Wednesday, September 26, 2007
Nobody asked me. I'm just saying.
Tuesday, September 25, 2007
Funny thing about that Old Grey Mare ~ she is just not the same as we remember. Yet, she insists that it wasn't her that moved. Upon close inspection, I realize that if she is the one who has remained constant, then Mr. Visionary and I must have changed. Have we changed, or have we just put on a new pair of glasses? The answer is looking a lot like...
We have lately had several opportunities to watch again, this time with our children, movies that Mr. Visionary and I remember as being a lot of fun. We are cautious with the exposure our children receive, but not against good old fun sometimes, too. So, when on movie night recently, we pulled out something we haven't seen in ten years or so, we were shocked to realize that it was not fun anymore.
We have changed. Especially in the way we watch a movie. Instead of just sitting back, and pressing pause on our moral compass, we are actively filtering what we see through new glasses (the lens of God's word). Does everything have to be perfectly cheery, godly and uplifting? Absolutely not. But like King David, we will set no wicked thing before our eyes ~ not even for the sake of 'entertainment'. Seeing wickedness on the screen is not completely without purpose, in my opinion. Seeing wickedness either go unpunished (or worse...rewarded) or having it glamorized is absolutely evil, and we will not do it. We believe ourselves to be setting a bad example, and condoning the behavior if we allow ourselves or the children to watch it.
We were flabbergasted when a certain character 'prayed' aloud to his dead father asking for help locating something, and his sword was shown 'leading' him to the right place. Using methods that God has forbidden (necromancy) helped this man gain success. Yikes! Where did that come from? Neither of us remembered that part from the old days. The Old Grey Mare still swears she did not move.
Another part of our movie-watching experience that has changed is the degree to which we will allow ourselves to become emotionally involved. Movies are designed to illicit a certain emotional response in order for one to feel that they have experienced something other than two hours of idleness during the viewing. They are carefully crafted so that the viewer will believe that 'good guy' is who the producers desire to be the good guy, and they are often not good at all. In the movie we just watched (and agreed never to allow in our home again), one of the 'good guys' spent twenty years of his life with the sole purpose and religiously avowed goal of seeking revenge upon the killer of his father. The end of the movie encourages one to be happy for him that he was successful in reaching his goal of murder. I can understand the guy's sentiments...I just cannot condone them. Nor can I reconcile them with God's word.
"Oh, I know it is wrong...but it is sooooo romantic."
"Yeah, but his father was killed ~ he should do something about it!"
"What's so bad about it? They love each other."
"Well, those guys are rich; they don't need all that money."
If I know it to be sin...how can I go along with it anyway because my emotions tell me it has to be right? The World says that feelings can never be wrong; that since feelings are the standard, we do not need God's enduring word. I'm here to testify that feelings cannot be trusted...that His word is the only thing we can trust.
The standard never changes. But our standard must change as we bring ourselves into closer alignment with His standard. If that means redefining what is and is not acceptable viewing material in our family, then so be it. If we get a lot of flack about it from others (and we do), what does it matter, right? I am not afraid of changing. I am afraid of being the frog in the pot that gets slowly boiled to death.
***EDIT*** An anonymous commenter, (IP: 184.108.40.206 , pardosa.ent.iastate.edu), from the Entomology Department at Iowa State University assured me that the frog in the pot is a myth. This person is correct, but many things that are myths are such well-known analogies that they are still in popular use.
Monday, September 24, 2007
Minimum Wage Cashier: "Wowee!. How many you got there? Y'all trying to catch up with them folks with, what is it, fourteen? "
Me (on the inside): "No, but maybe I can raise enough voters to outnumber folks like you. I have a long way to go based on how many times I've heard that statement just this week."
Me (on the outside): "No,Ma'am, but those folks sure are blessed. Aren't they?"...while smiling and shaking my head, 'Yes'.
* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
Navel-Pierced Goth Girl passer-by: "Ick. I'm glad it's you and not me."
Me (on the inside): gritting teeth..."Honey-Child....me, too. Me. Too."
