Putting the FUN in Funeral

Not many people understand that my grandmother‘s visitation and funeral were happy occasions for my family and I. I mean that in the best way possible–not that we’re happy she died and we no longer have her here on this earth–but we’re happy she’s with her Jesus, singing praises to Him and experiencing the splendors of Heaven with her body completely restored.

This has been the best Friday night ever,” said my nine year-old little cousin after my grandmother’s four-hour long visitation. She and my other little cousin held the door for visitors all evening long and even asked the funeral director how old you had to be to get a job there. Typical Young.

I was practically raised in the funeral home. If there was a visitation, no matter if they were our family, friends, or just an acquaintance, my family went. I’ve spent many an evening there. The directors know my family by name and go out of their way to come speak to us. Lots of friends my age do not understand this. Some of them have never even been to a funeral (which just blows my mind)! To me, going to the funeral home for one who is saved is a celebration of their life and a celebration of their home-going. Yes, I cried several times…that’s normal, but to see so many friends and family gathered to honor a life well-lived also always makes me smile! Quite honestly, it’s almost like a party.

To the ones who get that, thank you! If you just don’t get it, I hope that you one day will.

When planning my grandmother’s funeral, we were able to joke with most of the staff at Kerr Brothers. That’s exactly what my quick-witted grandmother would’ve wanted, too. They kept me laughing all morning long! After all was said and done, I told the main man who was helping us that they sure did know how to put the “FUN” in “funeral!” And they really do–if you let them!

If I may, I would like to share a few things I have observed and learned throughout this process that will perhaps help you in some way–whether to give you an idea of how to comfort a friend following the death of a loved one or to give you an idea of how to honor your loved one.

My Advice to Funeral Planners

Give people something personal to remember your loved one. We put a basket full of my grandmother’s most-requested apple cake recipe next to the guest book.

Make your loved one’s funeral personal. Play their favorite hymns. Display unique awards. Show the funny pictures. Lay out their Bible for people to flip through.

Make a slideshow. According to countless cousins and their mothers, I need to start a business making slideshows for weddings, birthdays, graduations, and funerals. Windows Movie Maker, people. Add a nice slide transition and people will think you worked really hard. “The only money you’ll be out is the business cards to set out at the funeral home.” Yes, I heard this multiple times.

Wear flats to the visitation. I could kick myself with my heels for not doing this. I knew better.

Take pictures. It’s rare to have so much family gathered all at one time. Make the most of the opportunity and take a picture, even if it annoys all the cousins. You’re sure to treasure it for years to come.

Make sure you have easily accessible tissues during the funeral. I played the prelude with my mom for my grandmother’s funeral and did not get to sit next to my purse as I had previously planned. This left me without any Kleenex…pretty much the worst feeling ever when you’re sitting in the front row bawling your eyes out as your mom sings “Serenaded by Angels.” This scenario led to my older, braver cousin walking out to find Kleenex and returning with a long, endless string of toilet paper for us to share. Hilarious!

To Funeral Goers

If you are looking to take food to a friend whose loved one just passed away, I am going to suggest a breakfast item. (In our case, our church was wonderful about providing food for after the funeral and throughout the week we had this new-found freedom of being able to go out to eat all together, so full-blown meals weren’t exactly necessary.) Our sweet friend Terri brought us a huge, cheery basket of assorted delicious items from Great Harvest Bread Co. that included a loaf of some kind of lemon tea bread, muffins, and oatmeal chocolate chip cookies. My mom’s sweet coworker brought us two loaves of homemade pumpkin chocolate chip bread which has also come in handy in the mornings.

If you’re looking to buy a casket spray or a gorgeous arrangement of flowers, look no further than E. Stephen Hines Florist. The best bang for your buck. (We also received a lovely afghan and a beautiful windchime, which is a great alternative to flowers for people with brown thumbs like myself.)

Gift Cards
One of the sweetest things we have received is money to go out to eat. Some days you just don’t feel like cooking.

Send one. Sign your own name. Add a Bible verse. It really means a lot.

What Not to Say
“Are there any special men in your life?” Surprisingly, out of 197 people speaking to me in one evening, I only got this question about 3 times. There are lots of special men in my life, but I would hope if there were an extra special man in my life, this question would not have to be asked because it would be obvious.

Hugs are always appropriate at funerals! Squeeze the family to pieces.

