Sunday, March 1, 2015

Crunchy Peanut Butter

It's when I open the pantry and see that darn crunchy peanut butter that I start crying.

Grief Triggers.  You never know what they will be.  And when you start crying over peanut butter, it almost seems absurd.

Certain things attach themselves to the people you love and lost and they won't let go, proving everyday that those people mattered and meant something. Still mean something.

It was four years ago, Herb sneaking up behind me in Walmart and creeping me out.  I found this previous post and had a little laugh...

"I was at Walmart the previous day, throwing down our life's savings, it seems, on a filled buggy full of everything from toothpaste to triscuits.  I was vacillating between Heinz and Hunts when I felt an arm reach around my waist and whisper something gravelly and deep by the side of my head.

I just about came out of my tennis shoes.  Because despite how hard I tried in that span of half a second, I couldn't make out the voice to be that of my husband's.  Not that Eric was at Walmart, mind you, but who on earth else could it be?

I must have thrown a look that could kill at the person who had just whispered "Hey, you wanna go out sometime?"  Because then my father in law burst into such laughter that I had to laugh right back at him. 

I can't blame him for wanting to play a little practical joke...the man has been needing to get out of the house since he has been incessantly and selflessly taking care of his sick mom and wife (who broke her ankle.)

But, as you know, across from Hunts and Heinz lies Smuckers and Jiff.  I was so flustered that I picked up crunchy instead of smooth.

And now we all know who to blame."

I'll never look at crunchy peanut butter without thinking about Herb and now it triggers me into a mess of hot tears, missing him madly. 

I've learned that triggers can be a blessing, forcing you to joyfully remember the person you are missing.  The triggers can also remind you that your suffering is only temporary and that one day, everything will be set right.

I do know one thing, our God is a God of laughter and I am thankful for fun memories to ease the ache until we are laughing together again at that big ol' banquet.

Monday, February 23, 2015

Snow Day!

Snow beats ice!  Today was Asher's first day to play in the snow!!!  He loved it! I love a good snow day...

*Our 11 year old Golden Retriever morphs back into a puppy.  She loves snow more than anything in the world!
*I love the bright chaotic colorful mixture of snow hats and gloves and coats.
*Fires and hot chocolate.
*Snow pictures! (Although I really miss our old backyard and camellias that were always in bloom during winter!)
*Movies and slight obsessions with new shows I have never seen like "24".
*Soup, soup, soup!
*Reading!
*Not having to make my bed.
*Games!
*A sense that all is right in the world...a brief indulgence.
*Staying up late and sleeping in.
*Baked goodies like streusel cake and chocolate no bake cookies.
*No schedule or appointments or sports or pick up lines.
*Laughter!





























Thursday, February 19, 2015

The Ark

My favorite thing about studying the Old Testament is looking for the Messiah.  He doesn't walk the earth as God-man until the New Testament, but I am telling you, the Old Testament shouts his glory!  Many of us have studied the concept of "types" in the Word.  A "type" would be a type of symbolism that points to something or someone in the future.  You can find types of Christ in the Old Testament ranging from the life of Joseph to the Ark that Noah built.

I thought it might be fun to show some of the ways the Ark points to Jesus.  When we think of the ark, we often get warm fuzzies, seeing little giraffe heads poking out of wooden tug boats.  We envision nurseries decorated with the theme and we see flannel-grams with stick on animals and people. 

It is rarely the wrath of God that is the backdrop of our thinking when we remember this story.  The world was so wicked that man's thoughts were conjuring evil at all times.  The closest thing I can equate to this type of evil is ISIS.  God was grieved at the sin and the condition of mankind.  Against the just wrath of God is always the face of a merciful God that sets aside a remnant.  The Lord had favor on Noah and his family.

He gave Noah specific instructions on how to build this ark.  The Hebrew word for ark is "tebah" and is only used in reference to Noah's ark and the reed basket that baby Moses was put in when his mother was trying to save his life.  Interesting that the two "boats" look nothing alike, but both serve the purpose of a "lifeboat." Tebah simply means ark or box.

Noah is told to build the ark out of gopher wood. Genesis 6:14 is the only mention of gopher wood in the bible. Many commentaries state that it is possibly cypress wood, but the significance is that the ark is built out of something unique and not mentioned anywhere else on the pages of scripture.  If the ark is foreshadowing Christ in various ways, then we can say that it is pointing to the fact that the Messiah will be unique...unlike any other human.  He will be special.  There will be only one way to God.  One Redeemer. It's beautiful to me that God had this gopher wood in place and ready to go before the flood came.  He has had the Lamb ready before the foundation of the world.

God tells Noah to pitch the wood.  Here is the verse: "Make thee an ark of gopher wood; rooms shalt thou make in the ark, and shalt pitch it within and without with pitch."  Genesis 6:14  Now, I am going to start jumping up and down because this is fascinating.  The first word pitch "shalt pitch within and without" is the Hebrew word, kaphar.

