Thursday, February 28, 2013

1 John 1,2

This is the message declared to you: 

       God is light;
       in Him there is no darkness at all. 

If you claim to have fellowship with Him,

          yet walk in the darkness,
          you lie,
               and do not live by the truth. 

But if you walk in the light

     as He is in the light,
the blood of Jesus,
His Son,
     will purify you from all sin.

If you claim to be without sin,

     you deceive yourself,
          and the truth is not in you. 
If you confess your sins,
     He is faithful
          and just
               and will forgive you your sins
                    and purify you
                    from all unrighteousness.

If you obey His Word,

     God's love is truly made complete
in you.

This is how you know

     you are in Him:

You must walk as Jesus did. 

Dear friends, 

     this is not a new command,
     but an old one,
          which you have had since the beginning.
     But it is as new;
          its truth is seen in Him,
and you
          because the darkness is passing
     and true light is already shining.

Your sins have been forgiven 

          on account of His name.
     You have known Him who is 
          from the beginning.

           You have overcome the evil one.
     You have known the Father.
You have known Him who is from the beginning.

You are strong

     The Word of God lives in you
          And you have overcome the evil one.

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Choosing the hard

"apart from your Father's will"
Matthew 10:29

Have you ever heard that wonderful illustration about the butterfly, and the man who thought he was doing it a favor by helping it out of the cocoon?  He watched the butterfly struggle for awhile, and then he carefully cut through the rest of the cocoon, but then the butterfly wasn't able to fly.  The process of making its way out of its cocoon would have forced unneeded fluid from its body, into its wings, giving him the body he needed to fly.

It's a very effective picture, that I've heard many times, about the reasons for our trials, and the growth and benefits of them. 

Have you also ever heard of the Book of James?  I'm sure you have...

When you read that book, you know right away that James is going to give it to you straight ~ tough love.  As a matter of fact, the very first thing that James says, after the one-verse opening of his letter, is "Count it all joy when you fall into various trials..."

That's a hard one.  It's one thing to have faith that suffering has a purpose, as James says in the continuation of that sentence:  "... knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience."  But it's another thing to take joy in that suffering. 

Gotta work on that one. 

But recently, I got to looking at the concept of suffering from another angle.  Our pastor was talking about satan's temptation to Christ in Matthew 4.  The third temptation ~ verses 8 and 9 ~ was the devil taking Jesus up on an exceedingly high mountain, showing Him all the kingdoms of the world and their glory.  And he said to Him, "All these things I will give You if You will fall down and worship me."

Now, Jesus will have all that ~ the kingdoms of the world, and their glory.  All will belong to Him.   In Revelation 11 we are told that when the seventh angel sounds his trumpet, there will be loud voices in heaven, saying, "The kingdoms of this world have become the kingdoms of our Lord and of His Christ, and He shall reign forever and ever!" 

So one of two things was happening when the devil was tempting Jesus in the desert.  Perhaps he didn't know of Jesus' victory that is to come, in which case he would have expected that temptation to be very... well, tempting. 

The alternative ~ and I think this is the case ~ is that satan did know.  I think his true temptation was not the power and glory he was offering Jesus, but the chance to have that power and glory without going to the cross. 

We know that Jesus dreaded going to the cross.  Matthew 26 uses words like "exceedingly sorrowful" and "deeply distressed" and tells us that He prayed three times, "O My Father, if it is possible, let this cup pass from Me; nevertheless, not as I will, but as You will."

He didn't want to have to go through the agony of the cross.  But choosing to avoid it wasn't an option for Him.  It was His Father's will that mattered.

I'm not saying it's not okay to ask to be released from a trial.  Jesus asked to be released.  But I think maybe it will help me to approach suffering with joy when I remember how Jesus approached His temptation. 

If what I want is to be in His will, then sometimes that means walking through the difficult.  But not alone.  And I'll come out the other side more beautiful.

~ "In that He Himself has suffered, being tempted,
    He is able to aid those who are tempted." ~
Hebrews 2:18

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

But it doesn't feel like playing when it's me

"because of the turmoil"
Job 20:2

This is my kitty, Hazel. 

why she's napping on the kitchen counter, I don't know.

Funny little thing.  Very talkative and very social (especially when the weather's cold and she wants to snuggle!).  We got her from the shelter, so we're not sure of her age, but we think she's about 10 or 11 years old.  But she seems just as healthy and spry as when we first got her. 

And she loves to play.  We have a dog, so Hazel has to carefully choose her times, but she will chase a string or ribbon, and my oh my, does she love a laser pointer in a dark room...

The kids and I were in my daughter's bedroom today, all of us hanging out in there because she didn't feel well.  We were each kinda doing our own thing when all of a sudden a noise and movement caught our eyes, from the doorway.  Hazel had wandered into the room, and was playing with a ponytail holder that was lying on the ground. 

Cats are so funny the way they pounce on things, but somehow I think it's even funnier when they try to play with something that's inanimate.  This toy wasn't even moving.  It was just lying there until she pounced and made it move a little.  Then she could get her paw under it, to toss it in the air a little, and try to catch it. 

This went on for several minutes, and we were all having a ball.  Hazel was enjoying her little game, and we were enjoying watching her funny little antics, punctuated by short pauses to clean herself.  Cats need to do that frequently, to regain their dignity, I'm convinced. 

But while I was watching her, I wondered if she was aware that she was playing with herself.  Did she realize that she was the cause of that ponytail band suddenly flying into the air?  Or does a cat's brain work such that once she flipped it, she was only reacting to it, and she'd forgotten that she was the one that did the flipping?

And then I thought, I wonder how often I'm the cause of my own unrest?  How often do I think I'm dealing with the chaos that life throws at me, when really, I'm suffering the consequences of my own actions. 

Trouble can be caused by the world, by the enemy, or by myself.  But no matter what, He is the source of peace.

~ "When He gives quietness,
who then can make trouble?" ~
Job 34:29

Monday, February 25, 2013

And we're wrong more often than we think

"In those days, Israel had no king.
Everyone did what was right in his own eyes"
Judges 21:25

This was a circumstance with which Israel was familiar.  They had never had a king, and did not have one until they demanded one of Samuel, so Saul was anointed to satisfy their demands.  But this line ~ written twice in the book of Judges ~ is significant because it tells us that even God was not their king.  And I began imagining the consequences of the following situations:

There was no parent,
         and every child did what was right in his own eyes...

There was no boss,
         and every employee did what was right in his own eyes...

