December 16, 2011

Advent Week #5

Wow, we've only got one more post to go! And that's the "bonus" post...which I'm assuming I'll be the only one doing it! Haha! It seems that every week more and more people have dropped off the blogging bible study radar! Ahhhh well, this is what we prepared for and why we're doing a "different" kind of study this go around. That being said, I would love to hear your thought-even if its just a quick line in the comments :-)

Alrighty so getting to the reading: Matt 2:1-12

The first thing that came to mind was another verse in Luke:
When Jesus said: "I tell you, if they ( being people calling out about Him) keep quiet, the stones will cry out."

When reading this section about the "Magi" ( another term for Magicians or philosophers) I was struck that they started traveling a super long distance to visit a supposed King of the World, because they saw it in the Stars!!

Isn't that incredible? For one thing I love that even the very Heavens told of His coming. And that, just like we talked about last week, just as God was able to orchestrate His birthplace and circumstance-He was also able to orchestrate the very stars and where they were in the Heavens overhead at the time of Jesus' birth.

Its a small thing for God. To move the heavens.

I also love the fact that God doesn't hide the fact of His Son's Coming. He wants the World to know! Do you think it was an accident that these gentlemen from a far off land got to come and see the Lord of All?! Do you think that they really kept that information to themselves as they made the long trek back home and then once they got home? No, the Long Expected Savior was proclaimed in other places too!

Sidenote/Soap Box. I visited a churchy event recently where there was an "alter" call. Basically, the invitation for anyone who wanted to accept Jesus as their Savior to "come on down"and do so. But, along with the invitation, everyone in the room had to have their head down and their eyes closed. So that anyone who wanted to accept Jesus wouldn't have to be embarrassed.

Friends, as I sat there with my head down, and my eyes closed I thought about how sad I was that I couldn't look up to see if anyone was making the Greatest Most Glorious Decision of Their Lives. To invite Jesus into your life should be like setting off a Star into the Heavens. There are Angels in Heaven throwing a big ol' party because you've made the best decision you'll ever make...and yet, we're suppose to keep our heads down?!?!
From now on I'm peeking.

December 15, 2011


So I'm currently working on a little project that will probably never see the light of day...but in the process I thought I'd share something cool with you that I found this evening...

First you'll need to go read this blog post: 
Ok, now I'll give you a little back story. The person I got an email from was Brett. As in my husband. He wasn't my husband then. He was barely a friend. And that email communication, documented right there in this blog post, was the very beginning of our Relationship...the one that lead to us getting married. And having a kid named Ransom.

You'll also notice at the bottom of that blog post I inexplicably quoted the song "How Deep the Father's Love for us". The song that Brett and I chose for our Wedding Hymn. The song that helped us name our son.

And I'm pretty sure I never realized until now that I quoted it on my blog waaaay back when replying to an email was much more important than I realized.

Cool. Goosebumps cool.    

December 14, 2011

Look back

Sometimes its good to look back. Tonight I've been reading old blog posts and reminiscing. ( its been SEVEN YEARS since I left New Zealand?!?! Craziness! )

Anyway, I came across this little gem from 2006 and it encouraged me...its been so long, I can start quoting myself now, right?! hahaha! :

Christmas Time 2006:

So, this afternoon, I was feeling a tad on the overwhelmed side....I think I have this weird combo of my parents two personalities...I live in happy optimistic denial for a long while and then once life builds up I then switch into hard core stress mode. 

Anyway, long story short...I was hating it. I was hating the fact that there are fewer and fewer days until Christmas-one of the two most wonderful holiday celebrations of the whole year! And here I am stressing....So, I came home, washed dishes listened to some praise music and then once my kitchen was relatively presentable I sat down with a Christmas cookie and my Bible... and let me tell you it was like a breath of fresh air. 

So, this week I've been trying to bring a little of the meaning of Christmas into each day...but what I could honestly do and be totally happy myself is to just type out Is. 9:6 every day and just leave it at that...because it honestly gives me goosebumps every single time. 

