Tuesday, January 30, 2007
As a child, Samantha, too, had a vibrant interest in archeology, but then again, she also said she'd like to be a jazz singer in a piano bar. When Leah was little, she wanted to be a combination preacher-fireman-baton twirler. Ashley didn't care what she'd be... as long as she and her husband and her kids could all live with us. Forever. :}
Leah, so far, has hit closest to her childhood aspirations. She's in full time ministry, as Director of Children's Ministry at a church near here, and prior to KiDZ, she worked with middle school students. She CAN twirl a baton, but to my knowledge hasn't yet used that talent as part of her job description; she and sister Sam did wow the middle schoolers once with a board-breaking Karate demonstration, tho'. She's almost finished with a Masters in Communications, and has probably set aside that fireman thing, I hope.
Ashley discovered that she could use her analytical mind and actually get paid for it! When she chose to go to Virginia Tech, we figured she had outgrown that 'I'll never leave you' syndrome. She got her B.S. and M.S. in Statistics; Virginia Tech actually recruited her to do her graduate work there. She now enjoys a very interesting career as an Analyst. Really. And, I do believe she and husband Nate are quite happy NOT living with us.
Samantha is still in college, with a dual major in Communication and French, and she, too, amazes me. She is fulfilling that aspiration to sing,.. not in a piano bar, but in venues such as a campus coffee house, a Government Prayer Breakfast in Rwanda, and as part of the Women's Worship team at Grove City College. She does a killer rendition of At Last (à la Etta James), ...and maybe she will yet get to a 'dig' in Egypt.
Saturday, January 27, 2007
I read an article today on the Follow the Rabbi website about the flood plain of the Jordan River during the period of time concurrent with the Book of Genesis. The article explains that the Jordan River cuts through the Great Rift Valley, where the soil is the sediment of an ancient sea that won't sustain vegetation and absorbs little water. Only the soil right along the river bank soil is suitable for vegetation, and a lush growth (the thickets of the Jordan (Zech. 11:3; Jer. 49:19) is found there, but doesn't extend much beyond the water. For this reason, an area that appears from a distance to be fertile is actually barren. With the exception of a few oases and the river bank, the plain wouldn't have been suitable for agriculture. From a distance, however, the area looked lush and well-watered (Gen. 13:10).
The article points out that when Abraham and his nephew Lot decided to part ways, Lot chose the Jordan plain, because of its appearance from a distance. When it couldn't support his crops or his flocks, he moved to the oasis town of Sodom, which was notoriously evil. It was a bad choice, and he eventually lost everything because of it. Lot didn't ask God which he should choose, nor did he consider Abraham's welfare. He made his decision based upon what his eyes could see. Appearances can be deceiving.
I've made assumptions. I've acted and reacted at times based upon what I thought I knew. I have a pretty active imagination, and have formed opinions based upon perceptions. I have found, however, that when I make decisions based upon prayerful determination of God's direction, even when things don't seem to go well, I can trust that He guided me and will bring something good of it all. And when they do go well, He gets the credit, not me.
"Ask me and I will tell you remarkable secrets you do not know about things to come." (Jer.33:3 NLT)
Friday, January 26, 2007
1784 Ben Franklin expresses unhappiness over the eagle as America's symbol
1837 Michigan admitted as 26th US state
1861 Louisiana becomes 6th state to secede
1952 Bruce Jon Edwards is born
1954 Ground breaking begins on Disneyland
1962 US launches Ranger 3, misses Moon by 22,000-miles
1986 Super Bowl XX Chicago Bears beat New England Patriots
1988 "Phantom of the Opera" opens at Majestic Theater New York City
1989 US computer security expert warns of catastrophic virus
1997 Super Bowl XXXI Green Bay Packers beat New England Patriots
1998 Intel launches 333 MHz Pentium II chip
Bruce Jon Edwards
Bruce the jazz singer
Auld Lang Syne
Thursday, January 25, 2007
I was reading Exodus 14 this morning in my Bible. Verse 21 says, "all that night the Lord drove the sea back with a strong east wind and turned it into dry land." When the wind of God blows, things move.
