Friday, December 21, 2012

Christmas Reading

Posted by Lisa Laree to Beer Lahai Roi

We did not teach our kids to believe that Santa brought Christmas presents.  (Note:  That's not a judgement against folks who do.  That's just what we were convicted to do.)    We always taught them that St. Nicholas was a man who lived a really, really long time ago who gave gifts to very needy folks because that's what God wanted him to do, and that we now play a game called 'Santa Claus'  to have fun surprising each other with gifts at Christmastime.

We didn't make a big deal out of it or try to convince anyone else not to teach their kids that Santa brought presents, but boy, did we catch it for not following the society on this one.  It's funny, because we caught it from both sides...from the people who thought we were robbing our kids of precious childhood memories because we did not 'do Santa', and from the folks who thought Santa was the embodiment of the secularization of Christmas and would have nothing to do with 'the guy in the red suit', because we 'played Santa' with the kids.  Whoda thought it would be such a point of contention?

But into this mix comes a lovely little Christmas read.  If you have never read Ed Butchart's the Red suit diaries, you have missed a real treat...a look at Santa from the viewpoint of someone who really understands what Santa should be all about. Ed is an elder at his church and he founded  a ministry  that repairs/ reconditions and supplies wheel chairs and other aids to folks who are in need of such things, Friends of Disabled Adults and Children (FODAC).

He also happens to look an awfully lot like everyone's mental picture of Santa Claus.

Consequently, he has been a professional Santa for a number of years, and his books (there is a sequel, More Pages from the Red suit Diaries, as well) are recollections of his experiences, from the physically painful to the heartbreaking to the hysterically funny to the unbelievably precious, not only at Christmas, but year 'round.   Ed writes with honesty that is a joy to read, whether it brings tears or laughter.    And he always, always presents Santa as a servant of God and a representative of Jesus.

My mother-in-law is a collector of Santas and Santa-themed items, so when I spotted a copy of the first book several years back in a Hallmark shop, I picked it up for her. Of course, I skimmed through it a bit before I wrapped it...and the next year I bought one for myself.

I read through it every year during Advent; but really, it's not just about Santa and Christmas -- it's a great testimony of how God gives truly unique gifts and abilities to folks and how, by following Him in faith, we can put those gifts to work in unusual ways.

( one connected with Mr. Butchart or his publishers asked me to do this or even knows  I'm writing...I' m just sharing something that touched me with hopes someone else will enjoy it as much as I did.)

Merry Christmas, everyone, and thanks for spending some time with me at Beer Lahai Roi!

Monday, December 17, 2012

Making a Commitment...

Posted by Lisa Laree to Beer Lahai Roi

I've watched this from the sidelines for the past couple of years; somehow I missed the start gun.

This year, I've decided I'm going To Do It.

Beth Moore's Siesta Scripture Memory Team.

Twelve months.  Twenty four verses.

I really, really need this.  I don't know if I'll get to participate in the conference at the will be in Texas, after all, and I'm in Alabama, but I need to memorize.  I need the Word in my heart...I need the discipline of seeking Him through memorization.

Any one else game?

Saturday, December 15, 2012

Longfellow Was Right

Posted by Lisa Laree to Beer Lahai Roi

I Heard the Bells on Christmas Day
Their old familiar carols play
And wild and sweet, the words repeat
Of  peace on earth, good will to men.

I thought how, as the day had come,
The belfries of all Christendom
Had rolled along the unbroken song
Of peace on earth, good will to men.

And in despair I bowed my head, 
'There is no peace on earth, ' I said,
'For hate is strong and mocks the song
Of peace on earth, good will to men.'

Then pealed the bells more loud and sweet,
'God is not dead, nor doth he sleep;
The wrong shall fail, the right prevail
With peace on earth, good will to men.'
-- Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, 1863

We all -- every one of us -- have the power to choose.  That some people choose evil and innocents suffer still shocks us.

But 'God is not dead, nor doth He sleep' is a word we must recall, even if we don't understand.

'I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace.  In the world you will have tribulation.  But take heart; I have overcome the world.' - John 16:33, ESV

This was not a pat, feel good statement made by someone passing by a grieving soul; this was Jesus, just a few hours before he was to undergo his own excruciating tribulation...yet he was speaking in the past tense.  With his suffering in front of him, he spoke his victory.  That has always astonished me.

For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin.  Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need. -Heb. 4: 15-16

The grace and mercy is given to help us in time of need but...grace and mercy is also given to us so that we may help others in time of need.  But we must go to the Source, Who is not dead and Who never sleeps.

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

'Tis the Season

Posted by Lisa Laree to Beer Lahai Roi

I posted this to my Facebook wall, just so I could find it and play it when I find myself forgetting.

And as I did I wondered ...what would happen if we all behaved as if Linus were really right?  That Christmas really is all about Immanuel, God With Us?  How would my neighborhood...our different?

Oh, sure, we do the shepherds and wise men and sing the carols, but...really...could anyone who didn't know anything about Christmas watch the behavior of American Christians and know what it was all about?

For some reason, it seems more important to me this year to focus on the birth of Christ...the event that started the countdown to the cross...the life that divided time (even if we did the math wrong).

He took on flesh and dwelt among us.  It is a marvelous thing. A wondrous thing.

What Christmas is all about.

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Thanksgiving Chatter: This End

Posted by Lisa Laree to Beer Lahai Roi

If you just want the list of questions to copy and answer, they'll be quick to grab from yesterday's post.  You can answer in the comments or on your own blog and just leave your link as a comment here.

While you're waiting on the pies and such to cook today, you know. ;-)

Anyway, I'm about to hit the kitchen but thought I'd post my answers quick-like:

1) Are you going over the river and through the woods for Thanksgiving dinner,  or will you be dining in your own dining room?  Or are you one of the noble folks who will be serving meals to people who have neither a grandma's house nor a dining room?

I'm fixing dinner and the local members of the family...minus our married daughter and her hubby...will eat it.  The Princess and her Prince are eating dinner w/his folks, but will join us for pie and the annual viewing of 'Miracle on 34th Street' later in the evening.  I'm planning to put a large chunk of our 15-lb turkey straight into the freezer for turkey divan later on.

2) What is one thing that you are thankful for that the folks who will be around your table might think is silly?

We have a kitty who is not terribly generous with her affection, but I can get some cuddle time with her most days.  It probably IS silly, but I'm grateful for the purr God put in kitties, undoubtedly for its therapeutic  effect on humans.

3) Do you have a set menu every year, one that varies not, or are you someone who likes to try new dishes for the holiday?

We are very traditional; I could probably do our Thanksgiving dinner in my sleep now.  The menu varies not. Someone would be devastated if his/her particular favorite item was missing from the table...although some years (such as this one) in the interest of keeping it simple, I will substitute brown 'n' serves for my grandmother's yeast rolls and refrigerated pie crust for the floury mess of the scratch version.  Usually the only person disappointed by those alteration is me.

4) Will a parade be any part of your Thanksgiving?

Years ago I asked the kids to tear up the bread for the dressing while they watched the Macy's parade; now it's part of the tradition.  The Artist has even said that he will be here in time for breakfast (refrigerated orange rolls, another tradition) and the parade.   Gotta love anything that entices an out-of-the-nester to hang out with us.

5) A couple of years ago, I read an internet post by folks who immigrated to the US from England, who asked their neighbors what they were supposed to do on Thanksgiving.  As they told the story, everyone instructed them to 'eat turkey and watch football.'    How would you answer their question?

I would have said that Thanksgiving is a time to share with friends and/or family; a day to fix a meal of special food and enjoy it with people who are near and dear to you as you reflect on the blessings that God has so graciously given ...and then promptly invited them for dinner.

The word 'football' would not even have entered into the conversation...

6)  Will there be anything on your Thanksgiving table that would seem odd or unusual to folks who do not know your traditions?

Last year, I posted to Facebook a photo of the whole family around the table just before we said the blessing.  That photo started off a whole little discussion about how odd it was that we all had large glasses of milk evident.  Now, that is not a Thanksgiving deal at our house...we drink milk All. The. Time.  But there were folks who were amazed that we drink milk with dinner.  Apparently that is relegated to breakfast only in many houses.  So, yeah, I guess the milk in the glasses qualifies.

7) How do you prefer to express your thanksgiving?  Do you share around the table,  list it as the meal is blessed,  keep it private between you and God, or...?

This is one thing we don't do the same every year; some years we go around the table, some years we just pause as we bless the meal to be thankful; some years, I participate in the 'Thanksgiving Countdown' on Facebook...listing something I'm thankful for in my status every day.  Who knows what we'll do tomorrow?  It may depend on whether I actually get dinner on the table on time or not; some years there have been glitches that made the meal late enough that the only sound at dinner was munching...

8) Have you put up Christmas decorations yet, or do you keep Thanksgiving separate from Christmas (or Hanukkah, if that applies...)?

I like my holidays separate and distinct; no Christmas decoration or Christmas music or movies in our house before we eat turkey and express our thankfulness (however that happens that year).  Although I do try to get started on the Christmas shopping before Christmas...I'd guess I'm about half done with that for the year. I know the sales hit on Black Friday; it's worth skipping the sales to also skip the craziness...

