Sunday, December 30, 2012

Family Pictures

I don't know about you, but every time we take a family picture there's loads of drama in the background.

Every year, we pick a color - this year the color was green, which in hindsight may not have been the best selection - there are too many varieties. There were different levels of prostetation - I don't have any green; this is the only green I have so this is what I'm wearing; do stripes count?; Mummy we're only doing this for you; if this makes you happy, then I'm happy. 

On the day of, I remember that the Little One, may not have any green in her closet. What to do? I run through her closet and realize that she has a dress with green and white striped top - this will do. 

It's also about the hairstyles, at least for the women it is. We're all natural now and at the last minute daughter  #2 decides that she wants to be adventurous and straighten her hair. Mind you, she hasn't straightened her hair in about a year and is growing out a short cut; also her hair is very thick. Our appointment is at 3 and she starts this at 1; by 2 she is only three quarters done. So now daughter #1 decides to help her out - thank God. In the mean time, the men are debating the "greenness" of their sweaters, and I have decided to cancel any fancy hairdo I would have attempted. Instead, I do my usual standby - a pony tail. I also get running commentary on the greenness of my dress.  At 3, a last minute wardrobe change by daughter #1 allows her to locate a green top in her suitcase and she convinces herself that the stripes in her sweater have a shade of green in them.  She decides to wear a green accent ring and some green eye shadow.  

At this point, I am holding on to my sanity by a very slim thread. By 3:15 we finally leave and arrive at the studio by 3:25.

  
Finally, our pictures are done, until next year. (above a subset of our photo shoot)

My family is not perfect, but we are perfect for each other.

Do you have exciting behind the scenes stories around your family pictures?




Sunday, December 23, 2012

This is 46

I'm a Christmas baby, so I have double the reasons to love this time of year.

me and hubby
Yesterday, I made no plans, and was thoroughly surprised by my family.

You know what I think of birthdays - they're special, and the person born on that day was special. The world would be a lot less without you being here. I like to acknowledge birthdays, because some people just don't know how special they are until you tell and show them.  Making them feel good makes you feel good. Wives and mothers sometimes feel unacknowledged for all the good that they do. A birthday is the perfect opportunity to show just how much this important woman matters - and yesterday they delivered. A surprise visit to a spa, gifts, and dinner later.

On my birthday, I also strangely thought about my brother who passed away. I don't know why, but I did. Some how I could hear his voice in my head reading Psalms 19. I sometimes wonder what it's like to be in heaven, but I don't get too far since I really can't comprehend the magnitude and magnificence of heaven.

This blog is called Life....after death, because the death of my brother gave greater perspective to the things in life that we sometimes take for granted. I have a sibling that lives really close to me geographically, but we are so far apart relationally. It wasn't always that way, but its the way it is now. She's lonely and really does not look forward to the holidays. She blames Los Angeles, for most of this, but it's bigger than that - it's rather complicated. In any event, I passed by today, since she called my parents who live in NY and they then called me to tell me she was not doing well (I told you it was complicated). I hope I was able to cheer her up.

I'm rambling; but I'm glad I made it to another year. I have no shame in saying my age since apparently I don't look it, but even if I did it wouldn't matter; I'm grateful for my husband (though sometimes our communication styles could drive a sane person crazy); I'm grateful for my children; for my small church family; for Christmas time and Christmas music and for salvation.

For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. Luke 2:11 
“Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace among those with whom he is pleased!” Luke 2:14 


Happy Birthday Jesus! 

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Clean Ears!

I find it soothing to clean my ears with a hairpin, even though it's recommended that we place no foreign objects in our ears.  I like knowing my ears are clean - because I don't want to miss what's directed at me.

I had a child who suffered from wax buildup to the point where it was painful.  One Sunday afternoon I had to take her to critical care, since our regular doctor was not on call.  Here's my memory of that day - the nurse reminded me of Broom Hilda in appearance; she was no nonsense and determined to get the wax out.  She literally pinned my child down so that she was steady, and used a device that resembled a crochet hook to remove a huge wad of wax.  By the end of that visit, we resolved to be more vigilant with watching her ears.

I have ears on my mind because spiritually, I want to be open to what God has to say to me.  I want to hear it and be able to respond accordingly.  I don't want to have a wax buildup of all the world's gunk that requires the equivalent of a heavy nurse pinning me down to remove the wax.