In both of those situations, the people who would benefit diretly from the effects of God's wind were waiting on Him. In the Acts passage, the disciples were sitting...and had been there for nine days. Jesus had told them to 'wait for the gift my Father promised' (v.4). In the Exodus account, the Hebrews were situated between the pillar of cloud and the sea, with nothing to do but wait. In fact, God had told them, "The Lord will fight for you; you need only to be still."
I've also been reading the book of Ruth. There's no wind involved in this one, but there is the waiting. Naomi told her daughter-in-law to "Sit still, my daughter, until you learn how the matter turns out; for the man will not rest until he finishes the matter today." Ruth had to trust that her kinsman redeemer would quickly seal the deal for his bride. He did.
So, I see a pattern emerging concerning how God may be speaking to me. Often, He directs and answers me through Scripture. While I've been praying that the wind of God would blow, and move things in the situations I've been praying about, I'm to sit still, to watch and see what He's doing. It's not profound, I know, but when I perceive God speaking to me, my expectations rise. I almost sense Him taking me by the shoulders, sitting me down, and saying... "Watch this!"
And hey, it's very windy here today!
Tuesday, January 23, 2007
About 2 weeks ago, the ramp was finished! Did I mention that Maggie is a goofy Sheep Dog?? True to form, she was afraid of the new ramp and wouldn't go down to frolicdom. So, we began to 'teach' her how to do it. This involved putting her on a leash, and forcing her to go down. That worked. :) But, as you may have already guessed, goofy Maggie would not go back up the ramp. So, we literally had to coerce her by pulling her up, and then rewarding her when she came back to the kitchen, with a 'doggie treat' and a litany of praise. After 2 days, she was cooperating, and last week, she actually went down, and back up, all on her own! ...followed, of course, by a 'doggie treat', and a litany of praise. You CAN teach an old dog new tricks! Maybe there's still a chance to get her on Letterman!
You may remember that I had complained about her sleeping patterns, or lack thereof, back in December. Well, since she's been back to exploring the yard, she's been sleeping at night again. Until last night. :# Around 1:00 A.M., she started the barking and pacing routine. I tried the old, 'lie down' command, but that's never worked, so I sat in the living room, hoping she'd lie down and go to sleep. When she went to the door leading to the deck and barked, I thought, 'Oh good, she just needs to go out...', so I opened the door to accomodate her. She walked out, did a head-fake at the ramp, turned around and walked right back into the kitchen, awaiting her 'doggy treat' and litany of praise, of course. I tried to ignore her, because I didn't want to reward her faux nature-walk. But, she kept barking, and cocking her head... so I gave in. I gave her the 'doggy treat' to shut her up.
It could've been my imagination, I know, or maybe the glimmer of moonlight in the darkened kitchen, but I swear she winked at me! She was no doubt thinking... ' You CAN teach an old people new tricks!' ;)
Monday, January 22, 2007
The road surface had been wet, but as the sun went down, it got icy. I was driving. Shortly into the drive, we noticed a car along the right shoulder of the road, but I was looking at its headlights instead of its tail lights... a clue that something was up. Over the next 5 miles, we came upon 5 major multi-vehicle pile-ups, with cars upside down, smashed, and/or in the grassy median. Police were on the scenes, but emergency personnel hadn't even arrived yet. It was a very sobering experience. With the exception of, "Oh, my..." or "I hope there's no people still in that car...", conversation in our car ceased, and prayer increased.
One of my biggest challenges was keeping my focus on the road and the cars immediately ahead, rather than on the scene of the wreckage to my right and to my left. I was tense enough as it was, without allowing all the bad news around me to increase my fear. And the distraction of even a moment or two may have caused me to make a mistake or to lose control of my car, adding to the mayhem. There is a phrase in scripture, 'without turning to the right or to the left'. It's used in many places to describe doing something with concentration, purposefully adhering to a prescribed precept (ex: the Book of Law of Moses). It involves deciding ahead of time principles you will live by and sticking to them when faced with an opportunity or a coercion to do otherwise.
I had Drivers Ed many, many, many years ago. Yesterday, I remembered what I'd read in my driver's manual about driving on ice and keeping my eyes on the road, and I've practiced it. We made it to Grove City, and back again, without incident. May I apply the same constancy to my daily journey as a Christian!
