Bent Wood

My husband and I have been involved in woodworking for the last three years. Most recently we were provided with an opportunity to create pieces using some relatively rare and expensive salvaged wood from a local iconic structure. After much preparation, work, and expense was spent on fulfilling orders made from this material, we were excited to deliver the pieces to local retailers.  The community loved them, as we hoped they would, and we were relieved to be on this end of the endeavor .… that is until we got word that our pieces started to warp. Having done this for a few years we ran into this issue only a few times but not to this extent. The degree of warping ranged from slight to severe, affected almost all the pieces ordered, and impacted not only us but the retailers and ultimately the customers who already purchased the pieces. We felt awful but were determined to make it right. We replaced original pieces with new pieces, sought advice from other woodworkers, then worked diligently to straighten those that bent. Although we used different crafting methods to make the replacement pieces we were informed those warped as well! We were frustrated and embarrassed. Since we have not been a stranger to disappointment and have learned some hard lessons on ways to handle failure, we carefully and prayerfully monitored our reactions so that they were God honoring.We encouraged one another by remembering that all things happen for a reason and God filters all things through his fingers before they reach us. We also considered and were resolved to face the worst-case scenario in which we would have to take back all our pieces and refund money which we did not have and possibly endure a tarnished reputation. We trusted God would take care of us, had faith that he loved us and in the grand scheme of things this wasn’t earth shattering. As mature as this sounds, I did have my moments of being overwhelmed and had a 15 minute meltdown but eventually resolved to move forward in a peaceful and joyful manner. Even now we are still waiting to see how this will all turn out. Last week I finished up a study on anxiousness where the author of the study asked us to recount a time when I asked God “why me?” Although I didn’t immediately think of anything worth recording nor did I actually question ‘Why me’ with regards to this scenario, I decided to record my wood warping story, and our attempts to straighten the pieces. The next exercise in the study then had us read and paraphrase Ecclesiastes 7:13-14 ”Consider the work of God, For who is able to straighten what He has bent? In the day of prosperity be happy, But in the day of adversity consider— God has made the one as well as the other So that man will not discover anything that will be after him.”

“Um…what?!? Did I read that correctly Lord? Did you literally use the words bent and straighten in the context of our story and your providence? You, in your infinite wisdom, made or allowed this to happen which alone is incredible, but You also decided to use our simple little hobby in your grand scheme of things AND what’s most impactful is that you love and care for me so much as to tell me this?? I’m profoundly humbled. Thank you Jesus.  Thank you for telling me that you see me which is especially important to hear when things go south.”

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A True Christmas

Our family is currently and amazingly in Peru this Christmas. We have joined a short-term missions team who is helping area churches in Lima Peru put on Christmas events for the poor children of that area. We arrived in time to help assemble and fill over 1400 boxes with toys, toiletries and clothing for these children. At these events the children were reminded that Jesus loves them and wants to have a relationship with them. The children and their families have so many struggles due to extreme poverty that they can’t see beyond daily survival.

Our peruvian brothers and sisters worked tirelessly for the Lord. They have very little themselves yet will work from morning to night for the church and the churches mission to reach out to the unsaved and the poor.

Other than some very simple acknowledgments that this was the Christmas season the focus of this ministry is building relationships by addressing enough of their physical needs so that they can see their spiritual need. Other than eating some of my favorite holiday treats and seeing my family I can’t say that I missed Christmas much at all. The same can be said for my husband and children.

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Do You?

I am not a fan of poetry or prose, however this one really caught my attention and my heart as the world offers more evidence that the return of Jesus is near.

Eyes Wide Open

via Thomas Roberts creationswap.com via Thomas Roberts creationswap.com

Do you see Him? ‘Cause He is coming….
In all His glory, power and might.
Oh, do you see Him? He’s almost ready….
To collect His bride, His loves, it’s getting bright.

Do you feel Him? His approach, I know
I hear the rumble of footsteps, oh so divine.
Do you feel Him? He’s drawing near…
He’s coming for us, all of those that He calls “mine.”

Friend, Do you hear Him? His eternal voice…
Calling out your name…. in the book of life?
Oh, do you hear Him? That sweet, sweet sound…
Just listen for His peace, His joy; absence of strife.

