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Thursday, February 25, 2010

On the Road

Good evening friends.

I am staying with my parents for a few days while I help my son look at houses.  It is always interesting to "come home" again.  I helped Mom clean out a cabinet which was "just filthy" according to her and barely looked like it had any dust to me. 

It reminded my of how we often live our lives by comparison.  If we don't have a particular issue with something, another's struggle seems "filthy" to us.  However, our own struggles are the mess we have lived with for so long we barely notice it any longer.

Okay...so nothing profound today...but since this is MY blog, I get to write about whatever I want.

Just spending some time contemplating my own messes today.

Until next time,
Becca

Monday, February 22, 2010

A Mother's Curse

Gen. 27: 13  "But his mother (Rebekah) said to him (Jacob), 'Your curse be upon me, my son...'"

I'm not sure if Rebekah's favoritism of Jacob was always so ruthless, but she was NOT going to let Esau have Isaac's blessing.  Nope.  That was going to be for Jacob no matter what it cost her.  She plotted, schemed, lied and played the "you will obey me" card on her fully grown son in order to get what she wanted;  what God had promised her when the boys were still in her womb...the older was to serve the younger (see Gen. 24:23).

Then, after Jacob has secured the blessing and Esau is consoling himself with the idea he will wait until after their father dies and then kill his brother, Rebekah plots further by sending Jacob away to her brother's house "for a few days" until Esau's temper cools off.

Only Jacob doesn't return for twenty-some years. 

This son who was her favorite, who consoled her when Esau's wife made her life miserable, was gone.  She missed his weddings and the births of numerous grandchildren.  She missed out on so very much in those years all because she couldn't wait for God to provide in His own time and in His own way. 

We will never know how God would have worked out the details to fulfill His promise of the older serving the younger because Rebekah was not willing to leave it to God.  Nope.  She only saw one way this could happen, time was running out since it appeared Isaac was going to die at any moment, and God was too late.

Like me, I think Rebekah probably prayed specifically for God to fulfill his promise to bless Jacob as she saw best.  "Dear God, let Isaac give Jacob his blessing instead of Esau."  And any deviation from this plan was not the answer she wanted, was not the answer she was looking for, was not going to satisfy her.

God is so much bigger than our plans, and yet we often refuse to see how He could possibly honor his promises differently than the way we think or imagine.  I wonder if Rebekah would have lost 20 years with her son if she would have allowed God to keep His promise His way.  I wonder if she came to realize God's way would have been better than hers.  I wonder if she felt cursed because she failed to let God be God.

I wonder how many things in my life are completely out of whack because I failed to let God be God and work out the details in His own time and in His own way.

Until next time,
Becca

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Sunday Prayers

"Let us then approach the throne of grace with confidence so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need."  Heb. 4:16

May you find grace and mercy at the throne of the saviour today.

Amen

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Banquet

I am finally getting around to scrapbooking our graduation experience from last May.  West Point knows how to put on a week long celebration for their graduates. 

We had a fancy dinner and listened to General Casey address the cadets and their guests the night before actual graduation.

All products used are from CTMH.  I created my own custom colored brads using embossing powder, cut the letters with Cricut then dressed up the "t" with a little ribbon.

Until next time,
Becca

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Obscure Olympians

I love watching the Olympics.  There is something amazing about the whole thing.

And I love watching all those events I never get to see at any other time: curling, biathalon, speed skating, etc.  Yeah...they may be on once in a blue moon, but not with the focus the Olympics brings to them.

These athletes, the ones whole toil for years on end so they can compete at multiple Olympic games, astound me.  They work and work, practice for hours on end, for the hope they can shine on one single day, sometimes in events which only take a minute or two from start to finish. 

But it is also fun to see the fanaticism one country has for a sport we don't even know exists outside of the games.  Athletes who are barely recognized here in the US are huge stars in other countries.

I guess it reminds me of how we, as Christians, toil in relative obsurity here.  We have no idea how we are followed and cheered on from our heavenly home.  "Events" we don't even recognize as having any value outside of it being something we love to do are big deals there.  Very big deals. 

Every couple years, when the games come on, I remember to keep running this race for the prize set before me.  I hope you do, too.

Until next time,
Becca

Friday, February 12, 2010

Stupid Puns

My husband loves stupid puns, so my sister-in-law sent him a bunch.  Since I really had nothing to post today, I decided to steal a pun.  Here it is:

Mahatma Gandhi, as you know, walked barefoot most of the time, which produced an impressive set of calluses on his feet. He also ate very little, which made him rather frail and, with his odd diet, he suffered from bad breath. This made him ... a super calloused fragile mystic hexed by halitosis.