KAPHAR means to cover, cancel, reconcile, cleanse, forgive, pacify, appease, placate, MAKE ATONEMENT.  It derives from the word kippur, which means atonement.  My Hebrew Greek Key Study Bible notes said it is one of the most important words in the bible.  It is a transaction, a ransoming procedure that uses blood and wipes away sin.  It was the word used for animal sacrifice in the Old Testament. 

The second mention of "pitch" is a tad different, it is KOPHER.  Basically, it is the noun version of the word.  It means a cover, a price, a sum of money, a ransom.

In order for the inhabitants to survive, the ark had to be covered in pitch.  Noah probably used tree resin as pitch to waterproof the ark.  The pitch acted to preserve the ark and to keep the waters of judgment out of the ark.  The ark took the beating of the angry waves while all that were inside were safe. It is the blood of Jesus that acts as our pitch, covering us, appeasing the wrath of God, making atonement for our sins.  The blood is the sum of money that ransoms us back from the entanglements of death and sin.

Without the shedding of blood, there is no remission of sins. The ark was hopeless without the pitch. Mankind is hopeless without the blood of Christ. The pitch and blood provide a special kind of sealing against the judgment that was to come.

Noah was instructed to build one door that entered the ark.  I wonder if Noah thought it was foolish to have only one entrance to a boat that was 450 feet long.  Perhaps it points to the fact that there is only one door that leads to God.  His name is Jesus. Good works, false gods, and self will all be shut out, drowned in the cacophony of everything unrighteous.  I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I now live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me. Galatians 2:20

One last little thing.  God told Noah to put in a window.  The Hebrew to English translation is a little unclear. It could mean windows.  It could mean an opening 18 inches from the top of the roof (all the way around.)  The Hebrew means "a clear light, to shine, double light, noon light."  The obvious reason for a window or windows or opening would be ventilation and light.  The obvious spiritual significance is that we wouldn't stand a chance without Jesus as our light and very breath. He is truly the light of the world. 

It is fun to see our Messiah freshly on the pages of scripture...even as our ark!


Image result for ark

Friday, February 13, 2015

7 Years {The Wilderness}

{We've been missing Kiley for seven long years.  But, we are also seven years closer to seeing her again.  The below is a brief excursion into my wilderness experience after losing her.
 God is enough.  He was on February 13, 2008 and he is on February 13, 2015.}
 



The cold February afternoon turned sharply bitter. In one single phone call, my entire world imploded as all my preconceived notions of life, God, and prayer fell outside onto the brittle grass only to be carried away by the howling wind.

My beautiful, Jesus loving, smart, and vivacious sister, Kiley, had died.

And it was all her choice.

The long drive to my parents’ house was pure torture. As my husband, Eric, and I watched the sun go down over the horizon, I wondered if it would ever come back up. I kept willing it to stay where it was as I silently uttered elementary Christian truths over and over like some mantra. God is light. God is good. God is sovereign. God is light. God is good. God is sovereign.

The sun went down anyway.

I didn’t know it then, but that was the day God was calling me out into the wilderness.

*******

In the sacred Word, the book we tenderly cradle as God’s words, we find the story of Joseph. It is with his story that we see the first mention of the word wilderness in the Bible. Joseph’s older brothers seethed with jealousy after their father, Jacob, robed him in that infamous and colorful handmade coat. Green was the only color they saw after Joseph later told them that they would all bow down to him. Joseph was young and inexperienced in handling grand visions, but he didn’t deserve what was coming.

Being obedient to his father, Joseph sets out to find his shepherding brothers and bring back a report of their wellbeing. They saw him from afar and conspired to kill him. Reuben alone intervened. “And Reuben said to them, Shed no blood; throw him into this pit here in the wilderness, but do not lay a hand on him”—that he might rescue him out of their hand to restore him to his father.” Genesis 37:22

When Reuben returns to the pit, he finds it empty. His brothers have sold him. They took the coat of many colors, now bleeding red with the blood of a goat and placed it in their father’s presence. Jacob could only assume the worst. For many anguishing years, he believed his beloved son had been devoured by a fierce animal.

Don’t miss it. Joseph was thrown into a pit in the wilderness.

The wilderness is where God calls us out and separates us from everything comfortable. It is a barren and dry land that has never been cultivated. It is an uninhabited land where God alone becomes our guide. In the wilderness, God starts to strip away all of our futile and false notions of who He is. It is in the wilderness that He begins to court our souls, eventually enticing us to crave Him more than anything else.

*******

The next several months after Kiley died produced more tears than the previous 30 years combined.  Every commercial, song, bible verse, food choice, and photograph became a trigger, spiraling me into depression and darkness.  I was doing the Texas two-step with the Master Choreographer.  Two steps forward in faith and one giant step back in doubt. 

