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Mary, Did You Know?

Never having watched more than one episode in the past seasons, I lucked into watching “The Voice” this year when a young man from Kentucky blew the judges and audience (and me, too) af5530500-58c5-0133-0b0c-0e76e5725d9dway in his blind audition.  Following Jordan Smith’s first performance, I was hooked and continued to watch and cheer for my fellow Kentuckian.

If you are unfamiliar with the show, singers audition and are then selected (or the singers select depending on the audition responses) by celebrity “coaches” who coach them through vocals, style and stage presence in attempts to win a recording contract.  Viewers vote via texting and purchasing songs on iTunes to support their favorite contestant.

Jordan Smith’s performances were consistently on the top of the charts, sometimes bumping chart staples, Adele, and Justin Bieber, out of the way.  Though he had talented competitors, it was still no surprise to me that he won during last night’s finale.

Along with his beautiful singing voice, there is something about this young man that many seem to gravitate to; maybe his humility, maybe his sincerity, maybe his faith, maybe he represents “real” people; the average Joe … whatever it is, he is a special guy. Watching his mother support him from the first show to tonight’s finale, I guarantee one thing… she knew Jordan was special long before Jordan did, long before his coach, Adam Levine, did and long before America did.  And I would be willing to wager that she held on to that fact when times were tough for Jordan.

I don’t know Jordan’s story but from a very small amount shared during the show’s interviews, I would guess that he had some tough times growing up.  He once mentioned image issues and often more times than not, those personal image issues are heightened when others tease, bully or even try to give well-meaning advice.   As a parent, I know how difficult it is to watch your child hurt from the cruelness of others and watch their self-esteem suffer, particularly when you see the greatness of that child that he can’t seem to see himself.  Probably much like the first time she noticed his great talent, she will likely hold tightly to last night’s win.

Just ask a scrapbooking, photographing, videoing or journaling everything parent, whether it is a cute story, a long sought after accomplishment or just a sweet moment in time, I think we as parents have those moments with our children that we always want to remember.  However,  we also have those rough or challenging moments; temper tantrums in public, siblings screaming because one has hurt the other, experimenting with scissors and their beautiful long hair, the day the teacher calls to tell you that your child is failing a subject, or a multitude of little (or big) imperfections that we’d like to forget.

Reminding myself of those good times and not so stellar moments makes the whole story of Christ and his life growing up that much more relevant.  Jesus’ mother, Mary,  had those moments to hold on to too.

The Bible says (in my paraphrase) that Mary listened to the words of praise spoken about her baby, thought about them, held them close and then treasured them.  Later when we read about him being a preteen, we see his parents doing what I believe is a tad bit of discipline. ( I do believe he was perfect, but I also believe he was a child and still needed parental guidance) Mary and Joseph can’t find Jesus. They search for three days only to find him teaching adults. The Bible says they were astonished, but it also says they didn’t understand fully.

The astonishment of what others think about your child, the marveling at the thoughts of the greatness of your child, the treasured moments that you want to hold onto, that just makes Jesus’  family seem like your average family. Jesus’ family could have lived right down the street with their very average but loving family life.

Mary seems to have paid close attention to the words of others and her son’s actions.   From these actions, she was able to treasure these things about her son and then hold on to them when he had to save the world and not stand in his way.

Whether you are a parent, a grandparent, an aunt, a sister, a brother or even none of these, it pays to listen to what God’s people say.   When God is ready to do a great work in the ones we love or in ourselves, to look with depth into a situation annativityscened hold on to those words and thoughts of others gives us the insight to set aside our desires and we can trust to let God do his thing.

As Mary rocked her sweet newborn,  she held to the thought that her son was special…. more than just special but a Savior.

Luke 2

16So they hurried off and found Mary and Joseph, and the baby, who was lying in the manger. 17When they had seen him, they spread the word concerning what had been told them about this child, 18and all who heard it were amazed at what the shepherds said to them. 19But Mary treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart. 20The shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all the things they had heard and seen, which were just as they had been told.

27Moved by the Spirit, he went into the temple courts. When the parents brought in the child Jesus to do for him what the custom of the Law required, 28Simeon took him in his arms and praised God, saying:
29″Sovereign Lord, as you have promised,
you now dismiss[a] your servant in peace.
30For my eyes have seen your salvation,

31which you have prepared in the sight of all people,
32a light for revelation to the Gentiles
and for glory to your people Israel.” 33The child’s father and mother marveled at what was said about him.