There was no teacher,
         and every student did what was right in his own eyes...

There was no master,
         and every servant did what was right in his own eyes...

There was no police,
         and every citizen did what was right in his own eyes...

There was no director,
         and every actor did what was right in his own eyes...

There was no shepherd,
         and every sheep did what was right in his own eyes...

Putting it a different way enables me to visualize life without authority.  In my head, I get a vivid picture of a classroom out of control; a city of looting and rioting; a play that no one would want to see…

I recently explained to my Amazing Boy the three branches of our country's government:  Legislative ~ those who create the laws; Executive ~ those who enforce the laws, and Judicial ~ those who define and apply the laws and ascertain their fairness.  This system of checks and balances works well because flawed humans compensate for other flawed humans, making the system as fair as possible for all of us flawed humans. 

God needs no such system of checks and balances.  He is the Legislative Branch, creating perfect and fair laws.  He is the Executive Branch, well aware of when we are in disobedience to the Law.  He is the Judicial Branch, overseeing consequences or mercy.  He is all three branches – because He is the Vine!

The Book of Judges enables us to see the consequences ~ which can be very far-reaching ~ of everyone doing what is right in their own eyes.

~ "He is the Rock, His work is perfect;
For all His ways are justice.
A God of truth and without injustice;
Righteous and upright is He" ~
Deuteronomy 32:4

Sunday, February 24, 2013

Never Stop Growing

"He has made everything beautiful in its time"
Ecclesiastes 3:11

My Awesome Girl turned 16 this week.  Quite a big occasion.  One of those milestone birthdays that makes a parent think, “Wow… where did the years go?”

I’m not really one of those moms who thinks time is going too fast, or laments that my kids aren’t babies anymore.   I think part of that has to do with the fact that we homeschool.  I’m with my kids nearly all day, nearly every day, so I’ve always been aware, or even hyper-aware of every new age, or phase, or stage.  And I revel in who they are.

That doesn’t mean I don’t lovingly remember some past phase, or stage, or age, but it’s hand-in-hand with loving who they are at the moment.

But upon my daughter turning 16, I am looking back.  We’ve been talking about past birthdays, and how the celebrations have been a little hard to top.  Three years ago we spent her birthday in the ski resort of Whistler, Canada, where we were attending the Olympics.   And last year we went to a concert where her favorite band was playing.  She got to meet the band afterwards, and they sang “Happy Birthday” to her.  It doesn’t get any better than that, right?

But mostly, as I’m looking back, I’m thinking about me.  It’s not as selfish as it sounds, though.  I’m thinking about who I was 16 years ago, and how I’ve changed since then.  I’m a better person now, and a lot of that is due to her.

Having a baby makes you less selfish, automatically.  Someone else’s needs are more important, and more urgent than your own.  You sacrifice your time, and your sleep, and your money, and you’re happy to do it. 

But as my children have grown, they have changed me in other ways.  I have worked to become more patient as I teach them or discipline them.   I have become more creative in finding new ways to grow their minds and their hearts. 

I’ve also worked to become a better person in my words and actions.  Parents are models for their kids.  They see if we lie, or speed, or gossip, or criticize others.  I’m not perfect, and my kids know that.  But I try to use situations where I fail, as times to talk about how to rise to the standard God has set for us.

Most of all, my kids have taught me.  They have interests and gifts that are different ~ sometimes vastly different ~ from mine.  But because I so love interacting with them, I’m interested in what they are interested in.  The movies they like, the books they read, the games they play…. I want to know about their friends, and their sports.   I love learning, and my sphere of interest and education has grown, thanks to my kids.  

I love how God uses the people in our lives ~ the ones we love, and even the ones we struggle to deal with ~ to grow us and shape us.   Sometimes we don't want to be changed, and sometimes it's painful, but it's a beautiful thing to know that I'm becoming who He is making me to be.

~ "O Lord, You are our Father; 
We are the clay and You our potter;
And all we are the work of Your hand" ~
Isaiah 64:8

Saturday, February 23, 2013

Watching and waiting

"watching vainly"
Lamentations 4:17

If you watched any of the news the past few weeks, then you probably know who Christopher Dorner was.  The Los Angeles Police Department spent several days looking for him after he killed three people and threatened dozens more.  It was the lead story on the national news for most of those days, until the day they found the house in the mountains where he was hiding out.    

On that day, I was watching a national cable news program, which I do almost every afternoon.  I'm a bit of a wonk when it comes to politics...

That day was also the day of the president's State of the Union address, so that is what the news would have been entirely about, were it not for the manhunt that was coming to a head in the mountains of Southern California.

So while the anchorman was talking about the upcoming speech, and interviewing the White House spokesman about the content, the station had a split screen, with a camera on the mountain community.

Now, the strange thing was, that on the side of the screen where the manhunt coverage was, there was nothing to see.  It was just an overhead shot of some cabins in the area, but not even the cabin where Dorner was.  The LAPD had asked the news choppers to stay back, and the news cameras to not film the exact area, so that if Dorner was watching TV, he wouldn't know what the police perspective was.  So the viewers were really not seeing anything newsworthy.  

But the real reason I was not seeing anything that was happening, was because nothing was happening.  The police had surrounded the cabin, but then it was just a waiting game as they tried to convince Dorner to surrender.   But while there was nothing to see, by having a camera there, the viewers knew that there was nothing to see.  It was almost a reassurance on the part of station, sort of like they were saying, "Don't worry; we're keeping track, and as soon as there's something to see, we'll show it to you."

It made me wish God was like that.  Don't you sometimes have struggles, that you've been praying God would solve or remove or whatever, and you find that you're waiting and trusting and waiting and believing and waiting and then starting to wonder if He has forgotten about you?

Maybe I'm one of His needier children, but wouldn't it be great if we could be sure that God was handling everything?  If He had a way of communicating with us "I know it looks like nothing is happening, but I've got this issue on My front burner, and you just need to trust My timing."

He is trustworthy.  It's a fact whether we remember or acknowledge it or not.  I know that.  I know that I can cast my cares on Him, because He cares for me.  And I may not have a ready split-screen in my life where I can check on His progress, but reassurance is just a scripture away.

~ "Lord, I believe;
    help my unbelief!" ~
Mark 9:24

Friday, February 22, 2013

What's that up ahead?

"There is hope in your future,
says the Lord"
Jeremiah 31:17

Okay, you're going to have to work to visualize with me today.  I don't have a picture of what I'm going to describe to you, and frankly, if I did, there wouldn't be a post here at all, because this is a post about not knowing, and if I had a picture, I'd probably know. 

