Sunday, February 18, 2018

We are FAMILY

Oh.....it has been a week and a day. Last Friday, our family world shifted...again. It isn't the first time. It won't be the last.

Our dad was diagnosed with melanoma in 2014. He has fought the battles. He has had surgeries. He has done treatments. It is a malicious beast. It fights back. Last Friday, we found out how much. It is much. For now, a steroid helps lessen the symptoms. For now.

This week, we have added Hospice to our arsenal. Their staff is helping our family help our dad. For this, we are grateful. We have had a chaplain, nurses, a social worker all WAY more versed in how this happens than we are.

This week, again, I watched our family pull together in ways I didn't know we would have to or could. It is understandable how the stress can pull families apart. OR push them together in a common goal: make the time there is the best time there can be.

This Saturday, we made one of the things our dad wanted to do, happen. In the overall scheme of life, it was something small and to us not really as important. BUT. It mattered to HIM.

As I sat at a table eating dinner with our dad and mom, I realized what an impact their lives have made on us and how our family has grown and continues to grow. We started as a family of 7. Mom, Dad, me, 3 brothers and a sister. (affectionately known as 5 K's or my 3 sons and the bookends) We have added 9 grandkids and 1 great grandson....so far!

Our mom and dad gave us a foundation of faith that has made us part of a bigger family. A foundation that has given our dad the courage to say it is in God's hands. A family that has helped support each other and our mom and dad.

Deep down, we all know we are on limited time. We will count it a blessing to have received notice that the time is more limited than we would choose it to be.

I don't think it is a coincidence that the last letters in FAMILY are I.L.Y.
I Love You

F - siblings especially may not start out as friends, but hopefully, we end as friends BONUS

A - being a family can make us aware of the needs within our own circle, but also those beyond it

M - Me turns into we. We join forces and tackle life head on.

I -  Issues.....we all got 'em

L - usually we love our family, if we're lucky we get to like them too

Y - Yikes. None of this is easy.

Ecclesiastes 4:9
Easy-to-Read Version[ Friends and Family Give Strength ] Two people are better than one. When two people work together, they get more work done.


For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.
Romans 8:38-39 NIV

Sunday, February 04, 2018

Jesus Wept

One of the shortest verses in the Bible (making it really easy to memorize) is: Jesus wept. (John 11:35 NIV) As usual, with all good stories there is more to it than just those 2 words. I had heard the story of Lazarus many times. What was different this time?

Lazarus, as well as his sisters Mary and Martha, was a friend of Jesus. While Jesus was out of town, his friend became sick. His sisters sent word to Jesus and the disciples that Lazarus was sick. They knew that if Jesus could come back there, He could make Lazarus better. Jesus would heal him. They had seen Him perform miracles! However, by the time Jesus returned to their city, Lazarus had already been dead for 4 days. His family and friends were devastated and weary from grief.

They went to visit the tomb where Lazarus was. There was a stone placed in front of the tomb. The family and friends were crying. Jesus wept. The friends were thinking oh Jesus loved Lazarus so much. And He did. He also knew that this was a way to show people what could still be done for Lazarus.

Jesus prayed and said for Lazarus to come out. He did!

The extra thing I heard recently and the more I think about it makes a lot of sense is that Jesus may not have only been weeping over losing a friend. Jesus had the additional knowledge of the glorious place Lazarus had been and what He was bringing Lazarus back to.

Even as Christians and the promise of eternal life, death is hard, painful and sometimes almost unbearable. We do not see our family or friend. We can't just ring them up on the phone. We see and hear things that remind of us those we miss. We weep.

In the day to day grief, knowing there is a better place to be than the earth around us helps. Most days. Some days we just miss them so much that even knowing doesn't seem enough.The waiting just seems too long.

The miracle of Lazarus made some people angry and further set the wheels in motion leading toward the death of Jesus. People expected a King. Jesus is not the King they expected. Some of the same people that were amazed at the miracles were the same people that were later yelling "crucify him!"

Later, Jesus would be placed in a tomb behind a large stone, when His friends came weeping.....He was no longer in the tomb.

The full story of Lazarus is in John 11. www.biblegateway.com is an excellent resource for looking up Bible (MANY versions) books, chapters, verses and words.

John 14:2 (NIV) My Father’s house has many rooms; if that were not so, would I have told you that I am going there to prepare a place for you?

Revelation 21:4 (NIV) ‘He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death’or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.”

Tuesday, January 02, 2018

The gifts of the tabernacle

Sometimes vacations include unexpected learning opportunities. I was able to have such an experience a few months ago. I learned. I felt in awe. I experienced an appreciation for the gift of Jesus. I started writing this around Christmas. I put it off...found other things to do. I then heard some things on the radio that enhanced upon the thoughts I'd been thinking. So I share, in a new year. A time we usually learn to refocus and make promises to ourselves to do better.