9) What is one standout memory you have of Thanksgiving when you were a kid?

I remember several Thanksgivings, but the one that is most prominent at the moment is from when I was probably in Jr was a Thanksgiving where we actually didn't go anywhere or have any was just my parents and us 4 kids.  Mom cooked dinner and we ate it and just enjoyed staying home.  It was odd that I found it so enjoyable, as I was usually the first one to want to 'go someplace!'.  But I think that was the year I learned that I could enjoy an intimate family holiday.  Maybe that was just God's preparation for all the years we would spend as 'just us' hundreds of miles away from the rest of the family.  Thanksgiving with my hubby and kids is actually my favorite holiday; if any of the extended family can make it to us (and they have, a few times), that just makes it better, but it's not essential.

10) Do you do family portraits at Thanksgiving?

 We used to do them the day after Thanksgiving...set up the tripod and do a whole roll of shots, hoping that when they were developed there'd be one good enough to use for our Christmas Epistle.  But now, in the digital age, it's not so critical that we do it that early, since we can just download 'em off the camera. 

So it's not exactly on the schedule for this Friday, but it could happen.

11) What is the Thanksgiving weather forecast for your area?  Is it typical?

Partly cloudy, temps in the 60's.  Maybe a little warmer than usual, but not remarkably so.  I'll probably have a window open to offset the heat from the oven, and we probably won't light the holiday fireplace until the evening after the sun sets and it cools off a bit.

12) White meat or dark?

Definitely dark for me! 

Whatever your Thanksgiving looks like at your house, I wish the peace of God and the blessings of a thankful heart to you and yours!

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Thanksgiving Chatter

Posted by Lisa Laree to Beer Lahai Roi.

One of my favorite things about Thanksgiving is that it gives everyone a chance to sit down and talk with folks over a large, leisurely meal and pie and coffee.  So, I thought I'd do a little random question thing...while you're waiting on pies to bake or whatnot tomorrow, you can answer the questions in the comments or, if you want, you can post on your own site and just link up to your blog in the comments.  You can either answer here or wait and put 'em in the comments when I post my answers tomorrow.

I promise I'll come and read them if you post on your blog; I'll even leave a comment so you know I came by.   ;-)

I'm well aware that there's not a boatload of folks who read this, and I also know that some of my readers would never dream of leaving a comment.  And that's ok.  But if you're willing and able, join me in a little pre-Thanksgiving get-to-know-you...because one of the things I'm very grateful for is the people who take time to visit my little corner of the blogsphere... ;-)

1) Are you going over the river and through the woods for Thanksgiving dinner,  or will you be dining in your own dining room?  Or are you one of the noble folks who will be serving meals to people who have neither a grandma's house nor a dining room?

2) What is one thing that you are thankful for that the folks who will be around your table might think is silly?

3) Do you have a set menu every year, one that varies not, or are you someone who likes to try new dishes for the holiday?

4) Will a parade be any part of your Thanksgiving?

5) A couple of years ago, I read an internet post by folks who immigrated to the US from England, who asked their neighbors what they were supposed to do on Thanksgiving.  As they told the story, everyone instructed them to 'eat turkey and watch football.'    How would you answer their question?

6)  Will there be anything on your Thanksgiving table that would seem odd or unusual to folks who do not know your traditions?

7) How do you prefer to express your thanksgiving?  Do you share around the table,  list it as the meal is blessed,  keep it private between you and God, or...?

8) Have you put up Christmas decorations yet, or do you keep Thanksgiving separate from Christmas (or Hanukkah, if that applies...)?

9) What is one standout memory you have of Thanksgiving when you were a kid?

10) Do you do family portraits at Thanksgiving?

11) What is the Thanksgiving weather forecast for your area?  Is it typical?

12) White meat or dark?

Saturday, November 17, 2012

Are You Done With That?

Posted by Lisa Laree to Beer Lahai Roi

I've looked through both blogs and can't really find that I've posted this before, so, after some deliberation about which blog to post it to, I decided it works better here.

I have lamented about my pitiful housekeeping skills before, but I don't really think I've gone into what I think is the fundamental root. So I'll 'splain it quick, then share an EPIPHANY I had today regarding the whole issue.

I really believe there's two kinds of can call 'em Cleanies and Messies, Born Organized and Sidetracked or about anything that makes sense to you.  In an effort to avoid labels, I'll just say 'Type 1 and Type 2".  Here's how you tell 'em apart...

You give them each something to do that requires stuff...say, reconciling the checkbook (checkbook, bank statement, calculator)...and then you interrupt them with something that is urgent but does not involve blood or smoke. In other words, not an emergency.

The Type 1's will always, without even consciously thinking about it, put away the stuff they were working on and then go tend to the interruption.  The Type 2's will always, without thinking about it, hop right up and go tend to the interruption, leaving their stuff right there because, you  know, they're coming right back.

But life happens and the interruption is interrupted and then something else comes up and...

At the end of the day, the stuff is still on the table.

So, when a Type 1 cleans house, she dusts and vacuums.  When a Type 2 cleans house, she has to first go put away all the half done projects...only, they need to be done.  So instead of putting away the checkbook and bank statement, she sits back down to finish it. Then she spots the vacuum that  is still in the middle of the family room, where it was when the doorbell rang with the mail order box that had hubby's Christmas present in it, that had to be put away immediately so he couldn't find it,, is THAT where the holiday tablecloth got put year before last...and...and..and...

So, I have told myself, the secret is that I must learn to put away things when I'm done with them.

But today I realized that is NOT the secret.

The secret is to realize WHEN I'm done...not necessarily done for good, but definitely done for today.

As I mulled over this realization I was walking up the stairs to get the next load of laundry,  and I saw a box of miscellaneous stuff sitting at the top of the stairs, and I realized 'Am I done with this?' applies to a lot more than just what I'm working on at the moment.

If I'm done with it, I'm done with it.  Am I done with this catalog?  Am I done with this pattern...these fabric scraps...this too-small blouse...those scratchy sheets...I've found myself asking this question over and over today.  And when the answer is 'yes', then what I need to do becomes obvious.

You know, though, that can apply to much more than just the stuff that is cluttering my could apply to the stuff that is cluttering my life.  Am I done with this program, with that responsibility?  With that relationship?  Has that season passed?  Am I still trying to plant when I should be harvesting?  Am I done with that?

It means I have to be honest with myself.  It also means I can't pull a Scarlett O'Hara and 'think about it tomorrow.'  I have to answer the I done with that?

Once the question is answered, then I can take care of the ...clutter.

But one thing I do:  Forgetting what is behind and straining towards what is ahead, I press on ... (Phil 3:13a -14b, NIV 2011)

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

An Unmarked Bible

Posted by Lisa Laree to Beer Lahai Roi

In a rather unusual sequence of events, I have become the owner of 3 new Bibles in about the last 6 weeks.

One was given to me, one was purchased on something of a lark (it was $5), and one was a replacement for the old warhorse Bible in the upper right that has been my go-to study companion for the past 27 1/2 years but has, due to ignorance on my part for the first ten years or so, deteriorated to the point that I needed to retire it with honors.

I may talk later about my thoughts on the translations, as they are all different (the study Bibles are 1984 NIVs, the very small Bible is a 2011 NIV and the one in the lower right is a 2001 ESV), but for now I thought I'd just talk a bit about having three unmarked texts before me.

A Bible, for me, isn't just a nice read on a rainy day; it is a feast to consume and digest.  I've written before about the marking system I use to highlight and emphasize as I read and study; it is one revelation after another preserved for future reference.  All four Bibles are open to my favorite verse - Romans 12:2 - and you can see how the years of study have transformed my old Bible, while the new ones are, by and large, waiting for the notation of whatever new - or renewed - revelation comes as I study them (I noticed that I have already  marked Romans 12:2 in the little Bible).

I am carrying the new study Bible to teach from; it is awkward as I'm not yet familiar with its quirks and text patterns, and the notches on the sides of the pages are something I'm going to have to get used to handling, and it's NOT marked so I have to rely on my memory of text references instead of cheating by  looking for the passage by its marking, but it is the text that our lesson material is based on so it is the better choice for the classroom.

And it is such a quality volume; leather cover, fine paper...and, believe it or not, it smells fabulous.  I even passed it around in class tonight so my junior high girls could experience the fragrance.

But  it is the unmarked path through the Word that is intriguing;  I have learned from past study that a slight difference in wording may open up a new aspect of a passage that I had not seen before.  Or simply because I have not marked the verse in one way, I may see it slightly differently.  Either way, I am anticipating some rich study time as I blaze the trails ahead.

Friday, November 9, 2012

Humble Pie...again

Those folks who have been around BLR for a while know that I try very hard to maintain a politics-free zone on my blogs.  I'm not about to change that, but I do have a story to relate that I will try very hard to do from a neutral position...

