Friday, October 31, 2008

Friday Flashback #19 - Who does the bells?

Posted by Lisa Laree to Beer Lahai Roi

This is from August 20, 1998, when the Flute Player was just a fuzz over two years old:

[The Flute Player] has bells on her shoes; not only to let me know where she is but to keep her shoes tied. But she's just at that age where she wants to do things herself, so what frequently happens is that I will tie her shoe in a nice bow, but [she] will insist on trying to put the bells on herself.

Well, the first thing she does is grab the bow and pull it -- untying what I'd already done for her. She tries to stuff the lace into the bell cap and there's nothing I can do until she gets frustrated with her own efforts and lets me do it for her.

Is this a parallel or what? I think the thing that really hit me is that when she tried to finish the job herself, she messed up what had already been done for her....

That's a lesson I need to remember today...and the verse that goes with it is obviously Galatians 3:3 - Are you so foolish? After beginning with the Spirit, are you now trying to attain your goal by human effort?

Which is another reminder to wait on Him...

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Know Your Enemy

posted by Lisa Laree to Beer Lahai Roi

For we are not wrestling with flesh and blood -- contending only with physical opponents -- but against the despotisms, against the powers, against [the master spirits who are] the world rulers of this present darkness, against the spirit forces of wickedness in the heavenly (supernatural) sphere. -- Eph. 6:12, AMP

I think, as we are praying for the upcoming election, we need to be very careful that we don't focus on a person or group of people as being the opposition...we need to recognize that this is a spiritual battle, first and foremost.

I've received numerous emails, read several blogs naming names of candidates to pray against (and, being a reader of varied interests, I've seen arguments both ways).

Perhaps, instead of praying for or against specific people, we should address our warfare against the real enemies...those master spirits who are in charge of this present darkness.

Regardless of who our next president is, God is still on his throne.

My Scripture reading earlier this week had me in the end of 2 Kings, and I found an interesting situation. Hezekiah was king, and he was a righteous king; There was no one like him among all the kings of Judah, either before him or after him. He held fast to the LORD and did not cease to follow him; he kept the commands the LORD had given Moses. -- 2 Kings 18: 5b-6 But Hezekiah got sick, and was told to put his house in order because he was going to die. Hezekiah mourned, and God not only healed him but gave him a miraculous sign that he would be healed.

Hezekiah lived 15 more years. During those 15 years, he gave a group of ambassadors visiting from a little kingdom north of them the grand tour of the palace and all the treasuries and he fathered a son.

The ambassadors were from Bablyon, who later invaded, conqured and carried Judah away into captivity, and the son was Manasseh, who became king at age 12 and did more evil than the Amorites who preceded him and...led Judah into sin with his idols -- 2 Kings 21:11.

Were Hezekiah's extra years a blessing or a curse? As Aslan says, 'No one is ever told what would have happened.'

What looks reasonable to us may not be in the long run. What makes the most sense to me may not be what God has in mind, because of His long-range plan.

I simply can't tell what God will do with this situation. But I trust Him. prayer is not that Candidate A or B will win; my prayer is that God's choice will occupy the White House. I will vote according to my convictions, but those are based on incomplete knowledge... because even the best human knowledge is incomplete.

And in the meantime, my prayer is to bind spirits of dissention, deception, strife, jealousy, selfishness, bigotry, fear and hatred.

There is more to Manasseh's story...the rest is in 2 Chronicles 33. The Assyrian army captured Manasseh, put a hook in his nose and took him captive to Babylon, where in his distress, he sought the favor of the LORD his God and humbled himself greatly before the God of his fathers. And when he prayed to him, the LORD was moved by his entreaty and listened to his plea; so he brought him back to Jerusalem and to his kingdom. Then Manasseh knew that the LORD is God. (vs. 12 - 13).

Upon his return, Manasseh set about righting his wrongs. He fortified the city, got rid of foreign gods and idols, restored the LORD's altar and sacrificed offerings.

Manasseh's grandson Josiah was the greatest reformer king Judah ever had.