Saturday, January 20, 2007
All three of our daughters are talented musically. I can brag because I'm their mother, and because that particular talent didn't come from me! When Leah was a senior in high school, she had one of the leads in the school musical. She was the Narrator in Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat. I had never seen that particular musical before her involvement with it, but it stands out as one of my favorites. The song lyrics are clever and funny, and it's a very uplifting production.
This came to mind this week as I've been reading Genesis 37-50 because the musical recounts the story of Joseph.
Something I often pray for is God's perspective on a situation confronting me. That's one of the things that Joseph seems to have picked up somewhere along the line. As a young man, he was either very naive, or maybe a bit egotistical. We're told that he was very handsome, and, uh... 'well-built' ... and he was a flashy dresser. But, he shared his dreams with the wrong crowd... his jealous brothers ganged up on him and sold him into slavery. Humbling experiences can lead to humility, or to bitterness, and it seems that Joseph chose the high road.
As a slave, Joseph made the best of a bad situation, and he excelled. Imprisoned for false accusations, he opted to move on and helped the jailer succeed. Forgotten by those who promised to remember him, he stayed the course. And finally, after 13 years as a slave, he was exulted to governor over all of Egypt, the world's superpower of his time.
Recompense. I like that word. It's used by Isaiah in conjunction with the word, reward (Is.40:10, 62:11), announcing the good news that God is delivering the goods... bringing His plan together. Joseph got his recompense. Perhaps what carried him through those years in the 'dark' was the dream God had given him in the 'light'. And somehow, in spite of the injustice and the hardship, Joseph was able to see God's Hand in all of it. His trust that God's plan for him would prevail enabled him to thrive in his on-the-job training, which ultimately played a role in his success as Pharaoh's right-hand man. Joseph saw the big picture, God's perspective, and he was able to forgive his brothers and testify to them that what they intended for harm, God used for good... for Joseph's good, for the preservation of His people, and the continuation of His plan. Joseph got his recompense and he got the reward of being used as a tool to accomplish God's purpose.
The story of Joseph is another opportunity for me, and maybe you, to remember that even when we can't see it, He is working, and that if we do our best to stay His course, to listen for His voice, to hold fast to the promises and dreams He has breathed to us, ...the reward and the recompense is sure.
Isaiah 42:16 "I will lead the blind by a way they do not know, in paths they do not know I will guide them. I will make darkness into light before them, and rugged places into plains. These are the things I will do, and I will not leave them undone."
Friday, January 19, 2007
I graduated college with a B.A. in French. MY plan was to teach high school students. MY plan was to live 'at home' for a while, save some money, eventually get married and live happily ever after. After Part 1 of MY plan didn't pan out, and no French teaching positions opened locally, I sought employment in the corporate world. I said that I'd take just about any position, as long as I didn't have to relocate, and as long as it wasn't in sales.
About three weeks later, I was packed up, and on my way to Little Rock, Arkansas, to train for my new job... in sales. I actually had to look on a map to even see where it was, and what's a Razorback, anyway? It wasn't what I'd planned, but I thought it would somehow work out.
After four months of working in a tie plant (as in railroad cross tie), and many weeks of travel around the country for more training and field experience, I 'd learned LOTS about the pressure treated wood industry, and ... I was ready for my first assignment as one of the first two women hired by Koppers Co., Inc. as a sales rep for Pressure Treated Lumber Products. While it was my hope to be assigned to an office at company headquarters in Pittsburgh, I said I'd take an assignment anywhere, as long as it wasn't Houston, TX.
So, as I was moving into my new apartment in Houston, TX, in February 1974, I was thinking maybe MY plan wasn't coming together. Still with me?? No one was more surprised than I that I quickly grew to love living and working in Houston. In fact, I got very 'full' of myself, my independence, and my fun social life. Maybe God's plan was alright!
Until, my stay in Houston was cut short by an unexpected need for a sales rep in Nashua, NH, and they picked me. And, I hated Nashua, NH. Whereas I had lots of friends in warm, friendly Houston, I was hard-pressed to connect with anyone even near my age in cold, unfriendly Nashua. And it looked like I'd be there a while. I was alone. I felt abandoned. I was unhappy. I was exactly where God wanted me.
