Celebrating Easter with “The Promise then and Now”

IMG-0506Like some of you I am recovering from a busy Easter weekend. Ours was very spirit-filled. Friday night my family attended 12 Stones Fellowship Church off of Penalton Pike in Indianapolis to see their Good Friday production “The Promise Then and Now.” This is a Easter production put on by the youth group All Over The Map that was written and directed by Theresa and Doug Robbin’s the founders of the group. My children have been a part of AOTM off and on for the past 4 years. This is the first Easter production in that time one of them was not in but we love the group so much we couldn’t miss a performance. It was beautiful.

Doug and Theresa Robbins told the story of Jesus through song, dance and storytelling. They started with a mime/dancing performance to the song “Breath of Heaven” by Amy Grant in which the children portrayed the birth of Jesus.IMG-0504 Narratives by Theresa and Worship leader Allison Hilldebrand  told the story of Jesus till Theresa described the story of the adulteress where she told the rest of the story through that characters eyes. Another dancing to the song “How Can It Be” by Lauren Dagle portrayed the death of Jesus and reminded the audience powerfully of how Jesus covers our sin. IMG-0508The final number was “How Beautiful” by Twila Paris where the children danced with Jesus, portrayed by Doug Robbins,  and ended with a wedding that extended an invitation to those in the audience.

It was a beautiful heartfelt performance and you could tell the children involved truly enjoyed performing and learning it. I even found out later that one of the girls in the group had choreographed part of the song, “How Can it Be” for a talent show and the Robbins decided to put it in the performance. Everyone involved did an excellent job.IMG-0510

We were so blessed by the performance we decided to return to 12 Stones on Sunday for Easter on our way to my husband’s sisters house about an hour away. 12 Stones is one of my favorite churches that I have been blessed to attend. However it is about a 45 minute drive from our house which in my current condition has kept us from attending regularly. As of last November I don’t feel safe driving the interstate with my foot so I we had not been there for a while. We were so loving welcomed and I was so glad to see Allison, Theresa and many more people from the church. It was such a blessing to see them. I am so thankful for the many blessings that made my Easter a happy one.IMG-0514

CGFAA’s Peter Pan and CPMS 30 Reasons Not To Do A Play, two shows the same week!

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My Middle daughter, Lucy, is in the current running production of CGFAA’s Peter Pan. She has finished 5 shows and has 4 shows left. My oldest daughter, Zoë was in her middle school play, 30 Reasons Not To Do A Play, during the past weekend. So our household is literately filled with DRAMA right now. IMG-8835

Because both of them had a show on Friday, Lucy had to fend for herself and with the help of a good friend, Coleen, was able to get a ride home. I was thankful that my girls have such a good supportive and loving family. My parents and their cousin Lisa and her son Tim and their Aunt Carol all came to see Zoë Friday and Lucy on Saturday.

IMG-8819 Zoë had a number of  rolls in her school play and did very well. I am so thankful that she was able to make friends with her peers and that she has found something she enjoys doing. My oldest is quite an inter-vert and quiet, it was wonderful seeing her come out of her shell.

IMG-0414Lucy plays an Indian in the production of Peter Pan. I am helping on costumes again so I was able to get some behind the stage pictures of the show during tech week. These kids work so hard and really look out for each other. It’s a very family oriented atmosphere. Working in costumes is fun, and I really enjoyed helping make costumes for this show. There are about 120 kids total so it takes a team of costume moms to make sure everyone is clothed.

Although Zoë’s show is over Lucy still has 4 performances. Thursday, Friday, Saturday and Sunday of this week. The Thursday night performance is sensory friendly and a great one to take little ones too. Although,  I have had two 5 year-olds tell me the crocodile is scary. The weekday shows are at 7 p.m. and the weekend shows are at 3:30. I encourage anyone in the Greenwood, Indianapolis area to come and support this wonderful group.

 

The Adulteress and Jesus

So I’m veering away from my normal blogging this week. There is a story that God has been working on my heart for almost two years, about a month into recovering from my back rupturing. I think I’m ready to begin to tell His story. Its one that may seem very familiar to you and you might just read through it during your quiet time not thinking much of the details. But I’m hoping in this blog to show you all that was really going on in the life of Jesus.

It is the story of the adulteress who was brought before Jesus to be stoned found in John Chapter 8. Today I want to walk through with you what was happening in Jesus’s life the week leading up to this event. At the end of this event Jesus reveals to the world who He truly is and I believe the adulteress plays a great prophetic and significant part in that, I also believe that Jesus is talking to many of us about the nature of sin itself and about his nature of surpassing grace.