If God lays it on your heart to do something, just do it. Offer to haul some garbage. Help rearrange furniture. Vacuum the house. Take the food. Oh, the food. If you don’t believe in the sovereignty of God, you should’ve looked in my refrigerator on Friday afternoon. Not only did we have assorted breakfast items, we had a feast that was perfect for lunch on the go and post-visitation eats. My cousin’s daughter decided to make us two huge trays of ham and turkey sandwiches sliced in quarters. Our friend Joyce brought all kinds of canned drinks and bottled water. Our friend Judy dropped by with a big pot of homemade vegetable beef soup. Our friend Tim brought a red velvet cake his wife had made. Our friend Annette brought a large container of coffee. That’s not even everything, but the beautiful thing is none of these people talked to the other and they just dropped by. Amazing! (My two-cents: One thing that would be really helpful to drop off to someone is paper plates and cups. Chips would be something easy but useful as well.)

That’s the best advice I can give. If God lays it on your heart, no matter how odd it seems, DO IT. You will be a blessing. 

I’m so thankful God blessed us with happy and humorous memories during this whole experience. His mercies never end! As my mom said to our Red Lobster waiter who asked what we were celebrating when we went out to dinner the night of my grandmother’s death, “We’re celebrating a life well-lived.” May you find ways to celebrate God’s grace even in the sad times.

one thousand gifts: one year later {gifts #2350-2380}

“Bless the LORD, O my soul,
and all that is within me,
bless His holy Name!
Bless the LORD, O my soul,
and forget not all His benefits,
who forgives all your iniquity,
who heals all your diseases,
who redeems your life from the pit,
who crowns you with steadfast love and mercy,
who satisfies you with good
so that your youth is renewed like the eagle’s.” 

{Psalm 103:1-5} 

Today is my one-year anniversary of counting the thousands of ways God shows me grace every single day. I am increasingly enamored by the countless ways He proves His love–even in the seemingly small things.

“All is grace,” says Ann Voskamp, and after 365 days of listing proof of how all is truly grace, I wholeheartedly agree. Everything God gives and everything God withholds.  It’s ALL grace that is being worked together for my good! Every single detail of my life is intricately being woven together for God’s glory by His grace.

By counting His gifts of grace each day–even the hard ones–I’ve seen more of His glory. As I’ve glimpsed more of His glory, I’ve realized more and more how sinful I really am, which in turn has only made me see more fully the overwhelming depths of His grace. And that leads to only one response: gratitude.

All’s grace.

2348. an advocate mirroring my Heavenly Advocate
2349. clarinet runs

A glimpse of my Monday

2350. running into coach cravens–his sweet disposition during our conversation which was filled with his priceless, seasoned wisdom (and a ring check. hahaha!)
2351. finally getting menchie’s with erin!!!!
2352. south carolina bbq
2353. misty sprinkle fundamental blocks with a cup o’ joe and joe stretches

2354. teaching saxophone?
2355. “do you have a line?”
2356. grace that comes when you are trying new things and your patience is tested
2357. hashbrown casserole
2358. a “see-you-later” kerry college send-off extravaganza at joseph-beth cafe. 4 years later, i realize i have been so blessed to invest

2359. seeing pics of kiddos going back to school and celebrating my mom’s last first day of school–praying ephesians 1:16-18 for all of them
2360. good eye doctor reports
2361. “she was cute” remark from old lady on the elevator
2362. sightreading through 3 books on piano purely for fun

2363. being refreshed by the Word {colossians 1 | isaiah 45}
2364. seeing the hospice bath girl at chick-fil-a…both of us claiming our free chicken minis
2365. office hilarity! shaking toner cartridges, voting on how to fix the email, not having a hole puncher, russian mail brides, and anorexic cows
2366. ava: “i’m not married. i don’t even have a ring.”
2367. seeing pics of former students at college!
2368. being “hard to get” hahaha!
2369. free mexican soup on a rainy day
2370. “a person who isn’t making any mistakes probably isn’t doing anything” -encouraging word from my boss…after i made a mistake…
2371. late night menchie’s drive with dad–cool night with the top down
2372. celebrating year 55 with my generous mr. lovewell dad
2373. meeting charla and her mom at the mall to catch up for a little while

2374. two weeks notice
2375. amusing texts
2376. but by His OWN blood {hebrews 9}

2377. country roads to windy corner market for lunch with my ate and micheal

2378. vitamin d kissing my skin
2379. mom’s blueberry pie
2380. skyping with kerry at college when in her best southern belle accent, she gasps and says, “oh, i think i need to go get my laundry!” tears ensued.

“To see the glory, name the graces.”