There I turned to spiritual things and prayed, a lot. I began to read the Bible. And late one night, the apartment I hated became the altar where I turned my life, and my plan, over to Jesus Christ. I discovered that He was right there with me, and that He had been actively participating in every aspect of my life. In an instant, like a movie on fast rewind, I saw how He had orchestrated the previous 11 months to bring me right to that moment, when I was ready to see with new eyes, and to embrace a personal relationship with Him. His plan for me was good, in so many ways. And it still is.
And Hey!...among other things, I got to experience an Arkansas Razorback football game... nothing can compare to being surrounded by 50,000 people relentlessly callin' the hogs... "Pigs! Soooooooooey!"
Jeremiah 29 continues..."When you call on me, when you come and pray to me, I'll listen. When you come looking for me, you'll find me. Yes, when you get serious about finding me and want it more than anything else, I'll make sure you won't be disappointed.
Wednesday, January 17, 2007
I've become aware of a website called wikiHow.com. It refers to itself as The How-To Manual That Anyone Can Write or Edit. It's similar in nature to Wikipedia.com, the collaborative online encyclopedia. Anyway, I found an article entitled, How to Stop Laughing When You Laugh at Inappropriate Times. Some suggestions:
- Remind yourself not to laugh (not gonna help me...)
- Pinch yourself (don't think so)
- Hold your breath (so you can burst out with a huge laugh when you can't hold your breath any longer)
- Try physically pulling the corners of your mouth down into a frown (come on!)
- Clamp your teeth together. Hard. (maybe)
- Bite a pencil (???)
- See a neurologist; you may have Pseudobulbar Affect (not likely, funny name, tho')
- Just go ahead and laugh; apologize later if necessary (yep!)
So, I haven't solved anything, and I apologize that this posting has no redeeming value. But I'm going to remember these helpful hints next time I'm laughing inappropriately. Maybe even try one or two of 'em.
Sunday, January 14, 2007
Last weekend I spent a few days in Lancaster, PA visiting some friends from college. I’ve been to Lancaster several times before, so I was already aware that central Pennsylvania is very different from the Pittsburgh region. On Friday, 3 of my girl friends and I decided to try out the Pennsylvania Farm Show. I have to admit, I scoffed at the idea at first. I’m not exactly a huge barnyard enthusiast, and honestly had no clue what the farm show was all about. I pictured a typical state fair: a conglomeration of smelly animals, hay barrels, pie baking contests, etc. Boy was I mistaken…
The experience of the farm show was, in a word, surreal. My suburban upbringing and even having grandparents that lived on a farm could not have prepared me for this. When we arrived we had to park and ride a shuttle bus to the large indoor convention center. This 91st annual agricultural event lasted for over a week and hosted some 10,000 animals, 8,000 competitive exhibits and 270 commercial exhibitors. And cows. There were lots and lots of cows. Exhibits featured everything from dairy cattle judging, to circuit rodeos, to cooking demonstrations, to “PA’s greatest Shoo-Fly Cookie Contest,” and countless others. I didn’t need an Aunt Em or Toto to remind me that I wasn’t in Kansas anymore (or was I???). The ever-present scent that some might call “rustic” was overpowering at first, but I got over it eventually….kind of.
We got there around noon and the place was hopping with families, classes of school field trips, and cows. Did I mention there were cows? I like to think that I’m the kind of person who can make her own fun, which is precisely what my friends and I intended to do. While we did take the time to peruse the enormous convention center and its many characters, we pretty much went with the intent of viewing one major event: The Tractor Square Dance. What a peculiar concept, I thought….they couldn’t actually have tractors doing a… oh yes they could.
There were two “teams” of tractors lined up on either side of this huge indoor arena (it reminded me a lot of Pittsburgh’s Mellon Arena). Each team had 4 “couples” consisting of a large tractor accompanied by a smaller, “female” tractor, naturally. The larger tractors were driven by men in farmer plaid, and the smaller tractors were driven by men in farmer plaid….wearing skirts, bonnets, and blond bushy wigs. Are you picturing this?? Once the couples took their places in the center circle their “caller” started the music and began giving them their dancing cues. Allemande left, circle right, promenade, dosado. They did it all. Perfectly synchronized, and perfectly ridiculous. If you still aren’t picturing it in all of its hilarity, click here for a video that one of my friends took on her camera. It’s truly astounding, and I can only applaud their skill!
