Sunday, November 16, 2014

Talk of the Town

     I don’t watch a lot of TV, but when I do it’s more often the Hallmark channel’s sappy romances than the blood and gore of horror movies.
     When I read my Bible, I take a similar path.  I like the “Jesus loves you,” scriptures.  The ones that tell me I am healed, forgiven, and whole in Jesus.  I avoid the messy ones where people are cruel or crazy or killed.  So, I know that this is not a scripture that I’ve shared about before and yet this was where I felt led and ironically, I found a “Jesus loves you scripture” that tells about a madman in a graveyard.
  Jesus and the disciples arrived on the other side of the sea in the country of the Gerasenes. As Jesus got out of the boat, a madman from the cemetery came up to him. He lived there among the tombs and graves. No one could restrain him—he couldn’t be chained, couldn’t be tied down. He had been tied up many times with chains and ropes, but he broke the chains, snapped the ropes. No one was strong enough to tame him. Night and day he roamed through the graves and the hills, screaming out and slashing himself with sharp stones.
 When he saw Jesus a long way off, he ran and bowed in worship before him—then bellowed in protest, “What business do you have, Jesus, Son of the High God, messing with me? I swear to God, don’t give me a hard time!” (Jesus had just commanded the tormenting evil spirit, “Out! Get out of the man!”)
  Jesus asked him, “Tell me your name.”
  He replied, “My name is Mob. I’m a rioting mob.”  Then he desperately begged Jesus not to banish them from the country.
  A large herd of pigs was browsing and rooting on a nearby hill. The demons begged him, “Send us to the pigs so we can live in them.” Jesus gave the order. But it was even worse for the pigs than for the man. Crazed, they stampeded over a cliff into the sea and drowned.
  Those tending the pigs, scared to death, bolted and told their story in town and country. Everyone wanted to see what had happened. They came up to Jesus and saw the madman sitting there wearing decent clothes and making sense, no longer a walking madhouse of a man.
  Those who had seen it told the others what had happened to the demon-possessed man and the pigs. At first they were in awe—and then they were upset, upset over the drowned pigs. They demanded that Jesus leave and not come back.
  As Jesus was getting into the boat, the demon-delivered man begged to go along, but Jesus wouldn’t let him. Jesus said, “Go home to your own people. Tell them your story—what the Master did, how he had mercy on you.” The man went back and began to preach in the Ten Towns area about what Jesus had done for him. He was the talk of the town.  ~Mark 5:1-20, The Message
     The first few verses of Mark 5 describe a man as sad and down trodden as a person could get.  He lived in a graveyard.  He was naked.  He cut himself with sharp objects.  Then Jesus’ boat bumped against the shore of his life and he, and his demons, recognized the Son of God immediately.  He begged Jesus,”Do not torment me!”  This madman’s life was a total disaster and he was afraid that Jesus was about to make it even worse.
     When some of us first glimpse Jesus, we have a similar fear.  We are afraid of what it will cost to follow Him.  Jesus might ask us to give up something of great value.  It could cost the approval of friends, or things that we do for fun or pleasure.  We might be asked to give some money.  We might even be asked to do hard things.
     Jesus responds to the man’s pleas by simply asking, “What is your name.?”  Anyone else would have defended themselves or left, refusing to make eye contact, to not see the need of this scarred, naked man.  But instead, Jesus sent him a message.  “You matter to Me.”
     Jesus knew exactly how to solve the mystery of this man’s broken life.  He sent the demons into a large herd of pigs, who ran squealing into the water and drowned.  Then the pig farmers were concerned about the cost of meeting Jesus.  Jesus had done something great and wonderful, but they were worried about the pigs.  Were they afraid that Jesus would change them, too?
     The delivered man clearly had been changed by the grace of God.  He recognized that Jesus had touched him at his most unloveable.  He was no longer a naked wild man.  He pulled on clothes.  He was able to hold a conversation.  His chains were truly broken and had no power to hold him.  He no longer needed to cut himself to feel.  He was no longer living with the dead in trespasses and sin.  He knew that Jesus did not love him because he was charming, attractive, eloquent, or talented; his former self was none of those things.  He recognized the depth of his healing.  Jesus had delivered him completely.
 Have mercy on me, Lord, for I am faint;
  heal me, Lord, for my bones are in agony.
My soul is in deep anguish.
Turn, Lord, and deliver me;
  save me because of your unfailing love.
Among the dead no one proclaims your name.