Hope it at least made you smile!

Until next time,
Becca

Thursday, February 11, 2010

One Crazy Year

I'm not sure who first suggested scrapbooking Christmas letters, but blessings upon you whoever you are.  It's a great way to keep track of the year's events...not to mention remember what you wrote in your last letter. 

I usually include the Christmas card I made for the year on my page as well.  This year, we had so much news I had a two page letter rather than one page...and I was so late getting it out I didn't feel like I could send actual Christmas cards.  So I paid a fortune for photo cards from Costco (totally worth it, though).  The pictures on this page are from the actual card, I just cut the front of the card in half.

The paper is CTMH, letters cut using my Cricut, Snowflakes by Heidi Snapp and embossed in an unknown brand of glittery powder.

Until next time,
Becca

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

A Father's Love

Gen. 26:34-27:4

When we go to the Bible to illustrate God's fatherly love for us, we usually head to stories like the Prodigal Son.  But here's an interesting one for you: Isaac and Esau. 

The end of Gen. 26 tells us Esau married Judith "and they brought grief to Isaac and Rebekah."

Gen. 27 begins with Isaac old and thinking he is about to die.  He calls Esau to him to bless him before he dies.  Remember, a "blessing" in that culture meant more than "hope you have a nice life." This blessing was dividing the inheritance and giving the lion's share to the older son (Esau). It was the "reading of the will" in a way, and was legally binding.

Isaac is 60 when Esau is born, Esau is 40 when he marries Judith, and Isaac is 180 when he dies.  However, Isaac doesn't appear to die for many years after this story...maybe as much as 30 more years (the math is a little tricky).  Still, Esau and Judith have been bringing grief to Isaac and Rebekah for about 50 years when Isaac calls Esau to him to bless him.

Fifty years of grief...fifty years of bitterness...fifty years of strife.  And Rebekah has undoubtedly told Isaac (repeatedly, if I know anything about wives) how God told her "the elder will serve the younger" when Esau and Jacob were struggling in her womb.  Fifty years of his spouse lobbying for Jacob to recieve the greater inheritance, and yet, Isaac plans to bless Esau. 

In six short verses, we have a picture of how God desires to bless us and give us our rightful inheritance as His children even when we have brought Him nothing but grief for years on end.  Nor will he be swayed from His plan to grant us an inheritance by any other voice.

Eph. 2: 8 tells us we have been saved by grace as a gift...there was nothing we did to earn it.  Conversely, as this story in Genesis illustrates, there is nothing we can do to "unearn" it. 

Dear child of God, if you have brought grief to your Father, you are not lost to Him.  He will still give you your rightful inheritance as His child.  I hope that encourages you today.  We know from later in Genesis that Esau eventually repairs his family relationships.  Is it time for you to repair yours secure in the knowledge nothing you have done has diminished the Father's love for you? 

Until next time,
Becca

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

My Funny Valentine

I was surfing the net a couple weeks ago and came across a website called "a creative MINT" which has nothing but color inspiration.  You can see them listed on "Blogs I Follow" at the side of my page, or here's their link to check it out yourself... http://acreativemint.typepad.com/a_creative_mint/ The combination of lilac and orange was stunning, so I decided to make a Valentine card for my husband which reflects his "somewhat offbeat" personality.  Nathan is always looking for some way to turn the ordinary quirky.  He brings a smile to my face every single day and, after twenty-five years of marriage, we truly are soul mates, best friends, and all the other cliches.

The card was made with all Close to My Heart stamps, papers, and inks.  I used Lilac Mist, Spring Iris and Taffy paper, although the Taffy was the double sided textured one and I used the lighter side.  I sponged with Sorbet ink over the Taffy paer to edge the heart and scalloped background "ribbon" and sponged some Spring Iris ink to the right side of the Taffy heart.

The brads at the bottom were embossed with Lilac Mist powder to create my own custom color.  It might be hard to tell, but the top heart is white embossing over Spring Iris paper.  I also sponged the entire edge of the White Textured cardstock with Spring Iris ink to soften the overall effect.

I thought it turned out both beautiful and offbeat, which perfectly describes the love I have for my funny Valentine.

