Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Is It Beneficial?

This Blog is updated each Tuesday.
I went Christmas shopping in what some call the belt buckle of the Bible belt. Denbigh and I flitted from store to store wishing people a bubbly "merry Christmas!" It was never returned to us. As I was checking out of a Christian mega-store, I wished the cashier a "merry Christmas." Not only did she not return it, she looked at me like she was going to cry. She was stressed. How did we get here? Sure, we all wear our "keep Christ in Christmas" logos, but it has not taken over our hearts. We have replaced the heart of Christ with business. We sit around gossiping about people we say are our friends. We write letters to all our friends bragging about what our kids are doing. Christmas is about JESUS. What is HE doing? I'd really like to get a Christmas letter that says that God is working pride out of a broken heart or how obedience to Christ over comfort has blessed someone. Repeatedly over the holiday I kept thinking about what is beneficial.
I just felt inundated with horrible television, unwholesome talk, angry cart pushers, and non-nutritious food...and a big fat helping of too busy! Sure, all things are acceptable, but not all things are beneficial. I decided that my slogan on 2009 is going to be, "Is it beneficial?" Before I say yes to another thing I am going to ask if it is truly a blessing to those around me or if I am trying to add another chalk mark to my board. I made a mental list of the things God has given me to do in 2009. My goal is not to add any religious trappings to this list. Do the things He tells you to.
Is what you watch, read, talk about beneficial? Do you want your daily life to be acceptable or will this be the year of your personal breakthrough? Will this be the year you lay down the self-indulgent things that keep you from the fullness God has for you? 
Are your words beneficial?

“Like a coating of glaze over earthenware are fervent lips with an evil heart” 
(Prov. 26:23).

• Do I speak kindly to another while harboring hatred or bitterness in my heart? 
• Do I praise another to his face while criticizing him behind his back?

This is your year. The year of your heart change. The year of walking away from mediocrity into full blown fruitfulness. This is His year. May you not be yourself come this time next year.        

 May God pour out His Spirit on you.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Merry Christmas!

Peace on earth. We see it everywhere. On buildings. On cards. It's universal. It's generic. It's "all faiths." Beauty contestants tell you it's their deepest hope. Even those with a secular worldview tout it as their philosophy. The scripture, however, does not say that the peace will rest on the earth, but on you. What a humbling thought.
 May the peace of God rest on you who have His favor this Christmas!

"Glory to God in the highest,  and on earth peace to men on whom his favor rests." -Luke 2:14

I went to share at MOPS last week. I was sick the whole time, but I am prayerful that God was still glorified. I gave a portion of my testimony and shared how the Christmas story is God's love letter to us. Also, I shared the Father's Love Letter. I will include the video. I will include a hard copy to go out to all of you on our mailing list in January! Enjoy.

I was reading the BBC News the other day and came across a reporter who decided to make the walk from Nazareth to Bethlehem as recorded in Luke's gospel. It is amazing to me how God designed each step of their journey with specific intent and by doing so laid out a love letter to us. Most know the story of Jesus being born in a manger. Most think this was an idea of God that began the New Testament of the Bible. The truth is that God began writing it before the world began and began recording it in the first book of the Bible. In Genesis He began the story of His great love for you. When Adam and Eve went against God's Word and broke fellowship with Him we see that God already had a plan in place to restore the fellowship. In Genesis 3 is the protevangelion- a fancy term meaning the first mention of the good news. That good news was and is that there is someone coming that desires to save you and have relationship with you. Repeatedly throughout the Bible we see God desiring to show mercy to people. In that great mercy, He penned each and every word of the Bible as a love letter to you. 

Do you wonder what God has been trying to tell you? If you stand miles from a mountain range you can admire the majesty east to west. If you didn't have that separation and were on the mountain top you would only see what is right around you. God and few choice people were given the vision to see life as one looking at the mountain range. He spoke and used prophets, people chosen to speak for God, to declare His love for us. The Old Testament prophets spoke frequently about a coming Champion. Every page from Genesis to Malachi, the Old Testament, seems to tremble with wondrous anticipation of His coming.  The books were written by many different writers over many different centuries. Through one particular nation, Israel, who encountered great trouble repeatedly, God's plan was to let the whole world know of His love. Just when the people needed hope, God sent spokesmen to offer foretaste of a better future. Throughout the words and works of the prophets, there were glimmers of a Savior - a king who would rescue the people and restore them to God. Christ fulfilled hundreds of prophesies...all of the prophesies regarding the Messiah. The odds of any one doing that is 10 to the 17th power.

