"Doc" Thompson

As the year 2008 comes to a close, our family has taken some time to reflect on the life of one of God's faithful servants: Dr. Orville C. Thompson, a.k.a. Grampa.

After discovering a blood clot in Grampa's brain, the doctors did everything they could. He had one day of incredible recovery during which he told Gramma a hundred times how much he loved her and also threatened to send her home if she didn't quit fussing over him. Bleeding in his brain erupted in three areas and despite two more procedures, the doctors could do nothing. He breathed his last earthly breath on Sunday, the 21st of December. "To be absent from the body is to be present with the Lord." We're so thankful that his suffering was brief and that it is "not worthy to compared with the glory" that he's experiencing presently.

I'm so thankful for the testimony of a man who faithfully prayed with his wife and kissed her after every meal, supported missionary friends (including getting to worship with believers from the tribe Jim Elliot established contact with), built the local church (physically after an arsenist set fire to the building, and spiritually as he built relationships with other men), labored for the good of mankind (using his veterinary skills and wisdom to develop fertilization products and ensure quality control in food sources, etc), and was so patient in all of it. He invested in each of his family members and so many of his coworkers. And it was all a passing on of the grace that was given to him through our Lord Jesus Christ.

Grampa was led to the Lord while in the service. His conversion was real and forever. So many of his buddies preceded him to the Throne. What reunions must be going on. Can't wait 'til it's my turn, but I know it's my job to do as he did: live faithfully--praying, encouraging, supporting, and loving each step of the way.

Well done, Grampa! Looking forward to being with you and so many others, but most of all Jesus, when it's His time for me too.

Christmas Tradition: Jesse's Branch

Have you noticed the trend to incorporate natural elements in interior decorating? Well, here's an advent idea that brings together creative design and spiritual truth. I love to use each tradition to instill biblical teaching into our children's minds and hearts. And they loved being a part of this one.

The boys and I went outside this morning to "find a really neat branch."

Then while they were napping, I decorated the branches with tags I had in a scrapbooking paper pad, having first written quotations from some of the following verses on them: Isaiah 4:2,3; 11:1,5-11; Jeremiah 23:1-5; 33:15; Zechariah 3:8; 6:12; Acts 13:22,23; Romans 15:12,13; Revelation 22:16. (You could use gift labels or even an address label template instead. Just holepunch in a corner. Tying pretty little ribbons through would be a nice touch depending on your style.)

Acts 13:23 (ESV) has to be one of my favorites: "Of this man [David]’s offspring God has brought to Israel a Savior, JESUS, as He promised."

And Romans 15:8-13 (ESV), which I couldn't put all of on the tiny cards, but which I'll quote here:

8 For I tell you that Christ became a servant to the circumcised to show God’s truthfulness, in order to confirm the promises given to the patriarchs,
9 and in order that the Gentiles might glorify God for His mercy. As it is written,
"Therefore I will praise You among the Gentiles,
and sing to Your name."
10 And again it is said,
"Rejoice, O Gentiles, with His people."
11And again,
"Praise the Lord, all you Gentiles,
and let all the peoples extol Him."
12And again Isaiah says,
"The root of Jesse will come,
even He who arises to rule the Gentiles;
in Him will the Gentiles hope."

13May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that by the power of the Holy Spirit you may abound in hope."

I wrote out that thirteenth verse on the larger center card as my hope for all who may see our "Jesse's Branch."

Micah asked, "Mommy, can we keep our branch forever?" He's definitely my sentimental historian, my traditions man. Yes, I think this is a tradition we will definitely keep (even if our particular tree branch doesn't make it from year to year). Hope your families will enjoy this new tradition as well.

Merry Christmas!

Thanksgiving Tradition Revisited: Cranberry Salad

I still remember grinding cranberries and apples and oranges in an old-fashioned hand-grinder in preparation for Gramma's cranberry salad, a tradition most of our family members have maintained to the third and fourth generation. But I have to admit, I cheated this year. (Only sorta sorry, Gramma.) But it's faithful to the flavor and it's so much faster, which gives me a little extra time cuddling on the couch with the kiddos, tickling and sharing things we're thankful for. Okay, here goes:

Stir together...
1 can whole berry cranberry sauce
2 heaping Tbsp orange marmalade
1 small Gala apple (peeled, cored, finely chopped)

Enjoy!

Happy Thanksgiving

Happy Thanksgiving, dear ones. I am reminded this morning of Habakkuk 3:17-19--

"Though the fig tree should not blossom,
nor fruit be on the vines,
the produce of the olive fail
and the fields yield no food,
the flock be cut off from the fold
and there be no herd in the stalls,

yet I will rejoice in the LORD;
I will take joy in the God of my salvation.

GOD, the Lord, is my strength;
He makes my feet like the deer’s;
He makes me tread on my high places..." (ESV).