Since reading One Thousand Gifts, I started my own journal of grace-gifts God blesses me with every day. I will spare listing all of them here, but I will try to share some of my favorites every Monday. 

Gathering Manna Every Morning {Exodus 16:21}

“They gathered manna every morning.”
{Exodus 16:21}

Labour to maintain a sense of thine entire dependence upon the Lord’s good will and pleasure for the continuance of thy richest enjoyments. Never try to live on the old manna, nor seek to find help in Egypt. All must come from Jesus, or thou art undone for ever. Old anointings will not suffice to impart unction to thy spirit; thine head must have fresh oil poured upon it from the golden horn of the sanctuary, or it will cease from its glory. Today thou mayest be upon the summit of the mount of God, but He who has put thee there must keep thee there, or thou wilt sink far more speedily than thou dreamest. Thy mountain only stands firm when He settles it in its place; if He hide His face, thou wilt soon be troubled. If the Saviour should see fit, there is not a window through which thou seest the light of heaven which He could not darken in an instant. Joshua bade the sun stand still, but Jesus can shroud it in total darkness. He can withdraw the joy of thine heart, the light of thine eyes, and the strength of thy life; in His hand thy comforts lie, and at His will they can depart from thee.

This hourly dependence our Lord is determined that we shall feel and recognize, for He only permits us to pray for “daily bread”, and only promises that “as our days our strength shall be.” Is it not best for us that it should be so, that we may often repair to his throne, and constantly be reminded of His love? Oh! how rich the grace which supplies us so continually, and doth not refrain itself because of our ingratitude! The golden shower never ceases, the cloud of blessing tarries evermore above our habitation. O Lord Jesus, we would bow at Thy feet, conscious of our utter inability to do anything without Thee, and in every favour which we are privileged to receive, we would adore Thy blessed Name and acknowledge Thine unexhausted love.

{from one of my very favorites: Charles H. Spurgeon’s Morning & Evening ~ July 16 morning}

one thousand gifts {#2157-2195}

“Can we find a friend so faithful
Who will all our sorrows share?”

{“What a Friend We Have in Jesus”} 

I’m still learning that no matter how many friends I surround myself with, confide in, and trust, the only one who will never fail me or disappoint me is Jesus Christ. He loved me ere I knew Him–He knew I would be a jerk-faced sinner who rebelled against all His plans for me, but He loved me so much that He saved me from that, clothed me with His spotless righteousness, and made me a joint-heir of His Kingdom.
What a Friend!

2157. hymn-stuffing envelopes
2158. leftover lunch with funny dad and aunt janna. cheap therapy, really.
2159. beer cheese blt’s and lots of summer veggies. yum!

2160. laughs with sadie-sue and amy
2161. starbucks. the gift He gave? the privilege of sitting in the car and praying for every fellow customer and barista i could see. oh to be a light.
2162. an evening swim with mom under a GORGEOUS full moon
2163. waving at an old friend in front of me at a drive-thru window
2164. building a payment portal in record time
2165. my job being so eclectic
2166. a most chatty lady about silicone brownies (?)
2167. when everything flows together so well and God brings one overarching truth to light through so many verses from so many different women: thoughts stayed on Him.
2168. hurting people excited about sharing the Gospel. what a smile!
2169. celebrating freedom that comes by dependence
2170. working on my day off–so good to catch up on jobs 2 & 3
2171. precious pops piccolo soloists
2172. gathering with my church family mid-week to be reminded of truth
2173. losing it (again) in the lifeway clearance aisle
2174. a sweet phone call from a treasured sister
2175. exploding insulin
2176. breakfast at the barrel and sweet chats with ashley

2177. lunch with aunt janna
2178. dying leaves falling and scaring me to death
2179. oasis with ellen and hearing how God is making her more into His image
2180. krispy kreme with kristen. “there were tongues.” o.O cue uncontrollable laughter.
2181. a letter from the hatchers in brazil
2182. kind words from a quiet student
2183. lunch surprise at the giftbox

2184. dropping off presents and old men selling ale8s
2185. puccini’s paparazzi pizza and a side salad with ranch
2186. audrey assad to start the day
2187. jamie grace to keep me going
2188. 28 years
2189. brunch by dad: steak, eggs, cookie butter

2190. ungame with shanna and mom
2191. being saved from a wasp by my ate and a broom
2192. knowing that spiritually bankrupt me has become a joint-heir with Christ
2193. sharing my heart
2194. making baby shower decor for a girl! it’s been a long time.
2195. ♪ can we find a friend so faithful?

