Kangaroo Mother Care: What is it

IMG_9841.JPGBy Dr Angela Muriuki, Head of Child Survival, Save the Children – Kenya

Definition and History: KMC is continuous, prolonged, skin to skin contact between a baby and a mother or any other adult for at least 18 hours a day for several weeks. It provides warmth, promotes breastfeeding, reduces infections and links with additional supportive care, if needed. It is a powerful easy to use method to promote the health and well-being of infants born pre-term as well as full term. There are two types s KMC- contious which is skin to skin contact for at least 18 hours and intermittent where contact is brief and at least for 3 hours.

KMC begun in Bogoa, Colombia in 1979 by Dr. Edgar Rey and Hector Martinez in response to a shortage of incubators and severe hospital infections.

Who qualifies for KMC? The current Moh recommendation for KMC in Kenya is for stable babies (not on oxygen, not receiving intravenous medicines) as long as they meet the criteria: baby less than 37 weeks or completed gestation and the mother willing to provided KMC for at least 18 hours, mentally sound, not ill etc. It is hard to objectively say who is most likely to use it i.e. which mother is likely to accept KMC, early involvement of their partners and family in the process and promotion of support systems at home but also using mothers who have successfully practiced KMC.

Challenges that face premature babies and which of these can be resolved by KMC: In the simplest forms, small babies are at risk of death due to hypothermia (they are not able to regulate their body temperature very well), hypoglycaemia (also not able to regulate their blood sugar very well as their systems are not fully developed),and respiratory diseases (they get severe problems with their respiratory system in part due to the fact that their lungs are not fully developed and that they get infections very easily) as well as problems with their eyes, brain and gastrointestinal systems all because of being born too soon.

Some of the benefits of KMC for the baby include thermoregulation (the constant contact20150303_183400 between mother and baby keeps the baby warm), it promotes exclusive breastfeeding (hence addressing the issue of hypoglycaemia), babies gain weight faster (due to better thermoregulation, feeding and bonding which reduces stress for the newborn) and therefore it shortens the hospital stay (reducing the risk of exposure to infections). For the mother, it gives her confidence in caring for her newborn, it improves bonding between mother and baby and empowers the mother to be the primary caregiver. It also reduces stress for the mother since she is with her baby constantly as opposed to conventional care in the newborn unit where the mother only comes to feed her baby every 3 hours (and in between feeding times is constantly worried about whether her baby is still alive). For the hospital – engaging mothers in the care of their babies means that the nursing staff available can focus on the very sick babies and work with the mothers to care for the stable babies, incubators are in short supply and often shared so KMC ensures that incubators are left for the sick babies who really need them and the shorter hospital stay for babies is also advantageous
Some of the benefits of male involvement: There are several reasons why men should be involved (especially when mother is discharged to practice KMC at home)

–        Financial support for the care of the baby especially if the mother has to be away from work (her daily source of income) to care for the baby

–        Emotional and psychosocial support for the mother

–        Fathers themselves can practice KMC giving the mother some time to rest or carry out other household activities

–        They can help around the household so that she focuses on care for the baby (or get some help for the household)

–        Financial resources so she can attend the monthly follow up visits at the health facility

Women experience the lack of male involvement differently depending on their support networks.

When is the best time and for how long? KMC is initiated immediately (and as long as mother and baby meet the criteria described above). KMC is practiced for at least 18 hours a day. When a baby gets to 2000gm, they can be discharged to go home and continue KMC until the baby is 2500gms (with frequent visits to the facility to make sure the baby is ok and gaining weight).

Can it be practiced instead of/along with incubator care and when?KMC is not a replacement for incubator care or an intervention for poor countries/communities. It is the current recommended care for small babies (in the west, even unstable babies are put on intermittent KMC – can send pics from internet though copyright could be an issue). KMC is practiced alongside incubator care because as I mentioned, there are babies who still need incubator care and don’t qualify yet for continuous KMC according to the Kenya guidelines  – very sick, on oxygen, on IV medicine etc. even these sick babies can be put on intermittent KMC and returned to the incubator.

