Monday, December 3, 2012

Counting One Thousand Gifts ~ November { More Bible/Parenting/Advent Adventures}

The cute Facebook photos and glowing blog posts don't usually reflect it, but there is often groaning and complaining at my house ~ and not just by the younger three that live here ~ but mostly.  Vespers at Amherst College was not high on their list of desired activities for a Sunday afternoon this weekend.  Sunday lunch went like this: "Didn't we just get through with church?  Same old chicken for lunch? Why do we have to sit through another service?  Can we go out to eat afterward? How long is this going to take? Why did you only buy bagels but not cream cheese? How long will it take to get there?"  Muffled moans, more incredulous inquiries, and the questioning of their parents' sanity had to be confronted and then ignored.  Parental patience had to be decided, and perseverance to follow through with the plan to attend the special Advent service in the face of great protests had to be chosen.  Miraculously, the moaning ones survived an hour of lessons and carols, and even got to eat their usual pancakes, eggs, and sausage while watching favorite TV shows once home.  Whew! It was a near death experience, but they made it.

Family devotions can be the same way.  Parenting is a long-term laboratory for standing for what is good and right despite continual, wearisome complaints, questions, and rolled eyes.  Honestly, it would be much easier to let them have their own way, but, though they don't and can't fully understand it right now, gathering them for a Vespers service, or rounding them up to read the Bible  ~ especially in spite of their obvious displeasure ~ is an act of love and obedience.  We're trying to treasure them, but they are claiming torture. Seems like we're trusting the Lord for the fortitude required in this kind of battle more than ever these days.

And so, I didn't want to tell them how amazing I thought it was that we were reading about the shoot coming up from the stump of Jesse this week during Advent devotions.  It's a risk and a vulnerability to show personal excitement about the Bible when you know they're ready to get it over with, but I did it anyway, and they patiently indulged me and were politely attentive.  And if I remember correctly, there were even a few follow-up questions by the eldest. ☺

It's just that I had been reading II Chronicles this week ~ the part where Solomon is building and then dedicating the temple.  God had never allowed for His Name to dwell in one specific place, but David had it in his heart to build Him a permanent dwelling place, and so the Lord allowed it. {and eventually indwelt it!} Though David was not the one God allowed to build the temple, he made almost every preparation and provision before his death, so that his son Solomon could be the builder of a glorious temple.

Once it is built, Solomon gathers all of Israel, and kneels before them with his hands outstretched toward heaven, and he prays.  He prays for the Lord to "hear and forgive" the nation of Israel in a multitude of potential future situations, one of which is captivity by an enemy in a land far away.  He asks the Lord to...

"...hear from heaven, from Your dwelling place, their prayers and supplications, and maintain their cause and forgive your people who have sinned against You...O Lord God, do not turn away the face of Your anointed  remember Your kindness to Your servant David."
II Chronicles 6: 39-42

Our Advent reading that day was this:

"Then a shoot will spring forth from the stem of Jesse, and a branch from his roots will bear fruit.  The Spirit of the Lord will rest upon Him, the spirit of wisdom and understanding, the spirit of counsel and strength, the spirit of knowledge and the fear of the Lord..."
Isaiah 11:1

This "shoot" from the stump of Jesse ~ a stump because all of Israel would eventually find themselves "cut off" and in captivity ~ was the answer to Solomon's prayer that the Lord would hear, forgive, and not turn His face away from His anointed ones taken into captivity.

The "shoot" is Jesus, of course.  He is the answer to our pleas for freedom from physical captivity and captivities of every sort.

My kids are captives to selfishness, yes ~ but so am I.  I am captive to my desires and expectations of ease and comfort and peace and quiet ~ and a LONG list of other things.  Advent reminds me that the promise of freedom and release has already come in Christ ~ and that I can have freedom now {if only I will}, but also that He is coming again in the future and bringing full victory, restoration, and permanent freedom.  Oh ~ may I experience the one while eagerly awaiting the other!

Come, Thou long-expected Jesus; Born to set Thy people free
From our fears and sins release us; Let us find our rest in Thee
Israel's strength and consolation; Hope of all the earth Thou art
Dear desire of every nation; Joy of every longing heart.
~Charles Wesley

Focusing on His good gifts in order to access freedom from captivity now...

