Wednesday, May 16, 2018

The Cost

The other morning in my regular Bible reading I began in Exodus 32.  The story is about when Moses comes down the mountain and sees the golden calf made by Aaron.
"then Moses stood in the gate of the camp and said, Who is on the Lord 's side? Come to me." 
And all the sons of Levi gathered around him. 
And he said to them, "Thus says the Lord God of Israel, 'Put your sword on your side each of you, and go to and fro from gate to gate throughout the camp, and each of you kill his brother and his companion and his neighbor.'"
And the sons of Levi did according to the word of Moses. And that day about three thousand men of the people fell. And Moses said, "Today you have been ordained for the service of the Lord , each one at the cost of his son and of his brother, so that he might bestow a blessing upon you this day."  (Exodus 32.26‭-‬29)

I sat for quite some time, thinking about this.  When Moses asked, "Who is on the Lord's side?", not one of those men knew what it would cost them to make that choice.  From what we read, it cost them the lives of their companions and neighbors, and it possibly cost them the lives of their own brothers and sons.  These men chose the Lord first, then received their orders, and obeyed them.  We don't read of any of them disobeying the order given. How it must have cost them!

After reading in Exodus, I went directly to 1 Samuel 13.
"And the Philistines mustered to fight with Israel, thirty thousand chariots and six thousand horsemen and troops like the sand on the seashore in multitude...
When the men of Israel saw that they were in trouble (for the people were hard pressed), the people hid themselves in caves and in holes and in rocks and in tombs and in cisterns, and some Hebrews crossed the fords of the Jordan to the land of Gad and Gilead. 
Saul was still at Gilgal, and all the people followed him trembling. He waited seven days, the time appointed by Samuel.
But Samuel did not come to Gilgal, and the people were scattering from him. 
So Saul said, "Bring the burnt offering here to me, and the peace offerings." And he offered the burnt offering. As soon as he had finished offering the burnt offering, behold, Samuel came. And Saul went out to meet him and greet him. 
Samuel said, "What have you done?"  
And Saul said, "When I saw that the people were scattering from me, and that you did not come within the days appointed, and that the Philistines had mustered at Michmash, I said, 'Now the Philistines will come down against me at Gilgal, and I have not sought the favor of the Lord .' So I forced myself, and offered the burnt offering."  
And Samuel said to Saul, "You have done foolishly. You have not kept the command of the Lord your God, with which he commanded you. For then the Lord would have established your kingdom over Israel forever. But now your kingdom shall not continue. The Lord has sought out a man after his own heart, and the Lord has commanded him to be prince over his people, because you have not kept what the Lord commanded you."
(1 Samuel 13.5‭-‬14)
Here is a cost of disobedience.  My heart breaks as I read these words.  So many things happened as a result of Saul's disobedience - the kingdom was taken from his hands and given to another, his life and the lives of his sons were taken, but far worse than anything else, as we read further we find out that Saul never enjoys God's presence again.  In just two chapters we read, "And Samuel said, “Has 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 listen than the fat of rams." (1 Samuel 15.22)

What jumped off the pages at me especially is how that for both obedience and disobedience there is a cost.  It doesn't matter whether the thing is small or big - whether the choice seems insignificant or not.  It is each person's choice whether or not to obey, but then it is not our choice what the consequences of our choice will be.
I don't choose the right thing every time.  Often I give in to my selfish desires, without even thinking that there are consequences.
I took a picture of our Choice Gleanings calendar.  I thought it kind of tied in with what I'd been reading.