41Every year his parents went to Jerusalem for the Feast of the Passover. 42When he was twelve years old, they went up to the Feast, according to the custom. 43After the Feast was over, while his parents were returning home, the boy Jesus stayed behind in Jerusalem, but they were unaware of it. 44Thinking he was in their company, they traveled on for a day. Then they began looking for him among their relatives and friends. 45When they did not find him, they went back to Jerusalem to look for him. 46After three days they found him in the temple courts, sitting among the teachers, listening to them and asking them questions. 47Everyone who heard him was amazed at his understanding and his answers. 48When his parents saw him, they were astonished. His mother said to him, “Son, why have you treated us like this? Your father and I have been anxiously searching for you.”

49″Why were you searching for me?” he asked. “Didn’t you know I had to be in my Father’s house?” 50But they did not understand what he was saying to them.

51Then he went down to Nazareth with them and was obedient to them. But his mother treasured all these things in her heart. 52And Jesus grew in wisdom and stature, and in favor with God and men.

 

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Posted by on December 16, 2015 in Devotions, Faith

 

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Conversations… The Epiphany Factor

I’m not sure if it is my age, my stress level or just the way I’m wired, but I’ve taken notice of something lately that shoots my conversations to a whole new level.  One might call it the lack of common sense, but I just call it the “epiphany factor” which is triggered by the “oh” gene.  You know what I’m talking about; a time during a conversation, when you begin to see things differently or when someone explains something to you and you finally “get it” ….even if it is a conversation of useless knowledge or trivial chat… that moment is the “epiphany factor”.   You tend to see them on sitcoms quite a bit, but at our house in 2011, I have been keeping notes of them for a time such as this.

As far as the reasoning for why these conversations are happening and since I seem to be claiming this “oh” gene (which, by the way, lies dormant in my parents), I’m beginning to believe that I’m wired that way.  I’m not just thinking this because my husband has been trying to tell me this for years, but because I am seeing it in my children more and more and that helps establish the theory that it may just be a wiring issue with me… yep, born that way.

Here are a few of many examples of what I mean…. these conversations include my 16-year-old (Allison), my 18-year-old (Catie) sometimes my 9-year-old, my husband (Chris) and me….

Allison:  So are Vera Bradley and Vera Wang related?
Me:  How does that even make sense? They just have the same first name.
Allison:  I know… Are they related?
Me:  ?? (silence)
Catie:  So, are they related?
Chris:  Yes girls, they are sisters!
Allison and Catie:  Oh…

OR

Conversation in the car in the dark:
Allison: Mom, are my contacts in?
Me: Allison, how on earth am I supposed to know?
Allison: What?? I thought you said the eye place called you and said they were in.
Me: (short pause) Ohhh, I thought you meant in your eyes.
Chris: Oh, brother

OR

Conversation in the car-
Allison:(who was sitting behind me) Mom, I just sent you a picture.
Me: Okay, text or email?
Allison: Text. Did you get it?
Me: No
Allison: Now?
Me: No
Allison: I sent it. Now did you get it?
Me: No, Allison.
A few minutes later…

Allison: Did you get it, mom?
Me: No

After a few more minutes of the same dialogue….
Chris: Wouldn’t it have been easier for you to just hand your phone to mom and let her see the picture?
Me and Allison: Oh…

OR

Conversation after taking photos of my daughter who was climbing out of a tree….
Allison: Mom, help me
Me:  You’ve got it… Come on down
Allison:  I’m scared. I’m afraid I’m going to break something.
Me:  You’re not going to break anything. This tree is strong and sturdy …. You couldn’t break it even if you wanted to
Allison:  I’m talking about me, Mom! I’m afraid I’ll break my arm or leg!
Me: oh…

AND

Regarding a glitch in our van’s brake lights, to stop concern about the battery dying, Chris and I decided to trade cars for the day. Our phone call:
Chris: Hey, I’m not going to trade cars now. I put a band aid on it so it is temporarily fixed… at least until I can get home tonight.
Me: Wow, that is hilarious
Chris: What is?
Me: That is so funny, kind of ironic, that you used a band-aid to fix it.
Chris:(with laughter) I didn’t use a real band-aid. It was a figure of speech
Me: Oh….

This genetic flaw seems to have been passed down to my poor children and unfortunately, the “voice of reason” gene that their father so perfectly owns, lies dormant or at least will be a late blooming gene.    I hope they are late bloomers because I will have to say that the wisdom of the “Oh” gene is about a 1 on a scale 1-10 while the “voice of reason” ranks way up there with a 9.9-10…. It just comes in so handy… and it has saved our family embarrassment over and over.  (Well, not counting that I’ve just now posted our conversations for the world to read.)

