Friday, September 25, 2015

All Things New: Judah, the Guilty Road, Part 1

Posted by Lisa Laree to Beer Lahai Roi

There are so many overlapping stories in the last half of the book of Genesis...

Only two brothers are mentioned by name in the narrative of  Joseph's abduction in Genesis 37:17-35...and they are Reuben and Judah.  Most of the statements and decisions were attributed to 'his brothers', but we know at least two of them were not in agreement with the rest.  They may have been in agreement with each other, but they did not have the chance to put their thoughts together and override the hotheaded ones.

Here's what we do know:  Joseph had already taken a 'bad report' back to his father about the way four of his half brothers...Dan, Naphtali, Gad and Asher, who were the sons of the maidservants...had handled the flocks.  So those four had a special grudge against Joseph, and now they saw his fancy coat headed their way to check up on them and report back again.

We do not know if the 'bad report' was that they were not properly caring for the flocks, or if it had to do with moral failures while they were in the field, or both, or something else entirely.   That 'bad report' may have been the reason all the brothers were together; it's possible that those four were no longer trusted to take the flocks without some sort of supervision.  Do you suppose one of those four was the first to call out, 'Here comes that dreamer!'  Or that one of the other three was the next to chime in with the idea to kill him and throw him into one of the cisterns?

It really didn't matter...the other brothers were offended with Joseph as well for being a know-it-all, braggart of an obnoxious kid who kept their father from seeing the value of any of his other sons. The mutter was taken up, and, even if it had been originally spoken in bitter jesting, the general offense of them all turned the talk to a serious contemplation.  Could they do it?  Could they get away with it?

Reuben was not in earshot when it began; he may have been taking care of an urgent matter because, once he got his brothers to agree to just put Joseph in the cistern, he seems to have disappeared for a time, leaving them to eat supper while Joseph hollered from the cistern.  He patently was not there when the Ishmaelites and Midianites came by with their trading caravan on the way to Egypt.  But Judah came up with an idea.  He hadn't picked upon Reuben's intention to rescue the boy...or maybe he had.  My heart wants Judah to be acting out of concern for Joseph's life...if not at that moment, then in the future...and jumping at an opportunity to get him away from the murderous elements of the family.  But it is possible that he had an eye for a quick buck and was as eager to get the nuisance out of his life as any of the rest.

What will we gain if we kill our brother and cover up his blood?  Come, let's sell him to the Ishmaelites and not lay our hands on him; after all, he is our brother, our own flesh and blood.

At least Judah used the phrase 'our brother'... so much harder agree to bloodshed than when he was just 'that dreamer'.  And, when he put it that way, his brothers agreed.

So they hauled him out of the cistern, someone did some negotiating and twenty shekels of silver was traded for the boy, and they saw him hauled away...ignoring, I'm sure, his entreaties to them to not take him away from his father.

Reuben returned to the cistern a bit later, expecting to find Joseph. Joseph, of course, was gone, and Reuben tore his clothes in grief, perhaps concluding that they had killed him anyway.   The boy isn't there!  Where can I turn now?  We assume the other brothers told him what had happened and gave him his two-shekel share of the price before they came up with the plan to ruin the coat and present it as evidence that Joseph died in the wilderness.  I wonder if he and Judah had words over his foiled attempt to save Joseph, and Judah's decision to send him away.  But no angry words or what-if scenarios prevailed; they could not leave the sheep and go after the caravan to buy their brother back, and perhaps Judah convinced Reuben that Joseph really was safer far away from his adversaries. He may have put forth the possibility that Joseph, preserved alive, could return some day, after everyone had gotten over being angry, and they could all be reunited like their father and his brother Esau.

No one went after the caravan.  The coat was torn and bloodied, and they returned home to tell their father a devastating lie.

Even so, I don't think they were prepared for the extreme grief Israel exhibited.  He refused to be comforted, insisting he would mourn for Joseph until the day he died.   Reuben would've taken it hard...if things had gone his way, there would have been no grief.  Were there whispered conversations when no one was around...'If only...'  'If you...' ?  Judah could bear it no more.  The grief of his father, the oppressive blame shifting that was going around his brothers...he had to get away.

