Tuesday, March 17, 2009

The luck of the Irish....

Once again, time for a trip through time....

Many people today do not know the true story of St Patrick. We know of the parties and festivities that have nothing to do with the story of Patrick, or his answer to the call of the Great Commission. So, today we will have a little history lesson.

At about the age of 16, Patrick, a Scottish young man born into wealth sometime in the late fourth century, was violently captured by Irish raiders and forced into a life of slavery. Patrick escaped years later and was reunited with his family. In a dream, Patrick felt called by God to go back to Ireland to spread Christianity to the land of his captors. So this godly young man set about to make this dream come true. He prayed for God's strength and then studied Scripture to ready himself. The he was prepared to return to the land of his captivity. He preached the Gospel and built churches throughout the country until his death on March 17, 461. For the modern day Irish, St Patrick's Day is considered a time of spiritual renewal as they fondly remember the slave-turned-evangelist who spread Christianity to the Emerald Isle. Many of the symbols of the day are directly related to his preaching. He went to preach to a pagan nation and taught them the idea of the Trinity with the shamrock, three leaves in one. This was a common plant, found all over the ground. This teaching style was one that Jesus used with all of his parables, using the objects found in common life to explain His lessons.

The story of Patrick has always reminded me of the story of Joseph in the Bible. (Genesis 37-50) Joseph, having been sold by his brothers into slavery, became the very one that God used to save their lives. Joseph's story is probably one of my favorites in the Old Testament. My favorite verse in it is Genesis 50:20 "You planned evil against me, God planned it for good."

Another reminder of the story of Patrick and Joseph, is the story of Squanto. He was a friend to the Pilgrims in the New World. He had been kidnapped from the New World by English sea captains and sold into slavery. He ended up being rescued by some monks. They taught him about Christianity, how to speak English and how to read and write. They fulfilled their promise to him and returned him to the New World. Upon returning, he found his entire tribe had dies of an epidemic. Another nearby tribe welcomed him and there he stayed. He was able to talk to the English when they came to settle and taught them how to farm in the New World. Without Squanto, the settlers would have died of starvation.

It seems throughout time, God uses bad circumstances to work miracles for different people and have His name be known. It worked for saving Joseph's family and allowing circumstances for a Deliverer....it worked for the Irish, to move them from a pagan culture to Christianity...and it worked to save the lives of the Pilgrims when they came to the New World. It gives me comfort and hope as he works in the circumstances of my life, that no matter how bad we think things are, God can use it for His glory.

I will close with another St Patrick story, this one a funny one that happened last year to my friend.....We'd been reading Tommie DePaola's book about St Patrick and had focused mainly on the Christian aspects of the holiday-Patrick's faith in God during his time as a slave, his willingness to follow God's call to return to Ireland, his using the shamrock to teach the Trinity, etc. I also wanted to mention some other symbols of the day and of Ireland and asked my daughter if she knew what leprechauns were. She said, "Well, I know Jesus healed ten of them, and only one came running back to say thank you." I just about lost it. Never again will I see a leprechaun without thinking of a leper.

And neither will I.

Friday, March 13, 2009

Happy Birthday!

So you don't think you missed this, all 3 of you that read, I backdated this (I am late posting it!) for my son's birthday...just a mommy sharing her heart.

My oldest son will be 9 years old tomorrow. In the time-line of life, I know this is relatively young, but to this mama's heart, where has the time gone???

I think back to this night, 9 years ago. I was 2 weeks overdue and ready for that baby to come! I was excited to meet him and scared of what kind of mother I would be. You know, they don't come with a manual, but I thank God that I had a mom that gave me good "Mommy Lessons." I was ready and not ready at the same time.

I know now, looking back, that I have never been the same since. There are the usual changes that happen when a child comes along: priorities change drastically, you get little sleep, and the focus of your life changes. I know that you may have heard me tell this story, but it is worth sharing on this "night before anniversary."

Many people will tell you that you do not know love until you become a parent. I remember many people telling me that you are not prepared for the feeling. I remember it so vividly, when it all changed. It had been a long day and we ended up with an emergency c-section. They showed me my 9lb 3oz little boy and then cleaned him up. They brought him to me in recovery and placed him in my arms. Whoa!!!! I don't think you can be prepared for that. The love that goes through you. The love that God gives you for this tiny little baby. The next thought in my head was "Oh, how much God must love me!!!" The thought of giving that child up for anyone! I truly understood the love of God and my salvation as I never had before. The depths of His great love for me.....the willingness for Him to sacrifice His Son for a sinner like me...I remember all of this going through my mind as I held this little baby. I thank God that He showed me all this in the first moments I held my son. It truly changed me and began a desire to grow stronger in my faith, a process that will continue until I meet Him face to face!