Monday, one of my Facebook friends posted a little friendly reminder to folks not to wear any politically-themed attire to the polls, as we are not allowed in the polling places visibly supporting any one candidate or issue.

I had a sudden idea of a way to beat that, taken from the ties the candidates wore at the last debate, and just decided I would dress for the day in the color associated with my choice.  Subtle support.

I thought it was funny and sharp, and I did point out to two or three friends how sly I was in expressing my preference.  There my have been just a touch of pride involved in my outwitting of the rules.

Then the election coverage started; I wasn't home to watch it but my elder son The Artist, who was one of the folks I'd told of my sly cleverness, was.  I got a text from him. "Mom...that color thing.  You're wearing the wrong color."

I was sure I was not.  Did they switch??

Nope.  Turns out I had totally mixed it up and was absolutely, positively backwards.

That's a big dose of humble pie right there, let me tell you.

And a pretty big reminder that whenever I set out to prove my personal wit and superior thinking, God always manages to remind me that without Him involved I will ALWAYS mess it up.  Even on something as simple as picking a color. 

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Repeat...because I did good the first time...

I don' t often repeat a post, but it has been a  bit over 4 years since I started Beer Lahai Roi, and I have been at the week-before-the-election  before.

And I really can't improve on what I said the last time.  Regardless of my political leanings, it's still true.

So, if you've a mind to, check it out.

Know Your Enemy - 10/29/08

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Challenge of the times...

Posted by Lisa Laree to Beer Lahai Roi

There is very little more discouraging than seeing someone who should know...should KNOW...the difference between what is true, noble, right, pure, lovely, admirable, excellent and praiseworthy and what is poison choosing to ingest the poison and, after it has festered well, spewing that poison over anyone who hints that it might be poison.

The argument for the poison makes sense...only if one pretends God is not who He claims to be, does not do what He promises to do, and whose character changes with the social norms of the day.  Some have never met God, or have met twisted impersonations, or gave up on a relationship with Him before seeing the fruit of it and honestly do not know.  But others...who have at some point seen God work...well, if it grieves my heart, I can only imagine how it must grieve His.

But, perhaps I am wrong.  Perhaps their vision of what was in front of them was out of focus instead of seeing God, they saw something else, and still don't know.

In which case, the poison becomes a cry for compassion and prayer.  How can I better represent God in that situation?  Without throwing more pain on the poison? Because the poison comes from a place of pain and deception; it needs revelation and healing, not judgment and condemnation.

And, while this was not really sparked by a political diatribe but by an ideological one, it still applies to folks whose politics are violently opposed to mine.  Once again, how do I represent God in the situation?  When I am quite sure the labels hurled in my direction do not apply to either my convictions or my opinions? It is offensive to be the target of such labels...but the least productive thing would be to be offended.

So I must look in myself for a shred of truth to the labels...what do I need to repent of?  What do I need to change?  Not in my convictions, but in how I hold and present them; so that I am free of the  inclination to justify my self or concern for how I am perceived and can simply give a creditable account of what I believe and why, without breaking the bruised reed or extinguishing the smoldering wick that may still be in a position to respond to God.

 All the while being mindful of the difference between someone who's actually willing to consider looking for truth...and someone who's merely looking for a fight. 

By way of disclaimer, I am not a 'facebook friend' of the sometime acquaintance whose accusatory rant aimed at someone who voiced convictions similar to mine surprised me and prompted this post....

Monday, October 29, 2012

Translation Transition

It was a college graduation gift from my previous church, gettin' close to 30 years ago.

I put it in a cover which, as it turned out, was not a good idea.  The handle on the spine put stress on the binding and the stitching and, well, it began to break down.

It started coming apart at the first section join and I managed to get it more or less repaired with glue and packing tape. But then the second join started to split; when it got to this point, I tried to repair it again.

Unfortunately the glue spread a little bit and the center margin is stuck together...covering the last letter on each line. And that section is a little off kilter -- crooked-- from the rest of the volume. Sadness.

It's a Scofield NIV, which I have used and loved and marked and nearly memorized the page location of almost every favorite verse.

But it's obviously time to retire this volume and begin the process again.  I put a replacement Scofield NIV on my Christmas list.

However,  I had to run to the local Christian Bookseller last week to get a DVD for our sleepover, and when I checked out the clerk pointed out to me that they had small NIV's on special for $5.  I thought, '$5!  That'll be a great thing to get and carry around when I don't want to lug the Big Bible!' (I have a stupidphone, so no icloud versions are available to me...).  Anyway, I got a cute little purple NIV and immediately began marking it as I read.

Only...somehow, as I read, the text seemed a pinch odd.  I just thought I was mixing up translations in my head; I use several different ones at different times, which pretty much means any verse I quote is some mishmash of KJV/NIV/NKJV/NASB.  Anyway, I didn't check to see *why* it seemed odd; I just went with it.

But this Sunday, I was using it in class and my only student that morning commented that what I was reading did not match what she had in her NIV.  I stopped then and looked carefully and...she was right.  There was nothing to indicate that the NIV I had was not what I was expecting, until I dug into the preface and found that there was a revision in 2011, reflecting the changes in language usage since 1984

Now, there's nothing wrong with that; the whole point of the NIV is to put the Bible into current language...  and the language has changed a bit in 30 years.  But I would've liked a little clue that this was a revision (I suppose it could have been on the shrink wrap packaging somewhere; if so, I missed it). The literature I use for my girls classes is based on the 1984 edition; the 'fill in the blanks' and word searches and crossword puzzles are quite tricky with anything else.

.*Can* I get a 1984 edition Scofield anymore? Or should I just go and get an ereader, which will probably not cost that much more than a full grain leather Bible?

No.  I want a Bible I can hold and mark... ;-)

Friday, October 26, 2012

Tassle Tussle

Posted by Lisa Laree to Beer Lahai Roi

We are currently finishing up our unit title 'Pure Heart' in the Friends (grades 6 - 8) club.  Every unit has to have a project or an adventure or some such thing; the first time we did 'Pure Heart' the project was the human video for the Girls' Ministry talent competition ('Average Girl' by Barlow Girl was perfect).

But this year our human video will be the project for 'Commitment to Christ', coming up after Christmas, and I needed a project for Pure Heart.

And I found it by ignoring the chapter divisions when reading up on Moses for another thing altogether.

I was actually researching Moses' most common reaction to opposition -- falling facedown rather than justifying his position -- and I saw something I'd never seen before.

We're all familiar with the story of Korah's rebellion in Numbers 16; what I had not really noticed was what happened in the tail end of  chapter 15, which is what resulted in Korah and his buddies presenting themselves before Moses and Aaron and proclaiming, 'You have gone too far!'

It was over tassels.

Some poor guy had been caught gathering firewood on the Sabbath; not a smart thing to do when keeping the Sabbath was part of the covenant Israel made with God.  On God's instruction, the fellow was taken outside the camp and stoned by the assembly, so they would realize the significance of breaking the covenant.  Then, God instructed Moses to direct the people to put tassels with a blue thread on the corners of their garments to remind them to keep the commandments of God.  In other words, so they won't forget and go out do what they think is expedient rather than keeping to the word.  So they would see the tassels and be constantly reminded that they belong to God and need to obey his commands and live by His decrees.

That's the end of chapter 15.  Where someone reading through would likely stop.  When they pick up with chapter 16, chances are they'll have forgotten what came before and just begin with "Korah and [his allies]...came as a group to Moses and Aaron and said to them, 'You have gone too far!  The whole community is holy, every one of them, and the LORD is with them.  Why then do you set yourselves above the Lord's assembly?'  

But remember, Moses did not split Numbers up into chapters and verses.  There is no division in the text between the decree to make the tassels and the protest.

This certainly leads one to believe that it was the tassels that set off the whole chain of events that began with that little group protest and progressed to the ground swallowing Korah and his cronies, fire from God consuming 250 men who thought they should have the same privileges as Aaron and his sons, the plague that killed 14,700  when people came the next day and accused Moses of causing the deaths of all those folks and finally ending when Aaron's staff budded and bore almonds, settling the authority question once and for all.

I was dumbfounded when I read this all in order.  I had just never put it all together like that.  Tassels.  A visible reminder to obey.  Such a simple thing...

As we discussed in our lessons, 'Pure' means 'unmixed'.  So I told the girls the story of Korah's rebellion, and we made tassels so they could put it where they will see it and be reminded that we are God's and we, too, need to keep our hearts dedicated to Him, unmixed with any personal agendas.

 Also as a reminder that a little rebellion can have serious consequences.

Saturday, October 20, 2012

Vertical Face Plant

Last night was the annual Girls Ministry sleepover.

It's K - 12, but we split the girls between 5th and 6th grades.  Grades K - 5 are together all night in our youth sanctuary but, after the joint worship/devotional, my fearless co-sponsor and I  took the 19 girls in grades 6  - 12 to the large classroom at the other end of the building and had an event that was, hopefully anyway, more suited to their age level.

