Tuesday, August 23, 2011

The Winner, plus Never Before Seen Footage of My Life as a Homeschooling Mom

After a random drawing, the winner of the Sara Groves CD is Carrie! Congratulations, to you, Carrie. I'm so glad you won. You've been such an encouragement to me! I will have Fireflies and Songs sent to you, unless you changed your mind. Just let me know if you've decided you want a different album.

Some of you might remember that Carrie is the lovely lady who sent me this necklace she made just for me. If you like jewelry, she has some new items listed in her shop!

And now, I will leave you with a small glimpse into our quiet, studious home where little children who act years older than their actual ages thirst for the sweet nectar of knowledge daily. Listen carefully to the music playing in the background and you just might learn everything you wish you'd never forgotten about the scientific method. You're welcome! I'm here to help.
(Please note: Sara is not usually quite so rude at the table. The camera makes her nervous. Yeah, that's it.)

Bye. Love ya.

Saturday, August 20, 2011

40 Days of Now: Day 40! True Confessions and A Giveaway

(This post is part of a series. If you'd like to know what it's all about, go here.)
In the year 2000, black storm clouds appeared in our patch of sky. At that time, my husband and I had no idea we were in for ten years of thunder and rain. It seemed that as one storm dissipated, and the sun broke through, another storm soon came rolling into view. "Will this never end?" we wondered. The Lord was faithful and stuck by us through it all. And we did have great blessings come to us during those years, not the least of which were our three children. But I found myself longing for an escape from the intensity of emotion. I wanted a respite from grief and the pounding rain of fear. I wanted just to have a normal, everyday, regular, sunshiny kind of life for awhile.
And so I have, this past year. The summer of 2010, as I recovered fully from my illness, the clouds parted, the skies turned a clear and lovely shade of aqua, and the sun shone nearly every day. I have been blissfully happy. This has been a much needed time of rest and reflection. It's been a great year to write and soak in all that the Lord has taught me and the ways He blessed and rescued me through all those storms. (It's kind of ironic that as I type these words, thunder is booming, rattling my windows. Hmm...hope that's not some kind of sign that this season of fun in the sun is coming to an end.)
Now, a curious thing has happened during this storm-free year. I'm not even quite sure how to say this without sounding like a complete ingrate. But here it is: everyday, regular, storm-free life, while blissful, can also be...well...boring. I found myself tiring of the humdrum of daily life. You know what I mean, right? Please don't tell me I'm the only one. This discovery has come with much guilt. "How," I thought, "could I be feeling this monotony of daily life when I am so blessed?"
I certainly wasn't asking for troubles and hardship. Rather, I was looking for meaning, for significance, for the divine in the midst of cooking, cleaning, laundry, errands, and raising children. And I wanted very much to know that Jesus understands this. He lived down here for awhile. He had His fair share of storms, hardship, and excitement. But didn't He also experience the daily humdrum of life?
The Bible doesn't say much about this, but there are some little clues, I think. He was raised by Joseph, who was a carpenter and taught Jesus the trade. Did Jesus ever tire of the wood and sawdust? Did He ever weary over making plows and yokes and doors again and again? And what about living according to the traditional Jewish laws and customs? Did He ever tire of the minutiae of the very law He came to fulfill? Surely, at times He must have. The Bible says He was tempted in every way just as we are, but He did not sin. I am tempted at times, to throw in the towel, and go look for fun and excitement. So, I must believe that Jesus gets it. He's been there.
But He did not sin. And He found a way to experience the divine in His daily life. This, I think, comes through so beautifully in His teachings. He used common, everyday things to teach spiritual truths. A lost coin, a bit of yeast, a fig tree, a missing sheep, a mustard seed, a fishing net, a marriage, a lamp, a door, a grain of wheat, a bunch of weeds, and so many more things of little note became entryways into understanding the kingdom of Heaven.
And it was this same Jesus who inspired me to travel through my 40 days of Now. Not only did this help me to live each day with gratitude, but it reminded me of the beauty that can be found in the everyday. Jesus gave me gifts of meaning, significance, and the divine in my ordinary daily activities.
Another true confession here: I didn't always feel like finding the gift. A few of those days, by the time evening fell, I was too tired or cranky to sit down and ponder what Jesus did for me that day. But, because I'd made a commitment, I pushed through it. And Jesus was always faithful. He always had a beautiful little something for me. So, although I will no longer be publicly blogging about this every day, I will continue to ask Him to reveal Himself to me whether I am in a storm or in the sun. And I pray You will, too.
Lord Jesus, thank You for these 40 days. In the words of Sara Groves, what You do with my everyday is simply amazing. ~R 

