Hopeful Thoughts


Archive for June, 2009

Up-Cycle in Progress

I recently heard from my friend Bethany about people who cut up plastic shopping bags and use them to crochet.  Of course I had to try it!  Here is my first attempt.  I’m not sure what it will turn into.

bagcrochetSo, if you find yourself with extra bags on your hands, send them my way!!!

The story of “Rebekah”

Telling stories seems pretty easy.  This spring, I was given an assignment in BTCL to re-tell a Bible story.  I thought I had it all figured out until I realized that you have to be careful what you assume, especially when it comes to God’s Word.  This assignment turned out to be a pretty big challenge.  I spent hours researching cultural history and Bible commentaries before I came up with a perspective that seemed legit.  Then, it took me may more hours to write it out.  (Then I had to tell it from memory to over 40 women!!)  Today, I want to share that story with you.

 

Rebekah’s Reflections

 

Hello, friends. Thanks so much for coming to visit me on my death bed. It means a lot to have you here. I am a sad, bitter woman, who’s done some things that I have come to regret. No, my life hasn’t been completely filled with bad times. I have some sweet memories, too, but it pains me that I will never see him again. My sweet boy!! If only I had done things differently, then perhaps he would be here with me today!

I grew up in the land of Paddam Aram. This means “the plane of Aram.” It was a flat place. Land stretched out for miles. The only things that rose above the horizon were the ziggurats built to the pagan gods of the land. Most of the people in the area were polytheistic and didn’t know about the one true God that my family knew. They worshipped many gods and bowed down to idols made of gold, silver, or even carved form wood! This land was as advanced as any of the time. The neighboring cities were home to all kinds of craftsmen and people who could read and write.

The planes of Paddan Aram were perfect for grazing animals. My own father and brother were shepherds in the land, as we come from a long line of shepherds. Some of our family, like my great uncle Abram, were nomadic and didn’t stay in the area. Others, like my father, lived in Paddan Aram and just traveled in close proximity to home in order to graze the animals. My grandfather used to tell me the story about his brother, Abram, who left this land to follow the one true God to the land of Canaan. God promised to give him the land one day. My family stayed here, however, even though we believed what Abram had told us about the one true God.

It was my job to collect water for our family, as was custom for the young women in most families. Each day I would carry my jar down to the well and carefully walk down the steps to reach the spring at the bottom of the well over 100 feet below. I would fill my jug with about 3 gallons of the cool, fresh water, and then make the trek back up the earthen steps.

One day when I went down to the well, I was AMAZED to see camels! Only the wealthiest people could afford camels, and here were TEN of them! I couldn’t believe it. I went about my job of traveling down to the bottom of the well to fill my jar with water, but I felt the eye’s of the man with the camels following me as I went about my task. As I reached the top of the well, the man with the camels hurried to meet me and spoke to me. “ Please give me a little water from your jar.” I wasted no time and carefully poured water into the man’s cupped hands so that he might be refreshed. Then I said something CRAZY, “I’ll draw water for your camels too, until they have finished drinking.”

I don’t know what I was thinking. Camels can drink 25 gallons of water at a time, and my little jar only held 3 gallons! It would take me 8 or 9 trips just to satisfy one of the beasts, and this man had TEN! With such a great task, I knew I better hurry. Fortunately, I was in pretty good shape, so the job wasn’t too bad. Still, the whole time I was working, the man just watched me.

When the camels finished drinking, the man gave me a gold nose ring and two gold bangle bracelets. I was shocked! This was such a costly gift! Then he asked, “Whose daughter are you? Please tell me, is there room in your father’s house for us to spend the night?”

I quickly answered him, “I am the daughter of Bethuel, the son that Milcah bore to Nahor. We have plenty of straw and fodder, as well as room for you to spend the night.” I heard that man praising God and saying something about being lead to the home of his master’s relatives. I didn’t really know what this was all about, but I was very excited. I rushed home to tell my mother and brother, Laban, about what had happened.

When the man arrived at my house, I finally learned what was going on. This man served my great uncle Abraham and had traveled to Paddan Aram to find a wife for my cousin, Isaac. He had prayed at the well for God to show him the right girl. He’d asked God that when he asked a girl for a drink, that, if she was the right one, she would offer to water his camels, too! Oh my goodness! That was exactly what I had done! Was I to travel back to Canaan with this man to marry Isaac?

When my brother and father heard the man’s story and his request to take me home with him to Issac, they couldn’t argue. I remember what Laban said, “This is from the LORD; we can say nothing to you one way or the other. Here is Rebekah; take her and go, and let her become the wife of your master’s son, as the LORD has directed.” Then the man brought out more gifts and gave them to my brother. I just remember being amazed at the show of wealth my Uncle Abraham had come into. And to think, I was going to marry into this family!!!!

