Category Archives: Biblical womanhood

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Today’s Word of Promise

markEveryday, I do a 4-mile aerobic walk. It takes me one hour. I listen to my Word of Promise Bible while I walk.

Today, I listened to Matthew 24 through Mark 5.

In the end of Matthew, I listened to Christ’s arrest and crucifixion. Having the sound effects really adds to the experience of reading what’s happening. It was such a strong message.

The part that stood out to me today came from the beginning of Mark 3:

And He entered the synagogue again, and a man was there who had a withered hand. So they watched Him closely, whether He would heal him on the Sabbath, so that they might accuse Him. And He said to the man who had the withered hand, “Step forward.” Then He said to them, “Is it lawful on the Sabbath to do good or to do evil, to save life or to kill?” But they kept silent. And when He had looked around at them with anger, being grieved by the hardness of their hearts, He said to the man, “Stretch out your hand.” And he stretched it out, and his hand was restored as whole as the other. Then the Pharisees went out and immediately plotted with the Herodians against Him, how they might destroy Him. Mark 3:1-6

I’ve heard or read this passage countless times in my life. I knew what it said and I knew the context for what was said. So, when it started, in my mind, I imagined that Christ was belligerent and a little aggressive in healing the withered hand of the man.

Until I heard the words being grieved by the hardness of their hearts. He wasn’t being belligerent OR aggressive. He was giving them an opportunity to understand that doing good, that saving lives, is vitally important. But, they didn’t care about the human being with the withered hand. What they cared about was catching Him doing something that would give them an opportunity to accuse Him and thereby end the threat to them that was Christ Jesus. When their hearts remained hardened, it hurt Him. It grieved Him.

How many opportunities has He given me to set aside the things that I place as important above the things He places as important? How many times has the hardness in my heart grieved Him? What can I do to go forward today and see individual people as Christ sees them and metaphorically heal withered hands on the Sabbath instead of choosing to serve my own means toward my own ends?

May God bless you and bless your day. Find a word of God speak to you today..

Hallee


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30 Days of Thankfulness Day 24

I often post a list of all the things for which I’m thankful on Thanksgiving. But, in an effort to get back into the habit of daily blogging, I’ve decided to do a post a day for the month of November.

24. Persecution

biblecross

On the heels of Day 23 and of being thankful for blogging as Hallee the Homemaker for the last four years, doing so, living my life so openly before the world has made me a target.  I deal with a string of emails, comments that never get published, Facebook or Twitter messages, and even blog posts that ridicule my ideas, tear down my faith, or outright insult and threaten me.  Gregg, in his creation ministry, has especially been a target.

When you live your life in the open, as we do, you open the door for such things.  It takes a straight spine, a tough skin, and the words of Christ to help get you through another day of opening emails sometimes.

“Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me. Rejoice and be glad, because great is your reward in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you.” Matthew 5:11-12

It is part of a Christian walk.  It is part of working a ministry, especially a ministry that welcomes and encourages feedback.  I’m thankful that I have a ministry invites such insults and persecutions.  As the pastor Alistair Begg once said, “If you aren’t being attacked [by Satan] then you’re not doing something right.” I’m also thankful for the encouraging words of Christ to support me through some of the more heinous attacks.

 

Hallee


I’m so grateful for your visit today and would LOVE to have you leave a comment and give me your thoughts on this post.
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30 Days of Thankfulness Day 2

I often post a list of all the things for which I’m thankful on Thanksgiving.  But, in an effort to get back into the habit of daily blogging, I’ve decided to do a post a day for the month of November.

2. Gregg

gregg hallee cavern

Despite the fact that neither one of us were looking for a relationship when we met, within a day of meeting Gregg in person, he and I were talking about marriage. Forget the fact that I was recently separated from my husband of nearly 10 years, forget the fact that it was 3 short months after 9/11 and Gregg was in a Special Forces unit about to deploy, forget the fact that he lived 354 miles away from my house — we KNEW we would be married.

We absolutely, totally, and completely fell in love with each other at first sight.

When God said, ” It is not good that man should be alone; I will make him a helper comparable to him,” (Genesis 2:18) there are two Hebrew words that could have been used for “not good.”  One is ‘ên tôb, which means that something is lacking.  As in, this coffee is lacking cinnamon, or these mashed potatoes are lacking salt.  The other, the one that was used, is lõ’tôb, which means positively bad.  As in, it is positively bad that man is alone, so I will make for him a helper.

We are designed to want to be in a relationship with someone.  We are commanded by God to make that relationship monogamous, permanent, and, above all, a reflection of Christ’s relationship with us .

Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself for her,  that He might sanctify and cleanse her with the washing of water by the word, that He might present her to Himself a glorious church, not having spot or wrinkle or any such thing, but that she should be holy and without blemish.  Ephesians 5:25-27

What does that mean?

What it means is that Christ loves us so much that He died for us.  He stepped up, was beaten until He didn’t even resemble a man anymore, then nailed to a wooden cross until His lungs filled with fluid and suffocated Him.  And He did it because He LOVES us.

Husbands are supposed to love their wives that much.  God’s perfect model for marriage has husbands loving and adoring their wives to the point that they would step up and die for them.

Conversely, women are to love and respect their husbands.  To hold them in high esteem.  To give to them the kind of unconditional respect that rivals the unconditional love their husbands should have for them.  To love them tenderly, affectionately, and passionately.