Did you know Sara Groves is my favorite musical artist? Out of all others, her songs most mirror my own thoughts and feelings on life and people and God. I find myself often wishing I could say what she says so simply and beautifully. But she already said it, so I just enjoy the songs and say, "Yeah. What she said, God." I actually used a Sara Groves song three times during my 40 days--one in this post, one here, and also here.

So, because I enjoyed 40 days of Now so much, and because we are starting school around here on Monday, and I won't be blogging much, and because I love you, I'm giving away any Sara Groves CD to the winner of my last drawing for awhile. There are many to choose from! You can see the store if you click here. Her albums are listed on the left, and you can click on each one to see the song titles. Clicking on the song title will also open up the lyrics.

This giveaway is open to everyone, whether you've been reading awhile, or this is your first time here! Leave me a comment and let me know which one you would choose if you win. You can leave a comment here. But because there are still problems with blogger, you can also leave a comment on my facebook link or by email: pioneergirl(at)embarqmail(dot)com.

I hope you win! 

Note: this giveaway is now closed.


Friday, August 19, 2011

40 Days of Now: Day 39

(This post is part of a series. If you'd like to know what it's all about, go here.)


When Daddy Comes Home
Little feet pound
shrieks abound
bodies leap
voices greet
hearts race
arms embrace
when Daddy comes home.

Kisses laid
plans are made
secrets told
stories unfold
all is right
on this kind of night
when Daddy comes home.

Jesus, this joy I see in my children when their daddy comes home at the end of the day makes me smile. It causes me to long for Your coming. You've been revealing Yourself to me daily, but it only makes me want more. I want to really see You, to shout for joy and cry with happiness. To kiss Your feet and hug Your neck. To hold Your hands and look into Your eyes. To tell You, face to face, that I love You and thank You for everything. Soon, okay? ~R

Dear friends, now we are children of God, and what we will be has not yet been made known. But we know that when Christ appears, we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is.
(I John 3:2)


Thursday, August 18, 2011

40 Days of Now: Day 38

(This post is part of a series. If you'd like to know what it's all about, go here.)
Does it get any better than homemade play dough? It's so soft and fresh and easier to play with than store-bought, I think.

The lumps await their fate. They are at the mercy of the children's hands. "What shall I be?" they each wonder. "A tiger?" "A flashlight?" "A miniature version of Cleveland?"

How about lime sherbet with blueberry cookies on the side?

Or a little hedgehog going to a party?

How about a bug-eyed dragon?

Or a weird baby with a hair bow?

Umm...Merry Christmas, you little weirdos!


Father, all this shaping of dough has me singing that old song:

Have thine own way, Lord. Have thine own way. Thou are the potter, I am the clay. Mold me and make me, after Thy will. While I am waiting, yielded and still.

I put myself into Your very capable and loving hands. Do with me what You please. I know that with You, I won't turn out to be a weird baby with a hair bow. I surely will be something uniquely wonderful and beautiful. I trust You completely. ~R

Yet you, LORD, are our Father.
We are the clay, you are the potter;
we are all the work of your hand. (Isaiah 64:8)


Wednesday, August 17, 2011

40 Days of Now: Day 37

(This post is part of a series. If you'd like to know what it's all about, go here.)

