Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Apple Picking!

Today the kids and I are in Lubbock.  We went to Idalou to Apple Country Orchards.  Unfortunately, we weren't able to stay for lunch (it smelled so good!), but we did get to pick 10lbs of apples!

A delicious day!

Sunday, August 29, 2010

21 Days: Reflections on a Facebook Fast

Even though we're only reading chapter 16 tonight, our 21 day fasting portion is drawing to a close.  I really didn't think that giving up Facebook would be easy, I was pleasantly surprised.  In fact, about a week into it, I considered giving up something else too.

My biggest surprise was how often I thought about updating my status.  I didn't realize how self-centered I am, and how much I crave other's interactions.  I like to try to be witty, I'd like to say that it is for the pleasure of others, but I fear that it is more for self-gratification.  I like to post updates about my busy days so that others will say "I don't know how you do it!"I like to post frustrations with my day so others will feel sorry for me, or share their horror stories to make me feel better.

There were a few things that I missed (and will be checking on shortly!)  My friend Michelle is pregnant with twins.  The first day of my fast she posted the sono video where they found out they were boys.  A dear friend passed away and I need to add my memorials to his "wall".  I probably have a friend request or two, and I have a couple of people that I've met who I'd like to look up. 

Ironically, my church has a new ministry position as a "Facebook Greeter", several friends have asked if I'll go for that!  Is it sacrilegious to end my FB fast with becoming a FB minister?  LOL

The purpose of a fast (as I understand it) is to sacrifice something that is important to you and replace that time or desire with God.  In my non-FB time, I've prayed more, listened to more worship/Christian music, volunteered with Women of Faith, reached out to friends in more traditional ways like phone and text (is that traditional?  I don't know).  I've spent time with my family reading the Bible and discussing.  I've blogged about our journey (which I pray will be transparent enough to encourage others.)

Another wonderful thing happened.  My joy was restored.  I don't think that this is entirely due to the FB fast.  I think it has been a long time coming, it happened to culminate at this time.  Perhaps it is because I was more in tune with God and less concerned about myself.  I was really taken by surprise at this return.

My joy departed on November 2, 2006.  That's the night that our 3 month old baby stopped breathing, then spent 3 days in the hospital before he died.  My joy died with him.  I thought I would never smile or laugh again.  I wondered if I could ever love again with the same kind of abandon.

I've been reading The Irresistible Revolution: Living as an Ordinary Radical and Blue Like Jazz: Nonreligious Thoughts on Christian Spirituality.  I really have enjoyed each of them and have shared many passages with my husband.  I found myself with my heart racing and unable to wait until the next page.  I thought at first that it was just the joy of these author's stories and the passion that they stirred within me.  Then the fast heart beat and anticipation for other things began to surprise me.  I finally realized, as I was standing at the Women of Faith Volunteer check in, that I was joyful!  I didn't know how it snuck up on me.  I was excited, not for my experience, but for what God would do in the lives of the women around me.  I was praying selflessly that God would use me, that I would be a small part of a wonderful get-away and refreshing for those who would be coming in.

Although there were many moments that I felt an internal conflict with the "packaged and prepared" worship being so polished and perfect, or the consumerism mentality (I was working the sales table.  I actually heard one woman say "I'm coveting this Bible.  I don't need another Bible but it's purple!") - I still did not have  critical spirit.  I was able to overlook much of what happened because the Spirit of God was so powerful during the speakers.  Women were moved to tears and worship and many accepted Christ for the first time.  I saw teenagers convulsing with painful tears during Nicole Johnson's drama on abortion.  I saw women embrace each other, wiping tears from their eyes.  I know God moved in that place, perhaps in spite of the commercial polish?

I am so thankful for the return of Joy.  I've missed it terribly.  This is just one of the "bones" that was crushed in our loss.  As I sat in service this morning I reflected on another blog post I wrote nearly 2 years ago.  I likened our loss to being hit by a train.  Not exactly a "get back on the horse" experience!  God revealed to me that just as physical therapy takes time, so does restoration of all things broken.  Trust, Hope, Joy, Peace - all were shattered in a few moments time.  All will be restored in HIS time.  The greatest thing is that when He restores, he restores to perfect.  Not the imperfect image we had before that we thought was so great.

