Thursday, April 28, 2011

purposed truth

Passover was over at sundown on Tuesday. Another year, another faithful reminder.

(Post from last year in which I explain the basics of Passover)

During the days of Passover, we are commanded to refrain from eating yeast (leaven). Leaven becomes a picture, a representation, of sin. An issue that seems impossible to rid your life and home of...a constant, daily reminder that it can’t be done in your own strength...and our desperate need for a Savior.

“Seven days there shall be no leaven found in your houses; for whoever eats what is leavened, that person shall be cut off from the congregation of Israel, whether he is an alien or a native of the land. You shall not eat anything leavened; in all your dwellings you shall eat unleavened bread.” Exodus 12:19-20  (bold, italicized mine)

Every year I am more and more grateful for this tangible concept. When fasting from anything, you become very conscious of your dependence and need for God. You have to put effort into what you’re eating, thinking it through and weighing the choices. (which can tend to be exhausting!) You can’t just swing through your favorite fast food place and grab a quick bite. Meals with friends becomes more involved because you have to figure out what you can and can’t do…and how to handle the individual situations gracefully without causing offense. It’s a time of constant prayer, conversation, and communion with God.

I was making it through the week without any major problems. The cravings and desires creeped up, but were dealt with. And then......the birthday party.

We were at a restaurant celebrating a friend, and I was feeling good about my intentional preparations for the night. I had been apprehensive about it because it was a German restaurant, and it's pretty much all pork all the time. (which I don’t eat) So my friend Holly and I researched the menu a couple days before and found 3-4 kosher choices. I walked in feeling prepared and the stress fully subsided. Course, there were baskets of amazing looking bread already on the table…and it did cause a momentary temptation…but I persevered through.

It was a really fun night. I went with my guard fully up…but relaxed once the entrĂ©e was ordered and I had successfully dealt with my bread envy. Presents were exchanged, bonding was in full swing...and the all-beef Hungarian goulash was delicious. In the midst of the merriment we ordered dessert and continued laughing and telling crazy stories. I was having so much fun and was thinking how happy I was that I chose to come and not let the limited menu keep me away.

And then...

It hit me.

I looked down at my mostly eaten, fluffy crusted, cherry streusel…and then I looked over at the bread pudding Holly just consumed. Yummy...leaven goodness...that neither of us thought twice about. I just sat there a moment trying to comprehend it all. How did I come in so prepared…and suddenly let this happen without a second thought? How did two people doing what God said, holding each other accountable, let it slip by? I leaned over to Holly and told her what I just realized. She gasped loudly, and of course brought all the attention on ourselves. So we shared what just happened…and the laughter and jokes began. “Ohhh…see how simple it just creeps into your life?” "See how you weren't paying attention?" “’re in need of a sacrifice now!” The jokes and comments continued for several minutes.

And I laughed…and joked along with them. (because it was funny…and I’m not crazy or legalistic and get that I wasn’t being sent straight to Hell, nor did I need to find the nearest unblemished lamb to paint my doorframe) the midst of the jokes...something was stirring deep inside.

Because all jokes aside...that’s the Truth of it. That’s the purpose of this fast. That is why God said to celebrate THIS holiday of Passover…because He wants to give us a tangible reminder that we can’t do it without Him. That we need God to keep our boundaries up. And we need the blood of Jesus to cover, protect, and cleanse us when those boundaries come down.

Every year the same lesson.

And every year, I become more and more thankful for this reminder.

But every year, I become more heartbroken because so many Christians refuse to be a part of this life-altering event God gave us. Now, I have many friends who celebrate Lent, and I sincerely hope the following doesn’t bring offense, because it’s truly not my intention in this post. But I don’t get it. I don’t get, as the Body of Christ, we blatantly choose to ignore the treasures God gave us, God commanded us, to participate in…simply because it’s been separated by a single page in our Bible that declares it “Old”. Yet, because our Creator purposefully created us with this kind of need for worship within us- to give up something for God, to set aside a time to remember and reflect on what Jesus did…we freely run after and embrace these Easter concepts, which are man-made and pagan in origin. Lent has become the newest trend in Christianity- people outside the traditional denominations are embracing it like never before…because something inside of us is crying out, knowing that there is significance in this kind of fast and celebration. But we shun the ones God ordained. The ones He perfectly designed to reveal to us His eternal plan for the ages. We ignore the holiday and fast created by God Himself, to remind us that the perfect sacrifice was made for us...because we couldn't...we can’t...find freedom, redemption and salvation by our own strength and works. 