Roses are red,

Some of these books are blue,

But it doesn't matter what color they are,

'Cause I love 'em all so much I want to marry them.

Aren't new books delicious? I can't decide if I want to marry them, eat them, or swim in them.

Maybe I should just read them.

Thank you Jesus, for the joy you gave me today anticipating a new school year. Thank You for the joy You give me in teaching! And thank You for the freedom I have to teach my children at home. Come teach me to be a teacher like You. ~R

Now when Jesus saw the crowds, he went up on a mountainside and sat down. His disciples came to him, and he began to teach them. (Matthew 5:1-2)

Show me your ways, Lord,
teach me your paths.
Guide me in your truth and teach me,
for you are God my Savior,
and my hope is in you all day long.
(Psalm 25:4-5)

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

40 Days of Now: Day 36

(This post is part of a series. If you'd like to know what it's all about, go here.)
Terribly pleased to wake up to the sound of a gentle rain, and to have it last much of the day, I wrote a haiku:

dusty seeds in wait
wonder when magic comes...hear 
sky say not long now

Jesus, I see You in the rain. The earth is my heart. The rain is Your mercy. The seeds You planted here soften and break open with the force of life that lies inside waiting. These seedlings are returning to You by growing tall, reaching for the Son. I'm dancing in this garden, drops of mercy on my face. Laughter comes with Your heavenly shower. ~R

Nevertheless he left not himself without witness, in that he did good, and gave us rain from heaven, and fruitful seasons, filling our hearts with food and gladness. (Acts 14:17, KJV)

Monday, August 15, 2011

40 Days of Now: Day 35

(This post is part of a series. If you'd like to know what it's all about, go here.)

Jesus, Jesus, my King, my Friend. Words escape me today. You are too much. I am without ability to even try to properly describe Your beauty. So, just between us, can we pretend I wrote this song for You? I so wish I had. ~R

Sunday, August 14, 2011

40 Days of Now: Day 34

(This post is part of a series. If you'd like to know what it's all about, go here.)

Lord, is it possible for You to speak to me through the writings of someone on the other side of the world whose culture is so unfamiliar and whose beliefs are so different from mine?

Is it possible for You to use her to reveal Yourself to me? Yes, I see it is. Absolutely. It is what You have done in this moment. You are far above and beyond such earthly distinctions. You can use anything or anyone You choose to speak truth to my heart. This is a wonderful and humbling reality. May I always be open to Your ways, not fearing what I don't understand, but trusting in You who understands it all. ~R

Now we see but a poor reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known. (1 Corinthians 13:12)

Saturday, August 13, 2011

40 Days of Now: Day 33

(This post is part of a series. If you'd like to know what it's all about, go here.)

Jesus, I see, hear, feel, and know You each day, but I don't often think of smelling You.
 I'm pretty sure I smelled You today. Breathing in the scent of freshly baked bread feels to me like breathing You in. What is it about bread? It's so basic. I have a kitchen full of food, so I forget. Bread sustains. If I had nothing else to eat, bread would get me through another day. 

You are my spiritual bread. You supply me each day my daily portion of this living bread. You sustain me. Your word satisfies my hunger. Your bread will make me live forever. ~R  

I am the bread of life. Your ancestors ate the manna in the wilderness, yet they died. But here is the bread that comes down from heaven, which anyone may eat and not die. I am the living bread that came down from heaven. Whoever eats this bread will live forever. This bread is my flesh, which I will give for the life of the world.
 (words of Jesus from John 6:48-51)

Friday, August 12, 2011

40 Days of Now: Day 32, Sam's Story, Part Two

(This post is part of a series. If you'd like to know what it's all about, go here.)

Have I mentioned how much I love this 40 day business? I really do. I never know when or how I'm going to get my "Jesus gift", but it always comes. And it's always perfect.

 Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows. (James 1:17)
 Today was no exception. It was a difficult day, emotionally for me, and physically for Sam. (The first part of Sam's story can be found here.)

Sweet little Sammo endured ten hours of procedures and tests at the hospital today.