My joy before came from a shallow place, an elementary understanding of God's will, grace and timing.  It wasn't wrong (necessarily), it was just imperfect.  In James chapter 1 we are told to:

2 Consider it all joy, my brethren, when you encounter various trials, 3knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance. 4And let endurance have its perfect result, so that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing
. (emphasis mine).  I've always loved this verse.  Isn't funny how we love something and don't understand it?  It's easy to tell someone else to "count it all joy", it's much harder (impossible-seeming sometimes!) to live it when your world has been shattered.  I used to sing that praise and worship song "Blessed Be The Name".  I would sing it so passionately in the car, loving that bridge "You give and take away, you give and take away.  My heart will choose to say, blessed be the name."  The emphasis (in my mind) was on the "give".  I was so thankful for all I'd been given.  I really was.  I thought I was holding loosely the gifts God had bestowed.  When a precious gift is "torn from your life" (as in the Natalie Grant song "Held") it is much more difficult to accept the "take away" portion.

When my dear friend Laura Belt passed away, this song was played at her funeral.  It was the day after my grandmother passed away and I was pregnant with Ian.  Needless to say, I was a mess!  The song hit me so hard that day.  I had no idea that 9 months later it would make the playlist for the first funeral I had ever planned.  Even to this day, when we sing it at church, I want to shout out "listen!  do you know what you're singing?  do you know the commitment you are expressing"  I want to share the back story, Job's story, my story.

So it is with the verses in James.  Do we understand?  I now have a glimpse into "why" we are to "count it all joy".  It doesn't say (or mean) that all things are joyful.  It's an accounting term.  It means that trials don't go into the "deficit" column.  They are "additions" to our lives.  They are an asset to us.  We are to see them for the good they will bring, for the good that God will work (as in "He works all things together for the good of them who love God and are called according to His purpose.").

So, my friends, this long and rambling post is coming to an end (did I hear an "Amen" somewhere? LOL)

I hope that as you've read you are encouraged to hang onto Jesus Christ, His Father God and the Holy Spirit who comforts us and teaches us all things.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

21 Days: Day 14 (Is God's Love conditional?)

Did you miss the first post?

Last night we read John chapter 14.  We find lots of familiar verses here (in Fact Calvin actually stopped us from reading one, shouting "I know this, I know this!" and completing the rest of the verse from memory!).  What really stood out to me, however were verses 21-23 (emphasis mine):
"He who has My commandments and keeps them is the one who loves Me; and he who loves Me will be loved by My Father, and I will love him and will disclose Myself to him." Judas (not Iscariot) said to Him, "Lord, what then has happened that You are going to disclose Yourself to us and not to the world?" Jesus answered and said to him, "If anyone loves Me, he will keep My word; and My Father will love him, and We will come to him and make Our abode with him.
Doesn't this sound conditional?  I've heard all my life that God's love is unconditional, so this really made me think!  I wasn't going to bring it up last night, because I don't like to talk about things I've not yet resolved in my mind (personal flaw?) but I did.  The kids didn't have much to say, neither did William.  I thought back to the verse that we read earlier "For God so LOVED the world..."  There must have been a general over-all LOVE for the world, does our obedience spark a closer, more intimate love?

In this same passage (vs. 26) Jesus says that the Holy Spirit will "teach us all things", so I prayed last night that He would help clear this up.  William said that he'd bet I'd be ready to tie a bow on it by tomorrow (I love that man's confidence in me!)  Normally, I would research and form an opinion and THEN blog or teach.  Not today!  Today, I am going to take you along on the journey.  No promises for a pretty bow at the end :)

The first thing that I'm prompted to do is a word study on the original text for LOVE.  Don't get scared!  It's not that hard!  I'm going over to Bible Gateway. Scratch that - they don't have the online lexicon anymore.  Hang on...Google search, OK, now on to Blue Letter Bible.  See on the right where there are 2 search boxes?  The bottom one says LexCon (that's not very beginner friendly, is it?)  If you type "love" in that box, you come up with 40 results, 20 hebrew (Old Testament) and 20 Greek (New Testament).  Now, you could go through all of those, but that would take a long time!

