Monday, October 5, 2015

Water and Shimini Atzerat

Water -  there is nothing more important to life than water.
I love how God has put into His creations the physical 'pictures' by which we can understand the spiritual and eternal truths. As important as physical water is to our body, so is spiritual water for our soul.

Today is Shimini Atzerat, or the Eighth Day of the Sukkot festival.  In this Jewish feast described in Leviticus 23:33-35, 39-43, the Jews had three ceremonies that were carefully followed on each day of the first seven days of the feast.
The third, of these daily ceremonies, was called 'the rite of the water libation'.   At the beginning of Sukkot a procession of priests went down to the pool of Siloam to bring to the temple a golden container of water, enough for all the feast days.  The water was brought up with  great ceremony - the shofar was blown and the people waved their palm branches and the great Hallel - Psalms 113-118 was recited!
Each morning, the priest on duty filled a silver bowl with water from the pool of Silam, circled the altar and then poured it out as an act of prayer - asking that God would pour out His blessing of rain upon the earth.

Then on the 8th day, this water ceremony reached its climax. The priests circled the altar seven times, instead of once, and then poured out the water with great pomp and ceremony.  This was known as the great Hosanna,  translated "save now" !!

Why is this significant to us today?
It gives a depth of meaning to the passage in John 7:37-39.  The words "on the last day, that great day of the feast"  refer to the eighth day of Sukkot that I just discribed.
 So here we have Jesus standing up on this very holy day that had great meaning to every Jew there ... and Jesus 'cries out' --  in a loud voice so everyone can hear.  He shouts, "If anyone thirsts  let him come to Me and drink. He who believes in Me, as the Scripture has said, out of his heart will flow rivers of living water."  
These words were 'blasphemous' enough that there were those who wanted to kill him -verse 44.  Why?  Because Jesus was proclaiming that this feast - that climaxed with a prayer for water - had been answered !   Jesus, Himself, was the water of life - the water of blessing that God had poured out upon all who would believe on Him, whom God had sent.

Have you drunk deeply of this water of life?

"..Whoever drinks of the water that I shall give him will never thirst.. but the water that I shall give him will become in him a fountain of water springing up into everlasting life." ~John 4:14

Tuesday, September 15, 2015

The Story of Heart Longing

Adventures of Heart Longing

In the early eighties, I led a girl's club in my home church, and not being able to find the material I needed, I wrote my own. If you want to read more of the background story you can find it in one of my early posts.

Heart Longing and the Treasure Keys

My first book, Adventures of Heart Longing, was in print for a decade and then the publishers changed their venue and dropped all children's books, so my book went out of print.  It was continued to be used in several Christian schools as a resource and therefore was not forgotten.

Over the years, I received several e-mails asking if I could not republish the book, but one e-mail from a teacher last year spurned me to do some research and three days later, I signed a contract with WestBow publishers.   The book, Adventures of Heart Longing, came out early this year. It is written in story form, allegorically picturing the fruit of the Spirit as we find it listed in Galatians 5:22,23.

The second year of my girl's club, I wrote material in the same vein as the first book but this time on the treasure of the kingdom, as Jesus speaks about it in Matthew 6:19-21.  This book was never published, but I pulled out my notes earlier this year and rewrote it.  Heart Longing and the Treasure Keys,  has just been released and is available on-line, or you can order it from me, although, I do not yet have any books - online is much faster than snail mail! If you live in the Fraser Valley, I could deliver, or you could order it from a local bookstore.

The books, written as a story, have study guides included. I like to think that, while the books are targeted for children, that there is something there for all ages, making them the kind of books that are good in a family or class setting, generating interest and discussion.

One teacher sent me a folder of the pictures her kids had drawn after reading the book and my favorite one was from a young boy who said, "This book makes me want to know God."   His words touched my heart because, that above all else was my motivation in writing the books and is still my heart prayer -  that my readers would be drawn to the Lord to know Him!

Friday, August 21, 2015

Down Memory Lane on our 50th Wedding Anniversary

Yesterday was our 50th Wedding Anniversary - a milestone that was difficult, if not impossible,
 to imagine 50 years ago . 
The photo in the wood frame was taken earlier this year in February when we went to Hawaii  to attend the wedding of my late close friend's granddaughter. 
The wedding photographer took the photo.

