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Celebrate the Season- Advent Daily Chocolate Day 1: Love is Blind

When I was a kid I used to look so forward to December 1st.  That was when I could open the very first window in my Advent calendar.  This was the calendar that I received around Thanksgiving and was tortured by chocolate desire for a week or so.  But on December 1st, I could finally look and see what the chocolate design was… you know, an angel, a wiseman, a shepherd, Santa, etc…. and then eat it up.  The main problem though was that by December 2nd, the only thing left behind in those little windows was a hollowed out shell and  the smell of the chocolate …. Yep, I had no self control and I counted down to Christmas in one day.  What do you expect?  The pieces of chocolate were wafer thin and the windows weren’t locked…I had to make sure they all tasted the same…16767

Well, now I’m all grown up and have self control ……. And I also have a job so I can buy an extra calendar or two just in case…..but, this isn’t about chocolate calendars….it’s not about self-control…..  It is about the Advent Season and the excitement that the countdown brings.

I’ve found myself many times when I’m reading during my quiet time, wanting to read more and then a bit more and even more …. pretty much like the chocolate of my childhood, I don’t want to stop until I’m satisfied.  So to add to my regular Bible reading plan,  I’m opening an Advent reading window a day (while eating a piece of chocolate, of course).  I’m doing this so I can share the “chocolate” that is satisfying to me and hopefully to others to.

So grab your chocolate …. the real stuff.. or not….. and hold me accountable to sharing with you a devotion, insight or story a day until Christmas.  Hopefully,  you’ll enjoy it as much as I will.

So, we’ll begin here in Isaiah…. Isaiah 11:1-5 to be exact

Isaiah is prophesying- He’s telling about a person (Jesus), a descendant of David, who is going to have some pretty obvious qualities about himself…. Godly wisdom, Godly Counsel, Godly Understanding…Just these three alone are enough to make you think He would be the one to follow, but as you move on down into the scripture there is something that I read that makes the whole appreciating Jesus thing even more precious.

It talks about his quality of blindness in Christ… not literal blindness, but instead, it is the ability to look at someone and not see them as others do and not judge them because of the way that they appear.  He judges the heart (That is why the Pharisees stayed so angry at him all of the time) .  In other words, he doesn’t love us just because we are attractive, or physically fit, or big givers of our money, are financially sound, teach Sunday School or sing in the choir or any other deed.   He loves us because we are his creation… made in his image..    That’s an incredible hope for a society who lives in a shadow of Hollywood images and lifestyles … It is also incredible hope for those haunted by their past.

We also find out He also judges by what he knows and sees … not rumor…He waits to know our hearts and doesn’t allow the opinion of another to persuade his thoughts about us.   More hope for those plagued with a history of poor choices or a past (or even present) that have been a topic of conversations of others.

When Isaiah was prophesying about this Messiah, he painted a picture of a fair and loving Christ that we fortunately now have an opportunity to know…. personally.

Have you pushed Christ aside because of a sin, a past, a hate, a bitterness or just an esteem that feels undeserving?  Look at how he see us… it’s different than what we are used to …. allow him to show you that love.

What about those who have experienced his love… How is your love? Is your love blind toward others?  Is it based on what you feel is attractive or not so attractive (appearances, financial status, hygiene, rumors, lifestyle, political positions, educational background, personality)?  Today is a great day to practice blind love… to try to see the heart of a person rather than what the world sees.

So, I’m off to buy more chocolate…. I love this time of year!

Isaiah 11:1-5

New Living Translation (NLT)

1 Out of the stump of David’s family[a] will grow a shoot—
      yes, a new Branch bearing fruit from the old root.
 2 And the Spirit of the Lord will rest on him—
      the Spirit of wisdom and understanding,
   the Spirit of counsel and might,
      the Spirit of knowledge and the fear of the Lord.
 3 He will delight in obeying the Lord.
      He will not judge by appearance
      nor make a decision based on hearsay.
 4 He will give justice to the poor
      and make fair decisions for the exploited.
   The earth will shake at the force of his word,
      and one breath from his mouth will destroy the wicked.
 5 He will wear righteousness like a belt
      and truth like an undergarment.

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Posted by on December 1, 2012 in Advent, Devotions, Faith

 

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Tell me about it, Moses P. Diddy Hall…

flipperI don’t know why I have such high expectations for the animals that I choose to own.  Maybe those expectations were formed because of reruns of great shows such as Flipper (though I never owned a dolphin), Lassie or Fury…. or maybe it was Lady, my cousin’s collie who was incredible well behaved… or Babe, my uncle’s dog that was showbiz intelligent…..or Benji. How could I forget Benji? Whatever the reason, with a little training, I knew it couldn’t possibly be that difficult for my very own dog to become something of legend… nothing short of a human on four paws.

