Tuesday, November 9, 2010

That ONE Thanksgiving

As I decorated our house for Thanksgiving, I asked myself, "Why do I love Thanksgiving so much?"

Different thoughts came to mind.

When I was younger, my dad was in the military and we moved around a lot. Sometimes we would eat Thanksgiving dinner in the base mess hall, where I was introduced to shrimp cocktail (still a favorite), ice sculptures, edible cornucopias, and active duty personnel with no families other than ours sitting at his table that day. Then, other years, I would get the distinct honor of setting the Thanksgiving table with my homemade place cards and hand printed menus for each place setting when we would eat with relatives in West Virginia. I'm seeing a "food trend!"

But then, there was that ONE Thanksgiving...

I served corn and green beans from coolers. It was Thanksgiving 1992 that I met my husband. We were both blessed to be Bonner Scholars. Our freshman Thanksgiving we would join other volunteers from West Virginia colleges to offer humanitarian aid to Homestead, Florida after Hurricane Andrew. I wanted to our college's public relations contact and team leader. Yahoo! My future hubby HAD to go because he needed to make up service hours due to a first semester bout of pneumonia. God has a sense of humor, let me tell you...what a matchmaker,
right RUTH?! All 150+ WV students stood on the stage, of a hotel auditorium (where we were staying in between rows of seats), in a circle and drew names for Thanksgiving Buddies. Out of all those people, his paper said, "April" in my handwriting. Then, he switched papers with the guy next to him because the "other" guy wanted my name...I didn't find that out until months later!! My husband spent the next week shaking my ladder while I was nailing and tarring shingles to a Habitat for Humanity roof, befriending me when I couldn't hang out because I had to go to "leader meetings" in the evening, and making me a copper bracelet from scraps at the construction site. Now , I know all that was intentional, right honey?! Best green beans and corn I ever served!

So out comes our Thanksgiving decorations and as I think about the power of that
ONE Thanksgiving and how God joined our hearts together I was overwhelmed with gratitude. Now years later, decorating our home, I open the Rubbermaid container to hear our four year old asking, "Did I make that?"

As we shifted through pilgrims, pumpkins, construction paper and traced hand print turkeys
, I thank YOU, O God for...

Thank YOU for being my Light in darkness!
May Your Light shine from our home and ours hearts.

Thank YOU for being a God of abundance!
May our family's blessing box
overflow with praises of people you have brought into our lives...
those teaching us and those we are teaching...
preschool teachers, Bible Study girls, friends, and newborn family.

Thank YOU for being ever present!
Continue to
take Your Seat in our home
with each decision, conversation, action, and reaction.

Thank YOU for never letting go of me and seeing me through!
Help me remember that even a little hand
can do BIG things
when one of them holds on to You!

Thank YOU for all of those "golden nuggets"
in Your Word

that melted my heart this year.
As we come and go through our day,
may Your Words ring the loudest in our hearts.

Thank YOU for showering me with Your Love.
Love has only one face...Yours.
Love has only one voice... Yours.
Love has only one motive...You.

Thank YOU for abiding in my heart.
For all who enter here, even if we entertain unaware,
may You meet needs and sow seeds.

Thank YOU for not giving us fear.
Help me to take stands for Truth as we live and leave a legacy.

Thank YOU for Your Grace!
I acknowledge that You place things in my path
and arrange each divine appointments for Your Glory.

Thank YOU for Your Vision.
How amazing You are to see through me!
YOU make all things beautiful in time.

Thank YOU for filling our cups to overflowing.
As we "gather together to ask the Lord's blessing"
let our gifts be what we give, not just what we gather.

Lastly, as I look upon my son's contribution,
Thank YOU for Your Son, Jesus, and what He did for me.
I am in awe of YOU. Amen.

This was such a special day, I think we just started a new family tradition and didn't even know it. Join us? As you look around your home where do you see Him? Thank Him.

Friday, November 5, 2010

Power of One, Rahab

Welcome new blog followers! Welcome! Take off your shoes and stay a while!

Recently, I've been led to share about the Power of ONE. At our most recent Bible Study, I asked a general question, "So girls, out of Eve, Rahab, and King Josiah, which ONE is your favorite?!" I expected a mixed inaudible and somewhat chaotic answer. But, boy was I wrong. See, what do I know about teaching teen age girls?! There was this unanimous and thunderous reply in chorus, "RAAAHAAAB!" I'm not sure, but the class next door might have heard through the cinder block wall. Sorry! :/ But, my heart was overjoyed! I really don't have ONE favorite yet, but as we shared from a bag of Twizzlers and talked about Rahab, maybe you'll see why she is their favorite ONE.

