The Costco Butcher

(I know Easter has already passed. Tell that to my internet connection that keeps kicking me offline when I want to be online. I am behind, but I decided to post my Easter thoughts at this late date regardless.)

On the Saturday before Easter, my husband took me on a date to Costco.

Yes. Costco.

And yes, it was a date.

We don’t have a lot of time to ourselves, so stealing away to a place that offers free samples of tasty treats, great deals on all kinds of cool stuff, and GLUTEN FREE DOG FOOD should certainly be on the top of anyone’s Top Ten Date Ideas, right? I know, you’re jealous of my life…

So we made our way through the humongous Six Flags over Groceries and Stuff, and eventually walked through the meat department. There is something to be said at finding a pork loin that is almost three feet long…I cut it into thirds so it would fit in my pan…

But as I looked over the selection of meat, I saw the butcher walking through the meat department. He was wearing a white uniform and what probably started as a white apron. The apron was now very blood-stained, bearing the marks of the butcher’s workmanship. It wasn’t the first time I had ever seen a bloody butcher’s apron, but this time it got my mind going.

The following morning, I was again reminded of the butcher in his bloodied apron. It was Easter Sunday, and I was thinking about the crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus Christ. As I thought about the soldiers who nailed Jesus to the cross, my mind was filled with images of them being splattered and stained with His blood. His sacrifice was not a neat and tidy job. It was truly a bloody and torturous death. And in much the same manner as the butcher bore the bloodstains of the slaughtered animals, so would the soldiers have borne the stains of the Savior on their bodies and clothing. I wondered how they felt? Did it cause them any fear? Did they feel nothing at all? Were they even aware of WHO they were killing?

My memory of the blood-stained butcher is stamped in my brain. Even stronger in my mind is the image of my slain Savior who died at man’s hands to offer the final sacrifice for sin. There is no longer any suitable offering for sin…Jesus completed His work at Calvary. Not only was the sacrifice sufficient, but in rising again and being ascended into heaven, we see the work of Christ complete as He now is seated at the right hand of the Father.

There is nothing left that any of us can do to make His sacrifice more effective or more complete. He bore the payment for sin in His own body that I might live. Freely live a life of hope and grace and mercy and love. 

Hebrews 9:11 ff

But when Christ appeared as a high priest of the good things that have come, then through the greater and more perfect tent (not made with hands, that is, not of this creation) he entered once for all into the holy places, not by means of the blood of goats and calves but by means of his own blood, thus securing an eternal redemption.

For if the blood of goats and bulls, and the sprinkling of defiled persons with the ashes of a heifer, sanctify for the purification of the flesh, how much more will the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered himself without blemish to God, purify our conscience from dead works to serve the living God.

Therefore he is the mediator of a new covenant

For Christ has entered, not into holy places made with hands, which are copies of the true things,
but into heaven itself, now to appear in the presence of God on our behalf.
Nor was it to offer himself repeatedly, as the high priest enters the holy places every year with blood not his own, for then he would have had to suffer repeatedly
since the foundation of the world. But as it is, he has appeared once for all … to put away sin by the sacrifice of himself.

And just as it is appointed for man to die once, and after that comes judgment, so Christ, having been offered once to bear the sins of many, will appear a second time, not to deal with sin but to save those who are eagerly waiting for him.

 

 

Politics and My Mom

My mom is a very funny lady. I don’t mean a comic…she tells jokes, but sometimes forgets part of the joke…and that is pretty funny all by itself.

My mom used to be addicted to politics. She knew everyone, good and bad, including which reporters could be trusted and which ones were hacks. I think televisions with the picture in a picture were invented for her…C-Span 1 on one channel with C-Span 2 in the little box…

Back when she was a political junkie, she had the radio playing a political program, the tv had something else on, and if I am not mistaken, she also had a transistor radio playing another program…that was back when politics were a little more humorous than they have been in recent years. She has since been rehabilitated and has been released from the “half-way” house for recovering political addiction.

We had dinner together tonight. Just my parents and me. It was great. No little people to talk over, no sports discussions (except the physics behind certain putts  that my dad was describing…scientists…). Just a daughter with her mom and dad.

The conversation was random. We discussed family, Hurricane Sandy and all its devastation, our favorite little people and their silly sayings, and of course the clothes we will be sporting at my nephew’s wedding in about a month.

As I was leaving, we somehow started discussing those annoying political phone polls. I commented that I had not received a SINGLE CALL…apparently if you get your number via a hot spot mobile number you don’t get called???