It feels like the constant refrain of society recently has been "economic recession," and yet as children of God, the physical trials are just one stanza of the song. Our chorus must remain "yet I will rejoice in the LORD; I will take joy in the God of my salvation." That's my challenge for myself today, to keep my focus on Him. I trust you'll have a wonderful Thanksgiving trusting in Him as well.

book review: Liberating Ministry from the Success Syndrome


A worthy read. So helpful. At points, I was so encouraged. At others, so humbled all I could do was pause from reading and pray. Kent & Barbara Hughes take you back to the Scriptures to define "success" the way God does. Very insightful exogesis, apt illustrations, transparent testimony, practical application--for all these reasons, Liberating Ministry from the Success Syndrome is a must-read-and-re-read book for those in the ministry as well as a helpful tool for those who support those in the ministry. Ladies, the chapter on "How the Pastor's Wife Can Help" is a great reminder no matter what your husband's main role is. I'm recommending this as a "Sell!" to our Campus Store and a "You've Gotta Read This" to the rest of you. Enjoy!! And may the Lord use it in your heart as He did in mine! With love, michelle

Jeremiah: Prophet of the Heart

Why is Jeremiah always referred to as the "weeping prophet"? I know he wrote Lamentations, but in reading the prophecies God spoke to and through Jeremiah in the book named after him, I am convinced a better nickname would be the "prophet of the heart."

Next time you read through the book of Jeremiah, circle the word heart. You'll see an incredible emphasis--a revelation of God's heart, a transparent heart on the part of Jeremiah, and a concern for the heart of the people God and Jeremiah are addressing.

As I was talking about this idea with my husband who is currently studying Hebrew and has been working on a sermon about Jeremiah using the original language, it was fascinating to me that his conclusion was the same.

This realization has made this Old Testament prophetic book so precious to my heart, so real for my faith in this God Whose emphasis is the heart and Who takes the time to communicate from His heart to His people's hearts.

Thank You, LORD!

book review: Orange Pear Apple Bear


Micah was so excited with this recent library find. Author Emily Gravett arranges and rearranges the four title words "Orange Pear Apple Bear" to create clever thought images. Her watercolor illustrations throughout are simply delightful. Ending with a final "There," the entire book is accomplished with just five words. "Orange Pear Apple Bear" is sure to give young readers the encouraging experience of success: "I read the whole thing by myself, Mommy!" Now that's something to celebrate! Thanks, Emily! Hope y'all enjoy!

So what's next... CHANGE?

Yes, and no. Obviously, certain things--even major things--will undoubtedly change as our country progresses toward liberalism, but One will NOT change: Our God is still on the throne. He rules over Heaven and Earth. Our hope is not in a man. It never has been. Our Hope is in GOD alone. I've been repeatedly reminded of this Truth as I've been reading through Jeremiah recently. Jeremiah was a prophet who lived in times not unlike our own. The people embraced iniquity.

They exalted idols, and (allow me take a little tangent here) though "all our gods have been domesticated, tame" (to quote a song we sing at church), the "idols" are still "like scarecrows in a cucumber field" (Jeremiah 10:5, esv). I read that the other night and thought Cool phrase! (Sorry, that's the writer in me) and then as I thought about it more, I thought, What use is a scarecrow in a cucumber patch. It's not the crows that are the threat. It's the little bugs on the ground that march unaffected by some stuffed fleece and straw hat, and it's the immense heat of the sun. Our "idols" can do nothing to ward off those things that threaten our growth. But God can.

And back to that, "The LORD is the true God; He is the living God and the Everlasting King. At His wrath the earth quakes, and the nations cannot endure His indignation" (Jeremiah 10:10, esv). "O LORD our God... We set our hope on You for You do all these things!" (Jeremiah 14:22, esv).

So, no matter what "change" we see take place in America over the next four years, keep always in mind that God is still on the throne. Sometimes He gives people what they beg for and sends leanness to their souls. America needs change, that's for sure. But what we need is a revival. Let's guard our hearts and be ever diligent in our fight for Truth, always keeping our hope firmly set on the Everlasting King.

When I Consider How My Light Is Spent...

When I Consider How My Light Is Spent
by John Milton

When I consider how my light is spent,
Ere half my days in this dark world and wide,
And that one talent which is death to hide
Lodged with me useless, though my soul more bent
To serve therewith my Maker, and present
My true account, lest He returning chide;
"Doth God exact day-labor, light denied?"
I fondly ask. But Patience, to prevent
That murmur, soon replies, "God doth not need
Either man's work or His own gifts. Who best
Bear His mild yoke, they serve Him best. His state
Is kingly: thousands at His bidding speed,
And post o'er land and ocean without rest;
They also serve who only stand and wait."


Am I so busy speeding about doing this and that that I neglect the other more important form of service, waiting on the Lord? This poem reminds me of Mary and Martha. My prayer this week is that the Lord would allow me to faithfully wait before His throne, to sit patiently beneath His feet and learn from His Word that Truth that I need, and then and only then to rise again and do His bidding when He sends me thence. LORD, renew my strength as I keep silence before You. Amen.

Happy Reformation Day!

Martin Luther, like each of us, had his strengths and his weaknesses, his struggles and his successes (though many would not have seemed notable successes at the time). It was on this day in 1517 that he nailed up his 95 Theses, a systematic taking-down of the damning doctrines being taught by the Catholic church in his day. (Note, "damning" may sound strong/harsh, but I speak the truth in love, for any teaching that deceives a person into thinking that he/she is in right standing with the God into whose hands it is a fearful thing to fall, the God who offers redemption but demands it to be accomplished in the way He provided for, any teaching that deceives that person is condemning that person to an eternity separated from the God who died to save him/her and is therefore a religion of damning doctrine.) Personally, I'm thankful for Luther's courage and his conviction to take a stand for the Truth God communicated in His Holy, Loving Word. For a clear and practical explanation of the historical details and how they affect us today, check out www.gfcto.com/2006/04/martin_luther_and_reformation.php