But, I'm saving that...hehehe. 
Nope, today I was struck by the opening verses of that chapter particularly the second...

The people walking in darkness
have seen a great light;
on those living in the land of the shadow of death
a light has dawned.

It reminded me of the Christmas Story that I had read outloud ( sometimes its good to read out loud even if no one is around to listen) to myself earlier in the week from "Corrie's Christmas Memories" ( as you know, its my favorite favorite favorite Christmas book of all time), I got to the Shepherd's account of the events that happened to them in the fields: 

Yes, it was as if God had opened a little corner of the veil that we could see and hear a little bit of heaven. But then...they were gone, and it was dark," the boy went on, "so dark...darker than it ever was before. After that heavenly light the earth was so dark-so terribly dark." 

I loved that. And wouldnt that be true? Just imagine you've looked straight into a bright light and then its gone...
It made me think what a glorious gift we were given through the Lord Jesus. We were given the Light. 
Not, just in tiny little pieces as had been the way up until then...through the prophets and the law, the light would shine with promises for a brief and glorious moment and then it would be gone...

But, then the Light came. 

And we have the priviledge to look back and see Isaiah's prophecy fulfilled....we know that that Light came to bring light to the darkness. I am able to sit in my kitchen and meet with Him even now. Because not only did He come. He died. And not only did He die, but He lives. And His light shines on permenently... 

So, sure, I just went on a little tangent just now, but can you blame me?

December 09, 2011

Advent Week #4

Whaaaat?! Week Four?! Seriously! Only 16 more days until Christmas and that brings us to today's advent reading.
Luke 2: 1-16

Once again there is just SO much in this little passage that I don't know what to focus on, but I think this first bit is most relevant to me right now...

"So it came to pass..." This is you basic "story telling" phrase and since I've grown up with the "Luke 2 Christmas Story" my whole life I've always blown over these little details...but lets break it down now:

1. The ruler of the Roman Empire decides to do a census of EVERYONE in the Roman empire ( tons-o-people).
2. Israel is part of this empire.
3. This is the first time anyone's ever done such a thing ( a census of this magnitude.)
4. A little guy name Joseph lives in Nazareth but just so happens to belong to the family of David.
5. So even though he doesn't live there he heads to Bethlehem  to be counted.
6. His super pregnant fiancé goes with him.
7. She gives birth in Bethlehem. ( because I now know that this is nothing quite like riding on a donkey for hundreds of miles to induce labor.)
8. She's giving birth to Jesus.

Boom. The perfect example of how God controls things down to the DETAIL. Am I the only one that thinks it's mind blowing that God orchestrated Jesus' birth like that?

You see, if you read in the book of Micah ( in the Old Testament of the Bible) in chapter 5 verse 2, Micah the prophet, prophecies the following:
' But you, Bethlehem, though you are small among the clans of Judah, out of you will come for me one who will be ruler over Israel, whose origins are from old, from ancient times."

And so, of course, Jesus needed to be born in Bethlehem and yet his mother-to-be was in Nazareth. People were not big travelers in those days, and pregnant woman were really not big travels. Yet, that was not a big deal for God. He just put some ideas into the current ruler of the World ( We're calling Roman that right now...) and things worked out perfectly.

You see, that's what I've been reminded of lately. My friend Miranda and her husband are moving to Hawaii and last minute all kinds of craziness came up, the week they were moving!! "How could this BE?!?!"
But then I was comforted by the knowledge that there is no small detail that is outside God's hands. He cares about us as much-or more so than his own son ( He loved us so much that He sacrificed His son for us.) 

