Archive | April 2009

COOL, CLEAR WATER

I turned on the water the other day to get a glass of water and was surprised to see the water in my glass was cloudy. For a moment I was confused and wondered if I could believe my eyes. Or had I picked up a dirty glass that had some leftover milk in it? I was sure that was not the case, so I poured it out and tried again. Glass after glass came out cloudy. Ewww—it didn’t look safe to drink. I ran and ran the water, hoping it would clear up, but it did not.
*
Then came frustration! I was thirsty and there was nothing else in the house to drink! A few weeks ago I had determined not to buy any more pop or tea until Bob was back to working five days a week. When his work got cut back and we took a big pay cut I had to look at ways to cut costs, as well. I wanted to drop my coffee, too, but Bob wouldn’t let me (probably because he didn’t want to sacrifice his coffee) so I cut down from two big mugs a day to one. I consoled myself at the time with the thought that it would do me good to drink more water anyhow.
*
Now here I was, though, with nothing else in the house and the water looking very suspicious! I called Bob and told him what had happened. He didn’t have any answers as to what was going on, but he did remind me that there was a case of bottled water in the basement. Whew! Not only did I have water for the afternoon, but also water for Robbie’s feedings.
*
I was still nervous, though, about what could have caused this problem. Was it a problem in our own house that would be expensive and lengthy to fix, or, hopefully, was it a neighborhood problem that, though it might take time to fix, would at least not cost us anything? I decided to call the water department to see if they could shed any light on the situation.
*
“Oh, don’t worry about it,” the lady on the other end of the phone told me. “They’re flushing out water hydrants, and when they turn them on, oxygen gets in the pipes and that is just oxygenation you are seeing. Set your water out on the counter for a little while and it will clear up. It’s perfectly safe to drink.”
*
I had my doubts. It didn’t look like oxygenation to me. I was right! I left that water sitting there for hours and it never did clear up. In fact as the afternoon progressed the water coming out of the faucets went from cloudy to slightly yellow and cloudy. When I flushed the toilet the water coming in was a darker yellow and cloudy. Ewww! I was so glad I hadn’t trusted that woman’s explanation!
*
Finally, after about seven hours, the water began to clear up and eventually we got our nice, clean water back. The whole experience had me thinking, though, about how blessed we are to have good, running water available at the turn of a faucet. Just seven hours without it had me frustrated and even a little panicky. I thought about those people who have been through a hurricane or flood or earthquake and have to line up for bottled water for days or weeks at a time. Or even worse, those poor people in third world countries who barely survive day by day for years because they have no water that is fit to drink.
*
I wrote a book a few years back called “The Mystery of the Kenyan King.” At the time I did some research on the lack of clean water in Kenya and other countries around the world. Did you know there are over one billion men, women, and children (more than four times the population of the United States and Canada combined) in over fifty countries who do not have safe water to drink? They live in overcrowded urban ghettos, in refugee camps, and in towns and villages in rural areas of developing countries. Less than 50% of the population in these countries has access to safe drinking water and only 25% has access to sanitary systems. Water is either insufficient, or polluted, or may not exist at all. Many of these people are victims of drought. Their countryside is transformed into an arid wasteland and they do not have enough water to grow and harvest food or to keep their livestock alive. They do not have enough clean water to protect themselves and their children from hunger and disease.
*
Just a few hours without clean water drove home the point to me that water is essential for life. I cannot even imagine what it must be like to be thirsty every minute of every day. I cannot imagine how heartbreaking it must be to hear your weakened baby wail for hours at a time because he is hungry and thirsty and sick. I can’t imagine living a life without clean water like a billion people on this planet do.
*
We are so blessed. Not only do we have fresh, clean water to satisfy our physical thirst, but we have living water available to us also that will satisfy our spiritual thirst and give us life everlasting. The book of John tells us the story of the woman of Samaria who went to Jacob’s well one day to draw water. She met Jesus there. The account in chapter four tells us, Jesus said to her, “Please give me a drink.” He was alone at the time because his disciples had gone into the village to buy some food. The woman was surprised, for Jews refuse to have anything to do with Samaritans. She said to Jesus, “You are a Jew, and I am a Samaritan woman. Why are you asking me for a drink?” Jesus replied, “If you only knew the gift God has for you and who you are speaking to, you would ask me, and I would give you living water.”
*
“But sir, you don’t have a rope or a bucket,” she said, “and this well is very deep. Where would you get this living water? And besides, do you think you’re greater than our ancestor Jacob, who gave us this well? How can you offer better water than he and his sons and his animals enjoyed?”
*
Jesus replied, “Anyone who drinks this water will soon become thirsty again. But those who drink the water I give will never be thirsty again. It becomes a fresh, bubbling spring within them, giving them eternal life.”
*
“Please, sir,” the woman said, “give me this water! Then I’ll never be thirsty again, and I won’t have to come here to get water.” (NLT)
*
Living water, freely given to all who ask so that they may never thirst again. Jesus said in John 7:37 “If any man thirst, let him come unto me, and drink.” I am so thankful to have heard the Gospel of Jesus Christ and been given the opportunity to accept that Living Water. There are billions who have not heard the story of Jesus. Just as a billion or more thirst physically, even more are dying because they have never heard of the Living Water of Jesus Christ.
*
I am very conscious every day of the “little things” we take for granted, and thank the Lord for those basic necessities of life that we enjoy without even thinking about it. When I turn on the tap I expect good, safe water to come out. I have a roof over my head, food in the cupboards, clothes and shoes on my body—so much more than billions of people around the world. I do not know why God has blessed me with all the necessities of life when billions barely survive, but I am thankful and praise Him for it.
^
I am thankful, too, that in this country we are free to hear and believe and share the Gospel. This week, let us pray especially for those who are not as blessed as we are, either physically or spiritually. If it is in our power, let us give a cup of water in Jesus’ name to someone this week. We can help a missionary bring physical and spiritual water to those who thirst. We can share with our own neighbors or someone in need in our area. Times are difficult for many of us, but no matter what our circumstances are, there is always someone in worse straits than we are. Perhaps we cannot help a lot, but we can help somehow. Jesus said, “Whosoever shall give to drink unto one of these little ones a cup of cold water…verily I say unto you, he shall in no wise lose his reward.” (Matthew 10:42)
*
A cup of cold water, whether physical or spiritual—an essential for life.
Advertisements

