My Family

My Family

Friday, June 5, 2020

Birthday celebrations

I have seen many posts on Facebook about people's disappointments about not being able to celebrate their children's birthdays with parties. Two of my children, as well as my husband, have had birthdays during this COVID-19 pandemic. As it was getting close to the first birthday celebration (my oldest was turning 10), I could see her disappointment at not being able to have a birthday party. I think for her, it was more the longing to see a friend in person, over having an actual party. Besides, all we had for her last birthday was 3 of her friends came over for pizza, and had a sleep over (where there wasn't much sleep, of course).

My mother made the point that neither she nor my father could remember having parties to celebrate their birthdays growing up. They might have had a cake, maybe one present, is what they said. Growing up, we never really did big parties either. My two brothers and I had birthdays within 3 weeks (July 17, 21, Aug 5). Several times, my mom would allow us to have 2 friends come to the city swimming pool with us, and that was our celebration. My kids were looking through my photo album and saw one of these pictures, and my birthday cake was an actual watermelon with candles. And it was the best!

I think I am not a fan of large and over-the-top birthday parties, because I don't want the stress of putting it on. So we haven't had many parties for birthdays. Maybe 3 that I can count between the 3 kids over the last 10 years. My mom has done some for the kids when their birthdays were around the time we were visiting them, which made it easier on me. But I prefer just us with them, eating homemade cake, and celebrating the fact that God allowed me to carry their heavy butt for 9 months and then birthed them without medicine (the last two anyway).

So here are their celebrations:
Jeanne was able to Zoom meeting with some of her friends, which funny enough they were quiet for the first 3 minutes. I had to prompt her to ask them how they were.
Her birthday cake was supposed to be a two layered homemade chocolate cake, but I didn't spray the pans well enough, and the cakes didn't want to come out neatly. So we had two single layer cakes. Which was just as good. Then of course she got to Zoom with my mom, dad, brother and sister, while she opened the gifts they mailed here.



















 My husband's favorite dessert is New York-Style cheesecake. And that's what I made him. We also picked up from Texas Roadhouse (our first eat-out of the COVID lockdown). For breakfast, he had a candle so we could sing happy birthday.









Then for Katie's 5th birthday, we did unicorns (Again). She also got a birthday zoom with my family, and a homemade unicorn cake. So, all in all, I think birthdays were celebrated just fine. There were no tears nor complaints about what we did once the day had started. And I enjoyed celebrating their sweet faces.





 


Wednesday, June 3, 2020

Psalm 101




This summer, my Bible study group is going through Pslams, 101-150. So I will begin here...

Psalm 101:2 I will follow the way of integrity; when will you come to me? I act with integrity of heart within my royal court.

Integrity is defined as "the quality of being honest and having strong moral principles; moral uprightness"1. David was grateful to be among God's chosen, and wanted to show his moral principles. He kept his household honest by banning all officials who abused their power. He wanted to use his household as a model for Israel. He was higher in power as king, and with higher power, minor flaws are more greatly viewed. So he wanted to keep any flaws out of his reign.

How can I use my household as a model God for others? To start, I must have characteristics of a follower of God. I must behave wisely. I cannot model God for others if I do not first have God in the center of my heart and life. I must model God in my own house before I can do for others.

I mustn't put anything unholy in my life. I should not allow my eyes to be tempted by things that are unholy. I mustn't allow myself to become lazy to sheltering my heart from sin. I also mustn't have pride because of my blessings. I must always know and put forth that all blessings I have are because of God, and nothing of just myself.

Psalm 101:3, 6 I do not allow into my presence anyone who speaks perversely. Whoever acts shamefully I hate; No such person can be my friend(3). I look to the faithful of the land; they alone can be my companions (6).

One way to model God is by the people I choose to keep around me. If I choose to be around people who speak perversely, or who have devious in the heart (v4), who slanders others in secret (v5), I am no better than they. My heart could be taken down by their ways if I don't stand up for those they offend. It is better to keep those who follow the way of integrity, those who do not practice deceit or do not speak falsely (7). Those who speak with moral rightness have God in their heart. They are the ones I should allow my heart to connect with. People see who we allow ourselves to be around, and judge us for that. If I allow my self to be friends with someone who has bad morals, then I will be thought to have bad morals as well.

If I want to use my household as a model, I must first look inside myself for a guide. God is there, ready to lead me for His will.