Isaiah prophesied that Jesus would be born of a virgin. Micah that He would come from Bethlehem. There were many references to a ministry of teaching, healing, and miracles. He would be a man who would have public favor, then rejection, and be acquainted with the deepest grief.

So why would He come?

The Man and the Birds by Paul Harvey

The man to whom I'm going to introduce you was not a scrooge, he was a kind decent, mostly good man. Generous to his family, upright in his dealings with other men. But he just didn't believe all that incarnation stuff which the churches proclaim at Christmas Time. It just didn't make sense and he was too honest to pretend otherwise. He just couldn't swallow the Jesus Story, about God coming to Earth as a man. 

"I'm truly sorry to distress you," he told his wife, "but I'm not going with you to church this Christmas Eve." He said he'd feel like a hypocrite. That he'd much rather just stay at home, but that he would wait up for them. And so he stayed and they went to the midnight service. 

Shortly after the family drove away in the car, snow began to fall. He went to the window to watch the flurries getting heavier and heavier and then went back to his fireside chair and began to read his newspaper. Minutes later he was startled by a thudding sound...Then another, and then another. Sort of a thump or a thud...At first he thought someone must be throwing snowballs against his living room window. But when he went to the front door to investigate he found a flock of birds huddled miserably in the snow. They'd been caught in the storm and, in a desperate search for shelter, had tried to fly through his large landscape window. 

Well, he couldn't let the poor creatures lie there and freeze, so he remembered the barn where his children stabled their pony. That would provide a warm shelter, if he could direct the birds to it. Quickly he put on a coat, galoshes, tramped through the deepening snow to the barn. He opened the doors wide and turned on a light, but the birds did not come in. He figured food would entice them in. So he hurried back to the house, fetched bread crumbs, sprinkled them on the snow, making a trail to the yellow-lighted wide open doorway of the stable. But to his dismay, the birds ignored the bread crumbs, and continued to flap around helplessly in the snow. He tried catching them...He tried shooing them into the barn by walking around them waving his arms...Instead, they scattered in every direction, except into the warm, lighted barn. 

And then, he realized that they were afraid of him. To them, he reasoned, I am a strange and terrifying creature. If only I could think of some way to let them know that they can trust me...That I am not trying to hurt them, but to help them. But how? Because any move he made tended to frighten them, confuse them. They just would not follow. They would not be led or shooed because they feared him. 

"If only I could be a bird," he thought to himself, "and mingle with them and speak their language. Then I could tell them not to be afraid. Then I could show them the way to safe, warm...to the safe warm barn. But I would have to be one of them so they could see, and hear and understand." At that moment the church bells began to ring. The sound reached his ears above the sounds of the wind. And he stood there listening to the bells - Adeste Fidelis ( O Come all ye faithful)- listening to the bells pealing the glad tidings of Christmas. And he sank to his knees in the snow. 

Thus we see Mary, a young betrothed Jewish girl, an angel before her telling her she would give birth to the son of God. Jesus would toddle behind her in His infancy, but then she would follow Him to the cross. In that way God had sent the ultimate Christmas gift to all of us. God specifically chose her sensitive, God-loving husband to be Christ's earthly father. He specifically chose Bethlehem, a town meaning town of bread to host the one who was called the bread of life. In each and every part of the Christmas story God was specific. He was specific in the name Jesus which means God saves. He had sent an angel to Joseph to tell him that Name. It is amazing how God continually chose the low and the humble. Israel, a lowly nation, possible a manger in a cave, shepherds, peasants for parents, the lowly shepherds chosen to come first. None of these humble beginnings would have met our expectations, but God's ways often run counter to our own. 

Then the mark of royalty came. The opulent wise men appear. They bring gifts with specific meaning and purpose. These 3 people were about to have to run for their lives to Egypt to escape King Herod. God had already set a plan in place for the wise men to make this journey and bring them provision for the journey. They were poor and could not have made it otherwise. Theologians speculate that it could have taken them up to two years to arrive. Can you imagine someone preparing for your needs two years before you even knew what they were?

