Monday, November 30, 2009

The child that could do no wrong

Growing up in my family, I was the youngest of three girls.  I was very shy and timid.  I loved to dance and sing, cared for little creatures like my pet mice, and lived in my roller skates.  Overall, I'd say I was a pretty good kid.  I was never called to the Principal's office, never put my gum under the table, and never talked back to adults.  This is not to say that I was perfect.  There was that time when I hid behind my backyard fence and sprayed the ice cream man with the hose...  Or the day when I threw my neighbors shoes on their roof.  (In Hawaii, we take off our shoes and leave them at the front door...)  I was duly punished and turned from the error of my ways.

Ephesians 1:4 says this,
Even before he made the world, God loved us and chose us in Christ to be holy and without fault in his eyes.
The part in this verse that stuck out for me this week is, "without fault in his eyes."  It amazes me that God can see me as holy and without fault.  Even before the world began, God's plan was to make me the child who could do no wrong.  Was I innocent?  No.  Was I without sin? No.  But God's plan included the sacrifice that Jesus made, and that by faith I could be holy.  That is love.

And it goes on,
God decided in advance to adopt us into his own family by bringing us to himself through Jesus Christ. This is what he wanted to do, and it gave him great pleasure. (Eph. 1:5)
He did it because He wanted to and it gave him great pleasure.  This humbles me.  God chooses me, redeems me, and adopts me ~ all for His pleasure.  And yet I am the one who benefits.  It doesn't make earthly sense.  But I am also reminded that His ways are higher than my ways.  This sacred romance continues as I am swept off my feet once again.

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Our Thanksgiving day was very fun.  We started with the usual last minute clean-ups, putting the turkey in the oven, and making the final preparations for our guests.

Then it was out to Kailua Field for our annual Thanksgiving Day flag football game.  All us 40-somethings get out there with the kids and play.  I'm usually quite sore the next day, but it's worth it.

This year, we ended up having a table of twelve for dinner and a total of about 18 for dessert.  What a blessing to have a houseful of family and friends.   Here is a photo recap of our day.

Table for twelve, set with Great-Grandma Ruby's china and crystal.

Steph chops apples for her pie.

 Annual flag-football warriors.

 Rebecca's cherry pie.

the bird

Rachael, Lauren, Rebecca, and Ashley.

 Grandma Marilyn and Grandma Jean

 Mark and Caleb (our nephew to be...)


The usual silliness...
Psalm 95:1-2:
Come, let us sing to the Lord!
Let us shout joyfully to the Rock of our salvation.
Let us come to him with thanksgiving.
Let us sing psalms of praise to him.

They say that the first Thanksgiving feast lasted three days.  I jokingly said that it probably took 2 1/2 days to cook, 20 minutes to eat, and the rest was clean up.  That's kind of what happened around here, too.  But I don't mind.  Like I've said before, I love Thanksgiving.  All the preparations and clean up makes the celebration last just that much longer.  It helps me to carry that thankfulness into the next season....Advent!

Thursday, November 26, 2009

We Thank Thee All Our God

I love the old hymn that says, "We thank thee all our God, with hearts and hands and voices...."  I'm also thankful for

Card houses

and cousins,

beach days

and rainy days,

Kaneohe Bay

and flag football,

 weird pumpkins

and sandy toes.

Have a very blessed Thanksgiving!

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

My, what big palms you have...

With all the preparations for Thanksgiving, I was getting a little weary. My eldest daughter, Steph, had the great idea of heading out to the Ho'omaluhia Botanical Garden to hunt up some items for our centerpiece. We set out with high hopes but got seriously distracted.  We did find a group of trees that were very unique.

The trees didn't have name plates, so I have no idea what they were. Obviously, they belong to the palm family. These trees were so big, I couldn't believe it. They looked like they were Photo-shopped into the the garden, but out of scale. I picked up a palm frawn that was down on the ground and couldn't believe it's size. It reminded me of the huge fans that the "sisters" danced with in White Christmas.  Steph and I couldn't resist singing a few bars..."Sisters, sisters, there were never such a pair of sisters."

Anyway, it was a lovely break.
I hope that in your holiday preparations you are able to take a moment away
and enjoy the view...

