Tuesday, December 27, 2005
Several of which I received for Christmas. My family knows I am a magnet to old, gently worn classics, preferably ones without copyright dates. My brother found several at Goodwill including: Pride and Prejudice, Alice in Wonderland, Jo's Boys, Little Men and a selection of short essays. They are beautiful! They will be placed next to my other treasured classics.
I also was given two new books I have had my eye on... Sermons of Jonathan Edwards and The Preacher's Daughter by Beverly Lewis.
I am halfway through The Preacher's Daughter and will soon begin Edwards. I am sure I will have much to post on while reading him!
Last, but not least, my wonderful friend Katie surprised me with the full set of The Chronicles of Narnia. My brother has The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, but we have checked the other six out from the library when need arose. Now I have the whole set for keeps. Thanks, Katie!!!
My reading time is full for a few weeks to be sure... especially if I try to fit in The Screwtape Letters by C.S. Lewis that Ben has been begging me to read.
I do read this other book too... The Bible. It is the #1 bestseller of all times! It's my favorite above all others and I would rather own it than anything else, book or not, in the entire world. I recommend it to you above any that I have listed above!
Sunday, December 25, 2005
Monday, December 19, 2005
And I still love it!
Now, for some of you that commented on the first post titled "Arctic Chill", I thought of you on Friday night as we braved the frigid weather... and went to the zoo. The Denver Zoo does "Christmas Zoo Lights" where they decorate the zoo with AMAZING lights. Almost every tree is laced with colorful lights and throughout the zoo there are huge animal lights. There is the 20 foot heard of elephant lights, complete with an elephant that is standing in a puddle and throws the water on his back. There is the roaring lion, giraffes, peacocks, birds, bear with fish, and MORE! Lights everywhere! We have lived in Colorado for 13 years and have never been to see the popular Zoo Lights! It was soooo much fun!
But it was cold. Thank goodness it was not snowing which means it was not a wet kind of cold. Victoria and I bundled up in layers, gloves and our heaviest coats to protect ourselves from the single digit temperature. It was still cold. My right foot is always the first to freeze and it did. We walked through the indoor tropical exhibit which allowed my right foot to return to normal. As soon as it did we were done and back outside.
Despite the cold, it remains a popular thing to enjoy! Yet, you can always tell who the tourists are... You see, true Coloradans tease about tourism all the time. The longer you live in Colorado the more it all makes sense. Many tourists from warmer parts of the country come for Rocky Mountain skiing and are funny to watch. People like Galant, Trin and Dawn who think cold is below 60 degrees. For a laugh...
WE know YOU are a skiing tourist in Colorado if...
... your skis and ski clothes (pants, coat, gloves, etc.) match.
... you go inside (when it is below 45 degrees) to eat at the lodge, by the fire AND take your ski boots off so your toes can thaw. We all look at your socks and know why your toes were froze!
... you wear ski goggles. (and they too match your lepard print skiing outfit!)
... you don't own an SUV.
... you think 45 degrees is cold.
... you ask if the mountains always have snow on them.
... you make a big deal of the sun shining while it is snowing (something that happens in Colorado all the time.)
Let it snow, Let it SNOW, LET IT SNOW!!!
Thursday, December 15, 2005
1. Egg Nog or Hot Chocolate? Both! If it is extremely cold outside I'll take the hot chocolate.
2. Does Santa wrap presents or just sit them under the tree? Never had Santa...
3. Colored lights on tree/house or white? I like a combonation of both on the house and white on the tree.
4. Do you hang mistletoe? Nope.
5. When do you put your decorations up? Whenever we find time. Usually the first week for December.
6. What is your favorite holiday dish (excluding dessert)? Some years mom will splurge and get prime rib!
7. Favorite Holiday memory as a child? I have always loved the Christmas Eve Candlelight service at church.
8. When and how did you learn the truth about Santa? I have always known that "Santa" was not real and that Nicholas was.
(I have no idea where questions 9 and 10 are! )
11. Snow! Love it or Dread it? LOVE IT!
12. Can you ice skate? I have been iceskating before, does that count? ;-)
13. Do you remember your favorite gift? I have had many favorites... one is a doll that still sits on my bed.
14. What's the most important thing about the Holidays for you? The reality of Christ's birth, life, death and resurrection, and time with my family.
15. What is your favorite Holiday Dessert? Grandma's cookies.
16. What is your favorite holiday tradition? Our family devotion, with a felt tree and ornaments that we do through December.
17. What tops your tree? An angel that mom made years ago!
18. Which do you prefer Giving or Receiving? I enjoy both. The last couple of years I have not told people what I "wanted" and have been surprised by what they thought to get me! I love giving. I love seeing people's faces when they open my gifts!
19. What is your favorite Christmas Carol? Hummm... O Come, O Come Immanuel
20. Candy Canes! Yuck or Yum? I will eat a few, but I am not a hard candy person... give me the chocolate!
Wednesday, December 14, 2005
When I read that it struck me full in the face.
Do I weep when God's law is not obeyed? Do I weep with such remorse when I do not obey God's law? Am I so sensitive to the Holy Sprirt that I grieve instantly when I wander? Do I look around the world and sob at the sinfulness of man?
I could try to pawn this off as a "figure of speech". Did the Psalmist really mean to cry physically or just be "burdened" inside? Should I really cry tears that spill over onto my face? What does it mean to have such repentance that "streams of tears" flow from my eyes?
When I read this verse I imagine all out weeping. Unrestrained sobbing from the soul. A soul so remorseful that it cannot control the tears of sorrow. It is not just being a little "teary eyed" that a tissue can wipe away. It is not a single tear trickling down the cheek. Weeping. Sobbing. Crying. Gut wrenching sobs that make your head hurt, your nose red and give you a head ache. I have experienced times like this in my relationship with God. But when? Once a month? Once every other month?
Oh, I do not weep as I should. Sure, I feel guilt. I am sorrowful by the sin that I see in my life. I am saddened at the sin in the world. I pray and ask God for forgiveness. I am gaining sensitivity to the Holy Spirit and I am more readily recognizing sins in my life.
But weeping? What about godly sorrow? This reminded me of 2 Corinthians 7:10-11, which says:
"Godly sorrow brings repentance that leads to salvation and leaves no regret, but worldly sorrow brings death. See what this godly sorrow has produced in you: what earnestness, what eagerness to clear yourselves, what indignation, what alarm, what longing, what concern, what readiness to see justice done."
Godly sorrow brings repentance that leads to salvation AND leaves no regret. The first kind of Godly sorrow leads to repentance of sins and an initial belief in God. The second form of godly sorrow leaves no regret. This second kind of sorrow is what the Christian needs in His journey toward holiness. It is the sorrow that realizes I still sin and I still need a Savior. It is the sorrow that pushes me towards Christ-likeness! And look what that sorrow produces... Earnestness, clear mind, longing, concern and readiness...
Oh God, teach me to weep. Teach me the true meaning of remorse, Godly sorrow and repentance. Break my heart. Teach me to obey Your laws. Teach me to be like Jesus. I am so far from where I should be. Open my eyes. Spirit, I need Your help....
Monday, December 12, 2005
Opening Date: Friday, December 9, 2005
Time Reviewer Viewed Movie: 12:15- 2:45AM Friday, December 9, 2005 AND 7:10PM Friday, December 9, 2005!!! (crazy, I know... but we already had our tickets for the one when we were invited to go at midnight!!! )
Reviewers Crazy Friends That Went with Her: Ben (brother), Shannon (who comments here!), Caleb (Shannon's brother) and Scott (their dad). We met other friends and their friends (totalling 60-70 people).
Time Reviewer Was in Bed: 3:50AM Friday, December 9, 2005
I LOVED IT! The quality, humor, faithfulness to the book, acting talents, CUTE LITTLE LUCY, cold witch and special effects were FANTASTIC. TEN THUMBS UP! (the 5 of us and our thumbs!)
My favorite scenes are too numberous to tell all the details. I really did love the WHOLE movie. I was especially fond of the scene where the children meet Father Christmas and Lucy mocks, "I told you he was real." Also when the White Witch comes to claim Edmund's blood, she questions Aslan by saying, "How do I know you will keep your promise?" Aslan roars at her and she sits down! Woo hoo! And... and... and...