Is KC beneficial for babies born term? No, term babies don’t tolerate KMC at all.

KMC should be differentiated from skin to skin care for all babies – this is where any baby born should be put skin to skin with its mother to keep it warm until it can be wrapped warmly. This is standard practice for all babies at delivery. KMC on the other hand is for small babies (preterm, low birth weight), and is continuous (at least 18 hours)

Which institutions within and outside Nairobi are equipped to and encourage KC?

I can only speak for the ones we support. We have supported county MoHs to set up KMC in Bungoma and Busia counties and provided technical support to other organisations to set up KMC services. From August 2016, we will be supporting Nairobi County to do the same and Wajir County later in the year.

We also extend an offer to any organisation/county which requires technical support to set up KMC services. If they get in touch with us, we are happy to provide this support (technical support since financial resources are limited).

End

Photography by: Nash of NaMeD Afrika Studios and Family File

https://viphealthyleadership.wordpress.com/2016/08/23/kangaroo-mother-care-saved-baby-winnie/

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LESSONS FROM THE LABOR WARD

I spent last night and early this morning at a labor ward with a close friend whose husband was away on a trip. The labor ward has a lot of lessons for those who wait in prayer in The LORD.

I learnt that because you get in first, does not mean that you get out first or at all, or even get blessed first. Sometimes, one looses their expectation at this crucial time.

I learnt that, in the labor ward, modesty of dress and manner is really not priority. The less you have on, the easier it is to remove, the better you will be attended to. Ignore those that mock you in your birthing hour…they are the ones who are inappropriate.

I learnt that when you pray for release, and the pain seems to increase, and your groans seem to choke up your prayers, God is still in charge, and at His exact timing, He answers your prayer according to His Will.

I learnt that sometimes the more human assistance you require and receive at this crucial place of birthing, the longer it takes you to heal from the trauma of it all.

I learnt that when you hold the answer to your prayers in your arms, it is often very difficult to remember what you just went through, and if you focus on the past, it keeps you from enjoying and worshiping God for the breakthrough you have received.

I learnt that something you go through may be potentially fatal, but does no harm to you or your blessing – but one may be harmed in seeming safety.

I learnt that you may be in the same situation with another in the ward, even groan at the very same time, but that even when someone is there to hold you, the pain still is very personal…and cannot be numbed simply by being in like company.

I learnt, that God raises who He Wills to intercede for your birthing experience, that others may want to be there for you, but are kept out because He is The Writer of your story.

I learnt that the intercessor will notice others that suffer like you, but because they are called to stand with you, they can not stand with the others there too. Not in the way they are with you anyway.

I learnt that you may know its time, the intercessor may know its time, but it is God who moves the mountains to work in agreement with His timing for you. You cannot make it happen, because though there for you, there are not really there for you…but for themselves.

I learnt that in labor ward, it helps to focus on the task of birthing. Just that.

I am grateful that God raised me, and strengthened me and moved me to be in a place of His revelation, then rested me afterwards.

Yet Again

So there I was, feeling sorry for myself, yet again. Thinking I deserve much better, yet again. Unwilling to intercede even as I found myself on my knees, yet again. So I opened my Bible yet again, and once more, hoped that God would not rebuke me for my wicked stance, yet again. He reminded me, yet again, that I was His bride eternally. And as He did, it dawned on me, that He, has called me to find my life, strength, sense of worth, contentment in Him, that He lives to intercede for me all the time despite my penchant for murky waters, that He loves me perennially, defends me with all He is and has against all who perpetually accuse me, and that He, not I, not by a long shot, deserves better. And once again, I find myself where I truly am made by Him, made ready by Him, made more than I deserve by Grace in Him.

“For your Maker is your husband,
The Lord of hosts is His name;
And your Redeemer is the Holy One of Israel;
He is called the God of the whole earth.
For the Lord has called you
Like a woman forsaken and grieved in spirit,
Like a youthful wife when you were refused,”
Says your God.
“For a mere moment I have forsaken you,
But with great mercies I will gather you…“O you afflicted one,
Tossed with tempest, and not comforted,
Behold, I will lay your stones with colorful gems,
And lay your foundations with sapphires.

