Friday, December 31, 2010

Faithful Friday Faves: Ezra

Posted by Lisa Laree to Beer Lahai Roi

Long passage this week...there's a story here, which I'll summarize:

The Israelites had been given permission by Cyrus, king of Persia, to return to Jerusalem and rebuild the temple. They got the foundations laid, but folks round about got nervous that the Jews were rebuilding and harassed them so relentlessly that construction on the temple came to a halt. Then, these obstructionists wrote a letter to Darius asking if Cyrus really and truly had issued such permission. It was duly researched and found to be true, and Darius sent this reply back to the folks who opposed the Jews in their building project:

"Now then, Tattenai, governor of Trans-Euphrates, and Shethar-Bozenai and you, their fellow officials of that province, stay away from there. Do not interfere with the work on this temple of God. Let the governor of the Jews and the Jewish elders rebuild this house of God on its site.

Moreover, I hereby decree what you are to do for these elders of the Jews in the construction of this house of God:
The expenses of these men are to be fully paid out of the royal treasury, from the revenues of Trans- Euphrates, so that the work will not stop. Whatever is needed -- young bulls, rams, male lambs for burnt offerings to the God of heaven, and wheat, salt, wine and oil, as requested by the priests in Jerusalem -- must be given them daily without fail, so that they may offer sacrifices pleasing to the God of heaven and pray for the well- being of the king and his sons.

Furthermore, I decree that if anyone changes this edict, a beam is to be pulled from his house and he is to be lifted up and impaled on it. And for this crime his house is to be made a pile of rubble." - Ezra 6:6-11

Is that not the coolest thing? Not only were the Jews vindicated, but their oppressors were ordered to help them and give them whatever they needed.

The thing is, the Jews themselves had nothing to do with their relief; their oppressors brought it about themselves.

Can you imagine being one of the Jews who got up every day, day after day, and saw the unfinished temple from his window...suddenly finding out that the king had ordered the very people who were causing the delays to facilitate the completion of it?

We never know when God is going put everything into reverse and make up for the time lost. 'Cause that's the way He does things...

What situation in my life am I seeing as unchanged day after day that I can trust God to 'suddenly' cause the opposition to become my support system?

Christmas Wrap Up

Because I'm still wrapping Christmas gifts...

Tomorrow night, after we toast 2011 with sparkly grape juice, the youngsters will hang their stockings and head to bed and we get to play the Santa game...goodies in the stockings, presents under the tree, and the pickle ornament secured somewhere in the branches.

On New Year's day we'll get up to baked egg and sausage casserole, cream puffs, beef and cabbage soup in the crock pot, and a day of Christmas cheer and family games.

But I'm a little nostalgic this year; it's the Princess' last Christmas at home, as she and her Prince Charming are planning to tie the knot next fall. She'll be an old married lady by this time next year...or at least a starry eyed new bride. In any case, she won't be celebrating Christmas the same way.

I've seen several discussions about what makes a perfect Christmas for the kids...the 'IT' gift? Family traditions? Careful attention to the true meaning of the holiday?

I don't think there's a formula that works for everyone. We're bucking all of society by spreading our Christmas out...and, to be completely honest, if I could pull it off I'd do significant church services on Dec. 24 and 25, have parties with friends and family for the next 11 days and have our family Christmas, with stockings and everything, on Epiphany.

But the kids are always back in school before Jan. 6; that just Wouldn't Work.

So, we spread it out as much as we can...from Christmas to New Year's Day...and try to ignore the drying trees by the curb, the Superbowl promos in the grocery stores and the Valentine's candy on what was the Christmas aisle just a few days ago.

We'll take the tree down on the last day of Christmas break, having extracted the last drop of Christmas cheer from the season.

Now, if I could just remember what that last present was for The Flute Player, and where I put it...

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

A Nearly Painless Breakdown...

In 30 years of driving back and forth to Indiana, we've had a couple incidents of car trouble, but nothing that couldn't be dealt with so we could get back on the road.

There's a first time for everything, right?

We'd just had some front-end work done on the car which didn't get rid of some odd noises that had been going on for a while; I mentioned it to My Sweet Baboo; he said he thought it was the power steering pump...we'd get it looked at when we got home.

About 5 minutes down the road on the return trip yesterday, he completely lost the power steering.