The next day, Abraham’s servant got up early and said to my brother, “Send me on my way to my master.” I guess my family wasn’t quite ready to let me go just yet. Laban asked if I could hang around for ten more days, but Abraham’s servant was in a hurry. Laban asked me if I wanted to go. I was thrilled with the idea, and agreed immediately to go. So I packed up my belongings and set out on the journey.

It was a journey of a few hundred miles to get back to Canaan where my future lay. I got to ride a camel the whole way! He was kind of smelly, but it sure beat walking!! We crossed desserts and two rivers, the Euphrates and the Jordan. It was a long, hot journey. I had lots of time to imagine what my new life would be like. Who was this Isaac? Would he like me? Would I like him? My heart was aflutter with mixed emotions of fear and excitement.

As we entered the land, we came to a place called Beer Lahai Roi. I looked up and saw a man there meditating and thought, “Could this be Issac?” I got down off my camel, attempting to be as lady-like as possible for fear the man might see my awkward dismount. Just then, I noticed the man walking towards us. He was so cute! My heart started racing, and I asked Abraham’s servant, “Who is that man in the field coming to meet us?”

“He is my master,” the servant answered. When I heard that, I grabbed the veil around my shoulders and covered my face with it. I wanted to be sure he knew I was unmarried.

What happened next was a blur. Marriage ceremonies back then were simple. If a man liked a women, he simply took her home and that was that. After a bit of explanation from the servant, Isaac took my hand and lead me into the tent of his mother, Sarah. He loved me and we were married. I was a WIFE!!!

Those early years of our marriage were so sweet. He had just lost his sweet mother, and I think it was a great comfort to him to have me there.

I would have done anything for Issac. Once we went to the land of Gerar where Abimelech was king. Isaac was fearful for his life and asked me to pretend to be his sister. I didn’t really understand, but I obeyed, because I loved him. Well, Isaac just couldn’t keep his hands off me back then. One time the king caught him caressing me, and his charade was blown. I remember the king’s words, “She is really your wife! Why did you say, ‘She is my sister’?” The king was shocked, but he issued a decree to protect both of us from harm.

After being married a few years, it became apparent that I wasn’t able to have children. I felt so discouraged and abandoned. I loved my sweet husband, and it pained me that I could not give him a child. But, sweet Isaac remembered his mother and knew that God had blessed her with a child in her old age. So, he prayed to God on my behalf. Soon after, I got pregnant!! We were so excited!

The pregnancy was difficult. I was in great pain and didn’t understand why. It was so unbearable at times that I wanted to die! So, I prayed to God and asked him why this was happening, The LORD was gracious and answered me. He said, “Two nations are in your womb, and two peoples from within you will be separated; one people will be stronger than the other, and the older will serve the younger.”

I was going to have twins! No wonder the babies were so squirmy inside me! We had two boys, The first to come out was Esau, but Jacob fought all the way. He was still hanging tight to his brother’s heel when he finally emerged. God had blessed me so much! I had a wonderful husband and two children! If only I had continued to trust Him! But, this is where my story takes a turn.

The boys grew up, and Esau became a skillful hunter, a man of the open country, while Jacob was a quiet man, staying among the tents. Isaac, who had a taste for wild game, loved Esau.” I loved Jacob. Jacob was my favorite from the beginning. While Esau was out learning to hunt, I taught Jacob how to cook and tend to things around the tents. I wanted to keep my eye on him and make sure he was ready to be in charge one day, since God had told me that the older would serve the younger. I would tell him about the great plans God had for him one day.

I’m afraid this idea of power must have gone to his head. One day he was cooking a lentil stew and Esau came in starving after a day of hunting. The stew smelled so good, and Esau was so hungry that he would have done just about anything for food. He said to Jacob, “Quick, let me have some of that red stew! I’m famished!”

Jacob took the opportunity and said, “ First, sell me your birthright.”

Sure, Jacob shouldn’t have asked for such a thing, but Esau was terribly quick to agree to the terms and gave up his birthright to his younger brother. Then again, it was probably my fault for putting the idea into Jacob’s head.

You see, not too many years later, my husband Issac called to Esau and asked him to go out and hunt for some wild game and prepare it for him to eat so that he might bless Esau. Isaac was getting along in years and had lost most of his sense of sight. As a result, I was able to devise a plan to deceive him, a task that I have come to regret. I helped Jacob to deceive his father and steal his brother’s blessing.

