Words and Meaning

nscnksdhfaeuhfowh fhorkphdswelw fwhfew.jf.al    fjakdhhduwewxvsherif ls;;pio  

That’s just ridiculous isn’t it? A row of letters randomly typed with no meaning, just a bunch of jabbering and gibberish. But those same letters can be moved around to create real words.    

neck   dance   if   her   fawn   fade   flower   jade   vex   shade

I’m sure I could pick out a few more but the point is that we have twenty six letters with unlimited potential to be used to change the world…my world…your world…your neighbor’s world…the world down the street and the one on the other side of the globe.  

Words, and what they mean, are important.  Sometimes we hear a word and think we know what it means but in reality we really just know the connotation that has shaped our current society’s understanding of the word. Over time a word will have a specific definition that is somehow lost or overrun with the cultural use of the word.    

Take the word gay for example.  The word originally meant happily excited or bright and lively. But obviously that is not how the word is used today.  

IMG_0016 1 (1)

Another such word is meek. We hear that word and probably think of someone who is extremely quiet, easily coerced or run over. And if not exactly a coward at least a pacifist. We equate meekness with weakness.         

If that truly is our understanding of the word then I think we can file it under the I-don’t-think-that-word-means-what-you-think-it-means category. It doesn’t help that most definitions reduce its meaning down to a lack of a willingness to fight or be assertive.   But I think that if we look at the word from a Biblical perspective we will find something much different. The real meaning is embodied by Christ who is our example and we would certainly not say that he was weak or deficient in any way.  

There are two ways the word meek is translated in the Greek. One is prautes which has the connotation of a total lack of self interest. It is a willingness to submit oneself for the good of others. It is the complete opposite of self-will  and can you think of a single greater act of meekness than Christ and the cross?  

Another component to this word in the Greek is praus which is the idea of showing patient restraint ~ someone who is able to remain calm even with great provocation to respond otherwise. Is there any better example of this than Christ standing before Pilot? With one word the wrath of heaven could have come crashing down on all of mankind yet God chose meekness as the means of carrying out His plan restoration.  

It fairly boggles the mind to think of the word meek in that way. When we are called to meekness we are not being called to cower and give way to the other guy out of fear. We are instead called to act on behalf of others and to stand firm with resolve and courage. We stand with the conviction and strength of Christ as our model.  

2021 is already shaping up to be a humdinger of a year. May we meet all of its challenges embodying the meekness of Christ in all that we do.  

 

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Hello 2021!

Jim Elliot once said, “Wherever you are, be all there!”

For some reason that was one of the first thoughts to come to mind this morning before I had even gotten out of bed.

Wherever you are, be all there.

I think for most of the world we may have started saying it in jest and somewhat tongue in cheek, that we just couldn’t wait to see the last of 2020. But somewhere along the way, as everything began to really pile on, I think we began to believe that if we just wished it so the turning of the calendar page would hold some kind of special magic that would ease the brittleness and uncertainty of life right now.

This morning I put up a brand spanking new calendar. I alternate years between Ansel Adams and some kind of folk art theme. I didn’t do it on purpose I just sort of fell into the habit. Last year, Rob gave me a beautiful large calendar of some gorgeous Ansel Adam black and white prints. This year we did a “time” theme for one of our 12 days of Christmas and everyone got a new calendar (except Emmy who didn’t need one so she got a lovely hourglass) and while I was shopping I bought my folksy art one that hangs just outside the main kitchen area.

And in a way there is something promising and magical about all of those blank squares. Opportunities seem to abound. Birthdays and anniversaries and other celebratory moments lay ahead. But the reality is dark days wait too. Bad things will come mixed in with the good and if all we marked time by was the freshness of a new year, the hope of this year being better than last year, then we are doomed to a miserable existence.

Because Covid is still a fact in our lives right now. Mask mandates, limited gatherings, and all the other craziness caused by the world’s reaction to the virus is still here.

The political landscape is still as divisive and unstable as it was on December 31, 2020.

The tension between you and whomever is still there.

The hard situation didn’t just poof away at the stroke of midnight.

Obviously a case can be made for what you need to let go of in the new year. But I’m not writing a blog post about how to step into a fresh new beginning. I’m writing one, probably as much to myself as anyone else, about not just marking time, waiting until whatever the heck 2020 was runs out of steam and we get our lives back.

We don’t get our lives back. This is our life. Now how are we going to walk in that? Just keep trudging along with the same weariness? No. We walk into this new year with Jim Elliot’s words ringing in our ears.

Wherever you are, be all there.

Not because we can somehow muster up enough strength to move the mountain or summon enough inner peace to sail calmly through the panicked seas.

But because He has promised that His mercies are new every morning, not just on January first.

