Friday, March 28, 2008

Happy Hollisters and Chocolate Souffle's



You ever follow a special recipe so very carefully, you know, how you get the specific ingredients, and then mix it just so, and bake it at just the right temperature?
Well, this is about what happens when you take out your Chocolate Souffle' and it looks like, tastes like, and smells like scrambled eggs with sausage and bell-peppers.
When I was a little girl I loved to read. That hasn't changed.

One of the book series I LOVED was "The Happy Hollisters".

It was about this wonderful family, set in something like the 1940s or so. They took wonderful family vacations, and always stumbled across mysteries to solve on their trips.
It just met all my needs!

Travel, adventure and idyllic family life!

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Somehow even though those memories were left far behind, and even though I became something of a cynic, and much of a rebel, once I could grasp what Jesus meant for me,

I began to seriously pursue a goal that will continue throughout my life.

Which is to live my life in a way that is pleasing to God, and to the best of my understanding and my ability at any given time, to let Him live in me.

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Not a bad thing at all. The Happy Hollisters aren't bad either. But what IS dangerous is when somehow we unconciously fill in the future we are working towards and dreaming of with sanitary, picture book, happy endings.
Real life, real faith is messy, is hard work, is EXTREMELY unsanitary! It's unplanned, improvised, surprising, and somtimes tragic.

A very wise woman (my mother) once told me that pretty was a face that had perfect porportions, pleasing to the eye. But, that true beauty, was a face that was striking, and would have to have some sort of imperfection that made the face even more satisfying to the eye.

Hopefully that makes sense the way I explained it! The point is, God uses our fallicies, our failures, rebellion and detours, even the tragedies that befall us. For GOOD.

He is not surprised by the u-turns we make. He's not overwhelmed by our rebelliousness.
The Bible is full of stories that should be a strong caution to us, that the road to the Promised Land, is filled with desert. It's filled with giants, and lots and lots of "ites" (think Hittites, etc.).

The path we take in the pursuit of the dream He places in our heart, is filled with pit-falls we seem to dig our ownselves.

Think Abraham + Sarah + a perceived delay = + Hagar = Ishmael
(my version of Bible algebra!)

"And Sarai said unto Abram,
Behold now, the LORD hath restrained me from bearing: I pray thee, go in unto my maid; it may be that I may obtain children by her. and Abram hearkened to the voice of Sarai. (no kidding!) ...And he went in unto Hagar, and she conceived: and when she saw that she had conceived, her mistress was despised in her eyes."
Yeah, not such a great idea...
And God was still able to fulfill His promise to Abraham and Sarah, even after this!
Then there's how He makes good come out of our perceived foibles...like so:

How about Paul and Barnabas disagreeing about the departure of John Mark? Their polite agreement to disagree resulted in them splitting, to go in different areas for mission work.

Now twice the area is covered. Not bad, eh?

Saul thought he was serving God, as he zealously persecuted Christians. He was practically a fire-breathing monster on the trail to hunt them down. He was hot on the path when Jesus stopped him in his tracks. When Jesus temporarily closed his natural eyes, his spiritual eyes were forever opened. He was transformed by that encounter with Jesus, to a church planting, disciple making man of God. God was able to meet him in his misconceptions and sin.

Seeming Tragedy Turned to Heroine at Work!

When little Hadassah, raised as a Hebrew, was called to the King's Palace, to participate in a year long regime of beauty treatments and whatever else was required in the pagan environment, it was not looking like this could ever be something the would be pleasing to God.

To put her environment in perspective, it would be something like a young Amish girl being sent, in answer to a call by the President, for all young, single, beautiful women to be sent to the Harem Headquarters for an Extreme Makeover, while filmed on the reality show Real World, and then at the end of the season participating in The Bacherlorette and then Bridezilla.

Well, you get the idea. This was an extreme culture shock, and wouldn't have looked or felt anything like the hand of God at work in her life.Yet, Hadassah became Esther, and she saved her whole people through her humility, purity, wisdom and bravery!

God is sovereign. He has taken into account our carnal nature, even while making provision for us to live according to our regenerated spiritual nature.

What does this mean to me? To you?

It means we as parents, often try too hard (many times thinking we aren't) to follow a Christian Recipe to get an expected "product". When the dish (our children) we worked so hard on, thinking it would be a chocolate souffle', turns out to be scrambled eggs with bell peppers and sausage, we are so shocked and panic stricken.

We think, "But that is not what I prepared! How could this be? What have I done?"