Seriously, if you couldn't keep up with me in that sentence, then you're not going to be able to hang with me in this visualization, so are you ready?

Okay, there's a street near my house ~ a fairly busy one.  It's the road that leads to the nearest supermarket-anchored strip mall, and City Hall and the library and Trader Joe's, and if you travel down it for a few miles, it'll lead you to the nearest mall. 

At a certain point, before I get to the Trader Joe's, I generally have to stop at a light.  And from that position, I can see down the street, maybe a half a mile or so, before the street curves slightly, and out of sight.  There is a good amount of trees along the road ~ our city is great that way.   We are a National Arbor Day Foundation's Tree City USA  :)

Anyhow, off in the distance, seemingly right where the road curves, there's a.... something.  From my angle, it looks like an overpass or bridge crossing over the street.  But I know there's no such thing down there.  It's some sort of optical illusion, really, because I can't even be sure if it's a half-mile away, or several miles off in the distance. 

You still with me? 

But here's the frustrating thing:  I have no idea what it is, because by the time I drive down to wherever this whatever is, I have forgotten to look.  My mind has moved on, or I'm chatting with whichever Amazing or Awesome child is with me, or I'm thinking about what I need at Trader Joe's or whatever.  Whatever the reason, by the time I arrive at what was ahead of me, I'm no longer paying attention. 

And that's today's lesson: when the future becomes the present, and you forget that it used to be the future. 

It occurred to me today that so often, I am worried about something in the future ~ finances, schedule, problem resolution... And then by the time the issue comes, God has worked it out, and I forget I was ever worried about it.  Which means I don't acknowledge at all, that God took care of it, or helped me prepare for it, or made it easier for me.  I'm missing a lot of opportunities to thank Him for His work in my life.

It's wrong of me to be anxious about the future, but it's even worse for me not to be at peace in the present, and joyful about the past. 

~ "Oh, that men would give thanks
to the Lord for His goodness,
and for His wonderful works
to the children of men!" ~
Psalm 107:21

Thursday, February 21, 2013

RSVP Required

"I will question you,
and you shall answer Me"
Job 38:3

As I go through the gospel of John, I sometimes find myself reading as if I'm observing.  You know, like I'm watching a movie.

If it were a movie, there'd be a lot of extras.  Bystanders, crowds, and hungry people by the thousands.

There are also a lot of "bit parts".  People in one "scene" that we never see again.  Maybe they have a line to speak; maybe they are healed, taught, or otherwise loved by Jesus.

But overall, what we are seeing in the various people who encounter Him is, very simply, their reaction to Him.

I'm intrigued by that.  He is everywhere.  He just is, so anything we are or do is a reaction to Him.  Even if that reaction is ignoring Him.

Years ago, I went to Sea World with my kids, and at the gate, there is a wide open place, right as you come in.  There's lots of room for the crowds that probably fill the area at opening and closing.

And I guess as a form of entertainment (I say "I guess" because I didn't find this incident very entertaining....)  Anyhow as a form of entertainment, they had a mime wandering around in that open area, doing little funny things.

And one of the "funny" things he did was follow me.  Very closely.  Step by step, right in line with me.  Maybe even "mimicking" me in some way.  And for some amount of time, I didn't realize he was there.  I don't know how long that was, because I didn't realize he was there...

But when I realized there was someone so close behind me, I whirled around, and very nearly hit him.  Like, punched him.  But only nearly.  I don't think it's that I swung and missed,  I think I just got my wits about me before I really took a swing.

Now, if you know me at all, you know that punching someone is really not how I roll.  It was just this weird, panicky instinct.  It was just how I reacted. 

When we see what people say to Jesus, or whether they follow Him or not, we see their reactions to Him:  belief, or disbelief; love or anger; a desire to hear more, or a refusal to face the truth...

But the choices that we make every day are reflective of our response to Him.  Obedience, or selfishness; His will or ours... Even whether we acknowledge Him or not. 

He is with you always.  How do you respond to His presence?

~ "as many as received Him, 
to them He gave the right to become children of God" ~
John 1:12

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Seeing and being seen

"he went and washed, and came back seeing"
John 9:7

The 9th chapter of John is a miracle chapter.  One of those events that changed a life, amazes and astounds us, and frustrated the heck out of the Pharisees.  The Pharisees, in this case, responded to their frustration by accusing Jesus of breaking the Sabbath, accusing the blind man of not having ever been blind, and accusing his parents of... well they didn't really accuse them of anything, but they questioned them about the whole situation as if they'd done something wrong. 

But the thing that was most interesting to me about this story, is not the Pharisees, or even the blind man, it was the "bystanders".

I know there's more than one instance of Jesus healing someone who was blind, so for clarity, this is the instance where Jesus made mud out of the dirt, and put it on the blind man's eyes.  Then He directed him to go and wash in the pool of Siloam, and when the man did as he was told, he found he could see.

And when he came back from the pool, and his neighbors saw him, they said to each other, "Is this not he who sat and begged?"  Some said it was the same man; others said he was just someone who looked like him.  And the blind man had to tell them: "I am he."

Now, to be honest, I'm slightly perplexed by this reaction.  How can they not know him?  All that was different about him was his eyes!  Now granted, that's a big change, but still, it was the only thing that had changed.

So I think one of two things is happening here.  First of all, the people were judging him, in a way.  If I died my hair a starkly different color, but carried on with all my regular routine, the people in my life would still know it was me.  I'm the same height, I'd be wearing clothes they'd seen me in before, my voice sounds the same; whatever.  My hair would be a pretty drastic change, but the only change.

The people that know me, know a lot about, and the color of my hair is just one part of me.  I think the blind man's neighbors were content to just know that one, main fact about him:  he was blind.  They had labeled him ~ which always gives us some sort of contentment or satisfaction ~ and moved on with their lives.  They didn't need, or care, to know anything more, like the sound of his voice, or the way he smiled, or the color of his robe.

Everyone is the sum of their parts.  Only God knows all of us, and all of every one of us, and the best we can do for one another ~ the most love we can show to those we love ~ is to know and understand them the best we can, and love them in and out and through their flaws and strengths.

Now, for the other explanation that came to my mind for why his neighbors didn't recognize him.  But first ~ a question:  Have you ever been camping?  And I mean, "roughing it" ?