“The steadfast love of the LORD never ceases; his mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is Your faithfulness. “The LORD is my portion”, says my soul, therefore I will hope in Him.” ~Lamentation 3: 22-24

You are, I am, exactly were God has called us to be. Because His love is steadfast, because His mercies know no end, because He is faithful, repent where you need to, forgive where forgiveness is needed, and ask God to give you new eyes to look at the people around you with kindness and humility, and a right perspective about your situation.

Wherever you are, be all there. Don’t live in limbo just waiting for something to be over and done. Don’t live as if the world is going to hell in handbasket.

Live rejoicing that the Light has come! God’s people, more than any others, should be walking into this new year hopeful and smiling. Our God is faithful even in the midst of utter havoc.

Glory be to the Father
and to the Son and to the Holy Ghost,
as it was in the beginning,
is now and ever shall be,
world without end. Amen, amen.

All The Rest of The Days

Man, it looks like I totally jumped ship on the December Photo Project, doesn’t it? But I only did halfway really. I have been faithful to take the images but at some point I got behind in posting and decided to just do one giant catch up post on the December 31st.

I’m seriously considering whether or not to start a 365 project but if I do I will definitely be doing a weekly posting of images. And it will more than likely be on my photography blog which I am happy to invite you to like so you can keep up with my various projects and shenanigans behind the lens.

Back to the matter at hand though. I am happy that I only missed taking a photo once during this year and my number of pictures shared in a timely manner outnumber the image dump I am putting in this post. It’s 2020 people, I am counting it a success.

Day 18 ~ Taken with my cell phone because once I saw the light across the floor in front of the tree I needed to capture it but couldn’t get my camera out.

Day 19 ~ Also, taken with my phone. My son thinks he’s funny. But considering his mother setup and photographed a toilet paper tree complete with a star on top so she could make cards he comes by it honest I guess.

Day 20 ~ Again with the phone but I promise I do have a really nice big camera and I used it during the DPP. I don’t typically carry it to church though and when a dear friend pointed out what a perfect Christmas in Florida summarization she could see from where she sits in church I knew I wanted to include it in the project.

Day 21 ~ My people know me because after my friend pointed me to a good shot the day before my kids all made sure I knew what a pretty photo I could capture of our Advent candles with the tree in the background.

Day 22 ~ Probably the saddest picture I have taken lately. My parents had to put one of their dogs down because he was just so old and poorly. It was emotional to say the least. Pets can add so much to our lives and it is hard to say goodbye even when it is for the best.

Day 23 ~ I spent the morning learning how to make French onion soup and then got to enjoy it with a whole passel of friends later that evening. At one point I looked outside to see some of the little people having a grand time.

Day 24 ~ Tom was a bit fascinated with the ribbon we put on the tree this year. He also likes the wrapping paper and shows up in another shot in a couple of days.

Day 25 ~ Nothing delights me more than giving someone the perfect gift except maybe giving my beloved the perfect gift. Actually, I played Santa’s helper on this one and just guided my children to the perfect gift for their father. Modernist Cuisine is just the gift for any of your foodie people.

Day 26 ~ Quite the adventure this day! The van had been running with zero indication something was wrong until I was trying to make a turn in a major intersection and it just would not stay cranked. Not sure what is going on but we are making do as a one car family this days. Or rather, a one pickup family.

Day 27 ~ Tom making an appearance as promised.

Day 28 ~ Claire-O is really into baking right now and watching the Great British Baking Show. Her Christmas from us was a bunch of pie making supplies and it has already become the gift that keeps giving much to the delight of the whole family.

Day 29 ~ The best looking hand pies were reserved for pictures this morning and them promptly devoured for breakfast.

Day 30 ~ I joined a really great photography group on facebook this year and I’ve really learned a lot and been inspired. A fun trick that I have enjoyed is shooting through a copper pipe. The twinkle lights of the tree make for a really great light source and I love how the image turned out.

Day 31 ~ I realize that the reality of life is that not much will change with the flip of the calendar page tomorrow but one can always be hopeful that such a fresh start, a brand new year, will bring about new things, good things. May a new normal be established and may we all walk faithfully as Christ commands.


DPP ~ Day 17

I was reading in the book of Luke this morning and a passage really jumped out at me.

“Will anyone of you who has a servant plowing or keeping sheep say to him when he has come in from the field, ‘Come at once and recline at table?’ Will he not rather say to him, ‘Prepare supper for me, and dress properly, and serve me while I eat and drink, and afterward you will eat and drink’? Does he thank the servant because he did what was commanded? So you also, when you have done all that you were commanded, say, ‘We are unworthy servants; we have only done what was our duty.'”

It can be so tempting to think what is asked of us in difficult times, in hard times, with difficult and hard people, is too much. More than they deserve, more than we can muster. The betrayal is too deep. The pain too severe. The disregard too great.

The world seems brittle right now; heavy with anxiety and frustration. Tempers flare and injustice is spotted everywhere. It feels like the weight of life has been slowly tipping over and is about to come crashing down as gravity takes over. But according to these words of Jesus the faithful servant still does what is commanded of him. No matter what is being asked of him.

