“What do you want for Christmas, Mom?” An inevitable question, that invariably gets asked this time of year.
Our answer last year when Audrey asked, was, “Nothing.” And we meant it. We had our health, a beautiful new grandson, and so much to be thankful for that as we looked around our beautiful home, and in our closet, and our pantry, there wasn’t a thing we wanted, or really even needed….let’s face it, we all know the things that we REALLY want; money can’t buy.
So Audrey did the only logical thing. She bought us a pair of goats, and eight chickens, and gave them to a family somewhere in Asia in her parent’s name. I don’t think Audrey has ever been so excited nor had so much fun, shopping and giving a Christmas gift. She almost bought a water buffalo, but decided against it.
The idea of giving a gift to someone that will help in their livelihood and future appeals to me. You know the old adage,
“Give a man a fish, feed him for a day
Teach a man to fish, feed him for a lifetime.”
So when she and I discussed the idea we both felt it was the absolute best idea…and she couldn’t believe how cheaply she could help someone like that. When we received the card in the mail, Rog read it and said, “We got chickens and goats for Christmas!” We both laughed, but we were glad. And this year, who knows, we may get that water buffalo!
You can help put in a water well for $100.00 and if that seems a little rich for your blood, you can give $25.00 and give someone two chickens which will produce hundreds of eggs which they can eat or sell. One goat is $75.00. The possibilities are endless, shoot, you can buy an entire barnyard of 2 cows, 2 sheep, 2 pigs, 2 goats, + 20 chickens for $2000.00. You certainly couldn’t buy that much livestock in the U.S. for that price. Plus remember those animals multiply, and the offspring are sold, or help feed the family.
Here are just a couple of organizations that I know of who you can contribute to that do this sort of thing. They are reputable and the options are limitless. The organization that Audrey ordered from was Gospel for Asia, Gospel for Asia
Or there is World Vision . I’m sure there are many others, maybe you even know of some already, but I encourage you to look around you this Christmas and ask yourself.......
Not really for anything specific…….there is just too many things to name.
But I am thankful.
I realize as I read the thankfulness lists of others, and then stop to think about being thankful too, the precipice of my thankfulness comes from a verse in Deuteronomy.
As Thanksgiving has been approaching, I have felt compelled (woke up in the middle of the night) to read the book of Deuteronomy. This is not a book that many people would consider light reading, but as I’ve read it in this season of thankfulness, I realized that as Moses took the people of Israel through their past, reminding them of all that God had brought them through, their own behavior and choices; their history. After he did that he gave them hope and promises for their future.
The Israelites had come along way, but they also had a long way to go. Moses wanted to remind them of the past to give them strength for the future. Thanksgiving does that for us. It reminds us of our past, our blessings, and gives and reminds us further that when we move forward into our futures, that our God who has brought us to this point, will abide with us still.
The summation of these blessings for the Israelites is spoken by Moses when he says:
The Lord did not set His love on you because you were more in number than any other people, for you were the least of all peoples; but because the Lord loves you, and because He would keep the oath which He swore to your fathers…..Deut. 7:7-8
This is not the only place in Deuteronomy where Moses reminds the people that God loves them. So as I’ve read, I’ve been reminded over and over that the greatest thing I have to be thankful for is that God loves me. This isn't the first time I've read this passage and those words have come off the page, in fact I read it every once in awhile, just to remind myself that it is ..... For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast. Eph 2:8-9
Everything that I have or even don’t have I have because of God’s plan….and His plan for me is for no other reason than because He loves me.
So as I am Thankful, and come to the table today, I will give thanks and rejoice in God’s love for me through Jesus Christ my Savior!
Nicolas plays basketball on a city league here in Emporia. The other evening a few of the guys that he plays with practiced out at our church’s gym. When they were done, one of the fellows approached Nic and asked him if he attended church there. Nic’s reply was yes.
The fellow then proceeded to ask Nic if he knew a certain individual who he thought attended our church, Nic replied that he did. The conversation resulted in how this gentleman knew our fellow church member when the gentleman commented “well all I can tell you is that he is a (political party affiliation).”
As Nic related the story to me I was saddened that the man’s remembrance of this fellow wasn’t that he was a Christian, a follower of Jesus Christ, but what his politics were.
You may think that politics are important. That by being involved you can change the world, and influence things for the better, but let me remind you that the apostles, who had every reason to hate the Roman empire, and politic against it with everything they had, choose instead to become known as followers of Jesus; people who had been with The Christ. Their influence is still felt to this day, centuries later.