My family camps the old-fashioned way.  We sleep in a tent, cook on a fire for some meals, and on my dad's Coleman stove for other meals.   We sleep on the ground, or on air mattresses that are not much better....  And we wash our hair with a big bucket of ice-cold river water.  Although, we generally leave it sitting in the sun until it's somewhat warmer.

There are flush toilets and running water within walking distance.  But you know what's missing from those bathrooms?  Other than electricity?  Mirrors.

But there are really nice bathrooms up at the General Store.  So when we drive up there to supplement our groceries a little bit, we stop off to use the facilities.  And let me tell you, when you walk into the ladies room, before you even head for the stall you came in to use, you can't help but take a glance at the mirror, and you think, "oh my goodness, I had no idea..."

This man went to wash in the pool of Siloam.  He was bent down, splashing water on his eyes and on his face, washing off the mud that Jesus had put on him.  And when his eyes were open and the splashing stilled, I think he saw his own image forming in the water, and he took a good long look at what he had never seen before.  And maybe then he stood up, and looked down, and brushed off his beard, and straightened his robe.  Maybe walked back with joy in his eyes and a glow on his face. 

I think what happened was that his eyes weren't the only thing new about him.  And I love that.  People should be able to see the difference in us, shouldn't they?  In Exodus 34, Moses face shone so, after being with God, that the people couldn't even look at Him.  How do we look, after spending time in His word, or in prayer?  What are we like, in appearance or attitude, after being changed by Him?

What do we see in others, and what do they see in us?

~ "Then he said, 'Lord, I believe!'
And he worshiped Him" ~
John 9:38

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Watching nature take its course

"no tree in the garden of God was like it in beauty"
Ezekiel 31:8

There's a tree in my backyard.  Actually, there are several.  Flowering plum, palm, eucalyptus, a rubber tree plant, and something that might be kumquat.  Or persimmon.  It put out fruit the first summer we lived in this house, but then never again.

And of course, our apple tree.  What a gift.  I'm not much of a gardener, so to have a tree that blossoms and fruits every year is a joy to me.  It's a gift, because if I had planted it, it wouldn't still be alive, but because it was here when we got here, it was already well-established.

I'll be honest, though, my favorite tree is in the front yard.  Out there, we have something that might be a sycamore, but it's too young to tell.  We also have two quaking aspens and a beautiful red ash.  That one's my favorite, though I'm not really sure why.  It's tall and beautiful.  And ash is what baseball bats have been made from for many years.  I love baseball.  Baseball is history, and tradition, and simplicity to me.  So I think that the tree feels like America to me.

So, okay, there's my tree recital for ya.  God bless Joyce Kilmer, right?

But now there's a new tree, and it's in my backyard.  It's a Nordmann fir, and yes, it used to be our Christmas tree.  I think this year's was the most beautiful tree we ever had, and I was just reluctant to get rid of it.   So instead of cramming it into the greens-recycle can, or leaving it on the curb for city to pick up, we moved it to our backyard.  Lost a fair number of needles in the process, but oh well!

So there it sits, right where I can see it from the living room.  And I think it's still so beautiful, especially when the sun is setting, casting a sort of candle-glow effect to the tree.  It looks lovely in the rain, too.

The Apple of my Eye thinks the tree is just, well, dead.  Said to me just this weekend, "So, what's the story with this tree?  Are we just gonna leave it here until it disintegrates?"  And I said happily, "Yup!"  Even though I'll be slowly watching it die ~ well, even further than it's already dead ~ I will enjoy that.  It's just sort of nature being nature, ya know?  Doin' what it's supposed to do, or circle of life or something, you know?

This tree is being who it is.  No pretense.  No trying to impress anyone.  Sun, wind and rain taking their toll, the green becoming less green, needles falling off... it's all what God had in mind, I'm just getting to watch this year.  And I'm finding a great deal of joy in the beauty.

 ~ "the birds of the heavens have their home;
they sing among the branches" ~
Psalm 104:12 

Monday, February 18, 2013

There's a little in all of us

"(Thomas) said to them, 
'Unless I see... I will not believe.' "
John 20:25

"when Simon Peter heard that it was the Lord,
he... plunged into the sea."
John 21:7

I've always loved Peter.  And this verse about him is one reason why.  It's classic "Peter" behavior ~ impulsive and enthusiastic.

But over the years, I've come to love Thomas, too, and I think this verse tells us a lot about his personality ~ cautious and thorough. 

All Peter needed to hear was that the Man they saw was Jesus, and he leapt into the water to get to Him, leaving his friends to bring in the boat, and the net loaded with fish.

Thomas, on the other hand, could not bring himself to believe the closest people in his life ~ his fellow disciples ~ without seeing for himself.

We criticize Thomas for doubting, and perhaps rank him just above Judas Iscariot.  But Jesus knew who he was when He chose him.  Thomas brought something that was needed to the circle of twelve.   And Thomas reminds me of all the times we are cautioned. 

We are told to watch out for false prophets. (Matthew 7:15)

We are told to be as wise as serpents, while being as gentle as doves. (Matthew 10:16)

We are told to test everything, and hold on to the good.  (1 Thessalonians 5:21)

I think this is what Thomas did ~ he tested, and then he held on to His Lord and Savior.

Jesus used Thomas to remind us that those who believe without seeing are blessed, but He also used overly confident Peter to remind us to take heed when we think we stand, lest we fall. 
(1 Corinthians 10:12)

Both Peter and Thomas were hand-picked by Jesus, as were we.  Ephesians 1:4 says He chose us in Him, before the foundation of the world.  Both Peter and Thomas had their flaws, as do we, but all will be used for the glory of God.   And all we have to do, is be who we are.

~ "Thomas answered and said to Him, 
'My Lord and my God!' " ~
John 20:28

~ "Peter said to Him, 'Lord, You know all things;
You know that I love You.' " ~
John 21:17

Sunday, February 17, 2013

The sin yet to be sinned

"forgive us our sins,
as we forgive those who sin against us"
Matthew 6:12

I asked for forgiveness the other day.  

For something I hadn't even done.  

But I'm afraid someday I might.  I mean, I probably will.  I'm actually pretty darn sure that I'll do it without meaning to.  

You see, someone just did it to me, and it hurt.  

I know I've never hurt someone this way, because I've never been in the position to.  Never had the power to, if you will. 

But someday I might be in a position to, and then I might, without meaning to, hurt someone in the same way.  

I know the person who hurt me had no intention to.  From their standpoint, I'm sure it seemed a fairly harmless thing.

But the "harmless" things can hurt just as much. 

And I'm sorry already. 