Only two things would have improved it (that I can think of so far) would be:
1- A larger Aslan
2- Edmund actually asking for forgiveness from Aslan and his siblings
So, what did YOU think?
Thursday, December 08, 2005
Wednesday, December 07, 2005
The temperature is currently and exactly 0 degrees. The current windchill temperature is -10 degrees.
Do you know how cold that is? It is freeze-your-nose-hairs-in-one-breath-kind-of-cold. It is a you-better-allow-an-extra-hour-to-start-your-car-kind-of-cold. It is freeze-the-dogs-outside-water-in-five-minutes-kind-of-cold. It is just entirely COLD. There is no way to get around it.
And I love it!
Almost. I do love the weather. The pipes in our office building, though, do not. They froze overnight. Therefore, the sewer system in the building is frozen. The maintenance man requested that we use the restrooms across the street in our sister building. OK. Right.
The water system broke a few years ago and we were forced to go across the street for the restrooms. It was NOT sub zero temperatures outside at that point. It is not comfortable nor inviting to walk 50 yards in arctic conditions when you... well... need to go. I wonder how long it will take the pipes to thaw...
Happy Winter everyone, I have a cold walk to take!!!
(This post is dedicated to Dawn who was cold yesterday morning when the temperature in California was 45 degrees! Right now that temperature would feel like a heat wave! Love you, girl!)
Monday, December 05, 2005
Excuse my excitement... did you read that... this Friday. Do I need to say it again? Ummm... December 9th is this Friday. Four days. Four very long, anticipation filled days.
My brother and I, along with our closest friends, will be some of the crazy people who will attend the 12:01AM showing. I have always laughed at people who waited in lines to buy tickets, sat outside the theaters for hours before hand and saw the movie at midnight.
I will join their club this week. So, we will brave the frigid, wintery weather and head to the theater when most are sound asleep. We will be among the first in this time zone to enter the land of Narnia (well, Disney's version of Narnia).
I can barely sit still I am so excited!
Which Chronicles of Narnia Character Are You?
Other bloggers have this quiz on their blog this morning. I took the quiz and scored first as Arvis from 'The Horse and His Boy'. Since not many may know this character, I went back and changed an answer where I had two possiblilities. My result was:
You are High King Peter and/or Prince Caspian! In any case, you're a king, and you should be. You're brave, courageous, noble, respectful, chivalrous, honest, wise, and all those great knightly qualities. There really should be more people like you these days...
Three days... 12 hours... 27 minutes... and countning!
Thursday, December 01, 2005
Look up ‘infinite’ in the Thesaurus and these are the synonyms:
- Very great
These are some of my favorites: Never-ending, UNLIMITED, Immeasurable, Extreme and Immense.
Want to talk about immeasurable, extreme and immense? Have you looked at space lately? Have you gazed at the stars and been in awe? Have you researched or refreshed your memory on the VAST EXPANSE of the universe? Do you remember what a light year is? Ummm…do you realize how small we are?
My brother, Ben, has been taking an astronomy class this semester. He has been required to do star gazing, papers on the moon, visit planetariums, draw scales, etc. On one of his trips to the planetarium the whole family went along. Outside the planetarium in Boulder, Colorado they have a scale of the sun and planets. The sun, on this scale, was about the size of an average grapefruit. From the sun there were posts set up, again to scale, for each of the planets. The posts showed the equivalent sizes of each planet having the sun the size of a grapefruit. I do not want to bore you, but the first planet, Mercury, was about 15 feet away. Earth, being the third planet, was about 30 feet from the sun. When you rubbed your finger over the size of Earth, the sun being grapefruit sized, it was comparable to the head of a pen. Think about it. Head of pen earth. Grapefruit sun.
Taking it one step further, do you realize that our sun is an “average” star? There are stars in the KNOWN universe that are thousands, yes, thousands of times larger than our sun. The neighborhood we live in, The Milky Way, it too is an average galaxy. We are approximately 90,000 light-years across. We are 3,000 light-years think. The ratio of width to thickness is about the same as a CD. (See here)
To refresh your memory, a light year is: unit of distance in astronomy: a unit of distance in astronomy equal to the distance that light travels in a vacuum in one mean solar year, approximately 9.46 trillion km (5.88 trillion mi) It takes light from the sun 8 minutes to reach the earth, which is 93 million miles from the sun. Do you understand that? 5.88 trillion miles in one year. The Milky Way- ONE AVERAGE GALAXY- is 90,000 light-years across! This means that our galaxy is 529,200 trillion miles across and 17,640 trillion miles deep.
Take a look at your home:
One galaxy. One planet. One very small planet called Earth. One God. One God who spoke the world, the galaxies, the solar systems and the universe into existence. Can you imagine or understand the power? God spoke and THAT PICTURE appeared along with millions of other galaxies we have yet to discover.
And I still worry. I still complain. I still feel weak. There is no reason, really for:
"15 He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation. 16For by him all things were created: things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities; all things were created by him and for him. 17He is before all things, and in him all things hold together. 18And he is the head of the body, the church; he is the beginning and the firstborn from among the dead, so that in everything he might have the supremacy. 19For God was pleased to have all his fullness dwell in him, 20and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether things on earth or things in heaven, by making peace through his blood, shed on the cross. " Colossians 1:15- 20
And one of my favorites:
"18I pray also that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened in order that you may know the hope to which he has called you, the riches of his glorious inheritance in the saints, 19and his incomparably great power for us who believe. That power is like the working of his mighty strength, 20which he exerted in Christ when he raised him from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly realms, 21far above all rule and authority, power and dominion, and every title that can be given, not only in the present age but also in the one to come. 22And God placed all things under his feet and appointed him to be head over everything for the church, 23which is his body, the fullness of him who fills everything in every way."
He has power to create a vast universe. He has power to raise Christ from the dead. He gives me that power because I believe. He loves me, tiny me on this planet called Earth. Tiny Jaclyn with even tinier problems and worries. He calls me friend. He redeemed my life from the pit. He loves me!!!
So, the days that I feel like worrying or the days I think too highly of myself I look at space. Then I remember how small I am, how small my problems are and how much I can trust God. I believe in the One who is Creator over all!!!
Monday, November 28, 2005
In the last few years, though, he has playfully teased us that he regrets teaching us croquet. The idea that students excell farther than the teacher has come true.
We beat him all the time. And he loves it.
We play in Summer. We play in the winter. We play in rain, snow, shorts, gloves, skirts and slacks. We play at noon and midnight.
Darts, on the other hand, we have not played as much the last few years. There are usually great-grandchildren and my siblings, those under ten, playing in the basement. It makes for a dangerous darting atmosphere.
Well, my skills and dilligent grandpa training all came back to me yesterday afternoon when I was invited to play darts. Since Ben and I stay the afternoon in Ft. Collins after church, so that he and his music team can practice in the afternoon, we have been invited into people's homes for lunch. Yesterday we went to Vince's house. Vince, his two roommates and one of his roomates parents were there for lunch.
We walked in the front door and it was a bachelor's heaven. In the living room, of a quite large home, sat a double basketball hoop game, foosball and a dart board. We enjoyed a wonderful dinner, homemade by Vince. After chatting awhile around the table the boys headed to basketball and darts.
Ben and Vince went head to head with basketball. Roomates Jeff and Brent decided on darts. I was invited to join the dart game. I think I was invited out of courtesy. I warned them that my grandpa had taught me to play darts so they better watch out. They laughed. I accepted.
Since it had been a long time since I played darts, I used the first game to get warmed up. They were impressed with my skills. I got second place. Brent asked if we wanted to play a variation of darts called 'Cricket'. Cricket is based more on accuracy, skill and a good aim. You must get three of each number 15-20 AND three bull's-eye.
In the first 5 turns I was ahead by leaps and bounds. Jeff and Brent were embarassed but hiding it. They were also trying desperately to catch up. But it was to no avail...
I won. And them... they were barely halfway done.
Friday, November 25, 2005
Yesterday morning my grandpa heard a speech from President Lincoln read on the radio. He had my dad find it online. I found it beautiful, convicting and worthy of sharing.