We celebrate the birth of Jesus on Christmas. Jesus was born with a purpose of allowing us to be back in communion with God. On our own. Without a bunch of ritual, sacrifice or someone else (priest) bringing our concerns to God. We have the ability to pray and experience the Holy Spirit because that little baby came to earth and into our humanity.  

The trip was to Florida to help a friend relocate for the winter. We drove past a sign on the way to Tarpon Springs that mentioned Tabernacle in the Wilderness. We did some web searching and scheduled a tour. There were only 3 of us, but we received a tour that would have easily been expected for a group much larger. I could do a review of the site itself, but that really isn't the intent of this post. The post is more of a visual and reminder of the purpose of the tabernacle and how it plays a bigger part of the Bible and making it more real for me. 

We entered a rather unassuming (from the outside) building. The actual area of the tabernacle replica was (at first glance) similar to the inside of a large gym. However, when looked at closer and some was explained, we noticed the floor was painted to look like a desert. The far wall was painted to simulate mountains. The attention to detail was interesting and informative. 

The majority of what is written in the Bible about the tabernacle (tent of meeting) is in the book of Exodus. The Israelites (people of God) left Egypt. God served as their protection and what we could consider GPS by providing a cloud by day and fire by night that let the Israelites know when they should move or stay and led them where God wanted them to be. 

The biblical tabernacle was built to God's exact specifications of dimensions and materials. There were very specific instructions to Moses of what and how the tabernacle should be built. The priests were the only ones allowed IN the tabernacle. There were rules and laws of what the priests needed to do even before they entered the tabernacle. 

Throughout this time, even though the Israelites were able to see proof of the Lord, even they struggled with following the directions and laws the Lord made. They made idols. They rebelled. They wandered in the desert because even then they lacked faith in what God told them.




(The ark of the covenant contained the 10 commandments, the budding staff of Aaron, and a container of manna that God provided during the Israelites years in the desert)

Tabernacle in the Wilderness - Tarpon Springs FL website. The location also includes a large display of antique Bibles.

Hundreds of years later, Solomon was tasked with the job of building a permanent temple. Even in this temple and those that came after due to destruction, there was a curtain separating people from the ability of communicating directly with God. It was still the job of the priests.

1 Kings 6:37 (NIV)
The foundation of the temple of the Lord was laid in the fourth year, in the month of Ziv. 38 In the eleventh year in the month of Bul, the eighth month, the temple was finished in all its details according to its specifications. He had spent seven years building it.


Many years later, Jesus referred to himself as a temple:

John 2:18-20 (NIV)
18 The Jews then responded to him, “What sign can you show us to prove your authority to do all this?”

19 Jesus answered them, “Destroy this temple, and I will raise it again in three days.”

20 They replied, “It has taken forty-six years to build this temple, and you are going to raise it in three days?” 21 But the temple he had spoken of was his body. 22 After he was raised from the dead, his disciples recalled what he had said. Then they believed the scripture and the words that Jesus had spoken.


When Jesus was crucified and gave up his spirit to death, the temple curtain was torn in two. It was no longer required that only the priests could talk to God for us. We have been given the gift of the Holy Spirit and the ability to talk to God directly on our own.

The gifts continue as we look forward to Easter and celebrating a risen King that led His people through years of wilderness, tore the temple curtain and enables us to present our thanks and needs to a God that knew we needed a Savior because we would continue to try to save ourselves.

Monday, November 20, 2017

Two Chairs

Life. It remains hectic. To my detriment. I get overwhelmed. My cup gets empty. I don't take time to build myself back up. I don't get enough sleep. I don't make it to church. I make excuses. Many. Excuses. But yet. I seem surprised when this happens. It is a cycle. Vicious. Unrelenting. Mostly in my head.

But.

Sunday, I made myself go to church. I made myself "people" (get around people other than my immediate circle of family and friends). I had the nagging for awhile. Not really guilt. Or shame. Just feeling like it was one more thing on the to do list in my head and one more thing I couldn't/wouldn't do. Sometimes I feel like it is one more place where I will find I need/want to do one more thing that right now I can't. Or won't.

But.

Then I get there. I am reminded why I need to go. I need to praise. I need to worship. I need to listen. I need to learn. I've been a Christian for a long time. I still sometimes hesitate to tell people. I'd like to think I live my life like it. Honestly, that's not enough.

But.

There are still new things to learn. New ways of explaining that just seem to make more sense. Sunday was one of those days.