Happy Reformation Day!

book review: Singleness Redefined



Best book I've ever read on the privilege and joy of God's gift and/or time of singleness. Excellent biblical exposition, insightful illustrations from classical literature from St Augustine and John Milton to C.S. Lewis, George MacDonald, and J.R.R. Tolkien, and many more.
One of my favorite parts is the exposition of Isaiah 54:1 on pages 133-134.
Carolyn includes many honest personal testimonies from her own journey to contentment and enthusiastic service as a single. Yes, she still struggles at times, she admits, but continually hands her life over to the Lord's will, as we all must, no matter what arena of life we're in.
(Website linked to title.)

book review: Christian Storytelling, John Walsh


If you want to improve your communication skills, whether it's to tell stories to your own kids or to make your missionary presentation more captivating, this is a great book full of practical application. Many of the principles and some great examples can be found on John's website: http://www.christianstorytelling.com/ (linked to title). Enjoy!

What to do with all those apples...

Wanna make something really yummy (and naughty)? Okay, I used a regular apple pie recipe... pie dough for a double crust but add pumpkin pie spices to the dough; cook down the apples with spices and then add some flour to keep it thick; meanwhile heat about a cup of oil in a skillet; then roll out the dough (all of it) into like a 8 x 12 shape; put the apple filling inside; it's really yummy if you add some caramel and chocolate; roll up the dough; fry! =) flip; fry; pat dry on paper towels and cover with powdered sugar... Mmm. Goodness!

What God wants me to be... when I grow up...

I was just talking to Micah about what he wanted to be and he said he wasn't sure God knew yet what He would want him to be. I told him I was sure God knew, but that He just hadn't made it clear to him yet. =) When Jordan-Elliot said that when he grew up he wanted to be a cowboy, Micah told him it didn't matter what he "wanted" to do, he needed to do whatever God wanted him to do. But (and I said all that really to say this) then I got to share that when you want to please God, what He wants you to do will end up being something you really like doing too. I shared with him that right now God wants Mommy to be a wife, a mommy, and a teacher. I love all three. I love being Alan's wife, Micah & Jordan-Elliot's mommy, and I really am loving teaching too. "He gives us the desires of our hearts" in more than one way... =)

Strength Source

This past weekend I took the boys up to the Wilds for a hike. After hiking to Shoals, 1st Falls & 2nd Falls, on the way back, Micah (4) paused in the middle of the trail and squatted down.

"Are you going to fall asleep?" I asked.

He shook his head no.

"Do you need to go to the restroom?"

Another negative head shake.

"What do you need, then?"

Again, w/o speaking, he dropped to his knees, folded his little hands, and about forty-five seconds later stood back up and smiled a weak smile at me.

"Do you have more strength now?"

He shook his head yes and made it the rest of the way back to camp (even deciphering which direction to go at each crossroads: follow the "W") without any complaints.

I was just so proud of him for going to the right Source.

Side note: What I didn't realize until later was that he had noticed that I had paused and bowed my head too while I waited for him. It means a lot to my kids to know that I pray for them. I don't think I always realize that. But when I commented on his pausing to pray, he said, "You prayed too, Mommy." It's encouraging to see God answer my kids' prayers and it's exciting to know they know He answers mine too.

preferred sense: hearing or seeing?

I've been impressed recently with Psalm 44 and its parallel to Job 42:5.

"O God, we have heard with our ears, our fathers have told us,
what deeds you performed in their days, in the days of old:" (Psalm 44:1, esv).

The singers go on to say things such as "But now it seems you have forsaken us" and other such complaints. They longed for God to show His presence and power to them personally.

As I work in the sphere of Christian education, my burden is that so often we "hear" about God and all the things He's done...for other people...and yet we have not "seen" Him for ourselves and made Him a real part of our own life experiences.

Sometimes seeing God work takes more than we're willing to suffer. Look at all Job went through before he could finally say,

"I had heard of you by the hearing of the ear,
but now my eye sees you;" (Job 42:5, esv).

Whatever it takes, Lord--whatever it takes--make me to see You and not just hear of You, and may students see You both through me and for themselves. Amen.

Nehemiah 7--planning

I recently had a fellow teacher tell me that when she needs to know how to help a student grasp a concept, she takes it to the Lord. "All my ideas that work are from Him," she said.

Nehemiah would've agreed, I think. 7:5, "Then my God put it into my heart..."

Beginning to end, the best plans are those God puts into our minds and hearts. Lord, help me to listen to Your still small voice and adjust "my plans" to Yours. Amen.

Nehemiah 4 & 6--distractability vs. the disciplined life

Chapter 4: Keep on working despite opposition.
Chapter 6: Stay on task; don't get distracted.

As a Christian school teacher, these lessons stood out.

Until the final triumph of Christ, there will always be opposition to His work. When we minister according to the Word of God, there will be people who don't like what we do or say. Working through these things is not always easy, but when your authority is the Word of God, then you can know by the Spirit of God that they are not upset with you. Their disagreement is with Someone much more significant.