1. Pinterest Energy Bites {eaten}
2. Enchiladas {eaten}
3. Mama Iguana Fish Tacos {eaten}
4. New Asics Running Shoes {worn}
5. Clothes for Portraits ~ finally! {worn}
6. Paths of prayer and Scripture {worn}
7. Napping Babies {starts with "N"}
8. Note from Megan {starts with "N"}
9. A New Novel {starts with "N"}
10. Ideas for Beloved Retreat {gathered}
11. Lunch at my house {given}
12. Birthday gatherings at The Roost {good}
13. Old pearl earrings {acorn-small}
14. Opportunity to serve my dad {acorn-small}
15. New relationships with Bible study girls {acorn-small}
16. Peace {government}
17. Order {government}
18. Protection {government}
19. Tall pine saved from storms {from my window}
20. Cooper dunking the basketball {from my window}
21. Kalya swinging with green headphones {from my window}
22. Waffle with peanut butter, yogurt, and honey {sweet}
23. Kale and egg scramble {salty}
24. Hot tea and God's Word {sipped}
25. Encouragement from other women {harvest}
26. Teaching experience {harvest}
27. Sweet & red potatoes {harvest}
28. "There was joy indeed in Israel..." I Chron. 12:40 {in Bible reading}
29. "David inquired of God..." I Chron. 13. 10 {in Bible reading}
30. "David inquired again of God..." I Chron. 13:14 {in Bible reading}
31. Army stories from my dad {of remembrance}
32. Funny marijuana story {about a friend!} from my dad {in remembrance}
33. My dad's emotion over election and people's hearts {in remembrance}
34. Successful knee replacement {at noon}
35. Multiple ways to help and bless {at noon}
36. Time to read {at noon}
37. A room at The Towers {behind a door}
38. My healing, healthy dad {behind a door}
39. An old high school friend {behind a door}
40. Early mornings with the Lord {silent}
41. Early morning runs in S.A. {silent}
42. 5:30am {silent}
43. Jack and Kelly {and Cleo's!} friendship {golden}
44. Cleo's life and joy given {golden}
45. Memories of Buddy {golden}
46. Conflict {hard eucharisteo}
47. Temperaments ~ mine and others' {hard eucharisteo}
48. Valley Church ending {hard eucharisteo}
49. Kids' stories at dinner table last night {laughter}
50. With Ryan and Christie at Chilis {laughter}
51. Over Coop waiting at empty bathroom at Chipotle {laughter}
52. Chicken Lettuce Wrap dinner {made}
53. Lunch with Traci {shared}
54. Secret Thoughts of an Unlikely Convert {passed on}
55. Holiday magazines {autumn}
56. New England Colors {autumn}
57. Pumpkin Spice Lattes {autumn}
58. Always different and some same guests at Thanksgiving {traditions}
59. Place cards handmade {traditions}
60. Praline Sweet Potatoes {traditions}
61. Joyful, growing marriage {family}
62. Healthy, happy BIG kids {family}
63. Sanctifying responsibilities {family}
64. God's sovereign salvation and provision {grateful}
65. Izckra and Mary {grateful}
66. Other kindred spirits {grateful}
67. Holy Spirit {only in Christ}
68. True Identity {only in Christ}
69. Hope {only in Christ}
70. Welcome Home sign by Kayla {humble}
71. Poinsettia from Karsten and Kirstine {humble}
72. Robert's responses to me {humble}
73. Long to-do list {ugly-beautiful}
74. Late nights {ugly-beautiful}
75. Exploded containers of Christmas decor all over house {ugly-beautiful}
76. Two days Thankgiving prep with Izckra {preparing}
77.  Day after Thanksgiving Decorating {preparing}
78. Advent wreath and Jesse Tree poster {preparing}
79. Sara's cowl and running headband! {handmade}
80. Baby Edison {held}
81. Kory's acceptance to Baylor {happy}
82. Thanksgiving guests {community}
83. Welcoming babies {community}
84. Kayla's fundraising requests & rejoicing friends on Facebook {community}
85. Kayla's Santa hat & tights for race {red}
86. Tazo Awake Tea {red}
87. Passion and competitive spirit in Challenge I debaters {red}
88. God's Word {Astonishing!}
89. Beautiful, Biblical Vespers at Amherst College {Astonishing!}
90. Sarah's un-birthday and fruits of church planting {Astonishing!}

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