Who can find a virtuous wife? For her worth is far above rubies.   The heart of her husband safely trusts her;  so he will have no lack of gain.  She does him good and not evil all the days of her life.  ~Proverbs 31:1-12

Genesis 2:24 says, “Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and they shall become one flesh.”  The term “one” used here is the same term used in Deuteronomy 6:4 describing the holy trinity: “Hear O Israel: the Lord our God, the Lord is one.” I think that is a powerful message from God that puts man and wife as one – one flesh, one in the eyes of God as much as the trinity of God is one.

When a husband loves his wife with the perfect, agape love of Christ, and when his wife gives him unconditional respect and a tender affectionate love in return, then you have a perfect model of a marriage as given to us by God.  Then you have the two becoming “one” – a powerful force with which to be reckoned.

I am daily thrilled and in awe of this man with whom I am “one”. Every single day, our love and respect grows. I get excited to see him at the end of the day.  I love working with him on my books or on projects.  I *LOVE* being the mother of his children and parenting our three children together.  I get excited on date nights like a teen girl being asked out by her crush.  I am so thankful, daily to God, for bringing us together and for both of us being open to the voice of the Holy Spirit that told us, “This is your *one*.”

 

Hallee


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Dear Hallee: The Law, Levitical Diet, & Acts 10

These questions, and hundreds just like them, came as a result of Our Diet page and the Give a Pig a Pancake post.  If you’ve never read them, I encourage you to read about what we eat and why we eat it (and why we don’t eat what we don’t eat).

dear hallee notebook
What about Acts 10:9-16? God showed Peter a vision of many “unclean” animals and told him that what God had sanctified we are not to call unclean. It is probably more healthy to eat a Levitical diet, but as far as it being a present day biblical mandate I cannot agree with that one. I applaud all who hold high standards in their diet for our present culture makes it hard to do. I myself am trying to get back to the basics more. It helps that I am staying in a foreign country right now. Fresh fruits, veggies, and meat are at the market every morning. For pretty good prices too.  ~Hannah in the comments section of Our Diet

-AND-

I was wondering as you are journeying through the Levitical Diet, have you had anyone comment about God showing Peter that all foods were declared “clean”? I’d love to hear your interpretation of this verse! ~A Facebook Follower

Hi Dawn and Hannah.  Everything I’ve read has suggested that Acts 10:9-16 was that Peter’s vision was directly about him associating with Gentiles. Immediately after his vision, he was summoned by a Gentile (Cornelius), whom God had sent to him. He went with this man, stayed in his house, ate his food. In the same chapter of Acts, Peter said, “You are well aware that it is against our law for a Jew to associate with a Gentile or visit him. But God has shown me that I should not call any man impure or unclean. So when I was sent for, I came without raising any objection. May I ask why you sent for me?”

fatty pork chopThat said, I think that Acts 15 directly speaks to non-Jews and what to follow within the law. The Council at Jerusalem wrote a letter to the church at Antioch. Verses 24-30 say: “We have heard that some went out from us without our authorization and disturbed you, troubling your minds by what they said… It seemed good to the Holy Spirit and to us not to burden you with anything beyond the following requirements: You are to abstain from food sacrificed to idols, from blood, from the meat of strangled animals and from sexual immorality. You will do well to avoid these things. Farewell.”

I think that is much more to the point than Acts 10.

As far as it being a present-day Biblical mandate, I don’t necessarily agree with you. I do know that my salvation is NOT contingent upon what I eat and how I treat my body. But I also know that in Leviticus, God said that some meat was unclean and not to eat it – and He is the same God yesterday, today, and tomorrow. It isn’t “probably” more healthy to eat a Levitical diet – it absolutely is more healthy to eat a Levitical diet. And why wouldn’t God want us to be more healthy?

Thank you so much for posting all the biblical references. I have, recently, become more aware of the laws in Torah. I have been trying to feed my family healthier, whole & freshly prepared foods. My husband is a bit of a hard sell on this. He is partially there but not all the way (he loves his bacon & processed snack foods). He grew up pPntacostal and says that in the New Testament, we were given the okay to eat pork. I don’t agree. His mom said that it states in Matthew, God blesses all food for us to eat (I’m putting this in my own words here). Do you have any idea what she is referring to? I want to continue to try to get my husband fully on-board but need more info so I truly know what I’m talking about. ~Dawn Marie, in the comments section of Our Diet

torahHi Dawn Marie:  There are two parts to which she may be referring. One is Matthew 5:17. Jesus says, “Do not think that I came to destroy the Law or the Prophets. I did not come to destroy but to fulfill.” The popular translation of that verse says that Jesus was releasing us from the Law by fulfilling it.

What I believe it means is that Jesus rejected the Pharisees’ charge that He was nullifying the law (as the popular thought goes today.) If you look at Matthew 5:18, He further said, “For assuredly I say to you till heaven and earth pass away, one jot or one tittle will by no means pass from the law till all is fulfilled.” The word “fulfill” means “to fill out, expand, or complete.” It does not mean bring to an end. Jesus fulfilled the law several ways. (1) He obeyed it perfectly and taught its correct meaning. (2) He will one day fulfill all of the Old Testament prophesies. (3) He provides a way of salvation that meets the requirements of the law.

Even if a Christian thinks that means that they’re free to eat whatever they want, if our bodies are a temple for Christ, and eating food that God has determined is bad for us and in fact defiles us, we are in turn defiling Christ’s temple.