Especially working with students with diagnosed disabilities like ADD/ADHD, you can imagine how many times a day I redirect students to the task at hand. Distractibility. I can take this lesson and preach it all day to my students, but unless I first preach it to myself and practice it myself the impact will not be as great. I have tasks to do in my classroom, in my home, in my own walk with the Lord. And if I allow myself to get distracted, I'm not the only one who suffers. If I do not work in a disciplined manner, my husband and kids suffer b/c I'm neglecting time they need me to be spending with them, my students suffer b/c my lessons are not as clear as they could be, and/or my relationship with the Lord suffers b/c I'm not spending time with Him.
As a freshman university student, I read the book The Disciplined Life. That is what I need, not for the sake of discipline, but for the cause of Christ. By God's grace, I am getting & will get better at these things. And my hope is that I can teach these things not just in word, but by example.

Help me, God. You know I need it.

Nehemiah 3:12--women in the work force


I've thought a lot about this topic recently, having begun working full-time myself to help advance the cause of Christ by helping my husband get through seminary and also seeing the political scene and the strength a woman has brought to the Republican party.

As I look through the Bible, I'm encouraged that though God has an obvious priority for women as managers of their homes, He has a place for them at times in His sovereign plan in working willingly to advance His purposes. Deborah and Jael come to mind. I find it humorous that the man's name to whom Deborah says, "The road on which you are going will not lead to your glory, for the LORD will sell Sisera [a terrorist, Judges 4:1] into the hand of a woman" (Judges 4:9), is "Barak."

In Nehemiah, we find an influential man working alongside his daughters. They were the children the LORD had given him, and he taught them to be strong and willing workers. Historically, they would have had some great examples of capable women. I'm thinking not just Deborah, but Ruth and the woman described in Proverbs 31 (who may have been Ruth).

Anyways, it is encouraging to me to see God using women and encourages me to do my work for His glory and in His strength. He knows I can't do it on my own.

Nehemiah--chapters 1 & 2

First it was a fellow teacher leading us through this book, then it was my two-year-old's Sunday school class. But the Lord seemed to be drawing me to it.

In chapter one as Nehemiah is confronted with discouraging news, he takes his burden/grief to the Lord. What began as simply a concerned question regarding his homeland turned into a committed season of prayer.

Nehemiah pours out his heart in praise and confession to the awesome God. He first focuses on Who God is and then on the sin of his people. He counts himself one of them and like them, a sinner. He pleads for God to remember His own Word.

And as he concludes his prayer, it seems the Lord inspires a plan; this idea of mercy being granted from the king whose cup he bears is put into his head: ask for favor from the king whom you serve.

And then as soon as he asks, he stands up from his prayers. A peace pauses his prayer as he get up and goes to serve the king, still with some trepidation and yet with an obvious confidence in the King of kings Who is for him.

"And the king granted me what I asked, for the good hand of my God was upon me" (2:8, esv).


Do I pour out my heart like this? Do I acknowledge my own sinfulness with that of the sins of my nation? Do I claim the promises God has spoken in His Word? Do I rise from prayer convinced God is for me? And do I see answers to prayer as "the good hand of my God...upon me"?

Mom Tips!