~ "if you forgive men their trespasses,
your heavenly Father will also forgive you" ~
Matthew 6:14

Saturday, February 16, 2013

A Lesson from Lance Armstrong

"God, I thank You that I am not like other men..."
Luke 18:11

An interesting thing happened in baseball last month.  It was time for the annual Hall of Fame voting.  There were dozens of players up for nomination, and while no one expected all of them to be voted in, no one also expected that none of them would be voted in.   

It was rather momentous.  None of the names on the ballot got enough votes for them to be included.  And it was seen by pretty much everyone to be an indictment of the "steroid generation" of baseball.   And it doesn't mean that none of those men will make it in on one of their other chances.  I think every player is automatically on the ballot starting five years after he retires.  And they stay on for more than one year ~ I can't remember how long.  So some of those men might make it in in the next few years.

But I think the people who were voting were making a statement about how they feel about the impact of steroids on the game, and whether or not those who used them cheated.

And I think we can see what that statement was.

At about the same time, another statement was being made about steroids in athletics.  That was the statement by Lance Armstrong.  His admission.  His admission of cheating, and of lying.

We all wanted to be amazed and impressed by Lance Armstrong.  He had beaten the enemy that frightens us all ~ cancer.  And he had not only beaten it, but come back strong.  Professional-athlete-strong.  Champion-professional-athlete-strong.  He gave hope, and courage and inspiration, and we all wanted to believe he had done so with integrity.

I have a friend who suffered more than most when she heard of his admission.   Many years ago, she had a friend ~ a cyclist ~ who had died suddenly.  Too young.  He had asthma, but the medication for his asthma was a banned substance, so he didn't take it.  He wanted to cycle clean. 

If he had used performance enhancing drugs, would he have been as good as Lance Armstrong?  Maybe, maybe not.  If he had taken his asthma medication, would he still be alive?  Maybe, maybe not.  We'll never know.

So my friend was angry when she realized the truth about Armstrong.  Angry that her friend had died, making what he felt was the right decision, living honestly, while Armstrong had gone on to great things, cheating.  And even though her friend had died twenty years ago, she had to deal with it in her heart all over again.

But then she heard Armstrong's explanation. And he talked about having had cancer, and how frightening that had been.  How it changed his outlook on life, and made his drive to succeed even greater.  And how maybe he had made poor decisions because of the emotional impact that that traumatic time in his life had had on him.

And it made her realize that as disappointed as she was, she was in no position to judge.  The death of her friend was a traumatic event in her life, and she had made decisions because of it.  And some of those may have been bad decisions.

We are all a product of our lives.  Our background, our parents' choices, the circumstances life throws at us... 

I can look at others' lives, but no one else is raising my children.  No one else is married to my husband.  No one else has walked the path I'm on, or come face to face with the same choices I have.  And you and everyone else in my life can say the same thing.

We find people we can look down on, sometimes, to build ourselves up.  Or we come to conclusions about others based on limited information, and our own view of life.   But we've got enough to do just trying to live our own lives as He expects.  And aren't we all grateful for mercy.

~ "Lord of hosts,
     You judge righteously" ~
Jeremiah 11:20

Friday, February 15, 2013

This is Love

Isaiah 6:1-3
"... I saw the Lord sitting on a throne, exalted
and the train of His robe filled the temple with glory.
Above it stood seraphim, each one had six wings.
With two he covered his face, with two he covered his feet,
and with two he flew.
And one cried to another and said, 
'Holy, holy, holy is the Lord of hosts,
The whole earth is full of His glory.' "

And He loves you.

Exodus 24:17
"The sight of the glory of the Lord was like a consuming fire
on the top of the mountain
in the eyes of the children of Israel."

And He loves you.

Exodus 40:34-35
"the cloud covered the tabernacle of meeting, 
and the glory of the Lord
filled the tabernacle.
And Moses was not able to enter the tabernacle of meeting,
because the cloud rested above it,
and the glory of the Lord filled the tabernacle."

And He loves you.

Revelation 5:11-13
"Then I looked, and I hear the voice of many angels around the throne,
the living creatures, and the elders, 
and the number of them 
was ten thousand times ten thousand,
and thousands of thousands,
saying with a loud voice,
'Worthy is the Lamb who was slain
To receive power and riches and wisdom,
And strength and honor and glory and blessing!"

And He loves you.

Psalm 113:3-5
From the rising of the sun to its going down,
The Lord's name is to be praised.
The Lord is high above all nations,
His glory above the heavens.
Who is like the Lord our God,
Who dwells on high?

And He loves you.

I hope you enjoyed Valentine's Day, 
but I hope you know how much He loves you, every day. 

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Sweet and Sour

"like vinegar"
Proverbs 25:20

I made ketchup the other day.  Or "catsup".  No, I think I made ketchup.

This was not about the joy of creating, like when I make homemade chicken stock.   It wasn't about me being a modern-day Ma Ingalls.  Love those books...

The fact is, I was just out of ketchup.  We decided to have sloppy joes for dinner, which I really don't think I ever made before... and we needed ketchup.

So I decided to just wing it.  I actually enjoy doing that in the kitchen.  I like the challenge of tweaking recipes.  So I found a sloppy joe recipe online that didn't call for ketchup, per se, but mimicked the ingredients in ketchup, and I set to work. 

I had to wing it almost right away.  I didn't have any tomato puree.  But I had canned tomatoes, so I drained those to make it as much like tomato puree as possible.  I set aside the juice, 'cause I do that. 

And I didn't have any tomato paste, either.  And there's not really anything that mimics tomato paste.  But the recipe called for Worcestershire sauce, so I added extra of that, because I love it, and I think it adds depth and a savory quality to foods.

And then, would you believe, it called for about a half a cup of water.  At which point I added the tomato juice I had drained off the canned tomatoes.  'Cause why add water when you can add flavor? 

Some brown sugar, and salt and pepper, and then I went to add the vinegar.  It called for apple cider vinegar ~ which I have ~ but I briefly thought of using balsamic instead.  I love balsamic.  I discovered a brand a couple of years ago that is so rich and flavorful, which just the right touch of the sweetness you expect from balsamic.  And since I like tweaking recipes, I thought maybe I might try that. 

But then I realized that balsamic vinegar is totally different from apple cider vinegar.  And then I started thinking about all the vinegars I have in my cupboard, and how totally different they all are.   Red-wine vinegar, white vinegar, malt vinegar, and a couple of flavored vinegars.  But none of them would work as a substitute in that recipe. 