She might also be talking about Matthew 15:16-20. Where Jesus said whatever goes into the mouth is eliminated, but it’s what comes out of the mouth that can defile a man. If that’s the verse she’s using, I think that’s a bit of a weak argument, personally.

I’d recommend getting your husband The Maker’s Diet: The 40-day Health Experience That Will Change Your Life Forever by Jordan S. Rubin to read. Even if he isn’t convinced Biblically, he would be convinced for health reasons alone. We originally changed just for the health reasons. Our sense of worship and obedience came later.

 

Hallee


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With Fear & Trembling

My family, headed by Gregg and I, is a bit weird religiously by most American standards. Well, okay, we’re a bit weird in lots of ways, but it stands out in our religious beliefs and practices. Basically, we straddle two Christian worldviews while rejecting the secular worldview as entirely as possible. So we take from each what we feel led to take, give to each what we feel convicted to give, and leave the rest alone. Because of that, no common worldview seems to think we’re “living right” or “doing religion” right, or good enough, or well enough, or whatever. And everyone seems to feel it is their right to judge our choices. It is astonishingly interesting.

This past holiday season, there were people who claimed I am “abusing” my children (and I’m not exaggerating for blogging effect — I field so much hate mail, you wouldn’t believe it) “abusing” them by not letting them experience the “joy” and “thrill” of dressing up and trick-or-treating for Halloween.  Because, after all, pretending to be an axe murderer, monster, demon, or witch/wizard is just joyful thrilling fun, right? One (unpublished) commenter suggested “Surely there is a way of celebrating the thrill of dressing up for Halloween without injecting a bunch of hyper-moralistic nonsense into it. ”

Orwell informed us many years ago that the further a society strays from truth, the more that society despises those who tell it. Apparently, I am also “abusing” my children by denying them the “wonder” and “excitement” of Santa Claus, justifying and encouraging something that is nothing less than a lie. “Santa Claus sees when you’re sleeping, knows when you’re awake, knows if you’ve been bad or good…” The truth is that an omniscient GOD watches, knows, and loves us and will forgive us despite our mistakes.  But, what do I know?  I’m simply a hyper moralistic fanatic.

We field criticism for our Christian beliefs as well. We are Christians. But we are very Hebraic in nature. We don’t feel like the “Old Testament” is, well, “old.” Certainly, it isn’t “obsolete” and it most definitely still “applies” to our lives on this earth. We like to think of it as the “Less Recent” Testament. We believe that Jesus lived His entire pure and sinless life while observing the tenets outlined in the Less Recent Testament and that we, likewise, should live — to the best of our ability and to the utmost of our daily desires — like He did and follow the words that He actually spoke. So, we believe that the commandments ought to be followed, that the feasts ought to be observed, and that dietary restrictions were handed down by Jehovah Shiraz for very sensible spiritual and health related reasons.

That said, we aren’t members of any Hebraic body. We don’t want to get personally caught up in steadfastly checking rules and laws and lose sight of the wonderful gift of GRACE given to us by Jehovah God in the form of His Son’s precious blood. This isn’t intended to be a criticism of my Hebraic readers. We simply know ourselves and we know that we would get down into those details. So, we celebrate with those who are more strict in their Hebraic expressions. We fellowship with like-minded believers, participate in feasts with like-minded believers, prayerfully and financially support the ministry efforts of like-minded believers

So where do “Jesus freaks” like us find ourselves three or more times a week? Usually, in an Americanized Christian church.

Our church is not a denomination — it is a movement — a movement created with the intent of removing the barriers thrown up by denominational dogmas and doctrines. Our church founders never even considered themselves as part of the “Protestant” sect — simply as members of “The Church of God.” Nothing added to it. We like that.

The secular world sees us as Jesus-freak fanatics who are oppressing our children and abusing them, denying them the basic joys of many shared childhood experiences in holidays, make-believe creatures (Tooth Fairy, Easter Bunny, Santa, Mother Nature, etc.), and spending every moment we can grasp in fellowship with other believers instead of filling our time with activity after television watching after activity after electronic game console playing after activity.

Traditional Americanized Christian worldview perceives us as far too law-minded, far too rules-oriented, and therefore “doing it wrong” by observing a Levitical diet, or participating in the amazing experience of a Christian Passover instead of Easter egg hunting, etc. Someone in my Sunday School class even called me a “Pharisee.”

On the other side of the aisle, the Hebraic Christian worldview mainly sees us as missing the mark by referring to the son of God, Yeshua, using the Greek-ified moniker “Jesus,” by observing our Sabbath on the first day, Sunday, instead of the seventh day, Saturday, and by enjoying a (low-key and Santa free) Christmas season of giving our children three gifts each and traveling to visit family during the traditional holiday season.

I appreciate the fact that there are people in this world who disagree with how we live our lives. That’s fine. I even — and try to get this — I even RESPECT their choices. ALL of our friends and family do life differently than we do. WE are good with that, but for some reason, people look at us and aren’t good with our differences. I think the holiday season from Halloween through Christmas always brings the criticisms out into the open. And, I think that because I blog with such openness, it gives people both privately (email) and personally (in my face) the feeling that they have the “right” to criticize how we live and the lifestyle choices we make. It is what finally pushed me into taking a long blogging/partial social media break the last couple of weeks — just the fatigue from the constant judgement.