Since reading One Thousand Gifts, I started my own journal of grace-gifts God blesses me with every day. I will spare listing all of them here, but I will try to share some of my favorites every Monday. 

one thousand gifts {#2039-2156}

“Oh give thanks to the Lord, for He is good;
for His steadfast love endures forever!”

{Psalm 118:1} 

It’s been several weeks since I posted my One Thousand Gifts list. I’ve been too busy savoring each good gift to post about them. My grandparents came up for a week and then I went to Orlando right after they left for The Gospel Coalition’s Women’s Conference. (It has been a long time since I have actually felt rested after a night’s sleep, and that finally happened after the first night I was in Florida. This is perhaps one of the most wonderful gifts on this list!)

The thousands of ways God shows His love to me continues to blow me away.
He is good. He is good. And His love endures. Forever.

2039. showers reminding of 7 years
2040. a good pen…let it shine!
2041. reading and writing all day and starting to understand
2042. old men at mcdonald’s asking for extra crispy fries and holding the door saying, “and you don’t even have to tip me.”
2043. surprising friends with a going-away potluck
2044. laughs along with sadie. God is sovereign…true.
2045. apparently i look the same in real life as i do in my facebook profile picture. good to know. haha!
2046. hearing of others starting their own gifts list
2047. phantom regiment blaring with windows down and a man jogging to the beat
2048. anticipation
2049. klutziness: dropped sandwiches and diet coke
2050. hugging my beautiful mema ♥
2051. hugging my papa’s sweet, sweaty neck
2052. Bible study with some precious ladies
2053. that professional and spiritual development is encouraged where i work
2054. praying for friends. letting go.
2055. rejoicing in good news about harry with the church fam!
2056. home for lunch ♥
2057. riding in the backseat with my papa
2058. {habakkuk 3:17-20}
2059. hersh getting his visa
2060. macbee peaches for breakfast!
2061. watching God provide during the bob brown board meeting. oh hamburger. 🙂
2062. a “stink bug” hehe!
2063. super kind-hearted mr. b donating menchie’s for saturday’s bob brown concert {ephesians 3:20-21}
2064. mema fixing me lunch
2065. wooosh
2066. the waltons & relient k {ben walton looks like matt thiessen if you’ve never noticed}

2067. friendly menchie’s people
2068. grand night with mom & mema

2069. eating breakfast with my mema
2070. watching my two favorite men work

2071. menchie’s selling well at bob brown

2072. mariachi bands & cloggers–my ears had quite the treat
2073. discussing our last name over dinner
2074. meeting an acquaintance
2075. hearing my mema tell how she & papa came to know the Lord on the same night. precious. ♥
2076. hearing the Gospel CLEARLY proclaimed
2077. rescued
2078. mema’s squash perfectly squished

2079. hearing the adorably hilarious story of how my grandparents met over “sun-dee” dinner
2080. an elbow to the head and poke to the side

2081. papa preaching on prayer.
2082. a pregnant nikki hug
2083. singing “i hear the words of love” over and over in the office. so quiet.
2084. squishing around the kitchen table for lunch. ♥
2085. ♪ let’s call the whole thing off ♪ ha!
2086. new amazing pens. sharpie retractables.
2087. hand hugs making everything better 🙂
2088. eating breakfast with my papa
2089. lunch around the family table
2090. krispy kreme with kristen after work
2091. picking up my ate and taking her home
2092. plate tacos and serving them
2093. hearing what God is teaching my fellow sisters in Christ and stepping OUT of my comfort zone to share what He’s teaching me

2094. my papa fixed my bedroom light to where it turns on and off by my bed. love that talented man! no more pulling out my dresser!!!!
2095. cleaning out lettuce and other nasties from the sink
2096. a kiss on the head from my mema ♥
2097. {philippians 1:6}
2098. life advice at the breakfast table from my mema
2099. hugs & love & see-you-laters

2100. caramel starbucks coffee brewing in the office coffeepot
2101. designing a graphic
2102. fitting it all in
2103. being greeted by name at the bank
2104. a boss who promotes both professional AND spiritual development
2105. being tested for explosives, but a relatively easy security check
2106. alltech angus
2107. pretzels & a coke at 29,000 feet

2108. meeting sisters from maryland
2109. a cranky taxi driver: “do you need me to speak spanish or something?”
2110. red lobster. popcorn shrimp.
2111. a flooding ice machine room, $3 drinks, and a sister joking she’d already blown her budget and she’ll have to tell her husband, “i just HAD to have that diet coke with my pizza.”
2112. finally feeling rested and breakfast in bed
2113. lunch poolside and kind people ready to serve