Photos by Rebecca James

Saturday, November 21, 2009

A Vow of Surrender

I love weddings.  I never used to cry at them, until I got married myself.  Now I can hardly even watch one without crying - even if it's on TV.  I think it is because once you enter into that marriage covenant and live a few years together, those vows really take on meaning.  A starry-eyed bride can not begin to understand what she's saying.  But don't try to tell her that... She's making them in faith.

Here is a copy of the vows my groom and I made to each other:

I, (Karelin/Mark),
                 take thee (Mark/Karelin),

to be my wedded (husband/wife),

to have and to hold from this day forward,

for better, for worse, for richer, for poorer,
in sickness or in health, to love and to cherish,

'til death do us part,

according to God's holy ordinance;

this is my solemn vow.

During my quiet time this week, it dawned on me that a prayer of surrender to the LORD is very much like the vows I made at my wedding.  When I give myself fully to my Savior, it is for better, for worse, for richer, for poorer, in sickness or in health, to love and to cherish....  I make these vows in faith, too.  A new believer can't really know what lay ahead in his journey with Jesus.  But there is a trust, a knowing that God is a good and faithful God.  "Perfect love casts out fear," and day by day, those vows take on new meaning.

There is no better groom than Jesus.  He remains faithful, even when I do not.  He loves me completely, even though I am just learning to love Him.  The best part is, there is no "'til death do us part."
"For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord."  Romans 8:38-39
Now that's romantic!  *sniff*
This LORD's day, I want to come to Him with my heart given to be fully His.  There's no better love than the love of God.

Friday, November 20, 2009

It's beginning to look a lot like.... Thanksgiving?

I can't believe there are only 35 days 'til Christmas!  *gasp*  I am determined to be ready this year.  Last year, it just seemed to creep up on me and then was gone before I knew it.  Even so, I'm not going to think about Christmas until after Thanksgiving.

It seems that everyone is so excited about Christmas this year.  There are houses on my block that already have their Christmas lights up - and turned on each night.  I know the stores have been pushing Christmas for weeks, but I don't get out much, and without t.v., I haven't seen the commercials.  But this year it's more than the stores, it's people around me, too.  I started to wonder why.  Maybe it's because this year has been more stressful for most of us. Perhaps we are all looking for relief from the day-to-day struggle and hear some good news for a change.  Christmas is a time when we can set our everyday turmoil aside and feel like kids again.  That certainly is a draw for me.  But believe me, Christmas will come, ready or not.

Don't get me wrong, I adore Christmas, I just really, really like Thanksgiving, too!  (almost and much as Christmas....)  Why?  There are so many reasons.  Here are a few:

  • Thanksgiving is a holiday that is not "religious" in nature, but more patriotic.  All Americans will celebrate regardless of their spiritual condition.  In a time where our country is widely divided, Thanksgiving is something we all have in common and can enjoy together.
  • Thanksgiving is not commercialized (unless you count the groceries stores falling all over themselves to sell you the cheapest turkey and evaporated milk...).
  • Thanksgiving is about family and friends, and coming home.  
  • Thanksgiving helps me to be generous with those less fortunate.
  • Thanksgiving is a chance to be still and thank God for what I already have in Him.
  • Thanksgiving helps me prepare my heart for Christmas.
  • Thanksgiving helps me prepare my house for Christmas.
With the difficulties that 2009 has brought to our country (and our world), Thanksgiving can be a great opportunity to stop and thank God for all he has brought us through.   Yes, Christmas will be here soon (35 days, *gasp*)  but I, for one, need this chance to stop.... and be still.....and truly give thanks.

Monday, November 16, 2009

The Old Rugged Cross, my daily companion

I heard the hymn, The Old Rugged Cross, the other day and it got me thinking. 

The lyric, "I will cling to the old rugged cross..." was stirring around in my head. 

Take that line and mix it with Luke 9:23, "Then he [Jesus] said to the crowd, 'If any of you wants to be my follower, you must turn from your selfish ways, take up your cross daily, and follow me.'"

I wonder if the cross we cling to should be the cross we choose to take up every day.  Christ's cross was a once-and-for-all proposition.  He said himself, "It is finished."  But my daily dying to self, being that living sacrifice is all that I have to give.  Is that what I will lay down and exchange someday for a crown?

Friday, November 13, 2009

For this child I prayed...