Election season is upon us…whether we like it or not, and I am already sick of it, and we don’t get television. If I had a nickel for every e-mail that I have received bashing Obama, the Democrats, politicians in general, I’d be a wealthy person; and I mean WEALTHY!
When people speak of you, and they will, who will they affiliate you with? Whose follower will you be?
13 Now when they saw the boldness of Peter and John, and perceived that they were unlearned and ignorant men, they marveled; and they took knowledge of them, that they had been with Jesus. Acts 4:13
For there is hope for a tree, if it be cut down, that it will sprout again, and that its shoots will not cease. Though its root grow old in the earth and its stump die in the soil, yet at the scent of water it will bud and put out branches like a young plant. JOB 14:7 – 9
I don’t know if there is a formula for reviewing books, and I’m sure that the abbreviated description I give here of an outstanding book will not even begin to do it justice, but I hope that simply because I am holding it up to you as something worth while you will take my word for it and read it.
I had no idea what this book was going to be about, but the fact that she is Ravi Zacharias’ daughter, and Anne Voskamp recommended it on her reading list on Holy Experience were two reasons that assured me it was worth taking a chance on; I underestimated it.
The Scent of Water by Naomi Zacharias is a continuation for me of a Bible study that we did at church this last summer on prayer. We studied different countries and cultures, and then prayed for those people groups within those cultures and the issues that we in this country can’t even imagine. Issues that they face as the norm everyday. A theme ran through the entire study that we all, admittedly, recognized by the end of the summer. Women and female children in other countries, especially third world countries, suffer tremendously.
I did not intentionally read this book for that reason, as I said, I had no idea what it was about, but the theme and subject were not lost to me as memories of this study at church came to mind as I read.
In The Scent of Water she puts names and faces, and personalities to the generalities that we learned in our Bible Study. I found myself feeling sick after reading some of the chapters, and actually told someone the book was depressing. I realized that as I read further and she shared her observations, the lessons learned about perspective and how experiencing hopeless situations changed her, that if I HAD been able to read this book without the sorrow and sickness in my stomach, there would have been something desperately wrong with me.
As I read this book, not just about the situations and circumstances through wonderfully told stories told by an excellent story teller, I appreciated her admission that one of the biggest reasons that she started Wellspring Ministries was because she is a fixer, and this outreach made her realize that she couldn’t rely on herself; she saw her limitations and only God would do in these situations and circumstances. However, she also was reminded that she could be Jesus over and over again to others in the smallest, gentlest, and easiest ways and make an impact on a heart and a life.
At the end of the book is a review that I felt captured the entire tome perfectly—I share it with you here.
Naomi Zacharias takes us on an eloquent, page-turning tour of abject human suffering, giving us an intimate view of physical, mental, and emotional despair on a level we can barely comprehend. As she relates the painful stories of others, she leads us on a parallel track, describing her own personal struggles and heartaches. Instead of impeding her goal to help others, the very hardships she was experiencing empowered her to empathize with them. It was through losing herself in the suffering of others that Naomi found herself, and through witnessing the sheer triumph of spirit in people who converted agonizing experiences into unquenchable flames of service that she discovered the boundlessness of God’s grace. For when God is in charge, there is hope for the seemingly hopeless, hope that can flourish with just a “scent” of God’s promise of redemption. In The Scent of Water, Naomi shows us the truth of James 1:2 – 4: “Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.”
DAVID LIMBAUGH nationally syndicated columnist and author of Crimes against Liberty
I have a friend who had a hard weekend ahead of her. I had promised her I would be praying for her.
As I had my devotions Saturday morning I thought about her. Our friendship is more of an internet type of deal as we see each other only at church and church related functions as she works during the week and I am at home most of the time. We never pick up the phone and call. We facebook or e-mail with little time actually being spent in one another’s company. However when we are able to actually spend time together it is rich~~so rich.
Something the commentator in my devotional book said made me think back to a time before the internet and e-mail. Now I am thankful to receive and be able to send those little reminders to folks I love, care about and am praying for, letting them know that I AM praying for them, they are on my heart and in my thoughts. However, it reminded me that before all that, instant messaging had to be done through the ultimate messenger, the Holy Spirit..
This realization came when I realized that He sends messages—yes, long before telephones, facebook, e-mail, texts and twitter, God knew how to let us know of his constant continual thoughts of us letting us know He loves me, is thinking of us, and Jesus is interceding for me at His throne all the time. .