Vinegars are so much alike, and yet so different.  Made the same way, from the same source, but for different purposes.  And the chef needs to know which one is right for a particular situation. The wrong one will change the outcome.  They just don't compare.

Works that way in life, too.  What is right for your neighbor is not right for you.  And God knows that the addition of that circumstance in your life will change the outcome.  So He might not say "yes" to that prayer.  Which, if you really want His will, should make happy, even if your situation doesn't.

If you're walking in His light, then you want your life to be a blessing to others, and a glory to Him, then you need to trust that He knows just you need for growth ~ good our bad, sweet or sour. 

~ "Oh, taste and see that the Lord is good;
Blessed the the one who trusts in Him!" ~
Psalm 34:8

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

God's Love For Us. Count on it.

"This month shall be your beginning of months"
Exodus 12:2

Do you remember that old poem "thirty days hath September, April, June and November; all the rest have thirty-one, save February which stands alone" ?  Catchy in it's old-fashioned-ness, isn't it?

I was reminding my Amazing Boy of that a few weeks ago, as he tried to remember how many days in a particular month.  And then we got to talking about the weirdness of months.  Why October, November and December, have the prefixes "oct," "nov," and "dec," respectively, which mean "eight," "nine," and "ten", respectively, even though they are not the eighth, ninth,  and tenth months, respectively. 

And why the months have the number of days that they do.

And why February not only has a different number of days than the others, it even has a different number of days than itself some years!

Why is a day 24 hours long?  Why is an hour 60 minutes?  Why is a week 7 days, or a year 365 days?  And why is our system of keeping track of time not based on ten, like our system of counting?  The answers are interesting and complicated, and have to do with the Egyptians, the Sumerians, and the Greeks.  At least.  There may have been even more civilizations involved for all I know.

My favorite anomaly, if you want to call it that, is Leap Day.  I love the fact that our years are 365 days long, when really, they need to be 365 1/4 days long.   That, of course, would be complicated or impossible, so the solution was to add a day every fourth year.  But the catch to the catch?  Not every fourth year contains a leap day.  Years that are divisible by 100, but not by 400, are not leap years.  So 1900 didn't have a leap day in it.  I don't entirely understand the reasoning behind this.  But I'm not too worried about it, because that's not going to happen again until 2100.  If I'm still around ~ which would be quite remarkable ~ I'll just have an extra helping of ice cream to celebrate!

A year is a year because that's how long it takes the earth to orbit around the sun.  But here's the thing:  How long it takes the earth to orbit around the sun is God's design.  The number of days it takes the earth to orbit the sun is man's design.  And we got it wrong.   Days are wrong.  Hours are wrong.  Minutes are wrong.

Now, of course, I'm being (mostly) facetious.  It's not that our measurements of time are wrong.  It's that we, I don't think, did it the way He would have done it.  Just a hunch.  Otherwise we wouldn't be needing to add an extra day every four years as a patch job or a bandaid.

Sometimes I wonder what God thinks as He watches us blundering through this world.  I know nothing surprises Him, but I wonder if He shakes His head sometimes, thinking He wishes we could have come to some realization or other, a little sooner.  Maybe it's like when a parents watches their toddler trying to solve a problem, and the parent just lovingly waits for the little one to figure it out. 

It's things like this that remind me how much He loves us.  We learn, we err, we grow as humans, each generation a little wiser than the last, although maybe a little more foolish, too.

For you, and me, for those Egyptians, Sumerians and Greeks who came before us, and those who will come after us.  For us, Jesus died.  Love.

~ "We love Him because He first loved us" ~
1 John 4:19

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Lessons from a violin

"making music with stringed instruments"
1 Chronicles 15:28

If this is not your first time reading this blog, then you probably have realized how much I love finding lessons about God in everyday places, like interaction with friends or things I experience or read about.

I also love sharing those illustrations with all of you :-) 

But sometimes those illustrations of God are just impossible for me to miss.  Which is to say, sometimes something happens and I think, "huh.... that reminds me of God, and how much He loves us...."  whereas sometimes I read something and think, "Wow.  That totally describes God in my life!" 

The former experiences ~ the more gentle ones ~ are sweet reminders in my life.  They are things that bring Him to mind, and make me appreciate the fact that He is always with us, and that He likes to remind us of that.

But the latter experiences ~ the big ones ~ the ones that help me understand Him.  He is powerful and timeless, and wise beyond our understanding.  So I love illustrations that help me get a better glimpse of His character, and His relationship to us.

Such is this one.  Now, I understand that what's powerful to me might not be for you, and vice versa.  That's the kind of thing that makes each of us unique.  But I thought this was so fascinating.  I learned something new, and it deepened my appreciation for how He works in my life ~ if I let Him.

The article I read ~ and yes, it was written years ago ~ was about a species of tree that grows in Brazil.  (Not to be confused with the Tree that Grows in Brooklyn.)  It's called the pernambuco tree, and it's the premier wood used for making bows for stringed instruments.

photo credit: wikipedia
The species is endangered, and the article was about the cooperation between the bow-making industry and conservationists, to keep the tree alive.  Both groups endorse the planting of new seedlings, and both groups know that bows can be made of other sources, like carbon, but there they differ.  Conservation groups think bows should only be made from carbon, and bow-makers say that while carbon is good, it's not as good as pernambuco.

Interesting article, and now I know things I didn't know before.   But what was most interesting ~ that I didn't know before ~ was the importance of the quality of the bow when it comes to making music.  I thought that a bow was a bow.  Apparently not so.  There were quotes in this article that were so enlightening.  A member of the Vienna Philharmonic said, "Some people think a bow is only wood and hair.  But the bow can be more essential to expressing the soul of the music than the violin is."

Huh... who knew?  Well, I mean, other than string musicians....

He also said, "It's better to have a fine bow and a mediocre violin than a fine violin and a mediocre bow."  Really?  Seriously?  Does anyone besides me think that's astounding?  I've heard all my life about Stradivarius violins being the finest violin in the world, because of the craftsmanship and the fact that the trees make a difference because they grew during a specific time period in Europe or because of the specific growth patterns in the trees, or something something something else. 

Clearly I only have some semblance of knowledge about this... but the fact remains that when there are differences in stringed instruments themselves, it surprises me to learn that the bow makes an even bigger difference.

But when I really started to think about it, it made a lot of sense.  Yes, the instrument has to be made just right to create the music.  The wood has to be carved by a craftsman, the strings have to be, well, strung. 

But the bow.  The bow really does the work.  The violin is merely the instrument that the bow plays on.   And I thought to myself, "He is the bow; I am the instrument." 