I love how this amazing story of Jesus, the Son of God being born starts with the manipulation of a world leader and continues right on down to some Shepherds seeing right into Heaven and getting a direct invite to the Event that started the One Event that changed the World forever! Wow.
So, the next time I'm shaking my head over the current political climate ( WHO do we vote for come next November, huh?!?)  or wondering what in the WORLD the Army is going to next....then I'm going to remember the order that God found important. Shepherds first, then the wise men. ;-)

Which is coming up next week, if I'm not mistaken ;-)

December 02, 2011

Advent Week #3

To stay with my theme from last week, and since I've been literally listening to Christmas music NON-STOP around here lately ( something about filling the silence...and also, who am I kidding, Ransom is super cute when he tries to dance...)-I thought of this song when reading the passage for this week:

As a kid I never thought of Mary much. She was a grown-up ( or so my kid brain thought) and therefore she must have known what to do/dealt well with the whole "having a baby that's also the Son of God thing"....but as I've grown older a few things have come into my thought process about her:
For one thing, she was probably MUCH younger than I young as 13 or 14 and probably no older than 19 ( ancient of days). Also, the whole having a baby before you were married. Did. Not. Happen. You would have been ostracized or worse

And so here's this girl who's told by an angel that she is going to have a baby...right now. No waiting to get married and save some face, nope. She's pregnant starting today. Do you think she had Morning sickness? Fatigue? Heart burn? Ligament pains? Difficulty sleeping? Do you think she dealt with all the normal pregnancy symptoms? I mean, I'm sure her labor hurt as much as the next girls and I tend to think she had a normal pregnancy. And even if it was great ( I hear some people have these...) it is still a sacrifice to carry a child. A great sacrifice of love.

And now to the reading specifically:

verses 28 and 29:
The angel greeted Mary and said, "You are truly blessed! The Lord is with you." 
Mary was confused by the angel's words and wondered what they meant."

Now forget my tangent here, but don't you think that's an odd reaction "confused"?!  I mean, if an angel showed up and told me I was blessed I'd be excited, amazed, wonderstruck...but I don't know if confused is the first descriptor that comes to mind. But I think its perfect. Its a reminder that this is just a plain little girl, with probably the most basic "Spiritual upbringing".  From the outside she had no outstanding characteristics...

but God chose the foolish things of the world, that he might be put to shame them that are wise; and God chose the weak things of the world, that he might put to shame the things that are strong.." ( ICor 1:27)

When I start looking down on others, or even myself thinking we're not cool enough/smart enough/people-skilled enough...I need to remember that the Mother of Jesus himself was just a humble little girl...the important thing about her was what comes later...

verse 38: Mary said, "I am the Lord's servant! Let it happen as you have said." And the angel left her. 

She was obedient and she had faith that what the Lord said He would do. This is H-U-G-E. 
I've been reading through Kings in my Quiet time and since I don't have all the time in the world, just take my word for it that there are tons and tons of examples in the Bible of Kings, Princes, Captains of Armies and other fancy fancy people questioning God, not following what He asks of them, wanting more, whining, complaining, twisting His words and doing something different...the list goes on. 

The contrast is striking. And so this Holiday season I'm focusing on the Humbleness of Mary. I'm thinking of her as the simple little girl that she was. As a girl who was told the Will of God and who went with it. And in return she  was truly blessed. She got to be the one who brought the most precious baby in the whole world into the world. THAT is incredible to think about...


December 01, 2011

Craftiness explotes.

I have recently been feeling rather crafty. I always do around the holidays. It has something to do with Christmas cookies. Probably one of my fondest memories of my girlfriends from high school would have to be our epic cookie decorating:

Notice the ginger bread man with his arm ripped off...or the "christmas" duck...

What we lacked in skill we made up for in spades and spades of irony....

Anyway, not much has changed in the past (ten years(!!!)) and I still enjoy myself some powdered sugar food coloring combo-the only thing is that now I try my hardest to make my cookies look good...sadly, I learned recently that one should never attempt craftiness while in a really bad mood. This year I did not have a good birthday. I mean, by now I should know that adults don't get birthdays in the traditional sense...but when your birthday is all but ignored and crowned off by a trip to the pediatrician...well, pouty Abigail enters. But, I tried to rally and around 9:30pm I decided to make Thanksgiving cookies for Brett's men. Something about me being a cookie martyr or something. Anyway....