By far my two favorite things about fall are colors and scarfs! I love to wear them and plan my outfits around them! Here are a few fav scarf moments:

From the hot pink and famous last fall...

with Jennifer Rothschild

and Kathy Troccoli

to the real red everyday down home end of summer at VBS...

with Annah!

Grey, black, khaki, yellow, and bright blue hang in the closet, too. I seriously look for ways to wear them...
as evident with the bibbed overalls. I feel wrapped up and cozy when I wear them. But as the girls and I learned when I wore my long red scarf to Bible Study a few weeks ago, Rahab's scarf was a statement of faith, not fashion! Let me share what we learned ONE night.

Many cool middle eastern nights might have seen it hanging from the window. Some may not have been surprised given Rahab's "
red light district" profession and reputation. But don't you think when a long scarlet scarf hung outside from Rahab's window for 3 days, then 7 more, while spies escaped and the king's men looked for them and the invading trumpeters marched around the city walls someone might have asked, "What's up with that?!"

The book of Joshua tells the whole story about how spies got help from a prostitute, named Rahab, ONE in a city who believed in all of God's miracles and that He would lead Joshua and the Israelites to take the city of Jericho. When the spies promised to save her (AND her family),
"“Agreed,” she replied. “Let it be as you say.” So she sent them away, and they departed. And she tied the scarlet cord in the window." I've read different translations from a thread, to a cord, to a rope...never a Twizzler, but perhaps a scarf?

ONE woman's faith, in what she had only heard yet never seen, made her bold enough to believe infront of an entire city. She believed in her rescue, her redemption, and in her Redeemer. I found it interesting that in two New Testament places (Hebrews and James), that Rahab is still refer to as "Rahab, the prostitute."
What's up with that?!

What about this ONE? Rahab, the Brave - she hid the spies under the nose of the King.
What about this ONE? Rahab, the Clever - she helped the spies get out of the city undetected.
What about this ONE? Rahab, the Loyal - she got word to her family so that all under her roof where spared.
What about this ONE? Rahab, the Patient - she sat under that one roof (with her family!!) for 10 whole days.
Kinda makes you think of the holidays, right?!
What about this ONE? Rahab, the Victor - hers was the only house saved in the entire city when the walls of Jericho fell down.

Our class came up with all those descriptions, didn't Paul and James see it?! Yet, she is Rahab, the prostitute. I don't
WANT to be know as:
April, the angry
April, the unjust
April, the unforgiving
or even April, the child of a murder.
What's up with that?!

But friends, that IS what shows the power of Her Redeemer. Our Redeemer can take anything and rescue, restore, and redeem. ANYTHING!! I think Paul and James were praising God and testifying to what great things God did through this ONE, Rahab, by reminding us who she was before she believed. THAT'S what's up with THAT! Amen?! God didn't leave her in Jericho either. I'm sure the marchers saw the red scarf in the window, too. Everyone knew. But God didn't leave her in the ruin, He Redeemed. Look at what she once was and how her belief in God and faith in His Word allowed God to use her, rescue her, and give her a new life.

So, what hangs from you? your neck? or even your home to show your faith? Do we display our faith? Call attention to our faith in the ONE true God? Do we live out our faith from the windows of our lives like Rahab? Even when God closes a door?! Ouch...my toes!

God's Word says, it is better to wear a millstone around our necks and be downed in the sea than cause ONE of our brothers or sisters to stumble in their faith in Jesus. Ouch...my toes! Sometimes it isn't easy being virtually barefoot!

So join me! Encourage the faith of others who are facing battles that seem like there is no victory in sight. Be ONE who displays your true colors..the scarlet that healed you, the scarlet that saved you, the scarlet that cleansed you from your sin and made you whiter than snow. Be vulnerable about the past that He has redeemed you from and the mountains and the valleys let the Holy Spirit drape your efforts as you minister to them.

Let it all hang out! Rahab did! Want ONE? I'm sharing!
Thank you God for Rahab! We know that You love the power of ONE because You used her to be pivotal in bringing us Your ONE and only Son. How sweet is that! Amen!?!