Normally we split after the evening adventure and a snack, but this year's adventure venue got changed very late in the game; the climb-around-and-bounce place we were scheduled for rather  unexpectedly closed.  Fortunately our ministry leader called to verify things a couple of weeks ago; otherwise ...who knows when they would've let us know?  There was an alternate place available, but it was much smaller and not really suitable for older girls.

Normally, I do a fun activity for the older girls after we split, and then we settle down to a couple of movies and, for the girls who really want to stay up all night, a room full of board games next door.

But this year....

I had girls who had never roasted a marshmallow.

So we did a weenie/marshmallow roast in the back parking lot.

The craft the younger girls did was a little stretchy bracelet w/brightly colored plastic beads spelling 'Courage' (our theme was 'Strong and Courageous'); when I looked at it, I thought 'Oh, that's good for 2nd graders, but it ain't gonna fly with the high school girls.'

But I couldn't make it to Hobby Lobby to look for an alternative until yesterday morning;  I'd looked up 'Courageous' in my Old Testament Word Study Bible and found that the Hebrew word was 'amats', and I had a rough idea of what I could do...  but it took some work, and some sorting to find enough letters for everyone to have 'amats'

Then we played a mega round of classic charades, because there were other events in the building and I couldn't set up our activity, which was an in-the-dark scavenger hunt, until after folks had cleared out.

I thought we'd take about an hour on the scavenger hunt; it ended up being more like two and a half hours.  Mostly because I just didn't have time to revise the clues to absolute clarity, and the Internship Students who were helping didn't really get a chance to coordinate with me on it so we had some miscommunication.  But ultimately the girls did find the objective...and I learned a LOT about designing a treasure/scavenger hunt...Namely, try to write out all the clues more than 24 hours before the you have time to double check and revise and plan with any helpers...

So we didn't start our first movie, which is always related to the theme of the night, until nearly 2:30.  We watched 'One Night with the King', which is a rather liberally adapted story of Esther but shows the strength and courage of a woman who said, 'If I perish, I perish.'

Then we watched the Annual Sleepover Movie, 'Princess Bride'.  It wasn't over until about 5:55 AM...just slightly over an hour before we were supposed to wake the girls up.  No one got up and went into the game room; I think this is the first year that we had NO ONE up all night.  The treasure hunt flat wore them out.

So this is another year in the record books...and I think I have used up all my creative juices for the next four months.

However, there is one 'I got what was coming to me' moment...I had three items to hide fairly close to the classroom where the girls were playing Charades; I wasn't using my flashlight in those areas as there was enough ambient light from the storefront-type windows and I didn't want anyone to glimpse the light from the room.  After I hid the third item, I headed back to my office where I had the box with the rest of the clues and puzzle pieces and the big cahuna prize.  It's a walk I take often and I went through the firedoor into near total darkness with my flashlight off.

I cut the turn a little too short and hit the wall at full speedwalking.  My neck popped and I was sure my nose was bleeding, but I was laughing at myself even as I ducked into the bathroom to verify that my nose was only clearing the tears that jumped into my eyes at impact.  When I walked by that bit of wall this morning, I noticed that there was a visible spot right where I oil, I suppose.

Do you suppose it serves me right for the in-the-dark event I foisted on the kids?? ;-)

Saturday, October 13, 2012

Recall Report

Hey, everyone, just in case you didn't know, it's October, which means there is pink stuff everywhere there isn't orange and black stuff.

The pink stuff, of course, is to remind everyone to Get Your Mammogram.  Mine was Wednesday the 3rd, and, since it was October, I got a sturdy  pink and gray tote bag as a freebie for coming in.

And, a couple of days later I got a call I've gotten before...please come in for more images.

Now, I've been dealing with lumps and bumps and cysts and whatnot since I was 20 years old.    I knew the routine and I wasn't really worried.  This is a Been There, Done That.  I haven't gotten recalled every year,  but every time I get recalled we do a little more looking.

The first time, it was just a couple more images from different angles while I was there.  That was the very FIRST mammo, and they wanted good baseline images.  I didn't get recalled for a couple of years at least after that.

The second time, they called a couple of days later for a second appointment.  That's a Big Squish; the screening mammo is a 4 x compression; the recall is a 10x.  I'm not sure what they're multiplying there, but I can definitely say that the recall is a bigger OUCH.  ('Don't breathe,' the technician says.  Oh, don't worry on that point, I am DEFINITELY HOLDING MY BREATH HERE) 

The third time, we did a Big Squish AND an ultrasound.  Bi-lateral benign cysts was the word on that.

Last time I went in for the Annual Squish, I didn't get called back.

So, I was disappointed, but not really surprised, when I got called back this week.

My Sweet Baboo was driving home from a business trip; I planned to go and do the follow up pictures, then I had a list of places to go and buy stuff.   The Discount Club, the Office Supply Store, the Coffee Vendor.

So.  We did the Big Squish.  Then we did the Ultrasound.  Then we did a Magnification Squish.

Then I got called in to talk to the doctor.  She showed me the Area of Interest, which has been on previous images but is just a little  The ultrasound showed nothing at all, but, based on the mammos, she wanted to do a biopsy.  Just to make sure.  And also to leave a little titanium marker so that any future images would show that that area Has Been, maybe no more recalls.

I liked that part.

They were just a little concerned that I was taking a daily low-dose aspirin, and gave me the option of going home and staying off the aspirin for the weekend and then coming back in early in the week for the procedure. week is busy.  I was there yesterday.  The risk of excessive bleeding was still pretty I agreed to do it.

So they moved me to another little waiting area to fill out the paperwork and such while they set up.  When I read the info on the procedure, I was REALLY GLAD I was not going to have the weekend to anticipate it!   Git 'er done, quick, without thinking too much...

But, after we were done, and I was heading out (in the rain, no less) with a rather lumpy icepack stuffed in my bra, I realized that all those errands should probably wait for a more opportune moment and headed home.

I measured out yesterday in 20 minute on, ice off...and was amazed that neither one of my living-at-home children so much as batted an eye at the ice pack strapped across my chest like Chewbacca's bandolier.  I didn't text my hubby anything about the day; I didn't want him to be distracted on his drive home.  He did, however, point to the icepack with a quizzical expression immediately upon entering the door.

Obviously the most observant person in the family yesterday.

I'm not terribly sore today, except that I've had a reaction to the adhesive on the bandage.  Sometimes I do, sometimes I don't.  So, more icing and putting off of the errands; anything brushing against that little peeled place on my skin sends me into owie world.  Hopefully I'll be able to move without wincing tomorrow, I've got stuff to do and classes to teach.

Anyway, I should hear the results from the lab by Tuesday morning at the latest.  Not *expecting* bad news, based on what the radiologist said about everything, but it's good to make sure of this stuff...

ETA Monday 10/18 -- the pathology report was negative; it is benign tissue.  All is well.

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Pop quiz!

Posted by Lisa Laree to Beer Lahai Roi

Mama Beth has posted a pop quiz for the Siestas...the followers of her blog.  The challenge is to answer the questions without looking up the answers.

I started to do it in the comments, but decided it was worth a blog post.  So here goes... (I went back and edited it to put the right answers in where I could...)

1. Have you been in the Scriptures today?
Um, sort of.  I went to a Bible study tonight and I also reread some old blog posts from the study of Philippians...

2. If so, what’s the primary verse you remember?
Phil 3:10 - He works in us to will and to do according to His will (paraphrased)

3. What is the major theme God seems to have going with you right now? (Answer in a phrase)
 It's not about the's about the journey.

4. What is your favorite translation of the Bible just for the pure pleasure of reading?

5. By what Name did God tell Moses He would be known throughout all generations?

6. To what individual did Jesus say, “Have I been with you so long, and you still do not know me?”

7. How long had the man at the pool of Bethesda been an invalid?
 ooo, honest...guessing here.  28 years?  (Answer: 38 years.  I thought that was too long...)

8. For what courageous statement is Queen Esther most well known?
 "If I perish, I perish"

9. What did Potiphar’s wife keep of Joseph’s?
 His coat/cloak

10. What three men did the Apostle Paul consider to be the pillars of the church?
  Peter, James and... John (? I think?)  (answer: yes!)

11. What day of the week did the Apostle John receive his first post-ascension vision of Christ?
 The Lords Day...Sunday...the first day of the week

12. Those of us who are in Christ have not received a spirit of slavery to fall back into fear. What exactly did we receive instead according to that same context?
A spirit of love, power and a sound mind  (I may have mixed up my translations; the NIV says 'power, love and self-discipline')

13. Name three characteristics of the Proverbs 31 woman.Try to answer first from memory.
She rises while it is yet dark; her lamp does not go out at night, she makes her arms strong for her tasks

14. Who fell asleep during one of Paul’s sermons and dropped out of the window?
  Eutycus (hope I spelled that right)  (answer: close.  Eutychus)

15. When Isaiah saw the Lord high and lifted up, how many wings did the seraphim around Him have?

16. What two godly men had a falling out in the Book of Acts? Who was it over?
 Paul and Barnabas, over whether or not they would take John Mark with them on their second missionary journey.

