Oh how I love Christmas…and today we are celebrating it in our hearts knowing that guess what??? It’s CHRISTMAS DAY in Ethiopia! Here’s a fun little informative article excerpt I found this morning to share written by About columnist Tanya Davis:
Christmas is a major holiday in Ethiopia. More than half of the population of Ethiopia is Orthodox Christian. The celebration occurs on January 7, the Feast of the Epiphany, instead of December 25. Ethiopia has its own calendar and time system, totally unique from any other country. 7AM is 1AM, the year 2007 is currently 1999 and there are thirteen months in the year. The Ethiopian Orthodox church celebrates Christmas on January 7 as does the Russian Orthodox Church.
On Christmas Eve, January 6, the city is crowded with pilgrims and tourists from all parts of the world. The people remain outdoors all night, praying and chanting. On January 7, the Ethiopian Christmas known as Ganna is celebrated. The word Ganna is used interchangeably with the word Christmas, to mean the birth of Jesus Christ (leddat). This celebration takes place in ancient churches carved from solid volcanic rock of that day and also in more modern churches that are designed in three concentric circles. Men and boys sit separately from the girls and women. People receive candles as they enter their church. After lighting the candles, everyone walks around the church three times, and then they all stand throughout the church service which may last up to three hours. After the service, the rest of the day is spent dancing, playing sports and feasting.
The first thing I thought about when I got up this morning? Christmas in Ethiopia…and the truth that it’s now VERY likely our child has been born. It is his first Christmas and it is my prayer that his time with his family who still has him is sweet. Today’s Bible reading REALLY blew my heart away how it lines up with Christmas, adoption stories and the power of prayer. I SERIOUSLY could just study THIS all year long and talk about today’s scripture every day…so bear with me and put on your seat belt. Just when you thought you might get bored or frustrated with yesterday’s reading being full of sin…today is A NEW DAY! Merry Christmas baby…wherever you are.
And just to make you laugh well, because in the midst of unknowns your heart can be heavy…and you some times just NEED to laugh and enjoy the humor in life too—ahhh the roller coaster of life and adoption right;)…(if you were born in the 70’s like me…and you rocked it out in the late 80’s with Vanilla…also like me!) I thought I’d share my favorite gift from Christmas. OH YEAH! This is from my sista…just 14 months older than me. CHECK IT OUUUUUUUUUT….
Yes, I wore this in public. All day yesterday. And NOT ONE PERSON commented;). Yet it made me smile…All. Day. Long. And on top of it, I wore black jeans–and black house slippers with it. Thank goodness for those people who spend a fortune on their UGGs. They look similar to my $9 Target houseslippers…so I rocked those out yesterday with Vanilla:) Can you believe my babysitter Caitlin didn’t know the words to Ice Ice Baby? Can you believe that I rapped them to her? Don’t you remember that Caitlin? Rollin’ in my 5 point 0. I hope I’m this cool when I’m 40;). Oh wait a minute…Vanilla is so not cool is he? Or isn’t he?! All a matter of opinion. If you never saw his movie “Cool as Ice”, my sister and I highly recommend it;)
Now…on to more serious matters…
January 7 – Genesis 21:8-23:20, 11:32, 24:1-67
Genesis 21 – Hagar and Ismael sent away
In this chapter, I am so drawn to Abraham’s heart for Ishmael. How he loves him! Sarah wants him gone because what was Ishmael doing? Just being a boy..doing what boy’s do best–mock, tease and pick. But Sarah does not love the boy and only sees him in the light of jeolousy and a taker of her own son’s inheritance. But Abraham loves him, and I just love Abraham for this.
It probably didn’t make sense to Abraham as God told Abraham to let Hagar go as Sarah demanded. Would they be okay? Would God truly keep His promise to him to take care of Ismael? And Hagar and little Ismael are sent away with food, skins and water. That’s it. Oh the emotions Hagar must have felt! “Ismael, why did you have to mock Sarah’s son?! Sarah you got me in this in the first place! Abraham, what about us?!” Then Hagar hides Ismael under a bush–and they both…cry. “I can’t watch my boy die” Hagar weeps. PLEASE LORD…save him!
Is this where our birth mother in Ethiopia is this Christmas. I can’t watch my boy die! LORD–please save him. I have no money. I have no food. My husband has been taken by AIDS. I can’t watch my precious baby boy die. In the months to come, our baby’s birth mother will make a difficult decision. Why God did you bring him here if he must die? What am I going to do? So many things must be going on her heart. But our God is faithful. And last summer He burdened this momma’s heart. And here I wait. Here I cry too. For her son. To be my son. And this will be God’s provision. She will open her eyes like Hagar and see Hannah’s Hope…a well of water…provision. It will not be easy, but I’m praying today that her Christmas with our sweet son is sweet.