I want to start with a known word in a specific verse though, so I typed "John 14:21" in the TOP search box.

That brings us to the verse with a whole bunch of funy little numbers above all the words:
Notice the numbers above each instance of the word "love", in this verse, they are all "25", this means that they are all the same original root word.  Click on that number and it takes you to this (hold on - don't blank out on me!):
In the upper right, you can click to have it pronounced for you (quite helpful!)  If you are not a word-nerd like me, just skip down to the definitions (Outline of Biblical Usage).  Here we see 2 definitions, and since in the context of the verse we are talking about people, so definition 1 applies:
1) of persons

a) to welcome, to entertain, to be fond of, to love dearly

At this point I am interested to see that the love that we have for Him (expressed as keeping his word) is the same as His love for us.  To be fond of, to love dearly.  I am compelled to wonder if I love God this well...
The next thing I'd like to do is compare with the word used in John 3:16 (go on - find it for yourself.  I'll wait.  You learn best by doing!)
So - what did you find?
Really?  Me too!  It's the same word!  Hmm, now I'm puzzled!  God already loved us, then when we keep Jesus's commandments, it shows we love Him, and Jesus loves us, then God loves us.
The next thing I'll do is scroll down to the Concordance portion.  It shows us the verses where this word is used.  It can help to get a better contextual understanding of the word.  Now remember, this root word is Greek, so the verses are all going to be New Testament.
I see that we should:
Love our neighbors
Love our enemies
Love God (not money)
Jesus loved the rich man (then told him to sell all he had and give it to the poor)
The pharisees loved the good seats in the synogogue (this would be definition 2, to be well-pleased with a thing)
At this point I'm becoming convinced that God's Love is not conditional.  It existed before our obedience (John 3:16) and it is manifested in different ways.  Can you see how dangerous it can be to base a theology on a single verse?
This has not been an "in depth" study, and I'm sure that many have taken it further, and others will take it further.  I'd love to hear about your opinions and see any links that you have to Biblical studies on the Love of God!

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

I'm taking a nap

I'm done.  In the interest of transparency, just in case you were suffering from the illusion that I have it all together, I'm exhausted!

I've spent the beginning of this week cleaning out closets and dismanteling my studio.  We're moving.


It's a good thing, we're all excited about the move.  We're going downtown!  We're going to be urban! If it doesn't kill me first.

I'm 20 weeks pregnant (yay, halfway there!).  We homeschool.  I have a toddler who thinks that dumping out the trash and shredded paper bin is the greatest fun.  He also likes to climb.  And jump.

My husband leaves at 7:30 in the morning and gets home at 7:00 at night.  When he arrives, he usually cooks dinner (I know - I'm a blessed girl!).  Then, he's done.  It's DVR'd AGT, devotions and bed.  This is one reason we're moving, to reduce his stress level and increase the time he's able to spend with the family (hopefully those two don't cancel each other out!  LOL)

So, I've been feeling a little lonely in my move-planning.  He doesn't even switch on "moving gear" until the weekend, then there's just not enought time to get anything done around all the other activities!  I sort and box - one for giveaway, one for pack until after the move, then leave out things that we absolutely need or that will help to "stage" the house. 

So, I spend my time culling through our piles of conspicuous consumption, trying to decide if I'll need "this" in the next 3 months, or ever again. Trying to decide if it goes in the "to the vintage store" pile, the "mother-in-law's garage sale" pile, the "to craigslist" pile, to the church or to the trash. If it isn't needed in the next 3 months, it gets packed. As I tape each box and carefully label it, I am at once both glad I'm doing this job (because I'll know what's in there) and with an overwhelming desire to drop it all off at Goodwill. If I can survive for 3 months without it, why not the rest of my life?