It was during the time of The Feast of the Tabernacles which takes place on the 15th of the Hebrew month Tishri, it usually occurs in late September to mid-October. The feast begins five days after the Day of Atonement and as the fall harvest has just been completed. It is meant to remember God’s provision for them during 40 years in the wilderness.

In Jewish custom, Jews would travel to the temple and set up camp, literally. They would camp in a specific arrangement according to their tribe in tents near the temple. There were specific sacrifices that were presented at the temple during the Feast of the Tabernacles and specific readings from the Torah and the books of Jeremiah and others and that were read and recited by the priest in the temple to the crowd of the Jewish people. The Feast of Tabernacles lasted 7 days an every morning water was drawn from the Pool of Siloam and in procession taken to the water gate of the temple where the Shofar was blown and with wine poured over the alter. Priests would pray for rain and good harvest for the next year.  On the night of the first day of the Feast of Tabernacles the outer court of the temple was lit up with four golden lamps. These lamps were placed on high pedestals. and men would hold torches in their hands. Jewish writings say “the illumination of the temple would be like a sea of fire and be so bright that women could “pick wheat from the chaff.” (Jewish Encyclopedia, Water-drawing, fest of tabernacles)

Jews were expected and commanded to participate in this festival. In John Chapter 7 Jesus is in Galilee and the disciples want to go to the temple and participate in the feast but it appears because Jesus does not want to go because the Jewish leaders are looking for a way to kill him. Jesus’s brothers, according to the NIV say in verse three ” “Leave Galilee and go to Judea, so that your disciples there may see the works you do.” The disciples wanted Jesus to go and perform miracles so that more would believe He was the Messiah.  Jesus gives a rather cryptic reason for staying behind. He says in verse 6 “Therefore Jesus told them, “My time is not yet here; for you any time will do. The world cannot hate you, but it hates me because I testify that its works are evil. You go to the festival. I am not going up to this festival, because my time has not yet fully come.” After he had said this, he stayed in Galilee.” NIV. 

So the disciples and His brother and probably His mother left him in Galilee and headed for Jerusalem. So many people were probably traveling there at the same time and would have noticed Jesus’s family and his disciples and no Jesus. I’m sure by the time Thursday of the week rolled around gossip was high on where Jesus was and why He didn’t show himself.

I think Jesus knew what He was about to face, that he was about to reveal Himself and wanted time to pray alone with His Father. It says in verse that He went alone, unnoticed to the festival. Jesus does go to the temple and teach during the festival. He angers the pharisees who try to get the chief temple guards to arrest him it says in verse 32.  Then the coolest thing happens on the last day of the Feast. Its one of those million dollar movie moments that only God could orchestrate.

Try to picture it. Everyone is gathered at the temple and its dark. The priests just asked that morning for God to give endless water as he poured water out over the alter with the wine. The temple is full of torches and you here Jesus say in over the crowds singing hymns, “Anyone who is thirsty come to me! Anyone who believes in me may come and drink! For the scriptures declare, “Rivers of living water will flow from his heart.”

You just heard the priests say that exact same thing as they recited the verse found in Jeremiah 17:13 “Lord you are the hope of Israel, all who forsake you will be put to shame. Those who turn away from you will be written in the dust because they have forsaken the Lord, the spring of living water.”   Jesus just declared that he is Christ to the whole temple. But hold onto that verse in Jeremiah it gets more interesting.

Jesus just interrupted the entire festival. Imagine what the crowds would have thought. Some would have thought Him rude and crazy, and I’m sure that made the Pharisees even angrier than they were already. They had to have a plan to discredit him. They had to regain control of the situation.

Now after the festival the Jewish people would dance and drink wine. The next day was a Sabbath so they would celebrate hard that night. Now what happens when people drink too much, sometimes they end up in someone else’s tent. This gave the Pharisees the advantage to find their adulteress.

Now there’s lots of theory’s on how they found the adulteress. They may have known of an adultery going on and just happened to visit there tent at the right moment. One theory is that she was the prostitute Mary Madeline. One is that she was a known prostitute, but John doesn’t call her a prostitute so I don’t buy into those theories. My personal thought is that they orchestrated it. Either some poor woman was tricked into someone who was working with the Pharisees bed or raped. We don’t know where the man was and I believe the Pharisees didn’t just waltz in and say your caught and she went willingly. I’m sure there was a scuffle and that more than one or two people were involved.