Below is our wedding photo,  
My wedding dress was the first of many, many wedding dresses I have sewn.  

We felt we had already celebrated our wedding , not only in Hawaii, but also last week-end when my brother and sister-in-law invited us to come to visit them up country where they are building a new home.  We took our parents with us so we could all celebrate together - our three anniversaries are all within the same week in August - Mom and Dad  celebrated their 70th anniversary, we our 50th and my brother and his wife their 44th.  
So yesterday was a special day just for the two of us, very low-key.  We took our youngest granddaughter out for lunch and then Vic and I went for a drive down memory lane.  So much has changed in the last 50 years, but we still found some things that stirred our emotions and turned our conversation to reminiscing sweet memories.

The photo above is still very much as it was 50 years ago because the road was closed many years ago and was just opened recently because they are working on clearing property. The road was not open to through traffic but we thought we would risk it !  
The road is not far from where I grew up and was a favorite destination to go for a walk  with my girl friend who lived just down an adjacent street. 
It was on this country lane, that Vic, in our early dating time, would come driving down to look for me, hoping I would be there. Often, I would be there on Sunday afternoons, and we have sweet memories here. 

This bridge, not far from our dating road, is the bridge where Vic stopped on a spring day when we were out on a date, and we went to stand on the bridge looking down at the creek below and then he pulled a ring box out of his pocket and proposed. 
 I am still wearing my original rings, and still love them. 

Shortly after our engagement, we began to plan our wedding and we knew we wanted an accomplished pianist, George Unger, to play for our wedding.  I chose "My Sheep May Safely Graze" by Bach, for our wedding march, and Vic agreed, so we went to ask Mr. Unger,  if he would play for our wedding. We drove on the yard and he came out, leaned on the car to talk to us.  When I mentioned the wedding march I wanted, he said, 'oh yes, he knew it.'  
He and his wife still live in that same house, that my dad built, 

The shop where we bought our wedding flowers is still there... same shop, same place.  Vic wanted my bridal bouquet to be extra special and they quoted him $25.00 and he asked if they could do one for more and they said they didn't know how to make one worth more than that. I thought it was an awful lot to spend for a bouquet.  (smile)  I think all the wedding flowers total was around $80.00. 

Above, an old photo of the church we got married in, (also my dad helped build)  which has been replaced with a new building.  We met because we both attended here.  We grew up with that building being a very big part of our life, everyone knew everyone and so many services, youth meetings, Sunday School, weddings, funerals, celebrations, etc... made this building a busy place where we built memories. 

The above sad looking building was our first home as a married couple.  It looked much better 50 years ago but it IS still there.  It had a full basement and had three bedrooms. 
Because we were looking for memories ...  I took some other photos that are still recognizable from more than 60 years ago.  

The above house was not that far from where I grew up ...  it was known as "Evan's House"  because it was the biggest, grandest mansion I knew of. I used to dream of what it looked like inside.  And the large yard around it was always meticulously manicured.  But what was especially memorable was that every Christmas they decorated the house and the yard with lights, making it spectacular enough to attract crowds from far away.  Finally, they stopped doing it because there was just no way to control the traffic , and keep cars from driving onto their lawns. 

Until earlier this year my childhood home, that my dad built when I was eight, was still standing - but now there is a huge estate home standing in its place.  But the red barn, that dad built, is still there! How many memories I have in that barn. Feeding the animals, playing in the loft, jumping from the loft to the haystack below with visiting cousins and friends -- and hours and hours of taming and playing with kittens. 

The above house is another memory high for me.  When I was six a little friend at school was having a birthday party, and she invited me to come.  It was my first birthday party experience and I felt like it was the most special thing!  I thought the house was huge, and very beautiful with an upstairs and indoor bathroom. 
Ironically, almost 40 years later my aunt and uncle bought the property and asked Vic to do some work in the house to upgrade it for their kids. The house was original - nothing had been done to it since I had been there so many years ago.  And to my shock the house was very tiny. Its all about  perspective.  But what an experience to be able to go back to something I remembered with childish eyes , and then was able to look at it with adult eyes. 

The above building is where I started school - my first year.   I remember so much of that one roomed school room that had a wood stove to heat it - my teacher Mrs.Wakefield had to come early to start the fire so it would be warm for us.  I remember one day she was late for some reason and the classroom was soooo cold we had to keep our coats on for a couple of hours. I remember where everything was - the coat nails along the far side wall , the wood stove in front of them, the blackboard at the front, to the right of the front door, the desks , the reading area and the play area in the back.  And the very scary water closets in the creepy dark basement. 