Thursday, November 4, 2010

The Power of ONE, King Josiah

Are you like me and wear glasses?
Have you ever lost your glasses and couldn't see? Arggg! :/

I don't have "perfect" vision. My glasses broke two Sundays ago and the headache I had at the end of the day from not being able to see was awful!
Can I get an "Amen" from my nearsighted and farsighted brothers and sisters?!

Thanks to Dr. Melissa Farley of Wythe Eye Associates (my amazing sister-in-law and her optometry staff) for coming to my aid. I was blessed with a next day appointment, a thorough exam, playmate and scientific eye ball models for my 4 year old son who accompanied me, and honest fashion advice from family on a new set of frames.
Thanks, Melissa! I love how they look and how I now can see!

So, my prescription had to be changed. No surprise...but would you believe for the better!! As
the doctor said, "Yes, that is ONE of the good things that happens in your 30's...your nearsightedness improves" (that's your ability to see far away for those - like me - who get the two mixed up). Are you kidding me?! I thought Melissa was just being nice...she turns the big 3-0 soon!

WOW, I thought! ONE of the good things that comes with age.... Now, you know me, the wheels started turning and I thought of our most recent middle/high school Bible Study lesson...King Josiah!

Do you know the story?! It is soo good!

As Hilkiah (a.k.a Jeremiah's dad and the high priest in the temple during the reign of King Josiah) followed orders to spruce up the temple (he probably swept for days, took out mounds of trash, dusted and wiped things off, cleared out years of debris), scripture tells us that he hired a few contractors. Things were really in bad shape.

But, that is when IT happened! He found ONE, only ONE, long lost copy of the Word of God. ONE in all of Judah! Some think it was the first five books of the Bible, others think it was just the book of Deuteronomy. I am not sure, all I know is that it was ONE inspired writing! I picture this high priest weeping and clutching the scroll(s) to his chest as tears streak his dusty face,
I would have. How was he priest without a copy of the Word, I wonder!? But as King Josiah asked for the Word to read to him, it is recorded that Josiah ripped his royal robes (which is the equivalent of us slapping ourselves in the forehead)! Bet that cost more than my glasses!

The newly found Word of God said, in effect, that God would judge those who did not follow His commandments.
Slap yourself in the fore-head guilty! King Josiah believed God. This ONE experience with this ONE exposure to the Word of God was like giving King Josiah ONE brand-spankin' new pair of glasses! When the Word was taken to the prophetess Huldah (Jeremiah's aunt, Hilkiah's sister), hearing from God, she said...

"Because your heart was responsive and you humbled yourself before the LORD when you heard what I have spoken against this place and its people—that they would become a curse and be laid waste—and because you tore your robes and wept in my presence, I also have heard you, declares the LORD...Your eyes will not see all the disaster I am going to bring on this place'" (2 Kings 22:19-20).

God would not allow Josiah to
see the destruction and devastation that would come to the people because of ONE whole-hearted and repentant commitment to led that generation in revival.

King Josiah now held the scrolls, stood at God's house, not his, and read the Word himself, not someone else, to the entire nation. What would that have
looked like?!! Second Kings 23:3 gives us a glimpse,

"The king stood by the pillar and renewed the covenant in the presence of the LORD—to follow the LORD and keep his commands, statutes and decrees with all his heart and all his soul, thus confirming the words of the covenant written in this book. Then all the people pledged themselves to the covenant."

The consequences of the nations' sin did come, but not under the repentant leadership of King Josiah. ONE Word found. ONE King's ripped robe. ONE pillar passage read. ALL people pledged. Did I mention he was only 26?!
He wasn't even in his 30s yet, Melissa!

vision Josiah had for the long distance future of his people! More chapters go on to tell us all that King Josiah did to see to the revival of his land. Look at what it says here, "Neither before nor after Josiah was there a king like him who turned to the LORD as he did—with all his heart and with all his soul and with all his strength, in accordance with all the Law of Moses " (2 Kings 23:25). How God perfected his vision at such an early age...enough to change an entire generation for the Lord.

I'm not an optometrist, but I would say King Josiah's prescription was not 20/20, it was better. More like 1/22. James
1:22 says, "Be ye doers of the Word, not just hearers only."

Let's not just fix our old glasses, but use the Word to perfect
our vision...up close and on into the future, spiritual and physical, inside and out. Do we see repentance and revival in ourselves, homes, churches, Bible studies and beyond? Are you satisfied with the world's 20/20 or the Word's 1/22? Do you have people along side you who help focus or blur your vision? Do you long for eyes like Jesus?

Come into His Presence, no appointment necessary.