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Thursday, April 21, 2016

One Spoken Sentence

One Spoken Sentence

The word universe means one spoken sentence. “And God said, 'Let there be light,' and there was light. (Genesis 1:3)
The one, true, perfect God of the universe created man in His image(Genesis 1:27), but lacking His ultimate power. In place of that, He totally provides all that is necessary for life to His creation. To man, He gives free-will and, originally, only one rule - “but you must not eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, for when you eat of it, you will surely die.” (Genesis 2:17) How did He impart this rule? He told them. He communicated with them. They knew each other.

Even though physical death became part of human destiny, Adam and Eve managed to produce a multitude of offspring. Unfortunately, only a noted few walked with God as their ancestors did. “Now the earth was corrupt in God's sight and was full of violence.” (Genesis 6:11) Fewer and fewer people chose God out of their own free-will. He floods the earth, but spares Noah and his descendants.

A later, noteworthy deliverance involves those who continued to acknowledge the creator God, the Israelites. The masses got to ride the coat-tails of the ones who continued to seek Him. Moses pressed into God's explicit directions and led an entire people group out of slavery. In their Exodus, they are utterly dependent on his mercy and provision. He has to get more specific with his rules. Now, there are ten. The very first commandment (Exodus 20:1-3) is prefaced with “I am the Lord your God, who brought you out of Egypt, out of the land of slavery. You shall have no other gods before me.” Just a reminder of the most important thing. The other nine commandments are for protection and so that life may be well. The need for these “rules” points to our inclination toward using free-will for selfishness instead of for worship, relationship, or obedience.

At this point, the people have rules, and eventually need rules to follow when they break the rules, in order to reconcile with God. He responds to an established sacrifice system in order to commune with His people. It is costly, but He is Holy. The Temple,the Tabernacle, the Ark of the Covenant, Feasts, Festivals, altars, garments, animal sacrifices, offerings, I could go on...and it would still pale in comparison to perfect righteousness. He knows.

As time moves on, the system becomes the focus instead of God. It becomes a ritual of tradition. Actions motivated by the mind instead of by the heart. The very people who claim the Creator of Heaven and Earth as their master, adopt outside cultural icons and pagan practices into their religion. Clamoring for a king within their ranks instead of worshiping the King of the Universe.

Still, there exists a continuous voice. Prophets who can hear from God. “Then the Lord reached out his hand and touched my mouth and said to me, 'Now I have put my words in your mouth. See, today I appoint you over nations and kingdoms to uproot and tear down, to destroy and overthrow, to build and to plant.'” (Jeremiah 1:9) They remind the people who God is, what He can do, and that He is capable of wrath and/or compassion. “For I am the Lord your God, who takes hold of your right hand and says to you; Do not fear; I will help you.”(Isaiah 41:3)

Isaiah foreshadowed a new plan of reconciliation. The Messiah. The once and for all sacrificial lamb. He would be “despised and rejected by men” (Isaiah53:3) Interesting. He would be “pierced for our transgressions”.(Isaiah 53:5) Ouch. Jesus is recognized and embraced by the weary and those burdened by the law. He is scorned and renounced by the power-hungry religious elite who are unwilling to, ironically, acknowledge the will of God.

John told everyone he could. “The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the One and Only who came from the Father, full of grace and truth.”(1:14) “I have seen and I testify that this is the Son of God.”(1:34)

Who else could endure the cross? He did so without sinning, and even forgiving those who betrayed him, insulted him, spit on him and brutally nailed him to it. Appointed kings, anointed prophets, nor anyone in the old testament ever came close. This is the difference between being made in the image or being the son of God. They didn't have “what it takes”. God-power!

Jesus is the ultimate sacrifice. The old system is dead. He is the “tree of life” (Genesis 3:22), so to speak, and your choice dictates your eternity. Even your ability to choose is God-given. He is worthy, mighty, holy, awesome, and He loves us all. (2 Peter 3:9) Believe it!