So let’s see, first there was Gustavia.  Gussy was a little white poodle who chased cars, chased cattle and rolled in manure… smart dog.  Then later came Rascal.  An adorable little dachshund that turned out to be an incredible bully in the amateur dog show circuit.  Then there was Sam.  Another poodle who, for all practical purposes, was a pretty good dog, but he did bark at himself in the mirror. (Wouldn’t it be funny if people acted surprised to see themselves in the mirror each time?) There were more pets down the line… Buddy 1, Buddy 2, Bandit… and some cats, hamsters, and even a skunk (Yes, you read that correctly) but none have met the superstar expectations that I have believed in for so long… that is, until recently… .

Now, our ever-lovable shih-tzu, Moses P. Diddy Hall (a.k.a. Moe) is a dog that when told to sit, he sits…. well,  he might lie down…. or  possibly he will continue to go about what he was doing.  He is also a dog that wears a diaper… well, technically it is a “belly belt” but you get the idea.   Moe also knows to get in his bed when told, he knows to “hit the rock”(our family’s ultra hip term for shaking paws), he knows to go to the car when the van door opens.   He even hates hanging out at the dog park… he waits by the exit gate until we are ready to take him home.  See, it is hard for me to decide if either Moe is very intellegent and just pretending to be a dog to get out the whole “work dog” group, or if he is just like all of my other dogs in the past…. just a regular ol’ dog.   I have been leaning toward the regular ol’ dog thing for quite some time, that is, until one night not too long ago. Moe at Dog Park Gate

Moses P. Diddy Hall is not allowed to be on the couch.  He has his bed. He has his spot near our feet.  He is totally fine not to be on the couch, but on occasion there are those special times where we give in and give him some supervised couch time.  Such as it was on that evening when I was certian that Moses P. Diddy Hall would be paying for my children’s college education.  I was sitting on the couch and Moe was comfortably resting on my daughter who was on the couch next to me.  Allison’s position was perfect as she laid on her back because if I turned my head slightly then Moe and I were face to face.

As Moe and I looked at each other, just as usual, I said something to him.  I can’t even remember what it was but when I said it, something amazing happened.  Moe began to talk back!…. and I’m not talking barking kind of talk… it was conversation kind of talk.  Now, I might not have thought anything about it if I hadn’t seen the youtube clip of funny talking dogs but I knew Moe was trying to tell me something.  I kept asking him, “What is it, Moe?” And he kept voicing something that was clearly a concoction of vocal movements that were trying to form words.  To get him to continue his talking ability I started looking at him and saying things like, “Mama” (I never think of my dogs as kids so this was very awkward for me) and ” I love you.”  Moe would look at me and try to repeat it.

I was so excited I could hardly believe it.  I had a plan. He and I were going to work on this daily until he could speak in conversation.  I started counting the dollars in my head.  I called my husband, who was out of town (explanation of the couch time that Moe was getting), and told him the whole story.  He didn’t share my enthusiasm.

The following day, Moses P. Diddy Hall and I went to work.  I got down in his face and began talking to him.  “Mama,” I said.  Moe looked at me.   “Mama,” I continued.  Still Moe looked at me.  I changed my pitch.  I changed my tempo.  Moe looked at me then cocked his head and looked away.  It was time to change my game plan.  I began the whole, ” I love you” verbiage.  Moses P. Diddy Hall looked at me and walked away.  I didn’t get it.

I began telling my story to anyone who would listen.  My husband, my other daughters, but it was while I was telling a friend about my incredibly talented, Hollywood bound dog that would surely be whisked away to star in his own movie, when my hopes and dreams for him came to an abrupt halt.  Allison felt it was time that she stepped in and prevented me from the inevitable… making a fool of myself.  She quietly pulled me to the side and said, “Mom, I was blowing in his face.” It seems that the only reason Moe was “talking” was because he apparently doesn’t like to have someone blowing in his face.  I was stunned. Moe is just a plain ol’ dog …. he is no different than any other dog that I have ever had.  After the initial shock of the whole confession, I found it all quite funny.  Fortunately, I was halted from looking like a fool and fortunately, I listened to what she had to say.