After this show everything seemed to pale in comparison (that is until we reached the room with free samples of food). As we left that afternoon, I managed to walk away with a load of laughs, a newfound pride in being Pennsylvanian, and a minor case of the sniffles (thank you cows…)
So if you ever decide to make the trip and attend the fair yourself, I promise you will not be disappointed. Just make sure you take along a healthy dose of humor, at least a few other “witnesses,” a video camera, and be sure to have a mother with her own blog awaiting your return.
Then my mind fast-forwarded to Judges 6, in a similar scene with Gideon being visited by the Angel of the Lord (*theophany). He did the same thing... he said, "If now I have found favor in your eyes, give me a sign that it is really you talking to me. Please do not go away until I come back and bring my offering and set it before you." Then, Gideon went, and prepared a young goat, and baked some bread. (v.17-19). Again, a time consuming activity. Though, in this case, they'd already had their conversation, and this was part of Gideon's affirmation.
So I began to wonder what it was about these two cases that was nudging at me. What can I learn and apply from this? In both cases, the men had other encounters with God, either before or after this one. So, what made these scenarios different from those other times?
In these cases:
- The Lord agreed to wait with them while they prepared their offering. He agreed to have fellowship with them, to eat their bread. Later He would reveal Himself as the Bread of Life.
- Abraham & Gideon put forth time and effort to demonstrate the significance and honor due their Lord.
- Both men greeted the Lord with hospitality. Hospitatlity was a major part of the culture. It was an expression of gratitude by sharing what God had given them.
In applying this to myself, I realized that all too often, I hurry my daily time with God, and I do a quick, 'Thanks, God... but how about this???' and I rush past that part about showing Him hospitality. I want to make sure I get all of those big requests in before I get interrupted by my thoughts about my day. And I miss the best part, ...the fellowship. Jesus is asking me to dinner and I'm offering "take-out" at a drive through window. I'm sorry to say that my thoughts are based upon what I can get, not what I can give. He says, “Look! I stand at the door and knock. If you hear my voice and open the door, I will come in, and we will share a meal together as friends.Rev. 3:20
I welcome the fellowship. I will open the door, ...and I will even clean!
*Theophany- pre-incarnate physical appearance or personal manifestation of God to a person (Old Testament).
Friday, January 12, 2007
Thirty-five years ago today, we were introduced (for the second time) during a social event at college (Penn State). And, he walked me home. That led to a first date, which seriously, but for the grace of God, could've easily been the last (a story for another time, perhaps). We continued to see each other, in spite of the fact that he shoved ice cream in my face...twice... on the second date (perhaps a throw-back to his soda fountain days??). He said he was testing my JTA (joke-taking-ability), a much-coveted trait in his circle of friends. After 29 years of marriage, I can claim a high JTA.
Tuesday, January 9, 2007
Plausible or not, the movie serves to remind me, and to encourage you, to not 'give up'. A few days ago, I was struggling with something in prayer. I was talking to God and telling Him I'd grown weary of praying for a long-time unanswered prayer. I was resigned to just let it go; que sera sera. I felt that I was focusing too much on this issue, and it was pulling me down. It's not like me at all, but discouragement was taking a toll. Been there?
Within moments, almost as if I was in 'my corner' of the ring, my 'trainer' began to speak to me. I turned to my Bible reading guide for the day, and a scripture verse smacked me across the face... "Take no rest, all you who pray to the Lord. Give the Lord no rest until He completes His work..." (Is. 62:6-7 NLT). That particular scripture verse had been significant to me in the past, and I was somewhat taken aback. Then, I began to read one of the chapters for that day's reading, Genesis 18. Sarah hears the big news first hand about the fulfillment of her long awaited promise... "Is anythng too hard for the Lord?" (v.18). And Abraham boldly intercedes (prays) with the Lord, over and over again, for his nephew's hometown. Smack. Smack. I can hear my 'trainer' saying, "Don't give up... come on, just a few more rounds."
Very dramatic, I know, but that's what it felt like. And, to top it off, over the next 2 days, He threw Luke 11:5-10 and Luke 18:2-5 in the ring (they are about persistent prayer--look them up), and someone even pointed his finger at me and said, 'Don't give up!" I was listening to a message Sunday morning and the preacher said... "God will never say 'give up', but He will say, 'surrender'. Whoa!