Lincoln's Thanksgiving Proclomation that follows is taken from the collection of Lincoln's papers in the Library of America series, Vol II, pp. 520-521.
"The year that is drawing towards its close, has been filled with the blessings of fruitful fields and healthful skies. To these bounties, which are so constantly enjoyed that we are prone to forget the source from which they come, others have been added, which are of so extraordinary a nature, that they cannot fail to penetrate and soften even the heart which is habitually insensible to the ever watchful providence of Almighty God. In the midst of a civil war of unequalled magnitude and severity, which has sometimes seemed to foreign States to invite and to provoke their aggression, peace has been preserved with all nations, order has been maintained, the laws have been respected and obeyed, and harmony has prevailed everywhere except in the theatre of military conflict; while that theatre has been greatly contracted by the advancing armies and navies of the Union. Needful diversions of wealth and of strength from the fields of peaceful industry to the national defence, have not arrested the plough, the shuttle, or the ship; the axe had enlarged the borders of our settlements, and the mines, as well of iron and coal as of the precious metals, have yielded even more abundantly than heretofore. Population has steadily increased, notwithstanding the waste that has been made in the camp, the siege and the battle-field; and the country, rejoicing in the consciousness of augmented strength and vigor, is permitted to expect continuance of years with large increase of freedom.
Monday, November 21, 2005
2- The Blunt Interrogator is, well, blunt. After an initial greeting they dive head long into the “big” questions.
3- The Silent Interrogator lets me talk. All the while they are listening for clues that will tell them what they want to know.
The Clever Interrogator
You have probably figured out the three questions. If not, let me assist you with an example of a common encounter with a Clever Interrogator. It proceeds as follows:
“Hi Jaclyn. It is so good to see you,” the Clever Interrogator greets me with a smile.
“Hello, it is good to see you as well!” I reply.
“So, how are you doing? What is new?” The first undercover question is shuffled onto the table.
“I am doing great. How are you?”
“Oh, well, life is going good for us. Are you still working at American Family Insurance?” The question is on the tip of their tongue at this point but they decide to go through the back door.
“Yes I am. I just work part time for now,” comes my honest answer.
“What are you doing with the rest of your day? Are you taking college classes?” One of the questions cannot help but fall out of their mouth.
I smile and reply, “I am doing some correspondences classes but not working too hard at them right now. I help my mom with the home-schooling, watch Samuel and do ministry.”
It is burning their tongue by this time in the conversation, “So what does your future hold?”
“Only God knows. I am serving God with the time He has given me in the here and now.”
The Blunt Interrogator
“Hi Jaclyn. It is so good to see you,” the Blunt Interrogator greets me with a smile.
“Hello, it is good to see you as well!” I reply.
“Do you have a boyfriend?” The first question is thrown rapid fire in my direction. (Sometimes this question includes a “yet” at the end to remind me that people are watching.)
“No…” I begin to explain and am quickly interrupted with the second question.
“Why not?” They respond with the second question as if I am an alien for having responded as I did.
“Well…” I start, knowing I have explained my conviction to this Interrogator before, and am cut off with the third question.
They hesitate, “Well, then, are you taking any classes?”
And I sigh.
Boyfriends, Books and Business
So those are the infamous questions I face. I marvel why people assume that my life needs to be consumed with boys, books or business. Most of my interrogators are satisfied when I tell them that I have a job. I have seriously considered quitting my job so I could more adequately learn the disciplines of the homemaker. I wonder what people would say if I was not working?
In my early teens it was acceptable to people that I did not have a boyfriend. Obviously I was not yet college age, so the third question did not apply. As a fifteen year old I would tell people my convictions regarding boys and dating. People would smile and nod with a “she’ll get past that” or a “we’ll see” look. The pressure greatly increased at eighteen from both peers and adults alike. Everyone who is someone either goes to college at eighteen or has a faithful boyfriend, right? Then there is Jaclyn.
Now, as I progress through my early twenties, the questions are the same but the pressure is different. Some feel sorry for me. Some wonder what is wrong with me. Others have learned not to ask because they know my heart and convictions. A few loving souls encourage me on my journey.
In the past these questions caused me a level of turmoil. I struggled with my convictions and identity. I spent many nights crying out to God for assurance and comfort. I was frustrated with people who would continually ask me these questions!
The last few years my confidence in God and His convictions in my life have grown. Trials have come. The wind has blown tirelessly on my sail. My boat is scratched. My clothes are drenched. Yet the storm has passed. The sail is still standing. The sun is shining. The Lighthouse guided me through every wave, around every rock and on to still waters.
I am at peace with where I am in life. Do I have dreams? Of course. Do I long for a Groom of my own and a family to bear? Definitely. Those dreams have not changed, nor do they fade. On the contrary, as I focus my eyes squarely on God, my dreams grow and mature.
God and I have had many discussions about this very issue. Some days I still feel like protesting or begging Him to fulfill my dreams. He always reminds me that He is enough. He is Enough. He challenges me daily to seek none other than Him. When my eyes start to drift, when my heart wanders, He is so good to take my face gently in His divine hands and set my focus and desire back on Him. He is the only one who will ever satisfy me. He is the Lover of my soul. He is true Reality. He will never let me down. Anything above and beyond the treasure of Him is an overflow of blessing.
Still, I wait. I dream. I weave.
The Three Weavers
A few months ago my dad started Bible studies in the morning with his children. Tuesday morning is for the boys. Friday morning is for us girls. He, Victoria and I have been journeying through a study by Robert and Shelley Noonan called, ‘The Three Weavers’.
There are three families. Each father is a weaver. One year each father has a daughter. At their birth they are presented with a loom, gold thread and a yardstick. All of the fathers are instructed to teach their daughter how to weave a mantle (Prince-worthy clothing) of pure gold for the prince that will one day come to marry them. Each father approaches the weaving differently.
Griffin, father of Gabriella, is the wisest of the three. He explains to Gabriella the need to save her mantle for the one prince who is promised to come for her. He teaches her that she must weave carefully, diligently and with only the gold thread. Griffin hangs the yardstick by a window. He instructs Gabriella to focus her faithful attention on the yardstick. If any young men pass by the window asking for her mantle she is to measure them by the yardstick. Griffin reminds her constantly that they were given a yardstick of the exact measurement of the prince. Therefore, she cannot stop short.
The other girls waste their time, their gold thread and forget the yardstick by making mantles and giving them away. Gabriella is sometimes confused by the actions of the other girls. Young men pass her window too asking for her mantle. She tells them that they are not the measurement of the yardstick. She also seeks her father’s guidance when she does not know what to do. He always reminds her of the prince that will come for her one day. Her prince.
Gabriella’s prince, along with the other princes, come one day for their brides. Two princes are disappointed to find that the women have made and given their mantles away to common boys. Gabriella’s prince, on the other hand, finds a beautiful gold mantle waiting for him. It fits him perfectly. He too has made a beautiful dress for the princess he was waiting to marry. It fits her perfectly.
And we all sigh as they ride off into the sunset…
So I wait for my prince. The one that will measure up to the yardstick God has given me. People can roll their eyes if they want to. They can tell me my convictions are too high and my dreams are unrealistic. I believe God will keep His promise to bring me my prince.
Five years ago I had a simple view of marriage and children. As intimacy with my Savior has grown, my perspective on life, love and marriage has changed. I know that this change is partly from getting older. The other part of the transformation has been birthed from my desire to know God’s will and purpose for me as His child.
Therefore, I have asked myself several questions regarding marriage. Why do I want to get married? What is God’s design for marriage? What do I need to do to prepare myself fully for marriage at this point in my life?
I have struggled with my perception of marriage. I want so much to treasure marriage like God values it. The world, my peers and sadly, even the church, seem to have a much distorted view of marriage. Marriage, and all that it encompasses, are promoted as self-centered, physically gratifying, lust driven and just “the next stage in life”. Children too are seen as a part of marriage that “has” to happen. Is nothing sacred anymore?