DID YOU KNOW?
  • Peel a banana from the bottom and you won't have to pick the little 'stringythings' off it. That's how the primates do it.
  • Take your bananas apart when you get home from the store. If you leave themconnected atstem, they ripen faster.
  • Store your opened chunks of cheese in aluminum foil.It will stay fresh much longer and not mold!
  • Peppers with 3 bumps on the bottom are sweeter and better for eating.Peppers with 4 bumps on the bottom are firmer and better for cooking.
  • Add a teaspoon of water when frying ground beef, it will help pull thegrease away from the meat while cooking.
  • To really make scrambled eggs or omelets rich add a couple of spoonfuls ofsour cream, cream cheese, or heavy cream; then beat them.
  • For a cool brownie treat, make brownies as directed. MeltAndes mints indouble broiler and pourover warm brownies. Let set for a wonderful mintyfrosting.
  • Leftover snickers bars (who has these? mine disappear too quickly to have leftovers, but i'd buy them for this) delicious dessert. Simply chop them with the food chopper. Peel, core and slice a few apples. Place themin a baking dish and sprinkle the chopped candy bars over the apples. Bake at 350 for 15 minutes!!! Serve alone or with vanilla ice cream. Yummm!
  • Reheat Pizza: Heat leftover pizza in a nonstick skillet on top of the stove; set heat tomed-lowand heat till warm. This keeps the crust crispy. No soggy micro pizza. I sawthis on the food channel and it really works.
  • Easy Deveiled Eggs: Put cooked egg yolks in a zip lock bag. Seal; mash till they are all brokenup. Add remainder of ingredients, reseal, keep mashing it up mixingthoroughly, cut the tip of the baggy; squeeze mixture into egg. Just throwbag away when done - easy clean up.
  • Expanding Frosting: When you buy a container of cake frosting from the store, whip it with yourmixer for a few minutes. You can double it in size and get to frost morecake/cupcakes with the same amount. You also eat less sugar and calories per serving.
  • Reheating refrigerated bread: To warm biscuits, pancakes, or muffins that were refrigerated, place them in a microwave next to a cup of water. The increased moisture will keep the food moist and help it reheat faster.
  • Newspaper weeds away: Start putting torn newspaper in your plants, work the nutrients in yoursoil. Wet newspapers,put layers around the plants, overlapping as you go; cover with mulch andforget about weeds. Weeds will get through some gardening plastic; they willnot get through wet newspapers.
  • Broken Glass: Use a wet cotton ball or Q-tip to pick up the small shards of glass youcan't see easily.
  • No More Mosquitoes: Place a dryer sheet in your pocket. It will keep the mosquitoes away.
  • Squirrel Away! To keep squirrels from eating your plants, sprinkle your plants with cayennepepper. The cayenne pepper doesn't hurt the plant and the squirrels won'tcome near it.
  • Flexible vacuum: To get something out of a heat register or under the fridge add an emptypaper towel roll or empty gift wrap roll to your vacuum. It can be bent orflattened to get in narrow openings.
  • Measuring Cups: Before you pour sticky substances into a measuring cup, fill with hot water. Dump out the hot water, but don't dry cup. Next, add your ingredient (peanutbutter, honey, etc.) and watch how easily it comes right out.
  • Foggy Windshield? Hate foggy windshields? Buy a chalkboard eraser and keep it in the glove boxof your car. When the windows fog, rub with the eraser! Works better than a cloth!
  • Reopening envelope: If you seal an envelope and then realize you forgot to include somethinginside, just place your sealed envelope in the freezer for an hour or two. Viola! It unseals easily. (Don't tell the scammers. Eee!)
  • Conditioner: Use your hair conditioner to shave your legs. It's cheaper than shavingcream and leaves your legs really smooth. It's also a great way to use upthe conditioner you bought but didn't like when you tried it in your hair.
  • Goodbye Fruit Flies: To get rid of pesky fruit flies, take a small glass, fill it 1/2 with AppleCider Vinegarand 2 drops of dish washing liquid; mix well. You will find those fliesdrawn to the cup and gone forever!
  • Get Rid of Ants: Put small piles of cornmeal where you see ants. They eat it, take it 'home,'can't digest it so it kills them. It may take a week or so, especially if itrains, but it works and you don't have the worry about pets or smallchildren being harmed!
  • INFO ABOUT CLOTHES DRYERS: The heating unit went out on my dryer! The gentleman that fixes thingsaround the house for us told us that he wanted to show us something and hewent over to the dryer and pulled out the lint filter. It was clean. (I always clean the lint from the filter after every load of clothes.) He tookthe filter over to the sink and ran hot water over it. The lint filter is made of a mesh material ... I'm sure you know what your dryer's lint filter looks like. Well ... the hot water just sat on top of the mesh! It didn't go through it at all! He told us that dryer sheets cause a film over that mesh- that's what burns out the heating unit.You can't see the film, but it's there. It's what is in the dryer sheets tomake your clothes soft and static free. You know how they can feel waxy whenyou take them out of the box ... well this stuff builds up on your clothesand on your lint screen. This is also what causes dryer units to potentiallyburn yourhouse down with it! He said the best way to keep your dryer working for avery long time (and to keep your electric bill lower) is to take that filterout and wash it with hot soapy water and an old toothbrush at least every six months.He said that increases the life of the dryer at least twice as long! How about that!?! Learn something new everyday! I certainly didn't know dryer sheets would dothat. So, I thought I'd share! NOTE: I went to my dryer and tested my screen by running water on it. The water ran through a little bit but mostly collected all the water in the mesh screen. I washed it with warm soapy water and a nylon brush and I had it done in 30 seconds. Then when I rinsed it ... the water ran right thru the screen! There wasn't any puddling at all! That repairman knew what he was talking about!
THANKS, MOM!

Hope

One of the things that really has stood out to me as I've been reading through Job this time is the theme of hope.

Through everything he endured (not just the losses but also the condemning "counsel" or criticism of "friends"), Job clung to his belief/faith in God.

"Though He slay me, yet I will hope in Him!" (Job 13:15, NIV).

He could not comprehend, and yet his hope in God remained firm throughout. There's a song, "When God is Silent," that preaches, "When God is silent...then it's time to trust, yes, it's time to remember that our God is faithful to His own..."

We can cling to Who He is, even when we can't figure out why the One Who controls everything isn't stepping in to change the hard things going on in my life right now. He knows what's best. Is my Hope stayed on Him?

I hope that as you see me and as the Lord continues to challenge my faith in Him and as trials come that you will see this character strength of a hope that clings to God in me and that as I observe you in your walk with Him that I will see that quality too. If we can't hope in God, what else do we have?

Our God Reigns

Job 41:11, NIV: "Who has a claim against Me that I must pay? Everything under heaven belongs to Me."

God's response to Job is one of authority and absolute sovereignty."He does whatever He pleases in heaven and on earth." Who am I to complain or question. He is God.

And our God reigns!

We have what Job only wished for!

Genesis to Job. That's at least what my current Bible reading schedule says. I've been amazed again recently realizing all Job went through. 9:32-35 really popped out at me last night in the NIV:

32 "[God] is not a man like me that I might answer Him,
that we might confront each other in court.
33 If only there were someone to arbitrate between us,
to lay his hand upon us both,
34 someone to remove God's rod from me,
so that His terror would frighten me no more.
35 Then I would speak up without fear of Him,
but as it now stands with me, I cannot."

Do these verses strike you the way they did me? Job wished he could just go and talk with God face to face. He longed to be able to boldly approach Him. He longed for someone to mediate/go between and take the wrath of God... And Christ did it! Jesus Christ is that one Mediator between God and man who bore the wrath of God, dispelling it forever, and opened up the access whereby we may boldly approach the throne of grace and find mercy to help in time of need.

Ultimately God did speak with Job and led him through all his trials, but I can't help thinking if I really realize what a privilege it actually is for me to come before the God of heaven without fear of being destroyed. Wow! Thank You, Jesus, for all You've done! Help me not to be so half-hearted and apathetic about Your work. Help me to really realize how awesome a privilege is mine.