17. Name five sets of married couples in the Bible.
Adam and Eve, Abraham and Sarah, Isaac and Rebekah, Ruth and Boaz, Joseph and Mary

18. In one word, what is your biggest challenge right now?

19. Name two people you’ve encouraged today.
Debbie and Kathy

20. Why did Jesus marvel in Mark 6:6?
  Ack!  It was either someones great faith or someone's lack of faith.  Don't remember which story is in Mark 6...  (Answer:  the lack of faith in the folks in his hometown)

21. Are you actively getting to practice loving someone you’re pretty sure can’t stand you right now? (No names please) If so, how long have you been in this process?
Um, not so much at the moment...

22. What are the names of the firstborn son and his brother in Genesis 22:21?
 Esau and Jacob?  Maybe?  (answer: Uz and Buz, sons of Abraham's brother Nahor)

23.What would the sons of Korah rather do than dwell in the tents of wickedness?
 I'm not even going to try to guess at this one; I can think of several possibilities but I honestly don't know what the answer would be. (Answer:  Be a doorkeeper in the house of the Lord.  Which was one of the possibilities... ;-) )

24. Who penned the Book of Hebrews?
 Ha ha ha!  Trick question!  No one knows for sure.

25. What runaway slave did Paul send back to his master, asking him to receive him graciously as a brother?

Bonus: Are you memorizing a Scripture right now? If so, tell it to us!
 Um,  I'm in between memorizing verses... :-D  I'm working on memorizing the five fold purpose of our girls' ministry...which seems harder to me than scripture, for some reason ...
To win girls to Jesus Christ through love and acceptance
To teach them to obey everything Jesus commanded us - developing girls spiritually and mentally
To provide encouragement, support and accountability through lasting Christian relationships
To provide an environment for girls to develop their gifts and abilities
To acquaint them with the Great Commission of Jesus Christ our Lord

Monday, October 1, 2012

Daddy's Got it Covered

Posted by Lisa Laree to Beer Lahai Roi

I have some really big screw-ups in my life.

Things that I said/did that were just plain stupid.

Things that I said/did that were a product of an overly developed judgment reflex.

Things that I said/did out of spite or retaliation.

Things that I said/did out of the misguided notion that I knew what was best.

Things that I said/did because I was too tired/frazzled/distracted/etc to think my actions through clearly.

And the worst thing about these screw-ups is that they did not only affect me. The things that resulted in humiliation I can deal with.  Humiliation is not fatal.  Yes, I'm still humiliated whenever those lapses in good judgment come to mind, but that just serves as a good reminder that I'm NOT all that and a bag o' chips. But those other things...those affected others.

Whether it was a result of intentional action or not, I hurt other folks.  Or caused someone to be offended with Christ because of my actions.

And, for most of them, there is no going back and offering restitution.  There is no undoing the damage.  Too much time, too much distance...not enough credibility.  Not anymore.  Not since...the screw-up.

We all live with this stuff.  I may feel like I'm the numero uno example of the bull in the china shop syndrome,  but I know that I am not alone.

One day, though, I read a verse that I've heard a bazillion times, and suddenly, unexpectedly, it offered me some comfort.

For we know him who said, 'It is mine to avenge; I will repay,' and again, 'The Lord will judge his people'.  --  Heb. 10:30 NIV

Nope, not terribly comforting for the offender at first glance, is it?

But...look at His promise...that He will judge, that He will avenge, that He will repay.  As a judge...He is righteous.  He does not judge on appearances, but on the heart.  The times I did wrong from a wrong heart attitude, He knows.  Those times I did wrong from honest mistakes or sheer stupidity, He knows.  And I know I cannot repay the damage that I have done.

But He has promised that if I confess my errors...towards Him and towards others, He cleanses and He forgives.  And, He repays.

If I am trusting Him to repay me for the damage done to me by others, I have to also trust Him to repay the debts I owe to others for the damage done to their spirits that I cannot repay.

Now, please don't hear me say that I can do whatever I want and He'll take care of it.  No.  That's not what I mean.  But it does mean that I can acknowledge my error, own it as mine with no excuses or blame shifting,  confess to Him that I did wrong, accept His forgiveness and trust Him to  make any necessary restitution on my behalf when I cannot do it on my own.

And, conversely, it obligates me to forgive anyone of those debts I perceive as owed to me, and look to Him for that restitution.  Maybe this is why  He emphasizes forgiveness is intertwined.  Forgiveness cannot be received if it is not passed along.

Recognizing God's forgiveness is really the only way we can live with our past mistakes...I know it's the only way I can live with mine.

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

It's gonna be a great day...

Posted by Lisa Laree to Beer Lahai Roi

I had lunch last Friday with a friend, who told me that her brother's father in law, whom I'll just call George, had just been diagnosed with advanced cancer and given approximately one month before the disease claims him.

I don't know George, but my friend said that he is a wonderful, godly man who has been an incredible mentor for her brother.

Then she said that, just after hearing the news, George took his wife by the hand, looked into her eyes and said, 'From here on, no matter what happens, every day is going to be a great day.'

That was a huge challenge to me.  In one moment, I saw what a whiney wimp I am so much of the time, letting petty aggravations harass me and keep me from making the day great.

How much time do I waste fretting over the darkness, when I am commanded to be a light?

When will I get it through my head that, really, every day IS a great matter what?

This is the day the LORD has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it - Ps 118:24

Thursday, September 13, 2012

On Judgment

Posted by Lisa Laree to Beer Lahai Roi

I was saddened today to hear of a pastor in another city stepping down from his position due to a moral failure.

It happens.  People are people; we all  have weaknesses and blindspots and an amazing capacity for self-deception, so that we are able to pretend to the point of convincing ourselves that we don't see the train coming.

We have seen it near by; I watched as it was walked through; repentance walked out and the whole situation redeemed.  It is possible.

When all of that broke, I remember hearing a little warning in my spirit. "When you judge someone for something, you open the door to the enemy to attack you in that area."


Josh McDowell has said that the most quoted verse in the Bible is 'Judge not'.  (Matt. 7:1a).  But we don't often finish the verse...'that ye be not judged' (KJ)   '...unless you want the same treatment' (Message).

I looked up the word that is translated 'judge' in that verse; it is krino in the Greek, and it means to distinguish, i.e., decide (mentally or judicially); by imp. to try, condemn, punish  

Our concept of judging often is 'to pronounce error'.  While it may seem to be the same, it is not.

If someone is driving 30 miles an hour over the speed limit, to state that they are breaking the law is not judging.  It is stating a fact.  It is comparing an action to an impartial, objective standard and finding difference, based on facts.

Judging would be to make a decision about character based on the observation; i.e. 'What a horrid person that is to be endangering others in that way!  Who does he think he is!' ...when in fact, the person may be driving over the speed limit because someone is hollering into their Blue Tooth, 'I can't get the bleeding to stop!' or 'The contractions are just three minutes apart now!' or some other such thing.    It's still true that they're breaking the law, but the moral judgements would be totally in error.

If an objective standard is broken, it's broken.  It is not judging to state the obvious in that case.  But what we must guard ourselves against is  assuming that which only God can know for sure.  Motives, attitudes,  intentions...these are not things you and I can know.  But we often make those assumptions based on observed actions...deciding someone is haughty because they did not speak when we expected it;  assuming, as Job's friends did, that a misfortune in someone's life is a result of their own secret sin;  expecting that all (fill in the people group) will (fill in a negative expectation).

I could go on.  We see/hear it all the time.  Couched as opinion, or even experience, it is not even recognized as judgmental.  But what doors do such things open?

Conversely, looking at the objective Word and pointing out that it clearly displays an action as against God's standard is not being judgmental.  Arbitrarily deciding that God's standard doesn't apply, for one reason or another, does not actually invalidate the standard.  It is still His standard.  It still applies to everyone.  It doesn't change with the times.  And that is not my's what He says.  To dismiss that standard as 'judgmental'  doesn't just open's like walking out from the shelter on a stormy day.

And folks who do that do not need judgment, they need compassion.  How else can we bring them back into a place of protection from the storm?

Tuesday, September 11, 2012


You all know where you were.  Probably without trying, you can be back in that moment and feel it all fresh.

In my feedburner this morning there were a couple of amazing stories that have come out of that time; one was listed more than once.

If I find more such articles today, I'll come back and link them here, too.  Because I can't say it better than it is said already; you won't be sorry if you click through...

Tragedy and Triumph

Ordinary Heros, Extraordinary Results  (be sure to watch the video about the boatlift..)

Monday, September 10, 2012

Step up the Game

Posted by Lisa Laree to Beer Lahai Roi

Another amazing weekend of going after God at our annual women's conference has come and gone;  so much to process. 

But I came away with a clear message for is time to step up the game, to put a demand on the anointing.  To dare to dare.

While I'm not exactly sure what that is going to mean in the long run, I do know that it is time I turned a corner and quit just declaring that I'm just 'hanging on' to the blogging process and begin to pursue it like it is part of my call.

Because it is.

Back to the verse that started the whole Friday Faithful Faves series, Genesis 12:1...