“How precious are your thought of me, O God! How great is the sum of them!" Ps 139:17
Rainbows in the clouds, sunsets and sunrises, that stops us in our tracks, a rainstorm in the midst of dryness, a newborn baby fresh from his arms.
“Come and see the works of God; He is awesome in His doing toward the sons of men.” Ps 66:5
Of all the messages you may receive today I hope you know—
“…and your thoughts toward us cannot be recounted to you in order; If I would declare and speak them they are more than can be numbered.” Ps 40:5b
We were hearing advertisements on the radio at night or early in the morning about the WWI Memorial and Museum in Kansas City. The only reason these caught our attention was because Kevin Costner was doing the speaking—his voice is recognizable.
We were going to do a weekend get away to KC before the push of two jobs the guys were working on and decided that the WW I Museum and Memorial was one of the things we would take in. Even though we had been to Kansas City many times, I’m ashamed to say we didn’t know it was there and had never visited it.
It was educational, enlightening, interesting, all the things I know that any museum and memorial are going for to attract people.
As we wandered our way around and through, you couldn’t help but notice a group of young service men in fatigues going through as well. It was a self guided tour, so we kept bumping into a few of them here and there throughout. We also encountered a man about our age accompanying two elderly gentlemen in wheelchairs who were veterans; you could tell by their hats and the patches and emblems on them.
It was a moving exhibit. The reality of war always is. You couldn’t help but read about the hardships they suffered in the trenches, with mud, cold, snow, and sickness without being moved. As I stood reading the time line of a portion of the war, getting close to the end of it all, explaining the armistice that was signed in 1918, I turned and was caught up in what was one of the most poignant moments of the entire tour for me.
As I had been reading absorbed in the information and pictures before me I had not noticed the elderly veteran in the wheelchair who had rolled up beside me on my left, or the young man in fatigues who now stood on my right. One who knew war and had fought for this nation we live in, and one who was in the midst of it now. I was flanked not just physically but emotionally by two men who had fought, and were fighting for my freedom, the freedom of others, and the liberty that we all enjoy. The moment was not lost on me. I choked, tears came to my eyes and, I’m sorry to say, I had to walk away. If I had tried to speak to either one of them to say thank you I would have lost it.
9-11 is this weekend.
As we are hearing things about all the events planned for this weekend, the scene at the WWI Memorial came to me. 9-11 was an act of war, and the horrors of that day ten years ago are still with us, just as the horrors of every war America has ever fought in are still with us. But as I think about all that happened, I take comfort in the fact that like wars before, there are those that have battled and will continue to battle on that we can live in freedom in this nation.
I may not have been able to say it that day but I can now………..
Roger and I usually eat out on Sunday’s after church. It is my “day off”. However, I had quite a bit at home I wanted to try to accomplish Sunday afternoon so I ask Rog if we could just run through McDonalds and pick up lunch and take it home, plus I needed a Coke really bad.
As we swung through the double drive through, we noticed a pretty red car in the other ordering lane that actually wound up in front of us when we turned the corner to go to the “pay here” window. It had a Missouri tag on it, which isn’t unusual at a McDonalds a half a block from the interstate. We thought nothing of it.
As we pulled up to the window to pay, the young lady told us “It is already taken care of.” I can only imagine the expressions on our faces as we both looked at her and said, “What!??” She said, “Your meal has been paid for.” “By who?” we both asked in unison. She looked at the red car at the pick up window and said, “The lady in that car. She said to tell you ‘Thank you Jesus’.”
Roger’s response was, “But she is from Missouri!” (in other words, she doesn’t even know us!) The little girl grinned and said, “I only know she paid for your meal.”
By this time the red car had pulled away. As we pulled up to the pick up window to get our food, we both strained forward to catch a glimpse of our “gifter” as she turned back onto the road. She looked over at us too, grinned really big and waved; needless to say we both smiled and waved right back.
As we drove off, the obvious question came from Rog, “WHY! Would she do that?”
I remembered a movie we saw years ago called “Pay it Forward” starring Helen Hunt, Kevin Spacey and Haley Joel Osment. The premise was exactly what this lady had done. Do a good deed for someone with no expectation, and simply ask them to “pay it forward”.
As we watched her turn back onto the interstate I told Rog, maybe she wants us to “pay it forward”.