So here it is. Here is my proclamation for the entire world to see forever and ever and always. HERE is what I have to say to every group in this world who feels it necessary to judge how well we are living our lives, running our home, raising our children, and “doing religion” all within the context of our beliefs:

Therefore, my beloved, as you have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling; for it is God who works in you both to will and to do for His good pleasure. Philippians 2:12-13

The bottom line is that every single thing Gregg and I do, we do prayerfully with the intent of serving, obeying, or worshiping God our Creator and Father in heaven. Every decision we make, every step we take, every dollar we spend, every word we type is done with prayer and supplication.

When Gregg and I get out of bed in the morning, our purpose is to live FOR God — not for ourselves, not for each other, and not for our children — certainly not to the pleasure or satisfaction of any hypocrite who feels free to judge us so harshly.

The fact is that I’m not living for them, and I’m not aiming to please them. I am working out my own salvation with fear and trembling.

Hallee


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Not Celebrating Halloween Isn’t as Easy as You Think

Like the history and traditions of Christmas and Easter we’ve talked about on this blog before, Halloween’s roots are a compromise of paganism and Christianity.

Over 2000 years ago, Celts in the British Isles area celebrated their new year on November 1st.  They believed that at this time, souls of the dead traveled to the other world — but in doing so, roamed the earth right before departure.  To help the dead along their journey and keep the living from being affected by those of the dead who were evil, the Celts held a festival called Samhain.  During Samhain, they would dress up in animal skins and wear animal heads, light bonfires, and make burnt sacrifices with the harvest and of animals.

When the Christians entered the area, the church declared Samhain to be an evil observance.  Because they were trying to influence the Celts to follow the church, they attempted to make the festival more Christian oriented rather than pagan in nature (instead of just guiding new Christians to leave their pagan traditions behind them.)  In the 7th century, Pope Boniface IV proclaimed November 1st as “All Saints Day”, which was also known as “All Hallows” or “All Hallowmas”.

The evening prior to “All Saints Day” or “All Souls Day” was still observed by many Celts by leaving gifts of food outside their doors to appease the spirits.  (much like handing candy to the “ghosts and goblins” that come knocking on doors Halloween night.)

We don’t “celebrate” or “observe” Halloween in any respect in our family.  We do not believe that Christian-izing any pagan holiday or traditions glorify God in any way.  There was a time when we thought we could mix the two, but now we just don’t feel like we can and have it be pleasing to God.

However, we also don’t condemn those who do choose to celebrate or observe Halloween.  This isn’t something that I can open the Bible and say, “This verse here clearly identifies Halloween has wrong.”  It’s one of those areas where you’re to read your Bible and make your own decisions, draw your own conclusions, and let the Holy Spirit convict you as He sees fit.  In fact, our church will even be having a big trunk-or-treat, and knowing how awesome the children’s ministry is in our church — I imagine it will be an amazing event.

It’s hard in our society today, though.  Because everyone does something, and when you have young kids you can’t avoid it.  Jeb had a “harvest party” at school – which is fine because they didn’t dress up and all they did was create Christmas ornaments that they will sell during a fundraiser and donate the money to a local charity.  However, in his backpack were two treat bags filled with jack-o-lantern, ghost, witch, and mummy toys and candies — and he goes to a Christian school.  MOST of our friends will observe Halloween, and most of our friends are Christians.

Scott’s school is dressing up in costumes on Halloween day and trick-or-treating in an area near the school.  We could disallow his going on the “field trip” to the trick-or-treating, but he would be at school all day with friends who were dressed up in their costumes, excited about Halloween — and that would do nothing but make him feel excluded and stressed out.  Why would we do that to our young son?  Instead, he’ll have to miss the entire day of school.

It’s all part of being in the world but not of the world.  It isn’t easy to constantly affirm the fact that we do not celebrate Halloween with boys who are exposed to it on such a level.  Even trying to keep it out of our home, images and decorations and discussions about it are EVERYWHERE.  This is a holiday that is a huge part of this culture, so since we live and learn and shop within society, there’s going to be exposure.  Much like Santa Claus, we just constantly encourage, talk, explain, and encourage some more.

And when all of the talking and encouraging are done, we deal with the confusion and tears about not getting to go trick-or-treating to get all of that candy (made with processed sugars and artificial dyes – another post entirely – haha!).

Do you observe Halloween?  How do you reconcile it with your children?

Hallee


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From Beginning to End

Almost exactly four years ago, I determined I would read the Bible through – starting in Genesis and ending in Revelation, from Old Testament to New Testament, in order.

Despite being raised in the church and being a Christian for most of my adult life, I’d never done that before.  I’ve read a lot of some of the books of the Bible, but some of them I’d never even opened.  I’ve faithfully attended several services a week in churches all over the country most of my life, and heard sermons preached from several different books of the Bible, but, again, some books were never opened.

So, one night, I went to the Christian Book Store and bought a brand new, New King James Version Bible.  This is my preferred version to read.  Research has led me to the conclusion that it is the best version to read at this time.

The reading was kind of hard going at first.  I determined to read every single morning for thirty minutes.  But, I found myself getting caught up in study notes and research about what I read, and would often only get through two or three chapters.  As of June of this year, I’d made it halfway to Psalms.

[Side note:  I also started highlighting every passage on which a preacher preaches  -- it's been interesting to see what passages get preached on over and over again by different pastors all over the country.]

I also carry a “purse Bible” with me, and whenever I am at a doctor’s office waiting room, dentist office waiting room, or picking kids up from somewhere and waiting for them, I read the New Testament in that Bible.  I’d made it through to about mid-Acts.