There are various ways to explain God/Jesus/Holy Spirit to someone that maybe hasn't heard, doesn't want to or won't acknowledge the possibility that there is: a higher power, a creator, God. One of the illustrations available is a bridge. That we (people) are on one side. God is on the other. Sin got in the way. Jesus on the cross became a bridge to let us cross the gap. (Sometimes search links don't always work the greatest so search: bridge salvation illustration if you'd like to see one...or many!)

At church on Sunday, there was another illustration...even better than a drawing. (This is a very abbreviated, observational description) I'll break some of it down with thoughts, etc. in another post.

Two chairs. The chairs face each other. The speaker* sat in one depicting us. The other chair was the "God chair". We were created to be in relationship with God. Facing each other. Not equal. But able to know God on our own. Sin entered the world and we turned our chair around with our backs to God because we wanted to see things from God's perspective. A bunch of rules, regulations, laws and communication through the priests became the way to communicate with God. God wanted more for us. He sent Jesus, his son. He lived, grew up, taught, was accused and sentenced to death. He was beaten, crucified on a cross, died and was buried. This. This, paid the price for sin and the curtain in the temple was torn and allowed us to speak to God on our own again. Our chair was turned back around. Three days later, Jesus was resurrected and lived on the earth again for a time.

We have the choice (freewill) to turn our chair back around to God. We can turn our chair around again, but turn it back. We can choose to never turn that chair around.

I will add: We can investigate further to understand more of what God will do for us if we do turn that chair back to Him. There are many resources available to do that. (https://leestrobel.com/ , http://coldcasechristianity.com/ are just a couple)

What Jesus did for us is called salvation. There are people that will think we never need saving. That we are not created. That there is not a Creator. That there is not a God. You may be one of those people.

BUT.

Are you at least willing to take a seat?

*Thank you R.W. Young Life

1 Chronicles 16:23-24 (NIV)
23 Sing to the Lord, all the earth;
proclaim his salvation day after day.
24 Declare his glory among the nations,
his marvelous deeds among all peoples.

Psalm 13:5-6 (NIV)
5 But I trust in your unfailing love;
my heart rejoices in your salvation.
6 I will sing the Lord’s praise,
for he has been good to me.

Friday, September 15, 2017

All day Every day 24/7 signing off?

Gather round boys and girls, lassies and lads and let me tell you something you may not be aware of. There was a time that television stations actually stopped broadcasting each day. There were 3, yes my dearies, ONLY 3 main networks. You might be old enough to remember. I'm stretching my memory muscles AND had to check YouTube to verify. The national anthem would play, our U.S. flag would raise, then there would be multi-colored vertical bars and a very annoying audio tone. I believe it was around midnight or maybe after the late night show....and then. Nothing. Until the next day.

Wow, maybe that is why sleep didn't seem to be as MUCH of an issue as it is now for me. The choice? was made for me. Turn off the TV or hear the annoying audio tone. The TV usually went off pretty quickly after that.

Fast forward to now when there are HUNDREDS of possible channels, let alone music stations included in cable packages. I don't believe any stations actually go "off" the air anymore. There are always reruns...and home shopping networks. ;) AND, just in case one cannot find anything on the actual TV, there is always the internet! Open. 24/7 for your viewing pleasure and convenience and sleepless nights.

While sometimes it is handy and even life-saving to have more coverage, as with weather for warnings, etc., even this can get taken to the extreme as every airtime second must be filled with SOMETHING! It is frustrating, and OK, often times entertaining/humorous to watch news people try to check in with each other as one stares blankly during the brief delay until it is their turn to speak or to not realize they are "on air". It is often painful to watch someone be interviewed that just lost their house or their child to an accident or, or, or......

"Can you tell us how you're feeling?" REALLY?!?!?!

Maybe that is part of the problem: we are so busy WATCHING that we forget about the actual important personal connections of family and friends. We don't get a chance to process feelings without a camera or microphone being shoved in our faces. AND that's only actual news people. Our cell "phones" have cameras and video capabilities that can record those moments too.

I started writing this even before the latest hurricanes: Harvey, Irma and now, Jose and wild fires. Too much water in some places....and not enough in others.  I cannot watch too much news coverage usually. I feel it too deeply and it affects my mood and attitude. I've learned to filter (for the most part) what I partake of.
I'm realizing I'm not so good at shutting it off though. I'm going to have to be responsible for my own "signing off". I have an alarm on my phone to "remind me" to go to bed. I often ignore it. Sleep experts would say no screen time an hour before bed. Ummm. There are often TVs, cell phones, lap tops, tablets, etc. IN OUR BEDROOMS! However, that is also a choice.

We can be kept busy 24/7 if we allow it. Time to be more aware of what I allow and choose. How about you?

Signing off. For now.

Psalm 25:5 (NIV) Guide me in your truth and teach me, for you are God my Savior, and my hope is in you all day long.