Marriage was designed and created by the Master Weaver Himself. He uses sacredness as the gold thread in the cloth of marriage. When regarded as the pure and beautiful reflection of Christ and the Church, marriage is a stunning gold mantle. Marriage is holy beyond human comprehension. Marriage is sacred.
Since God compares Christ and the Church to marriage, it must be gloriously wonderful. It is also painstakingly challenging. As a Bride of Christ I must be striving to be holy, blameless and pure spiritually. Therefore, as a future earthly bride, I also need to be holy, blameless and pure. My Heavenly Groom gave Himself for me to make me holy. I need to seek an earthly groom that will do the same.
These responsibilities are not simple. As a Bride of Christ and as a future earthly bride I am called to be holy, blameless and pure. Holy. Blameless. Pure. In order to produce those characteristics in my life, I must first be intensely focused on my Heavenly Groom. He alone is able to fashion this clump of sinful humanity called Jaclyn into a beautiful vessel of usefulness. He turns my affection, desire and longings toward Him. He shaves away the impurities and blemishes that hinder me from being His holy, blameless and pure bride.
So, I am already the Bride of Christ. Why do I long so much to be an earthly bride? There are many and varied reasons. Some reasons are complicated. Most are quite simple. At the very end of my explanations I always come back to one desire: To make much of Jesus. How beautiful to share my life with another human being who is also longing to further the name of Jesus!
All the Days of My Life
Proverbs 31:11-12 says:
“A wife of noble character who can find?
She is worth far more than rubies.
Her husband has full confidence in her
and lacks nothing of value.
She brings him good, not harm,
all the days of her life.”
I imagine a young man, my prince, reading these verses. As he looks around the world today there are few women of noble character like what is described here. Who can find her? The one who searches. What is she worth? FAR more than rubies.
I love the next part, “her husband has full confidence in her.” I do believe that, even now, before I know his name or see his face, that he can have full confidence in me. I also can have full confidence in him. He can be confident that I am not sharing my affections with anyone; I am waiting for him and preparing to build his home. I can be confident that he is preparing for our marriage in the same ways.
He can also be confident that I am bringing him good, not harm. At least I am trying. Last time I checked, all the days of my life are now. Now is the time where I can be the greatest blessing to him as I wait and prepare to be his bride. I can do him good by learning to cook. I can do him good by understanding the pressures of motherhood. I can do him good by being disciplined, chaste, sober and modest.
The greatest good I can do for my husband now is to seek God, know God and love God with all that I am. Thus the reason the author wrote verse 31, which was the subject of my last post and the mother of this one.
“Charm is deceptive and beauty is fleeting,
but a woman who fears the Lord is to be praised.”
The Three Questions Answered
So when I face the three questions: “Do you have a boyfriend? Why not? Are you taking college classes?” I am able to remain confident in who God is, the plan He has for my life and the prince who is waiting. I set my eyes on the yardstick and work diligently to weave a gold mantle worthy of a prince’s stature.
~To the Prince of Heaven, to the earthly prince who will come for me and to Shannon who waits eagerly for her prince along side me.~
Saturday, November 19, 2005
but a woman who fears the Lord is to be praised."
So I sit here typing this blog as I prepare for bed. I have a hideous looking mud mask all over my face. After I rinse it off, soft cream will follow. I will floss and brush my teeth. A thick coat of lotion will be applied to my hands.
And yet beauty fades. The wrinkles of age will come. The sags around my eyes will form. My stomach will stretch with child-bearing. My chin will... well, you get the point. Beauty fades.
I could be the most charming girl. I could dazzle and speak words everyone wanted to hear. I could dress in such a way that would charm the eye.
But charm, by itself, deceives. It is fake, lifeless, godless and selfish. It covers the true person inside and lies to all who see.
What lasts? What part of womanhood is to be praised, admired, modeled and sought after with all my heart? The answer is simple. Yet, it will cost me my charm; it will cost me my vanity.
"... a woman who fears the Lord is to be praised."
What do I want to be known for in this life? Being able to charm? Being beautiful? Hardly. I want to be known for fearing the Lord. I want people to look at me and see that I KNOW my God. I want people to not notice me when they see my life. I want to lose my individuality in the very character of God and reflect His grace so completely that every moment of my life HE is praised.
I have a long way to go. Praise God for His grace that disciplines. Praise God for His love that comforts. Praise God for His forgiveness that gives me hope!
So as I depart to wash off my face remember to be beautiful on the inside. Beauty fades. Charm deceives. BUT a woman who fears the Lord- SHE shall be praised!
(And girls, have you ever thought about this: A man wrote that verse! It was not a grandma talking to her grand-daughter about how to behave. Thus, the purest, most Godly, most honorable man is one that searches for the woman who fears God!)
Thursday, November 17, 2005
You scored as Elinor Dashwood- 95%
You're Elinor Dashwood, the "sense" of Sense & Sensibility! You tend to hide your emotions, but you feel deeply. You also feel obligated to carry the burden of keeping everyone in your family under control.
Who are YOU?
Monday, November 14, 2005
I could NOT resist posting this picture of Julia. We did "modeling" with odd sorts of things, obviously! She called this style, "The Independent Housewife". THAT nicknamed spawned a lot of discussion!
Here we are, doing our "God: Who is He?" study on Friday night. I challenged the girls with their present view of God. We studied numerous verses about the power, otherness and creativity of God! We cannot be the girls and women we need to be if we do not know God as He wants to be known!
Our sleeping quarters!
Tuesday, November 08, 2005
...every kind of apple dessert in your tummy.
This year we ordered three bushels, instead of our regular two, from the western slopes of Colorado. This is the time of year we have apples coming out our ears. This is the time of year where we are seeking new apple recipes.
You see, my mom always finds easy, delicious crisps and cobblers. I, on the other hand, seem to gravitate toward complicated, time-consuming and sickening sweet recipes. Well, this year I am happy to announce that the one I found was rather simple and not too time absorbing.
It was still sickening sweet.
But it was a WINNER! We all loved it! Dad loved it which means that it was really good! We enjoyed it so much that I thought I would share the recipe with all of you:
Caramel Apple Bars
1/2 cup butter
1/4 cup shortening
1 c packed brown sugar
1-3/4 cup flour
1 c old-fashioned or quick cooking oatmeal
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp baking soad
1/2 c chopped nuts, optional
4-1/2 c coarsely chopped peeled baking apples
3 tbsp flour
1 14oz package caramels
3 tbsp butter
In a mixing bowl, cream butter, shortening and brown sugar until fluffy. Add flour, oats, salt and baking soda; mix well. Stir in pecans if desired. Set aside 2 cups. Press remaining oat mixture into the bottom of an ungreased 9x13 baking pan. For filling, toss apples with flour; spoon over crust. In a saucepan, melt the caramels and butter over low heat; drizzle over apples. Top with the reserved oat mixture. Bake at 400 for 25-30 minutes or until lightly browned. Cool before cutting into bars. Yield 15-20 servings
For more apple flavor, add 2-3 cups more apples. For rich flavor, leave as recipe directs.
Happy Autumn and enjoy!
Monday, November 07, 2005
Words cannot express the feeling inside my heart at this moment.
The weekend went as expected. My dad resigned. We are cleaning out his office tonight.
YET... oh, I love that word. There is such hope in the word, "yet". Our God is the God of "yets". You sinned, yet Christ died for you!
So, the weekend was odd, hard and emotional... YET my Savior has guided my soul all along the way! This morning I awoke with such passion and focus that it startled me a bit.
I have been discouraged the last few weeks. My schedule has been busy and I have been tired physically, emotionally and spiritually. My quiet times with God have suffered. My attitude has gone slowly downhill.
A few nights ago I had had it. I threw my hands up and cried out to God for help. Ahhh... He does. He does. He gave me a direction and a longing for His Word. He spanked my backside with conviction. And He set my heart focused back on Himself.
I am looking forward to this day and week with excitement. Not because anything exciting is going to happen but because I have my Jesus. I have Him to walk with me. I have Him to carry my burdens. I have Him.
What else matters?
Thursday, November 03, 2005
God’s timing is not like ours, have you noticed? I have. God’s people do not always behave as Christ would, have you noticed that too? I have. Have you figured out that you do not always know the answers to life’s most difficult questions? Yeah, me too.