But, as much as scrambled eggs with sausage and bell-peppers look, smell and taste very different from a chocolate souffle' - there is just as much pleasure for some, in eating one as the other.

This post comes from many thoughts this week, as I have considered how two children, who are great young men, that both love the Lord, have charted VERY different courses for their lives than I pictured in the rosy gardens of my mind.

Each of them as they became young men, transformed into people we no longer recognized, from the squeaky-clean, little, bright-eyed boys we raised.

They are still very young, their futures stretch out in front of them. It's a little misty on the path, and none of us can see the horizon.

But, I am encouraged that God has gone before them. He has charted a path for them, that will incorporate all their quirks, strengths, desires, weaknesses to create a Masterpiece for each of them. Because, Master that He is, He will be glorified in their lives.

It's been hard not to listen to the sly voice that wants to say - "I can't think of any other family that has put the effort into raising their children that you have - that got results that looked like this or sounded like this...what have you done wrong?"

We love our sons AND we are humbled to be their parents, to be enstrusted with that privlege. God uses them each in unique ways. They reach people I am ill equipped to converse with, much less inspire, or lead to Christ. Where I have been unsuccessful at evangelizing, my sons seem to do it seemingly by accident, (it's not really, but it sorta seems that way).

Earlier in the week, I shared a portion of scripture that was my devotional reading Monday morning. Hebrews 3:7-8. It led me to read all of Chapter 3 & 4. I am very familiar with these chapters, and have studied them often. I knew what I was being impressed at that moment. Those verse are about BELIEVING God for His promise to us, entering into His rest, against all odds, no matter what current circumstances look like. He was reminding me that in my prayer the night before, I had decided to hold fast to my belief in Him on a very unlikely issue.

Later in the week, I was given the opportunity, many, many times to come back to those scriptures and just believe Him. It is my hope that struggles you may be having, that look messy, and that are faith challenging, can be looked at in light of the ability and propensity of God to do the unexpected, the grand, the sublime, the beautiful instead of the pretty!

I really like the idea of a chocolate souffle', but I've never had one. I think scrambled eggs and sausage might be better for me.

"But Christ the Messiah was faithful over His own Father's house as a Son and Master of it. And it is we who are now members of this house, if we hold fast and firm to the end our joyful and exultant confidence and sense of triumph in our hope in Christ."

Hebrews 3:6

12 comments:

Hey it's Amy Shipp said...

Oooh your Souffle' sounds divine! I will have to try that out. ♥

Heehee: harem headquarters, for an extreme make-over! you are so cute! :D I love that visual... I am sure that must have been what it was like... Thanks for stopping by! I missed you!!

luvmy4sons said...

Sweet sister...I think I am reading well between the lines. Ih ave so been there...getting a different kind of souffle than I thought I had mixed up...and it is so true that God takes what is apprently not a blessing and makes it into one. I love how Joseph put it to his borthers. What you intended for evil God intended for good. I KNOW that you have been a conscientious, faithful parent...it is hard waiting for our children to find their own ways and allow them to make wrong choices so that they too might learn of grace and forgiveness first hand. Praying for your lovely family dear sister! Love the pink!

Denise said...

I love those beautiful flowers. You, and your dear family are in my prayers.

MelanieJoy said...

I was just thinking yesterday how my nephew and niece or totally opposite! My nephew is four and talks so grown up. It's unreal some of the things he says. I told his mom the otherday I can not wait to see what God has in store for their futures. Prayers for your family!

Sharon Brumfield said...

A good word.
And I love the new look.

Carole said...

I think you are a born preacher.

Joyful Days said...

This was a wonderful post, Maria. My sons are growing into "themselves" more and more each day, vs. the framed picture perfect ideas I had for them. Frankly I think they know better than me sometimes!! :) I guess I just feel like the bumpers that keeps them in a safe zone and they chart the rest.

I had someone try to chastise me for letting them grow their hair long. I was really very frustrated because their hair does not define their heart. Their hearts are much nicer than mine, that's for sure.

Trying not to wish away our lives--but I do so want to see how it will all work out. I'm impatient.

Blessings to you!!

Julie

Irritable Mother said...

You are such an encouragement to me. Thank you!!!
God will do what He will do - in spite of my best efforts. I am so glad I can trust HIM.

StaceyStace said...

I am a living example that God can bring good out of bad "even after this". I am so stubborn and self-centered that I would have destroyed myself long ago, if not for the redeeming power of God. Praise Him!

Tiffany said...