Who praises you from the grave?
     the Lord has heard my weeping.
The Lord has heard my cry for mercy;
  
the Lord accepts my prayer. ~Verse’s from Psalm 6 
     When Jesus was about to leave, the man begged Jesus to let him accompany Him.  He went from begging Jesus to leave, to begging Jesus to take him with Him.  A complete reversal of his former demands.  Instead, Jesus sent him home to his family and friends to share the story of what had happened to him when he met Jesus.  Restored and whole.  Heard and accepted.  The talk of the town. 

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Did You Know?

  1. Our church celebrated "Trunk or Treat."  Families decorate the trunks of their cars.  Children dress in costume and "trick or treat" from trunk to trunk.  Neighborhood families and church families come.  It is great fun.  I put together a "Paper Moon Photo Booth."  And by 'paper,' I mean two full pieces of paneling.  I'll leave you the picture and post about how we did it, and what we would do differently later this week.
  2.  Five of my six children were home for the weekend!  So excited.  Our oldest, Patrick, flew up to visit from Georgia.  Our third son, Brian, drove three hours to visit.  Our weekend was filled with friends and family.  Exactly the way I like it.
  3. "In sickness and in health."  Few people consider sickness and suffering when choosing a person to marry.  Kevin A. Thompson tells us to ask a vital question, one that he asserts is far more important than how this person will look in the morning or what bad habits they might have that have not yet been revealed.  The Most Overlooked Characteristic of Who You Want to Marry  You want to read this.
  4. National Adoption Month:  Four young siblings in separate foster care placements, are hoping that a special someone will hear their plea to be adopted together.  See their plea here.  There may be children in your town or city who are looking for someone to love and adopt them. 

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

National Adoption Awareness Month


     Did you know that November is National Adoption Awareness Month?  As an adoptive parent this speaks to my heart.  Wynter, from Made to Mother, is celebrating Adoption Month by hosting an adoption series on her blog.  She will be sharing the real stories of adoptive mothers, adoptees, birth mothers, and adoption organizations.
     Wynter was a twenty year old college student when she was faced with a heart wrenching decision that resulted in giving her son up for adoption.   You can read her story at Made to Mother or purchase her book, The Secret Inside of Me on Kindle (affiliate link).
    Wynter is sharing our adoption story later this month.  I am so excited to participate.

Monday, November 3, 2014

Things I Learned in October

      Here are the things that I learned in October.  
  1. We've added some copper accessories to our home and they look wonderful.
  2. I can make a delicious sandwich famous in Paris Cafe's and my family will EAT it!  Croque Monsieur is a fancy ham and cheese sandwich.  You can find the recipe here. 
  3. My Pastor wrote a song about the passing of time. 

      It takes a special kind of person to be a Pastor.  Mike is that kind of special.
     Over the years, Mike has prayed with us and supported us in happiness and sorrow.  He sang gently over my father-in-law during his last hours here on earth and prayed with our very large family.  Mike sat with us in the waiting room when our son, Brian, was having surgery.  We have mourned friends together.  He has visited us in hospital rooms.
     There have been joy filled times, too.  Graduations, baptisms, picnics and birthday parties.  Our table sang, a silly love song at Mike and Dawn’s anniversary party.  There were camp meetings and bonfires, VBS nights, and singing around the piano.  There was a trip for couples to Vermont for a marriage conference, where we all bought candles.  There was even the men’s retreat where the men dropped my husband on his head, after they  broke three of his ribs.  There have been debates and discussions ranging from political to spiritual, and so iron sharpens iron.
And now, friends, we ask you to honor those leaders who work so hard for you, who have been given the responsibility of urging and guiding you along in your obedience.  Overwhelm them with appreciation and love.   ~ 1 Thessalonians 5:12-13  The Message
5.  Paint by Number pictures have not lost their appeal.  They are showing up everywhere.  I found this one at a local thrift shop.
     What did you learn this month?