The LORD had said to Abram,"Leave your country, your people and your father's household and go to the land I will show you." 

It's time for me to get out of my comfort zone and head out into whatever it is HE will show me.

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Hodgepodging 9/5/12

It's been a long time since I participated in one of the random questions memes; after Linda retired from hosting the Random Dozen, I kinda fell out of the routine.

But a while ago I discovered that Joyce over at From This Side of the Pond has been hosting a weekly random questions meme; I've been reading along but haven't plunged in yet.

But, since I've been trying so hard just to keep a toe in the blogging water, so to speak, I decided I'd give it a go this week.  Assigned writing is good discipline...right?  Anyway, you can check out the link-up list here and see who is participating this week....

1. In your opinion what's the most important job in the world? Oh, and parenting is a given so besides parenting, what's the most important job in the world?
Teaching.  Whether you're paid to do it or not; regardless of the subject.  If there were no teaching, no sharing of one's knowledge and experience, we would be doomed to keep learning the same stuff by making the same mistakes over and over again. 

2. Share a favorite or not so favorite memory from a childhood birthday.
The earliest birthday I remember was my 3rd birthday; there was a family party at my Grandmother's.  I wore a little outfit with red shorts and a shirt with sylized fish on it (my birthday is in July).  My sister and I both got dolls; I got a Casper the Friendly Ghost jack-in-the box that scared the beegeebers out of me.  My grandmother made a 'doll cake'...a skirt-shaped cake with a doll stuck in the top.  For a long time I didn't think that was a real memory, until I ran across a photo of me, in a shirt w/stylized fish on it,  making a horrid face at the Casper jack in the box...

3. Peanut butter-crunchy or smooth?
Smooth.  There's something wrong with the concept of crunchy butter.

4. William Butler Yeats is credited as saying, "Happiness is neither virtue nor pleasure nor this thing nor that but simply growth, We are happy when we are growing." Your thoughts?
Hm.  I'm not terribly sure that I agree with the Esteemed Mister Yeats here;  if you think about the times of growth being times of trial and hardship, then I would not necessarily agree that I am happy when I am growing.  Growing hurts quite a bit at times.  Happiness is contentment with godliness; knowing that we can do all things through Him who gives us strength.  Happiness is the quiet after the storm, the realization of the joy  on the other side of the pain that the trial made possible.  Maybe we're happy after we've grown?

5. What's something that makes you cringe?
Currently,  I am cringing when I see/read emails, blog posts, facebook posts, etc that are passed along by folks who are on the same side of the political fence as I am but that do not reflect sound judgment or mercy or even a minimal pursuit of the facts.  There's enough documented stuff to argue the point; passing along rumors, half-truths and outright falsehoods not only adds decibels to the already overloud political harangue, but also robs everyone on 'our' side of the fence of credibility, so that the real arguments go unheard and unanswered. 

6. Name a song that always puts you in a good mood?
About any praise and worship...that has been key in turning around very bleak periods of my life...but, just for fun, and because I think this is what the question is really asking...'Good Vibrations' by the Beach Boys.  ;-)

7. The answer is yes. What's the question?
Would I like to have a week off to stay home and see if I can make order out of chaos?

8. Insert your own random thought here. 
Our annual Women's Conference is this weekend; I need the taking-apart-and-putting-back-together that usually happens at the Women's Conference.  Even though I expect it's going to be somewhat painful at the time...I never enjoy seeing the ugly and dealing with it... but it will bring joy after.  Right? 

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Stella's Voice: Making a Difference

Posted by Lisa Laree to Beer Lahai Roi

Once a year, Philip Cameron brings a busload of kids to our church.  These are kids who didn't grow up with Saturday morning cartoons, or McDonald's Happy Meals, or  electronic toys, or even Crayola crayons and Pink Pearl erasers.  These are kids who have come from horrific conditions and have survived and are now in safe houses where they are learning that they are important, that they are loved, and that they have a purpose.

These are the kids of Stella's Voice.

We have been connected with the Moldova ministry really from the beginning, sharing in the task of renovating the orphanage at Cupcui so that there were indoor toilets, hot water, and roofs that didn't leak.  When the first group of girls moved into the first Stella's House, so they could go to high school instead of being shipped off to nowhere, Philip brought one girl over to the States.  Her name was Constantia.  (Here is her story )  During that first summer, Constantia surprised Philip by requesting to be baptized. This is a very unusual thing, because for someone in Moldova to be baptized they are considered to have rejected the orthodox faith of the region.  It is often cause for estrangement from family and friends.  But she had made up her mind, and when Philip came to us that summer she came with him and was baptized at our church.

I can't describe to you the impact it made on me to see this young lady so determined to follow her faith, making a statement with something that we in America almost take for granted.  The smile on her face as she came up out of the water was absolutely dazzling.

I came home that day and sat down to my sewing blog to do my weekly post about what I'd worn in choir.  Now, there's nothing wrong with that, since most of my sewing is related to what I need for choir and this is my chance to show how these wardrobe pieces are working together.  But that day it felt so...superficial.

That was the day the idea for what became Beer Lahai Roi  was born.  It was a while before I settled on a name and actually started it, but that was the day I decided it needed to happen.

Constantia was with the group today; she'd spent the summer in Moldova, working in the orphanage (which has been completely rebuilt as part of the Stella's Voice ministry), but she was able to join the group for the tail end of the tour.  She is in her early 20's now and incredibly beautiful.  Since she was baptized, a number of other of the kids from Moldova have been baptized at our church, all at their request.  It is profoundly moving.  The kids all approach it somberly; they relate what God has done for them, and they come out of the water smiling.

It is hard for them to repeat the things they have gone through.  But they do.  They take deep breaths and fight back the tears and they tell their stories - neglect and abuse as a way of life.  Hopeless despair.  For some, attempted suicide.  But now, life is different.  They have met people who care.  They have heard of a God who loves them.  They are getting educations, they are helping others, and they have started a church.

And, God willing, they are going to change their nation. 

Friday, August 17, 2012

Snapshot 8/17/12

Yesterday was our 32nd wedding anniversary.

32 years is a lot of years;  hard to believe it has been that many, or that our kids are as old as they are.

Makes that line in 'Sunrise, Sunset' really profound, talking about kids, 'I don't remember growing older; when did they?'

I'm still playing catch up from two-out-of-three weeks of travel in July, both at home and at work.

And the Girl's Ministry advancement/awards celebration is Wednesday night; we're about to start again with a bunch of fresh faces in the classroom.

Which is already full.

Gonna be interesting.

Got one more weekend trip coming up next week; The Princess and I are going back home to attend my niece's wedding. 

Also gonna be interesting.

Maybe by Labor Day weekend I can actually catch my breath...

Saturday, August 11, 2012

No Thru Traffic, part 2

A bit of revelation about the change in roadway I lamented a few weeks back ...

I heard an explanation for the removed bit of road when I was at my class reunion... several years back, there was a horrific accident at that first stoplight past the overpass: an eastbound trucker apparently missed the signage stating that the interstate traffic should exit onto the southbound loop and came over that overpass with no idea that he was no longer on the interstate. With the early morning sun in his eyes, he didn't even see the stoplights and plowed into several stopped cars at full speed.

Something like 6 people died.

I see now why all traffic must exit.

And it's still a good spiritual analogy...what we think is a roadblock may actually be a protection from something we can't even imagine...

Friday, August 10, 2012


Posted by Lisa Laree to Beer Lahai Roi

Class reunions...folks I haven't seen in years and year showing up like strangers, then something happens... a turn of phrase, a characteristic gesture...and suddenly the focus shifts and I know who I'm talking too.  Yes, there have been changes, but , really, how could I not have seen that right off?

I floated around from group to group; catching them in a break in conversation or the moment when one person moved away and left a place for me to step into.  I really thought I was going to be able to talk to everyone, because the attendance was small...but after it's all over I realized there were folks there I never managed to catch, including one who apparently left before dinner.  Rats.

But there was one....

She came late, as we were finishing dinner and gnoshing on the excellent desserts that one of our classmates had created.  I saw her and her companion come in and didn't recognize either of them.  In fact, I didn't realize which one of them was our classmate until I saw her greet someone, hugging and petting as if he had been her most cherished friend.  Those of us at our table looked at each other.  "Do you recognize her?"  No one did.  It wasn't surprising; years of abuse of one kind or another had left visible evidence.  I expected her to be one of the classmates that had attended the other elementary school; nothing about her was familiar at all.

I watched her out of the corner of my eye for a while, still trying to see that clue that would tip me off as to who she was.  Nothing.

Finally, as I was chatting with folks who'd organized the event, I asked if anyone knew who she was.

They did, and my jaw hit the floor.  We'd been in class together since 4th grade. If I remember right, we'd even worked together briefly at the local ice cream shop. I remembered talking to her at the 10 - year reunion 25 years ago; she'd surprised me by being intentional about talking to me.

One of the guys in the group commented, 'Oh, but that's what reunions are for, right?  Talking to your old classmates?'

I knew that she was one person I had to speak to before I left.