God could have easily prevented Kiley from such a destructive act.  I would beat my hands against his divine chest in raw anger as I questioned what he had allowed that day.  It wasn’t his power that I doubted but his goodness.  What was this so-called merciful God up to now that we were waist deep in rubble?

I would try to sleep at night but get so hysterical that I couldn’t breathe.  Eric would get a hold of me and settle me back down.  I was a wave, tossed by the cruel half lies that the enemy shouted into my weary frame. To say that I was disappointed with God would have been an understatement.

The Lord of the Universe had stripped me bare.  God didn’t want my proud and lofty understanding of His Word or my spiritual gifts and service.  He wanted my heart and He would patiently stay by my side until I learned to rest against his steady heartbeat. He needed my trust.

It was during this rock bottom time that God started to reveal Himself in fresh and beautiful ways.

The Father had brought me out into the wilderness so he could speak comfortably to my heart.   We were in a barren land free from all the distractions of the world.  I was in a place where I could care less about anything but what He might whisper into the recesses of my shattered heart.  I needed to hear from him, even if he would never give me the reason behind allowing my sister to go through with that fateful and devastating choice.


Through the anguishing months and years, as the tears fell, God gracefully collected each one and placed them in a special bottle.

 “You have kept count of my tossings; put my tears in your bottle.  Are they not in your book?  Then my enemies will turn back in the day when I call.  This I know, that God is for me.”
 Psalm 56:8-9 ESV



Here was a God who had mysteriously let one daughter follow through on an unwise choice while storing the precious tears of another daughter in His bottle.  He wasn’t aloof.  He wasn’t cruel.  Somehow, he was merciful to Kiley that day in allowing her to go home.  He was also merciful to those left behind, revealing His tender heart that cared about each excruciating ache.

*******

Joseph wasn't left in the pit for long, but his wilderness experience continued.  His brothers sold him to Ishmaelite slave traders for mere shekels.  The favorite son was now the slave.  Joseph was sold again to Potiphar, in Egypt.  While here, he was falsely accused of rape, imprisoned, and forgotten.  If my math is right, his wilderness experience is 13 years.  During each hard period of time, the Word tells us that the Lord was with Joseph and showed him steadfast love.  The wilderness experience provided a time for Joseph to know his God and trust, despite the cruel circumstances.

Joseph's wilderness experience was not wasted.  Instead, it was God's pathway to saving the family that would eventually usher forth the Messiah. In a sense, this man's wilderness experience paved the way for you and I to be set free from sin.


*******

I was in the wilderness for three whole years.  Over the course of those long days, I slowly and gradually learned more about the Father's affection towards not just me, but Kiley.  Who is this King of Glory that creates countless universes yet builds his Temple inside my mere human form? Who is this Holy Father that not only forgives the unthinkable but runs to embrace and welcome home?  I can't grasp the depth of such a Being and yet He is pleased with my simple worship.  I feel like I am my two year old babbling my own beginnings of a language that He is the master of. He urges me on, His vocabulary always pointing to words like grace and love. Chesed and Ahava.

My fear in writing about my beloved Savior is that I won't get Him right.  He means so much in the recesses of my heart but I can't always express him adequately on paper.  He is so much more than the written word.  He is breath after the storm has sucked out all the bone marrow.  He is nourishment when the food just won't go down.  He is energy coursing through weary legs, allowing one foot to be placed in front of the other.

I don't know what kind of pit you have been thrown into.   Allow this enticing God to take your hand and gently lead you into the wilderness where he will woo you away from cheap imitations of love that will never satisfy.

God will go to beautiful and extravagant lengths so that you will behold him as Husband and not just Lord. See the wilderness as mercy and a chance to see Him fresh. It is in the wilderness where you will learn to hear and trust His voice even when nothing else makes sense.  Your wilderness will not be wasted.  I promise one thing:  HE is worth it.

"Therefore, behold,
I will allure her,
 and bring her into the wilderness,
 and speak tenderly to her."
Hosea 2:14
 

Saturday, February 7, 2015

Asher {21 months}

Asher has words!  This boy is talking up a storm.  He calls us all by name except for Savannah whom he affectionately calls "dog."  He is our pickiest eater which throws me for a loop.  Who doesn't like meat and eggs???  He loves to play outside, read books (shocker), and watch little kid shows.  He really (really!) loves to wrestle with his big brothers and crawl all over them.  He cracks me up, going around saying "Oh Wow, Oh Wow, Oh Wow!"  Asher still sleeps 12-13 hours a night which makes him a keeper.  He likes to slide but is still a little afraid of swinging.  He would stay in the bathtub all day long if I let him.  He says bye every time he leaves the room. He is a joy.  Yep, glad God dumped him into our little boyworld.