Until next time,

Becca

Monday, February 8, 2010

White as Snow


Snow arrived here in Colorado Springs last night. There is something so beautiful about a snow-covered scene. The fresh, clean white covering dirt, debris, cracks and all sorts of imperfections. It’s a picture of how God sees us when we have allowed the sacrifice of Christ to cover us and make us clean.

As I was outside sweeping snow off the driveway today, an idea came to me. It’s not a great analogy, by any means, because it only goes so far.

The snow plow came by as I was exposing the warped, cracked surface of my driveway, and it occurred to me how much effort goes into making sure we can get around town through shoveling and plowing. We take beautiful snow, push it aside, and get down to some pretty rough stuff in order to go about the business of living.

How often, as Christians, do we fail to help people get about the business of living by staying snow covered…by not disclosing the warped, cracked, rough places in our lives? We would much rather stay covered up. We are prettier that way, all pure and sparkly. Added to the ugliness it reveals, shoveling is plain, hard work. I was red in the face by the time I finished today.

I’m not suggesting we need to make public everything in our lives for the sake of those around us, just divulge enough to help them see a path, to be able to find the road.

Because what kind of people do we become when we are not willing to uncover some of our ugliness? In his book “What’s so Amazing about Grace?” Phillip Yancey wrote, "I rejected the church for a time because I found so little grace there. I returned because I found grace nowhere else." People willing to admit their own sin do not despise other sinners.

So, revel in the beauty of the snow, just be sure to shovel enough of it away to clear a path for those needing to find a way to grace.

Until next time,
Becca

Sunday, February 7, 2010

Sunday Prayers

After last week's post on the prayers of the Bible, I received several comments from friends and family about how it touched them.  I decided to make Sunday a day to post prayers direct from scripture.  Listen to Jesus' prayer for his followers from Luke 17: 15-19:

"My prayer is not that you take them out of the world but that you protect them from the evil one.  They are not of the world, even as I am not of it.  Sanctify them by the truth; your word is truth.  As you sent me into the world, I have sent them into the world.  For them I sanctify myself, that they too may be truly sanctified."

As you head to church today and study God's word during the week, may you be sanctified by truth.  Amen.

Until next time,
Becca

Saturday, February 6, 2010

Digging Wells

Gen. 26

It seems to me this chapter spends an inordinate amount of time discussing wells. The digging of and quarreling over wells. Wells found and wells filled in. With a well, well here and a well, well there. Here a well, there a well, everywhere a well, well. Old MacDonald had a well, eei, eei, oh!

What’s the point?

To set the scene, there is a famine in the land. The second famine in a relatively short period of time. People are skittish, worried about survival in this tough time. Who knows how long the recession famine will last? But somehow, Isaac is getting richer and richer, his herds are multiplying as is his household. Isaac’s neighbors, who are working twice as hard to produce half as much, are sick and tired of watching Isaac prosper, of his people and livestock using up valuable resources. Finally, the king of the land comes and says, “Go away. You are too powerful for us.”

Now Isaac has not been sitting on his duff just watching the corn grow. He and his household have worked hard for what they’ve gotten. But Isaac uproots and moves his entire household to a new place. The servants re-dig wells originally dug by Abraham but filled in by the Philistines after Abraham’s death. Then, as soon as water is found, the Philistines scream, “The water is ours!” Isaac moves, digs a well. The Philistines scream, “That water is ours, too!”

Remember, there is a famine in the land. Famine comes from no water. How come Isaac is finding water here, water there, water everywhere? I don’t know. Could be luck, could be God’s miraculous provision. Could be just plain hard work and common sense since Isaac’s servants are digging up old wells. Wells filled in. Wells that produced before. There’s a lesson to be learned here, but it’s not the main point.

How come, during a famine, the Philistines didn’t try digging up the old wells…the wells they themselves filled in? And why would you ever fill in a water- producing well? That’s probably a lesson, too, but…

The capitalist pig in me will refrain from making a point about how, had the Philistines been smart, they would have welcomed Isaac and his water finding, well digging employees into their region rather than creating a climate so hostile Isaac’s only choice was to move somewhere else.  And my sister, the bleeding-heart liberal, will graciously return the favor by not pointing out that, had Isaac's employees and business been more concerned with the welfare of those around them rather than merely using up valuable resources for their own selfish gain, the Philistines wouldn't have been so hostile.  (Good thing we aren't arguing these points, huh?  And that my sister and I really do love each other...dearly.)