He was wonderful and brave, but everything made him really sick, and he was fighting tears most of the time.

As I drove us home, Sam puked in his plastic bag while I cried in a wet wipe. (Evidently I need to buy some tissues for the van.) I cried because we did this to him today, and I was really feeling rotten about that. I kept checking him in my rear view mirror, and suddenly I wished I could scrunch him back down into a little baby again. I wanted to swaddle him in a soft blanket, hold him in my arms and pat his little back. I felt jealous of that magical cocoon that seems to surround mothers and their newborns. 

We are not in that cocoon anymore, Sam and I. Life is pukey sometimes, and he's old enough to know it. As I got him tucked into bed at home, I had to break the news that he wouldn't be going to the church back-to-school party or the sleepover planned for later. He didn't try to stop the tears this time. The flood was loosed, and I felt helpless to comfort him. 

Just as I was about to suggest something totally lame like me doing the happy dance for him, Sara came breezing in on her way to the party. "I almost forgot, Sam. You got mail today!" Hmm...here was something. Mail from Grandma. A lovely distraction, but the letter inside turned out to be so much more than that. It was Jesus, ministering to Sam's heart and mine, and as I read it aloud to Sam, I was the one who let the flood loose.

Dear Sam,
I have wanted to write you a letter ever since the first time you went to the doctor about your growing thing. I am so happy that you are trusting God to make you grow, and that He is making it happen! We have some really good doctors on this earth, but God is the BEST DOCTOR OF ALL, isn't He? Sometimes, doctors have a hard time figuring out exactly what is wrong or how to fix it, but God always knows everything about everything.

Have you ever noticed that there are lots more trees, and really tall ones, too, along the banks of a river? That is, of course, because there is plenty of water there for their roots to drink. I believe that God wants you to grow like a tree by the river, too, and that you WILL grow like a tree by the river--tall and healthy. You see, your roots are getting what they need for you to grow, too, just like those trees by the river. Your roots are drinking from the river of life, which is God's word. Every time you read God's word or memorize a scripture from His word, you are drinking from the river of life.

Here is what the Bible says about this: "How blessed is the man who does not walk in the counsel of the wicked, nor stand in the path of sinners, nor sit in the seat of scoffers! But his delight is in the law of the Lord, and in His law he meditates day and night. And he will be like a tree planted by streams of water, which yields its fruit in its season, and its leaf does not wither; and in whatever he does, he prospers." Psalm 1:1-3

Kyle Matthews sings a song about this, and every time I listen to it, I think about you and I rejoice that God is causing you to grow. He is so good to us, isn't He? I think the name of the song is Trees By the River. It has really good words. Maybe your mom has it, and you could listen to it, or if she doesn't, maybe I could get a copy of the CD for you. I love you, Sam.


How did my mom know that we both needed these words right at that moment? She didn't! That's the beauty of Jesus. She felt impressed to write that letter. She didn't remember that Sam had his tests today (my fault completely!). She just followed the leading of the Holy Spirit, and He worked the timing out perfectly. Thanks, Mom, for being Jesus to my boy and me today!

And thank you, Jesus, for comforting both of us and speaking truth to our hearts that uplifted better than any party could. You are so good to me! I love you so much. ~R

Thursday, August 11, 2011

40 Days of Now: Day 31

(This post is part of a series. If you'd like to know what it's all about, go here.)