Suffice it to say, I will persevere in prayer for that which I believe He's laid upon my heart to advocate till He tells me to stop. I hope, too, that my sharing this may encourage someone else, maybe you. The message of the Gospel, after all, is one of endless hope, one where 'dead' things are given 'new life'. Tho' I know this in my head, I'm putting my heart into it again.
Don't give up, ...it ain't over, till HE says it's over.
Monday, January 8, 2007
Then came... the Internet. When we decided to 'go online', it was a major event. We got a modem as a Christmas gift, and the kids fervently bounced around the house telling all the guests... "We're on the Internet, we're on the Internet!" They were met by blank stares of grandparents and elderly aunts/uncles, who nodded, thunkerstruck, and said, "What's the Internet?" (They still say that). How did we ever get by without email and IM's?? Of course it wasn't long that we had to upgrade our computer, ... and then came DSL, and Broadband, and wireless, and routers, and DVD burners, and digital cameras, etc. ...and of course we had to upgrade, several times. Now, I venerate my husband as a prophet, and get terribly cranky when my server goes down. I telecommute, and my computer is essential to my job. And I have Spider Solitaire on my desktop. Everyone in the family has their own computers, which seem to be obsolete months after they are upgraded. Businesses and organizations are at a disadvantage if they don't have a good website.
Ah... technology. I know there are downsides... new opportunities for crime and invasion of privacy. But cyberspace has abridged our world like nothing else. When I was in college, I studied abroad at the University of Strasbourg, France. While it was a fabulous experience, I was incredibly homesick because I was so cut off from my family and friends so far away. Aerograms took 4 to 5 days to arrive, and limited what you could write to one page. Phone communication was prohibitive at $17.00/minute. I felt isolated. A few days ago, Samantha's boyfriend left to study abroad for 6 months. They bought web cams, and downloaded Skype, and while I'm certain they will miss one another, their communication will be frequent and cheap, and I believe they'll maintain their relationship.
One thing my husband didn't foresee, however... blogging. Who knew?
"There is no reason anyone would want a computer in their home." Ken Olson, President, Chariman and Founder of Digital Equipment Corp., 1977
"But what... is it good for?" Engineer at the Advanced Computing Systems Division of IBM, 1968, commenting on the microchip
"640K ought to be enough for anybody." Bill Gates, 1981
Sunday, January 7, 2007
One of the fun things we did was horseback riding at the Royal Gorge. Samantha was only six at the time, so we had to find a trail ride that would let her ride (most wouldn't take anyone under twelve). When I saw how big the horses were, I had second thoughts...she looked so small and helpless atop this huge, magnificent animal. The 'trail boss' assured me that she'd be 'fine'... her horse, Carl, was old, docile, and really couldn't see anymore anyway... annnnnnd, this was a good thing??? Because the trail was so narrow in places, we were going to be traveling in single file, with Carl in the middle, and he was so accustomed to the trail, he could do it in his sleep (and I think he actually did fall asleep a few times). Anyway, the point of this story is that the 'trail boss' told us that we were not to dismount our horse FOR ANY REASON. He told us that, while they did this every day, it was still a 'wilderness' and there was always the chance of unexpected 'wildlife', etc. crossing our path, and while we were on the horse, we'd be ...safe. My horse was the lead horse, which literally put me out of position to do anything to help or protect any of my children (ha!). The trail boss, and Bruce, were bringing up the rear, of course. As we started the trek, we quickly came onto a narrow trail with just enough width for the horses to pass through. We were going down rocky areas, sheer drops, that I would have been hard pressed to navigate on foot. And yet the horses seemed capable and knew exactly where to put their weight, and where to jump. The ride got wobbly sometimes; the trail got steep. I was talking to myself... what are we doing here??? I was praying.
I remembered this today as I was packing away the Christmas decorations. I was listening to a broadcast by Charles Stanley who was telling a similar story about a trail ride he took. Though he is an experienced rider, he recalled the importance of giving the horse free reign to take him through the steep, rocky places. When it got so dark that he couldn't see, he knew he had to trust his horse to find his footing and stay the path to get him home. I was reminded that I, too, had reached that point of trust on our trail ride. And, just as I trusted those horses, I must also trust God on the trail that I can't see, or the path that is too rocky for me to maneuver. I had to trust that day that my family would be 'safe'. Similarly, God knows where He is going, and as long as we don't 'get off' for any reason, he'll get us where he wants us to go. Once I got past the fear factor, the ride was fun, beautiful, exhilarating, and breathtaking. Once we began the trek, we were in it for the duration. Even now.