Friday, February 19, 2016

The Gift

     Recently, my six year-old daughter has been really mischievous. Honestly, I feel like she is gas-lighting me. (Driving me to the brink of insanity.) Her latest incident involved using half of a brand-new bottle of bubble bath on one Barbie's hair. The highly perfumed lilac scent gave her away. The whole house was getting a buzz from the strong smell wafting out of the basement play area.

     She came to me complaining of feeling dizzy. She's blonde, you know. I'll leave it at that. (ha ha) Here comes the shame on me part---I was mad. Extremely upset. Probably a cumulative effect of the kitty litter fiasco from the previous day, plus all the other make-up, sharpie marker, and finger nail polish debacles. Furious, I tell you.

    Was I really that angry about wasted bubble bath? What is wrong with me?
Fast forward---today I was bathing the youngest two girls using some of the remaining bubble bath. A 1yr. old and a 4yr. old can really enjoy a tub full of toys and suds. That made me happy.

     I recalled one Christmas or birthday present that I received from my friend, Crystal, while we were in elementary school. It was a "six pack" of bubble bath. They looked like soda bottles in a cardboard carton with a handle. Three of them were pink and three of them were blue. I remember how much I loved getting that gift! To me, it was a very generous gift. I was not expecting to get anything which made it even more special and memorable. What little girl wouldn't appreciate that perfect gift?!? Merely recalling the whole thing still brings me joy!

     As I wax introspective for a moment---I am going to say this is one of those profound things of life that help shape our personality. Because my friend's generosity brought me such joy, I was inspired to try to bring others joy through giving.

     Now, my analytical side comes into play. I am going to go on and on about bubble bath for a moment. I would like to say that I enjoyed many wonderful bubble-filled baths during my childhood, but I didn't. I hoarded that stuff. It was "special" and "wonderful". I only took regular baths because they were just regular days, not special days. Also, if I really peel away the layers of this tail, I would have said the gift was probably meant for a special and wonderful person, but I was neither of those.

     When I moved out of my childhood home, I found them covered with dust in the top of my closet. Five of them unopened. I felt a pang of regret. That was wasted bubble bath.

     This may be one of the reasons my girls get so many bubble baths! Yes, it is frivolous. Yes, it is a luxury, but I want them to know they are special and wonderful. In this way, the kindness of a simple elementary school gift has inadvertently made a positive impact on the next generation!

      I always feel like everything has to do with everything else, so I try to figure things out---especially God. Why would God do things this way or that? How is this making any sense?

     There is a passage of scripture that tells about a woman who broke a jar of expensive perfume open and anointed Jesus' feet. The disciples were upset because it seemed to be wasteful. Jesus silenced their objections by basically saying---this is between her and I. That perfume pouring out was extravagant. She wanted Jesus to know He was worth that to her. Of course He is.

     He wants us to know what we are worth to Him, as well. No more animal sacrifices or burnt offerings on the altar, no need to wait in the outskirts of the temple, or even talk to some priest. Jesus communicated to us that we are loved so much He would die for us .His blood extravagantly pouring out on display for all to see. "Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends." (John 15:13 NIV)
     I had a hard time accepting that I was worthy of bubble bath, let alone someone willing to die for me. It's not about our perception of ourselves, though.
     Gifts are freely given, undeserved, ---from the heart, with love, to make us feel special and wonderful. Check out John 3:16, it's amazing!

    

Monday, November 30, 2015

Who can I blame?

Who can I blame? My house is always an upside-down, inside-out hot mess. Considering I am a "homemaker", a "stay at home mom", a "housewife" (snicker...does anyone say that anymore?)...you would think there would be some degree of organization around here.

Nope. Not a lot.

I try to focus on the positive, like, " thank the Lord we don't have pets in the house, too."
or this good point, "I guess it could be worse."

 It gives me some kind of strange comfort when I read books and articles about organization. First of all, they are so logical. That stuff makes sense, so I am motivated to try, try again.  Some of the books I have read even go so far as to say that people are either born organized or they are not...I think I was not, but surely I could learn. Right? So I get the bins, the tubs, the labels, etc.