And it was just before we left.  Standing in the hall, knowing it was time to go but not feeling quite like I could yet, she walked by and I said her name.  She turned and looked at me, then saw the name tag and exclaimed, "Oh!  I was hoping to run into you!"  I got the embrace, the hair petting, the kiss on the cheek. 'Oh,  God is so good!' she told me.  Then she launched into an apology for the person she'd been in high school.  As she talked, I looked closely, still trying to see a shred of the cute gal she'd been.  A bit of something about her eyes was all I could perceive; it might've been a mask she was wearing for all I could see that looked familiar.    If she had been intentionally parodying Jack Sparrow,  it might've been funny, but the speech patterns, the memory lapses and the fidgeting all told me she wasn't playing.  My heart broke for her.

And her apology was earnest, almost desperate.  In truth, I couldn't remember her doing anything worse than following the crowd, but I knew the power of forgiveness.  And I held nothing against her; I could look her in the eye and say with all honesty, "I forgive you."

She repeated how glad she was to see me. 'I think about you all the time,' she said. 'I have dreams about you."

We really had not had that much interaction in high school.  In elementary, yes, because we were all in one classroom, but after that...we went into separate tracks.  Why I was important to her...I have no idea.

It occurred to me that she could very well be saying the same things to everyone she talked to that night.  And being as truthful as she could. She was trying to exorcise something that was tormenting her.

But the pain, the horror of whatever she'd walked through since I last saw her was so clear that, I'll be honest, the altar worker training kicked in.  What do you do with pain like that?  You take it to God.

And she had already mentioned God.  That she felt God had connected us.

I consciously decided not to listen to the voice that hollered 'You're at a class reunion!  Not church!  That's crazy!' and said..."Let me pray for you."

I got about 3 sentences in, simply asking God to wrap His arms around her and remind her of how much He loves her, and she stopped me.  "No!" she said, tears slipping out of her eyes. "I'm not worthy of your don't know...I'm not's been so hard...I'm so tired..."  then she shook herself, wiped her face and said, 'Come on!  Let's celebrate!'

She pulled me back into the party room, to the dance floor.  The band was good...loud, but good...and she wanted to dance.  I tried.  For her sake.  I couldn't brush her off.  But I'm no boogie dancer.  I tried to laugh it off, but I felt very awkward.  After a couple of minutes, she leaned over and said, 'I think I've apologized to about a thousand people tonight.'

I looked at her and answered for myself, at least. 'It's ok.  Really. It's ok.'

And she hugged me once more, 'I love you!' she said... and flitted off to another classmate.

And suddenly I felt cleared to go home.  My Sweet Baboo, who only knew a couple of my classmates because they'd gone to college together (one of whom had introduced us), was waiting patiently in the hallway, and it was pushing towards midnight.

As we left, we passed her companion, smoking a cigarette in the parking lot.  He asked us what time it was, and we told him.  "Oh, I gotta go get my girlfriend," he said, stomping his smoke and heading back in.  God, I thought, protect her.

I hadn't thought of her in years; now daily I'm asking the Father to bring her deliverance and peace and healing. To restore the years the locust has eaten. To assure her that 'worthy' doesn't matter.  She is loved.

Saturday, July 28, 2012

Snapshot 7/28/12

I keep thinking I'm going to have a chance to catch up on...lots of things...once I get past (fill in the blank).

Only that stupid blank keeps updating.

Survived a fundraiser cookie baking marathon today.

Did you know there are actual adult American women who have NEVER baked cookies from scratch?

One of them can no longer say that after assisting us!

Our teen girls clubs baked well over 1,000 cookies today; they're in 500 sandwich bags, with anywhere from 2 - 6 cookies in a bag.

Depending upon how big the cookies were and who was bagging them.

We're hoping that we'll have 500 folks at church tomorrow who are willing to donate a buck for a bag and support one of our own young ladies, who is going to be spending a year with the girls at Stella's Voice in Moldova.

We had a little mixup with the ingredients; one batch of chocolate chip cookies got made w/instant bananna cream pudding instead of instant vanilla pudding.

It took us a while to figure out why they tasted funny; ultimately a quick check of the trash can confirmed the suspicion that it was the pudding.

Sometimes those things happen when multiple folks are buying ingredients.

But they actually aren't too bad, once you know what happened, and we now have a new exotic cookie flavor...'Banana Chocolate Chip'.

Which we have packaged at 4 or 5 to a bag.

Can I just say that one of these is very helpful when making quadruple batches of cookies?

Pity the only apron I could lay my hands on was the Christmas one...

Friday, July 20, 2012

A Blessing for the Flute Player

When she was in band (her PE substitute), she switched for a bit to a school-owned piccolo.   And she absolutely loved playing it.

But she had to give it back last year, as her schedule didn't allow her a slot in the day for band.

She's kept playing her flute, but she has frequently lamented that she missed the piccolo.

She dropped great hints that she wanted a piccolo for Christmas, for her birthday...but, wow, have you ever priced a piccolo?  Even a well used one?


Then, this past Sunday, she talked to an older friend who owned a piccolo.  And the friend suggested  she check Craig's List.

So, while she was sitting in the sound booth in the children's sanctuary waiting for her sound cues,  she  cruised CL via her iPod and found a piccolo, listed in 'excellent' condition, for the astonishing price of two hundred and fifty dollars.

Which, owing to her saving Christmas and Birthday money for a fall church trip to Disney, she had.  And she declared that she would rather use it for a piccolo, that she would have forever, than a trip that would last a few days and then be over. 

So, while she was at camp, My Sweet Baboo made the arrangements to meet up with the seller and purchase the instrument.

He discovered that it had been listed on Craig's List once before, but no one had responded to the ad.  She'd just relisted it Sunday morning.  They'd purchased it used for their daughter when she was in High School, and now were selling it for college funds.

MSB dropped it off at the local instrument store/repair shop for a check up, where they consulted whatever the equivalent to a Blue Book for instruments is and learned that this particular model, in that condition, was worth, well, a good bit more than 250 bucks.  My Sweet Baboo said that he kinda felt bad for the lady who sold it...but if it had been any more expensive, the Flute Player could not have purchased it.

I think it's an interesting detail that he actually picked it up for her on her 16th birthday.

Saturday, July 14, 2012

Drinking Coffee Again

I've referred, once or twice, to a dream of mine that's been on hold for a while.  Last year, it looked like it might be time for it to come out into the light of day and, well, be something.

So I sent a text message  (or an email, I honestly don't remember which) to the person I needed to speak to about it, offering to to buy coffee for us both to sit down and have a chit-chat.

As I hit send, I heard a paraphrase in my spirit.  Remember Jesus telling his disciples that he wouldn't drink wine again until He drinks it new, in the kingdom with them all?  Well, I heard 'Don't drink coffee again until you drink it at that meeting.'

So, ok, I knew the summer was a busy one so I figured it be a month or two.  But before much time had passed, there were developments in other areas and it became evident that the opportunity for the dream to come out was not going to happen at that time at all.

So I debated my little coffee fast.  And I decided that the fast wasn't for that one opportunity, but to get a resolution to the questions I have about that dream.  Is it a God dream?  Have I heard aright, or have I been fooling myself? These questions have really been plaguing me.

So I decided to keep up the fast until I had the chance to present the dream.

Now, I don't want you to think coffee didn't pass my lips during the fast; I don't think fasting on a feast day is appropriate, so I did break the fast on Thanksgiving, Christmas and Easter.  But the rest of the time, when I wanted a cup of coffee or I walked by a brewing pot and it smelled so good, that was my cue to pray.

I didn't pray heavily anointed, passionate prayers.  Mostly, my prayer was, 'Lord, You know.'

It was a year to the day.  We'd had meetings scheduled, but things happened and they got postponed.  Which was fine; I didn't want to rush it.  When the meeting finally came about, and I was in Starbucks buying two lattes, extra hot,   I had the oddest feeling.  Part of me really didn't want to go there; I was FINE just praying and not drinking coffee, because as long as I was at that point, there was the possibility that it might be a real, God dream.

But once it really comes out into the light, then the judgment is coming.  And it might turn out that I have been distracted, self centered, elitist...whatever...and the dream was not from God at all but a product of my own ego.  And I really saw that in the meeting.  I could be wrong.  And if that's the outcome, then that's it.  Move on.

But, you know what the coffee fast did?  It gave my dream some credibility.  I know that it is honestly being considered; I know if it doesn't go anywhere, it is not because I didn't try or because I missed something somewhere.  If it doesn't go's because it's not supposed to.

So, now, I'm enjoying my morning cup again.  Strong, sweet, creamy.  And every time I pour a cup, I find myself praying, 'Lord, You know!'

Friday, July 13, 2012

Snapshot 7/13/12

I turned 53 this week.

So I got a haircut today.

Nothing radical; just trimming back the frizzy overdried bits.

I also took The Flute Player shopping for clothes for youth camp next week, which is at the beach..

I'm taking girls from my Wednesday class to Girls' Ministry camp next week.

It is NOT at the beach.