2114. “You preserve the Gospel by giving it away.” –DA Carson
2115. “The devil can gum you, but his fangs are gone.” –John Piper
2116. the lollipop of the Gospel
2117. He saves us “on eagle’s wings” –by sheer grace {exodus 19}
2118. glimpsing the majesty mingled with misery in mercy {isaiah 6}
2119. hearing how the Gospel has gone forth in dubai and longing to have beautiful feet where i’m planted
2120. “If you want to be like Jesus, you have to behold Him.” –Nancy Leigh DeMoss
2121. seeing the beauty of God in revelation 4, 5, 21,  & 22, and anticipating seeing Him face-to-face
2122. phase 10 in the hotel next to rain-washed windows
2123. vic firth percussive pepper mills

2124. hanging out with debby and jim cantoresque palm trees poolside

2125. finishing “just do something
2126. a most hideous salad
2127. relaxing
2128. a kind haitian taxi driver
2129. getting swabbed for explosives behind a lady holding a chihuahua
2130. getting some starjazz for the…sky!
2131. kid behind me on the plane saying, “hey! there’s the ocean!” as we made our descent into lexington
2132. mexican for lunch with the fam
2133. reflecting
2134. “it looks like a girl uses this bathroom”
2135. random texts from friends to brighten my day
2136. 205 letters and only one papercut
2137. the privilege of carrying everything to God in prayer
2138. listening to an evangelistic challenging piper message by the pool {colossians 2:4-6}

2139. a healthy tilapia dinner, low blood sugar, and menchie’s
2140. a surprise crepe for lunch and fruit!
2141. “i’m sorry you had to sit on a train”
2142. evening swim, finishing “not a fan” and a low.
2143. new salad. blueberry, corn, & feta. yum!
2144. a confused man looking for architects
2145. a funny mailman
2146. customers who talk like johnny cash
2147. vic firth peppermills at work. three of my worlds colliding.
2148. fun dinner conversation turned into a theological discussion
2149. uno & phase 10 with kerry. creamed at menchie’s. 

2150. putting out wildfires at stoplights on man-o-war
2151. saul good, menchie’s, and watching “brave” with shanna. love that animated curly red hair.
2152. i love lucy marathons
2153. that God uses nobodies
2154. spicy pepper parks beef
2155. crispix on hashbrown casserole. wow!
2156. listening to a piper sermon on being “pure in heart” in the pool (and ziploc bags to keep my phone dry. awesome.)

Since reading One Thousand Gifts, I started my own journal of grace-gifts God blesses me with every day. I will spare listing all of them here, but I will try to share some of my favorites every Monday. 

In the Third Heaven: The God Who Can’t Be Talked About {TGCW12-Jenny Salt}

“In the Third Heaven: The God Who Can’t Be Talked About” | 2 Corinthians 12:1-10
The Gospel Coalition Women’s Conference 2012
Session #5 | Jenny Salt

link to official website

Where do we get our bearings for life? 

The world says to boast about the things that are impressive about you. But, if the Gospel is our GPS, our attitude about boasting will be turned upside-down.

1) Paul shows what Gospel-boasting is. (vs. 1-6)
-Right at the point he’s being criticized, he brings up a low-point in his life–a time that could’ve been seen as pathetic. (ch. 11:30-33)
-Paul speaks in third person, distancing himself from something that would make him seem wonderful. In this context, God cannot be talked about.
-It will stop us from boasting about things that make me look right.
-Whitfield prayed to be spared from the “fiery furnace of popularity” and from the “hosannas of the multitude.”

2) Causes us to boast about our weakness. (vs. 7-10)
-God is sovereign. Nothing happens outside His will.
-There are painful things that happen without no seeming good. BUT Romans 8:28.
-But there was a purpose for the thorn: to keep Paul humble. It pinned him to the ground and held him fast to the Lord in trust and in confidence.
-In the midst of the suffering, His grace is sufficient.
-The more we recognize our weakness, the more we see Christ’s enabling strength. (2 Corinthians 1; 2:13; 9; 1 Corinthians 1) The greater our trouble, the greater our comfort. In our weakness, we are driven to depend on God alone. ♪Nothing in my hand I bring. Simply to the cross I cling. ♪ You bring nothing. He brings everything. 

