Saturday, December 29, 2012

King Tut

     I love Ancient Egyptian history, and have always wished to see King Tut. The story of his life unearthed by the discovery of his tomb has fascinated me since girlhood. Though the actual mummy remains in Egypt, a replica was available for viewing, as well as many authentic artifacts from archaeological excavations of Egyptian royal tombs.

        It's amazing to think that it is possible the stone figures before me witnessed Joseph's time of service in the house of Pharaoh and the childhood of Moses, who had been adopted and raised by an Egyptian princess. If not, they still have existed for thousands of years, with keys to the past locked in their stony stares. If only they could talk! (story Genesis 37-50)

      I wonder.....Did Moses gaze upon some of the exhibit objects in his dealings with the Pharaoh? Were they in the palace while Moses pleaded for his people's freedom? As I stood under the remnant of the Colossal Statue of Amenhotep, I pondered the possibility that Moses had seen the same statue fully intact and in its prime. Even if he didn't, standing before the striking stone figures transported me back in time.

     I wondered about God's Hebrew people who had been welcomed into the strange new land of Egypt, and then later enslaved by those in authority. Were they living among these artifacts? Did the Israelites help build any of the tombs that encased these ancient treasures? (Moses in Egypt, Exodus 1-14)

     The hieroglyphs that have been deciphered give some clues to the beliefs and culture of these fascinating people. One pharaoh was monotheistic. What changed his mind about polytheism? I would love to know if it had anything to do with the Exodus of the Hebrews.

     The ancient Egyptians painstakingly preserved their culture in tombs, like well protected time capsules. I wish I could have taken photos for you, but photography was not allowed in the exhibit. You can click this link to see some of the artifacts.

     Do you like archeology? Does it ever make you wonder about the people who lived in another time?


Friday, December 28, 2012

Don't Let The Door Hit You On The Way Out

     As the sun sets on 2012--I have to say....I am not the least bit sorry to see it go. That sentiment seems to be shared by several of my acquaintances, who also have been worn out by this past year.

      If there ever was a year that catered to every emotion life offers, 2012 was it for many. The highest highs to the lowest lows, make one feel as if a roller coaster is whipping them around uncontrolled. We can be grateful that this coaster is not uncontrolled, but must pass before the loving hands of God before its curves and swirls are allowed into our lives.

     Many suffered greatly this year, as I suppose they do every year, just this time the suffering of this world hit closer to home. On a positive note, times that we experience suffering and loss build our  compassion for the world around us, and give us knowledge of the feelings those specific sufferings can create. So look at all the ministering we will be equipped for!

     Romans 8:18 (NLT) For I consider that our present sufferings cannot even be compared to the glory that will be revealed to us. 19 For the creation eagerly waits for the revelation of the sons of God. 20 For the creation was subjected to futility – not willingly but because of God who subjected it – in hope 21 that the creation itself will also be set free from the bondage of decay into the glorious freedom of God’s children. 22 For we know that the whole creation groans and suffers together until now. 23Not only this, but we ourselves also, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we eagerly await our adoption, the redemption of our bodies. 24 For in hope we were saved. Now hope that is seen is not hope, because who hopes for what he sees? 25 But if we hope for what we do not see, we eagerly wait for it with endurance.

     As I reflect on 2012, I will focus on the lessons learned during trial, blessings poured from heaven, and the opportunities to experience life to the fullest. Let's wave goodbye to 2012, holding onto the good that was contained within.

     Are you happy to see 2012 go? Why or why not?


Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Secret Santa?

     Nothing too secret about this Santa. We had a great plan, but one thing after another went wrong. We had the wrong key to the house we broke into, and by the time we got in, a handful of minutes were all we had for setting up our surprise.

     We bagged the donated gifts, which to our delight, dwarfed the little Christmas tree. It was fun to set the tree on top of the pile of gifts when it was finished. In our haste, we nearly forgot to grab the trash and leftover decor on our way out.

     The tripod was also left in the house when we fled, and had to be retrieved. Trying to unlock a door in a hurry while doubled over in laughter is harder than it looks.

No time for a photo? Nonsense! There's always time for a photo.
     Just barely out of the house before the home's occupant returned from a Christmas party, we anxiously waited to discover the reaction.

     Meanwhile, there was an inability to find a desperately needed restroom to change out of the costume and preserve our cover. Seriously, who keeps Santa out of a restroom on Christmas? People who like coal.

     (Rather than hinder the plans, our troubles that day kept us laughing hysterically and made the experience that much more memorable)

     A phone call to Mr. Recipient with an offer to stop by with Christmas goodies and hot chocolate got us back into the home. What a thrill and a blessing to be invited to stay and watch as the gifts were opened.

     The perfectly tailored gifts caused Mr. Recipient to suspect the many generous donors who contributed, and before very long, the cover was blown. However, the joy experienced by the donors and recipient tightened a loving bond amongst us all.


     Do you have a favorite Secret Santa story?