Lord, I see You now in this insatiable desire I have to create. I used to think of my love for sewing and crafting as a sort of guilty pleasure, but I don't see it that way anymore. You made me in Your image, and You are rather fond of creating lovely things Yourself. You looked at all You made and said it was good. You were pleased at what You made. And now, I'm looking at these twirly skirts that have made two little girls very happy, and I think it is good. I am pleased. I like this feeling, and I'm thankful You made us this way. The world would be pretty dull without all the songs and novels and sculptures and paintings and poems and dances and foods and buildings and inventions and movies and clothing and baskets and quilts and jewelry that You have inspired us to create. I could go on and on. You inspire me to create! And so create I shall. ~R

 Then Moses said to the Israelites, “See, the LORD has chosen Bezalel son of Uri, the son of Hur, of the tribe of Judah, and he has filled him with the Spirit of God, with wisdom, with understanding, with knowledge and with all kinds of skills— to make artistic designs for work in gold, silver and bronze, to cut and set stones, to work in wood and to engage in all kinds of artistic crafts. And he has given both him and Oholiab son of Ahisamak, of the tribe of Dan, the ability to teach others. He has filled them with skill to do all kinds of work as engravers, designers, embroiderers in blue, purple and scarlet yarn and fine linen, and weavers—all of them skilled workers and designers.
(Exodus 35:30-35)

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

40 Days of Now: Day 30, The Saga of the Grape Pickers

(This post is part of a series. If you'd like to know what it's all about, go here.)

The ruse is up. This is a crumbling facade. You think we are a normal family with regular kids. Well, you are wrong. Our kids are actually talented child actors who we took on as free labor...

...to work our vineyard. Yes, we have a very large vineyard that produces half a bucket of grapes every year. I know. How surprising. And super cool.

Please don't be fooled by the romantic softness of these photos. Working the vineyard is neither romantic nor soft. It is hard, people. Hard labor. And that is why we hired our laborers. See that little girl I have been referring to as my daughter? She has arms like the Hulk.

No, little girl. We don't smile about grapes like this. That grape has a black spot. Toss it to the birds, and get back to work. Now!

No, kid, This one doesn't pass muster either. It's too tiny. Hey! You in the background. What do you think this is? A picnic? Get back to work!

Yeah, I'm watchin' you, buddy. Don't give me that look.

Alright! Who put nuts in the grape bucket?

By the way, we also grow raisins. Right next to the grapes! I wanted to point that out, because it increases the value of our vineyard and it also increases our coolness.

Okay, okay. While the kids are upstairs stomping the grapes in the bathtub, I'll tell you the truth. For real.

The truth is, we have a smallish sort of grape arbor in the backyard. And while it does produce grapes, it is hardly a vineyard. And we certainly don't "work" it. In fact, sometimes I forget it's even there. The birds use it for shelter and nesting and food, but the grapes are too sour for us to eat.

But I'm so glad the kids "discovered" the grapes today, because it has had me meditating on one of my most favorite Bible passages ever.

“I am the true vine, and my Father is the gardener. He cuts off every branch in me that bears no fruit, while every branch that does bear fruit he prunes so that it will be even more fruitful. You are already clean because of the word I have spoken to you. Remain in me, as I also remain in you. No branch can bear fruit by itself; it must remain in the vine. Neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in me.

    “I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing. If you do not remain in me, you are like a branch that is thrown away and withers; such branches are picked up, thrown into the fire and burned. If you remain in me and my words remain in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you. This is to my Father’s glory, that you bear much fruit, showing yourselves to be my disciples.
(John 15:1-8)

So, the way I see it, I'm going to get cut either way. If I'm not remaining in Jesus and bearing fruit, I'm getting cut. Cut right off. But if I remain in Jesus, I'm still getting cut, only it's a loving cut. A pruning cut. The kind you do to the plants you love that you want to bloom more. Cutting is painful. Either way is going to hurt. But one way produces death, while the other produces fruit. I choose fruit.

A regular prayer of mine for a long time has been that the Lord would teach me what it means to remain in Him and how to do that. I don't think there is anything mysterious or complicated about it. To remain or to abide simply means to continue in a place or in a condition or state. Thinking of Jesus' vine and branch analogy, it means just staying connected. And how do I do that? The same way I stay connected to anyone else. Talk to Him. Listen to Him. I read His word and meditate on it, so it remains in me. I talk to Jesus and think about Him, so that I remain in Him.

It's so terribly simple, but without this "remaining in Him" I would be one of those branches that gets withered and tossed into the fire. So, this may be simple, but it is also vital. So very important.