We can't tell from the beginning what the end will be. We can't tell from the middle what the end will be. So pray against the spirits and powers of darkness, vote, and trust God.

Because He is trustworthy.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

"If My People...."

posted by Lisa Laree to Beer Lahai Roi
We go to the polls a week from today in what may very well be the largest voter turnout in history to elect our next president. I'm not going to stump for one or the other here, but there is something every one of us should be doing, regardless of for whom we plan to vote on November 4.

We should be praying for our country like we have never prayed before. It's a pivotal time, in the midst of more than one global crisis.

The verse that just keeps ringing in my spirit is 2 Chronicles 7:14:

If my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then will I hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and heal their land. (NIV)

Surely I am not the only person who has noticed who are being called to humble themselves and seek God and repent...those called by His name.

Not the folks with the humanistic world view. Not the people pushing agendas contrary to what the Word teaches. Not the folks living with no fear of God in their lifestyles. Not the celebrities who declare their anti-God opinions in a public forum. Not even the people who are ranting about one political candidate or another.

The people who are called to humility and repentance are God's people. Those who are known by His name...and remember, it wasn't the early Christians who called themselves that name; it was the unbelievers in Antioch. And it was meant as a term of derision. Probably the closest equivalent of what that entailed today would be 'Jesus Freak'.

It's me. And, if you are one called by His name, it's you.

If we wring our hands, wanting folks who are living with ungodly agendas to repent to save the nation, we have missed it. If we pray that God will turn the hearts of those folks to him, we're closer, but we've still missed it.

We've got to make it just 'Between God and me'.

What good thing have I neglected to do? Where have I wandered from His guidance to my own agenda? Where have I deceived myself into thinking something is ok, when I really know it quenches and grieves the Spirit in me at the very least, or blatantly breaks a commandment at the worst?

All of those are 'wicked ways'...whenever I serve self over God, I'm guilty. And I need to repent.

If all those across our nation who follow Christ would do such self examination, what would God do?

...hear from heaven, forgive their sin, and heal their land...

It's not up to non-Christian folks to make a difference; it's up to us.

It's time to pray.

Monday, October 27, 2008

Jubilee Monday #14 - back to basics

I don't know how things were for you last week, but for me, time had wings.

It really is good for me to stay off the 'net (pretty much...I still checked my email and the weather forecast) on a regularly scheduled basis, as much to put things into perspective as to have some extra time to catch up on things.

I spent some time just thinking. Thinking about what I really wanted my days to look like, and how that should happen. Thinking about changes we need to do to the house (We moved in 3 years ago but have not really changed anything since)...things *I* want to do to the house to make it reflect who we are and pondering what the first steps in that direction should be.

And I wrote down some potential routines and found the paint scraper.

But mostly I reconsidered who I really am. I'd been doing so much work as a volunteer that things around the house really, really fell behind. Not that I caught everything's been too long neglected...but I caught a vision of how it *could* be.

And I realized we'd been living a two-income-lifestyle (harried, hurried, driving around daily eating carry out or processed quick fix food) on a one-income, um, income. Something's gotta change.

I need to be a home maker -- not a Stay At Home Mom. Funny how the title matters.

I was really surprised by that revelation, because (true confession time) I've always sort of subconsciously resented having to be the one to do all the housework, even while I was helping out in other places and gone so much. Oh, I could get some help now and again, but it always falls back on Mom.

This past stay-home week finally began to break through that. Maybe it's the economic anxiety that's all around; I can see where staying home and really managing the household could be a profitable thing to us as a family, instead of just the drudge work no one else wants to do.

I used to do that, when the older kids were small. I cut coupons and made menus and cooked from scratch...and still managed to teach Sunday School and Youth Group and sew clothes for me and the kids. Didn't manage the clean house most of the time, and I would get up at 5 AM to go to the grocery store and back before My Sweet Baboo left to go to work, but, somehow...I don't remember feeling as knotted up as I have felt at times lately.

As I commented to My Sweet Baboo, I feel like something in me began to unwind a little last week, and it felt good.