Thinking further, I thought how all throughout the Scriptures we read of God's love for mankind.  We can be sure without a doubt that He knows all about love and its cost.
In Isaiah 53.3-5, we read, "He was despised and rejected by men, a man of sorrows and acquainted with grief; and as one from whom men hide their faces he was despised, and we esteemed him not. Surely he has borne our griefs and carried our sorrows; yet we esteemed him stricken, smitten by God, and afflicted. But he was pierced for our transgressions; he was crushed for our iniquities; upon him was the chastisement that brought us peace, and with his wounds we are healed."
"For Christ also suffered once for sins, the righteous for the unrighteous, that he might bring us to God,"  (1 Peter 3.19)
In John 3.16, it says, "For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life."
"Jesus...who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God." (Hebrews 12.2)
In John 14, we see that it is full of verses that speak of a believer's love and obedience.  That if we truly love Christ, we'll keep his commandments.  John later writes, "By this we know that we love the children of God, when we love God and obey his commandments. For this is the love of God, that we keep his commandments. And his commandments are not burdensome." (1 John 5.2-3)

I don't know why the sons of Levi obeyed that day back in Exodus.  Was it out of a heart of love or out of fear?  I know that my motivation for obedience ought to be out of genuine love and appreciation for "the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me" (Galatians 2.20)  I believe that obedience is worth whatever the cost may be.

Wednesday, April 4, 2018

Cutest Wedding Ever

We had the joy of attending a beautiful wedding this past Friday of Genoveva and Jairo.  It was a lovely and God-honouring evening, and we are so happy for them!
Geno and Jairo 

Today, our crew decided they wanted to put on a wedding.  Outfits were chosen, decorations were hung, vows were was quite the excitement!  Here are a few pictures from this lovely occasion, (taken by the Mother-of-the-bride - um, and groom!  You might be a redneck...)  ;)

Streamers hung
The music

Chairs set up

The groom

Flowers strewn

A bridesmaid and "groomsman"

The officiator and groom awaiting the entrance of the bride

The bride and Father-of-the-bride (and groom), and a bridesmaid carrying the veil of the bride

The entrance

"Who gives this woman...?"

The vows

Placing the ring on the groom's finger...
...and the bride's
"You may now kiss your bride!"  Muah!
And off they go!
Reception afterward
I must say it was a little difficult being a guest, mother-of-the-bride (and groom), and photographer, but thankfully the wedding only lasted about 7 minutes, so it worked out okay.  It was very cute and very fun, and I'm glad that any real weddings are still years ahead of us!  =)

Thursday, March 15, 2018

A Day of Rest

When I was a little girl, Saturdays were "free" days for us.  I have many happy memories of our days "off".  We went to school Monday to Friday, and Sundays we went to meeting in the morning, and in the evening.  I know of some people who have made rules that Sundays should be a day of sabbath rest.  They attend meetings, but won't have people in, or go out to visit any one; they wouldn't go to a store, or buy gas on a Sunday.  I had never thought too much about it, except that I thought it was odd, until recently.  Although, a few years ago, Tim read a book by Mark Buchanan called, "The Rest of God: Restoring your soul by restoring sabbath."  It was not a "law-keeping" book, but talked of the importance of regular rest.  I recommend you take a look at it, if you get a chance.

When Tim and I moved to Mexico in 2008, we busily got into studying Spanish, teaching school, attending the meetings and outreaches, and were just plain busy with daily life.  As a couple, we went away for a few days in 2010, and in 2012 we went away as a family for the first time, besides our usual (mostly) annual trip to Canada.  It was one summer around then at a family reunion that someone mentioned how important it was to set aside regular time together as a family.  We started trying to take trips to the beach more often, but there was nothing too consistent about spending time together.

Since our time here in Mexico, our times of busyness have fluctuated greatly.  There have been times when it has seemed like every moment of every day is spoken for, and life is extra busy and stressful.  There have been other times when our schedule has been mostly clear except for daily life and meetings and Tim's occasional travels and things aren't so crazy.  In 2016, life was at a crazy point, and we decided to take our family up to a cabin in the mountains in Arizona where there was no WiFi or even phone signal for 4 whole days.  It was wonderful.  We had nothing to do except enjoy each other's company.  We played games, had bonfires, explored, watched movies, fished, ate and slept.  We did the same thing this past summer, but for 5 days, and we hope to go again this coming summer, Lord willing.  It was very refreshing and enjoyable for the entire family.