Where Job said, "I cannot," I now through Christ can say, "I can!"

Stuff

I've been reading through Genesis recently and am at the part where Joseph reveals himself to his brothers and after acknowledging God's providential orchestration of his life and theirs, he asks them to go and bring their father and their families down to Egypt.

But I love how the Pharoah rejoices with Joseph in finding his family. He goes on to give some really good advice about materialistic affections: "Also do not look with regret or concern upon your goods, for the best of all the land of Egypt is yours" (Amplified, Genesis 45:20). (Click on the title to see Genesis 45, ESV.)

We too are on a journey to a Land of plenty! Why would I look with longing on the things of the earth here. I'm on pilgrimage. The stuff here serves its purpose here, but I must never forget that I am headed to a Country (Heaven) where "the best of all the Land" will be mine!

My prayer today is that the Lord would help me to "set [my] affections on things above, not on things on the earth" (Colossians 3:2, KJV).

Did not our Lord Jesus Christ tell us He was going to prepare a place for me? "The skies display his craftsmanship" (Psalm 19:1b, NLT). He is obviously an awesome Designer, so I can bank on the fact that the place He's preparing for me far out does the stuff I call mine here.

So as the ancient Pharoah advised Joseph's family: Let us "not look with regret or concern upon [our own material] goods, for the best of all the [Land] is [ours]" (Amplified, Genesis 45:20).

Missionary Fever

It was the middle of the night. I couldn't sleep. I knew our four-year-old Micah's fever was really high. I moved him to the couch and planned to do ironing and listen to sermonaudio.com. But while I was checking him, he woke up. His fever registered at over 102F. Here's a transcript of our dialogue:

"Micah, what's the worst thing that could happen to you?"

"I guess I could die."

"Would that be really awful?"

"Well, people think it would be scary, but it's not scary really because then I'd go to heaven and see Jesus... and then you and Daddy would have to bury me in the back yard, or maybe in the front yard."

"Micah, what would you want people to remember about you?"

"Well, I would just want them to know Jesus. But really I just want to be a missionary like you and Daddy are going to be."

"Well, let's pray that the Lord would take away your fever so you can be a missionary."

We prayed and then watched as Micah's fever dropped to 101 and then continued to progress downward toward normal. When he came in about 2 a.m. and asked for "some toast, with peanut butter and jelly, please," I knew he was on the mend. By the next morning, Micah was as good as new, and we were both the better for how the Lord had worked in our hearts.

No Matter What!

Bitter things made sweet. During a really challenging time, the Lord kept bringing me back to one particular psalm. It started out with just two verses–Psalm 104:27,28. I remember meditating on them day after day. If you were to have talked with me, you may have thought I needed to move on and study other passages. But that’s not always how it works. Sometimes you have to go deep before you can go wide.

Eventually when the Lord had cemented the truth into my mind and solidified them in my emotions, I did expand my exploration to the psalm as a whole, to get the context, and then on to other passages that correlated (fit together).

I never really intended this study to become a devotional. It seemed too personal.

But then I kept running into people that seemed to be hungry for the same feast our great God had set before me. How could I deny others the meat their souls longed for when it’s sitting right there on the plate in front of me? I couldn’t. God wouldn’t let me. And whereas it still amazes me how the Lord can use me and my pen, I know that in reality it’s His Words that are changing people.

This Word of God (Psalm 104) has changed my life and my attitude about Who God is and what He does, and because that is true, I know that He can use it to change others too. I hope as you study through Psalm 104 with me that first you’ll see the greatness of our God and then you’ll see your part in His awesome plan…that “No Matter What…you can rejoice”! And as the psalmist says, May our meditation be SWEET!

Sweet Stanza

Last night we sang "God Moves in a Mysterious Way" with our church family. It comes from the Scottish psalter, music by William Cowper. The fourth stanza stuck out to me, especially in light of our baby Kali, whose name means rosebud and who never got to see the light of the sun here on earth, but who is blossoming quite beautifully we believe where there is no need for sun because the Light of God's presence shines there. (See "Rosebud Reflections" for more).

Here are the words:

"His purposes will ripen fast,
Unfolding ev'ry hour:
The bud may have a bitter taste,
But sweet will be the flow'r!"

God is using each taste of bitterness to yield sweet beauty.

"I cry out to God Most High,
to God Who fulfills His purposes for me!" Psalm 57.2, ESV

book review: The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe


Micah wanted me to post this book. It's his favorite (along with the Focus on the Family's Radio Theatre unabridged recordings of this novel).


You will love Christian Birmingham's illustrustrations and the careful abridgement of the text.


Title is linked.

book review: A 30-Day Walk with God in the Psalms

(Click on the title to go directly to the Revive Our Hearts store. I'm sure you can find it other places online too, but the Revive Our Hearts is the ministry site of Nancy Leigh DeMoss and has other helpful things as well, so that's why I chose this link!)

My husband was marketing Christian products in the CBA and would bring home samples from time to time. When he brought this one home, I was thrilled. Our ladies at church were getting ready to use this book for the weekly Bible study time and I have liked what I've heard of Nancy's ministry.

For me, this devotional came at just the right time. I started the study on February 6, not knowing that later in the day I would find out that I was having a miscarriage (See "Rosebud Reflections"). At times like those, it's so important to keep our eyes on Jesus and having a guide to walk through especially that beloved book of Psalms kept me in the Word and putting one foot in front of the other.