But you know, so often my conversations with God are also laced with the Epiphany Factor.  Common sense can’t always play a role in conversations with God because he is so much bigger than that, but I do tend to forget so much when I talk to him.  I forget to be quiet.  I forget to get rid of barriers between us.  I forget that when he makes a promise he keeps it.  I forget that he loves me., etc.  Many times God has to jump in and, either through his word or his people, stop me and be a voice of reason.

In the Book of Job, Elihu, to a certain degree, was like that; the voice of reason.  After listening to Job and his friends, Elihu spoke some things that he felt needed to be said.  Job was wondering why God wasn’t filling him in on the reasoning of why he had to endure his suffering and wondered why God was being to quiet.  Elihu piped in and stated that God was indeed speaking ….. he was pretty much always speaking but Job wasn’t prepared to listen.

Now, we know that Job had been listening and that God doesn’t always answer our prayers in a way we can understand.  He is not always going to tell us why we have to deal with things certain things or go through certain experiences, so Elihu wasn’t completely correct there.  He did say, however, that God does speak to us in many ways, we just have to not try to put words in his mouth. He uses things to get our attention and sometimes we don’t understand what he’s trying to get from us because of our pride…. we can’t make out what God wants because we are caught up in our suffering.

I find myself in that same situation so many more times than I like to admit… even though what I experience may not be as great of a suffering as what Job went through, I will often find myself so caught up in my own suffering or uncomfortableness that I can’t hear why God is allowing me to go through it.  When I finally let go of myself and allow God to be there, he may not show me exactly why I have to experience what I do, but he at least is there to be a compassionate, protecting, listening and mighty friend who comforts me and provides a peace that I can only get through him.  Job’s epiphany factor came a few chapters later when he realized that God’s ways are best…. when I remind myself of that I so often will be given the “voice of reason” and a brand new outlook.

I’m not sure what you may be dealing with today but should you be in a place where God seems quiet or distant, a great start may be not asking why but by asking for his help in taking the focus off of your suffering and allowing him to consume it.  I may provide a peace like you’ve never known.

Job 33

13 So why are you bringing a charge against him?
Why say he does not respond to people’s complaints?
14 For God speaks again and again,
though people do not recognize it.

 
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Posted by on November 12, 2011 in Devotions, Faith, Life Stories

 

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Hanging on to hope…. and UK Basketball is there to prove it

Wow, Kentucky Basketball is back in the spotlight and now it is for a good thing… finally the Wildcats are ranked number one in nation.  It has been awhile since I felt like I could put on my UK sweatshirt and wear it with pride.  Yes, I’ll admit it… I don’t think my blood was pure blue.  In fact, I think there were times when I didn’t even watch one complete game in a season because I was bored.  Now you may think I’ve never been a true UK fan and that is totally incorrect…. I was probably the only girl in my middle school who had a blue and white bedroom with UK posted everywhere…. I was a true blue fan…. But when they began their spiral into just being an average team rather than an outstanding team, I lost interest.  But I think I am on the road to recovery …. I once again think they are fun to watch.

With my confession I will say that there are many who never wavered in their faith in their team.  Regardless of the poor performance or embarrassing losses, they still never missed a game, still wore blue and white… even at away games and they still cheered as loud as before.  They withstood the test and their belief in a team held firm.  And because of that they can say that they were faithful during the hard times and now it has paid off.

A test of faith pays off when we hang in there and hang on to hope.

There is a passage where Jesus tests a woman who had come to him for the healing of her daughter.  The only issue (which really wasn’t one to Jesus) was that she wasn’t an Israelite… she wasn’t one of God’s chosen people… she was a Cannanite woman.  She was begging for help and Jesus pretty much appeared to ignore her.  Finally, his buddies had had enough and begged him to get rid of her.  So then, Jesus  says something that was directed to the woman…He said it wasn’t fair to give the children’s bread (Israelite’s healings) to the dogs (those who weren’t Israelites) and she retorted that even dogs get scraps.  She was telling him that she believed even a crumb of what he could do would be enough to help her daughter.  He tested her faith and she showed him that her faith was hanging on to the hope of what he could do….Jesus was pleased and he healed her daughter.  That was the pay off for hanging on to hope.

Maybe you are dealing with something and you feel as if God is ignoring you….. or maybe you don’t feel worthy …. maybe you feel like your issue is not deserving….. But God is totally aware of your need…..Maybe He needs to see where your faith is… maybe he needs to test and see if your faith is true blue ….. Keep in mind though, I used the word “hanging”…. no one said it was easy… I know it is not easy, and sometimes it may seem if you are losing your grip…… hang on to hope.  The pay off is amazing.