This post is prompted by an excerpt from an earlier devotional this week:
In Psalm 40:6, David declared, “Sacrifice and offering You did not desire; my ears You have opened. Burnt offering and sin offering You did not require.”The word opened in this verse can be translated “cleared out,” and it speaks of what God desires for us. He wants our ears to be open and ready to hear Him as He speaks to us through His Word. Sometimes, however, our spiritual ears may be blocked by the background noise of the surrounding culture or the siren songs of temptation and sin.
Sacrifice and offering you did not desire—but my ears you have opened; burnt offerings and sin offerings you did not require.
 Then I said, “Here I am, I have come— it is written about me in the scroll.
 I desire to do your will, my God; your law is within my heart.” Psalms 40: 6-8

Are your ears opened to hear God's desires for you?


Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Writing, Life, Etc.

This year started on a promising note - I wanted MORE of God.

Here's what I've realized about MORE - when I spend time with God, I hear him, he inspires me, he provides wisdom and peace.
When the cares of this world consume me (as they have recently), I feel so far away and don't hear him any more.

He didn't move, I did.

Lord, restore me.

For in this hope we were saved. But hope that is seen is no hope at all. Who hopes for what they already have? But if we hope for what we do not yet have, we wait for it patiently.

 In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us through wordless groans.




Thanks for what you will do, Amen.

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

The Worshipper in Me.......MORE

I recently heard this song at a gospel concert that was put on by USC's Gospel Choir -  SBG (Saved By Grace), of which my daughter is a member.  The words moved me, but even more, the soloist was amazing. If you read this blog for any length of time, you know that  my word for this year was MORE. I never thought I would find a song that encapsulates all that wanting MORE entails. 

The song sums up all of the angst associated with MORE, and where I am right now.  Enjoy!




(Intro)

I give you more 
So much more 
Ooooh Ooh 
So much more 
Your deserving of more 
- Ad Lip -

(Lead)

Ooh the worshiper in me wants to be free 
From the cares of life that seem to weigh me down. 
Yes the worshiper in me needs consistency
To lift my hands and give you praise when no ones around. 
Ooh the worshiper in me wants to break free 
From the intellectual mentality 
Like when I should be up, I’m sitting in my seat
I should be lifting my hands, giving you praise, and gloryyyyyy 
Ehhh I-IIII should be giving you more 
Moreeee (run)
I should be giving you more

*Group*

Oh the worshiper in me wants to be free -(Just wants to be free)-
From the cares of life that seem to weigh me down. -(From the cares of life that seem to weigh me down)-
Oh the worshiper in me needs consistency -( I want to be consistanttt )- 
To lift my hands and give you praise when no ones around -(Lift my hands to give you praise yeaahh yeah)- 
Oh the worshiper in me wants to break free -(From the intellectual Oooh)- 
From this intellectual mentality -(Right when I should be Uhh Oooh)- 
When I should be up, I’m sitting in my seat -( I should be lifting my hands yee-yeah)- 
I should be lifting my hands, giving you praise, and glorryyyy . -(Everytime I get a chance, I wanna give my best to you)

*Chorus* 2x

I wanna give my best to you,
I wanna do what you ask me to,
I wanna go wherever you say,
Just say the words and I’ll obey, 
I wanna live a life thats real,
I wanna serve you Lord foreal,
For you deserve all this and More,
So I give you More 
More-Or
So I give you more 
More-Or

*Vamp* 16x

(You deserving of more) 
*You deserving of more* 
(Ad Lip) 
*you deserving of more*

(Bridge) 24x
-(Ad Lip) 
I Give You More

(Outro) 3x

I surrender all 
I surrender all
All to thee my blessed Saviour 
I surrender all

Have you ever heard this song? Did it bless you as much as it did me? What song is on repeat for you right now? 


Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Peaks, Pits, Praises and Prayers

I've never done this before, but you know I have a love for alliterative sentences and the one in this title is perfect for this post.
So I'm linking up with a fellow blogger  Katie @ Married With a Pup for her Peaks, Pits, Praises and Prayers.




Peaks: highlights of the week; overall positives
Pits: low point(s) of the week
Praises: praising God for specific things that have happened throughout the week
Prayers: prayer requests that arose during the week or have been lingering

Peaks:
  • It's Christmas
  • All the children come home
  • Humor

Pits
  • Seems I hurt my knee while jogging on Thanksgiving; it hasn't been the same since
  • Family member was in a second car accident within the past 2 weeks
  • Marriage relationship ebbs and flows
  • General dissatisfaction with life

Praises
  • Life
  • God   that his ways are not like mine! I can't figure Him out, but trusting Him is worth it.
  • Fruit trees in my back yard.
  • Southern California - so different from NY, but not so bad. 
  • Husband - just what I needed though I sometimes fall victim to my emotions
  • Moving - it forces you to grow up
  • Old friends - though we don't talk daily its good to know we are there for each other
  • Enthusiasm of a 9 year old - she's selling chocolate again and so far she's sold 22 cases! She's determined to get to 26; her prize is a kindle fire. The sale ends 12/17 - I think she'll make it.
  • The ability to share via writing.