LA QUINCEAÑERA

Sara turned fifteen this week. It’s hard to believe my first grandbaby is a young lady already. In the Hispanic culture a girl’s fifteenth birthday is very special,—a “coming of age.” Many girls from Spanish families have a quinceañera. In Roman Catholic families this would include a ceremony at the church and then a sort of debutante ball or reception. The décor at the banquet hall or home resembles that of a wedding, the girl is dressed up in a beautiful gown, she has a “court” of attendants, and so on. The father dances the first dance with his daughter, and there are other customs associated with the girl becoming a woman, such as presenting her with her first high heels and make-up. The mother will sometimes make a ceremony of putting lipstick on her daughter. The quinceañera signifies that young men may now come a-courting.
*
Sara wanted nothing to do with having a quinceañera, and of course, neither did her parents! Her Ecuadorian grandparents and other family members were disappointed, though. They are no longer Catholic and did not care about the religious ceremony, but they would have loved to celebrate Sara’s quinceañera in the manner of their culture. In the end, they gave her a surprise birthday party with only the family. They hired a Mariachi band to serenade her, and her older girl cousin took her out for a fun day beforehand so they could secretly get ready for the party. She and her friends styled Sara’s hair and “experimented” with a little make-up under the pretext of “just for fun.” Her other cousin, Christian, who is almost eighteen, took some phone calls during the party from some of his fiends who wanted to come to the party and meet his cousin, La Quinceañera. “No way!’ he told them. “She’s still a little girl and you’re not meeting her!” Good for Christian! I appreciate him being so protective of my granddaughter!
*
I remember so well the day Sara was born. Laura and Fernando had invited me to be at the hospital with them for the baby’s birth. I was to be not only the proud new grandma, but also the videographer, standing in a corner of the room, near the head of the bed. (Laurie was very modest and didn’t want everything taped.) They had opted not to find out before Sara was born if it was a girl or a boy. I was betting on a girl, they were thinking it was a boy. I bought a little girl’s “going-home-from-the-hospital” outfit and they bought a little boy’s outfit. Whoever lost the bet could return their outfit to the store, while the “winner” had the privilege of seeing the baby all dressed up in their outfit. What a thrill when the doctor said “It’s a girl!” She was red-faced and squalling, her nose was a little flattened and her foot curved in from the birth (temporarily), but she was beautiful! She stole my heart from the very first moment!
*
I finally left the hospital around dawn and headed for home. I remember driving on a back road as the sun was coming up and a feeling a sense of “heritage” come over me. It was a beautiful experience when I became a mother, but this was something very different. When my children were born, I was focused on our little family. Now, suddenly, I was looking into the future and the generations to come. Bob and I had started something great way back when, and now we would pass on our legacy to our grandchildren and, someday, to their children. Wow! It was so awesome to realize with the birth of that precious baby girl that our lives would continue on down through the generations.
*
They’ve got our genes but none of our grandchildren really look like us. Laura’s kids are half Ecuadorian and Julie’s kids are one quarter El Salvadoran so they mostly have dark hair and some of them even have brown eyes. Joshua, though, in personality is a chip off his grandpa’s block. They both have only one mark on the volume dial—loud. He loves to roughhouse and would love to be an outdoorsman like Grandpa, as well. Several of the kids, especially Gabi and Benjamin, are more creative and artistic like me. It is interesting to see as they grow how the genes from the Griffiths and Pratts will emerge. I pray none of the genetic predispositions we have for certain diseases or conditions, like heart disease and diabetes, will ever rear their ugly heads in our grandchildren, but there are some things in our legacy that we will pass on, like it or not.
*
We do have a choice, though, in other areas as to what our children and grandchildren will inherit from us. Material possessions, certainly, will include things like our wedding rings, our Bibles, my books, Bob’s mule deer George who hangs proudly on our dining room wall (can you tell I am saying that facetiously?), my piano, Bob’s shotguns, and a few other odds and ends. That’s about it. There will never be a great inheritance of wealth or property to pass on, I’m afraid.
*
We have a choice also in the legacy we pass on that is far more valuable than our earthly possessions. Proverbs 13:22 says, “A good man leaveth an inheritance to his children’s children.” I pray that our faith and love for the Lord will live on in our children and grandchildren and their descendants. We may live our lives as an example before them, but it is up to each of them to make the decision for themselves as to whether or not they will follow Jesus. I praise God that each one in our family who is able to understand that they need Jesus as their Savior has accepted Him. Matthew, of course, is too young still, and Katie has made a profession, but Laurie says she is not sure if Katie really understands yet. We are praying that they, too, will be saved when they can truly make that decision for themselves. Then there is Robbie who is mentally like a one or two year old. I truly believe he is safe in the Lord and we will see him whole and walking, leaping, dancing, singing and talking in Heaven someday!
*
There are other spiritually valuable things I would like to pass on to those who follow in my footsteps, as well. I want them to know that a good reputation and their testimony for the Lord are precious. Proverbs 22:1 says, “A good name is rather to be chosen than great riches…” I want them to know that being responsible and trustworthy is important. I want them to be faithful, honest and loyal; generous and compassionate; wise in knowing and following the will of God. I pray that they will not only accept Jesus Christ as their Savior, but that they will also live for Him and serve Him as their Lord and Master. Someday as they look back on the influence Grandma and Grandpa had in their lives, I hope they will be able to say that they are thankful for the spiritual legacy we passed on to them.
*
The Bible tells us to ”Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it.” (Proverbs 22:6) and “bring them up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord.” (Ephesians 6:4) We are instructed in Deuteronomy 6:6,7 “And these words, which I command thee this day, shall be in thine heart: And thou shalt teach them diligently unto thy children, and shalt talk of them when thou sittest in thine house, and when thou walkest by the way, and when thou liest down, and when thou risest up.” It is our responsibility to train and teach our children and grandchildren in the things of the Lord. He gives each of us free will, though, to choose to follow or not, and sometimes we are disappointed and heartbroken when they don’t follow. If we have faithfully taught them, though, I believe the Lord will bring them back to Himself someday. Psalm 103:17 says, “But the mercy of the LORD is from everlasting to everlasting upon them that fear him, and his righteousness unto children’s children.”
*
Sara is fifteen now. In just a few years she will be as old as I was when I became a mother at the young age of nineteen. I hope she will have the sense to wait a little longer than that, but nevertheless, suffice it to say, it won’t be too many more years until the next generation in our family will most likely begin. I had a vision on the day of her birth of the generations that would follow in our footsteps, and of the legacy that we would pass on to them. God has been so gracious in giving us the wonderful children and grandchildren we have. We could not ask for better, for each one of them has been a blessing and joy to us. Psalm 127:3 says “Lo, children are an heritage of the Lord: and the fruit of the womb is his reward.” Proverbs 17:6 tells us that “Children’s children are the crown of old men” (and old women!) Our children and grandchildren are precious treasures to be cherished as gifts from the Lord. May we be faithful in guarding these treasures and leaving them the inheritance we have from Him that is far greater than earthly possessions and wealth!

***********************************************************************************************

You may be interested in reading the following post, which goes well, I think with this one.

LOOKING BACK AT OUR ROOTS — WAY, WAY BACK!

I wrote this for our family reunion last year, and since it goes so well with this week’s blog LA QUINCEAÑERA I decided it to post it here. If you’ve read it before, just skip it, but perhaps there are some who would be interested.
*
***********************************************************************************************
Have you ever wondered about our family tree beyond Grandma and Grandpa Ward? We’re going back 101 years to the year of Grandpa’s birth at this reunion, but what about the people who came before him and Grandma? We G2’s never knew our great-grandparents. Great-Grandpa Clark was the only one who lived to see any of his great-grandchildren in this family—Vicki, Cindy and Becki—and they were just babies when he died. So who were our ancestors, anyway, and how far back do our roots go?