Do you know Him? ‘Cause He wants you to…
He longs for you to enter in love with Him.
Do you know Him? It’s not too late!!!
He already paid for it; the price for all our sin!

Oh, are you ready?…

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Lots of Blood, Lots of Work

Reading through Leviticus this time (although I must admit my desire to skim through that book  is great compared to other books),  I am impacted by the varying types of offerings/sacrifices, and more so the quantity of offerings that needed to be made in order to comply with God’s law.  My logistical mind keeps going to the horrendous amount of blood that must have seemed to overtake the priests, and altar, and ground.  Where does it all go and is that space ever cleaned and who cleans it, and did they hate their job and was turnover a big problem…but I digress.   The quantity of blood is particularly impressive when taking into account the types of sacrifices multiplied by the circumstances when sacrifices are required multiplied again by the population of the Hebrew people and finally multiplied by the hundreds of years between when the Law was given and Christ’s death and resurrection.   

Bottom line… that was a lot of blood and a lot of work for a lot of people in order to be in right standing with God.  To reflect on the magnitude of sacrifices is awesome.

 

…then, Jesus came. He shed His blood once

for all people,

for all times,

for all sins. 

No more sacrifices, no more blood, no more work, no more cost.   Christ became the sacrifice, He shed his blood, He did the work, He paid the price. 

“Thank you Jesus for this amazing gift.   Amen.”

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Book Review: Lineage of Grace by Francine Rivers

It took me awhile but I finished the compilation of Francine Rivers’ stories of 5 women from the Bible titled A Lineage of Grace. It’s not a small book, but it read fast. The stories brought into light the lives of Tamar, Rahab, Ruth, Bathsheba and Mary, the mother of Jesus.  Although Rivers used as much info as the Bible provides on these ladies and her knowledge of the times the ladies lived in, she used her own creativity to paint a landscape around their lives that made them more relatable at least to me.  Rivers created content for their thought life, gave structure to their day-to-day activities, and brought color into these ladies relationships.  Of course Rivers doesn’t claim what she wrote is what occurred, but she provides for us the ground work to consider what may have taken place.

Starting with the story of Tamar, I was impacted by how closely tied a woman’s worth and existence was to their ability to have children, especially in ancient times.  I cannot imagine what it would have been like to marry so young and have no say as to who you would marry. Of the five stories, I felt the most pity for Tamar’s character.  She just seemed to be a pawn in the lives of those around her yet in the end God was faithful to her specifically.

No woman aspires to be a prostitute but due to their circumstances, limited ability to see their God-given potential, and desperation I imagine these women do what they feel they have to in order to survive. Rivers provided a back story to Rahab’s station in life, her hope for something better, and ultimately how she started a totally new life.

I was impacted with the sense of duty to one’s family seen both in Ruth’s loyalty to Naomi and Boaz’s sense of responsibility as a close male relative.  It was interesting to consider the events from Boaz’s perspective with regards to business dealings, friendships, and marriage.  What a great love story!

Rivers weaved a story that gave David and Bathsheba more of a history that made me think..yes, I could see that happening.  Affairs don’t typically happen between strangers which is how this story is commonly portrayed, so the idea that they had interaction prior to their sexual sin filled in a lot of the blanks.  This story also gave a bit of insight into the challenges in remarriage and blended families.

Mary’s story is probably the one that has the most detail in the Bible so I was not expecting to really gain any further insight into her life, but I did.  Did every Jewish woman wonder if they would be chosen to give birth to the Messiah?  What would it be like to raise a perfect son as an imperfect parent?  How does one live with the knowledge that their son IS the messiah but can’t talk about it?

In conclusion, all of these stories are rich in realistic characters and interesting ideas.  Again, I do not take Rivers’ ideas as ‘gospel’ but it will certainly impact how I read these accounts in the future.

 

Posted in Affliction, Fear, Forgiveness, Grace, Promises, Redemption, Relationships, Restoration, Sacrifice | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment

Happy May Day!!

may day 2014

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Do not judge because…

…you do not know what storm God has asked her to walk through.

