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Thursday, July 29, 2010

Suffering in Silence

Last Sunday night, I went to my sister's church where they had a "healing" service.  This was unlike any healing service I'd ever seen.  The pastor preached on James 5:13-16.

"Is anyone among you in trouble? Let them pray. Is anyone happy? Let them sing songs of praise.  Is anyone among you sick? Let them call the elders of the church to pray over them and anoint them with oil in the name of the Lord.  And the prayer offered in faith will make them well; the Lord will raise them up. If they have sinned, they will be forgiven.  Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective."

The pastor's interpretation of calling the elders to pray and anoint with oil those who are sick in the congregation was that the oil was not some spiritual or magical potion but rather the modern medicine of the day as illustrated by the Good Samaritan pouring oil on the wounds of the beaten traveler.  In other words, pray AND seek the help of professionals.

In keeping with the literal, however, they offered a prayer bench so those who wished could come have the pastor pray over them and anoint them with "plain, old, nothing-magical-about-it, scented oil."  He even said you didn't have to tell him what you were requesting be healed.

Up to this point I'm totally tracking with this guy.  My heart is amening and cheering him on, but at this all my enthusiasm came to a screeching halt.  I'm not a Biblical scholar but I have studied people, and I think one of Satan's greatest tools is to convince us to suffer in silence.  Either by shame, lack of close relationships, some twisted sense of personal courage in the face of adversity, or any other means at his disposal, the devil does not want us to share our burdens.  How many wounds fester in the dark, growing in size and toxicity, until it's too late?  What if we were forced to bring our sickness, in whatever form it took, to trusted, godly people?

I am not advocating pouring our deepest, darkest secrets and fears out to anyone who will listen; I am saying we need to have two or three friends who are mature in the faith with whom we can share our sickness and sin.  And churches need to chose their elders carefully and then encourage members to come confess those things which are hindering their physical, spiritual and mental health...and then be referred to professionals for follow up.  Both the suffering in silence and skipping direct to the professional without sharing with those who can pray with you and over you will only prolong the pain.

Until next time,
Becca

Monday, July 26, 2010

Manure and Other Sermons of God

God speaks in the oddest ways if I am ready to hear. Sunday morning, my devotion was Ps. 1. I had literally just finished typing my blog about it and had the imagery of green, leafy, fruit-bearing trees planted by streams of living water and the promise of an abundant ministry in my mind when I opened the hotel room door to continue my road trip and was greeted by the fragrance of farm country…manure.

About a year ago I learned that manure must be aged before it can be used. I didn’t know that. But it makes sense…and it has spiritual implications as do most things about tilling the earth. Fresh manure is too acidic. It will burn any plant life beneath it. Have you ever been under a pile of life’s manure? You feel the burn, smell the stench, and no matter where you turn it clings to you. But give it time and eventually what you’ve gone through become useful enough to spread around and encourage young things to grow.

I’m driving West on Hwy 84 from Colorado to Oregon while God is preaching this sermon and, just as I’m getting the point, I reach Paradise Valley, Idaho. For those of you not lucky enough to view this place for yourself, it is a fertile valley lush with green leaves in straight, planted rows where the Snake River winds and curves. It is surrounded by high hills, yellowed by the hot sun with purple rock plateaus. Gorgeous.

But, God says to me, what good is perfectly aged manure on the mountain top? It needs to be spread about down in the valley.

Seven years ago, my husband and I were deep under the manure pile. It burned, it stunk, and it followed us everywhere. But God graciously took us out of the valley of our hurt and placed us high. It allowed us time to rest from our labor, recover, and glimpse some of the fruit we had worked so hard sowing during that time. The recovery process took time. Nathan’s return to full-time ministry as an Army Chaplain marked the beginning of a new “field labor”, but to tell you the truth, it was still a time which felt very “high” for us. We are now at the beginning of a year-long deployment and, I’ll be honest, I’m not looking forward to it. A definite “valley” experience. But it’s where all the growth is, and it’s the best use of Nathan’s “aged manure.”

At this point, I’m starting to smile. So God throws a second sermon in for good measure. Water, He reminds me, doesn’t flow uphill. Whether it’s a trickling stream or rushing river, it will be found at the lowest place in the valley. Trees planted firmly by the water’s edge are only a few feet above the lowest place in the valley.

And then God tops the whole thing off by reassuring me that, although I’m used to thinking of valleys as “hard” times, it is not a place to be feared. Yes, there are occasional floods and manure drops, but it’s generally just a place where hard work gets done. Hard, rewarding work which produces a lush, green harvest.