A gentle unexpected kindness from a stranger. Surprising and refreshing. I know how it made us feel, and I’m thinking that if something as simple as a ‘quarter pounder’ with fries and a Coke can make someone’s day, perhaps it should be done more often. I’m now looking forward to the chance to “pay it forward” for someone and hope to get to see the look on the face of the recipient…….I’m sure they will be smiling to.
"Therefore, whatever you want people to do for you, do the same for them, because this summarizes the Law and the Prophets." Matthew 7:12
The restaurant where we went is small, and the tables are what I would call close together. It wouldn’t have mattered.
When we walked in and sat down at our table, there were three young ladies, I’d say college age, at the table next to us. One of them was on her cell phone.
As we sat down and waited for the waiter to come take our orders, it became apparent that the young woman on her cell phone was in a strained conversation with or about a young man. It was a private conversation.
At least it should have been.
As we sat there looking at the menu, not even at arm’s length away from this girl, we both squirmed and cast glances at one another over our menu’s trying not to over hear her side of the conversation—that was impossible--and it wasn’t pretty.
I didn’t want to be there. From the looks on the faces of her companions, they didn’t really want to be there either. Can you say AWKWARD???
I wanted so badly to lean over, pull her phone away from her ear and look her straight in the eye and say to her—
“You don’t really want to do that here…………..do you?”
Yes, folks, I’m begging you; please consider those around you when you are having a cell phone conversation in public.
I know. I’ve been gone from here for almost two months. Life is good, don’t worry, but as usual, God is teaching me things, and I’ve been writing them down. This is one of them………
Remember the game Trivial Pursuit?
You pursued knowing trivia; unimportant mindless trivia, and you actually won for knowing it.
I am finding that my life, our world, is full of trivia.
I have spent a week off the internet. I felt compelled to fast and pray for some folks last week, and as I was having more folks over to eat than usual, I knew fasting from food was not going to be logical, yet I knew I was supposed to pray and sacrifice for these folks. I figured that the internet is something I spend a good amount of time on, so I decided to cut it…………..out.
I’m back on now, but in a very limited quantity.
I sat down and checked my e-mail on Sunday afternoon. Out of 94 emails, 5 were pertinent, and the information in those, I actually already knew. Trivia filled my in box. I deleted most or all of it without looking at it. If you forwarded me something you thought I’d enjoy reading, sorry, I didn’t read it.
I went to facebook. There were wonderful pictures of my new great nephew who is still in the NICU and thriving, those were a lift and a wonder, and some fun pictures of friends new babies, but the rest…………you guessed it… Trivia.
I did not read my favorite blogs on Sun. I waited and relished those on Mon. morning while Sam slept. Those WERE NOT trivia. They were like letters from friends telling me what they are learning as they walk with Jesus on this earth. They were encouraging, and inspiring, and uplifting. I’ll continue to check those every day.
I found that reading the word, praying the Psalms for those I was praying for and doing so many other things that are not trivial made a HUGE difference in my week.
Over the past couple of days as I’ve checked in with those I’ve been praying for, things are improving or at least they are learning new coping mechanisms for the storms that are raging in their lives.
So I ask myself; Trivia……….do I really want to pursue that?
“But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness and all these things will be added unto you.”—Matt 6:33
I take a devotional magazine called Table Talk, from Ligonier Ministries. Dr. Sprole is an apologist of amazing qualifications and has the list of literary accomplishments to prove it. I appreciate him and his writing, and the work and study that it takes to defend the faith of millions of Christians against the onslaught of philosophies out there that would attempt to undermine it.
Reading his books, articles, and the devotional magazine put out by his organization simply reiterates and establishes in my mind what I already know. God IS God. That the things written about Him, and by Him, and for Him are true and I can believe it with my whole heart.
But as I read Dr. Sprole's books, and those by Ravi Zacharius, one of my favorite speakers and apologist’s, I am constantly reminded that there are millions of others out there that make these men’s job of “defending the gospel” necessary. These men like Paul who have studied and shown themselves approved defend the gospel and our faith on the world stage in debates and discussions to remind the rest of mankind that Jesus DID walk on this earth, we are not some accident of a cosmic explosion, and that there is an absolutely phenomenally well planned, and intricately detailed plan in place for what their counterparts want to call “all this chaos”.
Does God need to be defended, absolutely not, but Paul does exhort us in scripture to be prepared to defend our faith and the hope we have in Jesus Christ. I just realize that my level of defense needs to be strengthened.