So I don't want to jump back into the craziness; somehow, I've got to hold things lightly and not get so overbooked.

It is Jubilee should be the year of opening and unwinding and holding things lightly.

Friday, October 17, 2008

Flashback Friday #18: Seed Dies

I didn't pull out any old journals today; I just thumbed back in the one I'm currently writing in (and this will show you how erratic my journal-writing really is; this entry is two years old but it is from the current volume!). It's dated October 29,2006, and is about a revelation that hit when I was working behind the scenes at church...instead of being in the service with a special guest speaker, listening and being blessed. I'll admit I had just a little pouty attitude about it, but this changed my viewpoint:

I saw something about seed in it -- about sowing grain that would otherwise nourish and feed me. The difference may not be great, but I saw a new aspect of sowing - of deliberately placing food into the ground, rendering it unusable for nourishment. All the folks who work so tirelessly during service -- the nursery workers, the Missionette and Ranger leaders, the Children's Church workers -- they all choose to sow that which feeds them in order to see a harvest.

If you eat your seed, you'll never see a harvest. But, if you sow your lunch -- hm, maybe you'll feed 5,000?

A Postscript: Tonight is the Mpact Girls' Annual Sleepover; I'm on the 'stay awake all night and monitor things' crew, so I'm not likely to be in any shape to post anything tomorrow! And next Monday is the beginning of my 'Regularly Scheduled Quarterly Stay Home and Off of The Internet Catch Up Week' So, unless I just feel an extraordinary unction to post something over the weekend, I'll see you on the 27th!

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

An Encouraging Word

I don't know why...but it seems like every time I open up my freebie email account I see some news blurb on that home page that just makes me want to cringe. I think they put the worst of the worst doom-and-gloom headlines up. So, I thought for my 'Tuesday Something Bible-Study Related' post, I'd just post some things that would be Good To Remember Right About Now:

Prosperous Plans Made - "I know the plans I have for you," declares the LORD, "plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future." - Jer. 28:11

Positive Response to Request - "Call to me and I will answer you and tell you great and unsearchable things you do not know." - Jer. 33:3

Trust Brings Peace - "Trust in the LORD and do good; dwell in the land and enjoy safe pasture. Delight yourself in the LORD and he will give you the desires of your heart. Commit your way to the LORD; trust in him and he will do this: He will make your righteousness shine like the dawn, the justice of your cause like the noonday sun." -- Ps. 37:3-6

And my favorite; I like to read this one out loud, slowly, with emphasis, when I'm feeling nervous about things I have no control over:

How to Live in the Place of Security --
He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High
Will rest in the shadow of the Almighty.

I will say of the LORD,
"He is my refuge and my fortress,
My God, in whom I trust."

Surely he will save you from the fowler's snare
And from the deadly pestilence.

He will cover you with his feathers,
And under his wings you will find refuge;
His faithfulness will be your shield and rampart.

You will not fear the terror of night,
Nor the arrow that flies by day,
Nor the pestilence that stalks in the darkness,
Nor the plague that destroys at midday.

A thousand may fall at your side,
Ten thousand at your right hand,
But it will not come near you.

You will only observe with your eyes
And see the punishment of the wicked.

If you make the Most High your dwelling --
Even the LORD, who is my refuge --
Then no harm will befall you,
No disaster will come near your tent.

For he will command his angels concerning you
To guard you in all your ways;
They will lift you up in their hands,
So that you will not strike your foot against a stone.

You will tread upon the lion and the cobra;
You will trample the great lion and the serpent.

'Because he loves me,' says the LORD,
'I will rescue him;
I will protect him,
For he acknowledges my name.
He will call upon me, and I will answer him;
I will be with him in trouble,
I will deliver him and honor him.
With long life I will satisfy him
And show him my salvation.'

-- Ps. 91

Monday, October 13, 2008

Jubilee Monday #13: Pottering Around

One of the aspects of Jubilee that I've mentioned is going back to dreams...this was one of those 'Things I've Always Wanted to Try'.