What were the gifts? Gold- a gift you give a king. It probably paid for their passage to Egypt. 

Frankencense (means whiteness)- If gold said kingship, the frankencense said godliness, purity...a gift for a priest.

Myrrh- the gift that would have made Mary shudder was a familiar anointing oil to embalm the dead.

We see in these three gifts a King who came to sacrifice as a priest and offered Himself to the point of death.

God was continually guiding them during the whole story. The fact that they were non-Jews and even foreigners suggested that the child was much more than a Jewish Messiah. This is a note to you- it doesn't matter who you are or where you come from. 

So, why the manger? Why the lowly birth? Jesus could not have brought this message from a palace window. He could not have mixed with lepers or societies most rejected people. That is exactly what He came to do.

The forgotten end of the story- When Joseph and Mary went to dedicate Jesus at the temple they came upon Simeon. Simeon was an old man who had been declaring that he had been told he would see the Son of God in his lifetime. He saw Jesus and he knew. Anna, an old woman known to be a holy woman & a prophetess & who never left the temple began proclaiming that the Son of God had been born. 

Can you imagine Joseph and Mary sharing with their son all they had been told. You will wipe away the sins of the world. Christ hung on ever word of God and poured over it until the day he stood in the temple to proclaim, " I am the one Isaiah described so long ago." Repeatedly He answers the question: Why did He come?

I have come to call sinners. I have come in my Father's Name. I have come as a light to shine in this dark world. I come from Him and He sent me to you.

The ambassador's urgent business, then, is a rescue mission. No one has the power to rise above the tendrils of sin. He came to give a rich & satisfying life. He wants you to squeeze every possible ounce of joy out of this life. If He didn't come to show you, you would never know how. Why should the birth of Jesus bear any more claim upon us than any other event?

God's Word says He sent His son to be born as a man, take on all of our sins and be killed for them so that we can have relationship with God. God is trying to reveal Himself to you this Christmas. Are you too busy to see Him?

(every time we open a new book with a picture of Jesus (or Joseph) in it, Laomai exclaims, "Daddy!" I thought I would put one of her books up with a picture of Daddy so you can see his resemblance to storybook Jesus.)

House Update:
We need a shower/bath. Know any plumbers? 
Below is my first jar. I live in the country so we have to put everything in jars. I love these jars (they even have them at Walmart). They remind me of my grandma! 

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Where To From Here

I have been pondering something lately. It is about beauty. There is such a flux of Christian women's material about us believing we are beautiful and lovely. I think it is wonderful. I know that this is an area the enemy attacks and we are left feeling repulsive and unusable. I think, however, it can be like any good thing. It can become an idol. It can lead us to pride. Yes, learn what God says about you. Then, move on. Once you know who you are in Christ you must move to the next step or that knowledge is fruitless. Many days you must love, give, serve and not be concerned with how you feel about yourself at all. You have to lay that perception of yourself down and continue on the journey. Don't you think that some of the most beautiful people are the ones least concerned with being perceived as beautiful..the humble serving saint? Press on to the next step. There is a specific place God has you to go to next. Go with Him. There is something else He desires to teach you. Learn from Him. He wants you to be focused on His beauty. Turn away from the mirror and behold His face.

In direct opposite to this, the cultivated field has yielded itself to the adventure of living. The protecting fence has opened to admit the plow, and the plow has come as plows always come, practical, cruel, business-like and in a hurry. Peace has been shattered by the shouting farmer and the rattle of machinery. The field has felt the travail of change; it has been upset, turned over, bruised and broken, but its rewards come hard upon its labors. The seed shoots up into the daylight its miracle of life, curious, exploring the new world above it. All over the field the hand of God is at work in the age-old and ever renewed service of creation. New things are born, to grow, mature, and consummate the grand prophecy latent in the seed when it entered the ground. Nature's wonders follow the plow. 

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Update on Gomer

(part of the butler's pantry!)