I remember reading one time where one of the great current apologists was being interviewed and was asked if he ever struggled in his faith. His response was surprising to me. He said that because they spend so much time proving the scriptures, defending the faith that it can become easy to forget that it IS our faith which is the determining factor in our relationship with Almighty God.
Faith to keep going in any and all circumstances. Faith to believe when all around you doubt. Faith to suffer. Faith to give your life for another.
It isn’t the facts and figures, it is Faith. That is where it starts. Faith.
You know in 2 Cor. 13 Faith is listed as one of the gifts of the Spirit. It is a gift. From God.
Many times in the gospel accounts Jesus marveled at the faith, not of the Jews, but of the unbelievers; the centurion with the sick servant, the woman with the sick child, a small boy with five loaves and two fish. It makes me think and ask myself. How is my faith?
“For it is by grace that you are saved through faith—and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God—not by works, so that no one can boast.” –Eph. 2:8-9
It is the end of the Easter season—if for Christians there really ever is an end to the Easter season.
As I’ve read the gospels during this time period I was struck by the passage in John 21:15-23 that the church always refers to as the part where Jesus restores or reinstates Peter.
Jesus has risen from the dead. He has appeared to his disciples—numerous times in fact. This time he is on the beach cooking breakfast. The disciples have been fishing. As they return to shore, Peter sees Jesus on the shore, jumps from the boat, leaving the others in eager anticipation of reaching his Lord and Teacher before the others.
When they arrive and as they eat, Jesus turns to Peter and asks him a question.
“Simon, son of Jonah, do you truly love me more than these?”
Peter’s response is quick, “Yes, Lord, you know I love you.”
But Jesus repeats the question, “Simon son of Jonah, do you truly love me?”
Again Peter responds, “Yes, Lord, you know that I love you,”
But again Jesus asks, “Simon, son of John, do you love me?”
This time Peter’s response is to put it back on the Lord, “Lord, you know all things; you know that I love you.”
Remember this is the same guy who not a few weeks before had denied ever knowing Jesus for fear of what others would do if they knew he did know Jesus. As the question kept coming up, I’m thinking that the memory or that time of betrayal became clearer and clearer in Peters mind.
This appears to be the only time in scripture where Jesus confronts Peter one on one in a non-confrontational way about the proverbial “How do you really feel about me?” following his death and resurrection.
We don’t know whether Jesus ask these questions over and over because he wanted to make Peter feel better about himself, or assure him that he understood Peter’s denial, or even that he forgave him, although all those things could be true.
Jesus had a job for Peter. Every time he asked the question he followed it by giving the instruction. “Feed my sheep”, or “Tend my sheep”.
You see Jesus knew that for Peter to continue on in the calling of a follower of his, as a minister on his behalf, as a disciple of Jesus Christ, Peter’s love for Christ would be what enabled him to feed his sheep. Jesus knew that Peter would have to love his Lord so much that he would never deny or disregard him again. Jesus knew that Peters love for him would have to be his all in all.
The last time Jesus said, “Feed my sheep” He followed it with, “I tell you the truth, when you were younger you dressed yourself and went where you wanted; but when you are old you will stretch out your hands and someone else will dress you and lead you where you do not want to go.” Jesus said this to indicate the kind of death by which Peter would glorify God. Then he said to him, “Follow me!”
Jesus was telling Peter that his life was no longer his own to do with as he pleased. Jesus had a job for him and Peter’s love for Jesus was going to be the fuel, the catalyst that gave him the ability to manifest itself in proclaiming Jesus, and tending and caring for the flock. Sure enough, when the Day of Pentecost arrived, and the Holy Spirit came, Peter’s love for his Lord, coupled with the Power of the Holy Spirit enabled him to “feed Christ’s sheep”, and yes, later on, even die for his faith in his Lord.
So as I read this passage and the words, “Do you love me?”, kept coming off the page, and I realized the direction Peters live took after this exchange, I wondered, would I sound a lot like Peter in my response to Jesus if he asked me “Do you love me?”
If Jesus asked you, “Do you love me?” What would you say?
Both of these books were written about events that took place during WWII. They are excellent stories of resilience and courage, sacrifice and strength. But if you have read the books you realize they came up light in those attributes when you watch the film.
When I have read a book where the author is recording history and the movie industry puts sex where there was none, and violence where there was none, and changes the story to represent what THEY want it to be I’m saddened……because as Roger said. “It was a good story. Why didn’t they just tell it the way it was? Why mess with it? They must have thought it was a good story too and should be told, so why did they change it?”
