The start of our week was very emotional for me. Sunday December 22 Joyce turned nine years old! It hit me hard while I was at church and I had to go down to the alter and pray for her. The saddest thing I kept thinking about was that she probably doesn’t even know that it was her birthday. I am confident that we will be having a blow-out birthday party bash next year to celebrate her turning 10! We did get pictures sent to us from Krisann (our IMB missionary friend) of Joyce opening her Christmas presents from us. Krisann was so nice to wrap them and take them to her. Our most recent update is that hopefully by January 1st we will be able to mail the DNA results, affidavits, and summary to the Embassy in Nairobi (our deadline is Jan. 22). When they receive this they will review the evidence and make a decision (I have no idea how long this will take). Please, please, pray that they are satisfied and give us a quick response telling us Joyce’s visa is approved!
Christmas was very sweet this year with our beautiful girls. Faith was so much fun this year because she is really starting to understand everything. When she came out of her room on Christmas morning we asked her whose birthday it was. She got a huge smile on her face and said, “Faith’s Birthday!”. We had just worked on this the night before when I read her book, “Happy Birthday Jesus”, but I guess seeing the gifts made her forget. We are trying really hard to teach Faith the reason for Christmas is Jesus, so she gets 3 main gifts because if it was good enough for Jesus, it’s good enough for her. I feel bad but Zori didn’t get a gift this year other than I ordered a special ornament for her, that still hasn’t arrived. I don’t think she will be traumatized over it though.
Monday morning I read a blog post from a friend that is an amazing writer. It’s written from Mary’s perspective the day her son, Jesus, was crucified. Of course I was moved to tears thinking it must have been unbearable for a mother to watch the world reject her child. Then I thought it must have been even harder for God to turn his back on HIS Son, so that we might have redemption. I also thought about how both Mary and Joseph made courageous decisions that didn’t make sense to the rest of society and because of their obedience and faith they Got to be Jesus’ earthly parents. I hope if you are a believer in Jesus then you are making bold and courageous decisions for Him, it is a daily thing we have to do (I say we, because I need to do these things also). And I hope you take the time to read the story and remember what Christmas is really about. Santa is fun, presents are fun, decorations are fun, but we cannot forget why CHRIST is in Christmas.
By: Chris Martin
It’s time. I heard talk that this day would arrive, but inside, secretly, I have been praying that it would never happen. It just doesn’t seem fair. To have something so precious given to me, and now I am forced to watch while it’s taken away. Maybe I’m just being selfish, but right now, in this moment, I don’t care. I feel like I have every right to be angry. No one could possibly understand what I’m going through. It’s been a mystery from the very beginning. Some have shown me support through the years. Others have turned their backs on me.
A deep, heavy feeling of despair has wrapped it’s arms around me. It began earlier this morning when I awoke. I didn’t get much sleep, but what little I did consisted mainly of bad dreams and visions of impending darkness. I have been unable to do anything today but cry. This is the second time in my life that I have experienced such a level of complete and utter helplessness. There has to be something I can do, but the answers linger just beyond my grasp. I wonder if I have failed as a mother. What could I have done differently? What should I not have done? I’ve asked God these questions, but He will not answer me.
Maybe He has, and I just don’t want to face the truth. I can’t.
Tears start to fall again as I think back over the years, and everything we’ve been through. He always laughed when I called Him my “miracle baby”. The night of His birth is as clear in my mind now, as it was all those years ago. I don’t remember ever feeling so scared in my entire life. Even though God Himself had orchestrated the pregnancy, I still felt like something horrible was going to happen that night. Joseph was my rock, my anchor during the delivery. I was moved beyond words when the shepherds, and everyone else, knelt in reverence to my baby they claimed was a king. I could never understand why a king would choose to be born in such humble, inadequate conditions.
I learned more from my Son than I could have ever taught Him. He showed me what it means to truly love someone. Unconditionally. I have a feeling that after today, the entire world will understand what that means as well. He continually put others before Himself in every situation. It was very unusual for a child to behave in such a manner, and everyone around us noticed. I was constantly bombarded with questions, that most of the time, I was unable to answer. There were so many things that even I didn’t understand about my own Son.
Joseph taught Him the meaning of hard work, and He became a very skilled carpenter, just like His earthly father. They would spend hours in the workshop laughing, talking, building. At night, when everyone was asleep, Joseph would recall their conversations, and speak them to me with tears in his eyes. Joseph was such a great father. The day he passed away was very sad. One of the darkest in my life. Today will mark the second one.
With John at my side, we navigate the city streets, hoping to catch a glimpse of Jesus. The crowd has grown so large, that it’s nearly impossible to see anything. People are yelling and cursing. Some are weeping and pleading for mercy. There are Roman soldiers everywhere. My anger burns when I see them laughing and mocking those who are clearly mourning. John points to an alley, and we hurry past the crowd. My heart threatens to burst from my chest as we approach the street where my Son will soon pass.
Before we make it out of the alley, I see them. Jesus is bent over, dragging a wooden cross. He is barely able to stand on His feet. Soldiers whip Him relentlessly as they spit and jeer. The crowd throws rocks and anything else they can find. There is so much blood. I stop walking and fall to my knees. A crown, made from long thorns, digs deeply into His skull. I barely even recognize His face. An image of Jesus as a little boy flashes across my mind, and I begin to weep. I reach out my hand as if there is something I can do to make it all stop. The gesture is futile.
I scream out to God and beg Him for mercy. He is silent and does not reply.
We follow the crowd up to Golgatha, where they will murder my Son on the very cross they forced Him to carry. The soldiers laugh as they hammer each rusty nail into His hands and feet. John begs me to turn away, but I can’t. Dark clouds roll in as they lift the cross, and it slams deep into the hole. My heart breaks over and over as I watch Him struggle to breath on the cross. His body is mangled beyond recognition. Blood pours down the wooden tree and seeps into the ground.
John takes my arm, and we approach Jesus. As I stand there looking up at my Son, I can’t help but wonder why God would allow these people to hurt Him like this. Even as He hangs there slowly dying, the soldiers continue to laugh and make fun of Him. They point to the sign above His head and sarcastically yell out “King of the Jews! King of the Jews!”
I touch His feet and whisper through my tears, “Oh Jesus, my Son. What have they done to You?”
John stands beside me, and I can feel him trembling. Ever so slowly, Jesus looks down at us. His eyes are cloudy from pain and exhaustion, but they also gleam with love. He opens His mouth to speak, but the words don’t come out. He swallows several times and tries again. “Woman, here is your son.” His eyes turn to John. “Here is your mother.”
I crumple to my knees and begin to weep once more. Even in His death, Jesus is concerned with my well being. He knows I have no one, and now John will take me into his home as his own mother. I can’t imagine my heart breaking any more than it already has, but the pain is so intense I don’t know if I can bear it.
Thunder explodes in the sky as Jesus looks up to the heavens and cries out “It is finished!”
At the time of His birth, I never imagined I would be present at His death. My name is Mary, and I have just witnessed my Son’s final moments.
Joyce opening her Christmas presents from us!
The girls in their Christmas PJ’s on Christmas Eve.
Love my girls!