Monday, February 21, 2011

Sometimes you just need your Momma!

My oldest daughter just had shoulder surgery this past week.  This may sound crazy, but I was almost disappointed that her husband seemed to be taking such good care of her that she didn't seem to need me!!!   ...Then the call came ---  "Momma, I just need you."   And of course, I rushed to her side.  She didn't need me to DO anything for her; she just wanted my presence beside her.  Her husband was meeting all her needs except for the presence of her Momma.

I felt kind of like that this weekend.  We had some unexpected trauma in our lives, and I just felt like I needed my Mommie!  In fact, I curled up in a near fetal position on the loveseat while shedding tears, and encircled my knees with a hug from my arms trying to bring myself the comfort that it seemed only a Mother could give.

While I was doing this, I felt like God was whispering some verses in my mind reassuring me of His love and care for me.  Verses like Psalm 36:7  "How priceless is your unfailing love!  Both the high and low among men find refuge in the shadow of your wings," and Psalm 17:8 "Hide me in the shadow of your wings!" 

And who could forget the comfort that Psalm 91 brings in times of distress?  "He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High will rest in the shadow of the Almighty.  I will say of the LORD, He is my refuge and my fortress, my God, in whom I trust...He will cover you with His feather, and under His wings you will find refuge..."

So, today I am choosing to see myself curled up "under His wings," rest in His "unfailing love," and know that no challenge is too big for Him to handle. 

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Spicy Saltine Crackers and the "Covenant of Salt"!

Several years ago when reading through the Bible, I was intrigued by mention of a "covenant of salt." It sparked my curiosity, and I remember asking God to show me what it meant.  He didn't show me this immediately, and I'm still not sure I understand very much about it.  Basically, what it seemed to say to me as I studied it, was that God was saying, "If you serve me, I'll take care of you."

So anyway, I looked up a lot of the references to salt.  Of course, we can't forget one of the first Bible references to salt, when God turned Lot's wife into a pillar of salt.  Why salt?  I have no idea.  I always thought that maybe when the rain came and melted that pillar of salt that God may have used it to make the salty Dead Sea.  However, the "Salt Sea" is mentioned before Lot's wife was turned into salt, so I guess my reasoning was faulty!  (Genesis 14:3 cf Genesis 19:26)

Then reading this morning about the offerings brought to God, He said NEVER TO FORGET THE SALT!  Why did God want salt on the offerings that were brought to Him?  It must have been very important to Him, because He said: "Every offering of your grain offering you shall season with salt; you shall not allow the salt of the covenant of your God to be lacking from your grain offering.  With all your offerings you shall offer salt" (Leviticus 2:13).

In the book of Numbers, I think it gives us a better clue about what God meant about a "covenant of salt" when God is talking to the priests and says it is an unbreakable covenant between them and the LORD forever.  Then God says He is "their portion and their inheritance."  The other tribes were getting allotments of land.  In essence it seems to me that God was telling the priests that in exchange for their service to Him, He would feed them and take care of them. (Numbers chapter 18, but especially verses 19-21).

So how does this relate to us?  Does the "Covenant of Salt" apply to you and me?  Well, I think it does.   It applied to David and his sons (2 Chron 13:5).  Because David served God with His whole heart and soul, I think God honored him as He did the priests.  Salt was used as a preservative back then, and represented something being durable.  God gave promises to David that were eternally durable. 

His promises to us are also durable - they last forever.  Peter says we are "a holy priesthood to offer up spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God" (1 Peter 2:5).  So, if we are "priests" to serve God, I think we can enter into a "Covenant of Salt" with Him, expecting Him to honor all His promises to care for us as we serve Him.  One of those promises that I like is Philippians 4:19 "And my God shall supply all your need according to His riches in glory by Christ Jesus."

For a reminder of the covenant of salt, I'm posting a great recipe from my friend "TJ".  These treated saltine crackers are amazing - especially if you like crunchy snacks that are a bit salty and spicy!  And they are so easy to make!   You do not have to bake them; they stay crisp without baking.

Empty all packets from a one pound package of saltine crackers into a gallon size zip lock bag.  In a bowl mix 1 cup of vegetable oil with 1 dry packet of ranch style dressing and 1 teaspoon of cayenne pepper, or add cayenne according to your taste preference. When well mixed, pour liquid mixture over crackers which you have placed in the zip lock bag.  Turn crackers over every 15 minutes or so until the oil and spices have absorbed.  Let sit overnight, and then ENJOY!  (If they are a bit hot for you, they are can be tamed when topped with a mild cheese.)  Let them be a reminder to you of God's salt covenant, and that God keeps His promises!