If the item is nice and "normal" (read, "looks like it belongs in a model home"), then it gets left out to stage the house.  Staging the house basically means that we should make it look as though no work ever has to be done, there is room for everything and a cleaning fairy comes throguh every night and tidies up.  We're "selling a lifestyle" not a home.  The problem is it's a lifestyle that doesn't exist.  I'm a magician.  POOF, I'm creating it!

And, it makes me tired.

So, I am going to take a nap.

When I wake up, I will address the mess that the children (who are currently "unschooling") and the toddler (who is currently napping, but will surely be awake when I get up) make.  Until then, sweet dreams to me!

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Free 8 Aprons Sewing Pattern eBook!

I just love aprons!  I feel so "June Cleaver" when I wear one!  It is also a very practical way to protect your clothes (especially when you are committed to living simply and having less!).

This great little eBook offers instructions for 8 different kinds of aprons - the possibilities are endless!  I especially like the "pillowcase apron".  It repurposes (hello? - that's what I'm all about!) a vintage pillowcase into a half apron with pockets.  This would be perfect, not only for the kitchen, but also for keeping your money and supplies handy when you do a tag sale (or a booth at a fair).  If the pillowcase isn't too delicate, you could use the completed apron to carry small household cleaning supplies (this is a suggestion just for you - you know I don't clean!  LOL)

This has me thinking I need to finish my "studio apron".  I've got all the supplies, and I think it's a great design (they always are when they're still in my head!) I just need to pull our the sewing machine and DO IT!

Thanks to Savings and Stewardship for passing this along!

Monday, August 23, 2010

21 Days: Day 11 (yep - 11. No, you didn't miss any - I just didn't blog!)

Did you miss the first post?

Since we've had all three kids at home, and are packing up the unnecessary items so we can put our house on the market, I haven't had much time to blog.  We also have not been doing devotionals every night, but we don't feel guilty about that.  Remember the first day, when we told the kid this was a privilege?  That means that you also aren't allowed to feel guilty or condemned when you didn't get it done!  (It's called grace, it's amazing!)

Last night we read John 11.  This is a familiar passage where Jesus raises Lazarus from the dead.  It also has everyone's favorite memory verse:
"Jesus wept".  John 11:35
I am proud to say that we all memorized it last night!  LOL

We have abandoned the provided devotional (sorry Pastor Zack!) and have just been discussing our favorite parts, the most interesting parts and if we learned anything new about Jesus.  We also keep a dictionary, concordance and Bible handbook nearby in case we need to delve in deeper (my favorite thing to do!)  It usually takes us about 15 minutes to read the chapter aloud, then we discuss for about 20-30 minutes, depending on how involved we are getting.  We always close in prayer.  I cannot tell you how amazing it is to read the Bible with your children!  When we get to the prayer time and are sharing needs, asking for help - it is clear once again that this is our primary "small group".  I have tears in my eyes right now, because I am so blessed to have this experience with my family!

We spent a little time discussing "Jesus wept", asking why He wept.  He had already told the disciples that Lazarus was only "asleep" and would be raised from the dead.  So He wasn't crying for Lazarus or for His own loss.  We speculated that it could be one (or all) of the following:
  1. He was sad that Martha didn't have faith in Him
  2. He was moved with compassion at their grief
  3. He was empathizing with them
  4. He was angry at the devil, since this was not the way it was supposed to be.  No one was supposed to die or grieve, but because of sin the world is broken, and it made Jesus mad and sad.
Whatever the reason was, we know that this is another place where we see Jesus' human emotions.  It is comforting to know that we have a God who is able to really understand our pain!

We also spent some time discussing the plot to kill Jesus (vs. 47 - 57).  This wasn't the first time Jesus had been in danger, but it was the first time that there was an organized, political plot to kill him.  To help the kids understand, we asked them what they would think if Pastor Zack didn't like another pastor in town because "he was performing many signs" and he was afraid that more people would go to his church.  (Just to be clear - we know this wouldn't ever happen - we love Pastor Zack!)  The kids thought that was pretty funny, especially Calvin!