I have learned to kiss the wave that pushes me against the Rock of Ages. -Charles H. Spurgeon

♪Let the weak say I am strong / Let the poor say I am rich / Because of what the Lord has done for us ♪

{Be sure to read the introductory post to my TGCW12 reviews.}

In the Temple: The Glorious & Forgiving God {TGCW12-Paige Benton Brown}

“In the Temple: The Glorious & Forgiving God” | 1 Kings 8
The Gospel Coalition Women’s Conference 2012
Session #2 | Paige Benton Brown

link to official website

>>I AM lovingly promises “I’m in.” But how in is He?<<

He is the inhabitant God in the building.
-The temple is an absolute, unique place where His presence is–in the cloud. The cloud reveals and conceals His glory. It reminds them who He is to them, but doesn’t change who He is to them.
-The shakinah glory doesn’t come in with the gold, furnishings, or the king, but with the ark. It’s about the covenant, not the cloud.
-What’s in the ark? The handwritten code of His will for us. He comes in with His words, not theirs. Those tablets are covered with the mercy seat. We can’t meet Him at the ark, we have to meet Him at the altar.
-Where God comes in: Indescribable splendor and gore.
-A celebration of the FULFILLED promises of God. (vs. 23, 26) You’ve kept Your promises, so keep Your promises.
-Their proclamation leads to petition (vs. 28). YET. The Gospel is never “so that” or “therefore.” It is always “yet” or “but.” The grammar of grace is not causitive, but always contradictory.
-He has to meet the  need (forgiveness) to move to the purpose (relationship).
-The Temple is not so much a place for them to see, it is a place for them to be seen by His glory.
-Exclusiveness (vs. 53- We’re Your favorite.) “Israel: Last in importance, obedience, and loyalty. First in the heart of God.”
-The Temple is a bridge, not a barrier. He sees them through the atoning blood.
-The glory of God eclipsed the temple, but soon–the glory of God was eclipsed by the temple. They dedicated it, then desecrated it. But as He’s leaving the temple, He’s making promises over His shoulder…bigger and better ones! 

He’s no longer an inhabitant God in a building, but an incarnate God in a body. He’s in!
-The Temple in a Person (John 1:14) He was evicted from the temple. (Matthew 21- Cleansing His house, the architectural temple.)
-God does not forgive sin. He can’t. He forgives sinners, but sin has to be paid for.
-Because I have taken glory that is not mine, He has taken a place that is not His.
-The temple is over when He says, “It is finished.”
‎♪Well may the accuser roar of sins that I have done. I know them all and thousands more, Jehovah knoweth none.♪
Beyond the best, there’s a better. (John 16) He goes again, once again making better and bigger promises.

Now, He becomes the indwelling God in our bodies!
-He comes visibly just like He has every other time, meaning “I’m in!” (Acts 2)
-That makes US temples of the living God. The glory was not in the room, but in THEM.
-Indwelling is what changes us.
-The temple isn’t a picture of us. It IS us! The facets of our templeness? Glory, Word, living sacrifices, prayer.
-We have the fullness of Him. He should have the fullness of us.
-We are filled. There ain’t no room for anything else. (2 Corinthians 6- We ARE, so BE.)
-Does _____ square with my templeness?
-Titus 1…claim to know God, but by their lives deny Him.
-None of it is up to me because He is in me. He fills ALL of me. We are Spirit-filled; not in the flesh. (Romans 8)
-If He can overcome my death, He can overcome my habits!

He becomes the inviting God, asking us to come in. 
-He comes for us and says, “You’re in!” 

-He is coming so that “Where I am, you will be also–forever with Him in glory.” 

{Be sure to read the introductory post to my TGCW12 reviews.}

On the Mountain: The Terrifying & Beckoning God {TGCW12-Tim Keller}

“On the Mountain: The Terrifying & Beckoning God” | Exodus 19:1-25
The Gospel Coalition Women’s Conference 2012
Session #1 | Tim Keller

link to official website

The History & Order of Grace (vs. 1-8)
The HISTORY of Grace
vs. 1-2- God took them farther from the Promised Land than Egypt was and to a place that was far worse than Egypt was…and that’s where He met them. Give yourself to Him and things will get worse (examples: Joseph and Elisha, the cross). They got to the Promised Land by way of the desert. The way to the resurrection is through the cross.

“Everything is needful that He sends.
Nothing can be needful that He withholds.”
{John Newton}

The ORDER of Grace:
vs. 4-6- Saving acts of God > Response of Obedience> Blessing of Obedience.
-Grace > Obedience > Blessing. It must always be in that order. It’s never “obedience > blessing > grace.”
-He doesn’t give them the law first and then save them. He saves them. (vs. 4– “I bore you on eagles’ wings and brought you to Myself.” On eagles’ wings is by sheer grace!
-Then He tells them, “Live this way because I saved you.” I’m accepted, therefore I obey. Their obedience is motivated by love and gratitude. Obedience out of fear is obedience to get things…”if I obey, God will accept me.”