I realized today that one way God has answered my prayer about remaining in Him, is by inspiring me to do these 40 days of Now. It has been such a simple, effective way to stay connected to Jesus every day. Have you tried this yet? In the morning, before things get crazy, ask Jesus to reveal Himself to you sometime during the day. Then expect Him to, because He will. Watch and see what He will do! You will be blessed.

Jesus, thank You for showing me who You are today in my grapevine. You are my vine! I am so happy to be connected to You. I can do nothing without You. Father, prune away the parts of me that don't bear fruit. Jesus, Your life flows through me when I stay connected to You. Teach me to be faithful and fruitful every day. ~R  

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

40 Days of Now: Day 29

(This post is part of a series. If you'd like to know what it's all about, go here.)

Praise the Lord, O my soul;
all my inmost being, praise his holy name.
Praise the Lord, O my soul,
and forget not all his benefits—
who forgives all your sins
and heals all your diseases,
who redeems your life from the pit
and crowns you with love and compassion,
who satisfies your desires with good things
so that your youth is renewed like the eagle’s.
(Psalm 103:1-5) 

Lord, this is just the kind of day I need my youth renewed. Going in and out of the heat all day, three kids in tow, doing my least favorite kinds of things makes me feel a little less than youthful. And yet, You showed me Yourself  today in a gentle reminder to be thankful. You know how much I love to be at home, and how I dread the errands. But You helped me remember that today is exactly the kind of day I wished I could have again when I was sick. And it is the kind of day that I promised never to complain about again when I was well.

So, with that said, thank you, Jesus. Thank You for energy to get up today and run these errands. Thank You for feet that don't shuffle down the store aisles. Thank you for eyes that can see to drive and read. Thank you for arms that can lift milk and laundry detergent into the cart. Thank You for Your provision that pays for it all. And thank You for this home I love to come back to. Coming home is always sweeter after I've been away on errand day. Hmm...I feel a poem coming on. ~R  

Monday, August 8, 2011

40 Days of Now: Day 28

(This post is part of a series. If you'd like to know what it's all about, go here.)
Lord, I've seen You today in the geometry of my quilt blocks. I always loved my geometry classes in school. The precision and order are so peaceful and comforting to me.

None of my teachers ever mentioned You in class, but I have only to step out my door to discover that You are the genius who invented geometry and every other form of mathematics.

You are a God of supreme order.

Your measuring stick is perfectly precise.

Your design is exactly correct.

And all of this is in stark contrast to the chaos that we encounter in this life.

In this Now moment, I am feeling the raw pain of these two realities colliding. You created all things perfectly, but when sin came into the world, so did confusion, chaos, pain, and death. And grief encompasses all these. We grieve because it isn't right.

It isn't right that precious lives have been lost in Afghanistan in recent days. It just doesn't fit into Your intended order. And so we grieve. Our world has fallen short of Your perfection.

Oh, God, I pray for every mom and dad, every husband or wife, every child, every sibling, every friend, and every brother in combat who has been touched by the pain of these deaths. I pray that each weeping heart would turn toward You for strength. You are the God of all comfort. Come and comfort these loved ones now. You are close to the brokenhearted. Be close to these broken hearts now. Jesus, You bore our sorrows and griefs. Come alongside these grieving ones and carry their pain. Holy Spirit, just as You hovered over the waters at the creation of the earth, hover over these hurting ones and create blessings out of the loss, bring beauty up out of the tragedy, bring triumph up out the grave, for You have triumphed over death. Thank You for being the God of peace and order. I worship You now, in Jesus' name. Amen.

The Lord is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit.
(Psalm 34:18)

Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted.
(Matthew 5:4)

Sunday, August 7, 2011

40 Days of Now: Day 27

(This post is part of a series. If you'd like to know what it's all about, go here.)

At times I forget. But not Now.

Now I remember that even on my best day, when I am patient and loving toward my children, when I cook up something special for my husband,

when I do something thoughtful for a friend or a neighbor, and send money to help an orphan across the world...