The request for my dad’s resignation was a shock, but not surprising- if that makes sense. The last few months the secret meetings, plotting and hostile relationships have evidenced where people’s intentions would lead.
The way pieces fell have hurt. Words that have been spoken have hurt. Attitudes toward our family have hurt.
Yet, nothing is bothering God. He is not surprised. He is not shocked. He is not hurt. He sees the grand plan. He knows. He knows. He knows.
You see, God has been teaching me something the last few months. I have a story. You have a story. Everyone has their own story. And God can use the same situation to rebuke one while strengthening another.
The situation my family has faced the last few days has caused us pain. It seems that it has caused others happiness. We scratch our heads and cry out to God, “God, why did You do it THIS way? God, are you teaching those that have hurt us a lesson too?”
And God replies, “My children, you have your own story. Do not ask what plans I have for THEM. Think of where YOU need to grow and become more like ME!”
That is the heavenly perspective that keeps our hearts focused on God. It is not easy. The next few weeks will not be easy. We have no idea what the next months hold. God does not promise that life will be peachy. He promises to be with us, guide us and make us more like Christ if we let Him.
Monday, October 31, 2005
1- I needed it at this point in my spiritual growth.
2- It reminds me how alive and sharp the Sword of God's Word can be to my soul.
One reason I like Pastor John Piper is this: you cannot read ANYTHING of his and walk away saying" Hum, that didn't really apply to me."
Guess what? God's Word does not work that way either.
Answering before listening starts in the mind. Even if I do not verbally interupt a person while they are speaking, where is my mind? Was I fully engaged and attentive? Or was I thinking about what is for dinner?
::Sigh:: so much to work on in this flesh of mine. I have a tendency to say these are "little" issues that I will work on "later". Maybe I do not actually SAY that, but my lack of sensitivity to the small things points toward avoidance than discipline.
It is the small pebble in my shoe that I think I can "live with" for a while. Yet it still leaves a blister when the shoe comes off. Furthermore, the sins that I view as "small" are usually the ones that affect other people the most.
Since I read this article I have seen habits I have of "answering before listening." Listening takes patience. Listening takes time. So, I have started two things...
1- Listen with all of my attention, body language, mind and heart.
2- Do not talk in paragraphs as to make it easier on others to listen to me!
Questions for myself:
1- Who becomes the target of my bad listening skills? My family.
2- Do I answer God before listening? Shamefully, yes.
3- What causes me to answer before listening? Impatience, arrogance, selfishness...
4- Do I want people to listen to me? Yes. (So do the same for them!)
“If one gives an answer before he hears, it is his folly and shame.”
2- It is rude to answer a half-asked question. “Rude” is a useful word for Christians. It means “ill-mannered, discourteous.” The New Testament word for it is aschēmonei. It is used in 1 Corinthians 13:5 where modern versions translate it, “Love is not rude,” but the old King James Version has “Love doth not behave itself unseemly.” This means that love not only follows absolute moral standards, but also takes cultural mores and habits and customs into account. What is polite? What is courteous? What are good manners? What is proper? What is good taste? What is suitable? Love is not indifferent to these. It uses them to express its humble desire for people’s good. One such politeness is listening well to a question before you answer.
3- Not answering a question before you hear it all honors and respects the person asking the question. It treats the person as though their words really matter. It is belittling to another to presume to be able to finish their question before they do.
4- Careful listening to a question often reveals that the question has several layers and is really more than one question. Several questions are all mixed into one. When you see this, you can break the question down into parts and answer them one at a time. You will not see such subtleties if you are hasty with your answer and not careful in your listening.
5- A question sometimes reveals assumptions that you do not share. If you try to answer the question on the basis of your assumptions without understanding the questioner’s assumptions, you will probably speak right past him. If you listen carefully and let the person finish, you may discern what he is assuming that you do not. Then you can probe these assumptions before you answer. Often, when dealing at this level,
the question answers itself. It was really about these deeper differences.
6- Questions usually have attitudes as well as content. The attitude sometimes tells you as much as the content about what is really being asked. In fact, the attitude may tell you that the words being used in this question are not all what the issue is. When that is discerned, we should not make light of the words, but seriously ask questions to see if the attitude and the words are really asking the same question. If not, which is the one the questioner really wants answered?
7- Questions have context that you need to know. So many thoughts and circumstances and feelings may be feeding into this question that we don’t know about or understand. Careful listening may help you pick up those things. It may be that there is just a small clue that some crucial circumstance is behind the question. If you catch the clue, because you are listening carefully, you may be able to draw that out and be able to answer the question so much more helpfully.
8- Questions are made up of words. Words have meanings that are formed by a person’s experience and education. These words may not carry the same meaning for both you and the questioner. If you want to answer what they are really asking, you must listen very carefully. When the possibility exists that their question is rooted in a different understanding of a word, we will be wise to talk about the meaning of our words before we talk about the answer to the question. I find that talking about the definitions of words in questions usually produces the answer to the questions.
9- Proverbs 8:13 says it is our “folly” to answer before we hear. That is, it will make us a fool. One reason for this is that almost all premature answers are based on thinking we know all we need to know. But that is “foolish.” Our attitude should be: What can I learn from this question? The fool thinks he knows all he needs to know.
10- And finally Proverbs 8:13 says that it is our “shame” to answer before we hear. What if you are asked publicly, “My wife and I have had serious problems and we were wondering . . .” and you cut the questioner off by giving your answer about the value of counseling and what counselors might be helpful. But then they say, “Well, actually, what I was going to say was, “My wife and I have had serious problems and we were wondering, now that our counseling is over and things are better than ever, how you would suggest that we celebrate?” Then you will be shamed for not listening.
Still learning to listen with you,
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Friday, October 28, 2005
I can see learning so much more about your spouse in the first year of marriage. You see them eating, drinking, sleeping, lounging, hurt, angry, joyful… in many different settings than before marriage. This is who you have married and there are no secrets now.
So what is it??? What do people learn about themselves??? Would I learn that table manners matter to me? Nope, I already know that. Would I learn that I am frustrated when people talk over me? Nope, I already knew that. Would I learn that I get grumpy when I am tired, aggravated when I am rushed, impatient when I am not listened to? Would I learn that I like a clean kitchen, do not want shoes in the house, love to organize, need my time with God to stay sane, etc. Would I learn that I can be proud, happy, impatient, goofy, sad, glad, serious, sloppy, tired and hungry? I know all these things about myself already! I know where I excel. I know where I need to improve.
So, I have reached two conclusions. First, either I am so ignorant about marriage that I will be shocked with the reality of who I am or second, people do not take the energy BEFORE marriage to understand who they are. Wait… one more. And third, people do not take marriage serious enough to fully understand the person they are marrying. So, when the honeymoon is over everyone is panicked with what they have done. Therefore, they learn a lot about themselves and the changes they have to make to who they are to accommodate the other. What, he smacks his food when eating??? Ahhh! You mean she will watch a movie that I don’t think we should see??? Oh no!
And the arguments start. The questions arise. Birth control or not? Alcohol or not? Finances, movies, music, children, theology and the list will go on. What happens to all the fluffy romance that happened before marriage? What about the giggling girl and the strong man? Where are they after marriage? Well, one of the ways to avoid the shock is to have a different perspective before pursuing a romantic relationship. Marriage is sacred. Marriage is holy. Marriage is not a game.
Therefore, my responsibility in preparing for marriage is me and my own relationship with God, my parents, my siblings and my friends. How can I prevent the pain that comes with the “testing first year” of marriage? No doubt there are adjustments that are inevitable no matter how prepared one thinks they are. Yet, I think there are certain preparations that cause a smoother, more enjoyable journey of marriage. There are problems that can be avoided if worked on before one says, “I do.”
The past year my longings to be married have increased. In my relationship with God and at the admonishment of my Godly mother, I am on a quest to know myself completely. I have asked God to give me more sensitivity to my sins. I have asked God to teach me how to be an excellent wife and mother. I am seeking to make HIM the Prince and Lover of my soul. I want to know what causes me to cry, how I act when I am tired, what is important to me and what I expect from my husband. Then, I have begun working on improving my weak spots and purifying my life from sin.
