December 9, 2011

Another Lesson Learned

I  consider myself a fair-to-average crafter, good decorator, great seamstress and excellent cook.
Sometimes, though, it just doesn't work out.

The other night, I attempted to pan-fry tiny grouper nuggets. They literally disintegrated into a pile of fish mush in the pan, and we ended up ordering dinner. Shout out to Mark's City Grill!

A few weeks ago, I wanted to make cozy baby boots for Emmy. I didn't need no stinkin' pattern.

Hmm... that is a general shoe appearance. Hey, Emmy, do you want to wear these? But they're made by your mama, with lots of love. What do you mean, other kids have shoes with shape?

Ah, okay, I see what you mean. I wouldn't give these boots to Dobby, and I didn't even bother to finish the top seam. They. Are. Horrendous.

So, the lesson of the day is that sometimes I don't know it all and I need a pattern. Or a merciful friend to tell me what's what. Or the Bible to point the way.

"But He gives us more grace. That is why Scripture says: "God opposes the proud, but gives grace to the humble." - James 4:6

P.S. Tryna, if you're reading this, Jonah will not be receiving a pair of Dobby boots. And he's better for it :)

P.P.S. If anyone needs a soulful, heartbroken song, listen to "Lesson Learned" by Alicia Keys. So good.

December 5, 2011

Snakes, Babies and Sons of Abraham

Here's last week's Advent study scriptures. Take a minute to read over what might be familiar words to you from the book of Isaiah.

The people who walk in darkness will see a great light; Those who live in a dark land, the light will shine on them. (9:2)

For a child will be born to us, a son will be given to us; And the government will rest on His shoulders; And His name will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Eternal Father, Prince of Peace. There will be no end to the increase of His government or of peace, On the throne of David and over his kingdom, To establish it and to uphold it with justice and righteousness From then on and forevermore. The zeal of the LORD of hosts will accomplish this. (9:6-7)

Then a shoot will spring from the stem of Jesse, And a branch from his roots will bear fruit. The Spirit of the LORD will rest on Him, The spirit of wisdom and understanding, The spirit of counsel and strength, The spirit of knowledge and the fear of the LORD. And He will delight in the fear of the LORD, And He will not judge by what His eyes see, Nor make a decision by what His ears hear; But with righteousness He will judge the poor, And decide with fairness for the afflicted of the earth; And He will strike the earth with the rod of His mouth, And with the breath of His lips He will slay the wicked. (11:1-4)

And the wolf will dwell with the lamb, And the leopard will lie down with the young goat, And the calf and the young lion and the fatling together; And a little boy will lead them. Also the cow and the bear will graze, Their young will lie down together, And the lion will eat straw like the ox. The nursing child will play by the hole of the cobra, And the weaned child will put his hand on the viper's den. They will not hurt or destroy in all My holy mountain, For the earth will be full of the knowledge of the LORD As the waters cover the sea. (11:6-9)

These are prophecies about Jesus in the Old Testament, from Isaiah, inspired by God, and almost haunting in tone. This Son, born out of Israel, was to bring about peace, justice, fairness for the afflicted. I've never really paused to think about the Jewish nation of Israel during Christmastime. But now, reading these passages, they are on my mind. How must it feel to see huge Christian populations of the world celebrate the birth of a Messiah, if you don't believe that he was the true Messiah, as most of them do? How must it feel to think that maybe this amazing peace-bringer might still come in your lifetime? How must it feel to hear carols about it all?
God's promise of a Messiah is a big one. You can't just tell your kids, "Hey, I know that I'm pretty awesome, but one day, I'm going to send someone to you who is AMAZING. He's going to make all the wrongs right and make a kingdom of peace that lasts forever" and then not follow up. God did follow up. It just wasn't the way that the Jewish nation thought He would. It was in the humility of a baby.
To me, this is often the hardest point of belief in our Christian faith that I have. How can a baby be God? How can a person, a person with bodily functions and frailties, be God?
I was dressing Emmy the other day, looking at the fingernails that needed to be trimmed and the dried pumpkin puree on her cheeks that needed to be washed and the fuzzy hair sticking out everywhere and thought, "Jesus was a baby". Jesus needed diapers and kisses and naptimes. And yet He was God.
Let me take a rabbit trail for a minute and tell you about a dream I had two nights ago: Our family was living somewhere out west and it was a hot, sunny day. I went outside to sunbathe in a gravel driveway, and Emmy joined me. Maybe baby sunbathing is ok in dreams? Anyway, as I was lying on my back, I saw and heard a huge yellow rattlesnake by my side. I had to make a decision. Do I move? Do I stay still? Do I grab Emmy and run? He might strike if I move too quickly. He might go away if I stay still.
I am scared of snakes, no doubt about it. In my dream, I grabbed Emmy and ran. So when I came across the verse in our reading, "The nursing child will play by the hole of the cobra", I got really creeped out. I can't imagine Emmy by a snakehole or near a poisonous snake. It's too stomach-dropping scary. But this is what God promised -- a peaceful existence.
Jesus brought us peace, eternal peace. When we know Him and believe that He is the light in the darkness of the world, we know His peace. Does this mean that I can let Emmy go play with snakes, chilling over by the cobra holes? Of course not. It's a picture of peace in the natural world that translates to our spiritual lives. I could go on for awhile about the symbolism of snakes and animals in the Bible, but this is already getting long. Are you still reading? Ok, good :)
What I want to finish off with are the encouragements below, for myself and for you.
1. Pray for Israel and Jewish people who haven't accepted Jesus as the Messiah.
2. Pray for faith, faith to believe that God was man.
3. Pray for peace in our families, and that God would teach us to live in the peace that Jesus has brought us.
Merry Christmastime!