God heard Ismael crying in hunger. He provided. Oh Lord–will you provide for all the crying babies that are hungry today. I pray specifically for the babies of future families doing this study with us. We trust in your provision Lord. AMEN. Thank you Lord for what you are doing and what you will do. We pray verse 20 over our children “God was with the boy”…be with our children Lord.
See this little guy? Just as God looked out for Ismael–God looked out for this sweet little one in Zambia. He was left at a gate as a newborn at a AIDS orphanage. He almost didn’t make it, but GOD heard him crying. Someone at the center quickly saw him—and he was nursed back to health with AIDS medication, formula and care. He was hungry, and now he is thriving in Zambia. There are thousands upon thousands just like him…and I praise the LORD when we are too close minded and safe in our own worlds to hear their cries—that the LORD hears them. When we are like Sarah and just want to protect our own children and their futures…the the LORD hears them. Oh Lord, forgive us when we play it safe and want to protect ourselves.
“That you will, dearie, and no mistake” said Mrs Beaver; “if there’s anyone who can appear before Aslan without their knees knocking, they’re either braver than most or else just silly.”
“Then he isn’t safe?” said Lucy.
“Safe?” said Mr Beaver; “don’t you hear what Mrs Beaver tells you? Who said anything about safe? ‘Course he isn’t safe. But he’s good. He’s the King, I tell you.”
Source: CS Lewis, The Lion, the Witch & The Wardrobe
And that was just chapter 21. 3 more to go. And it ONLY gets better! I’ve gotta be brief though or this is gonna be a book!
Ch. 22 – Abraham was tested
This is BY FAR one of my favorite chapters in the Bible!!! Have you heard me say that before;)?! Seriously–this is one of them! If you have never read it–you must, must, must! This is one chapter that God specifically laid on my heart as we began our adoption. We were getting several comments that we were…well, crazy. I mean–I had 3 kids 4 and under when we started the process. (It’s now 3 kids 5 and under;). And I’m choosing to make that 4 kids 5 and under? Yes. Why? Well, because. You’ll have to go back and read my first post and my “Why Ethiopia?” post.
What we do as believers, as followers of God, may look CRAZY to the world–but we are called to be obedient. This chapter is about being obedient NO MATTER WHAT. No matter what. Do you think Abraham looked crazy at that alter? What do you think his servants thought? What do you think ISAAC thought? It was nuts! But God wanted to see if Abraham would be obedient NO MATTER WHAT. And just before Abraham followed through—GOD STOPPED HIM. Praise Jesus for that. We would all think God was crazy if He actually asked Him to do that. But do you realized that Abraham actually believed God wanted him to do it and he was going to?! I can’t IMAGINE! God saw Abraham would not even withhold his most prized gift, his son, from Him and he blessed him.
It is my prayer that no matter what God asks me to do—no matter how crazy it may be…that I could and would be obedient! Whether it’s a child with tuberculosis, AIDS…whether it’s packing up and going to Africa for 2 weeks to serve in an orphanage in Uganda…go to a homeless shelter and drop off blankets…sit on the floor and look in Laney’s eyes and tell her how much she is loved…oh that I would be obedient when the Lord lays something on my heart…and oh that I would “obey right away”.
Chapters 23 and 24 are still left…I’m going to have to give the run down on these later because we have life to live over here—BOTH older kids are in preschool today and Frankie baby has his 1 year shot (OUCH!) so I’m off…but I’m so, so, so thankful I have the Word written on my heart today as I go! God is so good to make me WANT to read it. I can’t WAIT to tell you my 2 cents on 23 and 24. Orrrr…maybe one of you readers would like to sum of 23 and 24 in the comments for us! Charisa? Amy? Heather? Megan? Julie? Caitlin? Nikki? Shannon? I love, love, love having others to read and share the Word with!
Chapters 23…the death of Sarah…so sad. Great insight about paying for things so there is no contention. Love to hear your 2 cents. Chapter 24…Isaac and Rebekah…OK…seriously…this is one of my favorite chapters in the WHOLE Bible…SOOOOOOOO GOOD! LOVE IT! Can’t wait to hear what you all have to say! If you are in the midst of the reading now—check out my friend Charisa’s take on these chapters. I love especially her take on Chapter 24. You can read her blog on this here: http://forsuchasthese.blogspot.com/2010/01/our-god-provides.html