…All your children shall be taught by the Lord,
And great shall be the peace of your children.
In righteousness you shall be established;
You shall be far from oppression, for you shall not fear;
And from terror, for it shall not come near you.
Indeed they shall surely assemble, but not because of Me.
Whoever assembles against you shall fall for your sake.
“Behold, I have created the blacksmith
Who blows the coals in the fire,
Who brings forth an instrument for his work;
And I have created the spoiler to destroy.

No weapon formed against you shall prosper,
And every tongue which rises against you in judgment
You shall condemn.
This is the heritage of the servants of the Lord,
And their righteousness is from Me,”
Says the Lord.” Isaiah 54:5 NKJV

vipslit@yahoo.ca

 

My Crush on Andrew

Andrew, he makes me smile! I think I have a crush on him…no…I KNOW I love him! Totally so. I hope that when I get to heaven, after Jesus Christ, he would be one of the first I see.

Andrew, the Apostle, often goes unnoticed, and yet he did profound things. He was a God-chaser and a room maker. He first followed John the Baptizer, and when John the Way maker and room maker pointed out The Messiah to him, he believed John. His faith followed action – he honored his former mentor by stepping into The Way he was shown. And no…he was not going to leave his brother behind. He went home and told him that he had seen the Messiah and urged him to come step in His Footsteps. His brother, Simon Peter, was the one to whom Christ handed the Church. A ‘little’ act of networking by…sigh…Andrew…hooked God up with ministry predecessor.

Andrew did not stop at his brother, one time, Greeks came to see Jesus…and it was he and Philip that brought these…Gentiles…before the King of kings. Gentiles…like most of you are, like I am. I am amazed at his foresight. It took his brother Peter, rebuke from his brethren, after Christ’s Ascension to even accept that Christ Jesus was relevant to Gentiles…and yet here….I love Andrew.

But for me, the most profound of his evident understanding of his Messiah was, when they stood in ministry before 5000+ hungry men, and Christ asked them what to do about their hunger. Phillip…was overwhelmed, as you and I often are, by the size of the challenge. “Where will we get the resources in time to satiate their immediate hunger! We don’t have the money!” Andrew, sigh, he pointed to a ‘little matter’ that meant that their situation was not as desperate as Phillip made it out to be. “There is a little boy here, with a little food – it is not right to say that we don’t have anything. We have a little.” And The LORD of all creation, who made everything by just His Word, the Word of God, spoke. And 5000+ hungry people ate to their fill, and there was substantial left over, so that each one of the disciples could ‘take home’ a considerable ‘doggie bag’.

I am a lot like Philip…a lot. We think that by always taking note of what is not working, we are made heroes…but I learnt more than once, that focusing on that angle too much can cost you your health, your money, your relationships, your very life… Andrews on the other hand do not ignore the crisis, but they also never forget the ‘little things’, the single things…the tiny pivot points. And God honors their faith, and gives them so much, much more than they would dare believe He could. Little is MUCH when God is in it. May God give me eyes and faith, like that of Andrew…and even more.

“He who is faithful in what is least is faithful also in much; and he who is unjust in what is least is unjust also in much.” Jesus Christ in Luke 16:10

When God Answers Prayers

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This year has been beautiful. As an individual and family, we have gone through life in its extremes, a little bit of the terrible, but so much to be thankful for. Its true we have had reasons to weep, but many of those tears have been changed into powerful lessons and foundations for unending tears of joy. As the world gears to again celebrate my Lord and Savior, I do not want to be left behind. I want to be the one that came back to say “thank You.”

This is the year, that my pillars fell off. I realize that there was much that I was holding onto, in terms of relationships, strengths, giftings and abilities, experience that I believed would carry me through the next 45 years of my life. But because I call Jesus Lord, I needed to be true to that. I can not have other things share His Throne in my life. And He helped with that, by allowing things that I thought myself immune to, to catch up with me. I am grateful for that. Those were times of terror, helplessness and such deep dark silence that I wondered at His ability to keep His promise to me ‘and lo, I Am with you, till the very end of ages.’I held on to His word, though, to be honest, most of the time it felt as though I was lying to myself. I felt abandoned by The Greatest Love of my life, and nothing else mattered. He seemed to have led me on…into the wilderness, not to woe me back into loving Him fully, but to abandon me there.