You may have noticed our family history on our webpage, but if you’ve never stopped to read it closely, you may be surprised to find that there are some pretty amazing—even mind-boggling—facts about our genealogy there! Our roots go very deep! Brian, Diane and Aunt Judy researched and gathered facts from many sources, and Brian did a fantastic job of putting it all together for us. This is just a little summary of some of the most interesting facts and people they discovered hidden in the branches of our family tree!

The earliest ancestor mentioned was from Grandma’s maternal side of the family. John Robey was born in 1455 in Castle Donington, England. That was 553 years ago and 18 generations back from our G4’s today! Can you imagine the differences between his life back then and ours now? Do you think in his very wildest dreams he could have ever imagined that his descendants would someday fly through the air, talk to others instantly on the other side of the world, be able to travel a thousand miles or more in a single day? At that time they still thought the world was flat! And lest you think it is so cool that one of our ancestors was born in a castle, just remember—he wasn’t necessarily noble. He could have been the child of a servant, or perhaps the village blacksmith’s son and his birth was merely recorded there. We don’t know.

There were other ancestors mentioned from the end of the Middle-Ages. On Grandpa’s paternal side was Hendrick Vrooman who was born in 1526 in Valkenburg, Netherlands (16 generations back from our G4’s) and William Wilcoxson born in Derbyshire, England in 1560 (14 generations back.) Incredible to think we can trace our roots back to the Middle Ages, isn’t it?

Our ancestors came from England primarily, although there is a sizeable Dutch branch as well. They also came from Ireland, Belgium and Germany and were among the very earliest settlers in this country. Ebenezer Hill Judkins, the first of the Judkins mentioned in our genealogy, claimed that the records show that his forefathers came over on the Mayflower in 1620 and were a prominent part of the Plymouth colony. The first birth noted in our family tree on American soil, however, was Joseph Wilcoxson’s in 1635. If there truly were ancestors of ours on the Mayflower, there would have undoubtedly been births prior to his.

Our forefathers settled in New England first—New York (New Amsterdam), Connecticut, Vermont, Maryland, Maine and Virginia. After the Revolutionary War they eventually began to move west into Kentucky, Indiana and Wisconsin, for the most part. Some moved by wagon and others floated on flatboats down the Kentucky and Ohio Rivers just as Daniel Boone had a few years before them. Later, Henry Seth Clark joined the Gold Rush to California. Our American ancestors were true pioneers, often being among the first to settle in new frontiers.

They were patriots, as well. Abijah Ward, the first actual Ward mentioned in our genealogy charts, fought in the Revolutionary War, as did Henry Miller. According to the National Military Archives, Henry Miller was actually at Valley Forge with George Washington in 1778. Another Miller fought in the War of 1812, and Comfort Carpenter Walker fought in the Civil War. Many others have served proudly in defense of our country, as well.

In fact, the name Ward actually means “watchman or guard,” from the Old English weard. However, other names played prominently in our family heritage, as well. On Grandpa’s side there were families named Lewis, Wilcox, Borst, Burgaart, Van Valkenburg and Vrooman, among others. Grandma’s side had Walkers, Clarks, Moores, Judkins, Butlers and Smarts, to name a few. Some first names stand out as being unusual by today’s standards—Union, Comfort, Annis, Submit, Mindwell, Volney. There was also a Benjamin Franklin and Simon Bolivar. One woman was listed as only “Mohawk woman from Turtle Clan.” Our family tree is loaded with Bible names, too — many of them the usual ones we still hear today, but there’s also an Ebenezer, Joachim, Asa, Abijah, Bartholomew, and Ozial (probably a derivative of Ozias or Uzziel.) John, William, and Henry, or variations of those names, were the most common first names for men. Strange, isn’t it, that there is not a John, Henry or William among us today. Mary, or a variation, was the most popular name for women by far.