Each lesson follows the same, progressively deeper approach to the particular psalm: observation, followed by interpretation, and then finally application. The psalm closes with the reminder to pray, not only for yourself but also for someone the Lord would lay on your heart, then a hymn text, and place to record your "take-away thought" for the day.

There's nothing fancy about this study guide, really nothing you couldn't do on your own, but sometimes when trying to decide what to do next in your Bible reading when your world is already spinning because of crisis circumstances, a pre-laid plan is exactly what you need.

It's what I needed. And now I have a record of all those things God taught me as he carried me through the past month, and I am so thankful!

book review: Easter In The Garden


I originally picked up this book (by Pamela Kennedy) because of its beautiful illustrations (by David Wenzel) and because of the Easter theme. But when I opened the first page and saw the main character's name was Micah (my first son's name), I had to get it!


Micah has two concerns: that the eggs he has found in the garden will never hatch and that Jesus is dead and he will never see Him again. As the story unfolds, Micah watches the Roman soldiers march through the street. The family's faith is tested. There are tender moments with his mother, the practice of the Passover/Sabbath supper, and the revelation of the angel in the Garden. As Micah watches from his perch in the olive branches, he hears that Jesus is alive and then sees the eggs hatch. He runs home to tell the most exciting news...not that his birdies have hatched, but that Jesus is alive!!


A sweet book to discuss with your kids. One that you'll want to prompt reading comprehension with. I hope you'll enjoy it!

Rosebud Reflections


No heartbeat. It was supposed to have been a routine obgyn check-up. I felt fine. I almost cancelled, in fact. But God in His sovereignty and kindness didn't allow me to do that. And even before the doctor looked at the ultrasound monitor to confirm the technician's findings, I knew the truth: There was no heartbeat. Our baby was gone. In that moment, as I lay on the medical table, my swollen belly smeared with gel, a quiet Voice echoed in my heart: "It's all right, Michelle. I have her, right here in My arms."


The next morning I sent out the following email to close family and friends:


Thursday, February 7, 2008

5.30a Subject: Prayer Request!


Dear Family and Friends,


Would you please pray for us today. Some of you may not have heard that we were expecting a new little baby in July. Before you get too excited for us, let me just continue the story. We found out yesterday that our baby passed away a couple of weeks ago in utero (14 wks gestation).


The miscarriage started naturally this morning and we were scheduled for "surgery" at 12:30, which we will continue as planned unless something progresses more rapidly, but I kind of hope it does. I would really like to have the miscarriage before the surgery.


The Lord has been so gracious to us to allow us to be prepared and last night I was able to talk extensively with (a friend who also recently had a miscarriage)....


We're both doing well and know God is in complete control. The verse I've claimed this year has been in Psalms: "God's lovingkindness lasts forever!" I know He loves us and I've seen in so many ways his gentleness. I'll share just one.


He graciously allowed me to go to my scheduled OBGYN appt yesterday. I almost cancelled b/c I've been feeling fine and just frankly wanted to save the out of pocket. I'm so glad I went. If I had started the miscarriage this morning and not gone yesterday and found out, I probably would've panicked. As it is, I was mentally prepared and can only thank God for that.


In God's sovereignty, my second devotional book went to press this week. The title? "No Matter What--you can rejoice!" That is my testimony now I think more than ever.


Here are my specific requests:

1. That "God grant me the serenity..." and keep my mind thinking things that are true and righteous.

2. That the baby miscarry naturally without any complications and that the procedure later today goes smoothly.

3. That the kids would be able to respond well. We have not told them yet, but Micah's the one who prayed for this baby in the first place, so it may be somewhat difficult. Thankfully, again, their friend's mommy just went through the same thing and so we have talked about how God sometimes brings babies home to be with Him when that's what's best for the baby.


I have never been more convinced of that in my life than I was immediately when they could not find the heartbeat with the ultrasound yesterday. God's grace blew in as powerfully as the gails outside were blowing yesterday, and with a calm serenity. Well, I'm going to go lie down for a while. But I do appreciate each of your prayers.


In His always loving care, with love, Alan and Michelle
***


Some dear friends kept the boys for the day, and by the time I came home from the hospital, my "inbox" was full of loving emails from friends who were praying. The following are subsequent email that I sent out letting those friends know how their prayers were answered:


***
February 7, 2008, 4.15p

Dear Family and Friends,

You all are so precious to me! Thank you so much for praying for us. I am home now and doing so much better than I could've imagined.

The Lord graciously allowed my water to break just as I was arriving at the hospital (10 am). I believe it was a direct answer to prayers and just a testimony of God's lovingkindnesses again for me that He allowed the miscarriage to occur naturally before the procedure.

The surgery went very well and everyone at the hospital (St. Francis Women's) was so loving and kind. I was asleep for the whole procedure and have had very little pain, etc.

Please, do not pity our circumstances. I know that the death of God's loved ones is precious to Him because He is welcoming them home to His arms. I know that my heavenly Father loves us and our little one and that He is watching over this precious little life that He created. I keep thinking, our child is right now praising Him perfectly. That is an amazing thought to me.

I have never felt more wrapped in His arms myself. He has been so gracious to answer our prayers so specifically and to give us so many loving friends.

We still have to tell the boys in just a little while when they come home and so we appreciate your prayers for them as they loved this baby quite a bit already. I know God will give them His grace too.