...even on that very good day,

when I've done nothing evil to speak of,

if I were to stand alone before my Father, the Holy God of the universe, I would be as black as night. Without You, Jesus, I would be filthy, with no righteousness of my own. You have washed me clean with Your blood. You have scrubbed away every black stain and have made me presentable for the Father. I wear Your holiness, Your righteousness, Your purity with humility and the very deepest gratitude. ~R

As it is written: "There is no one righteous, not even one;
(Romans 3:10)

But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus, his Son, purifies us from all sin.
 (1 John 1:7)

And the Winner is...

...Robyn! She is a friend from the Kansas era of my life. Robyn is a woman of many talents whom I admire. She may not know this, but she is one of the reasons I chose to homeschool. She is beautiful, artistic, witty, and compassionate. She is a free-spirited woman, and I miss being around her.

I'm so happy you won, Robyn! My only regret is that you are this amazing seamstress, and stitching on vinyl gets a little hairy, at least for me. Hopefully you can overlook the mistakes and feel the love! I think you'll have to message me with your address. Not sure I have it.

Élvezze, édes barátom!

Saturday, August 6, 2011

40 Days of Now: Day 26

(This post is part of a series. If you'd like to know what it's all about, go here.)

 Jesus entered Jericho and was passing through.  A man was there by the name of Zacchaeus; he was a chief tax collector and was wealthy.  He wanted to see who Jesus was, but because he was short he could not see over the crowd.  So he ran ahead and climbed a sycamore-fig tree to see him, since Jesus was coming that way.

 When Jesus reached the spot, he looked up and said to him, “Zacchaeus, come down immediately. I must stay at your house today.”  So he came down at once and welcomed him gladly.

 All the people saw this and began to mutter, “He has gone to be the guest of a sinner.”

 But Zacchaeus stood up and said to the Lord, “Look, Lord! Here and now I give half of my possessions to the poor, and if I have cheated anybody out of anything, I will pay back four times the amount.”

 Jesus said to him, “Today salvation has come to this house, because this man, too, is a son of Abraham. For the Son of Man came to seek and to save the lost.”
(Luke 19:1-10) 

Jesus, I thought of You today as we passed by sycamore trees on our walk. Like Zacchaeus, I've been eagerly looking for You each day of this 40 day adventure. And just as You were with Zacchaeus, You've been so gracious to me. You looked past his sin and his physical appearance, and shot straight for his heart. You saw this short man's curious longing for You, and You graced his home not only with Your presence, but with Your salvation. Zacchaeus was undone, cut to the heart, a changed man after just a moment in Your presence. Oh, Jesus, You are so wonderfully beautiful and good. Thank You for seeing the longing in my own heart, looking past my many shortcomings, and spending time with me anyway. You have graced me with the gift of Your presence, and I am forever changed. ~R

Friday, August 5, 2011

40 Days of Now: Day 25

(This post is part of a series. If you'd like to know what it's all about, go here.)

Jesus, I see You now in this wild and wacky girl and her love for her new baby brother. Her adoration of him is sweet, but it is also fierce. She doesn't want to share him with anyone else. She looks on him with eyes full of wonder and joy that he is really here, alive and precious. And if she could, she would hold him in her little arms forever, I think. 

The love coming out of this eleven-year-old has me thankful once again for Your extreme love for us. For me. Oh, it's so much easier to say that You love us as a collective group. It's less intimate and scary. But You do love me, don't You? I know You do! Just because it's harder to say doesn't mean it's any less true. You really love me! Suddenly that reality is hitting me fresh and I am moved to tears. Your love for me is fiercely passionate; You don't want anyone else to have me. Your love for me is sweet and tender. You look on me with eyes full of kindness and joy in what You have made. And I am Yours! I belong to You, Lord. Once again, I receive this great love of Yours, and I love You back. ~R 

How great is the love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are!
(1 John 3:1)

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