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The Lord your God Himself fights for you

“And the Lord said to me, See, I have begun to give Sihon and his land over to you.  Begin to possess it, that you may inherit his land.  Then Sihon and all his people came out against us to fight…and the Lord our God delivered him over to us…We took all his cities…and we utterly destroyed the [people]..we left none remaining…there was not one city too strong for us; the Lord our God delivered all to us….Your eyes have seen all that the Lord your God has done to these kings; so will the Lord do to all the kingdoms through which you pass.   You must not fear them, for the Lord your God Himself fights for you.” Selections from Deuteronomy 2:26-3:22.

In my prayerful search to find a nugget of truth about courage, I unintentionally ended up at the above passage. ( I believe I was aiming for Deut. 31:6. THANK YOU GOD FOR USING MY INABILITY TO KEEP NUMBERS STRAIGHT FOR SOME GOOD!) Deuteronomy 2:26- 3:22 does not mention the word courage at all, however it is saturated with the truth that builds courage.   In this present day, we are no longer fighting King Sihon or King Og for their land, but we each have our own battlefields to conquer; our own deserts to crawl across; our private prison cells to be freed from and I have a dear friend who is about to embark on a very courageous, yet scary quest in pursuit of overcoming a stronghold.  Her steps toward victory will not be by using her sight or her own power, but by the guidance and the strength of the hand of the Lord.  So my dear friend, and any other dear sibling in Christ who is in the midst of a struggle, hardship, battle, challenge, or trial… claim the truth within this passage as your own as you go against your own foes who are keeping you from the life God promised by trusting that God will give you victory, as He has begun to do so. He is already working on your behalf. Of course Satan will fight against you but God will deliver him over to you…he will be crushed!  You will utterly destroy what opposes you…nothing will remain.  Not one struggle is too strong for you.  And not just this battle but all the struggles through which you pass.  You must not fear them, for the Lord your God Himself fights for youGod Himself fights for you…God Himself fights for you…God Himself fights for you.

Posted in Child of God, Christian Living, Courage, Encouragement, Fear, Freedom, Hope, Promises, Truth | Tagged | 1 Comment

My namesake

“How beautiful are the feet of them that preach the gospel of peace, and bring glad tidings of good things!” Romans 10:15

Growing up I did not like my name.  It was not a common name, and I felt like an odd duck among all the Jennys, Saras, Beths, Nicoles, Tiffanys, and Beckys that I grew up with.  It wasn’t until my mom told me why she named me Marilou that I started to think much differently.

In this short video Marilou McCully, along with the other surviving wives of the missionaries killed in Ecuador on January 8, 1956, recounted why she considered the mission field, the events leading up to the slaying of her husband, and how she responded to God’s plans.  I so appreciate her transparency and emotions, even 45 years later.  She knew God was faithful, but also wondered what the future held.

 http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_detailpage&v=ycnKaZWyHcc

Marilou McCully has since past away, but I did have the opportunity to exchange letters with her when I was in my 20s.  She told me that she was pleased that I had her name, and added that several Auca children bore that name as well.  It made me giggle.

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QUOTE (Norma McCorvey) – Jan 22

I have a feeling most people know this, but in case there are a few that don’t, this is a wonderful example of forgiveness and redemption. Just think, if she did not understand the wholeness of forgiveness how completely crushing her past would be on her soul.

Take this to heart all who have had abortions, which includes myself.  God’s forgiveness is complete! – Marilou

A DEVOTED LIFE

norma“It was so hard for me to conceive that the Lord had forgiven me, especially after so many children had been killed. But He has forgiven me and restored me. And, gradually, I have learned to trust His Word more than my own feelings.”

“If God can forgive Norma McCorveyJane Roe—and her role in abortion, surely he can forgive you as well.”

~Norma McCorvey

In honor of Norma McCorvey, the Jane Roe in Roe vs Wade, who has found forgiveness in the loving arms of her Savior Jesus Christ.  The US Supreme Court handed down the Roe v. Wade decision, on this day in 1973.

Resources:
Roe vs. Wade: Abortion’s Religious Dimension
How a Christian Child’s Love Won Jane Roe’s Heart

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Posted in Abortion, Affliction, Child of God, Children, Christian, Decisions, Forgiveness, Freedom, God, Grace, Healing, Life, Redemption, Truth | Tagged , , | Leave a comment