At that time, Judah left his brothers and went down to stay with a man of Adullam named Hireh.  There Judah met the daughter of a Canaanite man named Shua.  (Gen. 38: 1- 2a)

Judah left his family,  met and married a girl from the pagan culture around him and had three sons: Er, Onan and, sometime later, Shelah.  To all appearances,in his attempt to cut himself off from the irritation and aggravation of his family and his own guilty conscience,he was falling away from the worship of the God of his fathers.

Running away from guilt never works; somehow, the guilt always comes along and taints everything.  Is there anything in my life that has caused me to try to run away?  What errors has that introduced into my life?  Am I ready to take it all to God in repentance and confession --release it all to Him and receive forgiveness?

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Ten Years Down the Road...

Posted by Lisa Laree to Beer Lahai Roi

Changing up the family room/sun porch was one of our prime projects when we bought the house.

Unfortunately, before we could do that we had to 1) re-roof the house and replace the skylights. 2)Repair water damage to the porch...which ended up being a complete rebuild.  3) save up enough to tackle the wall/door.

But, with My Sweet Babboo's severance package from the layoff at the start of the year, we were able to pay off the debt from the rebuild and proceed with Phase 2 of the sun room renovation.

So, 3 1/2 years after our contractor packed up and moved on with the porch stable and dry, we are seeing the work pick up again.



 This is what that wall looked like Saturday.

From the family room side...












...from the sunroom side.
 Yesterday...the wall came down, the support beam was installed and the new door was framed in.
 After we saw how amazing the space felt opened up, it was a real temptation to just get two more doors to flank the center one, but we decided to be practical and stick with the original plan. The new wall was framed out today.
And...for my sewing buddy friends who came over from Sew Random, here's a unique use for a Really Big Zipper...lol.  The door from the dinette into the construction zone.

That barrier is kitty proof; she tried to come through it last night but couldn't.  Which is a good thing; we don't need her crawling around on the fiberglass insulation..

It's so incredible to see this happening after we've dreamed about it for so long.  It's going to be almost like having a brand new house...

Saturday, September 19, 2015

'With Brave Wings, She Flies'

Posted by Lisa Laree to Beer Lahai Roi

The first night of the women's conference, I was given a little appreciation gift. It was a bracelet, with a charm that reads, 'With Brave Wings, She Flies'.

That was a God-kiss on several levels...but here's one that made a difference to me today:

Last summer, when I was going to the sanctuary every day and writing in my journal, just trying to keep myself together for the girls and wondering what on earth I would do when that assignment was over, I heard something in my spirit and wrote it down:

You will be out of your comfort zone, but you will be flying in Mine.

When I left the DIVE school last fall, I knew there was a songwriter's conference coming this fall.  I made myself a deal:  If I could write one song a month in 2015, I would go to the conference.

Not finished out songs, mind you.  Just completed thoughts.  Seeds of songs, more like.

I wasn't sure I could do it.

But I have a notebook with a song for each month of the year in it.  One or two actually have some potential, I think.

But...it's a chunk of money.   The Rocket City has the dubious distinction of being the MOST EXPENSIVE airport to fly in and out of in the country.  And we're about to embark on Part Two of the porch upgrade...the one that we started when we found rotting structures in it back in 2011, and has been sitting half finished waiting on funding since it was stabilized in 2012.

I waffled when I was on the websites to register and then to book my flights.  I didn't have frequent flyer miles available this time.

I got cold feet.

But I had met my requirement.  My hubby gave his blessing.  Why was I hesitant?

It's outside of my comfort zone.

I don't think it's a coincidence that I just got the message, 'With brave wings, she flies.'

I gulped and booked the conference and the flights.

Here we go.