We pulled off just before we got onto the interstate and he checked under the hood to make sure the accessory belt was not being hindered by the non-functioning pump, but it looked just fine and wasn't making any noises, so we got back on the highway and kept going...rather carefully.

At lunch, he called a car dealership that we'd be passing in just a bit to ask if the non-functioning pump could cause additional problems, or would we be ok if we kept going? The service guy told him that as long as he didn't mind the muscle required to go around turns, he should be fine.

So we kept going.

Just north of Nashville, I heard a slight noise that I thought was in the music playing on the car stereo...only the noise didn't really change from one song to the next. I turned the music down, but MSB said he thought it was something caught in the fan. We kept going.

We hit a traffic snarl at the I-24/I-65 junction and had to slow down to a near stop; suddenly we smelled something that smelled like hot brakes. Surely it was the brakes on the big truck in front of us...right?

We kept going.

South of Nashville, I heard the noise again...a little louder this time. I turned the fan off and the noise didn't stop. 'That's not the fan' I said.

'I don't know what it is.' MSB replied...suddenly, there was a thump and the noise quit. 'Must've been something caught in a wheel' he ventured.

But a couple of moments later, he exclaimed and began to try to pull across the highway. 'That was our belt' he said.

I knew from a past experience that that meant the belt that ran everything...the power steering, the water pump, the engine fan, the alternator...all those systems were dead.

And we were in the High Occupancy Vehicle (far left) lane of I-65, going 70 MPH, at about 4:50 PM...just in front of Cool Springs Mall.

Somehow, we managed to get across all the lanes of traffic, to exit at Cool Springs Boulevard and kind of coast down to a Shell station just past the stoplight at Mallory.

Fortunately, we have AAA premium road service, so MSB began making phone calls.

We were within the 100-mile free towing radius (the dealership to which we would be towing the car clocked in at 93 miles), and they could get us a discount with Hertz on a rental. The tow truck would be there within 45 minutes.

We had less luck w/Hertz. There was an rental office in Franklin, but it was closing at 6 and MSB didn't know where it was. The only other option was the office at Nashville Airport, which was not at all close to us and we'd have to call a taxi to get there.

He relayed this to us, but kids grabbed their smart phones and googled the Franklin office, which looked to be about a mile or a mile and a half away...we could walk it if necessary.

He called them back, only to find that that shop had moved to the next interstate exit about 4 miles away. Not possible to walk. And, besides, they didn't have anything that would hold 6 people.

Just at that moment the tow truck pulled up, and a young guy hopped out and looked in the windshield at a car full of folks. 'Holy Cr*p' he said, then offered to take MSB to the Hertz place down the road. So they took off, in plenty of time to get there before 6.

At about 10 after, the tow truck and a Kia minivan pulled up and while the ailing van got hitched up for the ride back to the Rocket City, we transferred almost all our luggage and Christmas cheer to the rental.

'I thought they didn't have anything that would hold 6 people?' I asked MSB...he replied, 'This came back in just before we got there. It hasn't been cleaned, but as long as we bring it back with as much gas as it's got now (about 3/4 tank), we're ok.'

The Artist rode in the tow truck, just to make sure he knew where to go, and the rest of us hopped into the Kia. We'd been off the road for a little less than 90 minutes.

I got the rest of the story after we were going. Turns out that our young tow truck driver had gone to high school with the clerk at the car rental desk, and offered to tow the rental back to the rental place...which was almost just across the street from the tow truck save us the 1-way drop off fee...since he had to come back to Nashville anyway. The clerk was fine with that.

We followed the tow truck almost all the way into The Rocket City; they turned off just north of town to go to the car dealership while we headed on to our end of town. We filled the rental tank, pulled up to the house and had the car unloaded when Tow Truck Guy brought the Artist home and hooked up the rental for the trip back north.

All of the extra bother cost us less than $100, including a tip for Tow Truck guy. It remains to be seen what the repairs to the van will cost. Guess it's a good thing we've got a little bit of Christmas money in our pockets.

It could've been sooooo much worse; the timing on everything, from when and where the car belt broke, to My Sweet Baboo nursing the car across all the traffic and to the gas station, to which of the tow truck drivers came to get us, to the return of the Kia van...was truly amazing. God is very good. Very, very good. I'm incredibly grateful this morning.