I think of what God has let me see in the life of my child in the past 9 years. The milestones and the things that only a mama would see....the first time he slept all night long (2 weeks old...the Lord knows I don't do well on little sleep!)..the first GI Joe crawl...the first words...a seizure that scared us all...the first steps...his first friends...the first time he got bit/hit a church nursery..those little arms hugging me...his beach trips with his Gi and Poppi..his wonderful days of preschool...his excitement when he became a big brother...his sadness when his brother was in NICU and he was not allowed in...the love he gave his brother when a nice nurse let him in to see "his baby!"...the growth into a big boy...the joy of being his teacher and teaching him to read!!...the day he gave his life to Christ..the joy of his baptism...watching him understand and grow in his faith..the little things he says and does that make me laugh. I always tell him that I am sooo glad that God let me be his mommy!

Tonight, the night before my baby turns 9, I rejoice in what God has done in his short life, I thank Him for letting me be a part of it, and I pray for the days and years to come, that I am the mother that God wants me to be.

Thanks for sharing this night with me.

Friday, January 30, 2009

Out of the box

Everyone has them....dishes in a box, or a cabinet, or a cupboard. The special dishes we keep in a box for pulling out to look fancy. We keep them in a box, pull them out to show off or when we think the occasion is special enough.

I have some of these dishes. We did not register for china when we married. I really saw no need in having it. We went on a trip for our 2nd anniversary to a bed and breakfast. The china we used there I loved. It so happened that the outlet for the china manufacturer was nearby, so off we went. We bought our china.

When we moved to a different house, I bought a china hutch for it. To show it off. We have moved again, and I sold the dining room furniture. Now the china sits in special china protectors. No dust, no scratches, no breakage, but it is not being used. All because I have certain ideas about how it is to be used, or its purposes.

You know there is an odd analogy coming up.....and here it is....Do we treat God in the same way? God in a box.

We had an exciting week in our ladies' ministry at church. We started our Bible studies back after the holidays. We have experienced such growth in our church. My friend and I were blown away as almost 90 women joined us to study God's Word. We have a morning session with two studies and an evening session with two studies. It was a full day and I know we were praising God for bringing all these women to learn more about Him.

I remember the first time I sat in a in-depth Bible study. It was over ten years ago, and it was Beth Moore's A Woman's Heart: God's Dwelling Place. I was struck by her love for God and His Word. I wanted that. I have it now. It was a growth process, as I learned to take God out of the box and be my constant companion, friend and Lord of my life. I often want to rush this experience for other women, but have learned that He will meet them where they are, just like He did me.

There are many boxes we put God in. There is the "Sunday only" box. We pull God out for church and "playing church" on Sunday, then put Him back in for the rest of our daily lives. There is the "Doesn't care" box. We think God only cares about our spiritual lives, and does not care what we read, what we watch, or what we wear. We pull him out to pray or read the Bible, then put Him back in. There is the "God can't" box. We keep God in the box, because we think He can't take care of this situation, whether it be a job loss, money issues, or a sin we won't let go of.

We think we can control God, when He cares, or when He works. We need to take Him out of the box. First, because He really is way too big to fit. We have made Him too small. Second, because we can't control how He works, what He sees, or where He is. Last, because we need Him. He is big enough, strong enough, powerful enough, everlasting, eternal, just, merciful, disciplining, loving, and just plain ENOUGH.

Go get that box. Dust it off. Take Him out. Let Him have control over your life. It will be much better than you could ever have dreamed.

"For nothing is impossible with God." Luke 1:37

Friday, November 28, 2008

The Miracle of Thanksgiving

Can you feel sorry for a holiday?

Poor Thanksgiving. It is overlooked in the overcommercialized holiday season. Many even call it Turkey Day. It is thought of as a day of parades, overeating, and football. I don't think it is what our forefathers pictured when it was first celebrated. Of course, many people today don't even know the history of it, or at least the TRUE history....due to some politically correct history adjustments.

Religious freedom in the 1600s was a very scary movement. For the state, it was because they feared it and losing power for the Church of England. For the "Separatists", it was because they feared the consequences and punishments for going against the state religion. In order to worship God and stay true to His ways, they left for Holland. Holland gave them the freedom to worship, but the culture around them went against everything they believed in. They decided that the New World would be their new home.

If you look back at writings from this time from William Bradford, they fully understood what they were doing. It was not a life of luxury they wanted, nor a promise of an easy time. Bradford wrote, "They had a great hope and inward zeal of laying a good foundation, for the propagating and advancing of the kingdom of Christ in those remote parts of the world; yea though they should be but even as stepping stones unto others." They fully expected to begin something that they would not finish, but lay the foundation for future generations.

This reminds me of Hebrews 11, the Hall of Faith chapter. Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, and many others knew they were laying a foundation of faith for the next generation. It was up to the next generation to keep building on this foundation, or to walk away. We see some that did continue to build, and some that did walk away.

We all know that the trip on the Mayflower was not a joy ride. It was a long, cold, and miserable trip. Many on the ship died and most were sick. It is worth taking a look at on your own to see the faith these people had, and how they looked to God for everything.

The Pilgrims landed at Plymouth and praised God. Can you imagine? All the death and destruction they had seen. They landed somewhere they did not want to. They did not know anyone and had no food. But they prayed and celebrated by reading Psalm 100! We can't even go on a three hour trip without complaining about hunger or getting lost!

