An Ancient Promise – Immanuel

nativity 2

Imagine 2700 years ago.  An ordinary man, waits, listening for when the Lord will next speak to him.  He is chosen by God to share His message with the living generation, and with all generations to come.  And this time God speaks to him of something that will happen, not during his lifetime, but centuries later.  His heart beats faster.  He feels that familiar heaviness as the Spirit of God rests on him and he writes down the words spoken to him.  His name is Isaiah.  He pauses in wonder over what has been revealed to him.

Therefore the Lord himself will give you a sign:  The virgin will be with child and will give birth to a son, and will call him Immanuel (which means God with us).  Isaiah 7:14

Seven hundred years later, the angels wait in anticipation of the fulfilment of God’s ancient promise, ready to announce the news to a chosen few.  Only a few citizens of Israel are truly aware of what is about to take place.  Yet all around them, their countrymen have no idea of what is about to happen.  People throughout the land are travelling to their home towns, long wearisome journeys on foot or donkey along dusty roads, hoping for a place to stay.  A census has been called.  All must return to the place of their birth to register.

A young couple are among those seeking a place to stay.  Only places are few.  All the inns are full.  People are disheartened and irritable as they are turned away…again.  A young woman rides on a donkey.  Her belly is heavy.  The child she carries is due to arrive any time.  She is tired and uncomfortable.  Her husband inquires yet again for a place to stay.  Only this time, the inn keeper pauses, about to turn them away.  He notices Mary and can see the weariness in her face.  Hesitantly he offers them shelter in his barn.  It’s not much, but it’s all he has to offer.  All the rooms are full.  Joseph looks at Mary, who nods.  He agrees and follows the inn keeper to the barn.  Joseph makes a resting place for Mary out of straw.  She sighs and lies back to rest.

Joseph reflects on the events of a few months earlier.  He’d been about to break his engagement with Mary.  She was pregnant.  But not to him.  He didn’t want her to suffer public disgrace and had it in mind to divorce her quietly.  At the time engagement was considered as sacred as marriage.  He remembered how God had spoken to him in a dream.  It wasn’t like his usual dreams.  This was so clear.  And he actually felt the presence of God.  The Lord had said,”Joseph son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary home as your wife, because what is conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit.  She will give birth to a son and you are to give him the name Jesus, because he will save his people from their sins.” (Matthew 1:20-21).  After he woke, he was at peace and resolved to marry Mary.  It was as Isaiah had written so many years ago.

That night, Mary’s labour began.  By early morning she held a baby boy in her arms.  This was the child of whom Isaiah had written:

For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders.  And he shall be called Wonderful Counsellor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. (Isaiah 9:6).

This Christmas, 2000 years later, we once again pause to reflect on the fulfilment of God’s ancient promise: a Son who would give us the gift of forgiveness for our sin and restore our relationship with God.  It’s a promise that was made for each and every one of us.  I am always awestruck when I read these passages in Isaiah.  God spoke his promise to us many years before its fulfilment in the writings of prophets like Isaiah and Micah.  He spoke his promise again to Mary and Joseph, confirming to them that their extraordinary circumstances were part of his greater plan for all people.  He speaks it today through the pages of the gospels that record the birth of baby Jesus and the life, death and resurrection of the man Jesus.  And he speaks it into the hearts of all who respond to his amazing promise and receive the gift of Jesus, son of God, friend and Saviour.  I am thankful for the peace of God and for His presence in my own life, as real to me today as it was to Isaiah and Mary and Joseph.    God bless you this Christmas.

Dear Noah – You’re finding your voice

Dear Noah,

My little monster – what can I say, but you’ve had an incredible year.  This apraxia thing has not kept you down.  In fact you’re doing your best to beat it.  And I mean stomp all over it.

Dr Noah - Croc gets a needle

Dr Noah – Croc gets a needle

It’s really amazing to see how far you’ve come in just 12 months, or even 3 months.  Not so long ago, I sat in on your speech therapy session and your teacher was asking you to name objects in a book for some sort of test.  I knew that you just could not spontaneously say those words without someone modelling it for you first.  I wanted to step in and say,”He can’t do that.”

But.  But!  If your teacher did the same thing now, just 3 months later, you could do it, buddy!  You’ve had a word explosion.  So many more words are coming out of your little mouth.  And I can understand them.  We can read books and you can fill in the missing words.  I point to a picture and you confidently tell me what it is, without me having to prompt you every time.  Praise God!

Then there was this thing where you just couldn’t say anything with two syllables.  Let’s just forget that, because NOW YOU CAN!  Only a few weeks back I told someone that we’re saying ‘ta’ for thank you because that word was just beyond you.  About turn – we worked on it and now you can say it.  I still have to prompt you for that one, but it’s getting clearer and clearer.

I have such a wonderful memory to play in my mind in the years to come of the night Daddy and I were reading Mr Tickle to you.  Mr Tickle tickled a school teacher and there was a terrible pandemonium.  And Daddy said to you,”Noah, can you say pandemonium?”  Without skipping a beat you said,”Pan-mon-um.”  I think that attempt was as good as most three year olds could do.

Just last night we were reading Zigby and the Monster or ‘Mon-ter!’ as you say.  Along came Ella the …’E-funt’.  I haven’t even practiced that word with you and you gave it a go.  In fact, you are now starting to say words that have not been intentionally taught to you and that is a first.  This week I have heard ‘see saw’ and ‘string’ or at least a fairly recognisable approximation.  Before this, the only words that came out clearly were the ones we had worked on and worked on – when we played and when we read and when we did life.