Once Esau left the house, I called to my dear Jacob and told him what to do. I sent Jacob out to the flocks to select two goats that I then prepared just the way my sweet husband liked them. Then, I found some of Esau’s clothes and told Jacob to put them on. I even went so far as to cover Jacob’s hands in the skins of the goat so he would feel hairy likes his brother, just in case Issac reached out and touched him.

My plan worked perfectly! Isaac only once questioned the identity of his son, and he blessed Jacob, thinking he was Esau. When Esau returned, he was devastated. He pleaded with his father for his own blessing, but there was none to be given, only curses. My heart ached for my eldest son, but I knew that God planned for Jacob to be blessed. Wasn’t this the way it was supposed to be? Esau had to see!

But, no. Esau was so upset that he plotted to kill Jacob! I was so scared for my precious son that I devised yet another plan. I told Jacob that he was to go to my brother’s house until Esau calmed down, and then I would send word to him when it was safe to come back. I went to my husband and said to him,“I’m disgusted with living because of these Hittite women. If Jacob takes a wife from among the women of this land, from Hittite women like these, my life will not be worth living.”

Issac agreed that we did not want Jacob to marry any of the Canaanite women, either. So he said to Jacob, “Do not marry a Canaanite woman. Go at once to Paddan Aram, to the house of your mother’s father Bethuel. Take a wife for yourself there, from among the daughters of Laban, your mother’s brother.”

And so, Jacob went. It’s been many years now, and I’ve heard that Jacob has married has my two nieces, Rachel and Leah. They even have children! But, I’ve never seen them. Esau is still bitter, so I haven’t been able to send for Jacob, and now I am dying and will never see my sweet boy again. Not to mention the tension between me and Isaac. He hasn’t really treated me the same ever since.

It’s sad, really, because it didn’t have to be this way. I know God told me that Esau was to serve Jacob, but why did I have to take matters into my own hands? I didn’t gain anything, in fact, I lost so much! Why couldn’t I trust the God of Abraham to be in control? Now, all I can do is pray that He will forgive me and let me rest in Him in eternity.

Coffee Cup Chronicles: Part 1

I love coffee.  I’m not one of those purists who think you have to drink it black, but I can tell the difference between a GOOD cup of coffee and the cheap stuff, even if I do like to add flavored creamers and sugar.  

Many mornings as I savor my hot cup of coffee, I have noticed my mug and remembered where it came from.  Nearly all of my mugs have a story to go along with them.  I’m not sure I have a single ceramic much that I just bought for myself.  (This IS the case with the majority of my travel mugs, however).  Recently, I had the idea to post pictures and share the stories of each of my mugs.  It will be a fun trip down memory lane for me and I hope an enjoyable read for my friends.  

allisonDid you ever meet one of those people that you just loved immediately?  A person who was kind, understanding, available, a good listener?  This is the type of person who is a friend to everyone.  It was a friend like this who gave me today’s coffee mug.

I met  Alison E. (now Alison R.) while I was a student at Meredith College.  We were both involved in Campus Crusade for Christ and lived on the same hall in the dorms at least two years.  Alison was one of the people I spent the most time with while I was in school. She encouraged me through stress, relationships, and life in general.  She was always there if I needed a friend.  We spent a lot of time together even after graduation.  I would spend weekends with her in Raleigh after I’d moved back to Greenville.  I’ve seen her two or three times over the last six years since I moved to Texas.  I wish it could be more.  She’s so precious to me. 

I don’t remember the occasion of this mug.  I know it was during our senior year or after graduation, because I was already dating Ryan and we were pretty sure that I would be moving to Texas.   Alison picked this mug because the cows were traveling to Texas, just like I was going to do!  Thanks, Alison!

My new goal in blogging is to address a different theme each day.  Look for the Coffee Cup Chronicles each Thursday.

We all scream for … produce???

I’ve just joined a local co-op for organic produce.  Yesterday I made my first pick up and I am so excited!  

I’m sure you’re wondering what it is about mere fruits and vegetables that has me so thrilled.

produceThat, my friends, is a bin full of fresh possibilities!!  Underneath the heads of lettuce, oranges, eggplant, and much more lie new flavors to explore, motivation to eat healthier, a reason to cook at home (thus saving money), and even reasons to spend more time with friends.  

So far I haven’t used this week’s items for any clever new recipes.  I’m going to attempt eggplant parmesan tonight, but that’s nothing out of the ordinary for most people.  Many of the veggies have made their way into simple salads and the fruit has just been consumed as is.  (But boy was it yummy!)

Recent and Upcoming Life Events

Life is going pretty great right now.  

On June 5, I celebrated 9 years of teaching high school math.  On June 14,  my husband and I celebrated 6 years of marriage. Ryan graduated from UNT in December of 2007 and has been working full time as a video game programmer since then, so this fall, I will begin my dream job of being a stay at home wife(No kids on the way, yet!) So, the question is, what am I going to do with all my free time?