We are often asked about the name Gomer's House and if we know that Gomer was a prostitute. I think the beauty of Hosea and Gomer's story is in how far away she went as well as in how far he went to get her. In today's time she would be the equivalent of a woman who left her husband to become a crack whore in a cult and ended up involved in human trafficking. Hosea paid the price for her freedom. Sound familiar? In an incredible act of love God had chosen her redeemer long before she fell into the trap of the enemy. Long before she was broken and needy, God had chosen a man to bring her healing. Christ has done that for us today and continues to do so moment to moment. We want to be people's Hosea . . . the hands, feet, mouth of Christ to the hurting...no matter what the need is. Simple burn out to adultery, addiction, or loss. We want to bring you back to the thing God has called you to do. I often think of what Gomer must have been like in the end when Hosea brought her home and for years loved her. I think she must have been the most beautiful thing to behold because she is a picture of what God will make restored Israel into. 
Gomer. Israel. You. Chosen. Set apart. Beloved.


I am going to include an extra post each week on the blog so that you can watch Gomer's story unfold. This week we had two days of people coming to clean. You can only imagine the dust that is in a house that hasn't been lived in in 15 years. We now have running water and thanks to my wonderful husband, a toilet that works. He changed out all of the parts. He even had to hacksaw something. Amazing. My guitar toting hubby is now a plumber!

Monday, December 08, 2008

You Have Been Chosen To Rebuild

This Blog is updated each Tuesday.
On Saturday we had an overwhelming 45 people show up to move and bless Gomer's House. It amazes me how God can bring people together for His glory. I am thankful to God for each and every person that helped and prayed on Saturday. 
I love restoration. Over the past few years I have redone over 40 pieces of furniture. Something about it gets to me. It gives a physical symbol to a spiritual reality. Every square inch of our house needs to be restored . . . every square inch. God has already selected the people who will come restore and in the process be restored. I have begun praying a multiplied blessing on the servants God has chosen. 
The trumpet blast has been heard. God sent a man to blow a horn on Pray day. Perhaps this means nothing to you, but to me it means more than I can say. A shofar (horn or ancient trumpet) was blown to rally the troops to a specific location. Felix had no idea that his trumpet playing would mean so much to me personally. The shofar also was used to announce the year of jubilee! http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Shofar
Shelley brought these items to symbolize a blessing she read over us and Gomer's House. I will post the blessing later.
People gathering on the porch to pray.

Anne anointed the house with oil.

from Anne's blog:
Those from among you
Shall build the old waste places;
You shall raise up the foundations of
many generations;
Isaiah 58:12 (nkjv)
Laomai "mocking" the floor (in her words).

You are the ones chosen to rebuild.

Nehemiah 3

Builders of the Wall
 1 Eliashib the high priest and his fellow priests went to work and rebuilt the Sheep Gate. They dedicated it and set its doors in place, building as far as the Tower of the Hundred, which they dedicated, and as far as the Tower of Hananel. 2 The men of Jericho built the adjoining section, and Zaccur son of Imri built next to them.

 3 The Fish Gate was rebuilt by the sons of Hassenaah. They laid its beams and put its doors and bolts and bars in place. 4 Meremoth son of Uriah, the son of Hakkoz, repaired the next section. Next to him Meshullam son of Berekiah, the son of Meshezabel, made repairs, and next to him Zadok son of Baana also made repairs. 5 The next section was repaired by the men of Tekoa, but their nobles would not put their shoulders to the work under their supervisors. [a]

 6 The Jeshanah [b] Gate was repaired by Joiada son of Paseah and Meshullam son of Besodeiah. They laid its beams and put its doors and bolts and bars in place. 7 Next to them, repairs were made by men from Gibeon and Mizpah—Melatiah of Gibeon and Jadon of Meronoth—places under the authority of the governor of Trans-Euphrates. 8 Uzziel son of Harhaiah, one of the goldsmiths, repaired the next section; and Hananiah, one of the perfume-makers, made repairs next to that. They restored [c]Jerusalem as far as the Broad Wall. 9 Rephaiah son of Hur, ruler of a half-district of Jerusalem, repaired the next section. 10 Adjoining this, Jedaiah son of Harumaph made repairs opposite his house, and Hattush son of Hashabneiah made repairs next to him. 11 Malkijah son of Harim and Hasshub son of Pahath-Moab repaired another section and the Tower of the Ovens. 12 Shallum son of Hallohesh, ruler of a half-district of Jerusalem, repaired the next section with the help of his daughters.