I wish faith was that simple.  You know, something like….we may be a bit out of line, acting foolishly, forgetting to include God in our everyday life and then we are told we are being a bit foolish and we fall back into line…. that would be simple.  I guess sometimes it might be that way, but there are those other times when we get so busy doing the right things in life that we may not realize we are doing them on our own…..depending on our human ability rather than trusting in God’s ability.   In Galatians, Paul comes down pretty hard on the people.  He even states that they are being deceived and they don’t even realize it because they are so caught up in living by the religious law that they have forgotten about what Christ did for them/us all.   Still today, we may not be in Galatia, but we still tend to lean on our human ability, thoughts and decisions rather than allowing God to guide our way. I wonder what would happen if we all began to lean on the gift God gave us rather than wearing ourselves down and eventually looking foolish……

If Moses P. Diddy Hall really had the gift of gab, I’m sure he’d have the answer.

Galatians 3

1You foolish Galatians! Who has bewitched you? Before your very eyes Jesus Christ was clearly portrayed as crucified. 2I would like to learn just one thing from you: Did you receive the Spirit by observing the law, or by believing what you heard? 3Are you so foolish? After beginning with the Spirit, are you now trying to attain your goal by human effort? 4Have you suffered so much for nothing—if it really was for nothing? 5Does God give you his Spirit and work miracles among you because you observe the law, or because you believe what you heard?

6Consider Abraham: “He believed God, and it was credited to him as righteousness.”[a] 7Understand, then, that those who believe are children of Abraham. 8The Scripture foresaw that God would justify the Gentiles by faith, and announced the gospel in advance to Abraham: “All nations will be blessed through you.”[b] 9So those who have faith are blessed along with Abraham, the man of faith.

 
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Posted by on September 24, 2009 in Devotions, Faith, Fun, Life Stories

 

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Pride vs. PRIDE…… will the real jerk please stand up…

In the past few days I’ve had to do some dealing with pride…. I think there are two different kinds of pride- the first kind of pride is the standard definition of pride… something to the tune of the “quality of being proud” or “a reasonable self respect.”  When I have worked hard at something and it meets the goals that were created there can definitely be a sense of pride in a job well done.  I’m not so sure that there is anything wrong with that … But there is also the other definition of P.R.I.D.E.  –

Personal

Respect

In

Doses

Exceeding

(Necessity)

I suppose maybe that is more likely PRIDE(N) but you get the picture… this is the kind of pride that gets us into trouble … this is the kind of pride that keeps us from allowing ourselves to be humble… this is the kind of pride that is not only dangerous but can be hurtful… this is the kind of pride that make us look foolish in the end anyway…

My daily reading led me to the story of Balaam and his donkey. (Numbers 22:21-24)

The story in a nutshell is about Balaam on his way to visit Balak who thinks Balaam will place a curse on the Israelites for him.  On the road, Balaam’s donkey suddenly takes off into a field.  He gets so upset at her behavior that he beats her and she gets back up on the road.  Then the next thing the donkey does is as they are passing through a walled area she pushes Balaam’s leg up against the wall and again he gets upset and beats her. Finally the donkey just stops and lays down… again, Balaam(seems like such a pleasant guy)takes his frustrations out on her.  This time, little miss donkey has had enough and turns around and asks Balaam (yes, she spoke) why he keeps hitting her.  He said he was embarassed (his pride was hurt) because she was making him look like a fool in front of others who were supposed to respect him.  Little did Balaam know that his faithful donkey was only protecting him from an angel that the Lord had sent that would have probably killed him and Balaam finally sees the angel and is so sorry for his actions.

So all of this takes place and I noticed something… The writer of this acts as if a donkey speaking is a natural thing.   There are no double takes from Balaam and his traveling crew, nor are there any out of control screams of horror or even laughter… there is nothing.  So here is my take on this… Balaam was so focused on his pride and looking like a fool that he forgot he was conversing with a donkey…and I’m pretty sure looked pretty foolish anyway..

Yep, that is the way PRIDE(N) works… or at least in my life… I focus on what I don’t want others to see because it may embarrass me only to find myself talking to a donkey I end up looking foolish anyway.  There are times I don’t ask others for help and it haunts me later…

Are you experiencing PRIDE(N)?  Balaam saw what he had done wrong… and he was sorry…. me too.


Numbers 22:21-34

21 Balaam got up in the morning, saddled his donkey and went with the princes of Moab. 22 But God was very angry when he went, and the angel of the LORD stood in the road to oppose him. Balaam was riding on his donkey, and his two servants were with him. 23 When the donkey saw the angel of the LORD standing in the road with a drawn sword in his hand, she turned off the road into a field. Balaam beat her to get her back on the road.

24 Then the angel of the LORD stood in a narrow path between two vineyards, with walls on both sides. 25 When the donkey saw the angel of the LORD, she pressed close to the wall, crushing Balaam’s foot against it. So he beat her again.