I don't even think the picture does my icing disaster justice.
Yes, I did take a picture...I knew I'd want to blog about this...

The best part, however, is that once the bad icing was finished and I'd completely given up. I packed all the cookies into a tupperware container and placed it on the kitchen counter ( out of sight, out of mind). The next morning ( and yes, I didn't see Brett at all on my birthday, and he left before I could get up the next day...) Brett took said cookies to work without knowing that they were "duds". When asked about it later ( Abigail: Did the guys comment on how ugly the cookies where?! Brett:! What are you talking about?! They looked fine! They were eaten really fast, I don't think anyone looked at them...) my icing skills were both appreciated and unappreciated all at the same time.

So, lessons were learned: Don't do crafts with upset. Don't do crafts if you want them appreciated by hungry dudes. Maybe move forward from cookies for a while...

And so I decided to do a new project last night ( have you noticed I'm left alone a lot with a ton of time on my hands?! hahaha!)

I made this little Count Down to Christmas platter/sign last night using:
One IKEA tray that cost $3 ( seriously! Why can't I live near an IKEA!?!?), some chalk board paint ( whoever invented this stuff deserves some sort of Craft Crown), some leftover white paint from when I made Ransom's mobile  way back in the day, and a little red nail polish ( yup! That's how I roll.)

Anyway, the green numbers are in chalk and I think it turned out relatively cute considering I'm the one who made it. Luckily I have a kid now and in a few years people will just assume that he made it and will think that its adorable.


On Thanksgiving morning I woke up all stressed about my day....I was counting guests ( the surprise ones and the ones planned on...), game planning my food making schedule ( start potatoes at 11:30, put casserole in over at 11:45...) and I headed into the kitchen to make Ransom a sippy cup when I noticed something that made me stop:

This orchid my friend Amy gave me months ago when she moved to Fort Campbell...side note: the only positive thing about being the friend who stays behind when everyone else moves ( which is the awful side effect of being stationed at a Army post that is usually where people go just for schools...) is that you collect a lot of condiments ( I have at least half used ketchups in my fridge at any given point) and dry goods ( rice anyone?!)...and every so often you get an Orchid!! Anyway, Amy gave me this orchid months ago...and I put it on my kitchen ledge. Watered it a few times. And promptly forgot about it.

And then, Thanksgiving Day, it bloomed. And now its kept on blooming!! I've got two and it looks like at least two more to go buds coming out!! What a nice surprise! Something I wasn't even looking for that brought me such joy was the reminder that I needed that sometimes special things DO happen.
Which has inspired a message:

Army. Most of the time I really despise you. You're like the family member I can't stand ( I'm assuming, I don't have any such family members myself). Most of the time all I see is your flaws. But, I'm going to throw you a bone and point out one of the greatest things about you. Thank you for the friendships. I have meet friends who I never ever would have met otherwise and I am SO grateful for them.
Yes, in just a few weeks you are taking away my friend Miranda to exotic Hawaii ( why didn't we get stationed there?!?) and honestly this blog may get a bit morose after she's gone, but I'll focus on the positive here and say that I am so grateful that I at least got these last six months with her! She has been a kindred spirit in a time when a kindred spirit was most needed. We're alike enough to like all the same TV shows ( Gilmore Girls! Castle! New Girl!) and recipes ( Guinness Brownies! Butternut Squash Lasagna!)  and have equally nerdy husbands- but different enough to be able to see into each others lives and encourage and cheer each other on in just the right way. I, who have never ever liked running, have looked forward to walking/ huffing and puffing the news of the past day with Miranda. At risk of being a bit too poetic, she was my Orchid during a particularly stressful time. And Army,  I am thankful.

Oh. And obviously God gets the serious credit here. Why do I doubt that He will provide when He always always does? I am grateful for Melissa, Keri, Rolinda, Deb and Robin and other ladies who He has given me during this time and season, as well....yes, I am currently sitting alone at home at 9pm-not expecting my husband any time soon...but I am provided for nonetheless. Little Orchid reminders that there is beauty just waiting to bloom.