If fact if you think about her it was probably the worst thing that could have happened to her. If she was set up or raped she was truly a victim. She was probably dragged half naked from her tent to the temple. She was probably beaten, yelled at and treated like an animal all the way to Jesus’s feet. And any passerby probably thought she deserved it.

If it was a one night stand that went terribly wrong or a set up. Sin was destroying her. Its an example of what the end result of sin is and she was a victim of sin.  So why is this the Pharisee’s way of embarrassing Jesus? Why is this there great test for Him? Jerusalem was under Roman occupation at this time. The Romans law did not allow for stoning for the sin of adultery. They were trying to keep the Jewish people from practicing those laws and Jewish leaders that did could get in trouble with the Romans. The Messiah was believed to be the one who would conquer the Romans and bring about a New Jewish Empire. If Jesus was truly the Messiah he could not side with the Roman law and let the adulteress live.

So here was Jesus’s conundrum. When this poor woman, beaten half naked was thrown at his feet in the temple while he was teaching the next morning. If  He chose to uphold Jewish law she would be stoned and he would be arrested by the Romans. If he let her live He was not the true Messiah and no one would believe him. He would be discredited and surly killed by the Jewish mob. So what does he do?

He bends down and starts writing in the dust. Remember that verse from Jeremiah?
“..Those who turn away from you will be written in the dust because they have forsaken the Lord, the spring of living water.”

Now I remember hearing this story in Bible school as a kid and the teacher asking us to try to figure out what he wrote. Jeremiah tells us right here what he wrote. All those Jewish leaders and Pharisees that brought the adulteress before him would have known the verse, they just heard it all week and so would have everyone at the temple. But more importantly Jesus fulfills Jeremiah’s prophecy to a T. He is doing again more than just writing in the dust, he’s saying I as the Messiah have the authority to write in the dust. Then He says “Let anyone who is without sin, throw the first stone at her.” John Chapter 8  verse 7. and goes back to writing in the dust. The accusers leave, one at a time, realizing surely what has just happened. And Jesus is left still with a crowded temple and only the woman at his feet.

He extended beautiful, complete grace to this woman and exhorted his authority as His protector over her at the same time.  Verse 10 ” Jesus straightened up and asked her, “Woman, where are they? Has no one condemned you?” 11 “No one, sir,” she said. “Then neither do I condemn you,” Jesus declared. “Go now and leave your life of sin.”

So she goes, I hope someone helps her go, covers her but we don’t know that. We just know that without performing the miracles that Jesus’s brothers were begging him to do. Jesus exhorted his authority as the Messiah. He told the whole Jewish community who He is and saved that woman’s life. But to make sure no one has any doubts He then addresses the crowd, probably while the adulteress is still in earshot.

Remember all those torches and lamps around the temple the night before as he says to them in verse 12 ” “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.”

The Pharisees who are left in the temple, the ones who didn’t walk away. Begin to question Jesus and Jesus gets very, very blunt about who He is so that no one has any more questions about whether he believes He is the Messiah.

It ends with Jesus replying to them in verse 58. “I assure you and most solemnly say to you, before Abraham was born, I am.” AMP. Jesus calls himself God. At this the crowd begins to pick up rocks to stone Jesus, (like they wanted him to decide to do to the woman) but Jesus slips away.

There are two themes I feel God is saying to me in all of this. The first is that He willingly protected and took the place of the adulteress, someone who was truly the least in the society. Someone who was a victim of sin, in need of a savior,  someone like us. Her sin may seem small by many standards today. It also may seem like a sin that we know where forgiven for but never forgive ourselves for. We carry the blame and shame of what we have done. He didn’t tell her to carry it around he told her to go and don’t repeat your mistakes. I hope there’s something you are holding onto that you can let go of and not repeat.

Second the importance of his announcement of who He was. Jesus went to the Feast of Tabernacles with intention and did not let anything pull him off his course. It’s almost as if the test the Pharisees designed to trick him gave him an avenue to make His message more clear, more aware to those listening. What was planned to harm him Jesus turned to good. He can do that for you too. The evil things that have happened in your life to you, around you, he can turn and use them for your good too.

Have any comments or other thoughts please share below.

