Thursday, March 31, 2011

An Easter Birthday

My thirty-third birthday will fall on Easter Sunday. My first thought upon realizing this year’s date was “I will be the age Jesus was when He died on that cross”. And then “What have I done in my 33 years that could possibly compare to His?” I've done good things; God does good things through me and these have value. But I will never be like Him! I have been thinking on this for months; today it hit me that the truth is more beautiful than anything I could come up with: I don’t need to compare because what He did replaces what I’ve done, and all I ever will do. 

In the Spring we celebrate new life: from death, life; what was dead will rise again to new life (Isaiah 26:10, I Corinthians 15:51-52). Flowers die, drop seeds, Winter insulates, Spring sprouts new life from soil made rich by last year’s decomposed flora. The season of death is finished and life abundant blooms in the earth to feel the sun on its face.

I do not believe it is coincidence that God chose Spring for the Death and Resurrection of His Son.  In Spring in Israel came Passover.  Jesus went to Jerusalem for Passover that year (despite the intense political turmoil and danger to Himself... or perhaps we could say that it was for these very reasons?). He arrived in the city on the day the sacrificial lambs were brought to the Temple for four days of inspection. Only flawless lambs, only blemish-less lambs, only these were acceptable. During this time He Himself was "inspected" by the "authorities" of the day: the High Priest, scribes and elders, the High Priest's father-in-law (corrupted hierarchy that they had), the Romans. Grilled. Accused. Raked over the coals. At least four trials are recorded! No wrongs could be found; no blemish was in Him. But they condemned Him anyway on false witness. On the day before Passover He was nailed to a cross. 

And then He died. He forgave, and He took the blame for Sin - all our sins, our Sinful nature, each and every one. That ugly, separate-God-from-man Sin. The veil-ripping atonement shook the earth and blackened the sky that afternoon, before sunset when Passover began (Luke 23:45). You see, the veil separated us.e Litrally. A veil in the Temple separated the Presence of God in the Holy of Holies from Man in the outer courts. Only the High Priest could pass the veil, once a year, to offer sacrifice to God for the people. If the sacrifice did not "pass inspection" - death for the priest (they pulled him out by a rope tied to his ankle). When Jesus died that veil ripped in two. God was no longer separate. Jesus the High Priest (Hebrews 6:19-20) bought our access with a spotless sacrifice (Himself) and God accepted it. He removed the veil, now it's our heart to God's heart, no barrier.

Give or take 1500 years before Jesus' perfect sacrifice God's people Israel were slaves in Egypt. God wanted them out. Nine plagues could not convince Pharaoh to let them go. The tenth did. God gave very specific instructions to the Israelites; spotless lambs, blood on the doorposts, unleavened bread, dressed and ready to go. Even their future was looked after: plunder from the Egyptians, given freely! (But that is a topic for another day.) That night the Lord struck Egypt; every firstborn child died. But in the houses with spotless Lamb's blood on the doorpost, these the Lord passed over and the firstborn lived (Exodus 12). So you see? Jesus is the Passover Lamb for the houses of the whole world, every one that has His Blood on their doors (their hearts). Death will pass us over

This is why Jesus died at Passover.  This is Easter... though man has moved the observance to be near the Spring Equinox, though we have named it for a pagan goddess, though we buy chocolates and hunt for eggs... Easter is Atonement. Sacrifice. Passover.

And then... and then! He the Firstfruits to rise from the dead - the first and best portion tithed to God - the Firstborn Son who was demanded as God’s price for sin (I Corinthians 15:20). When He rose, He rose on the Feast of First Fruits. (There is so much here, it could take up books!) And so we live, and are given "new birth" from His death. Spring, and Birthday.

He is the Death-Defeater and the Life-Giver. He is our Passover Lamb and our Firstfruits Sacrifice. His Death means our Life. My birthday on Easter is God’s picture to me that Easter is every Christian’s Birth day – the celebration of our birth into Eternal Life with God. The season of Death is finished (John 19:30) and Life abundant blooms in us to feel the Son on our faces.

This post was spoken to me by God; I don't believe I can write this way on my own, it's His gift to me, through me. I am being inspired and encouraged every day by other women, beautiful everyday-like-me women, who blog. Ann Voskamp (One Thousand Gifts) is offering a scholarship to a conference I just learned about - She Speaks - where women connect the hearts of women to the heart of our God, to follow God's calling on their lives through speaking, writing, sharing. As He leads me and I struggle along to follow I pray that He use me to speak to others, His children, in some way. Not really good enough for that job, but that's not the point, is it? 

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Sunlight and Icicles

March in Michigan. One week ago shone 60° and sunny. The weekend poured wet and windy, thunder shaking the sky. Today: 19° and icy.

This morning’s flow was less than smooth. I moved slow and the clock moved fast. I left late (it’s my modus operandi). Up and down the stairs, in and out the door for forgotten earrings, cell phone, and water jug (8 glasses a day, right?). And wouldntja know, there’s frost on the windshield. Not the nice kind that’s easy to scrape off. No. The fine, dust-like kind that grips the glass for all it’s worth and scrapes off in itty bitty fits and starts.

I scrape off the driver’s side – good enough, I’m already ten minutes late – and go. And then, THE SUN. Oh, my, the sun. I can barely see, and that’s with the shades on. So I continue on my careful, blinded way. The water jug spills. It’s cold. The big truck ahead of me is sooooo slooooow…. I really hate driving to work, you know?