Anyway, my mother began sharing about a recent polling telephone call that she had answered. It wasn’t with one of those machine robot modern scary mechanisms that somehow know you have answered the phone and orders you to push different buttons to answer.

THIS time it was a L I V E  P E R S O N!!! She was very polite to the man on the other end of the conversation. Knowing my mother, I would expect nothing less. Once she had successfully answered all of his questions, she said she had her own question for him. (Oh I wish I could have videotaped the guy on the other end…)

My mother asked, “If you were to die tonight and stand before God, what reason would you give Him for letting you into Heaven?”

Silence. Followed by more silence. And then he said, “I honestly don’t have an answer for that.”

My mother proceeded to explain to the man that Jesus had died on the cross in full payment for all sin. That the man’s ticket was his for the taking, so to speak, if he believed in Jesus’ sacrifice on the cross as the only satisfactory payment for sin. No works. No being good enough. Only through faith in the sacrifice of Jesus for sin.

The call came to a close. I have no idea what decision the man made. I can almost assure you, however, that the man has been thinking about “that lady” with her question. And I really pray that he considers his own answer very carefully.

Whoever wins this election will have an opportunity to do things. Important things that impact lives. But none of those decisions, regardless of who the victor is, will be as important as the answer that the man will make regarding his eternal destiny.

No one can make that decision for anyone but himself.

Romans 5:8

 but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.

John 3:15-18

That whosoever believes in Him should not perish, but have eternal life. For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believes in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life. For God sent not His Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved. He that believes in Him is not condemned; but He that believes not is condemned already, because he hath not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God.

Ephesians 2:1-9

 And you were dead in the trespasses and sins…following the course of this world…carrying out the desires of the body and the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, like the rest of mankind.  But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us,  even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ—by grace you have been saved—and raised us up with him and seated us with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus,  so that…he might show the immeasurable riches of his grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus.  For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast.

 

The Promise

As I sit out on the deck today, I am being reminded of God’s faithfulness in keeping His promises.

It’s not as though I deny that life can be excruciatingly difficult and tragic. I have seen and lived through enough heartaches and sorrows to have a basis on which I might question God…

But, I also have lived through the heartaches and sorrows only to know that as I walked through those dark and agonizing valleys, I was never alone. Even when I was physically alone, even feeling abandoned, I really wasn’t.

When my husband and I began the process of adopting two of our children, we had to go through an abandonment procedure, whereby our two children were officially “abandoned” by their biological parents. There is no easy way to deal with the emotions of this process…the laws of the country through which we were adopting required the publication of our children’s “datos” and “fotografías” in the major newspapers over a three week period.

That was a scary time for us, as we already had custody of our children, and we knew that there was the possibility of having someone step forward and claim them legally, even if they couldn’t prove their biological claims to our children.

For my happy-go-lucky husband, he lost that aspect during the entire adoption process. It was excruciating to have custody of these children for two years, knowing that they could still be taken away.

I remember asking anyone who would listen to please pray for us. Please pray for our adoptions to go through. Every time the government suspended international adoptions, we felt a sense of panic try to overtake our confidence in the Lord’s goodness and faithfulness to us.

Eventually, we received approved adoption decrees for our children. Children who had been placed for adoption for different reasons. Children who would never be able to know their biological roots. That is hardcore abandonment, people. And there is no easy way to explain that away, no matter how heart-wrenching their biological parents’ situations happened to be.

Adoptees handle their feelings about adoption uniquely. Some truly struggle with the idea that they were somehow unwanted. Others are filled with grief for the circumstances that made it impossible for them to remain in their biological family. There are obviously commonalities that many experience, but just like everyone else, the situations are as individual as the kids.

But one thing is consistently true for each one of us…when you have a relationship with Jesus Christ, you will never, ever be abandoned. He has promised to never leave or forsake His children. No matter how awful life can get, if you are His child you will not go through your sorrows alone. He promised.

 

Pondering…

I  haven’t slept well this week. Of course, that means I am unusually tired. And crabby. And lacking in creativity. But I look at writing as a form of stimulation and exercise for my brain, so to those of you who choose to wade through my blog today…I may have to apologize.

If you could READ with your eyes closed, I would walk you through some of the sounds of this week…

For example, I am currently listening to an eruption of Mt. Vesuvius in the other room. What does his eruption sound like? So glad you asked:

He is bellowing and billowing out “NO!!! NO!!! NO!!! WAAAAAH!!! WAAAAH! OOOOOWAAAAH!!! NOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!” at the top of his angry toddler lungs. Just close your eyes and imagine you are sitting with me…listening to his angry outburst…

Ok. You can stop now. That was just excruciating, I know. I even turned on the attic fan to drown out the noise, but…we can all. still. hear. it.