Friday, September 18, 2015

All Things New: Israel, Road of Grief

Posted by Lisa Laree to Beer Lahai Roi

Years passed.  Israel suffered some setbacks and losses before he finally returned to his father, Isaac, who was still living.  He'd left Shechem, abandoning the property he had purchased there, after his sons had slaughtered the men and looted the city in retaliation for the ravishment of their sister;  he'd had another son but lost his beloved Rachel as they journeyed.  Israel's oldest son, Reuben, had disgraced himself with his mother's maid, the mother of his half brothers.    But Israel did see Isaac again, although the details of that reunion are not recorded.  Isaac died, and Esau came down and they buried him together.  Esau returned to the land he called home, and Israel and his family stayed on the inheritance of Abraham and Isaac.  His sons tended his flocks and herds.  Joseph had already shown signs of inheriting his father's canny eye for management and, being the older son of Rachel, was clearly his father's favorite.

But in his late teens,  Joseph had too much mouth and not enough wisdom.  His older brothers, none too developed in the 'wisdom' area themselves, took offense at the favor Joseph had and the dreams he shared and, oh, he was something of a tattletale regarding his brothers attention to the flocks when they were in the field.  That didn't sit well, either.

The day came when Israel sent Joseph off to check up on his brothers and report back.  Joseph packed up some supplies, shrugged himself into his fancy coat, and headed off down the road.

He was gone rather longer than Israel expected, but he probably was not particularly concerned; after all, he had to find the flocks first and they moved around according to the pasturing and how many other flocks were in the area and whether or not there was water.

But when he looked up and saw his older sons returning and he'd still had no word from Joseph, his spirit froze.  It was a very subdued group of young men who offered a torn and bloody cloak to him...'Um, we found this out in the wilderness.  Look at it closely...is it the one you gave to, um, your son?'

Of course it was. What a horrible death...torn and devoured by wild beasts. Israel tore his clothes, put on mourning and refused to be comforted.  In his grief, he never noticed the awkward glances his other sons were giving one another.  What was he thinking...to send the boy off without even a companion to help him if he fell into trouble?  Now Joseph was gone and there was nothing he could do to bring him back.  He declared he would spend the rest of his life grieving for Joseph.

In mourning will I go down to the grave to my son.  (Gen. 37:35)

Of course, we know the rest of the story...that Joseph was not dead, had not been torn by animals, but was in fact at that very moment headed toward an Egyptian slave market.  But it would be 20ish years before Israel learned the truth.

And the truth was that God was already at work to provide for Israel and his family at a point so far down the road they couldn't begin to see it.

This is one of the most difficult things to truly believe...that God uses ALL things for the ultimate good of His people.  Even hard, tragic circumstances have their place in His purpose...not that He causes them, but that He has the ability to use them, to turn them around and make even the attacks and plans of the enemy fit into his timetable and his outcome.

Tuesday, September 15, 2015

SSMT Verse 17 - 2 Chronicles 16:9a

Posted by Lisa Laree to Beer Lahai Roi

I'm going to be one verse behind now, but that's ok.

Once again, I've pulled a verse from our lunch group to commit to memory.  One I should've memorized by now, to be sure, but it struck me as particularly pertinent to this season.

Because the first part of the verse, which is what was listed on our study sheet, is a promise:

For the eyes of the LORD range throughout the earth to strengthen those whose hearts are fully committed to him.  (2 Chron. 16:9a, NIV 84)

And, I'll confess, I didn't go back and get the context of it as I considered it; that really  had enough right there to give me pause.

He's looking for fully committed hearts.

Where in that is there room for 'I'm a Christian, but...'?

We have forgotten the origin of the term 'Christian'.

We have forgotten that it was originally a derogatory, marginalizing term meaning 'Little Christs', only not in a good sense. The New Testament authors never referred to themselves as Christians, although they did acknowledge that they would suffer in being called Christians.  The closest equivalent phrase we would  have today is 'Jesus Freak'.

How much sense would it make to stand up and say 'Yeah, I'm a Jesus Freak, but...' ?   To claim radical commitment to following Jesus, and yet point out that one really isn't any different than the popular culture?