*
It’s important to remember that these are not merely names, but people. People who lived and breathed, who suffered and loved, raised their children and worked very, very hard. There are several anecdotes and personal details noted in the genealogy charts that bring these people to life a bit. One of the most humorous is this one:
Henry “Tip” Moore was born 3 months after his father left for the gold fields of California. He resented his father at least for a time after he returned due to his father’s absence during the first years of the younger Henry’s childhood. A story from Calista Clark, his daughter, goes as follows: “One day when his father was working down in the well, little Tip was leaning over close to the edge. When his father ordered him back, Tip spit in his father’s face, for which he received a “licking”, whereupon, Tip’s mother cried because she thought his father didn’t like his little boy. Tippy no doubt thought that strange man had no right to boss him.”
*
Five hundred and fifty-three years of history. Five hundred and fifty-three years of people who have come and gone, whose genes have been passed down through the generations to us today, whose faith has survived to become a spiritual legacy in our family. John Robey could never have imagined how the world would change, nor the thousands upon thousands who would follow him through the centuries. Five hundred and fifty-three years from now, if the Lord should tarry, the year will be 2561. Like John Robey, we cannot begin to imagine in our wildest dreams what life will be like, nor the thousands who will follow in our footsteps. It is obvious as we study our genealogy that we have a rich spiritual heritage and strong pioneer roots. Will we pass that faith and strength on to our children and grandchildren? Will their grandchildren and great-grandchildren follow in our footsteps? Will our descendants five hundred fifty-three years from now find our names hidden in their family tree and wonder about us? Will they still be praising God for the legacy that has been passed down through the generations to them?
*
Though we have this heritage of faith in our family, there are no spiritual “grandchildren” with God. Each man, woman and child must come to Him through Jesus Christ on their own, and make that personal decision to accept Him as Savior or not. We can pray for our children and grandchildren and the generations that follow, though, and we can teach them. The Word of God tells us in Deuteronomy 6:5-7, You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your strength. And these words which I command you today shall be in your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, when you walk by the way, when you lie down, and when you rise up.
*
A song by Steve Green says, “Oh, may all who come behind us find us faithful. May the fire of our devotion light their way. May the footprints that we leave lead them to believe, and the lives we live inspire them to obey. Oh, may all who come behind us find us faithful!” May each of us faithfully pass on to the following generations the legacy of family, love, strength and faith that has been the blessing of our rich heritage from those who have gone before us. And to God goes all the glory.

Written by Cynthia Sue Pratt Griffith
for the 2008 Ward Family Reunion

With many thanks to
Brian Paul Ward
Diane Christine Ward Gaffney
Julia Ann Ward Alexander

They did all the work on our genealogy.
I merely drew the highlights from it and summarized it.

Find Us Faithful

We’re pilgrims on the journey
Of the narrow road,
And those who’ve gone before us line the way,
Cheering on the faithful, encouraging the weary,
Their lives a stirring testament to God’s sustaining grace.
*
Surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses,
Let us run the race not only for the prize,
But as those who’ve gone before us,
Let us leave to those behind us
The heritage of faithfulness
Passed on through godly lives.
*
Oh, may all who come behind us find us faithful!
May the fire of our devotion light their way.
May the footprints that we leave
Lead them to believe,
And the lives we live inspire them to obey.
Oh, may all who come behind us find us faithful!
*
After all our hopes and dreams have come and gone,
And our children sift through all we’ve left behind,
May the clues that they discover
And the memories they uncoverBecome the light that leads them
To the road we each must find.

Oh, may all who come behind us find us faithful!
May the fire of our devotion light their way.
May the footprints that we leaveLead them to believe,
And the lives we live inspire them to obey.
Oh, may all who come behind us find us faithful!
*
Words and Music by Jon Mohr