Oh yeah,  “Go Big Blue!”

Matthew 15

21Leaving that place, Jesus withdrew to the region of Tyre and Sidon. 22A Canaanite woman from that vicinity came to him, crying out, “Lord, Son of David, have mercy on me! My daughter is suffering terribly from demon-possession.”

23Jesus did not answer a word. So his disciples came to him and urged him, “Send her away, for she keeps crying out after us.”

24He answered, “I was sent only to the lost sheep of Israel.”

25The woman came and knelt before him. “Lord, help me!” she said.

26He replied, “It is not right to take the children’s bread and toss it to their dogs.”

27“Yes, Lord,” she said, “but even the dogs eat the crumbs that fall from their masters’ table.”

28Then Jesus answered, “Woman, you have great faith! Your request is granted.” And her daughter was healed from that very hour.

 
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Posted by on January 26, 2010 in Devotions, Faith, Life Stories

 

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Be Aware… Penguins are among us

I’m a bit overwhelmed with all of the awareness days and ribbons.  If I wanted to create an awareness day I think I would be out of ribbon choices… all of the colors are taken and most are even taken by several groups.  I’m not knocking the whole awareness thing.  I think, for the most part, it does help educate some.  I’ve been known to see a ribbon of a certain color and go look it up online to find it’s meaning …. the problem is, unless I ask, I wouldn’t know whether they were making me aware of hunger or of Highway and Road Worker Memorials.   Sometimes though, I’m not sure why awareness even needs to happen.  Like today….

Today is Penguin Awareness Day.  I’m not really sure who this day is aimed to make aware.  Thanks to comical little penguins from cartoons and comic strips….Opus, may you rest in peace…. or possibly a nice documentary like, “March of the Penguins” or even for the retro crowd, a Mutual of Omaha’s Wild Kingdom episode, most everyone I know is aware of penguins.  About 10 years ago I even became aware that some lived off of the coast of South Africa.  So what are we needing to be made aware of????

Somewhere in some antarctic, uncharted territory are they, like “Kentucky Fried Chicken” Chickens are believed to be, being unethically bred and slaughtered?  Are they in need of counseling as they live in great big groups and struggle to get along?  Are they a gifted group of performers that need recognition or just a lucky break? Wait, maybe the whole awareness thing is aimed toward the seals that gobble up the penguins.  Maybe that would explain the whole black and white awareness ribbon I saw on the killer whale today. (Just kidding)

I suppose there could be some significance to the whole penguin awareness thing… maybe they are gradually becoming extinct… I don’t know…. oh, I get it…. that is the the whole point… I just said, “I don’t know”…..  I’m aware but not fully aware, therefore the need for Penguin Awareness Day!  I feel so relieved to know that my little black and white awareness ribbon has significance.

The reality of it is that often we believe we are aware of something just because we know a little bit about it.

I was reading this morning about Jesus in his hometown.  The people were aware of Jesus.  They knew him as a carpenter’s son.  They knew his mother and siblings.  They knew him but they didn’t know him.  What a shame…. it still happens today.  Some know him and are aware of him but the never know him in a relationship and therefore aren’t aware of who he really is.  That need for awareness is totally legitimate… the awareness of something more than an hour at church, a unpleasant experience with a “Christian”, or an attempt to read a hard to understand version of the Bible… those experiences may make us aware of his name and then we can claim to be aware but it is the investment of seeking and a commitment to him that makes us aware of who he really is …. we begin to see faith at work….   I don’t know… I’m seeing a red, white and black ribbon in the making.

How’s your awareness? How’s your faith?

Have a great Penguin Awareness Day!

Matthew 13:53-58

53When Jesus had finished these parables, he moved on from there. 54Coming to his hometown, he began teaching the people in their synagogue, and they were amazed. “Where did this man get this wisdom and these miraculous powers?” they asked. 55“Isn’t this the carpenter’s son? Isn’t his mother’s name Mary, and aren’t his brothers James, Joseph, Simon and Judas? 56Aren’t all his sisters with us? Where then did this man get all these things?” 57And they took offense at him.
But Jesus said to them, “Only in his hometown and in his own house is a prophet without honor.

58And he did not do many miracles there because of their lack of faith.

(Disclaimer:  There really is a Penguin Awareness Day.  According to most calendars it falls on January 20th.  However, to my knowledge, there is not a representing ribbon for this day, but I think black and white would make sense.)

