Moments with Malachi

Real life hasn’t hit yet. Daddy (and my mother-in-law) are carrying the brunt of day to day life in our household. People around us have lavished love upon us and provided meals, watched kids, and paved the way so that mommy can rest and recover, and most importantly, spend

moments with Malachi

I’ve gotten to cradle this tiny being, listened to his soft hum as he contently nurses, feel is short little breaths against my chest as he slumbers there, and I pray and I praise as I stand in wonder at the gift of LIFE. I daydream of who and what he will be as his little personality blossoms, just as I have watched the four personalities before him blossom.

Last summer we wrestled with doing the “wise” thing verses trusting God with an act that only He can do, the act of creating a new little soul. And it makes me weep to think of having prevented little Zao Malachi from entering my womb, entering our marriage, entering my world, entering the lives of his four siblings. I stand in fear and trembling before the Creator who knit and formed this little one perfectly, all without my help, except the help of being available, surrendering my body, my womb (or should I say His womb) to do whatever bidding He sees fit.

Malachi is what He saw. When I was scared. When I was listing all the reasons why having another child is not practical. When I was complaining that it would be too hard.

I am still scared, for real life hasn’t hit yet. I am actually terrified at times. I am Peter, who has seen my Lord across the way, and called to say “Is it you??”. I have gotten out of the safe boat, and started to walk, miraculously, on the substance of things unseen. But I see the wind, waves and the furry of the storm of caring for, discipling, disciplining, and raising all the little ones with all these needs. And then I start to sink. sink. sink.

“How am I going to do this?!?” “Are we crazy?!?” “This is going to be too hard!!”

I am asking the wrong questions.

“How are YOU going to do this, Lord?” “How am I to surrender, moment by moment, when Malachi needs to nurse, Benjamin is screaming, and the kids have enough energy to bring the house down?” “How are you going to show up to provide for what You have provided (all these kids)?” “How are you going to show your faithfulness in my weakness?” “How are you going to prove that your promises are true?” “What ways are you going to show your mighty power?”

And then Jesus grabs hold of me, and lifts me from sinking into waves overwhelming. The waves of fear and doubt and nearsightedness are replaced with His strong grip. His righteous right hand, upholding his weak vessel. This is all I can ever hope in. His righteous right hand upholding utter neediness.

This week as I spent moments with Malachi, nursing him with pure milk to feed his tiny, growing body, God was feeding me the milk of His Word, to feed my tiny, growing faith.

“…Jacob shall no more be ashamed,

no more shall his face grow pale.

For when he sees his children,

the work of my hands, in his midst,

they will sanctify my name;

they will sanctify the Holy One of Jacob

and will stand in awe of the God of Israel.”

Isaiah 29:22b-23

This ambition of raising all these kids could put me to shame and cause me to grow pale at the enormity of the task , but I have promises otherwise. These children’s bodies are the work of the hands of God, as he formed them in my womb. I can do nothing but trust that their minds, souls, and spirit’s shapings will be the work of His hands as well. And the cry of my heart is that they, and I, and all those around us would sanctify, glorify, and stand in awe of the name of Jesus because of their presence here in this world.

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I actually started writing this the night I went into labor with Malachi. Needless to say, its a bit late getting posted, but I still wanted to document the last few weeks before his entrance into the world. 

Having waited, endured, anticipated throughout the long 9 month stretch of pregnancy, the last few weeks can seem torturously long. So, in an attempt to have something other than labor and delivery to anticipate, we filled these last three weeks with some fun adventures.  Walk for Life, to benefit local pregnancy centers saving unborn babies lives, one last homeschool field trip before DJ started school, Holy Week and Trinity’s Christian Parade, and an Easter Brunch and Egg Hunt that enabled us to share the Gospel with local international students. Below is a pictorial recap:

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**To see Daniel Josiah’s Christian parade post from one year ago, go here.

“From Father to Son,” Zao Malachi – Explaining the meaning of your name

Danny wrote a special letter to our new son… It explains the meaning of his name and reminds us of the glorious life we have in Christ!

Dear son,
I write this to you with great joy in my heart at your birth on 4/12/12. You have come into a fallen world as a covenant child of the most high God, brought to us by God’s grace, a gift for this world and our family.  Words can’t describe the way I feel right now as your father…  So proud, so amazed at you and you haven’t even done anything but breathe, cry and sleep (and pee on your mother).  As I sit here in the quietness of the room as your beautiful and courageous momma slumbers across from me I reflect on the meaning of your name we have given you: Zao Malachi Iverson.