THIRTY PIECES OF SILVER

Today is Easter Sunday. As I have done for the last eight years, I’m staying home from church with Robbie. The heavy doses of seizure medicines he takes early in the morning usually insure that he will sleep until noon. Bob is going to the early service at church, and then will teach his men’s Sunday School class. When he gets home we will get Robbie ready and then join my family at my sister Corinne’s house for Easter dinner.
*
I love the significance of Easter, the most precious remembrance in our Christian faith. Christmas is my favorite holiday, and celebrating the coming of Christ to earth as the newborn king is joyous and awesome, but Easter is the reason He came to begin with. I miss being at church on Easter morning, but the Lord knows I thank and praise Him every day of the year for what He did for us on the cross and for His resurrection.
*
For most of us, certain holidays are associated with favorite traditions and special memories. There are Easter memories and traditions, both in our family and at church that I treasure, as well. My parents were never big on the Easter Bunny, but we did color eggs, (usually on Good Friday) and hunt for Easter baskets the minute we woke up on Easter morning. When I had children of my own, I carried on those traditions. They were important to me because they invoked the memories of my happy childhood.
*
My girls, however, decided they did not want to emphasize the secular side of Easter with their own children and started traditions of their own. Rather than coloring eggs, they have “Resurrection Eggs.” They put little symbols of Easter, such as a silver coin, or a nail, or a small cross inside plastic eggs and in the days leading up to Easter they go through the eggs a couple at a time telling the story of Easter. My grandchildren don’t get Easter baskets; they get “Spring” baskets to celebrate springtime, sometime in the weeks before or after Easter. That’s fine with me. I don’t think getting Easter baskets or coloring eggs hurt me or my siblings, or my own girls at all. We still grew up knowing the true meaning and importance of Easter, just as we knew the significance of Christmas despite having a Christmas tree, presents and all the other traditional trimmings. If Laurie and Julie want to do things differently with their children and start new traditions, however, in an effort to reinforce the importance of Easter, I totally understand and support them in it.
*
I mentioned we’re doing our traditional Easter dinner at Corinne’s. We all have parts of the dinner that we bring year after year. As usual, I’m taking the (yummy!) fruit salad. Dee will probably bring deviled eggs. Mom usually makes the ham and a special cake. It has a Cool Whip frosting, cherry or strawberry filling, and a green coconut nest with jelly bean eggs on top A couple years ago; she dropped it upside down on the kitchen floor just before dinner. Somehow they managed to save it by scraping off the part that had hit the floor and making it into something like a “trifle.” It’s been called our “Resurrection Cake” ever since. We’ve laughed over that memory so many times and I am sure the Resurrection Cake will have a place in our family traditions for many years to come!
*
The church I grew up in had traditions associated with celebrating Easter, too. Every year the pastor would encourage the husbands to buy an Easter lily for their wives and then bring it to church to decorate the sanctuary on Easter morning. The whole front of the church would be loaded with lilies. They lined the walls and filled the window sills, and the church looked and smelled beautiful! A year or so after Bob and I were married we lived only two or three blocks from church. We decided one beautiful Easter morning to walk to church and I happily carried my lily, so proud to be a married woman now with my own lily to share. Someone else decided to “share” my lily, too—a bee! I got stung!
*
The church we now attend also decorates with lilies that the church members furnish, although with a slightly different twist. The lilies are bought and used to decorate the church on Easter as a memorial to family members and friends who have gone on to be with the Lord. I love that tradition for we are reminded that someday they (and we) will be resurrected, also. This year they will be using tulips instead of lilies because some people have complained that the lilies are hard on their allergies. I am sure it will be colorful and beautiful, and I don’t have a problem with it, but in a way it is not quite the same. The lilies remind me of little trumpets. Someday the trump of God will announce that resurrection of the saints when Christ returns in the Rapture. (I Thessalonians 4:16, 17)
*
There is an Easter tradition that I treasure most in my memories, though, because it taught me a life lesson I never forgot. In the church I attended as a child, they took a special offering every Easter which they called “Thirty Pieces of Silver.” In the Bible we are told that Judas betrayed Jesus for thirty pieces of silver. We were asked to turn that price of betrayal around by sacrificially giving thirty pieces of silver back to the Lord. It usually went then toward a special project in the church or a benevolent offering.
*