God is looking for people whose hearts are fully committed to HIM.  When I read the whole verse in context, all that feel good about God looking for people to strengthen takes on a whole 'nuther concept, because it actually is part of a prophetic scolding.  Asa, the king of Judah, had hired Ben-hadad, the king of Aram, and his army to come and fight with him against Baasha, king of Israel, who was blockading Judah.   Asa and Ben-hadad had actually conquered several cities and ended the siege.

But Asa had not relied on God, and the prophet took him to task, reminding him of the time that he had been under attack by a large army and had been delivered by the hand of God and pointing out that now he would not be able to defeat Ben-hadad.   The rest of verse 9 shows the consequences:

You have done a foolish thing, and from now on you will be at war.

Asa aligned himself with an unbelieving nation in order to strengthen himself, when God was waiting to give him the strength necessary to not only conquer those who were against him but also to conquer the very pagans to whom he had paid tribute.

God says it's a foolish thing to align oneself with those who do not follow Him.  For those who are fully committed to Him...no 'ifs', 'ands' OR 'buts'....there is strength.

Saturday, September 12, 2015

Selfie anyone?

Posted by Lisa Laree to Beer Lahai Roi

I'm trying to learn about successful blogging from the blogs I read.

Only, I don't really read successful blogs.  I read blogs that stir a sense of connection between me and the author.

I don't read blogs for edification, I guess.  I read blogs because  I  don't get to go have coffee with friends often.

And that statement just hit me...in my mom's generation, friends went to each other's homes to have coffee.  Now they go to Starbucks.  But that's a digression.

Anyway, I often find myself skimming by posts that describe events people attended. And if that's the case...there's not much point into going into details about this year's women's conference.  At least, not from the standpoint of providing information for my readers.  So I'll skip the details of an absolutely amazing conference and cut to my take home message.

There was a big difference in my conference experience last year and my conference experience this year.  If I had any doubts about the growth and healing that has taken place in the past twelve months, all I have to do is look at the mess I was in virtually every session last year.   Last year I was dealing with a wound that was still raw.  This year,  I found myself contemplating other areas in which I need to grow and mature and open up.

Several areas were addressed, but the one that resonated in me as MY take away had to do with isolation.

And I know it is my take away because it surfaced last weekend; it was already on my heart before the Friday night speakers spoke to it and prayed over it.

Last week, we did a video shoot in the mountains in Tennessee for background video for our conference closer.  There were about 80 of us that rode vans and carpooled and such up to a wedding venue on a really back road.  We all got various stripey designs on our faces; I took a rather  bad selfie of myself with the paint on:
This is supposed to be a 'Not on my watch!' face;  I cropped the photo really tight because otherwise it looked kinda lame.  In the background were other ladies taking selfies as well.

But...here's the deal...I'm in my selfie by myself.  All around me, ladies were taking photos of themselves with their friends, sharing the experience.

I'm in my selfie by myself.

Part of this is a technical difficulty;  I don't have a smartphone so I have to use my tablet, which is two-handed awkward and, at best, takes rather grainy photos.  So it would have taken some effort for me to grab someone and take a photo and I just couldn't muster the oomph to mess with the tablet enough to get a picture. And I was reluctant to try to explain my camera to someone so I could get a photo of me with anybody.

But part of it is also that I am not selfie-close-buddies with anyone.  I rode in the van, and I made new friends whom I enjoyed talking with very much, but they were part of the groups of other folks.

I actually looked around at the other ladies laughing and taking photos, and found myself wishing I was 'selfie-close' friends with someone.

Now, I knew nearly all of them at some level.  And we are smile-and-greet-and-hug compatible.  But I have somehow not gotten past that.

I have written about this before, my seeming inability to let my walls down enough to be close and vulnerable and mutually supportive with others.  I did not have this issue when I was younger; it's definitely a product of aging.  And it rests entirely on me.

Somehow, I have gotten so busy and so consumed with all that is to be done on so many areas that I've totally forgotten how to be a friend.