I think that I am serving Him, and accomplishing things in my life, like writing, teaching, and raising two Awesome and Amazing Children.  But the reality is, I can do nothing without Him.  Even my faith comes from Him.  My desire to seek His will, and the power to obey all come from Him. 

I'd like to think I'm the perfect instrument for the work He has for me; for the music He has for me to play.   But what matters is that He's perfect.
~ "Both the singers
and the players on instruments say,
'All my wells of joy in are you.'" ~
Psalm 87:7

Monday, February 11, 2013

Seeking Approval

"with an artistic design"
Exodus 26:31

I was watching one of those home improvement shows on TV last week.  It was a girl, about 14, who was having her bedroom re-done.   It was a pretty fancy bedroom ~ I think it was bigger than mine.  It had not just room for her bed, but a little sitting area as well.  A place for a desk, but also a few chairs and a sofa.  Yes, a sofa!

But in their defense, it was in Texas, and everything's bigger in Texas...

They showed the girl working directly with the decorator, talking about her favorite things in life, and what colors she likes and what her fashion sense is like, so that all that could be incorporated into the design of the room.  She was a very mature-sounding girl, and the resulting bedroom was a wonderful design that would last her probably as long as she was in the house.  Nothing little girl-y, but fun and sophisticated all at the same time. 

And when the room was done, and it was time for the reveal, the girl walked into the room where the decorator was waiting for her, with a "ta daa!" or something similar.  The girl, of course, was so pleased.   She took a look at the overall, and then rushed the decorator to hug her.   Then the decorator spent the next few minutes showing her all the little details in the room, pointing here and there, and the girl was really just trying to take it all in.  And she had this eyes-wide, mouth-agape look the whole time, as her head whipped back and forth, from this side to that.

But in-between all the side-to-side her head was doing, she kept looking back at her mother, who was standing behind her, eyes equally wide, and mouth similarly agape.  It was so sweet.  It was as if she was looking to see if the room met with the mom's approval, or that she just wanted to see her mother's reaction to everything she was reacting to. 

I just loved that even though she was thankful to the decorator for all she had done, the girl hadn't forgotten her mother.  Clearly, her mom was important to her, and she was eager to share her excitement with her.   In a moment where it could have been all about her, she was including someone else.

I want to be like this with God.  Years ago, a friend of mine took over a new role in a ministry we were both involved in.  She was the director, so once everyone got going in their jobs for the day, she didn't really need to do anything but be available, and put out any fires.  And she told me once that sometimes when she was wandering the halls to make sure no one needed anything, she would pray a very simple question:  "Lord, is this what You want it to look like?"

I thought ~ and think ~ that is so beautiful.  It is sincere; it is wanting to walk with Him, not off in a different direction. 

Now, of course, you can't just jump into something; you can't just take a path in life and then occasionally ask Him, "Are You with me?"  We have to seek His will before we take any steps.   But sometimes we do that, and then rush headlong down the path we think He has indicated, without stopping to see if there are supposed to be any turns, tangents, or speed bumps He wants us to know about.

He is right by our sides, wanting to share, wanting to be consulted, wanting to guide.  He's right there.

~ "with us, is the Lord our God,
to help us and to fight our battles" ~
2 Chronicles 32:8

Sunday, February 10, 2013


"you shall have no power"
Leviticus 26:37

We got a notice about a week ago, from our power company, that we were going to lose electricity.  From 9 a.m. to 4 p.m., which is a long time to go without power.  My apologies to those who are currently without power due to the massive snow storm on the northeast coast of the US. 

Did you know they are naming winter storms now?  Like hurricanes.  Which makes a certain amount of sense, I guess, but it's hard for me to take seriously a storm named "Nemo".  I know they're probably paying homage to the hero of Jules Verne's Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea, but honestly, it just makes me think of a clownfish. 

Photo credit:
Anyhow, our power outage was a "planned outage" which meant that the electric company had to do some repairs, so they were going to be turning the power off anywhere between 9 and 4, or as early as 9 until as late as 4, or maybe that whole time. 

You get the idea. 

And this was going to happen on a Tuesday, which was really  a pain in the neck  somewhat inconvenient for me.  I was going out Tuesday evening and I had several things I had to prepare.  I was going to need my computer ~ which has a battery, but it's unreliable, so I can't be sure how long the battery will last when I'm not plugged in to a power source.   Also I needed the printer, and that doesn't have a battery at all. 

So I had to get completely ready the night before.  I had to figure out my priorities, do the things that absolutely had to be done.  I had to be as prepared as I could.

And then, when the day came, I carefully went through my adapted schedule.  I had planned some things that had to be done, but that could be done without electricity, so I started those promptly at 9 a.m.

But here's the thing:  the power never went out.  I had prepared; I was ready.  I kept thinking, "any minute now...."  But it never happened. 

We got a notice a few days later that they had rescheduled the outage.  So I can still look forward to an afternoon of living like the pioneers, but at least it won't be a Tuesday.  That's something. 

It felt good, that Tuesday, being completely ready.  I'm not really a procrastinator, but when I plan things out, I plan based on the full amount of time I have.  In other words, I don't generally plan in such a way as to be ready early.  Or, not more than a few minutes early. 

But I was able to do a few extra things, because I was so prepared, so I made good use of that extra time.  And I got to thinking about the benefits of being prepared.  I thought about what God has prepared for us...

Matthew 25:34 ~ "Then the King will say to those on His right hand, 'Come, you blessed of the Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world."

John 14:2 ~ "In My Father's house are many mansions... I go to prepare a place for you"

... and about our being prepared for Him...

1 Thessalonians 5:2 ~ "For you yourselves know perfectly that the day of the Lord so comes as a thief in the night"

1 Thessalonians 4:16 ~ "For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of an archangel, and with the trumpet of God"

A notification to be ready is a warning.  We can consider ourselves warned.  But He's a God of promises, not just warnings.  The blessings are prepared for you.  So get ready, and stay ready.

~ "God is my strength and power,
and He makes my way perfect" ~
2 Samuel 22:33

Saturday, February 9, 2013

Are you who you think you are?

"who are you?"
Ruth 3:9

One of the things that's fun about the after-Christmas season is enjoying my new presents.  Just yesterday I wore one of my new sweaters, and as I go about daily life, there are new joys.  Maybe a new piece of jewelry, or something pretty in the house.  I've enjoyed sipping my new hot chocolate while watching the movies the kids got for Christmas, or reading a book I had been wanting.