 13 The Valley Gate was repaired by Hanun and the residents of Zanoah. They rebuilt it and put its doors and bolts and bars in place. They also repaired five hundred yards [d] of the wall as far as the Dung Gate.

 14 The Dung Gate was repaired by Malkijah son of Recab, ruler of the district of Beth Hakkerem. He rebuilt it and put its doors and bolts and bars in place.

 15 The Fountain Gate was repaired by Shallun son of Col-Hozeh, ruler of the district of Mizpah. He rebuilt it, roofing it over and putting its doors and bolts and bars in place. He also repaired the wall of the Pool of Siloam, [e] by the King's Garden, as far as the steps going down from the City of David. 16 Beyond him, Nehemiah son of Azbuk, ruler of a half-district of Beth Zur, made repairs up to a point opposite the tombs [f] of David, as far as the artificial pool and the House of the Heroes.

 17 Next to him, the repairs were made by the Levites under Rehum son of Bani. Beside him, Hashabiah, ruler of half the district of Keilah, carried out repairs for his district. 18 Next to him, the repairs were made by their countrymen under Binnui [g] son of Henadad, ruler of the other half-district of Keilah. 19 Next to him, Ezer son of Jeshua, ruler of Mizpah, repaired another section, from a point facing the ascent to the armory as far as the angle. 20 Next to him, Baruch son of Zabbai zealously repaired another section, from the angle to the entrance of the house of Eliashib the high priest. 21 Next to him, Meremoth son of Uriah, the son of Hakkoz, repaired another section, from the entrance of Eliashib's house to the end of it.

 22 The repairs next to him were made by the priests from the surrounding region. 23 Beyond them, Benjamin and Hasshub made repairs in front of their house; and next to them, Azariah son of Maaseiah, the son of Ananiah, made repairs beside his house. 24 Next to him, Binnui son of Henadad repaired another section, from Azariah's house to the angle and the corner, 25 and Palal son of Uzai worked opposite the angle and the tower projecting from the upper palace near the court of the guard. Next to him, Pedaiah son of Parosh 26 and the temple servants living on the hill of Ophel made repairs up to a point opposite the Water Gate toward the east and the projecting tower. 27 Next to them, the men of Tekoa repaired another section, from the great projecting tower to the wall of Ophel.

 28 Above the Horse Gate, the priests made repairs, each in front of his own house. 29 Next to them, Zadok son of Immer made repairs opposite his house. Next to him, Shemaiah son of Shecaniah, the guard at the East Gate, made repairs. 30 Next to him, Hananiah son of Shelemiah, and Hanun, the sixth son of Zalaph, repaired another section. Next to them, Meshullam son of Berekiah made repairs opposite his living quarters. 31 Next to him, Malkijah, one of the goldsmiths, made repairs as far as the house of the temple servants and the merchants, opposite the Inspection Gate, and as far as the room above the corner; 32 and between the room above the corner and the Sheep Gate the goldsmiths and merchants made repairs.

Tuesday, December 02, 2008

I Cannot Deny the Cross

This Blog is updated each Tuesday.
(Anne drew this picture of me with her eyes closed at an art class we took. It's a great likeness.)

A week ago we gave every penny we had to a lady at American Title. I asked if I could have all of the pens in the office because I could no longer afford to buy Christmas presents. She said, "sure thing, sug," and handed me thirty pens. I hope it doesn't spoil the surprise, but I got all of you friends and family a "real nice" pen for Christmas! 
In all seriousness, the events of our lives over the past year have been amazing and defeating. The beauty of being in Christ is that the defeat makes the amazing more beautiful. I am overwhelmingly grateful and humbled to have been written into the Father's love story. God has appointed this specific thing for me. The enemy may try to gain the glory for it, but I know God in His sovereignty appointed it for me. I give it back to Him to do with as He chooses.

Today I went to the Dr and learned that I could have had healthy twins, but instead I sat there with an empty womb and a disheartening prognosis. All of the things I have been thinking about lately were coming together today as I sat in the waiting room. I thought about Jesus and the nativity. I thought about how very often tragedy is God's plan. To deny that fact we would have to deny the cross. I cannot deny the cross. I cannot deny that pain has allowed me to feel much more than I could have with out it. Life has very often come to me through processing the effects of death. 
Mostly my own.