Monday, June 1, 2020

Joel 4

As we finish Joel, we can reflect on his prophecies of the Ascension and Pentecost. God's plan was in place way before anyone knew. So his plan for us was in place way before we were born. No, this doesn't mean we have no power over what happens to us. God has a plan for us. He set up the path for us, to lead us to him. There are many mountains and valleys in this path, and we have to navigate through them. And some stumbles or distractions may cause us to fall away from the path. Sometimes temporarily, sometimes permanently. God wants to use us for something good. He wants to see us fruitful, faithful, and obedient to him. His plans for us are bigger than we could ever imagine. No matter what type of life we are born into, God loves us and wants us to fight for him.

God will bless his people. We are reminded at the end of Joel, that "the Lord is a refuge to his people (16)," and that when we reach Zion, "the mountains shall drip new wine, and the hills shall flow with milk (18)." We read that all our enemies will become a desert waste because of the blood in their land, and that God's people will abide forever. God will avenge any wrongdoings that have come upon us. Because he is good. He is faithful. He is loving.

We may hit many walls in life because the devil does not want God to succeed. The devil wants to use our failures to lure us away from God's promises. God never promised life would be easy, or that we would get everything we ever prayed for, or even get things as soon as we want them. God did promise the glory of heaven for those who stick with him no matter what we are tempted with. For those who choose to continue the fight and walk with God, they will see the land of milk and honey. This world is not the end. Our eternity lies in heaven. There will be wars and desolation we may have to endure on our way there, but God has fully equipped us. We just need to call on him.

A Land Flowing with Milk and Honey | The Layman's Bible

Friday, May 29, 2020

Joel 3

In the New American Bible, St. Joseph Edition, Joel is broken into 4 chapters. Chapter 3 is the verses other Bibles have at the end of Chapter 2. We will go with what my Bible has for my blog.

Joel 3:1, 5  Then afterward I will pout out my spirit upon all mankind... Then everyone shall be. rescued who calls on the name of the Lord.

In this restoration, God seems very generous. He wants to pour out his spirit to EVERYONE. Not just select people in a select religion. In the Old Testament, he seemed very selective, choosing specific men to pour his spirit into (Joseph, Joshua, Gideon, Samson, Saul, David, etc). But now, he is looking toward a new covenant and wants to do things a little differently.

Acts 2:1-12 tells us the first time God sent his Spirit was after Jesus' resurrection and ascension into heaven, when his followers were all gathered in one place. The followers received the Holy Spirit and at once was able to speak many languages. People heard and came to see what was going on and was able to understand the men in their own native languages. The followers were accused of being drunk. Seems right. Something different is happening, and the easiest explanation is there was too much wine. These men were nobodies. God wouldn't select them for anything special. But Peter set the onlookers straight using Joel's prophecy from Chapter 3. Everyone who receives God in faith can receive the Holy Spirit.

We now honor the day that the holy spirit came down on Jesus followers as Pentecost, which is this Sunday, May 31.

Vigil of the Pentecost & Whitsunday

Wednesday, May 27, 2020

Joel 2

Joel 2:1b Let all who dwell in the land tremble, for the day of the Lord is coming.

For those people who have God in their hearts, and are living in God's word, this day of the Lord is welcome. The long for the day God will come and fight for them, showing the world his mighty power. They know God will avenge them, against all those who have neglected them, wronged them, hurt them in his name. They do not fear death.

For those who are not right with God, this day is fearful. It will hold nothing but gloom for them.  They are afraid of death and worry of the last day.  Or at least they should be. There are those who mock God and don't think they should be afraid, but when they see the chariots coming, like dark clouds over the horizon, they will tremble.

But it doesn't have to be that way for them! God tells them again and again to turn from their ways and to seek him with their hearts, and he is there for them. They just have to be willing to let go. Let go of their idols, which in today's times includes jobs, entertainment, alcohol, sports icons, movie stars, and everything that is put in front of God.

Joel 2:13 Rend your hearts, not your garments, and return to the Lord, your God. For gracious and merciful is he, slow to anger, rich in kindness, and relenting in punishment.

He does not want us to be like the Israelites, when so overcome with grief would tear their garments. This is just an outer sign of sorrow. It is the same as a child saying "I'm sorry" to a sibling without really meaning it, and that same child going back and committing the same error against their sibling the next day. God wants us to show our broken hearts, to really see our repentance. He wants to know we are truly open to him. We need to know he will heal and forgive if our hearts are in the right place. We need to let go of our time and our place in life, and follow his call.

