Sunday, December 6, 2015

Love. Suffering. And the Heart-Stream Turner.

(Old pic, boys have grown a lot in a couple years.)


Here it is approaching midnight. I so wanted to sit down and write out some thoughts from today earlier but a neighbor popping in, a child wanting to play cards, a husband not feeling well and soap to be made stood in my way.

So, here I am, printing labels for soap at the very end of this 2nd Sunday in Advent and writing out some thoughts with this very tired brain.  Consider yourself forewarned.

Today's reading was reflecting on love and today at church we heard from 1 Corinthians 6, not an apparent tie here, but there are these two questions:

Why not rather suffer wrong? Why not rather be defrauded?

I remember having a Bible study with a lady once who seemed appalled at the thought that you should do something or refrain from doing something because it might cause that person to stumble in their walk with Christ.  I remember the look on her face that said, "That cannot mean that!  That's co-dependency.  I can do whatever I want."  I remember thinking she doesn't get it.  She still thinks Christianity is something you add like a cherry to the top your personally selected sunday life.  She certainly doesn't think Christianity is taking up your cross and following Jesus daily in dying to yourself and bearing with others, even suffering.

That section in 1 Corinthians that asks those two small questions... that's the part that came to mind when I read this evening's Advent reading on love.

Christ suffered wrong and was defrauded along the path to glorify the Father and bring me (and all those who would believe) back into a right relationship with God.

I will suffer wrong and be defrauded in this life as I set out to glorify my Father and point others to Christ.

That's the price of love.  But oh is it worth it!

To the one who holds tightly to all they have to uphold their worth, suffering wrong and being defrauded is to be avoided and must be avenged at all cost.

But to the one who knows all things are theirs in Christ; who knows their worth and identity are found in him, to suffer wrong and be defrauded is a light and momentary affliction on the path of Christ-like love.

Being a Timothy-Mom to two boys in a divided house is hard.  It's been really hard these last 48 hours.  But God amazes me how, "The king's heart is like a stream of water in the hand of the LORD- he turns it wherever he will." I worried.  And I took all those worries and cried and poured out my heart before the only One who can do anything about a 12 year old boy's heart and his tired, unbelieving dad. And He turned that unbelieving heart toward wisdom.  And gave him the right words for his troubled son.  And I stood there in the hall and thanked God for hearing my cries and intervening.

I will trust Him!  There is no one like my God!



Quieted,
Sheila

Monday, November 30, 2015

Advent day 1: Believing God's Promises

It's almost midnight.

Everyone's asleep.

The tree is up.  The front porch has lights.  And 3 out of 4 Advent candles are on the table.

Advent has meant more and more to me over the years.  It really is a gift from God that I treasure.

It started when Ryland was born.  10 years ago (almost 11).  Having a Christmas baby during a very stressful and sad time in my life was like a behind the scenes peak for me at the wonder of the Incarnation of Christ.   God used it like that anyway.  He really gave me eyes to see what a wonder it is that Christ was born as a baby through Mary.

When your circumstance seem impossibly hard and you can't see how this could possibly line up with God's plans and purposes and He breaks through with a gift of unexpected joy, the circumstances- painful as they are- fade in the light of hope.

Today's reading in the Jesse Tree Advent devotional was from Genesis.  About how God promised Abraham decedents that outnumbered the stars and he looked at his elderly wife and felt the aches in his 100 year old knees and chose to believe God.  And when the time came, God did what he said he would do.  He always does.

The question is, do I believe God's promises?  There are a lot of them.  How about this one:
So let no one boast in men. For all things are yours, whether Paul or Apollos or Cephas or the world or life or death or the present or the future—all are yours, and you are Christ's, and Christ is God's. - 1 Corinthians 3:21-23.  
ALL!  All things are yours?!  The world? Life? Death?  

This is why I don't have to have this or that.  I don't have to have the perfect church or the perfect marriage or the perfect kids or house or job or circumstance.  All things are mine!  I belong to Christ. Believing that promise will carry me through the impossibilities I face.  Just like it carried Abraham through the impossibilities he faced.

God does what he says he will do.  Always.


Sunday, November 29, 2015

Sunday thoughts and an open letter

It always feels good to sleep in. For me, 6:30 is sleeping in. So when I woke up at 7:15 this morning I felt like I'd slept my life away!  But boy did it feel good.  

The girls were ready for me when I got out to the milking area this morning.  All their calls said, "Where have you been?!"

I love the quiet mornings filling feeders, collecting eggs, and the tinny sound of hot, fresh milk hitting the empty stainless steel bucket.  And now that it's cold outside in the morning it's just so refreshing and quiet and peaceful.