Zao (“z-ay-oh” as we are pronouncing it) is greek.  It means “I live.”  This past weekend we celebrated Easter and rejoiced in the life Christ has given us (and you) through his resurrection. As you come into a cruel and sinful world, where death still stings, you have a deep hope, my son, in the promises the resurrection brings.  That those who are in union with Christ live! Not just now, but forever, in eternity.  Let me explain… This body encasing your soul is not your final form, and I hate to tell you this but the parasite of your parents’ sin is attached to you at your conception, and no matter how hard you try you won’t be able to get rid of it… I could’t either, can’t and won’t.  I ache as I write this, knowing the reality of sin and the pain it causes… the way it  has infected me your father, the way it affects your mother… Your earthly parents love you, but we too find within ourselves the struggle every human faces against the enemy within, the sinful nature that you too have inherited… I wish I could tell you as you lie there, so cute and pink, so fresh with innocence, that you will not have to face the reality of the sinful nature all humans born into this world bear within them… but you will. You must realize the reality of it in yourself, that as long as you live in this body the parasite of sin will be there, demanding to be fed by its host, demanding that you indulge its desires… You will see it immediately in your siblings as you meet them. They are a wonderful bunch, fun, full of joy, anointed with the Spirit… but they too have that parasite, so don’t be too surprised when your big brother Benjamin jealously hurts you because you are getting mommy’s attention instead of him.  Don’t be surprised when Katy-Grace does’t share with you, or Trinity makes fun of you, or DJ steals your food… Don’t be surprised when your parents fail you… when we lose our tempers, or fail to love you the way you need us to. So that is the bad news my son-the reality of this world under the curse of sin… But your name, my son, doesn’t moan of death and sorrow, but sings of life and hope. It sings of resurrection, for that is what our loving God has promised for his covenant people and sings over us through his precious Son Jesus who came to bear the curse of death, wrath and sorrow for us and put death to death forever on the cross. You see, he didn’t and doesn’t have the parasite of sin, since he is the Holy One, the Word made flesh, “God with skin on” as your great grandfather Bill says… He is the second and better Adam who didn’t fail and give into temptation like we do… He was tempted just like you will be, but the parasite couldn’t attach to him,  and he never sinned. But the news gets better son, Jesus lived the life we could never live and showed us what it means to be truly human, to love and be in communion with our Creator with everything we are and love our fellow humans as we love ourselves. He showed us that great love by going to the cross and becoming the curse that our sin deserves, taking the justice that should have been placed on us, “becoming our sin” as the apostle Paul says in 2 Corinthians 5:21. Next week I get to preach on Isaiah 53 that tells us that the punishment that brought us life was placed on him… That by his wounds we are healed. That means we are free, no longer under condemnation for our failures, or guilty before our Creator, no longer under the eternal death sentence, no longer in slavery to evil… but free… to live. When Jesus died, all those united to him and belonging to him died too. Galatians 2:20 says “I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.” This is the verse that inspired your name… That you would live the life you have been given by faith in Jesus who loves you and gave himself for you.  That  you would know that through Christ who loves you, the parasite of sin dies forever when this temporary body formed in your mother’s womb becomes old and stops working. In Christ, death loses its sting, and there is no fear but joy. Pure joy  as you travel from the womb of this fallen world and are born again into the world to come, the Kingdom of God.  In Christ we are promised resurrection life in a perfect new body without sin, purified for eternity by your pure Savior Jesus and His Spirit who fills His people… This is the hope your first name sings, the hope of resurrection life and the hope of a new world… a place where you will never have to cry again the way you are crying now… This is the name I give you, my son.

Malachi is Hebrew. It is the name given to the prophet of God, the one who announces His Word. It means “my messenger” or “God’s messenger” in the context of the Bible. That is our prayer for your life my son. That you will announce the great hope of resurrection found in Jesus…. That as you live, and struggle in this world like your parents and grandparents before you, you will believe, hold fast, and proclaim the promises of your Savior God to this dying world in desperate need of good news.  We pray that the words of your mouth would sing life to others…. that the work of your hands would sow love and peace amidst this world that is harvesting war and hate.  We pray that His message will be in you and your life well-lived will be His message, the good message that God saves sinners  and recreates the old and broken into something new and beautiful. Your mother and I pray that everything you are would resound with the love of Jesus and that you would boldly proclaim the new creation promised in Him. Your Savior saves for a purpose son, that His people might live for something so much greater than themselves and the selfish temporary things of this world. In union with Him you become empowered with His Spirit to live out the righteousness given to you in Christ by an obedient and holy life that brings Glory to your Father in heaven and joy to all peoples… We pray that you will believe this message and live this message…

You are an Iverson my son, descended from the vikings of Norway. Viking runs in your blood as it did in your forefathers. Many of them pillaged and conquered for evil kings of old, but somewhere in our ancestry a new King came to rule our clan, the King of the universe named Jesus. Now we fight for him, not with battle axes dripping the blood of our enemies but with courageous words of truth for all peoples. Now we voyage around the world for our King, not to oppress foreign lands with cruel hate and war, but as courageous and peaceful messengers of hope that long to set all nations free with the love of Christ that we bear within us.

May you bear these names well my son. We love you and consider it a joy to call you our child.

I love you bigger…

I love you bigger….than mudprints you just left all over my newly mopped floor.

I love you bigger….than the noise level you  bring to our home.

I love you bigger….than the temper tantrum you just had in the middle of the grocery check-out line.

I love you bigger…than being on-time to all the places I need to get to.

I love you bigger….than ever being “caught up” with housework.

I love you bigger…than having the sense of accomplishing something that stays accomplished.

I love you bigger…than the feeling of being recognized for my hard work and sacrifice.

I love you bigger…than an immediate, tangible, visible “contribution to the Kingdom” which I could gaze upon.

I love you bigger than all these inconveniences and frustrations, for you are are little souls, little creative minds, little bundles of energy that bring so much LIFE and fullness to my days.

I love you bigger, for Someone has loved me bigger.  Because, lets face it kiddos, apart from a Spirit-work, this Mt. Rushmore of SELF in your mama, with all its carved images just doesn’t move easily.  And those images of cleanliness and organization, of free time, of my pride out in public, of my convenience, of being in control, of feeling significant….they don’t move too easily.  But the Everlasting Father has loved me bigger than my temper tantrums, my obstinate self-reliance, my godlessness and He’s intervened His Son into this messy whirlwind of my sin. And He’s destined me to glory.  So, as the breath of His Spirit moves through me, that Mt. Rushmore starts to crumble, ever so slowly.

And guess what anvil He is using to chip away those images carved into stone?

He’s using YOU.

And all those things you do to force me to make a choice over what I will love bigger,

they are the means by which He is doing it.

Thank you, sweet ones.