Autumn

  

Sunday, November 2, 2014

Masks

     A very long time ago, when I was just a girl, my brother’s and I would go trick or treating on Halloween.  My brother’s were frequently superhero’s.  I was usually a princess.  I know, some things never change.
     Some kids had crafty mom’s who sewed little sequins and ruffles onto dresses or created robots out of cardboard boxes.  My mom was not one of those and so our costumes were most often purchased at a local variety store.  The costume box contained a hospital style gown decorated to look like whatever you were supposed to be and a molded plastic mask with strategically cut holes for eyes and nose. The mask had a thin rubber elastic attached with two tiny staples that were supposed to hold it securely to your face.  I remember Mom peering intently at me, trying to ascertain if I could actually breathe with the mask on.  I could not.  The one-size-fits-no-one mask holes never really lined up with where my nostrils were.  The eye holes didn’t allow for clear vision, either.  Your need for oxygen was pitted against your need to see.  Possibly, I could catch a glimpse of where I was, but no more.  Walking into things was a very real danger.
     I adored my princess mask.  The long yellow waves of painted hair glistened with a sparkly blue crown.  I felt transformed from plain ol’ freckled Donna into a beautiful princess.  But behind the mask, I was blind, asphyxiated, and sweaty.  As much as I wanted to be Cinderella, the truth was that I couldn’t wait to take the mask off, just so that I could breathe again.
     Hiding behind a mask can feel right and safe and even fun for a little while.  Soon though, the effort of being unable to clearly see the world around you, the difficulty of drawing a breath, of being someone that you are not becomes a burden rather than a game.
    We all wear masks from time to time.  There is the church mask, the teacher mask, the good parent mask, and the look how good, kind, caring, dependable, wealthy, spiritual, honest, capable, and politically correct I am mask.  These are the faces that we present on Facebook, at our jobs, and to the greater world.
     We want to show the world our best side, our perfect self, and not admit that inside we are broken, lonely, and needy.
     A few weeks ago, I shared about Mary bathing Jesus feet with her tears, wiping His feet with her hair, and anointing Him with precious perfume.  Mary had removed her mask to sit at her Savior’s feet.  She set every other thing aside and pressed in to Jesus.
     It feels risky to take the mask off.  Like Mary, we may suffer criticism from other mask wearing people.  But God sees the real us, and He, who is love, loves us.
    For you have died and life is hidden with Christ in God.  ~Col. 3:3
    The only covering for a believer is the blood of Jesus,  Christ in you, the hope of glory.

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Great Jack O'Lantern Blaze

      A friend told us about the Great Jack O’Lantern Blaze. So of course, we had to go.  (The picture's were taken in 2013.)
     A few notes about the Blaze.  The Blaze is located at Van Courtland Manor in Croton on the Hudson.  It runs from the beginning of October through mid-November.  Tickets sell out weeks in advance.  Put it in your calendar for next year.
    The Blaze was really amazing. Imagine more than 5,000 individually hand-carved and illuminated jack o’lanterns elaborately displayed.  You could walk through the display for a week and still find something that you hadn’t noticed before.
A Jack O'Lantern Devotional
     We all start out like pumpkins.  Out in the pumpkin patch with all of the other pumpkins.  God walks in the garden and selects us out of the world.
     When we say yes to Him, God gently washes us.  Then He lovingly cleans us of the gooey gunk in our hearts.
Tunnel of Love
     God carefully removes the sinful seeds of doubt, pride, bitterness, hate, and guilt from within us.  He replaces them with the seeds of faith, hope, and love.
A huge pumpkin jack in the box.
      Then God carves a new smiling face.    2 Corinthians 5:17 says that “if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come!”   Our countenance is forever changed by the power of His presence in our life.
      Like a candle set in our pumpkin head we glow with Jesus, the Son of Light. He shines through our life for all to see. His light shines through us to reveal His presence.

      Jesus said,
You are the light of the world.
A city set on a hill can not be hidden.
Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead, they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house.
In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in Heaven.”
     Our little pumpkin hearts are never the same with Jesus inside of us.
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