My firstborn just recently left the nest. Although that was bittersweet, I have noticed two things that give me hope. 1. My oldest daughter has picked up the slack on the chore list. 2. The water bill is about half what it was when he lived here. (he showered and changed clothes multiple times a day)(This also translates into less laundry for me.) Yay.

I have spent the last 20 years actively engaged in one OR MORE of these 4 things: pregnant, nursing a baby, diapering, or potty training...no breaks.  When Millie is out of diapers, then perhaps I will be able to get somewhere. (I keep telling myself.)

Until then, I think I will blame it on the kids.


Monday, October 20, 2014

And then there's this...

     Long time, no blog...But what else am I going to do at 4:21 am when I can't sleep and dare not wake anyone up?  I will make it short and force myself back to sleep after I get this off my chest.
     I woke up not even an hour after baby's last feeding. A sharp pain in my left brain. Things are weighing heavy on me, little things and big things. Life things.
     I'm a deep thinker, not a quick thinker...and this makes me too slow about getting around to doing things. So they pile up, waiting in my imaginary line for attention. Those are just the things that can be put off, not pressing matters like changing diapers, paying bills, feeding people, making sure we have clean clothes, gas in the vehicle, etc. I just run in a perpetual circle with those daily grind items.
 
     No, it is the bigger picture that is starting to close in on me, almost like my measure of gravity is increasing. Subtle, but present, and palpable only to me. Needy children, more than one at a time. Aging parents, more than one. Health crises...my mom beats breast cancer in the Spring only to have colon cancer show up in the Fall. Two vehicles down at the same time, mechanical bills to the tune of thousands of dollars.  Self-imposed homeschool pressure to be further along in the textbooks. And that constant nag of "look at this messy house"...no routine, lack of organization. It was this last one that put me over the edge as I walked tentatively into the living room, partly to be careful of what I might step on, and partly to not stimulate that terrible head pain again. I felt like an overfull water balloon as I looked at the arm of my light green sofa...you know, the one with blue marker scrawlings "345 25 J L H" This is Joely's kindergarten handiwork. And it's sharpie.  The tears burst forth.
     As I ponder my "list" of afflictions, I am reminded of the book of Job.  His sufferings were far worse, and his character more noble. Even my mom is taking her impending surgery and unsure future in stride...like lets get this over with so I can get on with my life. She's 78!
     George recently read Romans chapter 12 to me...this is all I can remember...Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer.   Well, I guess that is my goal for the time being.