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

The Shadow of Death

 Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me. ~Psalm 23:4

     The reality of death, and what it might be like to die had never hit home for me before. Over the last three weeks, I watched as the shadow of Death--gaunt and ugly--slowly consumed my darling grandma. With sunken eyes and blank stares, He taunted. "There is nothing you can do."

     I'll admit, it frightened me a bit. I was watching the repercussions of evil and the downfall of mankind have their way with someone I loved a lot. All I could do was look to God and some supportive family members for comfort.

      I never had the occasion to keep a bedside vigil with one who had come to life's end. Thankfully I wasn't doing it alone. But I prayed for Grandma, sat with her, kept her company, and tried to ensure her comfort. All the while, attempting to ignore the darkness encompassing her shrinking frame.

     Though she no longer spoke, was too weak to move much, and her eyes rarely opened, she was there, mind in tact. Her beautiful soul remained trapped in a failing body waiting for the angels to take her home.

     Death may be inevitable, and for some, untimely. But I am eternally grateful that it is not the end. Because of the life of Christ, death has been trumped. It may mock us until the grave, but no longer has the power to do so after. What a wonderful gift of hope from God, and one we don't deserve.

     Because of the birth, death and resurrection of Christ, death is nothing more than a shadow that passes over us, no more threatening than the sunset. This Christmas season I will bask in that triumph over the grave as I reflect with awe upon the incredible love and sacrifice God poured into humanity. May we never forget it.

     What are you celebrating this Christmas?



Monday, December 17, 2012

Gains and Losses

     Is there anyone who makes you crazy? Every time you see them, there's a misunderstanding and hurt feelings? They just don't get you? My poor Grandma must have felt that way about me.

     For sixteen years, I wanted almost nothing to do with her. I was cordial at best, and ignored her at worst. Why? A grudge. One I clutched as though my life depended on it. Perhaps a better way to say it is that my resentments and anger had a death grip on me. I no longer controlled them, but allowed them to run loose and wreak havoc in my relationships.

     I had decided that Grandma didn't love me, and nothing that woman could say or do changed the imaginary idea I had formulated in my own mind. Though she ached for a relationship with me, it only mattered that I thought she didn't.

Grandma Lola

     I see now where my immature thinking was seriously flawed, and I mourn the time I lost with her. Seven years ago, I decided to get to know Grandma, and I have never been sorry. She was a wonderful woman with lots of funny little quirks, like we all have. We went to the movies, out to lunch, hit a thrift store or two. I did some chores for her, and we went through family photo albums together.

     She was a dear woman with a wonderful sense of humor, and she made my life richer. The most important lessons Grandma taught she never spoke. She just lived them out in front of me--Let go. Let go of imaginary ideas and misunderstandings. Forgive, because people are important. Laugh whenever you can. No matter how hard life gets, press on.

     My grandma passed away this week, but what I learned through my experiences with her will stay with me forever as treasures I never let go. Our lives are nothing more than a whisper in the wind when compared with eternity. We have only a little time to impact future generations, and Grandma had a huge impact on me.

     Though Grandma lived 95 years, I knew her for seven. I would love to go back, get over myself sooner, and know her better. I choose instead to be thankful for the time and experiences we did have together. They changed my life.

     When have you been thankful you worked through anger and resentment?

     This is my top blog post for December. If you would like to share yours, you can do so at Blog Schmog by Jessie Gunderson.


Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Coping with December Dysfunction

     Is it just coincidence that December and dysfunction begin with the same letter? Oh, probably. But amazingly enough, that is just how it seems to go. Emotions and expectations fly high only to be dashed against the pavement when the kids call to say they aren't going to make it this time, or you can't meet your parents' idea of what Christmas should be.

     Rather than scavenging for ways to avoid this conundrum, why not enlist some of these tips to minimize your discomfort.

  • Pray. It's much easier to handle holiday disappointments if you have bathed every aspect in prayer. Leave it all in God's hands, then watch Him move.

  • If you find yourself alone this Christmas, serve others in the Spirit of Christ. Getting your mind off your own troubles and noticing the needs of others is great therapy.

  • Lower your expectations...a lot. The lower your expectations of other's behavior, the more surprised and happy you will be when they come through with class, and the less disappointed you will be when their behavior is disheartening.

  • Have a plate of appetizers in your hand at all times,  so you will be ready to pop something in at the most uncomfortable moment. This is especially helpful in keeping yourself from saying something you might regret.

Sorry, can't talk.
  • "If your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink. In doing this, you will heap burning coals on his head." (Romans 12:20) That's right. Give your brother something he really likes and try not to hope he chokes on it. Be sweet and think of those burning coals.

  • Drink plenty of fluids. Be ready to jump up and go to the bathroom at a moment's notice. This one has helped me through many years of awkward situations.

  • Plan a time to leave. Have somewhere to be in a reasonable length of time, and let the host know early so there won't be hurt feelings when it's time for you to go.

     "If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone,"Romans 12:18

     How do you cope with December dysfunction?