What Is That to You? You Follow Me! - Sierra Bible Church

Monday, May 25, 2020

Joel 1


This invasion of locusts will be like a might army marching in, taking everything in their path. Joel was telling them this was going to hurt, and they would have to endure the suffering from it. Fields would be destroyed, so there would be little to reap. No wheat, no barley, no fruits. Not much for food or to make wine would remain. There would be no food to feed the livestock. The people in Judah would need to repent for their sins, because this swarm of locusts was their judgement time. They need to return to God. They need to do a fast and go to the house of God. They would be powerless to fix this without God's help. 


Locust - Wikipedia

Joel begins with the land of Judah being invaded. He talks of the fields being taken over by different types of grasshoppers (cutters, locusts and grasshoppers). I didn't ever think grasshoppers to be swarming or harmful to fields, so I looked up grasshoppers this morning. Locust is the common name for several types of short horned (antennae) grasshoppers. Grasshoppers are put into two categories, either swarming (they called it gregarious) or solitary.  I have only ever seen them in the solitary way I suppose. And surely one grasshopper can't be that harmful to a garden. I read, though, that the dessert locust in Africa and Asia is usually in the solitary group, but when the spring rain comes, it seems the locust changes into the swarming group. The swarming group can be detrimental to farming, as they invade in mass numbers upon a field. We know about the locusts as one of the 10 plagues in our story of Moses and Pharaoh.



In verse 4, Joel states "what the cutters left, the locust
Barren Field Stock Photo, Picture And Royalty Free Image. Image ...swarm has eaten; what the locust swarm has left, the grasshopper has eaten; what the grasshopper has left, the devourer has eaten." Though this could mean four types of the locusts, it could also be that the locust goes through molts, and this could just be the phases of the locusts as they develop. Regardless, Judah was about to face a large famine! This plague and famine would be so remarkable, that he tells the people that they will tell their children and grandchildren, and future generations will learn about it. So it would definitely make history books. This reminds me of when my grandmother would tell me about the great depression times she lived through. It seemed far out there to imagine a time when you had to be so thrifty, and reuse so much, and pray you had enough. It seemed like those times had been forgotten until here recently.



This is so very closely related to the suffering that was spoken of by Hosea. We have history written with famine and suffering. Joel says to tell of the suffering, perhaps in an effort to remind them of the power of God, so they future generations don't fall off the path like their ancestors. But as we can see from the story of the Exodus, that it doesn't take long for people to forget God's power and mercy. We are a single minded people most days, only focused on ourselves, which makes it easy to see how people can fall off the path even with all the history to prove God can and will judge us for our sins. Yet we continue to ignore our innermost calling, shutting out God because we can "do it ourselves." And where has that gotten us?

Locusts set to hit Kenya, East Africa again, 400 times stronger ...


Sunday, May 24, 2020

Joel

Now onto another book! I'm following my Catholic Bible, and Joel is next in line. Joel was a prophet, and is hard for scholars to pinpoint what timeframe he prophesized. Some believe it was around 835 BC, in the pre-exilic era of Judah. The exile being in 600 BC of the Jews to Babylon. Others think Joel was around 400 BC, making him in the post-exilic era. His message is still powerful and can be related to the behavior of the Israelites, because it seems they never really learn.

Had it been in the pre-exilic era (and before Hosea), it would have been around the time of Queen Athaliah, who if you remember from my 2 Kings study, took over the kingdom after her son died in battle. And she was a wicked leader, first killing all of her son's heirs. But she didn't notice that her son's son, Joash, (so her grandson) had escaped her wrath, and eventually came to claim the throne. If Joel was from this time, his prophecy could be related to the upcoming time of Athaliah's wicked rule. Or what would become of their land/people after the exile.

If it were not until after the exile, it could relate to the rule of the Persian empire of the land after the Jews made their return from Babylonia. Which could put Joel around or a little after the prophet Ezra.

Whether it was pre or post exilic, Joel's message is the same: repent and turn to the Lord. He is the only one who can save you.

Stay tuned for my study through Joel. After Joel, I may go back to Ezra and read through all the prophets.

Morning Show – The Book of Joel – Chapter 1, Entry 3 – 3/20/19 ...