Regardless of the reason, make no mistake, these people were hostile. This chapter begins with a story about Isaac not wanting to admit Rebekah is his wife for fear of his life. Do you think a culture this base would hesitate to murder Isaac and his entire household over water…during a famine? I don’t think Isaac kept moving and digging wells out of great faith in God’s provision. I think he kept moving because he was scared for his life.

And God provided anyway.

In fact, God provided so abundantly, the king who forced Isaac to move the first time comes and says, “We see plainly that the Lord has been with you. Let there be an oath between us that you will do us no harm.” What? When did Isaac become the bigger threat?

Here’s the point. When life takes a turn that has you running scared, moving from place to place looking for somewhere, anywhere to stop and settle back down again, God is providing. And He will keep providing until your enemies are vanquished.

Now, that’s a good point!

Until next time,

Becca

Friday, February 5, 2010

Nice Time

This is the second post for the day, but I was so inspired by the card sketch over at Mojo Monday (Sketch 124), I decided to do a second entry.
The stamps and embossing powders are by CTMH, the clocks are by Heidi Snapp, with the Swiss Dott Cuttlebug thrown in for good measure.

Last night, I went to a "coffee" for Army spouses.  We went to a house with lots and lots of clocks on the wall.  Our hostess explained that she got tired of trying to figure out what time it was for her husband when he was deployed, so they put multiple clocks up for the different time zones.  Not only really cool looking, but useful!

The inside sentiment said, "Thank you for a nice TIME."

Being brand new to the Army, I have to tell you, these wives are AMAZING women.  It is a privilege to be counted one of them.

Until next TIME,
Becca

If This is So

Sometimes answers come in odd ways.

If you’ve been following this blog, you know the Bible bugs me sometimes. I run across things which don’t seem to make any sense. Today was Gen 25: 22.

To give you the background, Rebekah is barren so Isaac prays and she conceives. Now, if you aren’t paying attention, you’ll miss that Rebekah has been barren for at least 18 years. Isaac is 40 when they marry and 60 when Esau and Jacob are born. I assure you, particularly in that culture, Rebekah started worrying about her lack of fertility about six months after she and Isaac married. For years, she has prayed for a child. Years and years and years and years.

She finally gets pregnant and then comes vs. 22. “But the children struggled together within her; and she said, ‘If this is so, why am I this way?’ So she went to inquire of the Lord.” At first glance, it appears she is asking, “If I am pregnant, why am I pregnant?” Well, obviously that can’t be right. What did she mean? In years past, I have pondered this briefly then skipped on because I couldn’t ever come up with something sensible. But it always bugged me.

Today, the answer came to me. Here’s what Rebekah is really asking, “If this is an answer to prayer, why am I in such pain?” Ahh…now there’s a question for you.

Together with the assumption God only answers prayers when He says yes to our requests, there is an equally false presumption answers to prayer come in neat, tidy packages with pretty bows on top. They don’t. Look how perfectly God illustrates this point to us with a woman pregnant with twins.

If this is an answer to prayer:

• Why am I sick to my stomach?
• Why do I feel so lousy?
• Why is there such a huge battle going on inside of me?

I bet you could add your own questions to the list.

Sometimes answers come in ways that hurt, ways you struggle to understand, ways you wrestle with for months on end, ways that make you question God’s provision.

But just because answers come this way does not make them any less an answer to prayer.

Until next time,

Becca

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Lessons from a Cleaning Rag

Yesterday I was listening to a Christian radio station and a song came on encouraging me to "listen to (my) heart."  The song promised I couldn't go wrong if I just listened to my heart.  Does anyone else see the problem with this?

How about this:  "The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: who can know it?  (Jer. 17:9)

For those of you with a math brain, here's the equation:  LISTEN + HEART = DECEITFUL, DESPERATE WICKEDNESS.

So...even while I'm listening to Christian radio I'm being brainwashed by false messages.  I get enough of that from every other source around me, thank you very much.  It just goes to show how well we need to be grounded in the Word.

God compares himself to living water often in scripture.  For some reason, as I was cleaning the other day (yes...I do clean once in a while), the image of Christ as clean, pure water came to me while rinsing out my dirty rag.  How do you get a dirty thing clean?  You run it under flowing water.

All day long, I pick up gunk:  radio songs, advertisements, articles, my own thoughts, TV shows, etc.  The ONLY way to get truth is to go straight to the source of all truth and get wet, wrung out, wet, wrung out, wet, wrung out...

