Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Have You Seen the Splendor?

The desert and the parched land will be glad;
the wilderness will rejoice and blossom.

Like the crocus, it will burst into bloom;
it will rejoice greatly and shout for joy.
The glory of Lebanon will be given to it,
the splendor of Carmel and Sharon;

they will see the glory of the LORD,

the splendor of our God.
--Isaiah 35: 1&2

Isaiah's "Joy of the Redeemed" chapter...

And though the prophet provides the vision of things to come, we can celebrate our redemption today with joy...and find God and His splendor in our springtime.

* * *

We celebrated my father-in-law's 80th birthday recently.
The crocuses are blooming in Connecticut!
More signs of spring are sprouting all the time--literally!
Watch for them...God's presence in His creation.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Post #100

Long before we bloggers celebrated our first 100 posts, the psalmists provided us with theirs. In recognition of my 100th, let's celebrate by looking at the Bible's "Post #100" (a.k.a., Psalm 100, A Psalm for Thanksgiving or Thank Offering):

Make a joyful noise unto the LORD, all ye lands.

Surprisingly, there is no direct Hebrew translation for the English word 'joyful' as used in this verse in the King James Version. That leaves things a bit open to interpretation. My study Bible (NASB) says 'joyful' is "a shout of loyalty and homage." The dictionary defines 'joy' with the word rejoicing, meaning "to be made glad again." 'Noise,' however, does come with a Hebrew equivalent, meaning "to split the ears with sound," as in to shout, shout for joy. Lands implies all the earth, the nations, the world.

We, those of all nations, are to present to the Lord, out of our loyalty and homage to Him, joyful shouts that say that "We are made glad" time and time again.

Serve the LORD with gladness: come before his presence with singing.

I love the Hebrew translation for the word gladness--blithesomeness or glee. Serve the Lord with glee, mirth, dare I suggest, laughter, as in the kind you express with something pleasurable and lovely. Dear friend Mrs. Patterson 5 just wrote about the challenges we moms have in serving our families and how they are worsened through our poor attitudes. If we thought 'glee' every time we did something, knowing that it was for the Lord, how much more would we know rejoicing rather than drudgery?

Does the Lord truly expect us to sing in His presence? A closer look at the Hebrew suggests that we should come with, echoing verse 1, a shout of joy or a joyful voice--something that gives a cause to shout for joy to the Lord. In my writing the blog, I have tried to allow the opportunity for folks to hear that joyful voice, even as I search through my uncertain and misguided adventures.

Know ye that the LORD he is God: it is he that hath made us, and not we ourselves; we are his people, and the sheep of his pasture.

One of the things about delving into the Hebrew or Greek words for what we translate into English is that the English words often provide limited depth. In this passage, two of the common English words--know and made--have a vast number of meanings in the Hebrew. To 'know' can mean to acknowledge basic presence of something or to discern something; to cause to know about something or to make something known; to respect or to understand; and this one--a familiar friend or famous one. How are we supposed to 'know' God? Exactly....on lots of different levels. All of the above apply!

God 'made' us. He brings forth life, is in charge of the life, fits the life, fulfills the life, governs the life, keeps the life, maintains the life, prepares the life and uses the life. Folks wonder where my crazy blog title comes from, Making Something of Today. God makes something for each of us to grasp in a day--tangible or intangible. In some way, we all act upon that something, even if to ignore it. God is THE Creator, and there is nothing new under the sun that hasn't started with Him. Yet, I believe that when He makes something for us--given us a new day--that we should make/create something with what He has given. Take what you are given and make something with it. Make it with God, and consider the above definitions as you see how He reveals and inspires you.

We are His people--his unit, tribe, attendants, flock--and the sheep of His pasture. The Hebrew presents the larger picture of a shepherd taking care of a migrating flock of animals with an emphasis on feeding them. We have a Good Shepherd who recognizes our tendency to migrate. His goal is to make sure that we are well fed, even as we continue to wander--that the sheep know (see above) their Shepherd.

Enter into his gates with thanksgiving, and into his courts with praise: be thankful unto him, and bless his name.