But to be totally honest, I got a gift that rather surprised me this Christmas.  Something I hadn't asked for, and wasn't expecting.  Now, that happens a lot.  People go shopping, and they see something, and they think, "I'll bet she'd like that."  I do that myself for people in my life.

In fact, I found a wonderful antique store near my house this past Christmas, and I had a great time looking around in there.  I knew that anything I found wouldn't be the same kind of stuff I could find in a hundred chain stores in my area.  And I know that no one in my life is going to ask for something from that store, because they don't know the store, and they don't know what's in it.  So the shopping I did there was all based on being inspired by something that I thought someone would love.  And I found a few things I was so excited about giving.  They seemed perfect for the recipient.

But it's possible, that when the recipient got it, they thought, "Why in the world....?  Did she really think I'd like this?"

I hope they didn't think that.  But it's possible.   I know it's possible because I thought it about one of my gifts.  {Note to my loved ones:  no, I'm not going to reveal the gift or the giver.  I'm sincerely grateful for all of your thoughtful gifts!  :) }

Who others think we are...  Who we think we are...  Who He thinks we are.   I think they're generally three different things.  Course, who He thinks we are is who we really are.   He's smart that way.

So.... a few thoughts on those three scenarios...

Regarding #1:  Clearly, some people are wrong when they think they see who we are.  But that doesn't mean there's nothing something valuable in finding out what they think.   In the case of my Christmas gift, I decided I would venture to be the kind of person who would appreciate that gift.   For instance, being someone curious enough to read that book, or fun enough to enjoy that game, or bold enough to wear that eye-catching top.  If someone who loves me thought I would enjoy that, then why wouldn't I endeavor to enjoy it?  Sometimes, who someone else thinks you are, is better than who you are.

Regarding #2:  Have you ever said about some personal characteristic, "that's just who I am."  Well, if you're using that as a defense of some bad habit in your life, then you're right.  That's you.  And by that I mean:  that's not Him in you.  Sometimes we simply don't see the things in ourselves that He'd like to change.  Other times we see them, and we feel bad about them, but not bad enough to take the steps to make the change.   Sometimes, who we think we are, is not who we have to be.  And not what we should be.

Regarding #3:  No one knows us like He does.  Who He thinks we are is who we are.  Who He wants us to be, is who we can be.

So, who are you?

~ "Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation;
old things have passed away;
behold, all things have become new" ~
2 Corinthians 5:17

Friday, February 8, 2013

Amazing and Awesome Promises

"train up a child in the way he should go"
Proverbs 22:6

Are you a parent?  I'm a mom, but if you've read very many of these posts, that's probably apparent.

Get it??  Apparent?

lol.... I must be in a jovial mood today.  Come along for the ride, won't you?

If you are a parent, then you know that your children can be the source of your greatest joys, and your deepest sorrows. We take pride in their successes (the good kind of pride) and we ache in their trials.

Isaiah 65 is a chapter of promise.  Well, it starts off kinda scary.  I mean, the scary stuff is a promise, too, but it's the kind of promise that is designed to get us in line with His Word and His will.

But then a few verses in, it turns wonderful.  The kind of promises that are lofty and glorious and sweet and comforting for us to claim.  There are verses like:  "Behold, I create a new heavens and a new earth..." and "I will rejoice in Jerusalem and joy in My people..." and "The wolf and the lamb shall feed together..." (verses 17, 18 and 25)

But the verses I love most are 21-23.  "They shall build houses and inhabit them; they shall plant vineyards and eat the fruit of them."  This was such a beautiful promise for the children of God, who, in their history, had much of the fruit of their labors stolen by the nations that held them captive. 

"They shall not build and another inhabit; they shall not plant, and another eat... Mine elect shall long enjoy the work of their hands."  See above. 

But here's the best; verse 23 ~ "They shall not labor in vain, nor bring forth for trouble; for they are the seed of the blessed of the Lord, and their offspring with them."

I love that verse because I love the simplicity of that first promise ~ not to labor in vain.  That is the essence of contentment:  being able to appreciate the work of your hands.

And then the second part:  "nor bring forth for trouble".  That part means having children.  It means not having children that are trouble.  Isn't that a wonderful promise?  Raising children is a lot of work; what a joy to have the promise that your children will be a blessing!  I love the idea that as a parent, I will "long enjoy the work of my hands", because my children are the work of my hands.

my children... and the work of their hands

There's just nothing better than seeing God's promises in my life.

~ "I have no greater joy 
than to hear that my children walk in truth" ~
3 John 1:4

Thursday, February 7, 2013


"lived and begat"
Genesis 11:11,13,14,16

Do you know what Shem, Arphaxad, Salah and Eber have in common?  They all begat.  They were begatters.  At least in the King James version.  In the New King James, they begot.  And in other versions, they just "became the father of" which is nowhere near as poetic or biblical sounding.

Now, how many of you react negatively when you see genealogy in the Bible?  How many of you dread the "begats"?

Interestingly, the word "begat" is not always used in genealogy because it's generally only used when referring to the offspring from the point of the woman, and only a man does the begatting.  Begetting.   Whatever.

We do all the work, and they get the fancy word... sheesh...

I used to skim over the "begats" in the Bible.  Blah, blah, blah, yeah, yeah...  It's a list of names for pete's sake!  I prefer action!  But God gave me a wonderful insight a few years ago, through a pastor, that changed my view of genealogy.

In the 28th chapter of Exodus, the priestly garments of Aaron are described to us in detail.  And on the breastplate are 12 different stones, symbolizing the 12 tribes of Israel.  So those beautiful stones represent actual people.

Jesus is our High Priest, and His breastplate bears the precious stones that are His children.  So each of us is an emerald or a sapphire, a diamond or a turquoise, a topaz or an onyx. 

Now look at Revelation 21, at the description of the New Jerusalem ~ a city of gold, adorned by all kinds of precious stones.  These gems picture a brilliant, indescribable array of beautiful colors that send forth the light of God's glory... stones of
light blue aquamarine
apple green
clear crystal
gold-tinted green
intense purple

and more. 

These are the "begats".  Each "begat" is a gem, created by, and precious to, our King.   I love the reminder that though we each have earthly parents, we are children of the King.  

The Creator of the universe has called us by name, knows the number of hairs on our heads, and has prepared a place for us with Him.  Doesn't get any better than that!
~ "He will dwell with them,
and they shall be His people.
God Himself shall be with them,
and be their God."  ~
Revelation 21:3