Thursday, April 11, 2013

Dry Bones

  "I want to see dry bones living again." This is a line from a song we sang at church recently.  I think the song was called THE GREAT I AM.   I may have heard this song before, but I'm not sure I have ever sung it...so it required me to really read the words.  At first, I kept thinking...this is kind of a strange song...but as it was a long song...it finally spoke to me.  Ugh, I realized, for one thing, I am living a dry bones existence...again.
     In previous times, I have led a more spirit-filled life.  I seem to waffle back and forth between struggling in my self-reliance ... or really seeking God's sovereignty and relying on His direction.
     The other revelation I came away with was what God meant by calling himself the "I Am".  Exodus 3:14 "God said to Moses I am who I am. This is what you are to say to the Israelites; I AM has sent me to you."  He had to tell them that so they would trust that it was the Creator's plan that he lead them.
 I think about this earth, the heavens, the stars, the universe...the blade of grass...It's like God is saying I AM that blade of grass, I AM the earth, I AM the sky, I AM the air you breathe, I AM  the fragrance of Spring that you smell, I AM all that you see, hear, smell, taste and touch because I AM the one who created it.  And He created me...with a free will to allow Him to shape my life through the pursuit of holiness...or I can try to do it in my own power...or I can reject it altogether. 
     I thank my parents for raising me in the faith, and that is why I did not reject Jesus, and why I am most thoroughly convinced there is a God.  For it was in my darkest moments of pain and heartache that I cried out to the one true God, the only one I knew, and the only one who then answered me not only by communicating with me on a spiritual level, but manifesting in the physical realm with heat and a sensation I can only describe as pure energy.  It was at that moment that I believe God filled me with the Holy Spirit which unlocked my mind to really comprehend and understand the gospel ...and it made perfect...PERFECT...sense to me. A moment of clarity with the life-changing effects of peace in my soul.
      I had to come to some conclusions on my own before the environment of my heart, soul and mind could handle the absolute truth ...the key was acknowledging my choices, thoughts and actions as sinful... and truly repenting. Like I said, I was raised to know right from wrong, I was basically a good person, but  I just did whatever I wanted anyway.   I came away from my "God experience" filled with gratitude for his mercy, gratitude for providing the sacrifice (Jesus) that would be my payment on judgement day, and for the helper (the Holy Spirit) that would keep me on the path to righteousness.  This path includes blessings, protection, provision, but most notably peace in all circumstances.
     It was shortly after this conversion of mine...from Christianity to Christianity...that I was living for God and His purposes.  It IS an abundant life, the joy that comes from simple things is amazing, but it is the peace that just makes life and all its afflictions bearable.  John 15 reminds us to "remain in me as I remain in you"...unfortunately, this is where I falter...I allow life to overwhelm me, tire me out to the point where I don't even make time to connect to my lifeline.  When that goes away, so goes the peace and joy, love, patience, etc.  Then it's like I forget how to get back to that, or even worse, I begin to think I don't need or deserve it. 
     In my reading this morning, I stumbled upon this verse in 1 Thessalonians 4:7 "For God did not call us to be impure, but to live a holy life."  I was definitely called...so I'd better start living this holy life!  Now, I know I can't live the holy life in my own power, I will just end up pursuing my own selfish desires...and that is quite a mundane existence if not wrought with struggle.  I have been given the Holy Spirit...I will never forget that...so why not utilize my gift.  It is apparent that I NEED it in order to not only discern what holiness is, but to achieve it on any level.
     Perhaps you think I'm wacko by now, perhaps you know just what I mean, either way...the God of the universe can communicate with you on a personal level that is relevant to your life and purpose...if you have never experienced that, ask Him.

Isaiah 30:21 Whether you turn to the right or to the left, your ears will hear a voice behind you, saying, "This is the way; walk in it."

Friday, January 4, 2013

The Door

  I had a really interesting dream last night...I'm not sure I can properly articulate it through words, but I will give it a whirl.  Even as I think about it right now, it doesn't make for a good story.  I can only say that it really made sense when I woke up.

  In my dream, I was really concerned about the journey your soul takes when you die, and why it is important to believe in God, and more specifically, Jesus.  I wasn't dead, I was just along for the ride.  (well, you know how dreams are, I'm not sure if I was dead or not) Anyway, I was living life minding my own business, and then I knew I was on the track that takes you where you are supposed to go when you die. Ahead of me I saw a door, and off another direction was another door. The path to my door was like a glowing line.  There was no path to the other door, it was just out there, like if you weren't following the line, you would just end up there. The other door was plain, with no windows, and I knew that it went into a dark room and that was it.

  The door that was in front of me looked very plain, also, except it had windows.  I have seen doors like it before...lots of houses have doors like this...it looked like woodgrain with three rectangular windows near the top set at an angle and one right on top of the other.  I could see light behind that door because of the windows, and although I didn't get to open the door, I knew it wasn't a finite room.  I knew that if I opened that door and crossed the threshold I would be whooshed up into the atmosphere... there would be other people I knew there and that didn't cause me any fear whatsoever. I woke up at this point.

See, short dream, not much story.

  The take-away, I guess, is that believers pass from life through death into eternal life.  This can actually be found in the gospel of John... John 5:24
 “I tell you the truth, whoever hears my word and believes him who sent me has eternal life and will not be condemned; he has crossed over from death to life."

 And non-believers pass from life to death...