Me (on the outside): Smiling satisfactorily and looking at my brood...."Thank you, Sweetie, I am, too."
* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
Complete stranger: "Don't you know what causes that?"
Me (on the inside): "Sure, I went to public school. I was taught it by complete strangers when I was nine, just like everybody else."
Me (on the outside): Forcing myself into a beaming smile...."Sure...and I know WHO causes it as well. Isn't the Lord GOOD to have blessed us with each of these children?"
* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
Smart Aleck Complete Stranger: " Don't you guys have a TV?" (inferring that the only two activities in all of life are watching TV or procreating) ...with a doofus, proud-of-himself chuckle.
Me (on the inside): " Father, remind me again why it is inappropriate to smack his saucy face?"
Me (on the outside): Looking puzzled and walking away..."I'm surprised that someone would rather watch TV."
* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
Upon seeing an acquaintance at the store, he replays his conversation with one of our Smart Aleck relatives...
Acquaintance: "So, how many kids have Phil and Julie got now?"
Relative: "I don't know...I haven't seen them in a few days." (cue the uproarious laughter here)
* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
Sweet Old Lady Complete Stranger: "Oh! Are they all yours? How wonderful! You are so blessed...I was one of twelve, too."
Me (on the inside): "Thank you, Father, for your mercy. I really needed this right now."
Me (on the outside): With a deep sigh and looking visibly relieved..."Yes, the Lord HAS blessed me. And I'm blessed by your comments as well...thank you. Thank you so much."
Thank you Father...there is a remnant that understands.
Saturday, September 22, 2007
Our season of Teshuva is drawing to a close, after much soul-searching and house-cleaning of a different sort. We have, as a family, spent much time clearing the air, cleaning spiritual and relational slates through repentance. Those longstanding, nagging little things that haunt our spirits, weigh us down and beg to be brought into the light have been our focus - those 'little sins', never confessed, that hinder our joy in the Lord. Time alone does not make all things new again. Through writing letters, making phone calls, and having long heart-to-heart talks, we have sought and extended forgiveness, and, in the process, found restoration. The decluttering is done.
The question that arises now, is how to keep the decluttering done. We have made extensive new policies in our home to keep physical clutter from coming back in, but how do we keep spiritual and relational clutter from finding it's way back? Life happens...sinners collide, and offenses are a natural result. This forty day season of repentance has been rich for us, and, after this, our first year of observing it, we are unanimous in our desire to do it again. It was profitable for us to spend forty days focusing on getting right with our Father and our fellow man. However, I personally do not wish to have thirty-plus years of baggage to have to clear out again. My desire is to put a stake in the ground...right here...right now...and resolve to keep things current.
The answer for me comes in keeping short accounts.
There were several things that I had to make right that were small issues ~ things that I did not feel quite right about at the moment of occurrence, but had allowed to 'slide' instead of confessing and asking forgiveness immediately. Contemplating the wasted energy I spent thinking about these minor offenses over the years makes me ill. I have heard it said that the Holy Spirit will speak to you in a whisper, or, if you ignore Him, will eventually throw a brick at you. That you have a choice...obey the whisper or wait for the brick. I haven't meditated much on the theological aspect of that , or whether it is accurate, but it certainly is motivating. Looking back, I am painfully aware that I should have heeded the whisper.
Keeping short accounts is all about heeding the whisper. When the Holy Spirit convicts me of sin, my place is to immediately confess and repent. Whether I am angry, lazy, prideful or selfish, I need to confess the instant I am aware of the sin ~ the instant the Holy Spirit whispers. I have to force myself to drop everything ~ right that minute ~ and ask forgiveness. It is the best method I have ever used for my part in putting my own sin to death. It is also the most humbling, which I suspect is the reason it works so well.
"If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness. If we claim we have not sinned, we make him out to be a liar and his word has no place in our lives" 1John 1:8-10.
Just as surely as we cannot cleanse ourselves, Yeshua can. So the order of the day, today, as every day, is a walk of obedient trust...heeding His voice, obeying His commands, and trusting in His cleansing.