Until next time,
Becca

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Sunday Psalm

Yesterday I kissed my husband of 25+ years good-bye for the next year.  This morning, I decided to read a Psalm a day to help me get through.  Ps. 1: 1-3 says, "How blessed is the man who does not walk in the counsel of the wicked, nor stand in the path of sinners, nor sit in the seat of scoffers!  But his delight is in the law of the Lord, and in His law he meditates day and night.  And he will be like a tree firmly planted by streams of water which yields fruit in its season, and its leaf does not wither; and in whatever he does, he prospers."

That spoke volumes to me today.  I'm certainly stretching the literal interpretation, but God seemed to whisper to my heart that Nathan and I are firmly planted by His stream and we will, when the season comes back around, have the same bloom of love and full, leafy growth together.  What a comfort to hear the God of both fact and feeling is letting me know all will be well in time!

And if ever there was a righteous man, it's my Nathan...and God will prosper his ministry

Amen...and AMEN!

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Itty, Bitty Break

It's crunch time around our house.  The living room has piles in it...one for stuff Nathan is taking with him to Afghanistan and one of stuff I'm taking to our son to help him furnish his new house.  Between trying to spend as much time with my husband before he deploys for a year and preparing for my own month-long trip, I've been taking a bit of a blogging break.

However, rest assured that part of my preparations includes some new projects I'll be sharing from the road.  I will also be at a Christian conference center in Cannon Beach, OR in about a week, so I'll be posting pictures and thoughts from there.

I do want to say thanks to everyone who visits and takes time to read my entries.  I especially love the comments.  Right about now, I could use the prayers of every one of you as I kiss my honey good-bye soon and then have a two day drive.

Until next time,
Becca

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Sunday Prayers

1Thes. 3:12-13

"May the Lord make your love increase and overflow for each other and for everyone else, just as ours does fro you.  May he strengthen your hearts so that you will be blameless and holy in the presence of our God and Father when our Lord Jesus comes with all his holy ones."

Amen

Saturday, July 17, 2010

Happy Yellow Pig Day

My morning routine includes a quick tour of favorite blogs and stamping sites.  One stop along the way is at the 365 Cards daily challenge.  Today is "Silly Saturday" over there, and the challenge is to create a card celebrating an obscure and/or silly national holiday.  I thought I'd Google today and see what popped up.  There were a bunch of fun ones, but somehow "Yellow Pig Day" just begged to be converted into a card.  Seriously...yellow pig day!  I couldn't have made that one up for love nor money.  Here's a link to prove it:  yellow-pig-day



The stamp is called "Just a Little Smug" from Mostly Animals.  I inherited him from my mother-in-law so I have no idea how old he is or if the company is still in business, but isn't he cute?  According to tradition, yellow pigs should have 17 of everything - toes, teeth, eyelashes, etc.  I was feeling lucky just to have such a perfectly piggy portrait.

Hope today is happy...and if yellow pigs don't do it for you, how about a happy wrong way cardigan, cow appreciation, hot dog, toss away the "could have" and " should have", or woodie wagon day!  Yep...and here's the link to prove it:  Brownielocks

Until next time,
Becca

Friday, July 16, 2010

Summer Sails

My original thought was to make an actual card to send to a friend currently deployed to Iraq.  I wanted to participate in the 365 Card daily challenge, though, and by the time I got my card done, I decided it was a little to "kiddy" for an adult man.  However, no worries, I'll just put in in the stack of cards going out for Operation Write Home and add it as my second entry in their mid-week throwdown.

The brads were a compromise for me.  I really, really wanted them in the citrus leaf color but, alas, no embossing powder or pre-colored brads to be found in my stash.  Hence, I used a small hole punch on the citrus leaf paper and pushed red brads through.  Kinda like it!

Until next time,
Becca

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Miss You

The mid-week throwdown over at Operation Write Home is shipper's choice but something for soldiers to send home to kids.  I chose an "I miss you" card.  And over at 365 Cards the challenge today is "hot and cold" where half the card is warm colors and the other half is cool.  I chose CTMH colors Buttercup and Breeze.


The coloring on this looks more harsh under the camera than in real life, but I will say I had to fuss with it quite a bit before I was relatively happy.



And the flower is just punched, folded, and then dabbed with a little liquid glass to give it sheen and the ability to stay "perky" instead of just crushing flat.