Then came the stroke…and I realized that even though I felt more alone and abandoned by God, He had left me with too much to loose. My inability to speak went for a day…and my loved ones, who I thought I had lost forever, stood with and around me, willing me to come back to life. People I don’t know and some of those I know, prayed for my family and I, and though many had no clue, they fed us in the days to come. [for in the day before the stroke, our house had been the barest I had ever seen it in my entire life].

I asked God to give me back my ability to speak, to say more than ‘Why?’ which I did with great difficulty. By the time I went to sleep that night, I was able to say ‘Thank you’ with difficulty to the hospital staff, and then ‘Jesus’ :). I was not even aware at that time that I had lost a lot of mobility on the right side of my body…it seems that though my heart had filled with fear – that God had packed up and left, He had in truth bunched me gently in His Hand and Held me in His Heart…cushioning me from what was factually happening to me. In the ambulance I tried to talk to the staff, as in the place for the scan, to the doctors, my cousin Dennis and his wife, my brothers Richard and Spencer, my sisters Galaxy and Irene, my daughter Shukurani, and to the love of my life, my best friend this side of Heaven, and my eternal life-mate who stood around my bed that first night [and has been responsible for the initially painful job of getting back full use of my right side and keeping me fit].

Waking up to find my auntie Mama Greg and my uncle Baba Greg by my bed in the morning reminded me that they had always been my parents too, then there was our bff Manyara who sat by my bed until I got up and then fed me while encouraging me and making me laugh…then my aunties Mama Irene and Mama Lily, my Mum Cucu Rose, Sisters Jackie, Carole, Trudy, Millie, Susan, Michelle, Grace, Jane, Caren…so much of God around my bed. Then auntie gave me the phone to talk to my Mum who was upcountry taking care of my Dadi who was also bed-ridden…she had been crying I could tell…I have lost two aunties to a stroke in the recent past…and when I said ‘Mamana’ she cried and cried and told me to rest that all was going to be well. So much of God around my life…so much more came…God was there.

We went back home to a house that was full of food. We had no fridge so we dispensed of so much of it, and stood in awe of God Who is True – in lack and in plenty. I cannot say we have not struggled since then, I would be lying. But God has been with us. He has come through for us. There was the time we lost the house that was literally killing my neighbors and I…and God made sure that He had a place for us to run to. And not just any other place. But a place twice as big, for the same price…a price that He paid through His chosen agent. I face the end of this year, with similar challenges, new friends, lost friends, but God has come through for me.

This praise session has been inspired mainly by the three supervisors I have had for the work God has allowed me to do in November and December. They have been my answered prayers. Two of those jobs have had challenges, and I can not complete the last one at the moment due to cash flow and logistical issues…but it is for that that I am grateful. This morning, my supervisor called me and encouraged me to keep believing. He reminded me of the giftings that God had placed in my life, told me that he valued my dedication to excellence and my overall attitude to work despite the challenges that had arisen in funding both on his end, and in mine. He reminded me, knowing that I had hoped that this particular work would provide fees for my son and daughters college in January, that even if this did not turn out the way we both hoped, that it is to God that we look to for provision. He said that we, he and I, would continue to do what God allowed us to do, and do our best at that, and wait for Him- our Eternal Father to provide the rest, when He chose to. I was awed at this unexpected beginning to this week. And especially from him. But in his voice, I heard God. God has given me the ability to see Him, hear Him even in the darkest of times. He has revealed Himself to me ‘in a dark cloud’ and I am truly grateful. I share this, that He may be exalted. That someone He loves, who is feeling a lot like I have known to feel, may know the truth…That God is Faithful, He never leaves when someone/people or something/s do…He IS Faithful.