Blessings: The blessings are there!
-You’ll be His treasure. Treasure was considered the personal wealth of an ancient king. If you fall in love with someone, you try to figure out what he likes in order to delight him. You obey to treasure your treasure.
-You’ll be a holy nation. Separate. Distinct. You’ll think of yourself less.
-You’ll be a kingdom of priests. Priests bring people from outside into access with God inside.
Obey to know Him, love Him, serve, and display Him.

Mt. Sinai was God’s chosen ziggurat. All religions in that time used ziggurats to try to climb up to God. On this ziggurat, God came down to find us! ♪My Lord, I did not choose You, For that could never be; My heart would still refuse You, Had You not chosen me. ♪

The Terrifying & Beckoning God (vs. 9-20)
-Fire, darkness, gloom, storms, trumpet, voice, death if you touched the mountain. God is not a warm fuzzy. (Hebrews 12:18-21)
-Why is God so terrifying?
-We are in such deep denial about how bad we are. We need to experience a “self-quake.” We would fall apart at a glimpse of Him.
-How can this terrifying God be a beckoning God?
-He is in a cloud because of love, shrouding His glory. He still wants us even though we’re sinners. So how can He be both? Through a Mediator.

The Going Down of Moses (vs. 21-25)
Moses is the mediator–the go-between. He kept the people from being killed by God (Hebrews 12:22-24). Christ was the ultimate mediator. His blood cries out grace. (Matthew 27:47, 50-51). Now we don’t even need the cloud. The holiness of God comes to us and we become the temple.

Because He was shaken, we can live unshakable lives!

{Be sure to read the introductory post to my TGCW12 reviews.}

one thousand gifts {#1992-2038}

“I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.”

{John 10:10} 

Life is a gift.
Life with Christ inside you
is an eternal gift.
Life spent savoring the evidences of God’s love
is life to the full. 

I’m blessed to have a full life–it is full not because it is filled with wonderful people, delicious food, breathtaking sunsets, and fun outings–yes, those things fill up my life. But all of those things are empty without Christ presiding over them. A verse that caught my attention this weekend was the very last verse in Job…

“And Job died, an old man, and full of days.”
{Job 42:17}

 I can live to be old, but age is not what makes you “full of days.”
Christ in us is what makes our days full. That’s why He lived. That’s why He died. That’s why He rose again.

May your week be filled with the fullness that comes from life in Christ!

{P.S.- Gifts 2001-2013 were provoked by how God was working in my life during those years of my life.}

1992. multi-tasking
1993. sprinkles during outings just heavy enough to break out the umbrella
1994. lunch with the ‘rents at ramseys
1995. initiative
1996. kerry seeing “lions” in nicholasville. it was a cow.
1997. a hug
1998. chats with sue-sue…about asparagus.
1999. He won’t withhold ANY good thing!
2000. grace to keep seeing so much grace. His love is so very evident when you start to look at life from His perspective.
2001. the year of the rebecca st. james teen girl devotional. thankful for older girls who are faithful to teach the younger in word & deed. and by example. (pretty sure it’s out of print.)
2002. the year i was introduced to marching band. how different my life would be without it.
2003. the year i started become a leader in my own kind of quiet way.
2004. the year bombarded with trial, but also drenched with proof that His grace is sufficient.
2005. the year i learned the importance of telling someone how you really feel & what a difference they’ve made in your life (done best in my case via letter. haha!)
2006. the year i graduated high school, left LCA “bubble world,” and started college
2007. the year filled with heartache, but also much love.
2008. the year God set me on fire for His Word and His glory, preparing me for a mid-year diagnosis of Type I diabetes
2009. the year where i started really figuring out who i was
2010. the year i graduated from college and wondered–now what?
2011. the year God stripped me of lots of pride and made me see His bigger purpose in ordinary life, becoming confident of who i am in Christ despite how i am perceived by worldly measures of success
2012. the now
2013. hope for the future ♥
2014. breakfast & bapticostal jokes with ashley. “you’re predestined to speak in tongues at a potluck.” lol!
2015. cynthiana sunsets & late starry night drives with the top down stopped by state troopers after a mcdonald’s run. and vance children giggles from the backseat. so sweet!
2016. a sweet thank you
2017. a relatively uneventful day
2018. grace to stay awake
2019. lobster. especially baby ones.
2020. krispy kreme & cards with kristen

Yes, I’m diabetic. Yes, I had a Krispy Kreme donut. Yes, I covered it with insulin. Yes, my sugar was fantastic afterwards. No, I don’t eat one every day. Thank you.