Prayers
  • Everything in the Pits

Sure hope I linked up correctly. Faith, I borrowed this from you because I loved it. Thanks for getting me to do my first ever link up. As I wrote this, I realized that as I focused more on the Praises, I got happier and I was reminded of the verse that says - In everything give thanks! Everything!  1 Thessalonians 5:18

Do you have any Peaks, Pits, Praises, Prayers? Do share.


Sunday, December 9, 2012

A Lineage of Grace - Summary



As I read the book Lineage Grace by Francine Rivers they are a couple of thoughts that stood out.
You don't have to be perfect to be used by God. God can and does take your imperfections and uses them for his glory. In our world, a woman who marries her father in law, a prostitute, and an adulterer (the  other woman) are not looked upon kindly. Yet if there is a change of heart, God can use you.  All of the women mentioned at some point during their difficult lives experienced a change of heart that turned their hearts toward God.

The cultural norms of Biblical times for women are hard to reconcile with modern times. I'm sure all the women in Biblical times weren't comfortable with cultural norms that dictated they married young and bear children. When I imagine myself living back then, I think a part of me would have waged a fight.

There was a longing for the Messiah. Every generation wondered when the promise would be fulfilled. Life was full of challenges for the Jewish people and they were looking for some relief. The words of this hymn describe their ache for a Messiah:

Come Thou long expected Jesus
Born to set Thy people free
From our fears and sins release us
Let us find our rest in Thee
Israel's strength and consolation
Hope of all the earth Thou art
Dear desire of every nation
Joy of every longing heart
Born Thy people to deliver
Born a child and yet a King
Born to reign in us forever
Now Thy gracious kingdom bring
By Thine own eternal spirit
Rule in all our hearts alone
By Thine all sufficient merit
Raise us to Thy glorious throne

I enjoyed this book and getting a sense of how the women must have lived. The thoughts I shared in the previous blog posts are only the ones that stood out, but as you read the stories you will think of things you never thought of before - deep thinking is always beneficial. But ultimately, the book is about salvation, faith and hope; when your circumstances seem insurmountable - God steps in and does the impossible. The women with their tarred pasts are now noted as heroes and God gets the glory, because He is amazing. This book also encourages women in particular to dream and to recognize that you are not limited by your circumstances or cultural norms - in God's eyes we are all equal and worthy of his love and salvation. It's a worthwhile read and I hope you enjoyed getting small look of the women that are mentioned in the lineage of Christ.


Thursday, December 6, 2012

A Lineage of Grace - MARY

Mary is the last woman mentioned in the genealogy of Christ. She had Jesus through what is known as a virgin birth - she never knew a man, but the Holy Spirit impregnated her. Even as I type that, I can't wrap my mind around it, so I can only imagine what Mary must have felt. One minute she's a normal young lady, the next she's pregnant and there's a young, unique life growing in her.

By the time the angel spoke to Mary, the Jewish people had been waiting for Messiah for a long time. Life was very difficult, and the Messiah would make things better. When the angel Gabriel addressed her, he told her that she was favored and that she would blessed with a child named Jesus, the Messiah. Mary in her humanness asked, "But how can this happen, seeing I know not a man?" Gabriel replied, "the Holy Spirit will overshadow you and the baby born to you will be holy."  After all of this transpires, Mary gracefully accepts her assignment.

As it is laid out in the book, the author provides a perspective of what it must have been like to be the mother of Jesus from infancy to adulthood, watching Him as he is crucified. As a mother, I know that all toddlers aren't obedient and well behaved - they require great training and discipline; apparently Jesus the toddler did not. [Please note, this is not mentioned in the Bible].

Because Mary knew who Jesus was she listened to her son in ways that some how don't seem to make sense to us. Consider the story of when Mary and Joseph lost Jesus for three days and he was found in the temple in deep discussion with the religious leaders. A frightened Mary asks Jesus how could he have done this? He replied "...know ye not that I must be about my father's business?" It's a stinging statement that immediately removes the panic but also indicates knowledge and self assurance. His parents did not understand.
There's also the instance when Jesus turned water in to wine. He appeared to speak to his mother harshly, yet she then told the servants to do whatever He tells you to do.

Mary had the burden of knowing -she knew her Son was the promised Messiah, but she watched as so many did not believe. He was there, yet they did not know or did not accept him. That can only pain a mother's heart, but Mary pondered all these things in her heart.