That’s not a lot of progress in nearly four years, I realize.  But, I told myself I wasn’t in a race, and I just simply wanted to get through to the end.

Last year, Gregg got me The Word of Promise Bible — an audio Bible that is presented by dozens of professional actors (Jim Caviezel as Jesus, Richard Dreyfuss as Moses, Gary Sinise as David, Jason Alexander as Joseph, Marisa Tomei as Mary Magdalene, Stacy Keach as Paul, Louis Gossett, Jr. as John, Jon Voight as Abraham, Marcia Gay Harden as Esther, Joan Allen as Deborah, Max von Sydow as Noah, and Malcolm McDowell as Solomon, etc.) with sound affects and an accompanying score.  I burned it to mp3 and loaded it onto my iPod.  I didn’t really do anything with it until this past June.

In June, I started walking every morning.  I walk for 1 hour – for 4 miles.  For an hour every day, six days a week, I listen to my Bible.  Since June, I’ve listened to starting at mid-Psalms, and just finished the end of Revelation yesterday.

I did it.  I ‘read’ through the entire Bible.

I’m back in Genesis now, and listening to it.  I am getting SO MUCH MORE out of hearing it than I ever did out of reading it, and I love that.

Here are my thoughts after completing the entire Bible:

  1. Reading the Old Testament completely changed my faith.  I was getting it all wrong.  God is the same yesterday, today, and tomorrow.  He is the same God in Genesis, in Leviticus, in Isaiah, in Judges, in Matthew, in Acts, and in Revelation.  HE hasn’t changed, no matter how much our society has.
  2. Reading the New Testament, as a whole, immediately following the Old Testament, did not affect that change.  In fact, it completely validated the way I felt and the way I viewed my Christianity.
  3. The “church” – that is the people who follow the God of the Bible, Jesus Christ the son of God, and the Holy Spirit — the church as a whole, isn’t really that Biblically based and is doing a lot of things that are “of the world” and not found in the Bible at all.  Conversely, they seem to be ignoring a lot of things that are in the Bible that tend to go against the traditions of the world.  Francis Chan said it best in a video I saw of him.  Francis asked this question: If he was born and raised on a deserted island with nothing but a Bible, had only read about the New Testament church yet had never seen a church, would he recognize his own institution he was leading as being remotely similar to what he read about in the New Testament?  He came to the conclusion that he would not recognize his own church system as being even remotely similar to what he read about in the scriptures.  After my reading of the Bible, cover-to-cover, I would have to enthusiastically concur.
  4. Judges is kind of like the Kill Bill of the Bible.  I wasn’t prepared for the extent of the violence and wickedness of man.  As I ponder society today, I remember that”there’s nothing new under the sun.”
  5. God asked us to remember the feasts.  Christ observed the feasts, and encouraged us to continue in them. Even Paul, the modern church’s poster boy to excuse the Old Testament as “irrelevant” observed the feasts.   I find it fascinating how we don’t do that at all, as a church as a whole.  I don’t understand how Hannukah (The Feast of Dedication – John 10:22-39) became Christmas and how Passover became Easter, except to say that Satan wants to destroy our relationship with God.
  6. There’s a song that we sing in church that has these lyrics:
    This is my desire to honor you, Lord with all my heart I worship youAll I have within me; I give You praise; All that I adore is in YouLord I give you my heart; I give you my soul; I live for you aloneEvery breath that I take; Every moment I’m awake; Lord have Your way in me.I sing that song to myself constantly, a way to voice my desire to please God and to live my life entirely for Him.  As I reached the end of the New Testament and think about Christ’s words and the words of the apostles that followed after Him, I realize that I don’t do it fractionally enough.
  7. God said in Deuteronomy 6:5 that the greatest commandment was: “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your strength.“  But, He follows that up with, “And these words which I command you today shall be in your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, when you walk by the way, when you lie down, and when you rise up.  I don’t think we, as families that comprise the church body as a whole, do that to the extent that we might ought.  I think if we did, a lot of problems facing churches today would not be there anymore.
  8. In Matthew 22:37, Jesus said the greatest commandment was, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind.’ This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like it: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ On these two commandments hang all the Law and the Prophets.”  I don’t think we, as a church body, do either of those to the extent that we ought.

I can’t wait to read/listen to it again and again and again.  My dad wrote me a letter from Korea when I was 18 and said, “Don’t wait until you’re my age to study the Bible.  I am just now getting into it and I will never live long enough to learn everything I want to learn.”  He was just a few years older than I am now.  I listened and tried to do what he suggested, but I didn’t really “get” it until now.

Have you ever sat down and read the Bible, cover-to-cover?

 

Hallee


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eostre

Easter and Eostre

Following this introduction (below the line) you’ll find my post from from 2010 regarding Easter and our family not being certain about what we would do with holidays.

We determined that we would not do Halloween.  We did participate in a “Trunk Or Treat” at our church.  I’m not positive if we’ll do it again next year or not.  The kids had fun, which is often the point, but we weren’t fans of a lot of the costumes or decorations.  But, Scott still talks about “next year for Halloween…” and he’s only 5.  It’s crazy how quickly kids order things in their heads.

Last year for Christmas, we worked in the soup kitchen and kept it very low key.  This year, we went to visit Gregg’s father and didn’t even have Christmas presents until Kaylee got home from Florida.  We pretty much decided to “toe the line” with Christmas and I explained it in detail with this post.