Good Post Maria! I love your blog's new look, too! I'm sorry I haven't gotten my March marriage post up, but I guess I'll just have to have 2 in April! Love ya!

Nicki said...

Great post, very truthful....your momma does have some wise words..many that I need to take to heart even today! Hope you're having a good Monday!!

freetofly said...

Hi, Amy! Tee-hee! Thanks! I had a chuckle with that myself! And I missed you, too! As Ah-nold says "I'll be back!"

Leslie, You're on track! Thanks so very much for all your kindness, prayers and friendship! It means so much to me. (and your fashion consulting as well!) ;)

Denise, thank you very much! On all counts!

Melanie Joy, all I can say is buckle up, pray up and savor the moments!

Sharon, thanks you! Miss you! Hope you're hanging in there! Still praying for you.

Carole, Praying for your bil's surgery! And you're either funny or sweet, I'm not sure which! (or Both!) :)

Well, I qualify as far as the weak and the foolish thing goes, and that's about it! I guess EVERY Mom is a little bit of a preacher! Ha!!

When I was 5, I use to pretend to be a priest (because I was raised Catholic & was so taken with the reverential way they conducted the service) and an author...time went by and I forgot those things until my late 30s & it seems I came full circle, bc THEN I began having dreams (waking and sleeping dreams)of both, (not a priest but a preacher/teacher something(I'm not a Catholic as an adult)). As I couldn't understand what to do with the things in my heart and the visuals in my mind, I shelved them (like we many do). By now (7ish yrs later) I'm just contented & focused on one day at a time...there'd have to be a burning bush or something remarkable for me to step out beyond what small things I do now. This is WAY more than you asked for I know...but, no other response seemed appropriate...I've resigned myself to being a bit of an oddball! :) Thanks for being a sport!

Julie, I SO hear you & agree! I too am impatient to fast forward (you know, to "peek at the end of the book"). Oh the peace we could have (or so it seems). But as my oldest son told me, "then it wouldn't be faith mom!" LOL!

You're SO right, God looks on the heart! I need to like put that up on yellow stickies all over the house!

Karen, you're welcome & thank YOU! You always do the same for me! Still loving that brokenness message!

Stacey, so true for me & you & everyone! The only differences are some are blessed to realize and some are still searching for that understanding. Not enough is understood of His mercy OR His justice. BOTH are important to pursue knowledge of.

Hi, Tiff! Don't you worry about it! It's the kind of thing that you just have to "flow" with it, and never feel like you have to force it! I just look forward to when you do post! I know it will be great! Love to you, too! Oh, and thanks!

Nicki, Thank you so much! My Mama would say thanks to!

Thanks bunches, Ya'll! Hope you are having a good week!

What Does it Mean Anyway? "Free to Fly"...

Well, it's like this: Here are some of the Webster's Dictionary definitions of Free: a : having the legal and political rights of a citizen b : enjoying civil and political liberty c : enjoying political independence or freedom from outside domination d : enjoying personal freedom : not subject to the control or domination of another2 a : not determined by anything beyond its own nature or being : choosing or capable of choosing for itself...having a scope not restricted by qualification 7 a : not obstructed, restricted, or impeded ...Now, here are some of the Webster's Dictionary definitions of Fly:1 a : to move in or pass through the air with wings b : to move through the air or before the wind or through outer space c : to float, wave, or soar in the air ... a : to take flight ...6 : to work successfully ...Examples which apply from Websters: fly high : to be elated - fly in the face of or fly in the teeth of : to stand or act forthrightly or brazenly in defiance or contradiction of

What does this mean in my life? This means that in life we are meant to be free. While historically mankind has not always enjoyed the opportunity to fully appreciate what that means, we are so indescribably fortunate as to live in a time of the greatest spiritual, physical, financial and political freedom ever known. Freedom doesn't come cheap, nor does it come easy. But the best things in life don't come that way do they? As I write this I am struck by how this sounds like a political statement, and for me this is much more of a spiritual thing, but, same goes for that (political that is). Freedom doesn't come easy. And it's worth whatever fight you have to make to overcome in your life in order to live a life that succeeds. Now the questions is - what is success for you? What is your standard? In my mind what is needed is a definite target - because you can't hit and maintain a moving target. A stable, rock-solid, anchor with no variable, yet multi-faceted. Something pure, just and worthy. If you look at any web page of news you can see that our society is certainly lacking in this area. What a great time to live as a rebel! Nowadays to be a rebel, all you have to do is be willing to engage in the battle of life, while anchored to Christ!