Can you relate to Mary? What does it mean to be favored? If you are favored by God, do you question God? How do you know you are favored? How would you parent a child that only you knew was different? Today we hover and are overprotective - contrast that to Mary's parenting style of Jesus. Is it ever OK for a child to be indignant to a parent? How can you learn from your children? Do you ponder as you raise your children?

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

A Lineage of Grace - BATHSHEBA

Bathsheba isn't mentioned directly in the genealogy of Christ, instead she is referred to as Uriah's wife.
Who was Uriah? He was a captain in David's army.  One day while Uriah was away fighting for King David, David saw Uriah's wife taking a bath on the roof (as was the custom of the day) and lusted after her. He summoned her to his chamber, where he then slept with her.  From their interactions, Uriah's wife became pregnant. David then tried to hide what had happened by coming up with a plan. He tried to get Uriah drunk so that he would sleep with his wife, but Uriah did not want to go against the customs  of the day which said that when a man was at war, he didn't have relations with his wife. So that plan failed. So David set Uriah up so that he was killed in battle - he gave the order that Uriah be placed in the front line of battle where it was the most dangerous. David then married Bathsheba thinking that no one would know of his illicit affair; she became his eighth wife.  David's action was displeasing to the Lord, who accordingly sent Nathan the prophet to reprove the king.
Nathan told a parable of the rich man who took away the one little ewe lamb of his poor neighbor (II Samuel 12), and excited the king's anger against the unrighteous act; the prophet then applied the case directly to David's action with regard to Bathsheba.
David at once confessed his sin and expressed sincere repentance. Bathsheba's child by David was struck with a severe illness and died a few days after birth, which the king accepted as his punishment.
David loved Bathsheba, for she became the mother of Solomon. In David's old age, Bathsheba secured the succession to the throne of her son Solomon, instead of David's eldest surviving son Adonijah. (1 Kings 1:11-31).

Can you relate to Bathsheba? Was Bathsheba complicit in this situation? Did she do anything wrong? She is listed as Uriah's wife, yet it was as David's wife she had Solomon - do you find this odd? Is there any significance? As a woman, was there anything that she could have done to prevent David from lusting after her? How does God choose to honor Bathsheba?

Sunday, December 2, 2012

A Lineage of Grace - RUTH

This is the third in a series of women mentioned in the genealogy of Christ. To get caught up, check here and here.
Ruth - is one of the more romantic stories in the Bible, and in the retelling of this story, the author does not disappoint. Here's a scaled down version.

Ruth was Naomi's daughter in law and she was from Moab. Moab is where Naomi and her husband moved to for a better life, but it was not a Godly country. Naomi's husband and her two sons died, leaving her without someone to carry on the family name. At the same time Naomi heard that life was better back home, so Naomi decided to go back home to Bethlehem with her two daughters in law. She didn't anticipate that they would make the journey with her, after all, they were not from Bethlehem. Orphah chose to stay which was not a problem for Naomi, but Ruth decided to go wherever her mother in law was going, which was uncharacteristic. Somehow she had come to believe in Naomi's God, and made that famous statement found in the first chapter of Ruth:
16 But Ruth replied, “Don’t urge me to leave you or to turn back from you. Where you go I will go, and where you stay I will stay. Your people will be my people and your God my God. 17 Where you die I will die, and there I will be buried. May the Lord deal with me, be it ever so severely, if even death separates you and me.” Ruth 1:16-18
This may have been a turning point for Naomi, as up to this point she thought her life was bitter.
They travel to Bethlehem and end up working in the fields of Boaz. Boaz is a well respected guy, a bachelor, who had done well for himself by following Godly principles, and who took care of his employees. Boaz was also a relative of Naomi, and the son of Rahab.

Naomi recognizes that there is an opportunity for her line to be carried on through Boaz as he is what is known as a kinsman redeemer; she provides counsel to Ruth on what she needs to do, based on Israelite customs and guidelines from God.  Ruth is obedient and follows Naomi's instruction.

Ultimately, Boaz and Ruth are married and have a child named Obed, who was the father of Jesse (who was the father of David). Ruth was said to be better to Naomi than seven sons  - that is an amazing testimony.

They are many women in this story - Ruth, Naomi, Orphah; which one do you relate to? Naomi never seemed happy in Moab, but went because it was her husband's decision; based on the unfolding of the story, do you think God honored her decision? Even though Naomi was initially bitter, Ruth chose to follow her - what does that say about both women's character? Naomi was able to impart sound counsel to Ruth in spite of her circumstances; how was she able to do so? Can the same be said of us? Is it uncharacteristic to feel closer to your in-laws than your natural family?