Remember my Spring Break blog post?   I’ll be doing much of the same stuff I listed  back in March.   I will continue swimming, hopefully upping the frequency.  I am starting a math tutoring business that will get off the ground this week.  During the month of July, I will do a lot of packing since we are planning to move at the end of the summer.  In August, I will travel to Argentina.  In December, I will go to Michigan to witness the birth of my third niece/nephew (don’t know which yet!)  Oh, and I will be helping out with the new BTCL class.  Other than that, only God knows!

I’d like to say more about how God has opened the door for me to go on a short-term mission trip to Argentina. Denton Bible Church has established missionaries in the cities of La Plata and City Bell that are working with local churches and involved in church planting. I, along with seven others, will be in Argentina for 10 days. We’re going to assist those missionaries in establishing and organizing Sunday School for Children ages 2 – 15 in the local churches.  In addition to all we will be doing with the children’s program, I will be staying an additional week to assist one of the long term missionary couples, who are expecting their first baby in July.

welcometolatinamerica(Photo of some Latin American stuff that we showed to kids at the DBC Missions Conference.  Because of my involvement on the Argentina team, I was asked to head up this room.)

Dear readers, please add this mission team to your prayer calendar, especially during the time we will be working alongside the Argentine Christians. Also, If the Lord leads you to join us financially in this mission, please contact me message and I’ll send you more information.

sergioandkids2(Here we were telling the kids about Argentina.)

Did I say life is going pretty great?  :)

Time with the Family

You’d think that I would have ALL kinds of time to post while on vacation.  Turns out that anytime small children are present, there are lots of things that become REALLY hard to get done.  While the kids are awake, you can’t use the computer because the kids want to play games on it.  When they are asleep, you either sleep too, or at least sit and rest while you can.  I LOVE my nieces and have enjoyed the time I’ve been able to spend with them, my sister, and my parents the last couple of weeks.  Here are a few pictures from the trip this far.

jocandhopeMe and my oldest niece.

 

beedadhopeMy sister, my dad, and me before church on Sunday.

 

dadbeegirlsMy sister, my two nieces, and my dad.

What I’ve Been Learning

 

I recently graduated from the BTCL program at DBC.  While in the program, I was challenged to define God, both before and after we studied Bible Doctrine.  Here is my attempt at what I feel is truly impossible, after several weeks of study.

familyatbeach1(I include this picture because one of my favorite attributes of God is that of Creator.  Here are some of my favorite things in creation:  My earthly father, my precious niece(with her father) and a beautiful ocean.)

 

God is a holy, unchanging, eternal, supernatural being who always has been and will always be. He is three persons in one. The three are Father, Son, and Spirit. The Father is the head. The Son now sits are the right hand of the Father in Heaven, but lived as a man on earth for a brief time. By the power of the Spirit, the Son was born to a woman. While on earth, He was fully man and yet fully God. The Sprit indwells believers and gives them power to do the will of God.

God is the Creator of all things that have been created. He is sovereign over all and faithful to His people and His promises. He can see across time and control all aspects of His Kingdom Program at once. He is all powerful and all knowing, not bounded by time. He is transcendent, above His creation, yet omnipresent and involved in His creation. He is a personal God. There is no other like him, a perfect, life-giving, Sprit. He sets up rulers and he deposes them. There is no one greater in power than the Almighty God.

God is just and will exercise both his wrath and his forgiveness as he wills. He is “slow to anger, abounding in love and forgiving sin and rebellion. Yet he does not leave the guilty unpunished.” (Numbers 14:18) He is loving, compassionate, gracious, and merciful to his creation. He demonstrates patience in judgment, not wanting any to perish, but all to be brought to salvation. He is self-sufficient. He does not need us, but we need him. Without him, we would perish. In his mercy, he sacrificed himself in human form to pay for our sins so that we might be declared righteous as he is righteous. While we could offer sacrifices, it was he, himself, who provided what we really needed.

God is the ultimate source of truth and he is the light that illuminates all truth. He allows us, by the power of the Spirit, to help communicate his truth to the nations.

God exhibits all of his characteristics at the same time and in equal measure. For example, He is not more loving than he is truthful. He is both completely loving and completely truthful at the same time.

While it is possible for us to know God, it is impossible for us to know all of God. He reveals some things to us as he deems appropriate, but there is much about him that we do not know. Some will be revealed to us when we get to heaven, but there are some things we may never know.

Above all, God is big enough and powerful enough to have everything under control, and we don’t need to worry about anything other than worshipping him in spirit and truth.