My mother took that “Thirty Pieces of Silver” offering very seriously. I remember her saving what she could for it and giving us kids coins for it. I also remember her talking about “sacrifice.” Christ gave Himself as a sacrifice on the cross for us, so Easter ought to be a time of sacrifice, she taught us. We almost never got new outfits for Easter—our sacrifice so that we could give to the “Thirty Pieces of Silver” offering. That was fine with me. The thought of sacrificing something so that we could give back to Him made me happy. The few times we did get new clothes around Easter time were because we actually needed them, not because it was the thing to do.
*
I tried to carry that tradition on with my own children, teaching them the importance and beauty of sacrifice by not buying new outfits for Easter for them, either, and using the money for a special offering to the Lord. There are far better sacrifices we can offer the Lord, though, than money or Easter clothes or giving up chocolate for Lent, as some do. What is true sacrifice?
*
The Law gave very detailed instructions to the Israelites as to how, what, where, when and through whom they were to sacrifice to the Lord. They were to give burnt offerings, meat offerings, meal offerings, milk offerings, drink offerings, sin offerings, wave offerings, heave offerings, peace offerings, free offerings, and on and on. They were to sacrifice sheep, goats, cattle, birds, and give offerings of grain, milk, gold, silver, brass, jewels, etc. There were certain times of day and certain holidays and events during the year when they were to sacrifice. God set down many requirements for the priests and for the size and materials of the tabernacle, altars, and priests’ robes. When Christ came and offered Himself as a sacrifice for us once and for all, though, that changed everything. Hebrews 10 tells us that all those requirements of the Law were just a reminder of our sin and a picture of what was to come when the Ultimate Sacrifice was made. The blood of bulls and goats could not take away sin, but the body and blood of Jesus Christ was the perfect sacrifice made once and for all for all who believed.
*
Just as God demanded a more perfect sacrifice for the remission of sins, so there are better sacrifices that we can make than mere material goods. Psalm 4:5 says to “Offer the sacrifices of righteousness, and put your trust in the LORD.” In Psalm 27:6 David offered the sacrifices of joy in His tabernacle. We are told in Psalm 116:17 that we ought to offer the sacrifice of thanksgiving to God and in Hebrews 11:5 to offer the sacrifice of praise to God continually. Hebrews 13:16 says, “But to do good and to share forget not: for with such sacrifices God is well pleased.” The Lord asks us in Romans 12:1 to present our bodies as living sacrifices.
*
And then there are some things the Bible tells us that are even better than sacrifice. Mark 12:33 says that “to love Him with all the heart, and with all the understanding, and with all the soul, and with all the strength, and to love one’s neighbor as oneself, is more than all whole burnt offerings and sacrifices.” In Proverbs 21:3 we are told, “To do justice and judgment is more acceptable to the LORD than sacrifice.” Samuel asked in I Samuel 15:22, “Hath the LORD as great delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices, as in obeying the voice of the LORD? Behold, to obey is better than sacrifice, and to hearken than the fat of rams.”
*
Jesus gave Himself as a sacrifice for us. He died that we might live. Is there any sacrifice, then, too great for us to make for Him? The “Thirty Pieces of Silver” offering is well and good, and I learned a life lesson when I was young because of it, but the sacrifices God wants from us truly are not about sacrificing money or material goods. God treasures the sacrifices we make of righteousness, joy, thanksgiving, praise, goodness and kindness. He wants us to offer our bodies for His service. To love Him, to love others, to do justice and to obey His voice—these are better than sacrifice in His eyes. Jesus died for me. Can it be too great a sacrifice to live for Him?
*
**********************************************************************************************
Ah, the best laid plans… Since I posted this earlier this morning we got a call that Bob’s mom was taken to the hospital in an ambulance with either a heart attack or stroke. Bob went straight to the hospital from the church and we will be missing Easter dinner with the family. Of course, that is fine with me. It is far more important that Bob be with his family at the hospital. We are praying for his mom — for her physical needs, certainly, but more importantly, for her spiritual needs. She has been very antagonistic to the Gospel ever since Bob got saved almost forty years ago. She has even thrown him out of the house several times for trying to witness to her. This may be her last chance to accept the Lord and I am praying that Bob will have the opportunity to speak to her about His plan of salvation, and that her heart will be softened to it and she will accept Him before it is too late.
*
By the way, the fruit salad made it to Easter dinner without us (my sister picked it up.) Of course, I saved out a little bit for us! Couldn’t see any point in totally sacrificing the fruit salad! 🙂