Are endurance, strength, sacrifice for the sake of others such boring concepts to hold people’s attention that they feel they have to put a sex scene, pornography, violence, and foul language in where the author, even if it was present, or happened, didn’t deem it necessary to mention it in the book?
I guess the thing that bothers me is that we are such a visual society, that more people will see the movie than read the book. The story will be told wrong, and the author and the events of his life or their lives misrepresented to the world. If I had done the things that the Belski Brothers or Slavomir Rawicz had done, I would be saddened by the “liberty” that had been taken with the facts.
Life is speeding up and I’m losing sight in the blur of time to “see” what I am thankful for.
The faster Sam moves, the faster time speeds by, and I’m losing my focus—it’s easy to do….
I’ve been here before, the haste and hurry of days as children grow and begin to motor toward life, faster and faster till in the spinning it all begins to blur. But I’ve learned some lessons about finding a focal point, keeping your eye on it, and you won’t have such a hard time seeing..
So as he sleeps, and I hear his steady breathing in the monitor after he hummed and cooed himself to sleep, I am sitting here giving thanks for:
--That little sing-song voice I hear in the monitor that slowly fades into rhythmic steady breathing.
--The beautiful spring day with the Lilies of the Valley’s just on the verge of blooming.
--Clean warm laundry fresh from the dryer.
--Remembrances of the Palm Sunday when I was baptized at 12 years of age and understanding when the pastor placed his wet hand on my head and told me that Jesus had washed away my sins.
--Easter is coming
--The mowing is done…….for another week.
--It’s time to start planting flowers and getting the deck ready for sitting out and lolling away warm spring days and hot summer evenings with a tall glass of iced tea.
--The sounds of the mockingbird……yes he is back and chattering up a storm.
--A bluebird that comes and sits on the pillar not 5 feet from my kitchen window, so close the blue of his feathers shine iridescent in the sun—he is beautiful.
I’ve prayed for God to give me eyes to see—really see—the things of value of importance, that will “make the heart glad”, and he is......giving me sight, because He is my focal point.
Don’t think I’ve dropped from the planet………..I’ve been sick. We are talking--spend the day in bed taking narcotic cough syrup so you can finally get some rest—sick. Never—NEVER!!—are we as thankful for good health as when we don’t have it.
The year I was going to celebrate the big "Sweet 16" my mother and I had planned to go to Manhatten where my sister Alane was attending KSU. It was parents’ weekend and I was going to get to spend my 16th birthday at college with my older sister and her college friends doing cool college girl stuff—I was ecstatic. I had shared with all my friends at school what I was going to get to do, and a few teachers too, as several of them knew my sister and asked about her frequently. Everyone shared my excitement.
That Friday morning I got up and got dressed, finished packing my suitcase, and took it downstairs. I didn’t feel well, but went ahead and ate breakfast and got ready to go to school. I think I remember Mother questioning me as to whether I felt alright, but I wasn’t about to miss the awesome weekend ahead so I assured her I was good.
Somewhere during that Friday I remember being called to the principal’s office. Which I thought was sort of strange, but I had been in a fog all day, so I didn’t’ think much about it. There stood my mother. Apparently, everyone else could tell I was sick but me. The secretary, who had been called by one of the teachers, called my mom to come and get me. Sure enough when we arrived home and she took my temperature, the trip to K-State was cancelled. What made matters worse was that I found out later that my sister and her roommate had ordered a cake, decorated their room and were anxiously awaiting our arrival to surprise me. Needless to say, I spent the rest of the weekend feeling pretty sorry for myself, and sicker than a dog.
This birthday brought back all those memories, as I stayed home from church on Sunday in a cough syrup induced coma trying to get better.
Imagine my surprise when Rog came home with a lovely card, signed by all the folks in our Sunday School class, a beautiful rubber tree plant, and….wait for it……..CHOCOLATE TRUFFLES from The Sweet Granada!!!! Yes, those would make anyone feel better.
So as I continue to recover from this “stuff”, I’m reminded again how very important it is to let people know you care about them, love and appreciate them; especially when you are fortunate enough to be the one on the receiving end of it.
Last month at Angel Food Distribution the pastor from the Eureka church, that drives an hour one way to pick up their food for distribution, told me that the church had voted to discontinue doing Angel Food any longer sighting several legitimate reasons; lack of volunteers, his own health issues, and orders being down. I was saddened to hear this, but understood, and wished him well.