One thing that is a bonus through this is that we are teaching our kids to pray on their own.  We've always done bedtime prayers and encouraged them to pray on their own, but this is the first time that we've consistently been having them pray aloud (other than meal time!)  The first night was a struggle, now they don't have any trouble!  We have them think of one thing (at least) for which they are thankful, then one thing they need God's help with.  We even had the opportunity to share:
Psalm 139:23-24 (New American Standard Bible)

Search me, O God, and know my heart;
Try me and know my anxious thoughts;
And see if there be any hurtful way in me,
And lead me in the everlasting way.
When one of the kids couldn't think of anything they needed help with.  We encouraged them to ask for God to tell them if there was something they needed to work on.
If you aren't doing devotions with your family (don't panic!), I encourage you to start small, just read a passage or a chapter and discuss it.  Don't worry if you don't have all the answers, sometimes the questions are better than the answers anyway!  Look for these few things:  What did we learn about God?  What did we learn about man/ourselves?  What principle or character trait did we learn, and how can we show that better in our lives?
And - don't beat yourself up if it's not every night - just start again (and again!)

Friday, August 13, 2010

21 Days: Day 4

Did you miss the first post?

If you'd like to follow along with the short and easy devotionals, click here to download the .pdf

Today was John chapter 4.  It is a familiar passage about "the Samaritan Woman at the Well".  This woman was an outcast, going to the well in the hot afternoon to draw water.  This really rang true to me, since it was 105 yesterday!  I can't imagine having to walk miles to get my water, especially feeling so ostracized that I would be willing to do it in the hot part of the day just so I wouldn't have to endure the other women's looks and comments.  On a side note - isn't it sad that we (women) have that in our natural makeup?  We often judge one another, on so many different levels and for such silly things too!  God, please help us to reign in that cattyness!
What really stood out to me was the pure love that Jesus had for this woman.  It superceded all cultural boundaries (she was a Samaritan).  It crossed gender lines (she was a woman).  He looked past the situation and just saw the person.  I prayed and asked God to help me be better at that.  It's so easy to get caught up in propriety that we forget what is really at stake. 
Calvin's favorite part was in the end of the chapter when Jesus healed the nobelman's son.  He said that it was cool that Jesus could do a miracle so easily.
William had a migraine, so his participation was mostly just in presence and we didn't have  a lot of discussion.  Jordan is still at Nana's house, but they are reading there too :)
Looking forward to chapter 5 tonight!

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

21 Days: Day 2 (A wedding and a rant)

Did you miss the first post?
If you'd like to follow along with the short and easy devotionals, click here to download the .pdf

We missed each other last night, so we all got up before William went to work to do our devotional together.  It was nice!  Today we read John 2.  Before we started, I clarified a mistake I made: The gospel of John was not written by John the Baptist.  I did a little bit of research yesterday because I wasn't confident with that analysis.  Since it was written aproximately 69-90 AD, it could not have been written by John the Baptist, who was beheaded by Herod!  It is most likely authored by "John the Beloved" Jesus's disciple.  My family was very forgiving - hopefully you will be too!  ;)

In John chapter 2, we read of Jesus's first miracle, and possibly his most famous (not to mention controversial in Christian circles today!)  Turning water into wine at the wedding in Cana.  One of the things that struck me is that this was 3 days after Jesus had his first "converts" and not only was he invited to the wedding, but so were his disciples.  Having been a wedding planner for 10 years, I'm struck by the cultural differences - I mean, can you imagine a typical bride today including an extra 3 people just a few days before the wedding?  The caterer would have already gotten the totals!  Not to mention that it's an extra (insert outrageous price per head here, multiplied by 3)  And what about favors - would she have enough?  Would she have to rework her entire seating chart?  Oh the pressure - it might just make her go Bridezilla!

I don't know about you - but I'd love to return to a culture that throws open the welcome to new people, a concept of "the more the merrier"!  So anyway, back to the study :)

I am also intrigued by the way Jesus speaks to his mother, addressing her as "woman".  I have an 11 year old son - I can assure you if he addressed me as "woman", it would not bode well for him!  But Mary just turns and tells the servants "do what ever he tells you".  That's my kinda lady!

