breakable.  Nothing exciting.
I even put it in the dining room to keep it out of Miles' everyday space.

The tree survived.
We survived.

For Miles to one day understand the true meaning of Christmas, I can't confuse him.
I want to help Miles make the connection that Christmas is Jesus.

Not Santa.  Not elves.  Not shopping.  Not being good/bad, naughty/nice.

God has a unique way of using Miles' gift of Autism to point me directly to Jesus.
Miles has trouble understanding what is being spoken to him and has difficulty using spoken language.  We teach him all kinds of things without knowing what will stick.
So when it comes to Christmas, if I get to choose what will stick, I choose Jesus.
Santa is just not a risk I'm willing to take.

Helping Miles understand the meaning of Christmas has forced our family to refocus and simplify our Christmas.  The act of simplifying has forced me to think about the story I want our home to tell.  What message I want our Christmas decorations to convey.

Being intentional about decorating for Christmas has been such a sweet gift.
I never want to celebrate or think about the way we did Christmas before Miles.

We have refocused.
We have simplified.

Our Advent candles are out, ready to light each Sunday leading up to Christmas as we focus on the Hope, Peace, Joy and Love of Jesus.  As we anticipate the Coming.
We will light our center candle on Christmas morning as we celebrate the birth of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.  The Light of the world!


Our Nativity is on display as a constant reminder to slow down and wait for the coming of Christ.   To slow down so we don't miss His still small voice.  It is also a beautiful reminder that God uses normal, everyday people to fulfill His purpose and plan.  If you are willing, He wants to use you.  He is known for using the lowly, the outcast, the adulterer, the murderer, the nobody.
  

Our Stockings are hung to remind us that Christmas is about giving.  God gave us the gift of His Son -the Word, as John called Him.  We will give the gift of blessings, of scripture, of thanksgiving, of words.  On a note card, we will write a word of encouragement to each member of the family everyday until Christmas Eve and place it in their stocking.  The cards will be bundled up, tied with ribbon and placed back in each stocking as a gift, a reminder that words have the ability to speak life into people, just as the Word (Christ) brings abundant life. 


Our Jesse Tree (formally known as our Christmas tree) will forever be simply decorated with a star, leading us to Jesus.  Our homemade ornaments will be added each day from December 1st-25th as we focus on the scarlet thread of redemption that is woven through scripture and points straight to Jesus.  This year, we are going through the book, The Greatest Gift by Ann Voskamp.  It is absolutely beautiful and speaks to where God has me for this season.


"I don't want a Christmas you can buy.
I don't want a Christmas you can make.
What I want is a Christmas that holds me, remakes me, revives me.
I want a Christmas that whispers, Jesus."
{Ann Voskamp}

What unspoken message do your Christmas decorations and traditions convey?
What is the story they are telling?

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