And every year, the sadness I feel because the Church is missing out on these truths, intensifies just a little bit more.

Regardless of the added effort it takes, regardless of the fact that I may not make it through without intentional or unintentional mistakes…I am always deeply humbled and grateful for this tangible reminder of His extravagant love for me. This is the purpose of His beloved Passover.

Monday, April 25, 2011

Gift List- The Roadtrip and Family Edition

231- After our last trip to Lubbock, in an impromptu, last minute move, we convinced my Aunt Debbie to get in the car and come back to CO with us! We promised an ‘eventual’ trip back…which continually got extended, especially with a road trip to Vegas in the works. She ended up being up here in CO for about 6 weeks (my Uncle eventually came and got his bride) We had a fabulous time and I'm SO thankful she was exactly what was needed. 

Driving SW in the Southwest
232- Going on an old-fashion road trip!! No timelines (for the first part of the trip)…no electronic GPS (thank you Rand McNally!)…cooler of drinks in the back….and stopping at any ‘Point of Interest’ we wanted too. It was me, Debbie, Holly (who needed to go to Vegas for work, hence the overall purpose), and her son Ezekiel. Our main destinations were: Durango, CO…Grand Canyon…Las Vegas…and back home through Utah.

233- GORGEOUS scenery and new landscapes! It was never a boring moment while I was driving…not like my usual trips to the flatlands of West Texas.

Audrey Hepburn pocket watch

234- Super-cute SUPER-on-sale souvenir found in Durango…featuring one of my most favorite people!

235- Achieving my childhood dream of going to Four Corners! I know that my seem silly, but I thought it was THE coolest concept when I was little. Course…they got all fancy with it sometime during the last 20ish years…it didn't look anything like the specials they showed during my Saturday morning cartoons.

Ezekiel loved this part of the trip...because he can now tell people he shot a rock with a slingshot from Arizona and it landed all the way in Utah!

236- Seeing the Grand Canyon! AH-MAZING. Actually, I should write a post on just that… Ok. I PROMISE one soon! This was by far my most favorite part of the trip.

My very first glimpse of the Canyon

Notice who's laying down...
you know, all ecstatic about where he's at
237- NOT being 11 yrs old on this that I could truly appreciate the beauty of the Grand Canyon. Unlike...of course...the 11 yr old with us...who walked up to the Canyon, shrugged, and said, "What? It's not like I haven't seen rocks before."    *sigh*

238- Getting to watch the speedometer go from this…

to this…

I love milestones...even on cars. (ha! pun not intended)

239- Momentary stop at the Hoover Dam. Actually, I was more mesmerized by the mountain goats than I was by the dam. It was fascinating to watch them run up and down the steep side of the mountain with no fear or problems at all...a precious reminder of God's promises in Psalm 18.

And, of course, this WAS the part of the trip that was loved by 11 yr olds…who, while at the landmark, was allowed to freely discuss the dam scenery, the dam tourists, the dam souvenirs, and pretty much anything regarding the whole dam trip.

One of the views from the tower
240- Being on top of the Eiffel Tower in Las Vegas. It was a fabulous view...the sun was setting…the Bellagio fountains were going off beneath us (for a wedding). I think we stayed up there for almost an hour. It was a beautiful, desperately needed, peaceful moment…in the midst of a sensory overload, heart wrenching, exhausting time.
The couple who was just
married at the Bellagio

I'll just say that Vegas wasn’t really my most favorite part of the trip. But as always, I cope with humor...and I think my Vegas tweets were my most retweeted ones ever. Also, I have even a greater respect for my friends who were able to make it through the entire trip without ever uttering the phrase, "What happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas."