Saturday morning, I got up and made a drive from the south side of the Rocket City north to just over the Tennessee border, to the home of Mr S., the pottery artist who attends our church and who has been coaching the Flute Player in beginning pottery during our Night of Worship services. He has a 'Life Interest Group' (which is technically what my sewing group is, too) for folks interested in pottery that meets once a month, and the Flute Player wanted to do it, so I signed up, too. She was on her way back from visiting her grandparents on Saturday, this month's meeting date, but I went ahead without her.

Gave me a chance to try it without being outdone by my own kid. :)

Anyway, it was really fun. Since there were three of us who'd never done any clay work before, we began with a quick demo by Mr. S.

He began by slicing a slab of clay off the block, then throwing it onto his work bench several times to thin and stretch it.

He pressed slices off that flattened piece into a mold and dried it just a bit w/a hair dryer. Then he popped the bowl out of the mold and showed us how to build up the rim and add our own design interest. Here, he demonstrates inserting a design feature into a bowl:

Then it was our turn to try. He threw one slab a little for me and I *tried* to throw it the last couple of, that's definitely a trick I'll have to practice! I ended up using a rolling pin to flatten out the folds I put in my slab...

I looked over the molds that were available. I wanted something kinda graceful, and I picked a mold that I later found out was supposed to be the top of a jar...a chimney sort of thing. And it was so small I had difficulty getting the clay into the bottom of it. But when it was done, I had a nice flowing little cup. Now what?

As I looked at it, I mentally saw flower petals coming over the sides. So I kinda experimented around and finally found that if I started with an uneven parallelogram type slice from my clay slab and shaped the edges a bit, I had a nice looking leaf/petal.

So I 'flowered up' my little cup, and I finished it off by adding some stamens, which I really hope won't look like worms when it's glazed and fired!

I had a little time left before I needed to leave, so I thought I'd do what I should've done to begin ornamented basic bowl. I used a small bowl mold, and this time I just added a decorative band to the top. I came up with the idea of braiding rods, but I had problems rolling out long, even rods.

When I asked Mr. S. if there was a trick to making long, even rods, he showed me his 'Claystruder'...a wall-mounted Fun Factory! He pounded out a chunk of clay, put it in the extruder and made a pile of long rods for me to braid (several other folks made use of the rods, too).
I just about ruined it, though, when I tried to put a bow on the seam of the braiding. The braiding looked cool; the bow looked cheesy. I pulled the bow off, but the 'knot' was stuck tight. I looked for something to use to set a design on the 'knot' to make it look more, um, intended, but didn't have any luck. Finally, I copied a couple of other folks who were imbedding ferns into their work to make some impressions and took a wee bit of a fern leaf and embossed it into the 'knot'. It'll burn out when the piece is fired; hopefully it'll look intentional ;).

Next month we will glaze our pieces and in December they'll be raku-fired. So I still don't know what I'll end up with.

Restful recreation...check....doing something I'd wanted to do for a long time...check...Jubilee? definitely check.

Friday, October 10, 2008

Flashback Friday #17: How Ironic

I still am looking for the lighthearted; maybe because everything in the news is so...heavy...

This is from Jan. 20, 1994...

Definition of irony: you decide that this is absolutely the week to start the diet-and-exercise program -- and the next day the 8 boxes of Girl Scout cookies that you ordered 2 months ago are delivered to your door.

Thursday, October 9, 2008

Be E-Responsible...Please!!

I have declared my blogs 'politics free zones' -- that is, I'm not going to talk about my candidate of choice, nor will I speak against the other folks, but there is something in this political season that *really* bothers me.

Forwarded inflammatory emails.

I just deleted one from a person who holds a position I respect that rather confrontationaly addresses statements by one of the candidates, citing untruths therein.

The problem is, when I checked it out on Snopes, most of those 'corrections' turned out to be misinterpretations of a statement, or something taken out of context or only partly true. Some were blatantly wrong, using wrong information.

Oh, and in that same inbox I had *another* email asking me to sign and forward a petition against RM-2493, a variation on the old 'Stop Madalyn Murray O'Hair' petition that has been going around in some form since before the internet was even up and running.