I haven't been able to be at church for several weeks now.  Between having to work on Sundays (more than I'd like) and Connor's baseball tournament schedule I haven't been able to make it.  But in the hit and miss months I think we've settled on a church family.  The Refuge meets at a community center near 107th avenue and Camelback.  Good friends of ours recently started meeting there and invited us.  There is no perfect church.  The requirements are there.  The abundance of fluff, smoke and mirrors is not.  That's about as close to perfect as it gets for me.  We've been at a few great churches in the weeks I've been looking.  There are some great Bible teaching, gospel preaching, Christ-centered, worshipful churches out there.  Some of them I'd actually prefer to settle down at, but they're far away and my kids haven't made a connection with anyone.  At the Refuge my middle school boys know a fellow middle school aged boy already and the youth group meets on a Wednesday night which allows for the boys to still get together with their peers and learn about God together.  I like that.  I want that for them.

I took the boys to the Arizona Science Center after church.  We've been before but it seemed to be more of hit this year than when we went last.  Ryland was enamored with the 3D printer.  Connor was fascinated with the water works and gears.  Tells me something about them.


This morning I read a post on Facebook that shook me.  The person posted their feelings about the latest shooting in Colorado at a Planned Parenthood.  She aligned the man who did the shooting with right-winged conservative Christians and seemed to think this deranged man who killed three people was a representative of a Christian who is anti-abortion.

My mind went into high gear.  In my head I wrote her a whole letter.  I didn't post it.  I don't know if I should have or not.  I don't want to come across as a knee-jerk reaction Christian who rants about all the things they're "against".  I want my life to this woman to say:  She's a Christian.  And I know because of the way she treats people.

She may never read this, and maybe, if God gives me the grace and the courage and if it's even necessary, maybe she and I could talk about it.  But just to get it off my chest here's an open letter to the Facebook world:

Dear Facebook friend, 
I read your post and had a flood of thoughts.   
I wanted you to know that this man in Colorado Springs is not representative of a true Christian.   
I'm a Christian woman who opposes abortion and knows nothing about the hashtag #alllivesmatter.  But I do believe all lives matter.  And I know this man was not a Christian no matter what he said.  Nor was he for life, no matter what he said.  A true Christian lays down their life for others.  They don't take others lives to achieve some kind of moral state they think there should be.   
To me, both this man and the men and women who perform abortions, commit appalling acts of horror because they take life from a person according to their own judgements of what is right and wrong.   
What is right and wrong?  Who gets to decide?  The man with the gun on a snowy morning at a Colorado Planned Parenthood?  Or the practitioner in an exam room with a young woman on the table and the lethal saline about to be injected into her womb to stop the beating heart of her unborn human baby?   
I wonder what the logic is behind defending either one of those people's actions?   
I guess it comes down to what you believe.   
If you believe we're all highly evolving species of living matter randomly generated by time and chance, then why is it wrong for any Homo Sapien to take the life of another Homo Sapien?   
No one writes CNN headline stories and is grieved or appalled, demanding justice in the pride of lions when one lion kills another.  And it's not just because we're more highly evolved than the lion.  We demand justice and are grieved when people are murdered because we know right from wrong.  We know there is such a thing as evil.  And the only reason why we should know such a thing is if some kind of law higher than our own opinions governs the human race.   
I believe those precious lives taken by that man in Colorado are precious because they bear the image of God. They know right from wrong and were made to represent in their nature the wonders of the Creator who made them.  
What happened at that Colorado Springs Planned Parenthood the other day is evil.  And I grieve.    
I think one day we'll look back at the horrors of abortion in the United States like we look back at the horrors of the genocide in Auschwitz in WWII.  Because we know right from wrong.  We know evil from good.   
I believe the world will get to see what real Christians are like more and more as these days of terror, and evil and violence progress.   They aren't out to kill those who do what they don't agree with.  They are out to lay down their lives for those they don't agree with.  

With love and a heavy heart,

Sheila

Thursday, November 26, 2015

Yeah, I'm sitting here playing



I have been sitting here playing around with my blog.  My abandoned blog.  Turkey is in the oven.  Our turkey is farm-raised, free-range from my neighbor across the alley. I watched her grow.  The neighbor did the dirty work and traded me 3 loaves of soap for this beauty of a turkey. 

Of course, my tried and true method of buying a frozen turkey with that automatic pop-up thermometer that takes the guess work out of when the turkey's done is out.  And it's not just the blog style or the turkey that's new this year.  I soaked the turkey in a brine this year for the first time.   I sure hope it turns out O.K. 


I've taken a break from soaping for today... although I may just make some avocado soap today... I can't help myself! Today I'm enjoying my family, rest, the farm, the cool weather, the food and meditating on the wonders of the truth that I am a daughter of God through Christ.  That's a billion universe statement.  


I'm thinking of my mom and dad and brother and sister and grandma and mother-in-law and brother-in-law and sister-in-law and nieces and nephews and their families... I'm missing them.  I'm praying for them.  I'm so thankful for them.



You have turned for me my mourning into dancing; you have loosed my sackcloth and clothed me with gladness, that my glory may sing your praise and not be silent. O Lord my God, I will give thanks to you forever! - Psalm 30:11

Happy Thanksgiving!
Sheila