They took 6 vessels, holding 20-30 gallons and filled them with water.  Now my mind is perhaps a little too inquisitive, but I wondered what a 30 gallon container looked like:

the one on the right is a 30 gallon drum
These must have been strong servants, and it must have taken  them a while!  I wonder if they grumbled or if they just filled them quickly, wodnering what was going to happen next?  Anyway, the water was changed, the headwaiter was impressed and word began to spread about Jesus.

The next thing that is interesting is that Jesus and his Disciples went to Jerusalem to celebrate Passover.  The last meal they had together (3 years later) was also passover.  I think this shows that Jesus continued to practice the commands of the festivals, a tenet of the Jewish faith.  It makes me wonder, if Jesus did it, should we?  I have many friends who attend Passover Seders hosted by local Messianic Jewish congregations.  They are committed to honoring the "Jewish heart of Christianity".  At any rate, we should at least be more knowledgeable about the feasts (what, Old Testament relevance? LOL)

So back to the text :)  While Jerusalem was swollen with people, the Temple was ready for business.  They money changers and sellers were there, ready to accomodate those who came less than prepared or had lost their offering on the way.  At first glance, this seems like a good idea.  I mean, shouldn't everyone have a chance?  And some have said that the reason Jesus was so upset is because of gouging - they were charging too much and not giving a fair price.  I don't find that - He is very clear "stop making my Father's House a place of business!"  Ouch - I am instantly reminded of food courts and gift shops in some "mega-churches".  I know many of them donate the profits to missions or the hungry and the poor, but it still makes me wonder if we're following the heart of God.

Another thing that I've always loved about this passage is verse 15:
And He made a scourge of cords

Jesus was crafty!  OK, I know, He was a carpenter by trade, so obviously He was talented!  The thing about this is, it was not a "spur of the moment", "lost in passion" decision.  He made a scourge of cords. \He had to secure materials, put it together and return.  Even if this was done "quickly", it still would have taken some time.  This is further example of His "zeal"

fervor for a person, cause, or object; eager desire or endeavor; enthusiastic diligence; ardor.
In the devotional we are encouraged to seek a deeper zeal (or passion) for our church, our church family and the Gospel.  I asked Calvin if there was anything in his life that he had "zeal" for.  He replied "Karate."  When we prayed, he asked God to "help me find it in myself to have more zeal for church."  I love it!  We didn't even "talk to him" about this, just simply asked a question and let him ponder the verse and what his current passion was. 

We're off to do Day 3 - I'll talk to you tomorrow!

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

My Reading List

One of my goals this year was to read more, so I thought I'd just track it here!
Books I've read / I am reading this year:
Organizing from the Inside Out, Second Edition: The Foolproof System For Organizing Your Home, Your Office and Your Life
The Irresistible Revolution: Living as an Ordinary Radical   Bringing Up Boys  The Pursuit of God  The Principle of the Path: How to Get from Where You Are to Where You Want to BeSimplify Your Life: Get Organized and Stay That Way  There's a Snake in My Garden: A Spiritual Autobiography  Blue Like Jazz: Nonreligious Thoughts on Christian Spirituality

I'll try to keep this updated, and if I get a chance to write a review of each, I'll link it up here!

Books I'd like to read:
God: As He Longs for You to See Him  Good to Great in God's Eyes: 10 Practices Great Christians Have in Common  Little House on the Freeway: Help for the Hurried Home Pagan Christianity?: Exploring the Roots of Our Church Practices  Radical: Taking Back Your Faith from the American Dream 

Alltime Favorite Recommendations:
For Women Only: What You Need to Know about the Inner Lives of Men  For Men Only: A Straightforward Guide to the Inner Lives of Women  The 5 Love Languages: The Secret to Love That Lasts  Interviewing Your Daughter's Date  30 Days to a Simpler Life  Disciplines Of The Beautiful Woman  The Power of a Praying® Wife Book of Prayers (Power of a Praying Book of Prayers)  From Grief To Glory

Don't stop - there's lots more good stuff...

Related Posts with Thumbnails