 
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Posted by on January 20, 2010 in Devotions, Faith, Fun

 

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Stop! In the name of pug….well, more like poodle.. and Nix the Resolutions

Taking the back roads has its perks.  Things like few stop lights, if any… scenery prettier than buildings and concrete… and just all around less boring…. I also like to think that they are shortcuts but often times they take just as long if not longer because of the hills and curves.  Anyway, the other morning I had stopped to grab a cup of coffee and then began rushing myself to work through the not-so-shortcut back road shortcut.  I came zooming over the hill only to come to a screeching halt….. coffee was sloshing, but no problem for me… the lid stayed tight.

I looked ahead to find why traffic wasn’t moving and there, sitting in the middle of the road, was a little bitty poodle.  He was dirty and matted and had apparently decided that the line in the middle of the road was a comfy spot.  Amazingly, that little animal was backing up traffic about 7 cars deep on both sides of the road.  The school bus that was leading the line of cars opposite of me was honking the horn…. the dog just looked up… I wondered if possibly the dog was deaf but it seemed as if he heard the noise but just was too stubborn to move.  Finally, after sitting in traffic for a bit, a lady a few cars in front of me hopped out of her and started walking toward the dog.  Still the dog sat.  The lady began yelling at the dog and clapping her hands. In essence, pushing the dog without touching him.   The dog moved…. but only a small step… she now sat in front of the bus…. the lady continued clapping until the dog finally retreated to the middle of another road.

Traffic began moving along as normal once again.  I noticed as I passed by that there was another lady who had maneuvered her way out of traffic to the side of the road to see if she could rescue this poor little, confused, dirty, matted dog.  She very gently and slowly walked up to the dog and though I couldn’t hear what she was saying, it was apparent that she was talking sweetly in that “you’re a good puppy, aren’t you” voice.   You would think that this unattractive little dog would have been excited to hop in a warm car with a sweet person who obviously cared about its welfare, but instead it barked and growled and when the lady backed up a bit the poodle took off running into a tangled brush area just off of the road.

As I drove past I could see the look on the helpful lady’s face and I think it was one of disbelief or frustration or that of helplessness.  She had done all she could do.  The poodle made its own choice.

A part of me chuckled at the whole situation… a little dog holding up so much traffic.  He got warnings and he even got sympathy but even after he begrudgingly moved, he accepted nothing from anyone and continued on the same path that he was already on. All I could think of was what a sad, little stubborn (or maybe dumb) dog.  And it was then that I think I got a little kick in my rear …. you know, I tend to be just like that little dog.  I’ll sit in traffic (theoretically, not technically) … as dangerous as it might be… and a warning may push me to move a little bit, but even at times when I am completely moved, I may run back to the same old routine. Are ya with me?

I usually don’t make  New Year’s resolutions but the New Year  is a great time to begin a new routine.  I heard on the radio yesterday morning that the average person will have abandoned their resolutions by day 18.  But I have also heard that it takes 6 weeks to create a new habit… so pushing beyond day 18 for a little over another 18 days will create a changed person.  I can imagine that if that poodle had gotten into that car, he would have been cleaned up, nourished and ended up looking like a cute, lovable little guy.  That is a good ending to a bad situation.  So what makes us stop before day 18 rolls around? Could it be fear of the unknown, fear of change, fear of failing, fear of stepping out of what is comfortable?….

But you know something else… there were two women in that situation who were very important… the one who moved the dog and the one who tried to rescue the dog… Sometimes we don’t even realize we are in the middle of the road and we need a reminder, someone to move us.  I think that is where God jumps in and does the motivating that gets us to move and provides the rescuing of our lives… maybe it is a friend or family member who urges us to get help, maybe it is an invite to church, maybe it is a song or story that is heard or maybe we look up and step out of ourselves and see the lives we are affecting (just like the backed up traffic).  Then we find ourselves at a crossroad to an encouragement, a safe place, a hope…. a loving God…..or back to the same old tangled brush.

Maybe you are a like that little dog in the road…. possibly in a dangerous situation… maybe it is a habit that is killing you,  a lifestyle that consumes you,  a relationship that alienates you, an attitude that robs you,  an ailment that embarrasses you, or a spiritual neglect that is calling you… Whatever it is, you don’t have to sit in the road or run to the tangled brush… you can hop in the car and be changed.

This can be the year to not make a resolution to change but to actually change.  That’s my prayer.

Philippians 4:13

13 For I can do everything through Christ, who gives me strength.

 
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Posted by on January 7, 2010 in Devotions, Faith, Life Stories

 

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Sing with me…”Whoa Black Friday, Bam-A-Lam… ” Oh, the memories…

Yes, I know that the song is really “Black Betty”, but it is kind of catchy, don’t you think? I don’t know about you but Black Friday always seems to sound like such a creepy day that I think it needs something like a theme song.