We celebrated St. Patrick’s Day by learning about his ministries and talking about current missionaries. Here on the blog we donated $100 to a mission this year and last year.

Now here we are at Easter again. The very basis for our faith, for our lives, is that Jesus Christ paid the payment for our sins by suffering and dying on the cross, was buried in a tomb and resurrected on the third day, then He ascended into Heaven and sits at Father God’s right hand. That is the core of everything we believe, the reason we live the way we live, and our message to the world.

We don’t want to cloud that with eggs and bunnies and cute chicks.

We’re going to celebrate the Passover as a family, and talk about how the Passover lamb was actually a prophecy of Christ.

The dates on which Jesus was taken by the Roman authorities, and then slain, also coincided precisely with the Jewish Passover. Jesus became the Passover Lamb, “without blemish.” At the first Passover, described in Exodus 12, God instructed the Israelites to kill a lamb with no blemishes and to put its blood on their door posts. When the angel of death passed through Egypt where the Israelites were being held as slaves, it would pass by any house that had the blood of the a Passover lamb on its door posts. Jesus fulfilled Moses’ prophecy of the Passover Lamb because it is through His blood that we can be saved from, or passed over by, death. ~ Peter and Paul LaLonde

After a foot washing service on Wednesday at our church, we are going to attend a community Christian Passover dinner on Friday.

Sunday is Easter – which we also refer to as Resurrection Sunday. The kids have all sorts of Easter books and DVD’s, so we aren’t going to confuse or cloud – we’ll just also use the term Resurrection. We’ll make Resurrection Cookies on Saturday night, with the Bible reading that goes along with making them. Sunday morning we have a sunrise service at church at 7:30 AM, breakfast at church, followed by our normal church services, then will return home where we’ll have a lunch that, if the weather is nice, will end up being a picnic lunch at our park, celebrating Christ’s resurrection and our salvation.

Up from the grave He arose,
With a mighty triumph o’er His foes,
He arose a Victor from the dark domain,
And He lives forever, with His saints to reign.
He arose! He arose!
Hallelujah! Christ arose!

The kids have new clothes for church – something that I have done since I was a little girl – shopping for my Easter dress is something I still look forward to – but they won’t be receiving any baskets or gifts. We will focus on the most ultimate gift – the gift of eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord and Savior. (John 3:16).

We aren’t going to judge or condemn what anyone else does anything different – from decorating Easter eggs to full blown gift giving bonanzas. Each family needs to make their own decisions and their own traditions for holidays. This is just how our family has decided to observe this, what is to us, the most holy and amazing of all holidays.

However you enjoy it, please remember Christ’s gift to us, and find a way to incorporate it into your celebrations. I pray you have a wonderful holiday.

 


Eostre & the Chocolate Bunny

Originally published April 2, 2010

I’m currently reading my Bible all the way through, from cover to cover. I’ve always been really good at doing daily devotionals and daily prayers, but I’ve never just read the Bible. I’m just about finished with the book of Judges.

I’m going rather slow. I tend to stop reading and check study notes, cross-reference with history, read passages in other parts of the Bible that apply, and generally immerse myself in the current scripture. Some days I only get through one chapter, some days, I read five.

One thing that stood out to me while reading the first five books especially is that God has called for his people to be removed from the people around them. The reason why is not out of any kind of racial or cultural prejudice. Rather, it is because we as humans are weak, sinful, neglectful, and selfish.

Consider Adam and Eve. Two humans living in harmony with perfect creation. They walked, personally and side-by-side, with God. They spoke directly to Him and received counsel directly from Him. And they had one requirement – do not eat from that one tree. EVERYTHING else was theirs for their pleasure and taking, but that one tree — and Eve was able to be deceived into tasting of the fruit, and Adam was able to be convinced to take the fruit from Eve.

Consider the Israelites who were Egyptian slaves. They were front row witnesses to the miracles God performed in the land of Egypt through Moses. They crossed the Red Sea on dry ground. They heard God’s voice speaking to Moses. And still, the second Moses was out of their sights, they formed a golden calf and had a little orgy.

Judges is full of cycles. The people turned from God and took up with the paganism around them, God brought a judge forward to get control of the people and reestablish God’s laws and regulations and they behaved for a couple of decades and then started back on the same track.

When the Israelites finished being punished for their calf-side orgy by being forced to wander in the wilderness until every adult finally died off, God let them go into Canan, but it was with the order that they kill every man, woman, and child. Many of the cities were completely destroyed and not re-inhabited. The reason God ordered this was because these societies were evil. Utterly evil and corrupt and God knew that if the Israelites lived among them, they would very quickly begin worshipping these other gods and start partaking in sexual sins, human sacrifices, cannibalism, etc.

Our culture today is a melting pot of religions. We celebrate Christmas, the birth of Christ, during a season that was likely not his actual birth season, and bring elements of the pagan celebration of the winter solstice into play. We celebrate Halloween, which has absolutely no Christian influence at all, is entirely paganistic, and yet we have festivals at church with kids dressed up as little fairies or goblins and hand out jack-o’-lantern candies.

It’s something Christians completely accept and ignore. Easter us no exception. Despite the fact that we celebrate Easter during the exact time of year that Christ was crucified, and despite the fact that He was celebrating a very real religious holiday the day before He was crucified, sixty percent (60%) of the adults in America do not know that the holiday has anything to do with Jesus Christ. SIXTY percent.