Oh, and there another first...this was the first time there was snow on the ground for the entire trip. It was a White Christmas for everyone...

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Merry Christmas!

I'm not even gonna try to post any more before I want to wish all my friends and followers (all 4 of you! :-) ) A Very Merry Christmas!

My prayer...for all of that Christmas is an opportunity to slow ourselves and hear God's still quiet voice speak hope and encouragement and direction.

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Tree Talk

About 2 weeks ago, Linda at Second Cup of Coffee asked everyone to post photos of their Christmas tree and favorite ornaments.

Swamped with church directory work, I wasn't able to post mine in a timely fashion.

However, what's the point of a tree if you can't share it?

We have a very kinetic blinks, bubbles, spins and talks (if you push the right spot on Linus' stage...). So I tried a little video. It was about a minute and a half long, of exceptionally poor quality, but I thought I'd give it a try, as you could kinda get the gist of it.

And Blogger sat for over an hour trying to upload it without giving me a clue as to how it was progressing. So I gave up and will just have to make do with photos:

I didn't take a close up photo of it, but if you can see it, the star at the top is from My Sweet Baboo's childhood trees. Ain't that cool?

Bubble lights:

Our tree is full of personally significant ornaments. We decided long ago that whenever we took a trip, our souvenir would be an ornament for the tree. This one is from this year's trip to the Smoky Mountains:

This is the second year for us to have a cat in the house at Christmas. Last year, we skipped all the glass ornaments and spinners and other things likely to attract attention...we got some LED lights and some plastic balls to fill in the gaps.

It was a boring tree.

So, this year we got brave and decorated it *nearly* as we usually do; I did leave off some of the more fragile ornaments that we've had for 30 years, but by and large, this is our typical tree.

HOWEVER, this is not the tree of my dreams.

The tree of my dreams would have Cool Touch Frosted Globe lights on it. Surely someone out there remembers those lights...round bulbs, about 1 1/2" or so in diameter, in different colors, with what appeared to be ice crystals on the bulbs.

They were about the only lights my mother approved of, since they weren't supposed to get hot (unlike bubble lights, which we begged her to put on the tree each year) and so were less of a fire hazard. I thought they were goofy when I was a kid, but now...well, I'd sure like about 4 strings for my tree...but Google can't even find 'em.

Anyway, ideal lights aside, I want to wish everyone a Merry Christmas...a wonderful time of celebrating our Saviour's birth.

Friday, December 17, 2010

Faithful Friday Faves: 2 Chronicles

Posted by Lisa Laree to Beer Lahai Roi

Gee, if I don't hurry, I'll be late again! (as the clock chimes 11:30 PM)

See, I thought I'd just take the easy verse, 2 Chron. 7:14, as that is one of my favorite verses in the Bible. But, as I flipped to it, I had a feeling that I'd already discussed that verse...and, when I looked, I discovered I was right. I didn't really have anything new to I started from scratch.

Sure enough, another verse caught my eye:
For the eyes of the LORD range throughout the earth to strengthen those whose hearts are fully committed to him. - 2 Chron. 16:9a

God is looking for fully committed hearts.

It sounds so fully committed.

But, in all honesty, on my best days I may be about 75% committed. I don't know if I'm even aware of how much I have committed my heart to traditions, to social norms, to personal agenda and not to God. It slips in so insidiously.

But look at that promise! God looks for fully committed hearts: so He can give them strength. None of that other stuff can hold a candle to that. What personal strength do I get from traditions, or from our society, or from my own messed up thinking?

That stuff doesn't give drains it.

What a challenge...

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Movie Musings: Voyage of the Dawn Treader


(I just had to get that out!)

If you've hung around Beer Lahai Roi very long, you know that I tend to be something of a literalist. If someone is gonna make a movie from a book I love,they jolly well better tell the same story the author originally wrote.

And I'll say straight up that the screenwriters for Dawn Treader pretty much took the major elements of the story C.S. Lewis wrote and mixed them up and put them on film in an almost unrecognizeable manner.

But they told the same story.

Unlike the producers of Prince Caspian, who changed the character of multiple characters, altered the basic motivations for the actions of those characters, and minimized the trustworthiness and the character of Aslan, all of which left me disappointed and rather wary of how the rest of the movies would be made.