241- Getting to add 2 new states to my ‘List of States I’ve Been To’- Utah and Nevada! I’m now up to 35. Utah was far prettier than I’d ever thought. This was at the end of the trip and we were needing to rush home, but I really wish we had had more time. Plus, I'll just say, Utah is HIGHLY entertaining with the names of their places. (Pennsylvania ain't got nothing on them!) Michael Scott would have lost his flippin mind. ALSO-there were an overwhelming amount of roadside stops for "tired drivers"...which Debbie and I concluded had to be because the majority of the state's citizens are not allowed to drink caffeine...
He actually loved this more than the Grand Canyon...go figure

242- Returning home, talking to my Mom…and booking her a $40 plane ticket to come up for a visit! She’ll be here for about 3 weeks in May. I’m loving these extended visits! AND…she’ll be here just in time for Mother’s Day....I can’t wait!

243-  Watching my friends and family come together and raise money for a very unexpected, but very needed trip for my sister. Everyone just started pitching in what they could and miraculously it all came together and worked out.

244- In the past couple weeks, I’ve watched my sister realize the amazing strength that is inside her. She did exactly what she needed to do. She had to put on her big girl panties and step out into the darkness of the fear of unknown…but she came out with a new found freedom and light. She is stronger, more courageous, and more secure than she’s ever been. I’m extremely grateful for this brand new chapter in her life…and I know that I know that I know…that God has GREAT things in store for her. I am SO proud of my sister.

245- And…on a completely-selfish related note…but trust me, it was a darn good gift for me…I am no longer related, on paper, to the person I dislike most in this world. (and I assure you...he is EQUALLY as elated)

Every good and perfect gift is from you, Father of Lights

holy experience

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Book Love - Crazy Love

I love books. I’m kinda obsessed with books. We go to thrift stores or antique stores and I just want to look at the books. I love reading almost as much as I love books. I’ll buy them even when I have no intention of ever reading them, just because I love the title or the look of the book. I also like to pretend I’m going to read them...the problem is…I just can’t seem to find enough time to do it. Course…as soon as I say that, several people immediately pop into my head, who I can guarantee are FAR busier than I…and yet they are avid readers. Maybe...I’m a slow reader and didn’t know it. Maybe I can find a free speed reading course that could help solve this problem…well that, and better priorities in my world...but I digress.

And…like all great pieces of information I learn and want to immediately pass along…I’m ALWAYS trying to recommend books to people. Seriously…it’s like a disorder or something. If I’m reading something…I can guarantee I’ll be making a mental note of people I KNOW will benefit from this...and I tell them so. If I could…I’d follow some of them around just to read the book out loud to them…this is how obsessed I am.

Which FINALLY brings me to my point…I decided I’m going to start announcing my currently favorite book, in hopes the hundreds, if not dozens, of people who read this blog will read the book…and their life will be forever changed…yes, you're welcome.

I PROMISE not to do this with EVERY book I read. (but trust me, I’ll sure I’ll still continue to email and shove books into individuals faces, sorry 'bout ya) But hopefully once or twice a month I can highlight a new book here.

So without further ado…this LIFE ALTERING book…that you must run, don't walk....and purchase immediately: 

Crazy Love Overwhelmed by a Relentless God 
by Francis Chan 

I’m not gonna fully review these books. You can march on over to Amazon or read a dozen different blogs that do that. But…I am going to promise that this book WILL impact your life. It’s short, it’s an easy read…but it. is. powerful.

Now, I’ve been blessed to be part of such in-depth amazing schools, it kinda takes a lot to impress me...I'm just sayin. I had a curiosity for this book…but put it off for so long because I thought- Loved by God? DUH! This is one of the few subjects I GET. Like…really truly get. So I kinda thought it would be pointless for me to read it. But then I felt that little nudge from God....

and I LOVED this book. L-OV-ED it.

I immediately thought this was a must-read for EVERY Christian...even though it seemed kinda simple to me at first. But I was impressed with how Chan words things, and I dearly appreciated those reminders.And then...I just don’t know how to explain it, but for me, it suddenly went from simple to profound. The little reminders grew into new depths of truth. And it challenged me to take what I already knew to the next level...already fully secure in God's love, already feeling like I loved God with everything in me...and expanding my perception to new heights and depths. It's been weeks since I've read it...and the concepts are still resonating and challenging my Spirit. 

SO…that is my recommendation for this month. I really encourage you to pick it up…and allow the overwhelming majesty of who God is, and the knowledge that He KNOWS and LOVES you intimately to take you to the next level of loving HIM even more.

AND...If you have read it...or do read it...I'd really like to hear your opinions on it as well!