I’ve never quite figured out why a day that kicks off the holiday shopping season has such a dreary name.  Black Friday… it reminds me of a day that we should either be in mourning or scaring the living daylights out of each other… “Move over Halloween, it’s Black Friday… Bwahhhahahaha….”.

I realize that the whole “Black” thing has to do with some accounting term about being on the good side of the economic table, but even having to explain the term “Black Friday” is so boring…. It seems like they could have created a name that is a bit more appealing to the laypeople.  Maybe they could have named it- “Really Big Sale Friday” or “Crazy Standing in Line Friday” or “Fight for your Deal Friday” or “Be Kind Friday”(Sending out a subliminal message, of course) or “Spend Lots of Money Friday” or “Camp Out Friday”… Do you realize how hard it is to convince a 7 year-old that you don’t have to dress in black on Black Friday??  Let’s just say that she now has a new black T-shirt….

Regardless of why it is called what it is, I have never really been a fan of it.  I have gone out a few times during the early morning hours but I will have to say that each time was only because my sister-in-law was at my house and I went to keep her company.  I’m more of a 10:00am, catch the mid-morning deals, type person, but when I’ve gone with her I admittedly have found a bargain or two.

This year there was a twist to our experience.  There was no 4:00am alarm.  Nope.  Toys R Us opened at midnight and we were going to get a deal.  We figured there wouldn’t be much of a crowd.  After all it was Thanksgiving evening and most would be gearing up for the next morning.  My two oldest were ready for their Black Friday initiation and at 11:50pm, off all four of us (my sister-in-law was obviously there) went to get bargains at the toy store.  As we got closer we began to see that traffic was pretty heavy for a midnight… and as we got even closer we found that it was pointless to take the front roads but instead cut to another road and slyly worked our way up from the back.  As it turned out, we weren’t the only ones who had that thought and we were in total disbelief…

Though there was no way to count, I couldn’t believe what I was seeing.. hundreds, maybe even thousands of people…. there was a line that stretched amazingly around the whole mall building.  I couldn’t imagine that this could be the line for Toys R Us.  (Apparently, Zhu Zhu pets had gone under my toy radar and I was oblivious to the Zhu Zhu pet craze that allowed parents to actually get their child a clean smelling hamster..not a real one but close enough)…….As it turned out it was the line for the toy store or at least that is what we were led to believe.  We walked to the back of the line and answered as cars passed by and asked us if we were in the Toys R Us line.  We would nod our heads and shrug our shoulders at the same time because we, just like everyone else, just went to the back of the line without checking to see where the line went.  So, our assumption was that we, along with everyone else in Lexington, were waiting to go buy toys.

After a few minutes and a dozen or so cars asking if we were standing in line for the toy store, I decided to be bold and venture to the front of the mall area to just make sure that we weren’t standing in line for the makeup or furniture store. (I know, I know… no one would stand in line for a furniture store…makeup maybe but not furniture)  What do you know, we were in the correct line. But there is a catch to this…. it wasn’t the only line.  There was another line that was about 1/20 the size of the other line.  I got in the short line and called my sister-in-law to come join me and we giggled the rest of the time at our Black Friday maneuvers.  Oh, the memories…..

Well, our night didn’t stop there… one hour in line outside (yes, in the short line), two shopping hours and one more hour in line to check out…. it was now time for other stores to open.  Walmart had better watch out because the Hall ladies were tired, slap-happy and hungry…. Oh, the memories

We tackled the Walmart bargains and again went to get in line to check out.  I double checked my basket to see if it was worth the wait…. the line stretched completely from the front of the store to the very back of the garden center (for non-Walmart consumers, that is a long line) and yes, my goodies were worth the wait.  So we started walking to the back of the long line and it hit me… we were just assuming that this was the only line… while my sister-in-law waited in line, I again took off and navigated to the front of the store to scout out the line construction…. little surpise to find out that there were plenty of two to three people lines but those in the long line had no idea.

I hopped in a short line, called my sister-in-law and we once again giggled at our little Black Friday maneuvers.  Oh the memories…

I’ve thought a lot about those lines since Friday.  I think I was amazed at how easy it is just to get in line and not really know what lies ahead.  Everyone else seemed so confident and patient in those long lines… as if it was inevitable that the long line was the only line available… looking around at the confidence and patience it seemed as if it was the natural thing just to fall into that line, no questions asked… How easy that is with a spiritual walk as well…we know the relationship we need to have with God but then we look around and everyone else seems to be heading for that big long line… they talk the talk, whether it be faith filled or anti-faith filled talk, and seem very confident so we tend to just get into that line because it seems to be leading in the right direction.  We have no idea where it really leads but we scoot along blindly missing so much because we didn’t venture away.