Shalom

“Moses said to the people, “Do not be afraid; for God has come in order to test you, and in order that the fear of Him may remain with you, so that you may not sin.” So the people stood at a distance, while Moses approached the DARK THICK CLOUD WHERE GOD WAS.” Genesis 20:20-21

“…The LORD has said that He would dwell in the thick cloud.” 1 Kings 8:12
“The LORD reigns, let the earth rejoice; Let the many islands be glad. Clouds and thick darkness surround Him; Righteousness and justice are the foundation of His throne.” Psalm 97:1-2

vipslit@yahoo.ca

One Day….

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It had been a hard day. I had been to a service in my old church. A funeral service. That was hard.

I looked around and recognised familiar, much loved faces. Some pointedly ignored me. I mused about that for about two seconds and then the business that had brought me here, took over. To stand with a friend who had been widowed. There were many people around; I was grateful to God that she had these. But I took my place on my knees as it were, though still seated and prayed. It was a hard service. Beautiful for all the love that was shared…and yet really hard. But that is not what this day was for me.

This day, was not a particular 24 hour circuit, but something that had weighed me down for a while. Something only this place could bring out for me. I sat next to my sweetheart, and it was not difficult to see, how shabby we were compared to everyone else. When time came to give, and we were urged to give generously, he took out a 200 shilling note, and held it openly. I knew how much he had in his pocket. And it was not a whole lot more. I whispered to him that it was not proper for anyone to see what we were giving. And he bundled our note in his hand, and then when the basket passed in front of him, he put in the note. I noticed that his laces were too short and kept coming undone, his socks sagging and loud, and that my own shoes were peeling and a little bit muddy at the heel. Thought about it for a second, and then went back into the reason I was there.

After the service, we were to line up to view the body and condole with the family. The line was long so we, my sweetheart and I stood aside for a while, then he melted away. I went to the couple who had been our ride from home and thanked the husband, saying we would find our way home. I was already feeling faint. He smiled and said it was okay. Then I decided to walk over to the other side of the line, and say hello to some old and much loved friends. I was well received. Hugs, laughter even in this place. And that was nice. But again, that sense of being alone came up. And I looked around but could not find my sweetheart. I stepped into line and an old friend chatted me up before another got hold of his attention and he left the line. I was joined by another who walked with me till body, talking as we went. Then I stood by the casket. And I looked in. And I couldn’t move, and I couldn’t cry. I just stood there, perhaps longer than appropriate. And then my feet began to move. I went to my friend, she was worn out from weeping. And I held her awhile. I was not sure she recognised me but I thought I heard her whisper my name. I had no words…no words for this place. But I prayed…God…Your Strength, Comfort, Presence…and then I walked away.

I felt like someone had blown away the back of my head. I clutched onto some chairs to pray for stability, not willing to draw any attention to myself. I reminded God, as though He could ever forget, that I was not going back…my own resurrection was for a purpose. Then I looked into my purse, found my phone and called my sweetheart. He was outside, had made some friends. I stood a while and listened to another old friend, widowed, who had survived a stroke after her own husband’s passing. Hugged her and then went out to join my sweetheart. We walked away, as he talked to me, he was as moved as I had been, but he kept his conversation light and easy. Walking with him, I was home.

We went to our physical home, where we live with our children. And I looked around. We did not have money for food that day. Much of what we needed had run out. Including tissue, since I had suffered severe food poisoning that week. We had had not money for my medication. My sweetheart hid a cough, and I prayed. ‘God heal him, please.’ I sent a text to a friend to ask if she had boiled some beans and she told me to meet her at her place. I told her I would send, Leroy, my son. Oh I had passed by the bank that day, and my balance was still at 0.1/-. It was my pastor’s 10th Wedding Anniversary, and I wanted to surprise them with a gift. Sigh.

I went to bed and at 3:30am, I woke up to go to the bathroom. Unstable. Feeling funny. I came back and picked my phone again. 3:33. Three threes. God, God, God. Call unto Me. I called. Jesus. My sweetheart shuffled in the bed beside me. Jesus I called again. Then, and I will tell you marvelous things. I am listening LORD.