The days ahead got even worse. By the end of the winter, more than half of the people had died. When spring came, Natives came to help them. The one whose story I am constantly amazed by is Squanto. He is their Joseph.

Squanto's tribe, the Patuxets, once inhabited the land the Pilgrims were living on. The tribe had been wiped out by a plague. Squanto had survived because he had been kidnapped and taken as a slave to Spain and then England. He knew English, and had been taught about God by some monks that had helped him. Out of the evil that had been done to him, he was able to help the Pilgrims.

Squanto taught the Pilgrims how to grow food and harvest it. It was after this harvest that they celebrated what we think of as Thanksgiving.

This is not a holiday of overeating or spending lots of money. It is not a holiday to forget. It is a holiday to teach our family about...to add to the foundation that was laid before us.

We remember the sacrifices made by those first Pilgrims, laying a foundation for a Christian land. We remember the Natives, that helped them. We remember the Sovereignty of God. We remember that God is in control.... and we are thankful that He is.

Shout joyfully to the Lord, all the earth.
Serve the Lord with gladness;
Come before Him with joyful singing.
Know that the Lord Himself is God;
It is He who has made us, and not we ourselves;
We are His people and the sheep of His pasture.
Enter His gates with thanksgiving,
And His courts with praise.
Give thanks to Him; bless His name.
For the Lord is good;
His lovingkindness is everlasting,
And His faithfulness to all generations.
Psalm 100

Monday, November 24, 2008

Pluck it out!!

Are you a tweezer or wax girl?

Sorry any men reading, but stick with me..

I really didn't give it much thought until about the time I got married. I look back at my bridal portraits and cringe. It must have been some time after that when I first had my eyebrows waxed. It would take me years to tweeze them!

It is a personal preference. I would rather have lots of hair ripped out by the roots at one time, than to deal with each hair being plucked out at once. (Bless your heart if you are still reading!) And you have to stay on top of it too. You can be fine one day, and then look in the mirror and think those eyebrows are going to take over! So, do you pluck one out at a time before it gets too bad, or do you wait and have it all pulled out at once. Decisions, decisions.

So, when it comes time to deal with the sin in your life. How do you deal with it?

WHAT!! Yes, I am making the analogy, just go with me.....

When is the last time you took a look at your life through the lens of God's Word. Did you see some out of place things? Are there things in your life that keep it from being a life that glorifies God? Even if it is stuff that no one else knows about. He does.

I have lived most of my life as a Christian. I have spent the past couple of years dealing with the fact that I may not have been a Christian as long as I thought I had. My close friends have been with me through these long theological discussions. I have one friend I must continually annoy with the types of things I get her to discuss with me, but she sticks around anyway.

One of these ideas, is how have I allowed God to deal with sin in my life? I could tell you that 4 years ago, it would be let it go until I have to deal with it. My life was too much of the world. God decided to make me deal with it by ripping a lot out at one time. Ouch! Did it hurt! But, He had a plan that He needed me ready for, and my life needed "waxing". It was not a fun process, but it was worth it.

Since then, I have taken the "tweezer" approach to sin in my life. Pluck it out! When I have something in my life that does not honor God, it is time to pluck it out.

So, are you watching something you shouldn't....pluck it out! Are you saying things you shouldn't....pluck it out! Are you WEARING things you shouldn't....pluck it out! I could go on, but you get the idea.

"God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God." 2 Corinthians 5:21

Go get those tweezers!!

Sunday, November 23, 2008

A new twist on pumpkin!!

I love pumpkin recipes! I am willing to try any new pumpkin one I find. I make a pumpkin dip for gingersnaps that I really like. And I have a new favorite, a pumpkin cobbler.....it is wonderful!

I am sharing the recipe in hopes of changing your traditional pumpkin pie on Thanksgiving to this easy dessert.

Pumpkin Cobbler

1 large can pumpkin pie mix (with the sugar and spices in it)
1 large can evaporated milk
4 eggs
1 box spice cake mix
1 stick butter
2 cups chopped pecans/walnuts (your preference)

Preheat oven to 350. Mix the pumpkin pie mix, eggs, and evaporated milk together. Pour into greased 11x13 casserole dish. Melt butter and mix with dry cake mix and nuts. Crumble mixture over pumpkin in casserole dish. DO NOT MIX TOGETHER. Bake for 1 hour. Serve warm with Cool Whip or ice cream.


Friday, November 21, 2008

I am still here.................

"Reports of my death have been greatly exaggerated"...............stealing a quote from Mark Twain.

I am diagnosing my problem as "scared to blog without pictures." I had someone tell me once that they looked at the blog once, but since there were not a lot of pictures, they didn't bother going through and reading it. Well, what do you say to that? So, now I have a fear of writing a post with out wonderful pictures to go along. I think I need to get over that.

Here is another idea.....there has been so much in my head to write about all the political things going on in our nation, and that might not have been best. I do plan on posting about it, but it will be much different than if I had been too emotional.

So....expect more from me soon......next time it won't take Carmen yelling at me from Tennessee!