I’m wondering how many people live their daily lives thinking that they are in the best line… maybe they are longing for something different, knowing that there is a shorter line out there just waiting… or maybe they are content to find out that others passed them by….I’m not pointing a finger a any one group of people…there could be many.

What line are you in? Are you tired of living in the long line? Have you stepped away to find the short line?
It is out there… seek it, you’ll find it.

After my Black Friday adventure I went home, fixed some breakfast and fell asleep.  Pretty sure now that the whole Black Friday name is because of the sleep you have to catch up on when you get home… well, deserved name then, I guess.  My father asked me if I enjoyed myself and I believe I said that I would never do that again…. well, at least until next year.

2 Peter 3:17-18

17 I am warning you ahead of time, dear friends. Be on guard so that you will not be carried away by the errors of these wicked people and lose your own secure footing. 18 Rather, you must grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.

All glory to him, both now and forever! Amen.

 
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Posted by on December 1, 2009 in Devotions, Faith, Fun, Life Stories

 

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“Hey, Jephthah… You might want to change your shirt” -A not so common Bible story

Anyone who knows me knows that I am not much of a morning person.  I love a beautiful sunrise …… but only in photos.  There is not too much I love about mornings except maybe the concept of a snooze button.  Now, in reality, I would love to be an early riser who could get up about 5:30am and go jog (if I can get up at 5:30 then, yes, I can also jog), come home and fix my family breakfast, have my daily quiet time and then take my time getting ready and still be on time to work.  Yes, that is the way that I would love for it to be but I’m pretty sure that even though it was a recessive one in my parents, I believe that I was given an “unearly” gene somewhere in my system.

My mornings are more like this….. hit the snooze button,  hit the snooze button,  hit the snooze button…. get out of bed, stand somewhere between the bed and the bathroom, stare at something until the snooze button goes off again…. slowly go about waking myself up while I manage to get dressed, fix breakfast and get my youngest ready for school.

How safe it is for the rest of the world, I don’t know…. but because of my husband’s work schedule, on most school day mornings I am the one who delivers the youngest to school.  The fortunate thing is that she attends the school in the building where I work.  Some mornings I stay at work when I take her but often I will return home for some quiet time and finish getting ready for work time.

The other day was one of those hurried mornings.  After rushing to get her to school, talking to her teacher, stopping on the way back to the car to have a detailed conversation with two other parents, and running into my office, passing a multitude of parents, I decided to slow my morning back down by stopping at the nearby food mart for a cup of coffee.  Once home I made my way to the mirror for a makeup refresher and noticed something that completely woke me up……my shirt was on but it was on inside out!

Now, you might say that was not a big deal… even stopping to chat with others or going into a public place… it could have been a lot worse and you are probably correct.  It is just the thought of what people may have thought…. it was actually pretty funny (though I had no one to share the humor with) but I laughed, corrected the error and went about my regular routine.

Funny how no one told me that my shirt was on inside out…. maybe they didn’t care, maybe they didn’t want to embarrass or offend or maybe they just didn’t notice… regardless of the reason, if I hadn’t gone back home then I would have really made a fool out of myself at a later time during that day.

Life is kind of like that.  People live their lives seeking and searching and filling voids with “stuff”… actually living life inside out or upside down.  They think they are on the right path but have it mixed up just a little… It is not something uncommon or distinctive of our day and age.  The Bible has stories that took places thousands of years ago and are totally relative to living inside out.

Jephthah  was a prime example of finding out that, though his intentions were good,  he was living inside out.  The story is one we often don’t hear … (I definitely know why it isn’t taught to children…unless you want them to have nightmares).  Jephthah lived in a time period when the Israelites were caught up in idol worship.  They knew about God and even worshiped Him to some extent but their faith was intertwined with false religion… making it easy to get confused about exactly what God wanted.  So, Jephthah was apparently quite the warrior…. he was winning battles but his call out to God to defeat the Ammonites had a twist to it.  Jephthah made a promise to God (remembering that breaking a promise to God was a law that if broken would have been sin… and there was no grace of a savior at that time).  He told God that if he would let him defeat the Ammonites then he promised to sacrifice to God “whatever was the first thing to come out of” his house when he arrived home.