What is it about my old church that unnerves me? Weighs me down, It is situated at my old campus, and symbolises all my broken dreams. Both of Career, and  Ministry. It is at the site of my primary school. Most of those I know, who went through these paths, succeeded in them. At their Careers and Ministries. Even as I went through those roads, I must have always known, that I piece from another jig-saw puzzle that had somehow found itself inside this box. And no matter how much I tried, I would never fit into this pattern. I was a failure because this was not my world, this was not home.

My mind went to my family. Children born ‘out of pattern.’ A husband married ‘out of pattern.’ Not in conformity with most other lives. Not the lives I had dreamed mine would be like. I looked in my mind’s eye at my Bible Study Group, our pre-marital class, these had become my inner circle of friends. Some were still trying to fit into a world that may eventually receive them. That was their portion. I had failed in that respect. For the first time, I was grateful for the much loved ‘friends’ and ‘well-wishers’ that had slandered me mercilessly, because they would not help, and could not stand seeing anyone help me survive, even the world that I had been pushed into, that they had no wish to live in. A wilderness. And even there they had pursued me. Loving God thoroughly, hating me and mine in spite of themselves. Inadvertently, coveting even the fact that God refused to remove His Breath from me and mine, so that their discussions of me would be justified in my death. I was grateful, they were right. I was dead to their world. I was like a ghost, who would visit from time to time; sent and on an errand, making all and sundry really uncomfortable, but belonging to a world that could not be patterned by their standards.

I did not live by those standards. I did not want to. I came to the realisation, that the thing that stressed me most, was that I was expected to live up to a standard that most were still trying to master and understand, and made them desperately unhappy; for they were trying to justify their living, and validity, by things they could not take away. My world was not superior, I had needed them. Their validation, their assistance…at one point at least.  They had closed their hearts and hands to me…because they were unable to open these. God had closed those doors. They, like myself, did not understand what I was made for. Besides they were busy understanding their own purposes…and their silences, pointed snubs and putdowns, excruciating to me, were justified because they could not hold the spin of my patterning, as they were too busy figuring out their own. I was from another world. Living according to another pattern. And that other world, in that place that God Himself had put me and mine, He had provided all that I needed, in terms of love, sustenance, and yes, my resurrection and success, according to His, my Manufacturer’s Pattern of who He made me to be. And that is all I was ever meant to be. Strange. Peculiar. Bigger than I ever thought I could be. And He had enough Might in Him, to raise and validate me. Talk about Marvelous things…I rest.

vipslit@yahoo.ca

A Winter Seeking

So often life does not go the way you think it will. You’re given things to do that are too big for you. You are asked to believe things you don’t even understand. You are forced to trust people you hardly know. ‘ The Winter seeking, by Vanita Hampton Wright.

When this year began, I knew it was the year of birthing, as last year was one of new beginnings. I looked forward to it romantically, as though in a cloud, thinking the gleefully of the reaping that would be mine, not realizing that even the act of reaping would be an act of work. I, of all people, forgot the journey of pregnancy, the discomfort  and anxiety of the early months, whether the pregnancy is expected and embraced or not. The extra care, the changes in lifestyle demanded by the changes happening to you. The loneliness of the journey, even when one has an active but dedicated husband on their side – the fact that in all the crucial ways, it is the one who is pregnant that must adapt to these changes. The nausea is your own even when someone holds you in the bathroom as you throw up. The fatigue, the unexplained ‘knowing’ of the status of your pregnancy throughout. The feel of the baby’s first kick, the real evidence of its existence when you probably are not really showing yet. The strong unprecedented impulse awakened to protect your pregnancy even when it is considered a crisis in itself. The ability to enjoy your pregnancy even when it compels you to be still. I won’t even start on the effect of your pregnancy to all those that are watching you… that is their story, for another day. Finally the real possibility that the child you bear, would not necessarily conform to your understanding of life – that there are no guarantees even after a successful pregnancy.