I’m about to cry typing this, because not so long ago I didn’t think it was possible.  You’re even starting to use two words together…sometimes.  My favourite – “Tools.  Mine!”  Don’t worry little buddy, we know the tools are yours and nobody will try and take them away.  At least, not on my watch and certainly not on yours.  Except when you start to poke people with them or take apart our furniture.  You have plenty of attitude and you know what you want, and how you want it.  And how to let us know when it’s not what you want.

You’re learning to talk.  You’re starting to find your voice.  And one day other people will hear it too.  I know you keep most of your talking for us just now, but you’re coming out of your shell.  You’re going to have a fantastic year at kindy in 2014.  Your words are going to keep on coming.  I’m looking forward to that very first sentence.  Be prepared for Mummy to act a little crazy.

So, little buddy, Mummy and Daddy and big brother Sam love you heaps.  We keep praying for you every day and we know that your friend Jesus is by your side, helping you and cheering you on as you overcome this apraxia.  A lady prayed for me when you were still in my belly and told me,”This is a child of destiny.”  I believe that.  There is plenty of pure gold inside of you, Noah.  We look forward to seeing it revealed bit by bit.  God bless you heaps!

Love Mummy

[PS.  In one of my previous posts I said Noah couldn’t say his big brother’s name yet.  Well, Sam is now ‘Am’.  The ‘s’ sound doesn’t come out in the context of words just yet.  You’ll be happy to know that ‘Am’ is now getting the blame for many things in our home!]

Sam-I-Am

That Sam-I-Am, that Sam-I-Am, I do so like that Sam-I-Am.  In fact I love him.  Sam or Samuel is our 6 year old son.  He drives me completely nuts sometimes, but I wouldn’t swap him.

Sam-I-Am

Sam-I-Am

Sam was born with quicksilver whizzing through his veins.  In fact, it was whizzing well before he was born.  In the womb he was extremely active, regularly going through a series of rapid leg extensions resulting in kinetic chaos and a very uncomfortable mama.

At two weeks of age he was already trying to hold his head up, very wobbly, but eager to have a look at what was going on around him.  I remember at church one morning, a friend was holding him up against her shoulder in the busy café.  Sam started jiggling about and she asked what on earth he wanted.  I replied that I thought he was trying to see what was going on.  And sure enough he was trying to lift the upper part of his body and head so he could see over my friend’s shoulder.

His little body was eager to get going and he crawled at 5 ½ months and took his first steps at 9 ½ months.  He was well and truly running by age 15 months, confident stride and all.  I have a photo of Sam walking down a beach at Caloundra with me at age 10 months.  It seems ridiculous – this baby that looks way too small to be walking, striding (or tottering!) confidently beside his mum.

Walking the beach at Caloundra, age 10 months

Sam and Mummy walking the beach at Caloundra, age 10 months

During babyhood, he acquired the nickname Tigger.  Tiggers must bounce and certainly Sam has bounced through life, blissfully ignorant of many things that might be dangerous.  Puddles must be splashed in.  Fences must be climbed.  Open spaces must be run through.  Park benches and ledges must be walked on.  Open bodies of water must be swum in – clothes and all.  The world is a jungle gym.  And Tiggers MUST bounce.

Sam is always on hyper alert, wanting to be involved in everything that is happening around him.  He loves people and is always seeking interaction with whoever is near.  We have often wondered how two introverted parents could have produced such an extroverted kid.  One that has no problem going up to a complete stranger, taking them by the hand and chatting as if they were lifelong friends.  We took Sam to Southbank, a recreational park on the banks of the Brisbane River when he was about 16 months old.  A middle aged German couple were sitting on a low wall and the lady made eye contact with Sam.  Our gorgeous boy, all blond hair and blue eyes immediately ran up to her when she held out her arms and gave her a big hug.   Another heart captured!

Sam received a Tigger for his first birthday from his Uncle Earle

Sam received a Tigger for his first birthday from his Uncle Earle

One of the special things about Sam is his ability to make people smile.  It is innate.  At age 2, I took him to the doctor one day.  He had had fevers for a few nights and been generally unwell.  Tigger had lost his bounce.  As we waited, I noticed a father with a son around 3-4 years of age sitting opposite us.  They both looked pale and tired.  Dad had his eyes closed.  Sam, sick as he was, started pointing to the fire alarm on the ceiling and chattering on about it.  “Mummy, look at the beep beep.  Chatter chatter beep beep.  Chatter chatter beep beep”.  Beep beep was his word for fire alarm at that stage of his life.  The father and son both looked at Sam and started smiling.  His chatter was good medicine.

That is another thing about Sam – his general setting is happy.  Yes, he digresses to sad, mad and every other emotion, but he generally springs quickly back to happy.  A kindy friend reminded him to bring his smile for the class photo the next day and Sam replied,”I’m always happy!” with his infectious giggle.  When he was two years old he would greet the day with,”Hello Sun-shiney!”  I maintained that we never had huge issues with tantrums when Sam was a toddler because he simply didn’t have the attention span to have a decent tantrum.  He was always quickly onto the next thing.  And the next…and the next.  And I maintained I had no need for formal exercise.  Sam’s mum worked off plenty of energy trying to keep up with Tigger.  Tigger you are and a Tigger you will ever be.  And Sam-I-Am – I’m glad you’re mine!