Today, I am awe struck at creator God. In January God gave me a word in prayer. Elkanah. God creates. He brings something spectacular from nothing at all. We own a house. It is as empty and as void of life as I am. It is in as much disrepair as I am. I know that as we slowly and carefully restore every square inch of this house that God Himself will restore us. I am thankful for the daunting task that lay ahead and the Creator God that will bring it to fruition. 
(picture by Pauly Vliet - used without permission :O)

Now for something lighthearted. I was tagged by kynasaul.blogspot.com

I have been tagged again.

8 T.V. Shows I like:
If I watched tv, I would be addicted to Court tv, the food network, & hgtv. I do see the occasional Veggie Tales episode.

8 Restaurants I Enjoy:
1. Juan in a Million
2. Garcia's
3. Truluck's
4. Romeo's
5. Trattoria Lisina
6. Manuel's 
7. Bordeaux's
8. The Oasis

8 Things that Happened Today:
1. set up Shiloh at noon
2. Went to see Dr Gooch
3. Mom brought Laomai home
4. ate Sonic for supper on the fly!
5. took Laomai to hang out with Anne, Steve, Syd, Ben, and Scout (Scout out the land!)
6. Shiloh
7. talked to my mom on the phone
8. blogged

8 Things I am Looking Forward to:
1. BSF Thursday
2. coffee with Kristi
3. cleaning the house tomorrow
4. NOGS with Tanya and Christine
5. Moving Day!
6. a working bathroom!
7. digging into scripture to go and share at MOPS (shout out to Kyle/Buda Mops!)
8. a fire and the Eiland's jacuzzi! (house sitting)

8 Things on My Wishlist:
1. Spiritual growth for myself and my family (stolen from Kyna)
2. 300,000 dollars!
3. a big family
4. snakeskin boots
5. Laomai to know and love Jesus quickly
6. a date with my husband
7. Rain
8. Christmas festivities and the live nativity

People I Tag:
1. Anne (Lively) Smith
2. Tammy Jaso
3. Tiffany Atwood

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

It Belongs To God

This Blog is updated each Tuesday.
(This isn't the greatest picture of me, but I wanted to show off my new necklace Klorissa gave me. It's name is "Patina." I love it! It reminds me of something God allowed me to overcome and accomplish. I wear it and am thankful. I had a book published. Little 'ol me.)
I am in recovery. (Aren't we all?) I went into labor a little over a week ago at only 15 weeks and we lost another baby. This is my fourth miscarriage. I don't think anyone wants to process this kind of thing out in the open, but I feel like it is what God wants me to do. As I was in the emergency room I kept hearing a phrase in my head repeatedly. "We lose our joy when we hold onto things that belong to God." My children belong to God. All of my children belong to God. Another thing I thought of is how people try to console those who miscarry with telling them that their children are in heaven. I know there is no promise of that in scripture. I trust God anyway. 

This Thanksgiving I am thankful to God for pain and restoration. I know that hurt has caused more healing in my life than most anything else. There is something about times where you are raw and emotional that allows walls to be torn down and kindness to spring up. Perhaps we are too tired to fight it. No matter, I am grateful for it. I am not the same person I was two weeks ago. As I slowly go through this hand in hand with Jesus I know that ten more losses would be worth one more gain. I am grateful for the most beautiful little girl. I am thankful for a husband who wouldn't leave my side in the hospital even for a minute until I was taken to surgery. I am grateful for a mom (and Babe) who rushed down and helped soothe my broken heart. I am thankful for the hundreds of flowers I received from the women at our church bringing roses to me. I am blessed to have a wild and crazy husband who is willing to give up all the normal entitlements to buy, remodel, and open up his home to people who are hurting. I am thankful for friends and the love of God displayed by His Spirit. What are you thankful for?

... everything comes from You, even what we give you comes from Your own hand.
1 Chronicles 29:14

* I posted a mini book review on Sunday (see below).

I have no idea how I did this to Denbigh
My Rockin' Husband

our niece, Millie
Laomai celebrating a Baylor win with a good brushing of the teeth!

Miscarriage | Infertility | Hope

I encountered Jesus as a young child in a church pew in the balcony of an old country church. Through a lifetime of trial, I knew he was the...