And when I say "get wet, wrung out" I am not refering to soaking up and then spreading the good news of God's word all around us.  This is a good and worthy thing to do, but it won't make us clean.  No, getting wrung out means the trials and hardships God allows which hurt so deeply we are driven past the cliches and pat answers which satisfy only those who have never endured soul wrenching pain.  Have you been there?  Where you are driven beyond reason, beyond the desires of your heart, beyond the wisdom of the world to a place where only the authentic will satisfy.  That's being wrung out.  That's when the pure, living water of God can penetrate the blackness and wash it clean, force out the false and replace it with the truth.

I promise you, getting wrung out is going to happen.  The question is, will you go to pure water to replace what you've lost, or will you listen to your deceitful, desperately wicked heart and end up in a bigger mess than where you started?

Until next time,
Becca

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Week One

Time for an accountability update. 

Bible Study:  check!!!
Physical fitness and nutrition:  three exercise sessions this week, one day of eating which was out of control, but not bad overall
Writing:  pretty darn good, if I do say so myself, got at least two hours in every day but one with one day being over four hours
Something creative and fun:  Hmm...this hasn't seemed to be a problem  :)

My son, God bless him, found several of my old novels on an ancient computer and restored them for me.  They are in WordPerfect rather than Word, so it's going to be a pain in the neck to reformat them, but I found some stuff I'd forgotten all about over the years.  It's been kindof fun to get reacquainted with the figments of my imagination.

I am finding the combination of regular Bible study and writing is making me more in tune to themes and nuggets of truth I come across during the day.  I hope you have been encouraged or challenged by some of last week's posts.

Until next time,
Becca

Valentine Time

For the fun of it, I have been entering into several card making challenges.  This card combines two:  the color choices are from Jeanette Lynton's blog (http://www.jeanettelynton.com/) and the layout is from CPS (http://cardpositioningsystems.blogspot.com/)  This card reminds me of a dear friend who loves purple, so it will likely find it's way into her mailbox soon...although I think I'll need extra postage.

All products are CTMH except the "Swiss Dot" Cuttlebug.

Hope you have a creative day!

Until next time,
Becca

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

No Guarantees

Gen. 24

You know the story...Abraham doesn't want his son to take a wife from the Caananites, so he sends his servant to a land likely unknown to the servant and says, "Bring home a wife for my son from my family's descendants."  Oh sure!  I'll just trot into downtown Timbuktu and look up "Family of Abraham" in the phone book.  No problem, Abe.

Can you imagine the stress this poor servant felt during his journey to Abraham's country?  The entire way he must have been wondering how on earth he was 1) going to even find Abraham's family and 2) convince them to send their daughter to an unknown land to marry an unknown man.  But he went, with no guarantee of success, to do as his master commanded.

No guarantee of success.

Have you ever heard the motivational phrase, "What would you attempt to accomplish if you KNEW you couldn't fail?"  Like that's somehow supposed to get me over the fear of failure...just imagine complete success and go for it.  I think not.

We know the end of this story, how Rebekah is the answer to the servant's prayer and agrees to go with him to become Isaac's bride.  But what if she had not come?  Too often, I skip to the end of the story before giving the plot a chance to thicken.  Rebekah comes, so why ponder on what would have happened if she had not?

Only today, as I am pondering my new journey, what happens if I don't succeed?  Today, I don't know the end of my story.  There is no neat, tidy ending I get to read.

And God says to me, "Did the servant obey Abraham?"  Yes.  "Is it possible to succeed through obedience regardless of the final outcome?"  Uh...

Look back at this story.  Abraham gives his servant an out in vs. 8, "But if the woman is not willing to follow you, then you will be free from this my oath..."

If I am honest, I am the kind of servant who, given this out, gets halfway down the road and, after imagining every possible reason my mission can't possibly succeed, turns around and says, "Sorry, Lord, but this was doomed from the beginning."

Well, perhaps it is doomed.  I may spend the next twenty years working at these goals and never accomplish a "successful" outcome.

But obedience to the master is success regardless of the final outcome.

Until next time,
Becca

Monday, February 1, 2010

Pretty in Pink & Peach

Today is contest day over at Mojo Monday. Here's my entry...my very first one.  All products used are Close to My Heart except the stamped image on the large, white flower is from Stampin' Up!


I've also included another card I made a while back using the same colors.  Again, all products are CTMH except the ribbon.

No big news today; however, I am off to go do my daily writing.  And yesterday, despite the inoperable condition of both the exercise bike and treadmill, I jogged in place and did lots of stretches.  Yeah for me.
 
Until next time,
Becca