Now, how about imagining that you are sitting on my deck…

It is night time and the sky is dark. Thunder claps are all around us accompanied by bright flashes of lightening. The rain is pouring down, and the wind is howling. The tall trees are swaying in circles. And the hollow oak, aka the Raccoon Condo, is swaying eerily.

Can you picture it? The oak tree is HUGE. How it still stands is a mystery, but we love that tree with its crooked branches that look like Rudolph and the critters that creep out as dusk settles. Of course, Joe Bear and Día view the critters as appetizers…

I just hope that if that tree topples, it is from a wind from the south…it could do some serious damage in a storm from the north.

But after the storm dies down, if you close your eyes, it sounds like rushing waters over a large waterfall…almost thundering. As the water level subsides, you can hear the creek in its normal trickle, almost like it is chuckling as it trips over the minuscule “waterfall”…a “waterfall” that I think is a man-made hiccup to keep the creek from getting too high during heavy rains.

But oh how I love the sound of the creek…soothing, tranquil, peaceful. Almost heaven on earth…

And that brings me to this morning. I slept poorly last night, and awoke earlier than I would have liked, but I was pondering this morning. Literally. The lyrics of an old hymn were playing in my mind…

Ponder anew, what the Almighty can do,
if with His love He befriend thee

Those words just kept playing through my thoughts as I pondered all the wonderful and awesome things God has done…in the past, in the present and even those things that are promised for the future.

Salvation, paid for at Calvary…sins not just covered, but cleansed away…miracles happening in lives of people who were without hope just days ago…a future at home with our Savior, our Almighty heavenly Father…

My head was kind of like that creek…gushing and trickling, making such a joyful noise at the many awesome works that have been done by our Creator.

And so, as I awoke, I pondered anew…and was filled with awe. When you close your eyes, and consider the many things that God has done, continues to do, and promises to do in the future…do you run out of things to ponder?

Praise to the Lord, the Almighty, the King of creation!
O my soul, praise Him, for He is thy health and salvation!
All ye who hear, now to His temple draw near;
Praise Him in glad adoration.

Praise to the Lord, who over all things so wondrously reigneth,
Shelters thee under His wings, yea, so gently sustaineth!
Hast thou not seen how thy desires ever have been
Granted in what He ordaineth?

Praise to the Lord, who hath fearfully, wondrously, made thee;
Health hath vouchsafed and, when heedlessly falling, hath stayed thee.
What need or grief ever hath failed of relief?
Wings of His mercy did shade thee.

Praise to the Lord, who doth prosper thy work and defend thee;
Surely His goodness and mercy here daily attend thee.
Ponder anew what the Almighty can do,
If with His love He befriend thee.

Praise to the Lord, who, when tempests their warfare are waging,
Who, when the elements madly around thee are raging,
Biddeth them cease, turneth their fury to peace,
Whirlwinds and waters assuaging.

Praise to the Lord, who, when darkness of sin is abounding,
Who, when the godless do triumph, all virtue confounding,
Sheddeth His light, chaseth the horrors of night,
Saints with His mercy surrounding.

Praise to the Lord, O let all that is in me adore Him!
All that hath life and breath, come now with praises before Him.
Let the Amen sound from His people again,
Gladly for aye we adore Him.

 

Beauty of the Word

When you read the Word of God, what do you see? Do you see beauty?

When you see beauty are you reminded of the Word of God?

Do you worry about tomorrow? Be honest. Sometimes I do…

Why are you here?

Are you born again of that which is imperishable and enduring?

Have you pulled away from the Vine? Are you withering because you are not abiding in Him?

Do you live your life as that abundant life given by Jesus for YOU?

Are you ready to meet Jesus face to face? Do you wait for His glorious appearing with great anticipation?

 

 

 

 

 

 

Do you believe in miracles? (David Hanson Update #2)

I always struggle with the title. I want it to be catchy…you know? Grab your attention and get a bunch of likes and a new badge and more gold stars as a blogger?

Well, let’s just say that I don’t really need those likes, badges and gold stars. Readers??? Yes, would definitely like more of those.

But for today, I have some amazing news to share and I wanted a REALLY AWESOME TITLE…And when I typed out “Do you believe in miracles?” all I could think of was this –you know, Do You Believe in Miracles by Hot Chocolate…NOT what I was going for, I assure you.

So, you will have to deal with the title, because I DO believe in miracles. And it is absolutely the most thrilling thing to see, (even if it is only in print and without pictures).