I do not want to meet “the man of my dreams” and then look in the spiritual mirror with panic and scream, “I need to loose weight!” No, now is the time for loosing the “weight” of my bad habits, sins, pet-peeves, frustrations, etc. Now is the time to be “fit” in my disciplines, convictions, passions and pursuits. Now is the time to focus my heart, attention and love on the only One who will ever be able to satisfy my soul- God Himself.
Before you raise your eyebrows too far, let me assure you that I know marriage is hard work. I know there are adjustments. I know it is a huge change. Still, I get frustrated when I see couples who are careless in their relationships, spend so little time preparing and then end up disappointed or shocked when the honeymoon is over. I do not think this pattern is how God designed marriage.
Biblical, God-centered marriage is beautiful. It is pure- in all realms. It is holy. It is glorifying to God. It bears many children. It is sacrificial, loving, caring, devoted, committed, kind and any other God-like attribute you can imagine. A marriage like that needs God’s guidance. Both people must realize who they are, where they have been, who God wants them to be and what marriage is truly about.
So this is what I seek in my own life before marriage. Marriage itself is not the end goal of my life. I will not allow it to consume my thoughts. Yet, I will prepare for it. The end goal of my life is to know Christ, love Him and have faith that pleases Him. THAT will make me better prepared to be a Godly wife and mother. Not chasing the boys, not dating anyone that asks, not even dating “good Christian guys” or “getting to know what I want in marriage by having serious relationships.”
I know what I want in marriage without giving my heart away to those who will not guard it. I know what I want my earthly prince to want in his wife. I will not settle for less.
Call me old fashion. Call me sheltered. Call me ultra-conservative. When I stand pure, ready for marriage, set apart and beaming in front of a man who has done the same for me…
…it will be worth nothing money can buy or minds can fathom.
(I love you, Mom and Dad- the guarders and protectors of my heart, the ones who instilled such fiery conviction into my soul!)
Wednesday, October 26, 2005
Saying our goodbyes to Pastor Unity- Ben, Samuel and I. My mom, Timothy and Victoria had a meeting to go to the day that we were able to spend several one-on-one hours with Pastor Unity. So, Samuel came along with Ben and I. He called Pastor Unity "Jambo". We think that he thought this was his name because when we introduced Samuel to Unity we said, "Say Jambo." Well, he took that as Unity's name being Jambo! And he loved "Jambo" very much.
I have a story to share from our time with Pastor Unity. When we were in Tanzania, our group was split over three churches the first Sunday we were there. Ben and I were taken to Pastor Unity's church. At the end of the service they have people come forward that need prayer. Pastor Unity asked us, as the guests, to come and lay hands on the people as he prayed for them. Now, I have laid hands on people during prayer as a communication of, "I am here with you." This was different. This was Africa. We were laying hands for healing, blessing... and casting out demons.
Now, I as I said in previous posts, I have been on a journey of believing God- TRULY believing God. This "laying on of hands" experience was a key to the door of belief that opened in my heart last year. I have not grown up in a charismatic home, church or culture. I believe in the power of prayer but have been in environments most of my life that have steered clear of "wild" things in a religious sense. Ha. God shook that foundation out from under me.
A young man had come up for prayer. As we laid hands on him and began praying, something started to happen. A low, deep growl started from somewhere. I opened my eyes and saw that the noise was coming from the young man. I looked at Ben. He was looking too. As we prayed the noise increased. It became more demonic in sound (that is all I can say for what we heard!). It began saying something (in Swahili or Demon- I don't know!). Pastor Unity began to pray (as he told us later) that the demons would be cast out in Jesus' name. I remember hearing him say a phrase over and over again... something that included "Yesu". As he prayed more forcefully, the boy began convulsing and foaming at the mouth. If Percy (a man from our team) and Pastor Unity had not been holding on to him I am sure he would have become violent. In a moment's time all was silent and the boy was limp. A screaming sound rushed through the building and was gone.
The only comment Pastor Unity made in that moment, by way of an explination to Percy, Ben and I was, "We see a lot of demons in this Muslim community. God keeps telling us to believe and cast them out. We see many people released from demons and given freedom."
My heart was heavy and my head was pounding. What had just happened? What had I just witnessed? A demon had been cast out. And I had been there. That prayer meeting was unlike anything I had ever seen in my baptist, calm "prayer meetings" where we pray for Aunt Hilda's toe and Mary Jane's hip.
God was saying to my soul, "Jaclyn, did you see that? That was my power."
"Yes, God, I saw. I SAW!"
"Now, child, what do you think of prayer? Are you going to keep praying as you always have? Are you going to keep believe the lie of the modern day church that prayer is a religious duty?"
"Oh, God, increase my faith!!!"
Now, while Pastor Unity was here he shared what God has been doing in this young man's life since that liberating day last January. He became a Christian and shared Jesus with his whole family. All are believers now. They are at church every time the doors are open. He said that this boy has become a foundation for the newly planted church.
I know what you may be thinking, "Ok, Jaclyn, that is great for this African church, but this is America. "
My response would be this, "We see little because we believe little and we believe little because we see little."
Another story is this...
A few days before we left Africa our team leader shared that we had about $1,000 left. We had over calculated and had money to spend or take home. We wanted to spend it! Our leader shared that Pastor Unity had mentioned to him that they needed a refrigerator. It would cost about $700. Our team was excited to give this blessing to the pastor that had been our guide, leader and encouragement. We left some money for his ministries but wanted to do something special for just him and his family.
So we got a card, all signed it and enclosed the money with specific instructions to buy a refrigerator. (We had to tell him what to do with it or he would have bought food for orphans because he is so generous!!!) We gave it to him at the airport when we left.
When he was with our team last week he shared the story of when he opened the card. He said that a couple months before our team had come to Tanzania that he, his wife and his three oldest children had made a list of prayer requests. He said that they keep the list in his Bible as their secret spot. He said that his children run every day to the list and see if anything has been answered. They had seen God answer every request one by one.
The last thing on their list was a refrigerator. He said that when they opened the card on the way home from the airport, read our note and shared it with his family... he started crying.
One of his children burst out, "Now we can mark it off our list!"
He said to us, "My children know how to call down heaven. And God hears."
The above picture (l-r Mr. Lane, Mr. Schlachter and Pastor Unity) is from the Global Connections annual fundraising dinner where Pastor Unity was given the opportunity to share what God is doing in Tanzania. Mr. Lane was also asked to give a testimony as a member of our team.
Shannon, Darrah and I at the Global dinner table. (The baby is Summit, Shannon's pastor's two week old baby- number 6!)
Tuesday, October 18, 2005
What is happening in our world? What is God's purpose and plan in such disasters?
There is a problem with pain. The problem is always coupled with the question, "If God is a God of love why does He let bad things happen?" There are three options to believe when tragedy occurs:
1- God is not loving so He sends pain to either punish or torture us.
2- God is loving but not all-powerful so He cannot stop bad things from happening.
3- God is loving so He causes and uses bad things to make us more loveable.
Whenever you talk about God there must always be a remembrance of who He is. He is not like us. We cannot fully understand nor explain Him. Whatever we think of Him He is more. All definitions of God cannot help but minimize Him. It is part of His nature to be unexplainable.
As humans we want to explain everything. We want answers. We want to feel good, live comfortably, own nice things and never die. The reality is this: pain is everywhere. Pain is confusing. Humans raise their fits toward heaven and ask, "Why are You doing this to me?" People, who in one moment deny that God exists, will in the next moment after pain say, "God is not loving if He lets this happen." The answer to such criticism is not simple. It is not popular.
The popular answer is, "God is love. God did not cause the tragedy but He can use it for good."
There is a problem with that answer for a couple reasons. First, who then did cause the pain? Certainly not the human upon whom the pain was inflicted. They did not ask for it. They did not directly cause it. So, did Satan cause the pain? He could have, but not without God's permission. God is ultimate, not Satan. (see article 1 below) Could it be God? We are afraid to belive or ask, "Did God cause this pain?" We want to think that God could not cause the pain if He were truly loving.