Until next time,
Becca

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Birthday Fun

Now that I'm sending cards to Operation Write Home, I get to use all those cute stamps for kids I've not been able to pull out for a while but just never had the heart to purge.



I used a combination of watercolor and colored pencils plus a dot of liquid glass (you don't know how much I wanted to add a touch of glitter!!) in the center of the flower to give it a little more ooomph. 





The ribbon on the bottom was put on unevenly, so I just trimmed it...then I got a little snip happy.  The end result is it looks frayed, which works somehow.  It's one of those happy accidents.  I did blow the bits off before putting it in my pile.  Didn't even realize they were there until I took the picture.

Hope someone's little girl loves her bears!

Until next time,
Becca

Saturday, July 10, 2010

Blogging Blues

It's been really hard to work up enthusiasm to blog.  Truth be told, there isn't enthusiasm to do much of anything except putter around and hang out with my husband as much as possible.  He deploys later this month, but we still don't have an actual date.

Nathan and I have been married over 25 years and, up until he joined the Army, the longest we'd ever spent apart was three weeks.  People ask me how I'm doing.  Well...

I'm up and down, as you might imagine.  Only the up isn't really up, it's just higher than the down.  Somedays the up is actually near normal.  I'm a fairly positive person and my moods do not swing as a general rule, but I'm emotionally seasick.

I'm preplanning lonliness, but I've never done this before.  I need to go grocery shopping, but how much food should I get?  How much food will I need for just me?  When do we contact the phone company to get Nathan's cell turned off, or the insurance company to cancel him off the cars?  When he's not sleeping on the other side of the bed, should I wash sheets like normal, or sleep half the time on my side of the bed and half on his so I can cut down on laundry?

I have a countdown in my head.  This will be the last movie, the last baseball game, the last BBQ, the last time he takes garbage out for me.  Except, since we still don't have a firm date, is it really the last?  It's like being pregnant.  You know the general time frame, but the exact date is elusive.  The major difference is you are losing a family member instead of gaining one, so the expectation isn't deeper joy but wider lonliness.

I'm trying to store up memories.  Dinner last Sunday was to celebrate my October birthday; dinner this Sunday for our anniversary.

I'm trying not to dread it.  My battle buddy has been through two deployments.  Her advice has been to plan one thing every month I'll really enjoy.  I'll be leaving to visit family for the first month after Nathan's departure.  I'm looking forward to seeing them, but the usual anticipation - the way the days drag on until you can do this fun thing - is tempured by the deployment and how the days are flying way too fast.

And coloring all of it is the knowledge God will uphold me and teach me things I would not be able to learn any other way.  Having lived through past pain, I can't say I'm looking forward to it, but I do know hardship draws me closer to my Lord in a way no other experience can.

So...that's how I'm doing.  If you figure it out, please let me in on it!

Until next time,
Becca

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Amish Grace

I just finished watching a Lifetime Movie called "Amish Grace."  It's the true story of the horrific shooting of all the girls in an Amish community school house.  Some of the girls survived, too many did not.  In response, these Amish people called for the forgiveness of the shooter and rallied around his family.  It's a stunning story, truly stunning.  If you've not seen it, please do...but have an entire box of tissues available.

Lifetime Movies are not what I would generally call uplifting or particularly kind to Christians.  Usually, we are portrayed as money grubbing, fanatical, weirdos who've so lost their grip on reality as to be laughable and/or dangerous.  Whoever wrote and produced "Amish Grace" found the genuine forgiveness offered by these believers to be so incredible, the entire story was treated with reverence.  There was no attempt to hype the plot by throwing in extra emotion, no cheap shots at the crazy lifestyle of these people who keep themselves apart, nothing.  Instead, there was an honest portrayal of people trying to come to grips with the worst imaginable tragedy by responding as God would want.

Apparently, when true grace and forgiveness shines into the darkness of this world, people don't know what to do with it.  Real godliness is so rare, it makes for compelling drama without being dressed up. 

How tragic is that?

Until next time,
Becca

Monday, July 5, 2010

1st Anniversary

My daughter and son-in-law (or more accurately my "son-in-love") are celebrating their very first anniversary today.  It's been a year of growing for them, so today I want to post here a letter I wrote a few days after their wedding.

