Mary Amanda

January 25, 2012

We finally picked a middle name for Mary. Hayden suggested Amanda several weeks ago, and it took a few weeks for the Lord to really set it in my heart. I love it, not just because it’s an honor for Mary to have my name, but because of what Amanda means. It means “worthy of love.”  What better name for our precious baby? She is worthy of every single ounce of love we can possibly give her because she is made in the image of God, and she is his gift to us. He fashioned her and formed her with care and intention. Psalm 139:13-16 says, “For you formed my inward parts; you knitted me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made. Wonderful are your works; my soul knows it very well. My frame was not hidden from you, when I was being made in secret, intricately woven in the depths of the earth. Your eyes saw my unformed substance; in your book were written, every one of them, the days that were formed for me, when as yet there was none of them.” 

God is perfect. He doesn’t make mistakes. He didn’t make a mistake when he formed Mary…he knew and knows exactly what he is doing, and he finds delight and pleasure in her life, just as he does in anyone else’s. Christ gave his life for Mary, just like he gave his life for me and you. If my Creator and Lord would unabashedly give himself up for her, why wouldn’t I? And more importantly, if he laid down his life for her, for us, how could we not give him our lives right back? He is worth it…so she’s worth it.

All our love,

the Staggs

That Our Joy May be Full…

January 12, 2012

Hello, all. Thanks to each of you for reading our blog and keeping us in your thoughts and prayers. We have been blessed tremendously by all of the support! Thank also for your comments-I read and cherish each one of them, but will probably not ever have enough time to respond to them. So just know I love getting them!

I wanted to share a bit of what the Lord has been teaching Hayden and me recently (and, not coincidentally, I’m sure, it seems like everyone else in my family, as well). I’m going to quote an excerpt from John Piper’s “What Jesus Demands from the World”, the book we’ve been studying in our small group Bible study, about the joy Christ gives us…

Demand #10, Rejoice and Leap for Joy, p86-87

“What astonishes us most immediately when Jesus says ‘Rejoice…and leap for joy’ is that he is saying it precisely in the context of pain. ‘Blessed are you when people hate you and when they exclude you and revile you and spurn your name as evil, on account of the Son of Man! Rejoice in that day, and leap for joy’ (Luke 6:22-23). When Jesus demands that we rejoice, he has not forgotten the kind of world we live in. It is filled with suffering. And he promises that some of that suffering will fall on us as his disciples. ‘They will lay their hands on you and persecute you, delivering you up to the synagogues and prisons…and some of you they will put to death. You will be hated by all for my name’s sake’ (Luke 21:12, 16-17)…’If they persecuted me, they will also persecute you’ (John 15:20).

Jesus had not forgotten that. In fact, he demands that we follow him in that painful path of love. Therefore, the joy he demands now is not chipper. It is not joy-lite. It is not superficial or marked with levity. This is the mistake of too many people and too many churches. They think that Jesus’ demand for joy is a demand to tell jokes or weave slapstick into Christian corporate life. I don’t smell the Jerusalem-bound Jesus in that atmosphere. Something has gone wrong.

What’s wrong is that the aroma of suffering is missing. For Jesus the demand for joy is a way to live with suffering and to outlast suffering. Therefore, this joy is serious. It’s the kind you fight for by cutting of your hand (Matt. 5:30) and selling your possessions (Matt. 13:44) and carrying your cross with Jesus to Calvary (Matt. 10:38-39). It has scars. It sings happy songs with tears. It remembers the dark hours and knows that more are coming. The road to heaven is a hard road, but it is not joyless.”

It is incredible that Christ died-gave his life-to give us his joy…the very same joy that drove him to endure the cross for our sin. “…let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God” (Hebrews 12:1-2). I love how Piper describes this type of joy as “sing[ing] happy songs with tears.” It’s so relevant to me, because I have actually sung happy songs with tears. It is this type of joy that gives me the love, energy, and affection to care for my children even when my heart is heavy. It’s this type of joy that allows me to break it down to the Wiggles, even when I’ve just been crying out to God for mary’s healing. I know without doubt that it is only Jesus who provides me (and Hayden) with this life-giving joy.

I wouldn’t have this without the sacrifice he made for me (the same sacrifice he also made for you). He gave his life for me, for my eternal joy and hope–not just for the future, but for today, regardless of my circumstances.  This is so much different than our happiness. I’m not happy about mary’s condition; I don’t understand why it’s my baby, or why God chose me to be her mom (but I am glad that he did)…But I can trust in the one who loves me and loves her, and who gave himself up for our sake. I can trust him with my heart…

We continue to ask God daily to heal Mary completely. We know he hears us and loves us, and we’ll trust him no matter what his answer is! I have my last ultrasound January 31, and would love for all of you to be praying with us for a miracle! Thank you so much!

With all of our love,

the Stagg’s