Therefore, when people say that God is love they assume that love means not causing pain. Yet humans have an odd idea of love in the first place. We somehow picture love as fluffy, sappy, comfortable and self-centered. Truly, though, that mindset is quite unloving. Love is sacrifice, not self-seeking. Love is hard, not comfortable. Love is patient, not demanding. Love is mercy, not carefree. Love punishes. Love protects. Love inflicts pain to bring the better good.
For example: say a bear is near your child in a forest. You quietly warn him of the danger that is approaching. Your child sees the bear and does not obey your warning. Instead he begins to walk toward the danger. The bear starts to run toward your child. What LOVING parent would not throw the child to safety? Even if your child would be hurt by the throw, it would cause him less pain than if the bear attacked. The bear attacks you and your child is safe.
God is the same. He sees a danger in the way we are headed. Sin is chasing us. Sometimes we are chasing it. He must throw us for our own good. Even if we get hurt. Even if there is pain. Our choice to rebel against God (sin) seperated us from our perfect relationship with God. There is now a barrier. We are unlovable in our present state of sinfulness. We are imperfect! Imperfect people cannot love a perfect God in their imperfectness! God used and uses pain to make us more lovable. God uses pain to make us more like Himself. Still there was no pain great enough for humans to carry that would fix the gap in our relationship with God.
Therefore, to show the full extent of His love, God took the brunt of ultimate pain upon Himself in Jesus' death on the cross. John, a man that physically walked with Jesus, saw the miracles, spent time with the Son of God and was present when Jesus was executed explained it this way, "This is how God showed his love among us: He sent His one and only Son into the world that we might live through Him. This is love: not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins." (1 John 4:9-10) Love is not us loving God. Love is not even God loving us. Love is God sending His Son as a sacrifice for our sins.
God is Love in the full measure of the word. He IS. He IS anything that is good. HE IS LOVE. God is not just "loving". GOD IS LOVE. None of us can claim to "be" anything in that sense. God IS love so His actions can be regarded as loving. His loving actions flow from the very Source of Love. Hince, it is impossible to BE love and not produce pain on those whom You love- in order to make them love You. No one can truly fathom that kind of Love.
Furthermore, God would be unloving if He did not first love Himself and second cause us to love Him. If God loved anything above Himself He would be guilty of idolatry and would no longer be God. If He loved us more than He loves Himself He would be human-centered and have no basis for telling us to be God-centered. God's greatest love and pleasure is Jesus (i.e. Himself) Jesus spoke of this often. In John 15 He said, "As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Now remain in my love." It may seem strange to think that God loves Himself but it is also the greatest source of human comfort.
God's love for Himself is what allows us to believe in Him and go to heaven when we die. God is self-centered in this sense, for He desires that we love Him because He is worthy. And that is not wrong for God! God's greatest demonstration of love to us is His sacrifice that made it possible for us to love Him. If we belive in Him, Jesus' death for us and Jesus' resurrection from the dead we will be saved from hell. The pain experienced on earth cannot begin to compare to the eternal torment of being seperated from God forever. Those that reject God completely by stating "a loving God would not cause pain" will one day be subject to the wrath of God's judgement in hell for their disbelief of God's Son.
All pain is a flag that waves to us, "Believe in Me (God). I love you! Love Me." Pain draws us to His side for belief. He comforts, explains and reassures that the pain was not in vain. There is hope! There is a purpose! Still we groan, we wait, we long for the day when pain will be gone. Pain does not exist in the presence of God. All who believe in Jesus' death on the cross will one day be free from pain. "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. He who was seated on the throne said, "I am making everything new!" Then he said, "Write this down, for these words are trustworthy and true." (Revelation 21:4-5) Praise God!
" 18 I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us. 19 The creation waits in eager expectation for the sons of God to be revealed. 20 For the creation was subjected to frustration, not by its own choice, but by the will of the one who subjected it, in hope 21 that the creation itself will be liberated from its bondage to decay and brought into the glorious freedom of the children of God. 22 We know that the whole creation has been groaning as in the pains of childbirth right up to the present time. 23 Not only so, but we ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for our adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies. 24 For in this hope we were saved. But hope that is seen is no hope at all. Who hopes for what he already has? 25 But if we hope for what we do not yet have, we wait for it patiently." Romans 8:18-25
God causes pain in many forms to awaken our hearts to His reality. God causes pain to make us aware of our need for His comfort. God causes pain to keep us from the ultimate pain in hell. God causes pain. He can. He will. He does. He is God. Those who believe in the pain of Jesus on the cross can be freed from eternal pain. (John 3:16-21) Those who believe in Jesus see temporary pain on earth as apart of becoming more like Jesus. (Philippians 3) Although we groan, we wait patiently for the promise of heaven. (Romans 8)
Therefore, for a Christian, pain is not to be avoided. Pain is to be embraced. "But we also rejoice in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope." Romans 5:3-4
"Now if we are children, then we are heirs—heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ, if indeed we share in his sufferings in order that we may also share in his glory." Romans 8:17
"Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance. Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything. If any of you lacks wisdom, he should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to him."
Do you see what James said? If you want wisdom you must have trials. Trials usually involve some sort of pain. Paul said that if we want to share in God's glory we must share in His suffering. Pain produces Christ-likeness. Not only does it make us more like Christ, it destoys the fear of pain and the ultimate pain- death.
"Since the children have flesh and blood, He too shared in their humanity so that by His death He might destroy him who holds the power of death- that is the devil- and free those who all their lives were held in slavery by their fear of death." Hebrews 2:14-15
Pain goes hand in hand with death. BUT, Jesus' death freed those who believe from the slavery to fear of death (and pain!). We died in Christ, were raised in Christ and now live in Him. We are as good as dead to sin. We are alive in Christ! That means we will only go through the process of death to come out on the other side more alive than ever. Therefore, what is there to worry about a little pain? There is no fear of pain or death for the one who throws all his weight on the power of the cross. We are alive as alive can get!!!
Dealing with pain is not easy, even if you are a follower of Jesus. Yet, this is not an excuse to wallow in misery or self-pity when confronted with the problem of pain. Call to God. Cry out to Him. Throw your burdens at His feet. And leave them there. Learn from pain. Remember God's promises in each trial. Use each painful situation to produce strength for the next one. Do not forget to see God's hand and acknowledge His presence. Encourage and support others through their painful times. Bless. Comfort. Mourn. Rejoice!
Please read "The Problem of Pain" by C.S. Lewis. For a taste, see the following quotes:
"His (God's) idea of goodness differs from ours; but you need have no fear that, as you approach it, you will be asked simply to reverse your moral standards. The Divine 'goodness' differs from ours, but it is not sheerly different: it differs from ours not as white or black but as a perfect circle from a child's first attempt to draw a wheel." Chapter 3, page 30
"By the goodness of God we mean nowdays almost exclusively His lovingness; and in this we man be right. And by Love, in this context, most of us mean kindness- the desire to see others than the self happy; not happy in this way or in that, but just happy. What would really satisfy us would be a God who said of anything we happened to like doing, "What does it matter so long as they are contented?" We want, in fact, not so much a Father in heaven as a grandfather in heaven- a senile benevolence who, as they say, 'liked to see young people enjoying themselves,' and whose plan for the universe was simply that it might be truly said at the end of each day, 'a good time was had by all'. Not many people, I admit, would formulate a theology in precisely those terms: but a conception not very different lurks at the back of many minds. I do not claim to be an exception: I should very much like to live in a universe which was governed on such lines. But since it is abundantly clear that I don't, and since I have reason to belive, nevertheless, that God is Love, I conclude that my conception of love needs correction.