My precious Lyndell,

You were so beautiful, so radiantly and stunningly beautiful! Of all the images I will carry with me of your wedding, the most prominent one will be your incredible beauty. You literally glowed. I found myself watching your face and marveling. I confess that, while I peeked at Daniel a time or two, I could not tear my eyes away from you for long. I did not wish for my little girl back, I was not sad time passed so quickly. Instead, I sat amazed at how this day marked the culmination of so many hopes and dreams – your own as well as the ones your dad and I had carried from the day you were born. I thought I would be a jumble of emotions. Instead, I simply enjoyed your loveliness, especially since I know it comes from the inside.

You have blossomed into the woman your father and I always hoped you would be. The confidence you carry comes from many sources: your career, your independence, your solid Christian faith, and from marrying a man who “gets” you and loves you completely.

Perhaps I was too busy to really feel everything, because tears are rolling down my cheeks now. I am so desperately proud of you. You envisioned your wedding, planned with the precision of an Army general, and it all came together (despite the tablecloth debacle) with the help of a literal battalion of friends and family. There are so many people to thank, but what amazed me was how many people were doing their parts simply out of love for you and Daniel. You two inspire deep love and loyalty, which speaks volumes about the kind of people you are.

So congratulations on a truly wonderful wedding ceremony. May it always be a shining memory.

I want to reiterate the advice I gave you a couple nights before the wedding and add a few things I forgot. As a wife, you hold in the palm of your hands the heart and soul of a man. It is a fearsome responsibility. He will listen to you as he will listen to no other person. Be sure your counsel is Godly and comes from a place centered on Daniel’s best interests. Your respect and admiration for him will anchor his spirit. He will be able to withstand the slings and arrows of anyone and everyone else so long as you still admire him. Conversely, without your admiration, all the praise and respect coming from others will ring hollow and only serve to crush him more since it does not echo from your lips.

Let your praise be public and your reproof be private. Prefer him over all others, but do not forsake your own friends and interests. Find a balance between your individual interests and those you share. He will need his own space and breathing room within the circle of your togetherness, as will you.

Choose your friends wisely. Cultivate friends, both married and single, who support your commitment to honor each other and God through the fulfillment of your vows. Figure out how Biblical submission looks in your marriage. The power of your influence coupled with his headship and both of you submitting to God’s ultimate authority is a picture of the trinity and will be the closest some will ever get to seeing heaven on earth.

Love his family as fully as you love your own. Over time, friends will change and move in and out of your life, family will outlast them all. Do not use anger or irritation as an excuse to say things you should not. Harsh words and name-calling drops a stone between you. You may apologize for it later, but it will still be there. You can maneuver around a few stones here and there, but drop too many and you build an impenetrable wall. The light in your eyes and joy in your spirit are the greatest compliments you can pay him, so let the full radiance of both shine in your home and community.

You are the heart and soul of the home. Make it a safe place for his heart to rest and find solace. Learn how to love him and teach him how to love you. Loving someone else does not always come naturally. Some things will come easily, others will take years of trial and error, forgiveness and patience, and lots of communication. Finally, you alone are responsible before God for your character and witness. And you are not God; Daniel’s character and witness are not your responsibility. Remember always to put God first and Daniel second. Do not confuse the two and do not get them out of order, and all other things will fall into place.

The wedding was beautiful, may the marriage be even more so.



All my love,

Mom

 

Sunday, July 4, 2010

Sunday Prayers

It is my prayer that this fourth stanza of the Star Spangled Banner will be sung and lived out in our nation.

Oh! thus be it ever, when freemen shall stand

Between their loved home and the war's desolation!

Blest with victory and peace, may the heav'n rescued land

Praise the Power that hath made and preserved us a nation.

Then conquer we must, when our cause it is just,

And this be our motto: "In God is our trust."

And the star-spangled banner in triumph shall wave

O'er the land of the free and the home of the brave!

Amen

Saturday, July 3, 2010

Why I Care

Operation Write Home is having a 4th of July Blog Tour and this is my second post. For those who don’t know me, I thought I’d share why I care so deeply about this organization and its cause.


Many years ago, my husband spoke to a recruiter about joining the Army as a Chaplain. He was literally told he had a better chance of getting into the armed forces if he was a female elephant trainer. Yeah…it was when they were cutting the military waaaaaay back. We moved on, had a couple kids, and made a life.

Fast forward 18 years, and our son was heading off to West Point. He graduated in May, 2009 and is currently serving in Iraq where the temperatures have cooled down to 115 degrees, a 16 hour day is short, and he shares a bedroom with another soldier the size of an office cubicle.