One of the speakers reminded us that we had to be intentional to leave space in our lives for other people.

Yes.

For me, this was my assignment as I left.

Make space.

Be intentional.

Embrace friendship again.

A friend of mine got this on her camera; it's not a produced video so the technical quality detracts considerably from the experience of being in the sanctuary, but you can get an idea of the closer and how the video footage worked with the live presentation to send everyone out:


Saturday, September 5, 2015

The Cookie Notice

Posted by Lisa Laree to Beer Lahai Roi

I happened to check around on one of the other tabs connected to the blog this morning and I read the following notice:


European Union laws require you to give European Union visitors information about cookies used on your blog. In many cases, these laws also require you to obtain consent.

As a courtesy, we have added a notice on your blog to explain Google's use of certain Blogger and Google cookies, including use of Google Analytics and AdSense cookies.

You are responsible for confirming this notice actually works for your blog, and that it displays. If you employ other cookies, for example by adding third party features, this notice may not work for you.


So I did a little more checking and found that a really ugly notice pops up at the top of the screen if you happen to be visiting from the European Union:

 This site uses cookies from Google to deliver its services, to personalize ads and to analyze traffic. Information about your use of this site is shared with Google. By using this site, you agree to its use of cookies.

 This is a generic notice provided by Google to comply with the EU's requirements.  So I thought I'd do a little 'splainin' :

The only use of cookies THIS blog makes is to see who's visiting. I use a hit counter that generates a list letting me know who visits (IP/ IP address; city/state/country; the link they came on, the page they landed on, the page they left on and how long they were here; all of which can be blocked if you're savvy enough) .

I check the list periodically just to see if anyone is reading. It shows me that only a few folks have found their way over, and that over half the visits are my mother.  Seriously.  A busy day is one in which I have more than six visits.   And of those six who are not my mother, most land on the post, glance at it, and leave.  Guess it wasn't what they were looking for.  Sometimes I think I should ditch  the stat counter and then I can maintain the illusion that there are folks who are reading. ;-)

That's all the use I will ever make of cookie information. I am very honored that anyone would click through from where ever you found a link...face book, a search engine, whatever...and allow me to share a bit.  If you'd like to leave a comment letting me know you stopped by, that'd be great, but really, I'm just glad you're here.

Now I must go eat a cookie, because I have suddenly developed a craving...

Friday, September 4, 2015

All Things New: Israel, the 'Face the Music' Road, part 2

Posted by Lisa Laree to Beer Lahai Roi

When we last left our hero, he was standing on the shore of the Jabbok, having just sent the last of his family and possessions across.

And then what has always seemed to me to be one of the strangest events recorded in the Bible takes place:

So Jacob was left alone, and a man wrestled with him until daybreak -- (Gen. 32:24; NIV 84 on hand today).

The narrative in Genesis is extremely abbreviated in places, just conveying the most pertinent information. This is one of those places.  There was more to the story...much more, I'm sure...that Jacob never told a soul.  Where the man encountered him...what passed between them...why they wrestled.  I kinda think it was something Jacob didn't understand himself...something he kept private for the sheer awe of it.  But, as that encounter left him limping for the rest of his life, he had to tell something of the story.

So all we have recorded is that a man suddenly was there in the wilderness and they wrestled until daybreak.

Perhaps Jacob had seen him approaching as he sent the last of his goods over the river and remained behind for the purpose of engaging the man to keep him away from his family and belongings.  Perhaps he had stayed behind to spend the night in prayer again and suddenly found himself confronted with someone who could not give a credible account of himself...and Jacob was alarmed and wrestled with him rather than run the risk of having him go tell Esau that Jacob was alone on the far side of the Jabbok.

We just do not know what the context of the wrestling match was...but we do know that Jacob was determined to win.  Even after having his hip put out of socket, Jacob would not let go of the man and let him go free unless he blessed him...which may have been synonymous with promising to do him no harm.  They took those things seriously; if the man pronounced him blessed, Jacob may have reasoned that he would not be likely to act contrary to that blessing and so bring judgement on himself.