I have gotten that one so many times I have that page bookmarked.

This really bothers me. As believers, we should be dealing in truth, not rumors or suspicions. Please, folks, check your facts before you pass them on.

Passing on stuff like this hurts the credibility of all of us.

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Plain Vanilla: Patience, Part 3

Posted by Lisa Laree to Beer Lahai Roi

Oh, the irony: Yesterday evening, my ISP filter suddenly blocked all of Blogger. I fired off three different 'review this site' requests, fretting that I'd be blocked and not able to post today's final post on *ahem* patience.... Yeah, I'm still learning...!

If you want to catch up, here's Part 1 and Part 2

Finally,the third application of patience your attitude. Maybe you’re stuck in a situation that you can’t bail out of, even if you wanted to, and there is nothing you can do to bring about God’s deliverance. You, quite simply, are caught in events completely beyond your control.

In a prolonged unchanging and unchangeable trial, the danger is not that you will give up, or mess it up, but that you will develop a bitter attitude and/or a complaining spirit. Hey, this is a bigger deal than we realize, because God will not bless complaining.

This has been a hard lesson for me, personally, because I complain without even realizing it. I’ve still got much growing to do in this area. But the lessons are coming:

A number of years ago, I was in a situation that I considered to be just plain unfair. I had learned enough to know not to gripe about it to anybody else, but it was just really getting to me. Finally, I found myself driving home from the grocery store, completely alone (I had pre-school kids at the time...time alone was rare). Now, I thought, I can at least tell God how unfair this whole situation is! I opened my mouth and began to let God know exactly what I thought about the way I was being treated. I got about to the second sentence when He stopped me cold.

“Do you think I don’t know what’s going on?” I felt Him speak to my spirit.

“Well,” I replied, “I know You know, but I just feel like I need to say it out loud anyway…y’know, Lord, get it off my chest.”

Suddenly, the Holy Spirit showed me that I wasn’t sharing my heart with God – I was justifying my feelings. I saw that I was actually rehearsing my story so I could tell it for maximum effect later on! And, instead of turning the burden over to God, I was just getting myself more upset about the situation. I felt Him very deliberately tell me not to speak out loud what I was feeling. Big ouch!

But, I have to tell you that, something like a year later, I could not remember what it was that had upset me so. I remembered who it involved, but I honestly could not remember the particulars of why I was feeling so ill treated.

Now, if I had lamented to God about it every time it came to mind, it would have been rooted deeper and deeper in my spirit. I would have been able to relate (quite effectively and eloquently!) to anyone and everyone how I had been misunderstood and misjudged and mistreated. But, because I swallowed my perceived injustice when God told me to do so, it left me. Stayed gone for many, many months.

Then, one day, right out of the blue, the whole situation appeared in my head. You can say what you want, but I believe the devil was trying to steal my victory in that area. But – here’s the amazing thing: Though I remembered, literally in a flash, all the details and who said and who did and how unfair I thought it was at the time, there wasn’t one bit of pain associated with the incident. The whole thing was healed up. That seemed to me to be an even greater victory than just forgetting about it!

Now,let me give you an example of someone who apparently resisted all impulses to complain - even though his suffering came because of the unrighteous actions of other people, and even though several people betrayed him over a period of some twenty years. This guy had every reason to be the biggest complainer on earth. He could have told a sob story on somebody’s talk show that would have moved the hearts of thousands. Sure, he was his daddy’s favorite, and he had a big mouth and youthful indiscretion in using it, but he never did anything really wrong to his brothers. Certainly nothing worth barely escaping a death threat by being sold into slavery.