Backing up just a bit to July of 2008, I saw an article about how the Army was so desperate for Chaplains, they had raised the age of enlistment to 47. I brought it home to show my husband as a joke since our son loves to tease him about being old, and Nathan always has a comeback like, “I can’t be old, Jamie Moyer is still pitching,” or "I can't be old, I can still join the Army." My husband had been desperately hurt in a prior ministry and said God would need to pin a note on his pillow if He wanted him back in full-time ministry. Well…I guess that article was the note!

Two weeks before our son’s graduation from West Point, Nathan received word he’d been accepted as an active duty Chaplain. We waited until after Steven’s ceremony to tell him, and since he became a commissioned officer before his dad, our son issued the oath of office to his father in September, 2009.

Nathan and I are currently at Fort Carson in Colorado. He will be leaving later this month for a year in Afghanistan where temperatures are expected to be near 140 degrees and we can expect a communications black out for approximately 90 days.

OWH is asking what would you give America for its birthday. My gift? Two of the finest men it has been my privilege to love.



Until next time,
Becca



Friday, July 2, 2010

Happy Birthday Julie...and America

My sister's birthday is July 4th, and she has this thing for birds.  Every year for Christmas, I try to find her a small bird ornament to add to her collection.  She has bird houses and a few bird decorations around her house, but outside of the Christmas ornaments, she really doesn't want any more bird presents.  Instead, she got a bird card for her birthday.

This card is also part of the Operation Write Home Blog Tour.  We were supposed to make a birthday card.  Using Red, White and Blue were optional.  I wanted to use those colors but in a way that didn't look patriotic.  I've been wanting to try out the technique where you put drops of re-inker on several sheets of baby wipes to create your own ink pad.  As you can see, I went a little crazy using my "ink pad" for the background, birds and to custom color a white grosgrain ribbon.  A very unique look and lots of fun.

To spice up the birds, I used wire to create their tail feathers and added a little bead just for the fun of it.  I love how I can use all the beads, buttons, and "hard candy" on OWH cards because the soldiers get to send them for free.

Until next time,
Becca

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Reversal of Fortunes

Gen. 41

Pharaoh has a couple of weird dreams...really, really weird dreams which none of his expert dream interpreters can decipher.  Suddenly, the cupbearer remembers the guy he met in prison who accurately interpreted his and the the baker's weird dreams.  Pharaoh wants to meet the prisoner, so they clean Joseph up, shave his beard, dress him in clean clothes and bring him before the throne.

After saying he can't interpret dreams but God will, Joseph listens to the dreams and, in what appears to be no time flat, tells Pharaoh exactly what they mean.  He then goes on to tell Pharaoh how to handle the situation.  Apparently 13 years of slavery hasn't knocked all the stuffing out of Joseph, which turns out to be a good thing.

In what has always seemed to me to be a stunning reversal of fortune, Joseph literally goes from prisoner to the most exalted man in the most powerful nation on earth save Pharaoh himself in a matter of about 30 minutes.  I cannot imagine, however, that Pharaoh didn't have Joseph thoroughly checked out before he even appeared at court.  I bet Pharaoh spoke with the captain of the guard at the jail and Potipher before Joseph's newly shaved face made it's royal appearance.

Now, allow me to go down a rabbit trail here for just a moment.  Yesterday, I was half watching HGTV all day, just letting it play in the background as I worked at other things hoping to absorb some designer mojo by osmosis.  A show came on called "From the Ground Up" which is basically a construction worker version of "Survivor," "The Apprentice" and "America's Next Top Model" or any of the other 101 flavors where people do jobs they don't know much about and all comment on how wretched everyone else is at doing it.  And there is always at least one prima dona character played alternately by men and women.  For the sake of ratings, these yo yo's are allowed to stay on the show far longer than they would last in real life.  They disdain the work they are given because they are "above" it.

Imagine what Joseph's life would have been like had he disdained the work at the prison.  What would Pharaoh have done had Joseph interpreted the dreams accurately but had not been a man dedicated to working hard no matter the circumstances?  By the end of this chapter, the famine Joseph predicted and planned for has spread from Egypt to the entire known world.  How many lives would have been lost; how many entire nations wiped out if Joseph had not been put in charge?

Joseph is the epitome of Colossians 3:17:  "And whatever you do or say, do it as a representative of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks through him to God the Father." (New Living Translation)

How would Jesus have handled work which was "beneath" him?  I think we can accurately assume that every moment Jesus was alive he, the One who created the earth and heavens, was working below his pay grade.  Imagine how many lives would be lost had Jesus decided the work he'd been given was too demeaning to give his best?

Until next time,
Becca