This winter while we were in Canada, we met up with another family who we haven't seen in several years.  They have experienced some health issues in the last few years in their family, and now, as a family, have made some personal changes in their lifestyle.  After having realized that God made the sabbath day right at creation, then He made a law about it for the people of Israel, and while seeing that there is no "law" for believers regarding keeping the sabbath, that there is much benefit in rest, and it is profitable in so many ways.

Tim and I spoke quite a bit about trying to take a weekly sabbath on our long drive home.  We have school Monday to Friday; Saturdays are always busy with children's meeting and young people's, and Sundays, of course, are just always busy days.  So, we concluded that with our lifestyle we just do not have time to have a sabbath.  Therefore, we decided that it was necessary that we must take a sabbath rest.  We've decided to start doing school only 4 days a week, and instead of going from fall to spring, we will also go all summer as well.  For now, we are setting aside Mondays as our day of rest.  We have enjoyed two already.  We don't have a set plan of what we will or won't do, but so far, we've tried to not do anything that doesn't have to be done, and we share the responsibilities of what does need to be.  Our desire at this point is to spend time resting, reading, playing, and the last 2 Mondays since we've done this, we've also gotten some things done like organizing and tidying, that we haven't had time otherwise to do.  I'm hoping to get some more blogging done again, too!  =)

The other day in my regular reading, I found this verse, and thought it interesting.
"Moreover, I gave them my Sabbaths, as a sign between me and them, that they might know that I am the LORD who sanctifies them." Ezekiel 20:12

This isn't any legalistic, law-keeping thought or plan that we feel we have to keep.  Just a blessing from the Lord we want to regularly enjoy. 

Monday, March 5, 2018

Mika's Quinceañera

Hello!  We're back from our wonderful trip to Canada, and are loving being at home again!  We arrived home Monday, February 12th, and Shaelyn celebrated her 12th birthday on Thursday (her party was the next week)...
Love this girl - how can she be 12 years old!?!?!
 ...then we had a special quinceañera for Mika on Friday night.  A quinceañera is Mexican tradition for a child's (usually the daughter, but not always) fifteenth birthday that we wanted to celebrate with our family, even though not exactly the same way the Mexicans generally do.  It just happens that one of Mika's good friends, Ana Sofía (or Sofi), also had her 15th birthday the same month, so we decided it would be fun to have a party together.  There wasn't much time to get ready when we got home, so thankfully we had already found a dress, picked up some things before we crossed the border, and then got the rest done in two or three days.  Several ladies helped with the food, others with the decorations, and others getting all the flowers set up.  We had a really special night, and it was a lot of fun!  Madeleine kindly took pictures on a good camera, and so we got some good ones.  Here are some pictures of the evening:

This is how things looked when we arrived - this is the basement of the hall

Eleo, Geno and Aliuzka were getting the flowers ready
All done!

The beautiful cake was made by Carmen

Eva and Mika 
Thankfully Geno and Aliuzka helped with hair, and it turned out beautifully!

Sofi's family - Hector and Ana María, and her brother Ivan

Our familia

Best friends - Eva, Sofi, Mika, Diana
Fun photo booth stuff

As a surprise, we made a slideshow of pictures of each of the girls which was played to two songs (also as a surprise) that Abisaí and Gabriel sang.

Marcus gave an encouraging message to the girls

Another surprise.  The dads presented each girl with 15 roses.

Mika and Sofi with Geno, Aliuzka and Eleo
These two muffins were sick with fevers and spent most of the time on the couch.
Two cuties
Having fun with shadows
Friends who came to help celebrate

Fun with props
Sarahi and Shaelyn
More fun with props
Then there were some games

Ana María, Alison and me - I'm so thankful for these ladies!
It was a late night when it all ended, but lots of happy memories made.  So many people worked so hard and helped us pull this together!  
May the Lord richly bless these girls for His honour and glory!