All of my children are awesome!  I never imagined that I'd have four wonderful kids.  Having Andrew as the only boy makes things very interesting around here.  With just the three girls, it was quite a feminine house.  There were dolls everywhere, stuffed animals, Barbies, dress up clothes and pink everything.  I had the girl thing down.  But there was this itch inside me that I couldn't get rid I didn't need cortisone (that's another issue).  In the back of my mind, I wondered what it would be like to have a son. 

I really wrestled with this longing.  I felt like a kid who is surrounded by beautiful gifts, asking for more...  I prayed about it long and hard.  But I couldn't shake the feeling I had of being a spoiled child, having been given so much, yet asking for more.

Our annual women's retreat came along, and our speaker was a dear friend that I had known for many years.  I pulled her aside and told her of my dilemma.  She reassured me that just the fact that I was concerned about overstepping my blessings, meant that my heart was in the right place.  She agreed to pray with me about it, but felt like it was a longing placed in my heart by my loving, heavenly Father.  With much relief and excitement, I went home and approached my husband.  He too felt that our family was not yet complete.

You can imagine my excitement to find out that I was expecting just three months later.  When the 20 week sonogram came around, the proof came of what I knew in my heart.  God had granted my request.  It was a boy!   The girls and I immediately went out an bought a pair of baby blue booties and showed up at Mark's office with them.  What a joy!   By the next women's retreat, I was very pregnant with Andrew.  God is good.

Our house has never been the same since.  There has definitely been a shift in the atmosphere.  As the girls get older there is less pink, no more dollies, and the dress ups and make up are for real.  But now in the mix are various weapons, action heroes, and smelly socks.  Along with my "Little Women", there is a little man.  

These pictures were taken the same day... Flowers on my desk from Andrew, and his toy gun and poker chips on the chair...and he's only nine.

God is so gracious to me.  He places in me desires that He longs to fulfill.  What a loving Father.  What an extravagant Giver of Good things. 

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

A most sincere thanks...

To all the veterans, I send my thanks.  I enjoy the freedom of this country, and all it's blessings.  Freedom is something I often take for granted.  Let me not do so today.  I come from a family with many veterans.  My father, and my grandfather served.  My father-in-law and my nephew, too.  Growing up on an Army base, I remember and appreciate some of the sacrifices that soldiers make.  My father was in Vietnam when I was a toddler.  He would come home, and I would not know who he was.  That is a sacrifice many are not willing to pay.  But I am grateful. 

Grandpa - Prentice Beardsley

My Father - William Beardsley, receives Commendation Medal for meritorious service at U.S. Army Base, Alaska.

This is the day my father retired from the Army.  ( I look like the girl in the Adams Family...)

Grandpa Beardsley was always a member of the Veterans of Foreign Wars.

Grandma Beardsley was always a member of the Women's Auxiliary

Remembering was an imortant part of my grandparents lives.  I hope to pass that on to my children, too. 
God bless our veterans, and God bless America!

Life happens!

Blue and I took a nice walk out to the back yard this afternoon.  Those tomatoes, lettuces and beans are growing like crazy.  Even in "autumn", our growing season just goes on.  One of the great things about Hawaii.  We can plant just about anytime. 

Now that they are growing, I have to learn the best way to harvest them...   I think my tomato plants are a bit crowded, but I don't have the heart to pull any more out.
I hate thinning growing seedlings!

Not only are the veggies growing, I looked up into my banana trees and found that I have two stalks of bananas coming.  These are trees that I basically ignore for months.  Then, low and behold, they put out a bloom and fruit.  Delightful!

In John chapter 15:1-4, Jesus says,
“I am the true grapevine, and my Father is the gardener.  He cuts off every branch of mine that doesn’t produce fruit, and he prunes the branches that do bear fruit so they will produce even more.  You have already been pruned and purified by the message I have given you.  Remain in me, and I will remain in you. For a branch cannot produce fruit if it is severed from the vine, and you cannot be fruitful unless you remain in me."

I have a lot to learn about being a gardener.  I don't like to prune because I feel sorry for the plant...even though it hurts the plant in the long run.  Spiritually, I'd much rather be a branch in my Father's garden.  I'll accept His pruning, just let me remain in Him!

Thundershowers are forecast for the next two days, so I'll enjoy the sunshine while it lasts.  There's even a "winter advisory" out for the Big Island.  Yes, we do get snow!  Just on the summits of Mauna Kea and Mauna Loa.