So many of you have been praying for David and Rachel Hanson. And I am grateful. Thousands of people all around the globe, daily praying for this young couple and their families as they go through a Goliath-sized struggle.

David, who suffered such a devastating fall, leaving doctors with little hope for his recovery. A young wife thrown headlong into a test that marriages decades-old might not survive. And yet, she went forward with the most grace and peace I have ever seen. Her updates are thrilling, encouraging, hopeful…real.

There is no trace of bitterness. Love? Most assuredly. Joy? Yes. Pain? Yes. Peace? Astonishingly, yes. What a witness for the Lord whom she faithfully serves!

So many of us go to the David Hanson Update page on facebook each day looking for news (or if you are me, every 15 minutes). Anything that will give us an inkling of what is happening. Some days, there are no new reports. Other days, we gasp with amazement and are thrilled to the core as we read of God’s answers to our prayers.

Currently, David’s parents are visiting their son and daughter-in-law. They were with him just after his fall, but then had to return home. So, after several weeks’ absence they were able to see first hand how their son was progressing.

Annette L Hanson

Just a quick note to say that our first full day with David has been a blessing, and we thank the Lord for His lovingkindness! The OTs, PTs and nurses are educating us on how we can work with David’s arms, hands, legs and feet to help keep him “limber.” He is still very strong and it is definitely work! We are also trying to help increase his awareness by talking with him, asking for responses, reading to him, singing, and praying with him. Sometimes he looks right in our eyes, and today he seemed like he was trying to smile and talk. He also moves his head back and forth from Joel to me, when we stand on either side of him. Rachel had to work today, and we are looking forward to some time learning from her tomorrow. 🙂

I am a mom. I love my children dearly. (Of course they probably would not appreciate being called children since they are almost 31, 29 and 28.) But…as a mom, I can make a decent attempt at putting myself in Annette’s shoes and imagine all the emotions I would feel being so far away from my child who was hurt so badly, and then the joy at seeing how improved he was in just a matter of a few short weeks. I have read and re-read her posts several times, visualizing the scene as best I could, and have shed many tears of joy on her behalf.

Her subsequent post brought a smile and more tears.

Annette L Hanson

Wow – what an overwhelming blessing to see so much love shared and prayers brought before the Lord from many believers we know and many we look forward to meeting! What a great day that will be when we are all together bowing in thankfulness and worship to our Savior!

Yesterday was a happy time, to see David smiling for us (and more than that for Rachel), and to have him move his thumb and finger upon request! This morning he was pretty sleepy.

Do you remember how exciting it was to see your baby smile at you for the first time and you knew it wasn’t gas? Thrilling, wasn’t it? Now can you imagine your child is a grown man, has suffered a very serious, life-threatening brain injury and then seeing him smile? Somehow, I just think that would be even more precious than that baby smile. At least for ME it would be.

Annette’s next post was a very practical one–

Annette L Hanson

As a medical precaution, Joel and I have been asked to post a message about visiting David. We are very grateful for all of the love shown for our son and daughter in law, but have been advised that too many visitors can be stressful and overly agitating to David, and we need to limit his company to immediate family. Again, we thank you all for your love and understanding as we try to do what is best for David.

This is directly from the heart of Mama-Bear, protecting her cub from danger. Anyone who has any knowledge of brain trauma and coma understands the importance of allowing the brain to regain its function in a controlled environment. And anyone who has been faithfully praying for this young man is hoping to get to visit and see how well he is doing. Sort of like our faith being made sight–believing and then seeing. But not so fast…now is not the time to bombard that healing brain with a lot of interaction with multitudes of grateful and faithful pray-ers.

And then her post today almost had me jumping up and down…

Annette L Hanson

David was able to hold some “burts bees” lip balm between his thumb and forefinger this morning and apply it to his lips … and chin. 🙂 he was also able to wash his face with a wet cloth. So fun to see! Thank the Lord for this progress!

Wow. Wow. Wow!!! How wonderful!!! Amazing!!! Miraculous, even!!! Who would have thought David would have progressed so rapidly?

As I was beginning to write this post, I heard a Third Day song (new to me) playing in the background, titled “I Need a Miracle“…

You know, I DO believe in miracles. And I know there are so many people who DO need a miracle. The story of David and Rachel Hanson is not finished. It has barely started to unfold…but they will have a tremendous and miraculous story to tell of how God moved in their lives in a way that made strangers into family. That made the ends of the earth just a breath away. And THAT is amazing to me.

Keep praying! God is able to do exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think!