Forgive anyway.

Love anyway.

Serve anyway.

Pray anyway.

Do good anyway.

Encourage each other anyway.

Bear with each other anyway.

Because it is only our duty to do so.

Truly He taught us to love one another
His law is love and His gospel is peace
Chains shall He break, for the slave is our brother
And in His name, all oppression shall cease
Sweet hymns of joy in grateful chorus raise we
Let all within us praise His holy name Christ is the Lord!

DPP ~ Day 16

We finally got a tree up last night and decorated tonight so you can probably expect a little more glittery and sparkly posts in the next few days.

It is actually an artificial tree because the live ones we found locally didn’t balance cost and prettiness at all and it is just too late timewise to go to the cutting farm a little ways away from here. But I really am surprised by how much I love it. Early in our marriage we had an ugly artificial tree. (My love has come a long way from Grinch to Kringle and literally suggesting we put our first Christmas tree in the spare room. Thank goodness for church calendars and becoming more liturgical.)

For those who might be new to my world my son is nineteen and autistic. It has made for some fabulous stories through the years and one of my all time favorites involves that ugly fake tree we had for years and Sam when he was around eight or nine. I had drug the Charlie Brown looking tree out of the attic and was working very hard to assemble and coax some fluff into the branches when Sam comes strolling through the living room and casually says, “Hey, Oswald is back!” and just as casually kept walking toward the kitchen.

When we put the tree up last night I floated the idea by him of naming this one Oswald Jr but it was a no go. Instead we now have a seven and a half foot beautiful prelit tree named Oscar. He is quite dazzling and per the girls’ request he is bedecked in red and gold.

DPP ~ Day 15

Tom. Tom Kitty. Thomas. Tubby Toms. Chunkles. Bunny.

I would say that he answers to all of those names but the truth is he doesn’t answer to any name. At all. In true cat fashion he comes to you when he wishes to and sometimes that might just maybe coincide with when you call him. But it is a total coincidence, trust me. He will come arunnin’ when he hears you shake the cat treat container though.

Or if he hears water running. He loves to chill out with his front paws in the tub when the kids are running bathwater. Actually he will meow and carry on like nobody’s business when Sam goes to take a shower.

The girls made a regrettable mistake when they filled their sink up with a little water for him. He is quite insistent that you turn the faucet on whenever he decides he’s thirsty. Like, obnoxiously so.

But I gotta say, for a girl who grew up taking in every stray dog she came across I have mostly certainly become a cat person. Tom and his brother Milo are sweet company and I love their presence in our home even when they are being big annoying pains in the rumpus.

Inevitably, this is what I will see from the hallway every morning. Him just sitting there waiting for someone to come turn the water on.

Silly cat.

DPP ~ In Which I Missed A Day

It seems that weekends are going to be a tad bit busy this month but I wasn’t expecting to not have a single photo to share from Saturday. I mean, not even a quick snap with my phone? But apparently it was so.

I had pictures from both my phone and my real camera on Friday though. I guess I wanted to make sure I was covered. Plus, the one from my phone? I would have taken it regardless of the dpp challenge. It’s not everyday that you see your 14 year old baby snoozing away with her teddy bear. The in between spaces of full on teenager and still a child squeeze a mama’s heart. Poor girl missed six days of school because of hives but I am happy to say that she has been hive free for three days now and went back to school today.

Day 11 ~ 1st one is from my phone. The second one was just because I liked the play of light and shadow by my bedroom window.

So I am really surprised that I didn’t actually take a picture on Saturday at all. But honestly, I can’t really remember the day well. I told y’all, it’s been busy around here. So right on into Sunday.

Day 13 ~ I love how beautiful our church looks all decorated for Advent and the Christmas season!

I love my African violet and frequently take its picture but the subdued light of our gray morning really caught my eye.

Day 14 ~ This guy thrives in our bathroom with all of the diffused light and steam from the shower. It was a gift from some dear friends and it really just makes me happy to look at it.

So now I am all caught up and I have only actually missed one day so far. Does that get cancelled out because some days I take more than one?

DPP -Day 10

The morning started so very very foggy. I loved how it diffused the sun behind the trees.

Once the fog burned off it was a beautiful day. I did a little running around and took care of some errands. I am so far behind in my Christmas shopping! But I did get a tiny tiny bit done today.

Poor Claire has been home all week dealing with hives and just generally not feeling well. It was so sweet to see her laughing with Rob this evening.

DPP ~ Day 9

The beginning of my day ~
My love. Just in case I didn’t take any other photos.

But I did and while he is my favorite I liked having a Christmas shot for the DPP today since yesterday was a bunch of chopped leeks.

Not sure which I prefer.

Or
Yeah, I think I do actually have a preference afterall. I’m going with the second one. What do you think?