26 Then the angel of the LORD moved on ahead and stood in a narrow place where there was no room to turn, either to the right or to the left. 27 When the donkey saw the angel of the LORD, she lay down under Balaam, and he was angry and beat her with his staff. 28 Then the LORD opened the donkey’s mouth, and she said to Balaam, “What have I done to you to make you beat me these three times?”

29 Balaam answered the donkey, “You have made a fool of me! If I had a sword in my hand, I would kill you right now.”

30 The donkey said to Balaam, “Am I not your own donkey, which you have always ridden, to this day? Have I been in the habit of doing this to you?”
“No,” he said.

31 Then the LORD opened Balaam’s eyes, and he saw the angel of the LORD standing in the road with his sword drawn. So he bowed low and fell facedown.

32 The angel of the LORD asked him, “Why have you beaten your donkey these three times? I have come here to oppose you because your path is a reckless one before me. [i] 33 The donkey saw me and turned away from me these three times. If she had not turned away, I would certainly have killed you by now, but I would have spared her.”

34 Balaam said to the angel of the LORD, “I have sinned. I did not realize you were standing in the road to oppose me. Now if you are displeased, I will go back.”



 
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Posted by on March 4, 2009 in Devotions, Faith, Fun, Life Stories

 

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Five o’clock in the Morning is not a Myth after all….

I’ll be the first to admit that I am not a morning person. My family, close friends and co-workers can vouch for me here.  Fortunately, I’ve never had to travel any distance in the morning to work or school that would require me to get up extremely early.  In fact,  until this morning I thought 5:00am was a myth.  Now don’t get me wrong, I’ve stayed up many late nights and I’ve seen the clock pass by 5:00am, but in those cases I just thought it was some fluke of nature or science.  You know, kind of a Quantum Leap or a Close Encounters type thing.  I’ve also been up at 5:00am when the girls were babies.   But again, I thought that was only caused by some postnatal hormonal collapse or something… Regardless, I never realized that I could ever get up at 5:00am and be civil much less star in my very own sitcom episode…

Here’s how the episode played out….My thirteen-year-old daughter plays violin for orchestra at school.  They won some award that gave them the honor of performing a special concert in front of the governor.   Like any normal performance they have a certain look they must achieve.. black pants and white shirt… but this time her teacher added something a bit more to the attire…. She told them to look “elegant”.  Well,  apparently elegant means curls in your hair because my daughter asked me to do the honors of curling her hair so she could sleep in them.  When all of the curlers were in we laughed a little about her curler head appearance and then she went on to bed.

This morning I made sure she got up (well, lets just say I set the alarm) at 5:00am to finish getting ready.  Just as I was about to doze back to sleep I heard this howling laugh coming from the other room.  I covered up my head and was just thankful that she hadn’t woken up anyone else .  Then the laughter came again only this time a bit longer.  Then I heard footsteps and she stood at the bedroom door and said, “Mom!  You have to see my hair!!”  I uncovered my head, squinted my eyes and turned to look…… she began singing, “Animal Crackers in my soup…” and “On the Good Ship Lollipop..”  My first reaction was to say… no, it was 5:00am, “say” is too gentle……My first reaction was to yell,  “What are you doing?!?”  And I did….. but when I did, I saw what was making her laugh…. at that very minute, I was stunned as a 5 foot 3 inch Shirley Temple stood at the bedroom door… It was a remarkable resemblance.  I know, I know… it was early in the morning but I’m telling you I know the secret to Shirley Temple’s hair.  .  shirleytemple1Allison continued her song and I jumped (literally) out of bed to get a closer look… My daughter kept bobbing her head and singing.  I couldn’t stand it, she was hilarious and her hair was horrible!!  I began using my fingers to loosen up the curls but like those little animals that grow when exposed to water,  her hair started to expand.  It got bigger and bigger and bigger.  Again, we doubled over with laughter.  Finally after about 15 minutes of laughter, intermingled with trying to create an elegant (wasn’t happening) look, my daughter shook it all off an put her hair up in a ponytail.  We even laughed at the ponytail’s awkward appearance… looking somewhat like a second head.

As all sitcoms seem to do, our “episode” ended with a happy ending when I dropped her off at school.  As she walked into the school I thought to myself, “this is a morning I want to remember.”  My teenage daughter was incredible.  I was so proud of her….If I had been in her shoes I would have probably been sobbing  in my room and trying to figure out how to get out of going to the performance.  She didn’t though,  she remained calm,  laughed it off and used plan B; the ponytail.