So my contemplation begins...I know people who just absolutely do not believe in the Supernatural aspect of God or Jesus.  Yes, I talk to them, they are funny, nice, intelligent, generally have a good sense of humor, posess good character traits, and perhaps some bad character traits (nose-pickers ha!).  I am not ashamed of the Gospel, but I personally don't think jamming Jesus up in someone's face is the best form of evangelism. It tends to tick people off.
 Still, I continue to ponder, why exactly, do I think everyone needs Jesus?  Well, I only know why I need Him, and I only found that out through my own personal ups, downs, ins and outs...and I can't really explain it other than to say I had a supernatural encounter with the Almighty.  I do my best to live out these tenets of my faith: Love the Lord with all my heart, soul, mind and strength, and Love my neighbor as myself.  This is not as easy as it sounds, and sometimes I fall short, that is when I need Him the most.  During my personal encounter with God...I asked why I was experiencing such pain and heartache, since by most standards I was a "good person." He answered me in a similar way as in my dream... like he just put the understanding in my head, without having to hear it spoken or see it written. The invitation to commune with God is for all..."Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you.  For everyone who asks receives; he who seeks finds; and to him who knocks, the door will be opened." Matthew 7:7-8
 

 


Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Back to School...Homeschool, that is!

     This is what I have learned from dunking my kids into public school last year.

   There are some teachers and administrators who have a general disdain for homeschoolers, and some who really like them...with almost no middle ground there.  I hope my children represented a good homeschool education by using their manners, being respectful to authority figures and showing kindness to their fellow students. Oh, and doing good schoolwork and getting good grades, blah blah blah.

   Since my kiddos dropped into "the system" after being primarily homeschooled for the previous six years, I had my concerns about their academic success.  After all,  we did not grade every paper, take very many tests, or use a published curriculum for every single subject.  After the first report card, however, my fears were quelled.  9th grader with A's, B's and one C...all you need to know here is that he thoroughly enjoys school...not necessarily school subjects...he just likes to go to school, he did not miss a single day, and I did not have to get him up for the bus one single time. Very responsible kid. He wanted to continue going to public high school (NTI) so we let him.  One comment we got that rubbed me the wrong way was..."thank goodness he's in school".  This was said after he showed off his report card at a family gathering, as if it were the school that whipped him into shape after nine weeks and the previous years of homeschooling, co-ops, daily devotions, library time, activities and etc. had nothing to do with that success. 

5th grader with A's and B's..Carson being a bit shy, had the benefit of having "the nicest teacher at the school". The principal made sure to tell me all about her school being a STEM school (science, technology, engineering, math focused).  I feigned being super-impressed whilst I really don't care.  What good is it for a man to gain the WHOLE WORLD, yet forfeit his soul.  I was just glad he was academically successful, and never had homework.

 My 1st grader had no major issues (N's or check minuses or whatever)  but her teacher was quite zealous about her "trouble spots".  She had a list of sight words that she should "already know" from Kindergarten.  It is no secret around here that Carson and Harmonie both struggled to learn to read.  In fact, after countless phonics workbooks and flash cards and videos being shoved down Carson's throat, I just totally backed off all together...and lo and behold he learned to read fluently as he approached age 8.  With this experience under my belt, I realized Harmonie had the same learning style (some might say difficulty) when she really struggled with letter identification and sounds early on. Sight words...out of the question.  So, I had a meeting with her teacher, shared my thoughts and was sent home with a copy of the list of words, and some activities we could do at home.  I did not tell her I got my teaching degree about the time she was graduating from middle school.  Harmonie had quite a bit of homework, and my thoughts are...if you can't get it done in six hours...call it a day. We have things to do at home, like playing outside until it's dark, eating supper, taking a bath, and reading a story.  The second half of her first grade year, she really gained momentum and her reading and writing improved dramatically AS SHE APPROACHED AGE 8.

So, my insights on this matter have formed a strong opinion that public schools push academics TOO hard on Kindergarteners and first graders...maybe even some second graders.  When I went to college and learned about how kids learn...the professors always stressed that kids had their own developmental time-line and the spectrum could be pretty wide.  I am keenly aware of this since my eldest could read just about any book you handed him at age 4 and the next 2 kids thought the letters F and S made the "eh" sound...eh eh ehf, eh, eh, ehs.  Its all good, don't panic, it will kick in if there are other things being taught at home.  Love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, gentleness, faithfulness, and self-control.