But then two things happen. (They are the still small whisper finding its way into my pea brain.) Francesca Battistelli starts belting it out: “This is the stuff that drives me crazy”. In a moment without the sun burning my retinas I catch a glimpse of the trees. For a second breathing escapes me. Every tiny branch is sheathed in ice, sparkling in that sunlight. I think “God has sculpted an ice garden”, and it occurs to me that the sun and the ice are His creations and they are not here to vex me. They are here to remind me: He loves me and gives me beauty.

And Francesca is singing “This is the stuff You use….” Amen.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Love and Marriage

Before Life, there was Love. And Love so abundant that God (omnipotent, omniscient, omnipresent and utterly self-sufficient) would reach out and create for Himself companions simply to Love. That we would love Him in return is His greatest joy.

So great is His joy in our love that He creates in us a need for love so that we too will know this joy. So great is this need that it can be ultimately fulfilled only by the Love of the Father Himself. And yet, He creates in us the need to love other humans as well.

The most precious gift of human love that He bestows upon us is the gift of marriage. It is a masterpiece portrait of the love that Christ poured out for for the Church. It is a perfect model to the rest of the world of the way all relationships should work: give and take, respect and support, honor and love, interdependency. It is the strong foundation of society and the fertile soil for raising more holy warriors for the Kingdom of God.

And yet, perhaps, above all this it is most simply, most beautifully, a gift from God for one man and one woman to give them great joy and fulfillment for the rest of their lives. At the core of all that He is, our God is, after all, Love.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Happy Here

God wants to give us happiness. I recently read that “if you’re not happy here, you won’t be happy there”. This is a truth that I have known intellectually for a long time, but only now is it sinking into my heart in a way that I can truly understand. I’ve often wondered: if God wants me happy, why doesn’t He move me to “that place” where I just know I’ll be happy? I’ve long believed that God is waiting on me to move – to obey – before showering certain blessings (be they what I think I want or what He knows I need is TBD) down upon me (Deuteronomy 11:27; 28:1-2, Malachi 3:10). I know He wants me to learn contentment no matter my circumstance (1 Corinthians 7:17-24, Philippians 4:11-12). I’ve struggled with this, viewing it slightly askew. Ok, I know the grass over there is probably not as green as I think it is, but won’t things be easier there? Better? I’d have more time to devote to God, to my husband, to the housework, to my gifts, to having children… I’d be happier!
But no. God is not “withholding happiness” from me "until I learn my lesson". He will give me Happy, but He won’t give it to me “there”, He’ll give it to me “here”! And just like every gift He’s ever given, I have to reach out and take it. Accept it. He’s telling me what I need to do, I just have to do it. Yes, the simplest things are often the hardest. But maybe we make them harder than they should be. So: stop trying to do everything else “first”: stop trying to make the house perfect, to get in shape, to get organized, to finish my book, to have babies, to be a prayer warrior, to have Bible study time “just so”, and on and on. Just BE with Him. Sit down and read, pray, study. If today it’s an hour in deep study of the Psalms and tomorrow it’s five minutes in a devotional, so be it! He is jealous to be with us (Exodus 20:1-6), not our religion. (The most important commandment is to love God, then other people – the rest of the “law” comes after this! (Matthew 22:34-40; 1 Corinthians 13:1-8)). It’s very clear: give God your firstfruits (Proverbs 3:9-10) – this is the first of everything, not just money! We will never be happy, content, satisfied with any other area of our lives, no matter how successful the world would measure us, if we are not first happy in God.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Gardening. I've always liked it, but this year is the first I can say I've truly "gardened" in my own garden. It may only be a couple 20-foot strips a couple feet wide bordering the walk up to my condo, but it's mine and I'm proud of it!

It's got me to thinking. If I planted and never watered, never fed... the plants would die. "Well, of course!" you might say. Oh, a few might straggle on and go wild with just the rain, but it wouldn't be much. As in most things this puts me in mind of God and us - His garden. This analogy is nothing new of course. I don't think this diminishes the truth. We start so small - a seed, or perhaps we're a bit "older" when we "let" Him start with us so we're a small plant.

Without Him we're never very big or thriving - some of us might think so, but it will
never even come close to what He can do with us. So he waters and feeds - and we grow.

Of course, we have to do some work here too. We have accept the water, accept the food. Spend time with Him, study His ways, share Him with others. Spread the seeds so to speak. But as He tends us it's absolutely amazing what happens. From tiny to thriving we blossom out into beauty - and the process never ceases to amaze me.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Time to update with some real posts! I'll start with some photos of handmade birthday cards.

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Brand New Blog

This blog is dedicated to the art of learning to live life to the fullest. It's about learning to be molded, shaped, and reshaped until we reach that perfect form - and coming through life's fires a stronger, more beautiful person than we when started. God is the potter, we are the clay; when He molds us, we may not understand what he's doing at the time, but we will always come out a work of art.

I will be adding a portfolio of work - greeting cards, scrapbook samples, and other paper art mostly - and information on purchasing said work. I will also be adding links, videos, how-to's, thoughts, teachings, and all sorts of other goodies. This is a work in progress and I'm just getting started, so I hope you bear with me! Thanks for coming!