Acts 2:28 You have made known to me the paths of life; you will fill me with joy in your presence.
Thursday, January 4, 2007
One of the things I love most about the Rwandan marriages, is that they incorporate the 'Bride Price' (really). Generally, this involves a number of livestock, usually cows, which the groom pays the family of the bride for the privilege of her hand in marriage. The bride price is negotiated between the groom and the bride's father. I LOVE this!! Having three daughters, we could benefit... AND, having our three beautiful, charming daughters, we've been sitting on a virtual cattle ranch! Of course, I guess we'd have to move to Rwanda, unless this custom catches on soon here in Pennsylvania!
Removing my tongue from my cheek, tho', I'd like to add that there's something to this idea of a bride price. Every girl wants to feel cherished, special, and valued and it's a wise man who realizes this and lives it. You may be familiar with the story of the man (Johnny) who wanted to marry a girl in his village (Sarita), who most regarded as homely and shy. Her father would've considered it a bargain to get 2 cows for her, yet Johnny made him take 8 cows -- the highest price ever paid in that village! Time passed, and Sarita blossomed into a poised, charming beauty... she was so impacted by her new husband's esteem and opinion of her, that she lived up to his perspective and became an 8 cow woman. His value of her brought out the best in her, and he couldn't lose! Her father, on the other hand, should've had some lessons in building self-esteem in his kids.
On a larger scale, yet even more personal one, may I note that Jesus paid the biggest price for His bride... that's me, and I hope you, too. I surely fall short of the value of the bride price, but I know that when I try to be what He's 'called' me and try to live up to His perspective, it brings out the best in me, and I can't lose.
Having said all of this... we are NOT accepting any offers of livestock!
The story of Johnny & Sarita is from Winning in the Land of Giants by William Mitchell.
Tuesday, January 2, 2007
When faced with God's impending 'disowning' of the Israelites after their lack of trust and rejection of His command to enter the Promised land, Moses pleaded with God on their behalf by reminding Him that His reputation was at stake..."But what will the Egyptians think when they hear about it?...Now if you slaughter all these people, the nations that have heard of your fame will say 'The Lord was not able to bring them into the land he swore to give them...'" (Num. 14:13,15) . And tho' God still let them suffer the consequence of their actions, He didn't abandon them.
Psalm 89:16 says, "They rejoice all day long in your wonderful reputation.They exult in your righteousness." Psalm 138:2 says, "I praise your name for your unfailing love and faithfulness; for your promises are backed by all the honor of your name."
In Genesis 17:1, God calls Himself, El Shaddai... God Almighty. I know that I can trust Him to live up to His reputation.
Monday, January 1, 2007
The New Year's Day holiday Jesus would have celebrated as He walked this earth was the Feast of Trumpets, or Rosh Hashanah. It was one of the seven feasts celebrated throughout the year. The hope of each feast was actually fulfilled through Jesus' life. Rosh Hashanah was the beginning of a new religious year, and people celebrated by attending religious services, acknowledging God's sovereignty and future day of judgment. The only commandment specified of the holiday was the blowing of the shofar, the Ram's Horn, which gets its significance from the ram which God provided to Abraham, to take the place of his son, Isaac, as a sacrifice. On Rosh Hashanah, the shofar was blown a minimum of one hundred times, including a series of thirty blasts indicating the hope of the Messiah's coming. I imagine that Jesus knew that hope was being fulfilled in Him, both in His lifetime, and when He comes again.
Rosh Hashanah means "Head of the Year" and is now observed for two days (in the Fall of our calendar year). It is celebrated with greeting cards and special foods. After Rosh Hashanah services, Jews say to one another, "May you be inscribed in the Book of Life". Seems a bit more significant than saying, "Happy New Year".
So, it would seem that with the all the horn-blowing and well-wishing, our New Year's Day may have been a bit similar to that which Jesus knew. 'Cept for the football.