Jephthah defeated the Ammonites, so being a man of his word he headed home ready to sacrifice the first thing that came through his door.  Now I’m not sure what the guy was thinking.  Maybe he was thinking that his beloved dog would come running out to greet him … yes, that would be a sacrifice.  Maybe he was thinking his mother-in-law would step out the door to see who was coming… yes, that would be a sacrifice…a sacrifice maybe or a blessing.  Maybe he was thinking that it would be his wife… maybe he pictured her coming out of the door saying,”Well, it is about time you came home.  Do you know while you and your little warrior buddies were out galavanting all over the countryside I have been here cooking and cleaning and raising a family.  Now get in here and help me already.”  Yes, that would be a blessing… er, uh sacrifice.  In reality though, he had to know that if that was his home then something of value to him would walk through that door and that is exactly what happened.  His precious daughter came out singing praises to God because her father had won against the Ammonites.  He grieved and told her of his promise to God…. she understood and agreed that he needed to keep his promise and Jephthah killed his daughter as a burnt offering.

So what is so “inside out” about keeping a promise to God?  Probably nothing if it was actually a promise that God would approve of (however, I’m not so sure how God feels about cutting a deal with him) but that was the problem.  Jephthah had his faith mixed up with the false religions of those around him… nothing pure about what he believed.  And because of that mixed up faith he ended up doing the unspeakable…. he was no different that those around him.  He definitely needed someone to tell him to turn his shirt inside out.  That what he was he was doing was honorable but not necessary.  There was a wholesome way to give praises to God that did not require a human sacrifice…. those kind of sacrifices were left up to the believers of false gods.

People today are still caught up in living inside out.  They seek another unhealthy relationship just to fill a lonely heart. They drown their sorrows in substances trying to hide pain.  They work more hours to avoid facing a relationship struggle. They leave a relationship just because they want something new.  They try to find answers through seminars and self help books…..I would say most of the time I am completely guilty of not sharing what could fill the void.  Why is so hard to let them know that they might want to change their “shirt”?  Maybe it is because we don’t care. Maybe it is because we don’t want to offend.  Maybe it is because we didn’t notice…. If I am guilty of the first two then maybe I need to evaluate how much I want to see them make fools of themselves later because I didn’t say anything.  If the last one is the case then maybe I should find out why I didn’t notice…. maybe I might find out that my shirt is on inside out too.

 

Judges 11:21-39

21 “Then the LORD, the God of Israel, gave Sihon and all his men into Israel’s hands, and they defeated them. Israel took over all the land of the Amorites who lived in that country, 22 capturing all of it from the Arnon to the Jabbok and from the desert to the Jordan.

23 “Now since the LORD, the God of Israel, has driven the Amorites out before his people Israel, what right have you to take it over? 24 Will you not take what your god Chemosh gives you? Likewise, whatever the LORD our God has given us, we will possess. 25 Are you better than Balak son of Zippor, king of Moab? Did he ever quarrel with Israel or fight with them? 26 For three hundred years Israel occupied Heshbon, Aroer, the surrounding settlements and all the towns along the Arnon. Why didn’t you retake them during that time? 27 I have not wronged you, but you are doing me wrong by waging war against me. Let the LORD, the Judge, [c] decide the dispute this day between the Israelites and the Ammonites.”

28 The king of Ammon, however, paid no attention to the message Jephthah sent him.

29 Then the Spirit of the LORD came upon Jephthah. He crossed Gilead and Manasseh, passed through Mizpah of Gilead, and from there he advanced against the Ammonites. 30 And Jephthah made a vow to the LORD : “If you give the Ammonites into my hands, 31 whatever comes out of the door of my house to meet me when I return in triumph from the Ammonites will be the LORD’s, and I will sacrifice it as a burnt offering.”

32 Then Jephthah went over to fight the Ammonites, and the LORD gave them into his hands. 33 He devastated twenty towns from Aroer to the vicinity of Minnith, as far as Abel Keramim. Thus Israel subdued Ammon.

34 When Jephthah returned to his home in Mizpah, who should come out to meet him but his daughter, dancing to the sound of tambourines! She was an only child. Except for her he had neither son nor daughter. 35 When he saw her, he tore his clothes and cried, “Oh! My daughter! You have made me miserable and wretched, because I have made a vow to the LORD that I cannot break.”

36 “My father,” she replied, “you have given your word to the LORD. Do to me just as you promised, now that the LORD has avenged you of your enemies, the Ammonites. 37 But grant me this one request,” she said. “Give me two months to roam the hills and weep with my friends, because I will never marry.”

38 “You may go,” he said. And he let her go for two months. She and the girls went into the hills and wept because she would never marry. 39 After the two months, she returned to her father and he did to her as he had vowed.

 
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Posted by on November 21, 2009 in Uncategorized

 

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