I had to take a photo of this area ..... it is just behind me from where I'm standing when I took the photo of the school.  The road is just barely visible there but it was the clump of bushes that are there that hold a deep memory for me.  Our teacher told us we were not allowed to play there because it was too close to the road.  But the bush that grew right there 62 years ago grew in such a way that it made the neatest 'cave' space that lent itself perfectly for the best imaginary games.  I was always very obedient to what I was told... and so I did not go play there.  The other kids did and kept telling me to come play there too, but I wouldn't.  Until, they wore me down, and I rationalized that the teacher never said anything to them playing there after she said not too.  Then the very day I decided that maybe she hadn't meant it after all, and  went to play there .. she came out and we all got into trouble and had to stay after school.. My little heart broke., it was a defining moment in my life that I never forgot. 

I love what God told the Israelites - that they were to build memory stones or put up markers so that they could go down memory lane with their children and grandchildren -  so they would not forget what God had done for them. 
 May we never get so busy that we don't have time to pass on to our children and grandchildren the things that have built their history and ancestry, the family foundations on which they themselves are built and tell them  how God has led and guided. Hindsight gives a much wider lens view of how life is and it holds the wisdom we can share to help our children be the best that they can be! 

"I remember the days of old; I meditate on all Your works; 
I muse on the work of Your hands."
Psalm 143:5

Thursday, July 23, 2015

Who Has Believed Our Report?

     One day when we were visiting my husband's brother and his family. My sister-in-law  and I were in the kitchen, when their young son came came home from riding his bike with his friends. He  burst into the kitchen, all excited to tell us about the wonderful falls he had found,  With childish animation , he described the awesome, unbelievable height of the falls and their beauty.  My sister-in-law and I exchanged amused glances, reading each other's mind  about the tendency of children to exaggerate.

     She asked her son where he had found these falls.  "Oh," he answered, " we were just exploring in the bush and suddenly there they were !  They are huge.. you really have to come see them!"

     Yes, right... go bush whacking through some forest, to find a puddle ? We didn't think so.

     "How high are these falls," asked my sister-in-law. "About so high?" she held her hand a foot or two from the floor. 
     "Oh, no... "protested her son. "they are high, way higher than the ceiling, even higher than the house!"  We smiled, indulging him his fantasy.

      That was not the only time our nephew tried to convince us to come see these magnificent falls...and over the years, he never changed his story, but we never believed his report.
No matter how much he begged us to come see, we never did - it seemed too incredulous to be true.  

     Then, years later, we heard about these magnificent falls.  A rough gravel excuse for a road had been opened to give people access to the falls.  So one day we braved the road and then followed a  narrow trail into the forest.  Soon we could hear the sound of water which grew louder and louder until we came upon the most awesome view... the Cascade Falls.  
      Our nephew had been telling the truth after all.

      Today, the access road is paved, there is a parking area at the trail head, a picnic area, a new hanging bridge over the deep gorge,  and a well-kept trail with safety fences and stairs up the steeper parts of the trail.  The wild natural beauty of the area has been preserved, the visual  impact of suddenly coming into view of the falls has not been diminished.  Yet, even today many people  have never seen them, even though they live within a distance of a few miles. 

     We were there recently with our family and I told the story of our nephew to my granddaughters.  As I told the story, the words..."Who has believed our report?"  came to me from Isaiah 53:1.
     We did not believe our nephew's report, because it just seemed too unbelievable.  But how many people do not believe God's report for the same reason?  
     God has told us of many incredulous things in His Word, yet, do we believe them, every one?
If God says it is true, what reason do we have not to believe His report?  

     Today, just as Cascade Falls is now a park and is talked about by more and more people who have been there and seen them, so also scientific evidence  is more and more compelling in proving God's report to be true. 
     People who have experienced the supernatural are talking about the amazing things that are happening in their lives. Their testimonies, supporting the truth of God's report - are told in books, and through the many ways we have today to communicate, thanks to modern technology. 
     And .. still... even today, God asks... "Who has believed My report?" 
Do you ?  Do you believe God's report ?  If you do, are you telling others?