The Easter holiday is barely removed from its pagan background. Easter even gets its name from the pagan goddess of spring, Eostre. The myth has it that she rescued a bird whose wings were frozen from the winter wind by turning it into a rabbit. Because the rabbit had once been a bird, it could lay eggs. And there you have the modern Easter Bunny and Easter eggs.

By removing the focus from Passover, by prettying up some eggs and creating tales of a magical bunny who delivers presents, we’ve removed the holiness of the Resurrection Sunday. Removed it so thoroughly that 60% of adults don’t even know what that means, removed it so thoroughly that only 2% of adults consider Easter to be the most important holiday of their faith.

What does this mean for me? I’m not entirely positive yet. I haven’t had a chance to really sit down with Gregg and talk about it, I haven’t really prayed through it yet. I know that this year, we won’t be talking about the Easter bunny coming. And since Easter will be our first morning at the beach house, all of the kids will have beach hats instead of Easter baskets. We always have used religious stickers and decorations when we color our eggs, and we’ve always given chocolate crosses instead of chocolate bunnies. We also have a traditional cookie we make Easter eve that involves Scripture reading and prayer.

We’ll have another year to really pray about it and decide what to do. Because while I’m not really ready to give up the pleasure of decorating eggs with my kids, I’m not really inclined to celebrate Eostre’s bunny coming into our home.

Hallee


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Today is “Feminist Pride Day”

Today is Feminist Pride Day.

In honor of that, I thought I’d tell a little story.

Long ago, when I first started my blog, I was contacted by someone about the “homemaker” definition in the sidebar of my blog.

For a little background — this definition is the earliest definition of “homemaker” that we could find.  That’s why it’s there.  It’s the first time homemaker was found in a dictionary.  It’s just a historical thing.

So, I get contacted by this person. And I’m going to qualify that I love this person very dearly and always have.  This is simply an opinion of life on which we have disagreed, and butted heads, for over 20 years.

“At your site today, I noticed the definition of ‘homemaker.’  I’m sure its completely there for effect … after all, who visiting the site would need the definition. But as I was looking at it, I found that I was offended. After all, I make a home as a wife and mother, but I also make more money than my husband does. So that excludes me from being a homemaker by definition. It’s not a criticism of your lifestyle … sometimes I wish I didn’t have to work (sometimes … I find a great deal of fulfillment in my chosen profession). But at the same time, I almost found the definition critical of my lifestyle. Maybe I’m not within the demographic of your blog’s audience … maybe no one else would find that offensive. Just a thought. Maybe I’m just a little touchy because ..[insert personal life stuff]… And that’s a lot of mental, emotional and physical stress for me. Anyway … I don’t mean to offend you because I was offended. I just wanted to share that thought with you.”
My response was the same as it always is when someone brings up that particular definition on my sidebar.  “ That was how homemaker was defined in 1876, which is why the date is on there. If you’ve read my articles concerning homemaking, you’ll see that I don’t exclude the women who work jobs.”

Her reply, “ You are under the impression that I haven’t read those posts? I have … and just again this morning looked through them. Your posts say that you can have a career and still be a homemaker. But your “1876″ definition of the word is right there on the home page and soon as it loads. So, if that’s not how you feel, I ask you what is the point of putting a 134-year-old definition on the site?”

My reply, “Because I like the definition. I like the lack of political correctness and the simplicity of it. I like the concept of a wife and a mother managing a home while the husband earns a living. I think it is the perfect model in the ideal situation. Because I really am black and white like that.”

Her reply, ” Well, black and white, in 1876, women were not even considered citizens of the United States, nor did they have the rights given under citizenship status. I could go into a whole long list of why 1876 wasn’t ideal, nor was life ideal for women in 1876.”

My reply, “I don’t think that the women’s movement has done anyone any justice, personally. I would say that most women have it harder now than they did in 1876.”

Her reply, “Ugh. Well, don’t vote then. And I’ll see if I can find you a corset.”

[collapse in conversation]

She said, “Forgot the rule. Don’t talk about religion or politics or express any opinions. Gotta go back to work now.”

I said, “The problem with discussing religion, politics, or opinions is that there comes a moment when someone shows a lack of respect, which is where it starts to go downhill. Fact: 1876 women weren’t citizens, etc. Opinion: I think that most women have it harder now than in 1876. Lack of respect: UGH. I’ll go buy you a corset.”

Her reply:  “But I noticed you didn’t mention voting there when you were talking about disrespect. Could it be that there’s some some “justice” you enjoy from the women’s movement?”

My reply:  “I would be as interested in politics whether I could vote or not. I don’t care that women couldn’t vote any more than I care than women can. Because I have the right to vote, I vote because I feel I have the civic duty to do so. But, if I could not vote, I would trust my husband’s decisions in the voting booth to speak for my family.”

That was the end of the conversation.

On a recent Pinterest, I saw a sign that read, “Feminism is the radical notion that women are people.”

I thought, “That may be true, but it’s also the radical notion that men aren’t worth being people (unless they’re homosexual), nor are the unwanted unborn, nor is anyone who disagrees with the feminist ideology.  To radical feminists, I’m not worthy of being a person, either.  I’m a waste of breath, and a waste of life.”

So, while it’s “radical”, it’s only an ideology.

Let me say something here that I’ve probably danced around but never said.