 

 

 

 

Wonderful Dolphin Adventure at Indianapolis Zoo

IMG-0408Saturday was one of those days Ill remember my whole life. It was a wonderful family day. My brother had gotten the girls a very special Christmas gift this year. He gifted them a dolphin art adventure at the Indianapolis Zoo. The day was truly a blessing from God as many things could have gone wrong, didn’t.  The problem was we didn’t have anything tangable saying we had recieved the gift. It was all done electronically and my brother had all the reciepts on his phone. He and his wife were on a trip out the country.
I called the zoo the day before asking what we needed to do when we got there and was informed that although our information could be looked up I really needed that receipt to prove we were there for the adventure.

Not long ago this would have thrown me into total panic mode. But I texted my brother, knowing he wouldn’t receive it, and he didn’t. and just prayed about it. When we got there Saturday there was a lot of confusion on what to do with us, since we didn’t have the receipt. No one was available to look us up and the general admission staff wasn’t sure what to do. They did let us into the zoo after several minutes of waiting and told us where to go. We had gotten their about an hour early because I had been told the day before we could visit the zoo before our adventure.  Praying kept me calm and I prayed God to help the admission staff as they were trying to figure out what to do with us. I was thankful that God helped me stay calm through it as I was beginning to get anxious.

When we arrived for our dolphin visit we needed to wait again but this time they had our names verified and there was no confusion. I was so thankful for that. Our tour guide, Jory, did a wonderful job talking and joking with my two daughters as we went to the dolphin exhibit. There we met a dolphin trainer, Amy who let the girls pick out paint colors for their canvas the dolphin was going to paint. We were also allowed to see how the dolphins were fed and were surprised that in their fish diet they also go unflavored gelatin cubes.

IMG-0388We were paired with a mail dolphin named Jett who was born at the Zoo in 2002. Jett was very excited to see us and to paint. Amy slipped a round circle over his nose and the paint brush extended out from it. Jett was so excited as he put the four colors on the canvas. All four of us got to feed him fish and rub his back, which felt very soft and rubbery. The girls even got to give him a belly rub. IMG-0399

My oldest daughter has said since she was a child that someday she wanted to be a dolphin trainer. I think that day encouraged that dream a little bit more. We really had a great time and I am so thankful to my brother for such a wonderful gift.

Withstand the Waves

80CB7540-6EBF-4975-9D34-5B9C37F23116We went to Great Wolf Lodge in Cincinnati this past weekend to celebrate my daugther’s 11th birthday and just get away and reconnect. My parents came too and brought my nephew, he’s 5 and my youngest boy is 4. They both really enjoyed the wave pool and we spent a lot of time playing and splashing around in there. The water only gets about 5 feet deep in the wave pool so we would let them work their way out to the deep water in their floaties and we would play, until the waves came. As much as they loved bouncing high and low in the waves they both had their mouths wide open and as many times as we told them to keep them closed they would still get a mouth full of water and be coughing and burping. Some waves would knock them under if we weren’t right there ready to get them. My nephew liked to let the waves push him back to the shallow waters then he would fight them to get deep again.

It got me thinking about the verse in Ephesians and was a clear example to me of what happens when we let peoples opinions or views cloud our faith.

Ephesians 4:14 So that we are no longer children (Spiritually immature) tossed back and forth (like ships on a stormy sea) and carried about by every wind (shifting) doctrine, by the cunning and trickery of (unscrupulous ) men, by the deceitful scheming of people ready to do anything ( for personal profit.) AMP.

Paul was talking to the Ephesians in verse 11 about how Jesus gave himself to the teachers , the apostles, pastors in order to build up the body of Christ. He then goes on to say in verse 13 that we are to build each other up until we reach the full knowledge of Christ.

When we listen to worldly views, peoples opinions, and use that to determine our course of action we become like children being tossed by the waves rooted in fear. We go by what we hear could happen and we try to protect ourselves from the worst case scenario. Sometimes it keeps us from doing something that God may want us to do. I grew up being told to avoid certain areas of Indianapolis because they were not “safe.” I have found that as I have pursued ministry I’ve ended up in many the churches in some of those areas,  and was terrified going there. God took care of me, nothing was taken and no harm came to me but I was tossed around by waves the whole time I was there, how much more could God have ministered or used me had I not been afraid.

Paul goes on to say in verse 15 that if we speak truth in love we grow and mature as a body.

 “Instead, speaking the truth in love, we will grow to become in every respect the mature body of him who is the head, that is, Christ. 16 From him the whole body, joined and held together by every supporting ligament, grows and builds itself up in love, as each part does its work.”