Well, I'm going to go lie down now, but I just wanted to say thank you. I am so thankful to be a part of God's family. I could tell so many of you were praying for me.

Again, please feel free to forward.

In His love,
Alan and Michelle and family

***
Friday, February 8, 2008, 6.46a

Dear Family and Friends,

Thank you once again for your prayers. We saw God answer each of the three original requests so sweetly! The final request was for our boys.

After a delicious pot roast prepared by my sister, the four of us sat on the rug in the living room for some family circle time. We started by singing their favorite song: Jesus Loves Me. I think it's worth refreshing some of the lines--

"Jesus loves me-- This I know for the Bible tells me so.
Little ones, to Him belong.
They are weak; but He is strong.
Yes, Jesus loves me!!!..."

We talked about who little ones and to Whom they belong. Then we were able to tell them that our baby belongs to Jesus, etc. They had a few questions, but responded in true child-like faith. What an answer to prayer!

Later as they were rocking in the chair with Daddy, I came in and sat at their feet. We talked just a little more.

(As background to what's next, let me just say that Micah seems to have come to what we believe to be true faith and repentance. He at several times has talked about really wanting to go to heaven and see Jesus and we've told him that Jesus will call him home when he's done here on earth, but that since He hasn't yet, He still has more for him to do.)

So anyways, they were sitting there in the chair and we were talking about the baby being in heaven, and Micah said, "She's all done here on earth?"

"Yes, Micah." And as the next words came out of my own mouth their reality hit my heart: "Our baby did everything God wanted her to do. She accomplished her assignment and so God let him come home." (Though I can't remember the exact words, that was the gist.) And that thought so amazes me: how God can use an unborn child, so small, so innocent, for His glory and to accomplish His perfect work! Our baby completed her course!

I can not tell you how many people we were able to share our faith in God's sovereignty and love with as a result of this, and I'm sure that His work will only continue till He has accomplished all that He will do on this earth with each of us and call His beloved Bride home. There is a resurrection! And we are SO looking forward to that.

A few little things that have been so encouraging to us:
* Emails filled with love and Scripture from you all,
* Randy Alcorn's book called Heaven, and
* SoundForth's recording A Strong Tower,

* a phrase from the Wilds' recording My Son, Give Me Thine Heart: "to His Father's will conformed" speaking of Jesus at Calvary. (I've had this CD playing in the boys' room this week and the night we found out about the baby, this phrase just really stood out to me. What Jesus submitted Himself to for me was awesome and horrendous. This was definitely "not my will," but it was His, and to that we both conform and rejoice knowing His outcomes of even heart-wrenching events are for His glory and our good.)

Well, this is the end of our little email trilogy, but I wanted you to know how truly awed we are at the specific, individualized answers to prayer.

"Let the words of my mouth and the meditations of my heart be acceptable/pleasing in Your sight, O LORD--my Strength and my Redeemer." Psalm 19:14.

With love, Alan and Michelle and family
--
Our family verse: Psalm 48:14, "This God is our God forever and ever! He will be our guide even unto death!"

***
We found out that our baby was indeed a girl and that she had trisomy 18. (See www.trisomy18.org/ for info.) We wanted a beautiful name for our very special baby girl and decided on "Kali Grace." Kali (pronounced "kay-lee") means rosebud.


A rosebud--that's just what she was, our little rosebud. It was God's grace to her, His very kind and special grace, that brought her home to Himself just as she was beginning to bud. But she is very precious and beautiful to us and we believe she is a fragrant aroma in the nostrils of our wise and loving heavenly Father.

The verse I have claimed for Kali Grace is Psalm 71:6, "Upon You I have leaned from before my birth; You are He Who took me from my mother's womb. My praise is continually of You."


***

If you or someone you know is going or has gone through a miscarriage and would like to "talk" please feel free to email me: ps48.14fam@gmail.com. I will pray for you.

The Girl in the Mirror


The Girl in the Mirror is my first book (published through JourneyForth, 2006). A devotional Reflections for Teens, this book helps girls take a close-up look into the book of Proverbs and examines the two types of women described there (the "praiseworthy" and the "problematic").

Each of the twelve lessons includes the following elements: Opener, Focus Passage, Facing the Facts (fact-level, face-value questions), A Closer Look (more questions, but a little deeper level), Time To Reflect (personal application), Additional Study (optional suggestions), and Memory Verse.

You can view the first chapter and table of contents at http://www.bjupress.com/ or http://www.christianbook.com/.

matthew henry on psalm 128.3

"Your wife will be like a fruitful vine within your house; your children will be like olive shoots around your table." psalm 128.3, esv


The wife...not only as a spreading vine which serves for an ornament, but as a fruitful vine which is for profit.... The vine is a weak and tender plant, and needs to be supported and cherished, but it is a very valuable plant.... The wife’s place is...by the sides of the house, not under-foot to be trampled on, nor yet upon the house-top to domineer..., but on the side of the house, being a rib out of the side of the man. She shall be a loving wife, as the vine, which cleaves to the house-side, an obedient wife, as the vine, which is pliable, and grows as it is directed. She shall be a fruitful vine, not only in children, but in the fruits of wisdom, and righteousness, and good management....


The children shall be as olive plants...though wild by nature, yet grafted into the good olive, and partaking of its root and fatness...straight and green, sucking in the sap of their good education, and likely in due time to be serviceable.” —Matthew Henry