POTPOURRI

In the weeks since I started this blog, I’ve tried to take something that’s happened during the week and use it as the inspiration for the current Sundays with Cindy. This week several things occurred that inspired me, and since I couldn’t choose which one to use, I decided to do a little potpourri, if you will, of several thoughts. I doubt that there is a common thread that ties them all together, but hopefully they’ll be amusing and a little thought-provoking at the same time.

Wednesday was April Fool’s Day. It wasn’t quite the same this year as it has been the last few years with Laurie’s girls gone. Gabi, especially, is a prankster, and she and her sisters would usually spend a great deal of thought and effort on trying to pull off April Fool’s jokes on their parents, and especially Grandma. With them in Ecuador now, the day passed very quietly, except for a wake-up call I received from Bob that morning.
*
“Happy anniversary!” he said. No, it wasn’t our wedding anniversary, but the thirty-ninth anniversary of the day we got engaged. (I’m impressed year after year that he remembers!) Most guys these days try to plan a romantic evening when they pop the question, usually on a significant day like Valentine’s Day or Christmas, or the girl’s birthday or the anniversary of the day they met—but not Bob. Nope, he chose April Fool’s Day. Most guys, too, might choose a romantic setting—a beach or a mountaintop, or at least a fancy restaurant. Nope, again. Bob pulled out that little black box with the ring and surprised me in my parent’s living room with the whole family sitting there and looking on. That’s okay. Who needs romance? We started off laughing and he’s kept me laughing all these years. It turns out April Fool’s Day 1970 was the perfect day for us to get engaged. It was just a sign of things to come!
*
The book of Proverbs has a lot to say about fools. My favorite, though, is, “Even a fool, when he holdeth his peace, is counted wise: and he that shutteth his lips is esteemed a man of understanding.” (Proverbs 17:28) Another that is similar is Proverbs 29:11: “A fool uttereth all his mind: but a wise man keepeth it in till afterwards.” My dad used to quote the modern-day version, “Better to keep your mouth closed and be thought a fool than to open it and remove all doubt.” I’ve regretted a lot of things I’ve said in my life, and acted foolishly, as well. I hope with age I’ve learned some lessons and been a little slower to speak and act until I’ve had time to think first.
*

Hmm, I wonder if Bob has ever regretted opening his mouth and popping the question on that April Fool’s Day thirty-nine years ago?