Because it is so good to be clean.
Wednesday, September 19, 2007
We have a cozy loveseat in a sun-filled bay window in our room, and spend as much time there as life will allow, reading or chatting with each other, talking with the children, or doing our bible study together. When we aren't talking there, we do so at the kitchen table, or I stand in the bathroom doorway as he is getting ready for the day. In one of those casual chatting times this week, he was mentioning to me something he had recently shared with some young men. He was 'just talking', but I was listening. How many times the Holy Spirit speaks to me in apparently offhand ways! As is frequently the case, the second-hand advice I received from Mr. Visionary's conversation was a message to me from my Father.
Mr. Visionary mentioned that the fruit of the Spirit called self-control begets self-control and that the opposite is equally true. When we pride ourselves on being thin while lacking self-control in other areas, we are deceived. He shared how he at one time didn't feel a need to be self-controlled in the area of food because he wasn't overweight, but that Father showed him that it mattered. A lack of control in one area will migrate to another, he said.
That would certainly explain why a dark chocolate
So, I am listening...to my Father and Mr. Visionary, because the former often uses the latter to teach me.
And I have a lot to learn.
Tuesday, September 18, 2007
Had I not previously been nine months pregnant seven times over, I would surely have thought that these were the longest two weeks of my existence. Granted, they were indeed fifteen of the l.o.n.g.e.s.t. days in quite some time, and we are a bit worse for the wear, but Mr. Visionary's trip to Israel has come and gone, and we have survived.
Mr. Visionary himself had a delightful time in the Land. He served and ministered to both Israelis and Arabs, and in my wifely opinion, several Americans as well. His harvesting grapes in the West Bank fulfilled prophecy in some measure, as the scriptures tell of a time when foreigners will be vinedressers for Israel.
He also worked hard using his construction skills to serve the Israeli farmer to whom they were ministering.
They had enough "down time" to allow for some visiting...networking and worshipping with other believers in the Land. To some extent, we in the States understand fellowshipping together and building relationships within the body. It is important to us here, but not like it has to be on the front lines. Having strong relationships with the other believers and a support system in place is absolutely crucial in the face of the persecution and at times, danger, of serving Jesus in the Middle East. I do not believe that asserting, 'life and death could depend on being tied in to the body there', would be overstating the matter.
The Harvest 2007 Team
Part of Mr. Visionary's trip was to serve, but another part was reconnaissance. We both prayed that Father would indeed reveal more of His will for our family during Phil's time in the Land. And it appears He has. My Visionary has returned more focused - sure that Father is calling our family to serve Him in Israel. Phil's message from his time in the Land is this, 'There is a great work that Father is doing there, and a multitude of places and ways to serve. There is no shortage of needs in Israel nor shortage of opportunities to bless Israel.'
Now, on to the question that has been flooding my Inbox: "What is next? What are we going to be doing now?"
We are still at a place of knowing for sure, only the very next step. That would be to sell our farm while continuing to downsize.
While Mr. Visionary was away, the children and I took off school, and intensively worked on the To-Do list of all those little things (and some big) that need to be done before we can put the house on the market. We painted and patched, shoveled mulch and gravel (60 tons of gravel), and painted some more. We had a Work Day, where twenty-five friends came out to the farm to help get things done. It was a complete surprise to Mr. Visionary...everything...the work by the kids and myself and the Work Day. Mr. Visionary came home to a completely different house.
Honestly, it was equally encouraging and discouraging to see how much we accomplished. I was thrilled to see how many folks came to help us, and what work we could produce if we really set our minds to it. I was discouraged, however, to see just how much is actually left on the list that needs to be done contrasted with how little time we have available. This I know: we will get this work completed on Father's time table, and neither the timing nor the To-Do list will take Him by surprise. I am recognizing that knowing a thing to be true and wrapping one's heart around it don't always have the same chronology. So we work, wait and trust.
Solomon was right...there's nothing new under the sun.
Saturday, September 1, 2007
Until we meet again, dear Shabbat...
Father, strengthen our arms for the days and tasks ahead ~ for your glory.