As I went on line this week to print out our monthly paperwork, I noticed that the Eureka church had orders filed, so I called him. He immediately apologized, and stated that yes, they had orders and were going to continue Angel Food after all. A small, lay driven church, (meaning that it is so small they have no pastor, at least full time), about 12 miles from Eureka had contacted him offering to take orders, and even drive the two hour trip to pick up the food if they would allow them to use their facilities for distribution. It was an offer he couldn’t refuse. He told me that he would be bringing “a few” of their folks up on Sat. to get the lay of the land and meet us.
When Sat. rolled around, as I drove to the church at 5:45 a.m. I went over in my head all the people who had told me that they would be unable to help this month due to Childrens Quizzing, Upwards Basketball, and various other scheduling conflicts. I figured we would do well to have 4 or 5 men there to help unload the truck, with myself and one other lady. Imagine my surprise when I walked in and there was the Pastor from the Eureka church with 7 men ready to help upload the truck and learn the ropes. Needless to say we had the truck unloaded in short fashion.
Due to the scheduling conflicts for so many, I also knew that my regular helpers that help with distribution and carrying boxes out to the cars would be gone and I would more than likely be distributing all by myself. Not to worry, I had my trusty cart and felt confident I could handle it.
Shock is the only word I can use to describe the feeling I had when, as everyone was dispersing to go their separate ways, I turned and there was a young woman from Emporia State and 8 International Students standing in the hall. When I asked her if I could help her, she replied “We are here to help with Angel Food”. I checked their backs for wings.
The morning went smoothly, and the distribution was great. They caught on fast, we chatted and shared things about their native countries and they even helped put things away as time grew to a close.
When they left and I was left alone thanking and praising God for the help that He had provided, I realized something that amazed me.
These students were only here for one semester on a student exchange program. The organization that they were with, GIVE, was only started last year by the young woman who spoke to me at the beginning.
God not only provided help with the unloading, and the distribution, but part of that help came from half way around the world!!! I couldn’t have come up with that plan in my wildest dreams. Kids here studying for one semester from South Korea and China helping distribute Angel Food!!
We have been studying in both Sunday School and in Ladies Bible Study about the children of Israel when God led them into the Wilderness; the lessons he wanted them to learn. As they encountered hunger He supplied manna from heaven, and when they thirsted for water, He supplied it from a rock; I’m thinking that those too were pretty unlikely methods of feeding someone and quenching their thirst. So, I guess I shouldn’t be surprised when the help I need comes from half way around the world, huh?
The Psalmist states in Chapter 121:1-2
1 I will lift up my eyes to the hills— From whence comes my help? 2 My help comes from the LORD, Who made heaven and earth.
There are certain books that you read in life that when you do read them think them the best kept secret known to man. You go back and re-read them, maybe all or parts. Hinds Feet on High Places, The Prodigal God, The Jesus I Never Knew, What’s so Amazing about Grace, those are a few of mine.
Now I have another one.
One Thousand Gifts by Anne Voskamp is one of those books. If you have checked my links at all, the ones that I check and read every day for inspiration, cheer, encouragement, and all those things that we in the family of God are supposed to do for one another, you will find Holy Experience there.
Sometimes people write books that you read and they are you, verbalizing in a way you can’t. Saying what you have learned, are experiencing, and you wonder if perhaps your dilemmas in this place are not that uncommon to more folk than you realize.
Hardships, sorrow’s, heartbreak, we have experienced them, but how do we respond, what do we learn, take away from them? Maybe we know what we should learn and take away, but do we remember and retain and keep and cherish those lessons learned? You will find answers in here from a fellow traveler who has found the door and is holding it open for the rest of us to go through, being that signpost that we are all called to be—“this is the way, walk in it.”
I was a fan of Ann Voskamp before. Her daily writing has become a small part of my devotions each day to focus my mind on loving God with all my heart, soul, and might. I am even more impressed and encouraged by her willingness to lead the way through the aftermath of the mire life can become, by sharing her story, and the lessons learned, and remembered, and followed. But most of all by the Christ she points to.
You will cry, you will grin, and you will feel it deep inside you as you read and relate and thank God, and Praise Him for these words that have come from a place of deep truth born of deeper sorrow. Just the beginning of being Thankful. If you are experiencing dark days, the darkest you couldn’t even imagined, or you have experienced such days, and come through praying that nothing like that ever repeats itself, this book is for you, for it reminds us of the most important thing of “giving thanks in all circumstances” and why……..yes, why…….the most important part.
I’ve been reading in the prophets lately—a little “lite” reading, but as usual something came off the page that made me think of the above saying.