But my hopes are up for the rest of the series...the question is, can they get the movies all made so that the growing kids are the proper ages? The Actor and I were talking about it; for the kids to be the right ages, they should shoot the films in this order:
Silver Chair (Eustace should only be a year or so older than he was in Dawn Treader)
Last Battle (Eustace and Jill should only be a year or so older than they were in Silver chair)
Magician's Nephew(Give the kids playing the Pevensies time to reach young adulthood)
Horse and His Boy - Pevensies are all young adults

But, of course, they should be released in the original order of the books:
Silver Chair
Horse and His Boy
Magician's Nephew
Last Battle

Just my opinion, of course.

Anyway, I left the theater happy. Whew.

Friday, December 10, 2010

Faithful Friday Faves - 1 Chronicles

Posted by Lisa Laree to Beer Lahai Roi

The two books of Chronicles are always the true test of determination to any Biblical student who is steadfastly reading straight through the scripture; after having just covered the entire history of pre-exilic Israel/Judah, at 1 Chronicles 1:1 we go right back to Adam and Eve and begin the whole thing all over again, with extensive genealogies, focusing on the history of the southern kingdom of Judah. If you're actively studying it, there's great stuff there, but if you're just trying to wade through it...well, it can be a challenge.

But, for today, I'm going to focus on the key event of 1 Chronicles...David bringing the Ark to Jerusalem. It's certainly the central event, occupying chapters 12 - 15 out of the 29 chapters of 1 Chronicles.

I'm not going to go over the whole story; it's right there if you want to read it (and, as an aside, if you want an interesting character study, take note of the name 'Obed-Edom' and see what part he plays in the book of 1 Chronicles).

But I'm looking at the verse that jumps out at me right now...1 Chron. 15:13:
It was because you, the Levites, did not bring it up the first time that the LORD our God broke out in anger against us. We did not inquire of him how to do it in the prescribed way.

I'm remembering something that happened about 12 years ago...The Artist, being about 9 or 10, had a friend over from school on a warm day. I'd made sun tea, and The Artist decided they needed to have some to drink and poured two glass fulls.

When he saw the glasses, his friend protested that he didn't like tea.

However, The Artist was so sure of the deliciousness of sun tea that he assured his friend that this tea was good. So, the friend was a good sport and tried it.

Nope. He didn't like tea.

But The Artist was still not persuaded that anyone could dislike something he liked so much. "I know what will make it good!" he said...and proceeded to put about 4 spoonfuls of sugar into his buddy's already-sweetened tea. "There! Try that!" he said expectantly.

Of course, the friend still didn't like tea, and ultimately the whole glass was dumped...because the Artist thought he knew what his friend would like and didn't ask him what he wanted to drink.

I thought at the time how similar that was to the way many of us treat God...we believe we know instinctively what He would desire, and go about it without even an inquiry as to whether or not that fits His plan.

Oh, we're in good company...the Bible is full of stories of people who charged ahead without inquiring what God wanted. Sometimes the results were fatal, sometimes they were humiliating, but there were always consequences.

The take home lesson for me is that my instincts are not trustworthy...but God is always available for inquiry.

And it is so much less painful to inquire of Him first, and see Him smile, than to pour a glass of unwanted tea down the drain and start over.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Checkin' In

Posted by Lisa Laree to Beer Lahai Roi

Gee, I didn't mean to be off line for so long...missed my Friday Faves post and everything! Last week was the annual state drama competition...and I did my annual mom-as-chaperone gig...saw some great drama, and even slept a bit. The Flute Player came home with a third place trophy for her duet scene from The Importance of Being Earnest, and both kids got medals for other short scene work. It was The Actor's last competition, which is a little bittersweet.

That means it's just three more for The Flute Player and me... it'll be her last one before we know it...and then I'll be done!

It is, however, rather amusing to find that my average hits per day has actually CLIMBED, despite the fact that I haven't posted anything new. I'm up to an average of 9 (yes, that is an increase of about 3!) per day now. People are stopping by last year's post about The Christmas Pickle. Too funny. Maybe one or two have even looked around a bit past the pickle post...

I do have some more meaty stuff to talk about; we had a guest speaker over the weekend at church and I've got some things percolating about that might make it to a post.

And I *will* get my pick from 1 Chronicles up on Friday. Can't believe I forgot that last week....