2021. ♪ let my life be the proof of Your love ♪ {listen}
2022. shenanigans
2023. dad bringing me starbucks just because

2024. 11 missed calls
2025. menchie’s drum circle with Kerry & mom…and late-night chats with Mrs. B

{Before I proceed, I must promote this drum circle thing. I showed up clueless as to what it was and stood against the wall for the longest time, but once I grabbed a güiro, I had a lot of fun! Top it off with some froyo and it was a lovely evening! You can view a video of this event here. Please pay no attention to the girl awkwardly trading instruments with her mother.}
2026. sleeping in & working in my pj’s
2027. coffeetimes with ellen! iced hazelnucinno. mm. ♥

2028. “man shall not live by blueberries alone.” -EFV
2029. kind waiter: “what are you celebrating? anything special?” me: “life is always worth celebrating.”
2030. wisdom.
2031. geeking out when the DCI promo came on at the movies
2032. life to the full. {job 42:17 ~ john 10:10}
2033. Gospel = grace ♥
2034. raining money at chop house
2035. getting grand night tix at the student price
2036. opera in general. ahhhh.
2037. celebrating ate’s birthday. mihal kita. ♥

2038. deciphering that granny wanted a kiss on the cheek. ♥

Since reading One Thousand Gifts, I started my own journal of grace-gifts God blesses me with every day. I will spare listing all of them here, but I will try to share some of my favorites every Monday. 

one thousand gifts {#1947-1991}

“Stop and consider the wondrous works of God.”

{Job 37:14} 

Stop. Consider.

It doesn’t take much stopping to see a glimpse of God’s glory. It’s all around us. But when you stop and when you consider what you’ve seen, you see His glory even more clearly. You realize how big and wonderful He really is.

 When I make myself stop long enough to recall little ways I’ve seen Him work throughout my day, I consistently become overwhelmed with gratitude and Jesus becomes bigger in my eyes. 

So I hope you’ll take the time to stop this week. Consider. He’s wondrous. And may your heart be thankful. 

Some of His wondrous works I’m still considering…

1947. sleeping in!
1948. first swim of the season (14 laps)
1949. leftover yummy asian salads from friends
1950. movie with charla

1951. the person who made my glucose test strips
1952. {isaiah 12}
1953. a sweet comment from a “virtual” sister
1954. workin’ 9 to 5
1955. ramsey’s fresh veggies

1956. a gentleman holding the door and saying “yewww-uhrrr wel-kuhmmm”
1957. meeting someone i’ve heard lots of good things about
1958. compliments
1959. making dinner
1960. sunset swims provoking psalm 19 appreciation

1961. dad bringing menchie’s home
1962. a ladybug at dusk
1963. payday loan humor
1964. puzzles
1965. jaw-dropping sunsets
1966. trying to focus outward in my lunchtime loneliness
1967. self-adhesive stamps and envelopes
1968. my local church ❤

1969. gavin smiles–even if he was pooping. haha!
1970. wild citrus sunflower

1971. being offered a full-time job while at my full-time job. that’s crazy! {ephesians 3:20-21}
1972. old men talking about british history and potential son-in-laws
1973. payment portholes. lol!
1974. dad grilling at BD’s, kind people who give, friendly businessowners in hamburg, and eating for a good cause

1975. precious thank you cards (“it has flown by, like geese”) hahaha!
1976. ohhh june!
1977. parkette with kerry. yum!

1978. a clean, hilarious movie i wouldn’t mind seeing again
1979. awkward employee text #1. clogged commode.
1980. sweatshirts over sweaters. brr.
1981. my trinidadian editor
1982. lock & key chicken salad
1983. God giving me wisdom to figure out a necessary new skill
1984. two good movies with mom and shanna
1985. God placing sweet friends in my path unexpectedly. it never gets old!
1986. lemon muffins from helen
1987. {job 37:14}
1988. being born and being alive. (1988 is my birth year)
1989. a sermon to put me in my place and make Jesus bigger in my eyes
1990. lunch, errands, and starbucks with my ate
1991. hydrangeas

Since reading One Thousand Gifts, I started my own journal of grace-gifts God blesses me with every day. I will spare listing all of them here, but I will try to share some of my favorites every Monday.