Jacob received more than a blessing; he received a new identity.  No longer would he be known as 'heel grasper' ...he would now be known as 'He struggles with God'.  Jacob didn't really start using that name until it was confirmed to him later, but after he let the man go he stumbled across the brook, limping, exhausted, but strangely exhilarated...I saw God face to face, and yet my life was spared.

If he had not only survived a meeting with God but had been blessed as well -- what could he possibly fear from his brother's hand?  It was a massive paradigm shift, and Jacob/Israel was still processing it once he got across the water and saw Esau and his army approaching.

There was no time now to decide what to do next; he just had to go with his first instincts.  Quickly he put the children with their mothers and lined them up...servant and their children first, then Leah and her children and lastly Rebekah and Joseph.  Then Jacob/Israel turned his face towards his brother and began limping towards him, bowing to the ground a total of seven times as he approached to show his brother honor.

This was it.  The watershed moment.  Esau would either kill him and his family...or not.

I think he was shocked when Esau ran up to him, threw his arms around him and began to weep.  His fear and dread washed away with relief as he realized his brother did not hold the old injury against him and he wept with relief and joy.   The 400 men blinked at the array of women and children they'd come against.  Esau may have very well assumed that Jacob was coming back with arms to assert his rights to the inheritance and was himself surprised that there was no army, no showdown...only a lot of livestock and ordinary folks.

When the initial flood of relieved tears had subsided, Esau looked up and asked who the women and children were.  Jacob/Israel introduced them in turn, and they all came and bowed to their kinsman.

Then Esau asked him about the droves of animals he had met, and tried to convince Jacob that he really didn't need them... I have already have plenty, my brother.  Keep what you have for yourself. (Gen 33: 9).

Jacob/Israel insisted, however, If I have found favor in your eyes, accept this gift from me.  For to see your face is like seeing the face of God, now that you have received me favorably.  Please accept the present that was brought to you; for God has been gracious to me and I have all I need.' (vs. 10 - 11).

Eventually, Esau relented and accepted the gifts his brother had sent ahead.  He wanted Jacob/Israel to come to Edom with him, but Jacob declined, reasonably stating that he had herds and flocks and women with children and would not be able to travel fast.  Esau wanted to leave some of his men with them, but Jacob also declined that, saying he just wanted Esau's good will.

They agreed that Jacob would eventually come to Seir, and Esau and his posse turned around and headed home.

Now, Jacob/Israel had faced and gone through the second confrontation that he had feared on his journey home, and he was finally his own man with no threat hanging over him.  He took his herds and family to Shechem, and bought a plot of ground within sight of the city.

There he built an altar to the Lord and called it El Elohe Israel...'God, the God of Israel'.

It was a new day.

What is the thing I fear most?  How can I confront that and move through it to the other side?  How will I embrace the changes God will bring about in that process?

Tuesday, September 1, 2015

SSMT verse 16: Ps. 34:3

Posted by Lisa Laree to Beer Lahai Roi

Yeah, I know, I know.  This is supposed to be verse 17 this week.

But we were on vacation on Aug. 15th; the instructions allow for two missed weeks.  So I decided to cut myself some slack and not worry about making the post on 8/15.

So here's what's actually my 16th verse:

Glorify the LORD with me; let us exalt his name together.  - Ps. 34:3

We've started a lunchtime Bible Study at work; we are to choose a passage and journal about it.  My passage this week was the first 3 verses in Ps. 34, but this verse kinda jumped out at me.

I've been doing a bit of songwriting this year; I gave myself a  challenge to write a song a month.  So far I've managed to come up with something...certainly not polished or even really developed beyond just the roughest basic  plan..but something...for every month.

This verse struck me as the motivation behind the writing.  It's to invite folks to come and join me in glorifying God.

Whether the songs ever make it out of my notebook onto anything else, it's still an invitation to come and glorify God.

Who knows?  Maybe I'll craft some  lyrics around Ps. 34... ;-)