What an example she set. After all, why do we worry?

Matthew 6:25-34

25“Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more important than food, and the body more important than clothes? 26Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? 27Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to his life[b]?

28“And why do you worry about clothes? See how the lilies of the field grow. They do not labor or spin. 29Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these. 30If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, will he not much more clothe you, O you of little faith? 31So do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ 32For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. 33But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. 34Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.

 
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Posted by on February 7, 2009 in Devotions, Faith, Fun, Life Stories

 

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Dang it! Moments

There have been so many times when I have done something that I thought was pretty great only to find out that it wasn’t quite so… example…
64187self-portrait-1917-posters Painting class 101 or something like that in college… We had to pick a master artist and mimic his/her work…. I chose Monet… I worked so hard to have my painting look like his… I studied his brush stroke and color and my finished product looked similar or as similar as a college student who knew nothing about Monet could get. I was very proud of my piece.. Got to class that evening and pulled out my work and placed it in the line next to the others… everyone oohed and aahed….. not at my painting but at the one down the line from mine that was brilliant….. Dang it!! ……. the instructor, I never respected her much, was so incredibly critical of mine that I tossed my work in the trash as I left the room.. it took me several years to pick up another paintbrush after that class was over… …
and another...75827_gameboy
As a teenager I had a tiny little LCD TV that I could carry around in my pocket if I wanted. (I never wanted) I also had a video game system that used game cartridges. In my mind, I thought that there had to be a way to bring those two things together… kind of like peanut butter and chocolate make a Reeses Cup… I was going to make a little tiny game system that changed games and would be small enough to fit in a pocket, if you wanted. Now these were days before the internet and google and the only way that I knew how to accomplish such a task would be to figure it out in the library or at MIT or something… my idea and dream stayed alive in my mind for years … then one day, it happened… GameBoy… Dang it!.. I could have made millions… If I had figured out how to make it first then I could be blogging on some beach right now… or at least in a bedroom that had matching furniture..

I chuckled today as I read in Exodus… The focal person in the whole exit out of Egypt is Moses but Moses’s brother, Aaron, played a big role too. After all Aaron was the one who did what Moses told him to do… he was kind of at the mercy of Moses… Can you imagine?
Exodus 7:10-12a
10 So Moses and Aaron went to Pharaoh and did just as the LORD commanded. Aaron threw his staff down in front of Pharaoh and his officials, and it became a snake. 11 Pharaoh then summoned wise men and sorcerers, and the Egyptian magicians also did the same things by their secret arts: 12 Each one threw down his staff and it became a snake. DANG IT!

or

Exodus 7:19-22a

19 The LORD said to Moses, “Tell Aaron, ‘Take your staff and stretch out your hand over the waters of Egypt—over the streams and canals, over the ponds and all the reservoirs’-and they will turn to blood. Blood will be everywhere in Egypt, even in the wooden buckets and stone jars.” 20 Moses and Aaron did just as the LORD had commanded. He raised his staff in the presence of Pharaoh and his officials and struck the water of the Nile, and all the water was changed into blood. 21 The fish in the Nile died, and the river smelled so bad that the Egyptians could not drink its water. Blood was everywhere in Egypt. 22 But the Egyptian magicians did the same things by their secret arts, DANG IT!

There’s more… it happened again… only with frogs… three times the magicians were able to at least match what Aaron did… If you read the rest of verse twelve you know that Aaron’s snake was likely a bit more “realistic” as it ate up the magician’s snakes… but the whole point of what I am getting at is Aaron had some Dang it! moments there….He was doing something that was pretty incredible, something that God had asked him to do, only to be matched up by some nonbelieving magicians … I wonder what his facial expression was like when the magicians matched what he was doing?  Was he looking at Moses with disgust, fear, frustration or did he stand proud and bold knowing he was doing what God had said to do?  I would guess that since we don’t hear about a mutiny or a desertion that Aaron trusted… regardless…

So then if I am feeling like I am doing what God has asked me to do… no, not just feeling like it, but knowing it… and I find myself overwhelmed, incapable, feeling frustrated, frightened or forgotten,  I can choose to give in and give up or I can choose to grit my teeth, hold onto the gifts that God has given me, listen to Moses (or that person that God has placed in my life) and take my Dang it! moments with trust…. oh, and I’ll remember one very important thing…

The fourth time Aaron was asked to show a miracle… it couldn’t be matched by the magicians. They themselves said it was from God. That was their Dang it! moment…..and from then on they weren’t even an obstacle…Now that is a total Woohoo! Moment!



 
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Posted by on February 6, 2009 in Devotions, Faith, Life Stories

 

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