I think Paul’s warning in all this is that Satan will use thoughts, opinions and people to derail us from the loving works God has assigned us to do. As Christians we should encourage each other to do our assignments, build each other up and speak love when someone is faced with the waves of fear.  There were times when I had to pull my son or my nephew from the waves for a moment so they could cough or catch their breath. We need to do that for each other as we are pursuing Christ. When you see your friend start go to under or hit a wave with their mouth open. Give them encouragement, love and help bear their fears.  The other thing that hit me is wave carry things to the shore, away from deep waters. God wants us to go deep with Him, he wants us to trust Him, have a deep firm relationship with him, we can’t let waves of fear carry us away from that deepness he is wanting for us. We have to know the truth in love and continue to grow in to the maturity of Christ to withstand the storms and waves when they come.

Daily Declarations

I’m currently studying the power of words and have realized how powerful they actually are. There is a good study on it in YouVersion called “Words. They become you!” by Pastor Lisa Singh. I am also reading the book by Joyce Myers “Change your words, change your life.” They are both excellent gut checks on how we communicate. I didn’t realize how much I complain or make negative comments. It’s definitely something I need God’s help with.

Myers touches on the power of daily declarations in her book and I am being totally honest, I have always had a hard time with these. It stems back to my child hood when my mother used to have me repeat “Everyday in every way I will get better and better and better.” It made me feel like I must be really terrible If I have to be better in everything.

But in 2016, after I was baptized by the Holy Spirit, I really struggled with depression and a friend of mine gave me  a list of Bible verses that talked about who we are to  Christ. She told me just to read it every day. I did for a few months. By the end I was reading it out loud on my way to work in the mornings and had most of it memorized.  At some point I didn’t need the list anymore. The depression lifted and I no longer beat myself up in my head. I knew I was a child of God.

Myer’s list in her book is very long but really good and I have started saying her list out loud daily, with a few additions of my own. Some of her declarations are far from true now but hopefully I am planting seeds that will lead me into them becoming true.

How do you feel about daily declarations? Do they seem silly or have you seen them work in your life? Leave a comment below.

 

How to Fight Anxiety and Win

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Photo by Alan Cabello on Pexels.com

My daughter has danced at Tippy Toes School of dance since she was 3. This is her 11th and probably last year. She has been part of the Indianapolis Youth Ballet Company, a branch of Tippy Toes, for 3 years. I love watching her dance. I don’t love the anxiety she carries before she dances. This weekend was the performance of the companies ballet “Cinderella” and she was a bundle of nerves all week.

I’m one of those weird people who really don’t experience stage fright. I get excited before I have to walk on stage but not nervous. Not my daughter. She has always done well but she is a bundle of nerves days before. I always thought it had to do with being prepared. Seeing yourself through the experience in your head. No one really ever told me to visualize like that, I just always did, and practiced till it was second nature.

One of my girl scouts gets very nervous whenever she has to do something in front of someone else, even a small group. This weekend my scouts were able to present the American flag before a scouting event. She was so nervous she started asking me how she could get out of holding the flag. I just kept telling her. Breathe, you’ve practiced, everything will be okay. It was, she did a great job.

Anxiety manifests differently for different people. My daughter gets snappy and argumentative and well, angry. Where as my girl scout wanted to just flee the whole situation. The good old fight or flight syndrome in action. When you struggle with anxiety you are constantly caught in this state, fight or flight. Many days where I was filled with anxiety I was angry, frustrated and snapping at my family until the cause of my anxiety ended or not discussed anymore. Its not a fun state of mind to live in. So what is the antidote? Well, for me, its trust.

When I trust in myself or those around me or in the past of what happened last time I faced this giant I always fail. For much of my life that is what I have done. But God invites us to trust in Him. If we could only take our eyes of the situation and trust He’s going to make everything work out for our own good we might not have to struggle so much. That’s a hard thing to do, to learn especially when in the past situations have not ended well. Its hard to trust that the past won’t repeat itself.

But God promises us many things and reminding ourselves of these promises is what helps us to trust in Him. God promises He is making things new so that the past won’t repeat itself, “See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up, do you not perceive it? I am making a way in the wilderness and streams in the wasteland.” Isaiah 43:9

He promises He’s with us, “So do not fear, for I am with you, d not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you, I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.” Isaiah 41:10

He promises He will bring us good, “For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future,”.

Joyce Meyers says, ” You end will be better than your beginning.” That’s the kind of attitude to have when facing daily anxieties. If we can trust in God that the end result will be better we can make it through anything.