When God gave Jeremiah the word of the New Covenant He would bring to His people, He said:
“Behold, the days are coming, says the LORD, when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and with the house of Judah— not according to the covenant that I made with their fathers in the day that I took them by the hand to lead them out of the land of Egypt, My covenant which they broke, though I was a husband to them, says the LORD. But this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, says the LORD: I will put My law in their minds, and write it on their hearts; and I will be their God, and they shall be My people. No more shall every man teach his neighbor, and every man his brother, saying, ‘Know the LORD,’ for they all shall know Me, from the least of them to the greatest of them, says the LORD. For I will forgive their iniquity, and their sin I will remember no more.”
He followed that in Chapter 33 by telling just how He would do this.
Behold, the days are coming,’ says the LORD, ‘that I will perform that good thing which I have promised to the house of Israel and to the house of Judah: ‘In those days and at that time I will cause to grow up to David A Branch of righteousness; He shall execute judgment and righteousness in the earth. In those days Judah will be saved, And Jerusalem will dwell safely. And this is the name by which she will be called: THE LORD OUR RIGHTEOUSNESS.’ “For thus says the LORD: ‘David shall never lack a man to sit on the throne of the house of Israel; nor shall the priests, the Levites, lack a man to offer burnt offerings before Me, to kindle grain offerings, and to sacrifice continually.’ ”
This promise, and the explanation of the fulfillment of it are the prophecy of Christ’s coming, Jesus fulfilled these by coming and dyeing for our sins. Most of you would say, “Yes, Andrea we know all this.” BUT did you know that God followed both of these promises with a “when Hell freezes over” confirmation?
Thus says the LORD, Who gives the sun for a light by day, The ordinances of the moon and the stars for a light by night, Who disturbs the sea, And its waves roar (The LORD of hosts is His name): “If those ordinances depart From before Me, says the LORD, Then the seed of Israel shall also cease From being a nation before Me forever.” Thus says the LORD: “If heaven above can be measured, And the foundations of the earth searched out beneath, I will also cast off all the seed of Israel For all that they have done, says the LORD. And again in Jeremiah 33:19
“Thus says the LORD: ‘If you can break My covenant with the day and My covenant with the night, so that there will not be day and night in their season, then My covenant may also be broken with David My servant, so that he shall not have a son to reign on his throne, and with the Levites, the priests, My ministers. As the host of heaven cannot be numbered, nor the sand of the sea measured, so will I multiply the descendants of David My servant and the Levites who minister to Me.’ ”
Did you get that?
The challenges that He gives are, in essence, a “when hell freezes over” type of deal. He may not have used slang to express it, but I’m pretty sure He established the whole idea of such an absurd thing as “when hell freezes over” ever happening.
After all: The sun will always rise, and night will follow day. The stars cannot be counted. We know more about the surface of the moon than we do about the caverns and caves of this earth.
So we can be assured His covenant will stand forever!
Two weeks ago we were invited to attend a birthday bash for my aunt who turned 94. I told Roger that when we get to be that old birthday celebrations become as important again as when you were 4; a huge milestone on both ends of a life.
But what about the in between? What milestones do we mark and how.
A year ago at this time we were in a whirlwind of recovery from a divorce, and the shock and awe of a grandchild who, like the Christ child’s, untimely existence and appearance was rocking our world. I attempted to make sense of it all, and was literally grasping in prayer for guidance, and help not only for Roger and me but for our children. I, as usual, had to keep my hands busy. A baby. What do I always do when there is the announcement of a baby? I make a quilt.
But this quilt would have to be special; after all it was going to be for our first grandchild.
During the time I stitched and sewed, I prayed. I hoped, I wished, and I cried out to God with every stitch asking that my prayers give way in the faith that God would see us through such a tumultuous time in our family.
Creativity is something that brings peace into my life. There is no better balm than when I am busy thinking about something else, and doing something when I feel I can do nothing.
I finished it yesterday, and Samuel received it on his first Christmas.
When I shook it out after sewing the last stitch and looked at the finished project, I cried because I remember where I was this time last year, emotionally, physically and spiritually. That quilt is a reminder of answered prayer, healing, restoration, and the joy that is ours. But most of all it is a reminder of God’s tender mercies. A milestone documented in a marker with a verse to remind us all that with every wish that was made, that with every prayer that was uttered, God has been faithful to stay with us, bring us through, reminding us of His compassion and mercy; His tender loving care.