Gates and courts have been tied to the Jewish Temple, but in a more general sense, a gate in Hebrew is simply an opening and a court is a yard (yes, like courtyard). That makes the above picture rather poignant, don't you think? The open gate and a welcoming yard...the Kingdom of Heaven, which we can know right here and now. And how are we asked to enter? With thanksgiving--an extension of the hand, as some will do in worship or as others will do typing words of a devotional into a keyboard; with adoration and kneeling down; as a choir of worshippers singing a hymn; with avowal, openly declaring Who He is.

For the LORD is good; his mercy is everlasting; and his truth endureth to all generations.

And what is good? Beautiful, best, cheerful, fair, glad, kindly, precious.... His mercy, His lovingkindness is always, eternal, perpetual.... And His faithfulness and stability endureth to all generations, a revolution of His time.

Again, the direct Hebrew word translation for 'endureth' is not available. But the dictionary sheds light. We may think of truth enduring as the Word lasting over time. But the word also means to stand up under, to bear, undergo, tolerate without flinching. Literally, it means "to harden the heart" so that it will hold out, last, be durable. God's heart has endured much and continues to endure much.

How much more to "shout for joy", this psalm of thanksgiving, when we remember and avow Who our good God is! To the One who endures, and Whose Truth yet endures to this generation!

* * *

Do you know the hymn, "All People That on Earth Do Dwell"? It is also called "Old Hundredth" and is based on this Psalm.

Thursday, March 5, 2009

Tenacious Thee

Sometimes, somebody just sees something in you.

It's the Wild Card show on American Idol. Not something the producers do all that often. But, when you start with 36 contestants to begin with, I guess you need something to add some excitement while at the same time whittling down the list. All judges and all live. It was an exciting show.

Recognizing that the Top 12 needed more girls, the judges added two. [I think Lil Rounds is still the top gal, and she may go all the way to the top. But, I've said that before too early about folks. You can't feel really confident about your picks until after #4 has been selected.]

It came down to the last two guys--two guys I have enjoyed watching since the auditions, though they've received mixed reviews at times. Anoop Desai from Chapel Hill, North Carolina, and Matt Giraud from Kalamazoo, Michigan. Anoop's a bright college student with a flair for soulful performance. Matt's a dueling piano player whose got a lovely blues thing happen'. The judges announce the winners, and Matt goes through.

I'm happy; he did well. Feeling bad for Anoop, because he is somebody who has that surprising talent and did a lot to prove himself. The surprise of the night, however, was not only on him, but it was on me and probably most of America.

Anoop is in the new American Idol Top 13!!


* * *

The judges used the word tenacity a lot tonight. Most of the Idol Wild Card contestants came out with a new passion, vibrance, energy and "fight" to them. And for Matt and Anoop, I think they received the encouragement they deserved because they put forth what was required to move forward--they showed that they have what it takes.

The Bible's got a word for tenacity--perseverance. A lot of folks stumble on that one. It's hard to spell, for one thing. I'm always wondering how many e's are in there. It's a long word; lots of syllables. It can be really hard to put into practice.
And we rejoice in the hope of the glory of God. Not only so, but we also rejoice in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope.
--Romans 5: 2a-4

It's one of my favorite passages, but that doesn't mean I live it out as if it's a favorite. It's quite clear that the passage describes a progression. Rejoice in suffering. Woo! Yep, that's easy--NOT! But why suffering? Because suffering produces perseverance. And that's a good thing?!?

People often pose the question, "Why do bad things happen?" and its close cousin, "Why do bad things happen to good people?" This post will not debate what is 'bad' and what is 'good.' Why is there suffering? So we can know the opportunity to become strong in the purpose for which we live. Some people receive that opportunity but don't recognize it as such, deciding to languish in the suffering. Some folks will take that opportunity and rise to the occasion--not that you easily overcome suffering. You work through it purposefully. That's perseverance.

When you engage in the process of perseverance, you witness a change in your character, which produces within you a hope ("and hope does not disappoint," vs.5). There is a time for every purpose...and that includes perseverance.