**********************************************************************************************
The older I get, the lazier I’ve become—at least when it comes to housework. I’d much rather be sitting with my computer on my lap or playing with Robbie than scrubbing floors or cleaning bathrooms. Oh, don’t get me wrong—with just Bob and Robbie and I here now, the house usually stays fairly neat. When the dust gets thick enough that I can write in it, I get busy and tackle it. It helps that my eyesight isn’t what it used to be. I suspect there may be more there than I can see.
I feel for my daughter Julie. They are trying to sell their house right now. In just six weeks David is being transferred from Louisiana to Alabama, and they need to get this house sold, another one bought, pack up and move. They spent two months doing all the projects that would take their house from “lived in” to “designed to sell.” Since they put it on the market three weeks ago they have worked hard to have it looking like the perfect model home every minute of every day just in case they should have a showing at a moment’s notice. It’s been difficult—especially since they have three young children and Julie home schools them, as well.
*
They are also in the middle of trying to adopt two or three children from El Salvador. It has been a long, very slow process and some of their paperwork for immigration is about to expire. They have to have another home study done because of that, so on top of everything else this week, they were busy collecting updated references, doctor’s reports and police reports. They had to go get their fingerprints done again. This time, rather than using ink and a card as they had done the first time, their fingerprints were taken digitally. That was fine for David, but they were having a terrible time getting the fingerprints off of Julie’s hands. They finally settled for what they could get, and hopefully immigration will accept them the way they are.
*
Julie was telling me about this experience and said, “I think perhaps it was because I’ve been doing all this housework every day, and maybe the cleaning products have marred my fingerprints.”
*
I laughed and said to her, “Are you trying to tell me you’ve worked your fingers to the bone?”
*
She burst out laughing and said, “Yes! Now if only I could just work my butt off!”
*

That was my best laugh of the week! Now, what little nugget of spiritual truth can I find in this exchange? Well, there is I Corinthians 15:58 which says, “…always abounding in the work of the Lord, forasmuch as ye know that your labor is not in vain in the Lord,” and Galatians 6:9, “And let us not be weary in well doing: for in due season we shall reap, if we faint not.” Hang in there, Julie! All that hard work will pay off in the end. Now, if I could just apply that to my diet and work my…well, you know!

**********************************************************************************************
Robbie is a true music-lover. He might be mentally-challenged, but he actually has quite a good ear for music. He is very discriminatory and when the music is off-key he lets us know! He makes faces and fusses and looks at me as if somehow I’m to blame—or at the very least I should somehow fix it. There were times in the past when we would be in church with him and someone would sing a special number not very well. Robbie would get all upset, casting accusatory glares at the culprit and starting to cry, to the point where it was actually embarrassing because everyone around us could see what the problem was. We just prayed the singer didn’t realize why Robbie was suddenly upset! On the opposite end of the spectrum, when the music is harmonious and on-key he nods his head majestically and is all smiles, listening intently and exhibiting his royal pleasure. It’s so funny, and at the same time amazes us that he has such a good ear.
*
A couple years ago I started playing the harmonica for him. It happened by accident when I picked up a toy harmonica and played a few little tunes. He really seemed to like it so I kept at it, practicing a couple hours a day when I would lie down with him before naptime or bedtime. After a day or two of this he was just tolerating me (remember, I was still learning.) but a week or so later I actually was getting pretty good! Bob went out and bought me a real harmonica, and before you knew it, Mommy could actually play hundreds of songs for Robbie! It is our special time together and he smiles and kisses me when I play for him, signing, “More, more!”
*
The good things about a harmonica are that it is very easy to learn to play, it is relatively inexpensive, and you can take it with you anywhere. It goes with us when he is in the hospital. Once he is feeling well enough to enjoy it, I close the door to his room and play it quietly for him. It’s a comfort to him.
*
I’ve gone through a couple harmonicas already in the last two and a half years. This week several of the upper notes on my harmonica began sounding “off”— and Robbie had a cow! Oh my goodness, Mommy was torturing him! He made ugly faces and whined, he grabbed my hand and tried to pull it away, he “tattled” on me to Daddy when Bob came in to see what the fuss was. Yesterday Robbie gave Mommy an early Mother’s Day gift—a new harmonius harmonica!
*
I have always liked the fourth chapter of Ephesians. If I could give it a title I would call it “Living Harmoniously.” The last two verses kind of sum it up, “Let all bitterness, and wrath, and anger, and clamor, and evil speaking, be put away from you, with all malice: and be ye kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ’s sake hath forgiven you.” Whether we are speaking of within the Church or our families or any other relationship, the Lord wants us to live in unity of spirit, not in discord. I wonder how our speech sounds to God every day. When we are angry, or harsh, or hurtful, or fighting, does the sound of our discord hurt His ears the way the wrong notes bother Robbie? Is our loving, kind, gentle, forgiving speech beautiful music to Him? Let us try to live harmoniously with our spouses, our children and other family, and our brothers and sisters in the Lord! It is music to God’s ears!