Part time employees do not get vacation time; I basically worked double this week to make up for the time I took off last week for the 4th of July; I will repeat that scenario twice in the next 4ish weeks to make up for the trip to girls' camp and a trip back home.

Where I will attend my 35 year class reunion.

I just noticed the numbers...53 years old, 35 year reunion.


Saturday, June 30, 2012

The 500th Post Giveaway Prize

The internet can be an amazing place for reconnecting with old friends.  Here's a photo from the summer of 1985:
I'm holding the microphone, showboating for all I'm worth, and the lady in the white jacket in the foreground is my friend Beverly.  We were doing a bit of 'entertaining' at the Wednesday night service at our church youth camp.  A recent Facebook conversation caused me to unearth the photo and share it there, and I thought I'd share it here, as well, so you can appreciate how fun it was that she was the one who won the giveaway.

'Cause, you know, things happen, people move on, and even though you mean to keep in touch, you don't.  We swapped Christmas cards for a few years, then they moved to a new neighborhood and I somehow missed their new address.  It has been YEARS since we have actually seen each other.

But we connected recently via Facebook, and because I link my blog posts she wandered over and happened to leave a comment for me on the 500th post giveaway. The Flute Player randomly picked her comment number,  so yesterday we met at a local restaurant so I could give her the goodie bag.  We talked for nearly 2 was a great chance to catch up and we WILL do it again, soon!
So here's the contents of the giveaway prize goodie bag .  I thought I might pick one post from each 100 posts to represent in the goodie bag, but as I looked back over the first 500 posts I found that the items I really wanted to put in the bag did not quite follow that distribution.  But that's ok.  It was kinda fun to match stuff up to the posts...

1) A bottle of vanilla, representing The Plain Vanilla files 

2) From several posts in which I reference one of my favorite books, Hinds' Feet on High Places, a copy of the book

3) A 4-color Bic Pen, with which to Mark it Up 

4) Play-Doh, for some Life Lessons from Play-Doh

And, finally, from the number one search-engine-hit post of the whole blog, 5) A Christmas Pickle

It was fun to watch her pull the items from the bag;  she even said she remembered that I always had a 4-color pen with  my Bible.  The pickle is just like ours; only the shape of the jar is slightly different.  And I had to go to two bookstores to find the book; Barnes & Noble didn't have it at all, but there was one copy in the 'Classics' section at Family Christian store.  I was beginning to wonder what I would do if I couldn't find it.  The clerk had to find it for me; I was looking for a different cover and the books weren't exactly in alphabetical order; this one was sitting with another book with an almost identical cover; apparently this edition is part of a 'Christian Classics' series.

It was fun to do the giveaway, and it was a treat to get to see Bev again; thanks to everyone who's stayed with me for the first 500ish posts!  Maybe I'll do another one at 1000...if I notice when that happens... ;-)

Friday, June 29, 2012

Do the Impossible

Sometimes, a little phrase will set off a whole line of reflection...

This morning, I sat down with my journal and opened it up to just see what I would hear and record.  The previous entry caught my attention, and I read it over before I began today's listening.  It was a note from a message I'd heard that contained an application of the miracle at the temple in which Jesus healed the guy with the withered hand.

Suddenly, the phrase stretch out your hand jumped out at me, and I realized that Jesus was continually asking people to do things they could not do.  The man with the withered hand was one such individual; so were the multiple paralytics that he told to get up and walk; so were the lepers, who were instructed to go into the city and show themselves to the priests; so was Peter, when instructed to climb out of the boat and walk on the water.

He simply spoke to them and told them what to do.  He didn't call down the power of God, or prophesy loudly or even anoint them with oil. He looked at them and instructed them and that was it. He did nothing at all to give them any reason to think anything had changed.  Then it was up to each of them to do what He said or not.

Every one of those individuals could've looked at Jesus and said something like, 'Are you kidding?  What do you mean, get up and walk (or stretch out my hand or climb out of the boat or go into the town)!  I can't do that!'

The rich young ruler had that response.  Jesus told him to sell everything and give it to the poor and spend his life following Jesus...and the young fellow went away sad, because he believed he could not do that.

And who knows how many others Jesus spoke to in a similar fashion, who rolled their eyes at Him and refused to try the thing He told them to do, whose stories are not recorded?

But we do see the people who did not let their limitations define the actions of God in their lives.  Who began moving in the instructed manner and who found that, as they undertook what He told them to do, they had the ability to do it.

What is God telling me to do that my natural inclination is to respond, 'I can't do that! '?  
How can I learn to respond by trying instead of by denying?

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Submission time...

As in...time to turn something in.  Submit something for consideration.  Send the little dream out into the light of day and see if it roots down or dries up.

As in...time to remember that I don't have it all figured out.  That ultimately I may have to admit to myself that this isn't the right dream at the right time in the right fashion.  And not mishandle the response.  To not be disappointed if it doesn't go as I would like.  To not become overly impressed with success if it does.  Submit to those in authority...ultimately, to the One who has a plan for everything, which I may or may not have discerned aright.

In some ways, it would have been easier not to risk, not to share, not to hope.

But easier is not the criteria for discerning that Plan.  And I have made a determination to not allow myself to chose comfort over risk.

But it is odd, this emotion that I have after finally pulling back the curtain and seriously sharing something that has been pulling and stirring in me for several years now.  I've decided it's much like the emotion I felt when kids pack up and leave the house, moving out on their own.

I've done all I can do, for good or for not-so-good.  Now it's up to God....

I'll be praying over that with my morning coffee.

Friday, June 22, 2012

No Thru Traffic

 Sometimes, some little oddball thing hits me as a perfect spiritual analogy.  This week, it was a map of 'improvements' made to an interstate interchange back home in Indianapolis, one that was definitely a part of my ancient history.

 The shopping center that we would patronize when we needed to shop for school or Easter dresses or fabric is just off of the lower right corner of the photo (courtesy of Google maps--ignore the yellow lines for now).  There used to be a Frisches' Big Boy at the first intersection after crossing the overpass, which was where 'dinner out' was until Burger Chef opened a couple of restaurants out our way.  I drove this way when I went to work in town before I got married and moved to the South. 

Coming in from the northwest is I-74; technically, that road exits to the crossing interstate loop, I-465, and proceeds around the south end of town  concurrent w/465, where it exits off the southeast corner and heads off to Cincinnati. The roadway, however, continues across 465 and turns into Crawfordsville Road, which eventually dumps into 16th Street and continues right into the downtown area.

Nice and clean, if you're going into town via I-74.  It was a bit of a pain if you wanted to go north or south on the loop, as those old style cloverleaf interchanges did not leave much room for acceleration/deceleration and it could be very tricky  to merge into the traffic lanes through vehicles that were trying to exit.  So, in the interest of Public Safety, apparently the State of Indiana is working its way around the 465 loop and redesigning all the overpasses.  Here is the NEW (although I'm told it's still in progress) I-74/I-465 exchange, again, courtesy of Google maps
Notice that the offending cloverleaf interchange has been replaced by a collection of ramps and lanes that will be much safer for exits and merges.  However, apparently one can no longer travel from I-74 straight onto Crawfordsville Rd.   All traffic must exit. What was once a straight piece of continuous driving is now replaced by an exit ramp, a left turn and a right turn...although the right turn may be negligible.

I was dumbfounded when I saw this.  I agree that the cloverleaf was not the best idea, but it astonished me that replacing that also removed the nice straight piece of road from the interstate to Crawfordsville Rd.  And, I suppose, I was hit with a huge wave of 'it's not like it's supposed to be!' that seems to be part and parcel with seeing old familiar things changed by the passage of time.

That's a lot of introduction to say that I have hit this same scenario over and over this week.  In some cases, I've been the person arguing to keep the through road, but those in authority say the necessary changes are going to have to make the through road go away.  In other cases, I've been the one pointing out the problems with the cloverleaf design, but I'm going to have to be satisfied with only a partial fix to the problem.  In other cases, I'm looking at the old interchange and trying to decide if a complete overhaul will really be worth the inconvenience and expense after its all done, knowing that any discussion of changing the awkward but familiar interchange will not be popular, and that the reconstruction process will be demanding.

And I keep coming back to these maps and feeling like they are describing life. Change is inevitable, adaptation is necessary. Whether I agree with the changes or whether I am able to get anyone to agree to my suggested changes, ultimately all of us involved are trying to hear the Father's heart and do what pleases Him.  If I'm wrong (and I often am), He will straighten my thinking out.  If I'm not wrong, then He still has the situation under control and will eventually bring things around to where they need to be.

It doesn't do any good to get frustrated with people, because they are doing the best they can.  Frustration with people only causes division long as we are expressing frustration with people we cannot seek God's solution to the problem. 

This always brings me back to Romans 8:28 - We are assured and know that (God being a partner in their labor), all things work together and are (fitting into a plan) for good to those who love God and are called according to (His) design and purpose. (AMP)

And if His plan now requires that something I used to take for granted now needs some thought and planning and a different approach, well, the sooner I quit, um, expressing my frustration, the sooner we can get on to His plan and see how it really is all going to come together.