For the Christian, the journey of perseverance is not one that need be taken alone. Even in our suffering, we have One who shares in our state. He knows what it means to persevere. He endured death on a cross--the emblem of suffering and shame--and lived to talk about it. Not that His character needed any refining, nor His hope any redefining, but He took the journey so that we might be blessed as we go about our days--with tenacity!

Because, sometimes, Somebody sees something in you....and something they want you to know in yourself.

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

It was fun, but now we're done

They gave it their all out there.
They flattened the hills and braved the bitter cold to taste the snow (just a few times....).

The tobbogan is drying out, soon to be shelved on the garage wall.
Gloves may need to hit the dryer.

The grass is peeking through.

And in 12's school again!

Bring it on!!!

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Jamaica Bobsled

Did Ya Make-a Bobsled?

When I was growing up, we used the driveway as our sled hill. It was the obvious choice. It was (and still is) a 55-degree angle of sheer downhill fun!

But, we were little kids. Dad always built safety features into "the run." The bottom of the driveway did run right into the street, after all. Though it was quiet most of the time, the street would still have cars occasionally. We were pretty much the first house on the street, so we saw more traffic than the other houses. Dad built a big turn ramp out of snow at the bottom of the driveway, so that instead of heading straight into the street, we would endure some major G-forces making the tight right curve on the run that flattened out to go parallel to the street and with the flow of traffic.

One more safety feature.... He taped a sheet of glow-in-the-dark red paper on one side of a snow shovel and glow-in-the-dark green paper on the other side, and planted the stick into the base of the curve at the bottom. Someone was always at the base of the hill to turn the sign to red for "CAR!!!!!!" or green for "GO!" It was a great system.

In homage to Dad's many, many snow runs, we built one in the backyard. (Our street is much too busy to even consider crafting a run in the front--safety features or not!) Ours has to have a starting ramp built up, because we don't have much of a hill at the start. Otherwise, you just have to watch out for the trees at the end!!

Check out this Eyewitness Sports video....

CJ makes a great start of it (without a push), but the great speed she gains thrusts her over the side wall and into the neighbors' playset.



* * *

To be continued in Snow Day #2

Monday, March 2, 2009

A Blog Entry You Can Really Scarf Up

Had an unprecedented few minutes to peruse blogs last night. (HA! OK...I'm kidding. But, I really don't spend as much time as my family thinks in the blogosphere. I'm on deadline for the PTA newsletter; I don't have time for that this week!)

Anyhow, came across bloggy friend, Linda at 2nd Cup of Coffee who posted on a meme about scarves (thanks to Rachel at
Unexpected Blessings for hosting).

I have a long history with scarves (and some just plain long scarves). And, since I'm enjoying that awesome Southern snowstorm this seems right to tie up a few minutes of your time with a few photos and yarns about scarves. (I'll stop punning now.)

Why stop with just one scarf when you can wear two? I was in the high school color guard for two years. Purple ascot with the brown coat scarf (and the puffiest pom-poms at the end) made for a cool scarfy look (and quite warm as we got into November. Plus, the pom-poms let me cheer with the cheerleaders!).

Christmas caroling with the friends in high school. That scarf dates back a LONG time!!! The thickest scarf I have ever owned. A stand out over the bright green down parka, no? Then, there was the guy I liked who wore scarves....let's not go there.

Canoeing in Canada. Scarf isn't really appropriate in August, but "scarfing" a sweatshirt fills the gap nicely.

This scarf is also very old. My sisters and I all had a scarf that looked like this one, only in 4 different colors! (Way before the Wal-Mart smiley face.) My girls get to enjoy it now...or, at least, put it on a snowman.

And here is me, today, before going out in the snow, with my London-style scarfing.

It's London-style because my sister, who lived over there for a time, showed me how to tie it that way, as that's what all the folks over there do. Two years ago, I joined all my sisters and my mom there for a girls' weekend. My sister from Ohio bought everyone a scarf for the occasion. Who knew you could dramatically change a scarf by folding it in half first before wrapping it around your neck? (And that really did work against the drizzly, drafty London air!)


Scarves will do that for you!