Bearing a child that Herod the Dragon wants to kill is extra risky. That was the plight of Mary, and our plight today as we submit daily to God’s purpose of designing us. To reach that point in your life, where you tire of all the mediocrity and cry out to God for the realization of your purpose to live. I am realizing now, that it is God in His Grace that sparks off that hungering and thirsting for an authentic life. AS He turns towards us, with the realization of just WHY He made us, we suddenly feel duped into that situation. We know, without first seeing what is in His Hand, what is being proffered our way, that it is something much bigger than we see ourselves to be. It is a rock that either crushes you or you can stand on as your solid foundation. And you are almost sure it with be the former only. I have realized through my own life, that the rock has to do both for you to enter into your purpose. First, you must die… be crushed into the dust from which you came, and allow the Hand that molded you in the first place, to do the work of re-making you, and breathing His life into you. You realize, that both your frame and the Spirit in you are borrowed from God, and yet, by this posture of humility and acceptance, you completely own that life. We are given a choice at every stop, to rise to a life higher than us, dependant on The Rock from which we are carved, or stay dead beneath its weight. Many choose the latter, sadly, because there is a lot of company there, and it makes more sense.

Choosing to have the child, comes with the risk and the reality of daily death.  Others know it too. That is why there is this scaling up of assault, why even when they themselves chose death, they poke their decaying claws into your wounds and talk about the smell of them. They think your choices are mad and gather beneath the rock to mock and laugh at your wounds. They justify wounding you, because to the blind it distracts them from their own and each others’ decay. Talking about you, brings in them the only passion they can muster: planning worse things for you, allows them some kind of sordid pleasure. I want you to remember though, that you are alive, and that you become like the thing you focus most on. Choose wisely therefore, who will hold your gaze? Is it God, Who is Lord even over the ragging sea, or is it to those with the gusto, who really have no control over their very lives, but are reaching out to try define yours and reduce it to levels they can manipulate.

You have a high calling…so walk through this pregnancy. Your calling does involve trampling over snakes and scorpions, but not anyone that Christ died for. It calls for a humble posture, it calls for joy in the midst of the storm, and it calls for searching through the winter for the One that would give you life. Finding Him and then searching again, for the life of the child you bear, the destiny given to you, that you realize is bigger than you, depends on the depth of your surrender.  Your high calling is captured in the words of a song by Josh Brandon that I was listening to last night

You raise me up so I can stand on mountains,

You raise me up to walk on stormy seas,

I am strong when I am on your shoulders,

You raise me up to more than I can be.

Mary started her walk with a glorious visit from an Angel… but her destiny involved the risk of death from the beginning. Even though Joseph married and cared for her, it was she that endured the final moments of her pregnancy in labor on the back of a donkey, far away from home, praying for just one miracle – space to be relieved of the wracking pain  and deliver the child safely. When the miracle came, it involved laying besides the animals in a stable and opening her most vulnerable self to bring salvation to a world that did not understand the importance of the child in her arms. She began her postnatal journey with this child, scaling a continent to find safety, and her broken heart climaxed when she stood at the foot of a cross, where love for those who hated Him kept him submitted to their mockery, rage, and hilarity at finally getting Him on a spot He could not wiggle from. She must have seen Him upon His resurrection and ascension, but for 34 years, she nurtured a ministry that she knew would break her heart. And Elizabeth, after praying, then probably giving up all hope of a miracle, God gives her a child many must have thought was nuts. He took of to the wilderness, lived on fruits and nuts, and words of his cries seemed so unwise because they rattled the comfort of the authorities of the land, by never letting them stew in their sin. What could have been on Elizabeth’s mind had she known the truth; that the head of the miracle she had waited a lifetime for, would be paraded for the merriment in the courts of those who opposed his ministry?

When you think of your high calling, what is it that comes to mind? Are you confident of your commitment to walk the course, even when the glory of that which you bear is considered by some, as a shame. My comfort is knowing that the strain of the mountains and the fear of still and stormy waters, will be quieted on the shoulders of Him Who would again share His life and death through my own. Have a blessed winter.

vipslit@yahoo.ca

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