I’m not a feminist.  I never have been.  I do not like feminism or what it’s done to our world.  I do not like the fact that the majority of families, when they actually are intact families, have both parents working.  I believe that is detrimental to the family, and I believe that is the cause for the higher divorce rate, the emasculation of men, the collapse of the family, and the beginning of the collapse of the church.  I believe that when the family is at risk, then the church is at risk, and Satan wins.  Which means that I personally believe that feminism is a tool of Satan designed to destroy first the family and then the church — whether those impassioned with the notion of feminism realize they’re being used by the enemy or not.

So, happy Feminist Pride Day.

Addendum post publication:  (And this is not an “attack” on all mothers working — I discussed that in detail in my post titled, “When I Grow Up I Want to Be a Mom.)

 

Hallee


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Addy

Racism in America

Recently, our family movie night pick was the movie Glory Road.  If you don’t know this movie, it’s the true story of the 1966 college basketball team from Texas Western.  The coach was given limited recruiting funds and told to build a team.  In an unprecedented move, he recruited seven black basketball players.  “I don’t see color,” he tells dissenters, “I see quick, I see skill … and that’s what I’m putting on the court.”  In the final game of the NCAA championship, the coach puts all seven black players on the court – and plays only them.  They beat Kentucky for the national championship in what was called “the greatest upset in NCAA history.”  He did it to change the hearts and minds of a country so bent on racism that they could not see past the ends of their own noses.

I loved this movie.  I’m a sucker for a Jerry Bruckeimer film on a bad day.  So, a basketball movie made by Jerry Bruckheimer about persevering through ignorance and prejudice is just my kind of movie.  Knowing the energy of the film and how much of a basketball fan my daughter is, I just knew she’d love it, too.  What I didn’t realize, though, was how much we’d sheltered her from the harsh realities of racism in America.

We believe, that as Christian parents, it’s our duty to teach our children to understand and defend the dignity and the worth of every human being.  It’s core to the Christian culture, even though it isn’t always practiced due to the makeup of our culture by sinful man.

It has always been our goal to raise our children not to see color, and is exactly how I was raised.  We’ve never distinguished between the races.  We don’t classify people by race.  We don’t encourage Kaylee to elaborate on the races of her friends.  It is simply something we do not care about.  A bit.

You always wonder, though, if your message is getting through to your children.  Despite the shelter of our home and the race-free intent, there is still a sinful, nasty, prejudiced and racist culture beyond our four walls.  Kaylee, especially, attends a school in small town Kentucky – where race is almost as much an issue as when the Kentucky fans waved the Confederate Battle Flag at that notorious NCAA basketball tournament in 1966.

Occasionally, though, your children throw you little bones to affirm that you’re doing a good job.  We have a family at church who have a daughter named Addy, whom they adopted from China.  Addy is clearly Chinese – dark skinned, eye shape, straight black hair.  Kaylee loves Addy, and the feelings are mutual.  My friend often picks Kaylee up for a youth event, and Addy gets so excited when Kaylee gets to ride with them.

Addy

This same family have sons in Kaylee’s youth group.  One evening at church, the youth were talking about where they’ve been in the world.  Addy’s oldest brother said, “I’ve been to China.”

Kaylee said, “When were you in China?”

He said, with a tone that implied, duh, “To get Addy.”

Kaylee said, “Why was she in China?”

Flabbergasted, he said, “Because she’s Chinese.  That’s where we adopted her.”

Kaylee said, confused, “Addy’s Chinese?”

She was being sincere.  Race is so removed from being important in her mind that she never considered it when thinking of this little girl.  It really encouraged us in our attempts to raise her to see humans as human beings, made in God’s image, rather than any other way.

So, to get back to this movie.  It dramatically and emotionally highlighted the racism that this team faced traveling the country and working its way up the NCAA ranks.  By the end of the movie, Kaylee was MAD.  She intellectually kind of knew about the general racist atmosphere of this country that sparked the era of the 1960′s.  She could spout off encyclopedia facts about Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.  She might be able to give you the names of some prominent black historical figures due to learning about Black History Month in her 9 years of school.  But she’s never experienced and emotional tie to it like this movie did to her (and it probably helps that she finished reading To Kill a Mockingbird the same weekend we watched this movie). It drew her into the time, into the hate, and she came out of it with such righteous indignation that if there were still racial equality marches happening, she’d be out there leading the throng.

Then something occurred to her.  Many of the people who felt such hate against this team of talented young men are still alive today.  They’ve raised children, who have raised children.  And, as we talked to her about it, it occurred to her that the hate is still out there today.  Still very real.  Still very much a part of the culture.

You can’t battle that kind of ignorance, that depth of hate.  Not really.  People can mask it, but it comes from a pit of evil, from the lies and seduction of Satan himself that without the power of God, there is no overcoming it.

Kaylee said, “What can we do?”

Our answer was unpracticed, not thought about, unprepared.  All we could come up with was, “Teach your children as we’ve taught you.  See people as God’s creation, and not with color.  Love your friends as Jesus commanded us.  And don’t tolerate hate in your presence.  Make people accountable for what they say.”

It’s what we do.  It’s all we have.  But, we’ve made the difference with the three children we’re raising.  And they’ll make a difference with the children God will entrust to them.  And you can make a difference with your children.

Our prayer is that such ignoramus thinking will one day be a thing of the past.  That color won’t matter – that the heart of man is what we see rather than the pigmentation of skin or the slanting of eyes.  That loving our neighbor means loving our neighbor and not just the neighbor who shares a cultural tie to us.

 

Hallee


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