There is kindness in Love: but Love and kindness are not coterminous, and when knidness (in the sense given above) is seperated from the other elementsof Love , it involves a certain fundemental indifference to its object, and even something like contempt of it. If God is Love, He is, by definition, something more than mere kindness. And it appears, from all the records, that though He has often rebuked us and condemned us, He has never regarded us with contempt. He has paid us the intolerable compliment of loving us, in the deepest, most tragic, most inexorable sense." chapter 3, page 31- 33
"Love, in its own nature, demands the perfectiong of the beloved; that the mere 'kindness' which tolerates anything except suffering in its object is, in that respect, at the opposite pole from Love. Love may, indeed, love the beloved when her beauty is lost: but not because it is lost. Love may forgive all infirmities and love still in spite of them: but Love cannot cease to will their removal." Chapter 3, page 38-39
"The problem of reconciling human suffering with the existence of a God who loves, is only insoluble so long as we attach a trivial meaning to the word 'love', and look on things as if man were the centere of them. Man is not the centere. God does not exist for the sake of man. Man does not exist for his own sake. [...] To ask that God's love should be content with us as we are is to ask that God should cease to be God: because He is what He is, His love must, in the nature of things, be impeded and repelled by certain stains in our present character, and because He already loves us He must labor to make us more lovable." Chapter 3, page 40-41
(Those are my favorites from Chapter 3!)
Please also read:
Tsunami, Sovereignty and Mercy by John Piper
The Problem of Evil- Resources by Desiring God Ministries
Friday, October 14, 2005
Sunday, on the other hand, will be full. A wonderful kind of full! It will be even better if I can get to bed at about nine on Saturday night. I cannot handle four and a half hours of sleep every Saturday night. I do not care how young people say I am- I still need sleep to stay sane!!!
I am also going to take our digital camera with so that I have pictures to post of our new church. When I post the pictures I will also give more details of what we are doing!
With that said, have a glorious, God-centered, faith stretching weekend!
Monday, October 10, 2005
Saturday evening Ben and I went to the annual fundraising dinner for Global Connection International (GCI). (A friend of ours is on the board of directors for GCI. He is the regional director for GCI in Eastern Africa and the man who invited us to go to Tanzania last winter.)
The dinner was located in the Grand Ballroom at the Sheridan Hotel. It was gorgeous, fancy and crowded; there were over 500 people in attendance. The elaborate chandeliers twinkled from the towering ceiling. The guests bustled around the tables to sneak a peak at the centerpieces from around the world.
We arrived a few minutes early and located our table. At our places sat a plate with a huge wedge of lettuce on it. Ben, Shannon, Caleb, Darrah and I looked at each other with raised eyebrows. "How are you supposed to eat this?" Ben whispered and we all laughed. It was a good thing we were in the far back corner. We can tend to be a little vivacious. Don't worry, we all minded our manners. But I can say with confidence that our table had the most fun!
The best part of the evening was the reunion of our Africa team with Tanzanian Pastor Unity Msami. Pastor Unity was our host while we were in his country. We spent hours and hours with him and his family. He came to the United States for the GCI pastor's conference. What a joy it was to see his face again!!! Needless to say, it was a late night...
And I had to be up at 5:30am Sunday morning. Ack. Ben and I must be leaving for church BY 7 o'clock. For those who do not know, my brother accepted a Lead Worshipper position (i.e. what some call "Music Pastor"... but does music need a pastor??? Ben likes to call himself the lead woshipper to lead others in worship) for a church plant. The church is located an hour and a half from our home. We join the fellowship for Bible Study, the main service and stay until 5 so Ben can meet with the other musicians. We arrive home around 7pm. Thus, it makes for a very long day.
This Sunday we went home, transfered to the mini van with the rest of the family and headed for Shannon's home- 45 minutes from ours. We had dinner with our Africa team members and Pastor Unity. Pastor Unity then shared with us what is happening in the places where we ministered in Tanzania. He relayed greetings from his precious family, the churches, widows and orphans. I will share the stories in another post.
While we were talking a light snow began to fall. It remained "light" for about 5 minutes. After 20 minutes we were into a full blown snow storm. Yet, we did not leave until about 11:30. It was blizzard conditions with limited sight and a van that was not warming up! Mom prayed for the heater to work, flipped the switch and it did! Praise God! We arrived home safely an hour and 15 minutes later.
We groggily headed inside and fell fast asleep. We awoke to 6 inches of snow! It snowed all day yesterday for a grand total (on the plains) of 8-10 inches. The high country received over 2 feet. Trees are down every where. Huge branches were laying in the road on my way to work. Many trees are split right in two. The snow is so heavy and wet for this time of year! The leaves are still on the trees so the weight of the snow was too much for the trees to handle.
We have lost about 10 big branches so far. You can hear them creaking as the wind blows. You wonder which one will snap next! We have not had any damage to our house, thank You, God. Many have had crushed cars, damaged roofs and broken windows. Ahhh, the joy of living in a snow state! And guess what? This was only the second time Pastor Unity had seen snow! (He was in Montana last week when it snowed there and it was the first time he had EVER seen snow!!!) I am so excited that it snowed while he was here!
And this Saturday... it is supposed to be 75 degrees. Ahhh, I love Colorado!
Wednesday, October 05, 2005
Never Face to Face
It may shock some of you to know that I have never met Dawn face to face. The way I talk about her most people would assume otherwise. As I type this is seems unbelievable to even me! So how did we meet? How did we become such great... no, amazing friends???
I met a young man named Matt (I'll save you the details of how I met him, Dawn knows!) in the spring of 1999. He lived in Indiana. I lived in Colorado. He and I kept in touch over the years. One day he said he would like me to get to know his new girlfriend, Dawn. I admired and repected Matt, so I was eager to get to know who had captured his heart. Dawn and I began corresponding through emails and instant messaging.
Slowly my communication with Matt became less and less. My transfer of affection quickly moved from Matt to Dawn! (Sorry, Matt ;-) I think I got a good deal out of it and I know you agree!) Matt and Dawn were married in 2004.
I have yet to meet Dawn in person. I cannot begin to count the number of hours we have spent chatting, writing emails, talking on the phone and sending goodies through the mail. I have shared my heart and soul with her, as she has with me. We have talked of silly things and dug to the depths of spirituality as well. She was my comfort and faithful friend through an incredibly painful time in my life. She has been a strength and joy in current trials. She laughs "with" me and cries "with" me. I pray I have been half the friend to her as she has been to me.
Someday, someday...even if it's in heaven.
A while ago Dawn wrote this to me about our meeting in person, "Someday, someday... even if it is in heaven." I would love to meet this precious friend in person. Yet, how awesome would it be to meet her for the first time when we know we have eternity to share together? Hopefully we can meet before then, but who knows when that will be?
Just yesterday Dawn said, "Our friendship is a picture of what our relationship with Christ should be like!!! Talking every day about life events and deep spiritual issues. Learning more about each other...and desiring to always know more. Believing in the other though we have never seen each other."
I cannot agree more!
All About Dawn
Birthday: January 19
Children: First baby due March 2006
Colors: She LOVES bright colors like tangerine and yellow. She calls it a "Moroccan Style" or "A Romantic Tropical"
Hobbies: Blogging, knitting, baking, quilting, cleaning, being with friends and chatting with me!
College: The Master's College, California
Degree: Home Economics
Besides being fairly newly-wed, Matt and Dawn are expecting Baby #1 on march 10, 2006. They also recently made a BIG move from Tennessee back to California. Matt has started training for a fantastic job! They are busy establishing a new home and settling into a fresh era of their lives. And to think that a mere 2 years ago they were not even engaged yet!
How can we have memories "together" you might ask? Well, we do! One of my fondest memories of Dawn is the day she was updating a website for the college she worked at. She had me look at it to see what I thought. She then proceeded to make a change on the website and asked me to go back and look. To my shock, at the very top of the page in BIG BOLD letters she had typed something like this, " JACLYN, WHITE FEMALE, LOOKING FOR A GODLY CHRISTIAN MAN TO MARRY." I thought it was funny... and then told her to take it off before someone saw it!!!
Then there is our sad candy story. We tried to send candy to eachother in the mail from work address to work address. We are convinced there is a candy thief in the post office. He is happy to eat our candy and then place the wrapper BACK in the envelope before sending the letters on their way. Umph.
The Years to Come...
The next few years are sure to hold many changes for Dawn. She will become a mommy. She will make another cross-country move. She will laugh. She will cry.
I am so thankful that through the times to come I know I will have her friendship. It comforts me to know that I have her as a friend. I know that no matter what happens she will be there. I praise God for her, for our unique friendship and for the blessing she has been to me.
I love you, Dawn!