Most of us would have given into bitterness and resentment at that point, telling everyone we could about the great life we used to live and how unfairly we’d been treated. But, Joseph seems to have accepted what came and made the best of it, trusting God to make those troublesome dreams of his come to pass, even though they looked even less likely now than ever. We do know that God blessed him in everything he did, so much so that Potiphar put him in charge of the whole household and Potiphar’s wife couldn’t keep her hands off of him. Then, the second blow came – Potiphar’s wife tried to seduce him, then accused him of attempted rape when he refused her (setting a great example of “fleeing sexual immorality” in the process!). Potiphar, probably feeling that he had to publicly believe his wife over his trusted servant, had Joseph thrown into prison (I think this was just for publicity’s sake...if he had really believed Joseph was guilty as charged, he could have had him killed at once). No judge, no jury, no sentence. Once again, Joseph was simply thrown away.

Now, if I were Joseph, I would really be lamenting my circumstances. Not once, but twice, he had suffered a major life calamity due to someone else’s unrighteous actions. But, again, he seems to simply trust God that it will all work out right in the end. He makes the best of his situation, maintains his integrity, and quickly becomes the most trusted inmate of the prison, given responsibilities over the other prisoners and in the activities of the prison...for years. He just keeps on doing, with the best of his ability, that which is given him to do. Of course, now we can all see how this worked out to bring about the promises of God; but at that time Joseph was just going on faith.

The Apostle Paul stated the essence of the proper attitude in Philippians chapter four, when he writes, “...I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances, for I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. I can do everything through him who gives me strength.” (Phil. 4:11b – 13). Joseph knew this secret…and you and I must also learn it if we are going to see all of God’s promises for us come to pass.

So, whether you are dealing with a protracted period where God seems to have forgotten you, or you’re in the middle of really unpleasant circumstances and God isn’t speaking, then 1) don’t bail out, 2) don’t try to fix it yourself and 3) don’t complain. Keep doing the best you know how to do, and listen closely, because when God speaks, your situation is about to change.

Monday, October 6, 2008

Jubilee Monday #12 - Emulating Brother Cadfael

I've been fruitlessly searching my spirit for a Jubilee post for today, and I came across Deb's post on Becoming Benedictine and something dormant woke up again.

I have collected...and read, several times, Ellis Peters' Brother Cadfael Mysteries. The books are excellent; I enjoy them on several levels.

If you can believe it, kinda subliminally I find myself intrigued by/attracted to the extremely disciplined life of the Benedictine order. Surprising, given my sanguine nature and love of spontaneous worship, isn't it?

But the structure of the day...scheduled around canonical prayers...actually sounds sort of secure and comforting.

Maybe that's just a reaction to the crazy unscheduled, flying-by-the-seat-of-my-pants lifestyle I've had for the past ?? years?

So, it fits with the notion of Jubilee, and the discipline that I'm trying to foster in myself, to consider a structure to the day. Or, as Flylady puts it, some Routines. (My kitchen sink is not shiny at the moment; I plan to fix that before the day is over...after the plumber has finished his work on the water heater. Long story. ;) ).

But it's not just habits I need to's the habit of being habitual. After driving off-road for so long, I need to remember what it's like to follow the paved road. The discipline to be disciplined.

Sigh. I wonder how many Jublilee posts are going to be about my struggle to be structured before I Finally Get It. ;)

Friday, October 3, 2008

Flashback Friday #16 - Whose Idea of Fun?

Posted by Lisa Laree to Beer Lahai Roi

Here's another one from the 'Mommy Pages' of my journals. It's dated Sept. 25, 1996, and the children involved are The Actor, then age 3, and the Flute Player, then 2 months old.

I took [the baby] to the Dr. yesterday for her 2-month check up...she got her first DPT and Polio shots. She fussed through the exam, and screamed when she got the shots. [Her brother] had had me read several books to him while we waited, then explored the exam room while she was getting her exam.

The nurse inadvertently grabbed three 'Pocahontas' bandaids, so she gave the extra one to
[him], and, when he decided for some reason that he had to wash his hands, held him up to the sink so that he could. When I finally had [the baby] settled down and was kneeling on the floor buckling her into the car seat/carrier, [he] walked up to me and said, 'We had fun here, didn't we?'

I couldn't help myself...I started laughing (probably almost hysterically).

Then he patted my back and said, "Don't worry...I was just kidding."