Maybe I'll post a little more of what I'm learning about salt later on another blog...

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Swimming in Mud

Some days it just feels like I'm swimming in mud! 

Today is one of those days.  Before getting out of bed this morning, I could already tell it was one of those days!  Advancing weather fronts compounded by advancing age seem to bring these days on more frequently - achy joints,  overall feeling of tiredness, and just plain laziness.

Before retirement from nursing, I did not allow myself a choice.   I tried to ignore the challenge of "swimming in mud" and just make myself go to work regardless how I felt.  Often as I looked as my patients, I had to pray and ask God to give me compassion for them because I felt like I was in worse shape than they were!

Now I have a choice - go back to bed or do something productive with my life when these days come .  Although the bed seemed to be calling my name loudly this morning, with the help of God I chose not to listen.  It wasn't easy! 

My oldest daughter and I were talking about this just this morning.  She recently turned 40, and is beginning to feel a few of the challenges of aging joints and bones.    When I was a few years older than she is now, I became good friends with an orthopaedic surgeon.  He gave me several cortizone injections in my aching joints which gave me much relief.  Finally one day when I went to him with another troublesome joint, he looked at me, shook his head in a negative manner and gave me some advice.

"Esther," he said, "You're just going to have to face the fact that your body is getting older.  I can't continue to give you injections every time your joints hurt.  You will have to tell yourself this is part of getting older and learn to endure a little pain!"

That was not what I wanted to hear, but it was what I needed to hear.  Now, it's two decades later.  Sometimes I think I'm a better weather predictor than the weather channel!  

I remember hearing my Dad quote the serenity prayer of St. Francis of Assissi: 
      "God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change;
       Courage to change the things I can;
       And the wisdom to know the difference."
This seems like it echos the words and advice of my doctor friend!  Or my late mother-in-law's words of advice to me: "Fix what you can and live with what you can't!"

So, on these days when it is more difficult to get out of bed in the mornings because of an advancing winter storm front, and it feels like I am struggling as if I was "swimming in mud", I need to remember that God's grace will see me through these challenges.  Through my weaknesses, I am learning more and more to lean on God's strength.   Second Corinthians 12:9 is now taking on new meaning when it says, "My grace is all you need.  My power works best in weakness!"

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Daughters of Sarah?!!

Hmmm...  Let me see...  Yes, I'm talking about Sarah, the wife of Abraham.  Didn't she just have one child, a son named Isaac?  From my studies in the Bible, I don't see where she had any other children.  When Isaac was born, she was very OLD.  So how could Sarah have any daughters?

Sarah may have many daughters, ...and guess what?  You may be one of them!  Speaking of Abraham's wife Sarah, Peter said in 1Peter 3:6 "You are her daughters if you do what is right and do not give way to fear."

I've been doing some thinking about that and have come to the conclusion that Sarah was either a very brave woman, or a coward who couldn't stand up to her husband.  If you don't know what I'm talking about, I'm referring to those passages in Genesis where it tells us Abraham asked Sarah to say that she was his sister rather than his wife; Sarah obliged - not once, but twice  (Genesis 12:10-20 and Genesis chapter 20).  It really makes me upset with Abraham to think that he would put his wife in this kind of predicament in order to save his own skin. 

If it weren't for Peter's words about Sarah, I would probably feel that she was just a victim in both these accounts, someone who didn't stand up for her own rights.  It doesn't appear this is the way Peter thought of her, though.  It sounds like Peter  thought Sarah was a very brave woman, and respected Sarah for her trust and faith in God to take care of her even when her husband allowed her to be placed in difficult circumstances. 

It amazes me that Sarah still had respect for her husband when sometimes he goofed so badly.  Respect seems to be what men need, ...but sometimes it's very hard to give!  I think that's an area that is often under attack in my own marriage - defining where that fine line is of holy submission and allowing God to fight for me if my husband sometimes makes decisions that I don't agree with, or when I need to stand up and speak up as "equal partners" as Peter talks about only a few verses later on. 

A former pastor of mine summed this up pretty well in speaking to us wives.  He said that when we didn't exactly agree with our husbands, we just needed to trust God and remember to "duck," letting our husbands take responsibility for the outcome of their actions or decisions.  So, let's just get our helmets on in case we don't duck quickly enough!

(In the above article I am in no way condoning abusive situations. If you find yourself in an abusive situation, please get the help you need to be safe, whether counselling, a safe house or shelter, etc.)