Thursday, November 29, 2012

29 Gifts - Day 21 - Encouragement

Today's gift was an opportunity almost missed. 

As we wandered the narrow aisles of Michael's Craft Store looking for items for Sweet Nuts, Christmas wrapping and gift-giving, and Maestro's magic show/kid drop in tomorrow night, Chef bemoaned his fate of not having a way to earn money. 

*** Interruption for a shameless plug: did you see that I've added two new pages at the top? If you haven't checked them out, please make sure you do! ***

Back to the almost-missed opportunity... Chef went on for some time about not having a way to earn money, and to be honest, he was getting really. really. irritating. (I'm not a perfect mom, just an always-there Mom, and I pray that in the end it is enough!)

Saturday, November 24, 2012

29 Gifts - Day 14 - Homemade Hot Fudge Sauce

Ah, how the days fly past when we have so many birthdays, holidays, our anniversary, and other great things to celebrate! My gift for day 14 is homemade hot fudge for the kids to have on their ice cream before bed - and I'm sharing our recipe here with you as well. It is super simple, and as hot fudge syrup goes, it is healthier than what you get in the bottle at the store.

Saturday, November 17, 2012

29 Gifts: Day 8 - Happy Birthday Oldest!

I'll recap my gifts of these past few days. Right now, something important has come up in the middle of my journey. Not a surprise, it happens every year, but important is important, and this is Important.

Ladies and Gentlemen: I give you my Oldest - Maestro - as an emerging TEEN. This child is my first gift to the world as a "Mom." He is special. Don't break him. He is wonderful. Help him stay that way. He is unique. And I am in awe of him as he grows into a young man who is now big enough to almost fill Pop's shoes (he is in a bigger shoe size than dear Mom now, poor soul!)

2012 - playing around in the garage in VA. Love that we can still laugh this way.
When he was born, we had to find "preemie" clothes for him to wear for a week or two, he was "on time" but just so tiny. Now, he can wear some of his pop's old pants (glad I saved them!) and shirts. He can help keep the house going when I am not at hand. And yet... he can laugh with his friends and play tag with his brothers and sister, and handle her sometimes-screaming fits with aplomb.

Monday, November 12, 2012

29 Gifts: Day 4

Gifts of time and books

It took me a while to get to my gift today. I had a list of things to do and as so often happens not a lot of spare time it seemed. But the truth is I did have spare time. I puttered around, I perfected my molasses bread (mentioned in Gift #2) and I got a number of things done for "me." But as I drove around in my newly-repaired Pilot, it occurred to me that I hadn't really given a Gift yet. Not really. 

I hadn't spent extra time with my kids or picked up the phone to talk to anyone or given anything away... I just hadn't. 

29 Gift Challenge - Day 3

Today was a pretty good day. We got up way too late, we spent time puttering around the house (had to skip church because the car window is shattered and it was not safe to drive in it to get there), the kids spent time with their friends and I spent a chunk of the day trying out a different version of a new bread I'm working on (Multigrain Molasses Bread, in case you're interested.)

And then I checked my FaceBook messages. I got a message asking for my Molasses bread recipe.


Hmmm... This could present a problem.

Sunday, November 11, 2012

29 Day Gift Challenge - Day 2

Today, I gave something special to my girlie and her friend to use. I have had a little girl's tea set for years. It's a little "Hollie Hobby" thing, with four cups, four saucers, etc. And Buttercup is finally old enough to use it, I think. So when she asked if she and her friend could have a tea party, I pulled it out and it is hers now. I set up a nice little tray for the girls, with carrots, graham crackers, four little sweet pieces and four banana chunks. We put it on a special tray that was given to her before we moved from Maryland. She had a great time and I loved seeing something that I enjoyed once-upon-a-time being loved that way again. That was my first gift yesterday.

But the funny thing about giving gifts is that a) the more you give, the more you find new ways to give, and b) the  more others end up blessing you.

Friday, November 9, 2012

29 Gifts Challenge

In the past, the boys have done prank wars to varying levels of success, until someone gets too overzealous and ticks someone else off in a real way. So with our birthday and holiday season upon us, and the house ready to hit high levels of
 fun and tension, I have challenged the boys to two things: The 2nd is to do "sneak" gift attacks on one another, without looking for the "glory" of a thank you or the accolades, etc. of doing something good for someone else. Doing good for the sake of doing good.  (The 1st I'll talk about a bit more below.)

Photo: In the past, the boys have done prank wars to varying levels of success until someone gets too overzealous and ticks someone else off in a *real* way. So with our birthday and holiday season upon us and the house ready to hit high levels of fun and tension, I have challenged the boys to two things: a 29 day challenge, in which we give a "gift" (can be time related or object related) to someone every day for 29 days and write about that gift in a journal before bed at night. The 2nd is to do "sneak" gift attacks on one another, without looking for the "glory" of a thank you or the accolades, etc. of doing something good for someone else. Doing good for the sake of doing good. 

Got downstairs after tuck in tonight to find this on the counter waiting for me: (the oj is a prize as it is the last in the house and EVERYONE loves it!)

Got downstairs after tucking everyone in to find these goodies on the counter waiting for me: (the oj is a prize as it is the last in the house and EVERYONE loves it!)

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

The Cruelty of Lazarus and the Rich Man

Last Sunday in church was probably one of my least favorite Bible readings. It was the telling of Lazarus and the rich man. It has always seemed to me to be a very cold, unforgiving, in-your-face sort of story. Leaving church, I mulled over my thoughts on the verse, before I had time to read more on it. My thoughts were that it is a cruel thing for Lazarus and Abraham to sit there and watch the rich guy burn and offer not even a word of consolation - just hard, cold you-should-have-acted-differently admonition. No empathy (is that the touchy-feely Politically Correct person in me? Probably.) is shown for his plight at all. (It does not help that I forgot that it is a parable and not necessarily a literal event.)

The reading was this:

The Rich Man and Lazarus

19 “There was a rich man who was dressed in purple and fine linen and lived in luxury every day. 20 At his gate was laid a beggar named Lazarus, covered with sores 21 and longing to eat what fell from the rich man’s table. Even the dogs came and licked his sores.
22 “The time came when the beggar died and the angels carried him to Abraham’s side. The rich man also died and was buried. 23 In Hades, where he was in torment, he looked up and saw Abraham far away, with Lazarus by his side. 24 So he called to him, ‘Father Abraham, have pity on me and send Lazarus to dip the tip of his finger in water and cool my tongue, because I am in agony in this fire.’
25 “But Abraham replied, ‘Son, remember that in your lifetime you received your good things, while Lazarus received bad things, but now he is comforted here and you are in agony. 26 And besides all this, between us and you a great chasm has been set in place, so that those who want to go from here to you cannot, nor can anyone cross over from there to us.’
27 “He answered, ‘Then I beg you, father, send Lazarus to my family,28 for I have five brothers. Let him warn them, so that they will not also come to this place of torment.’
29 “Abraham replied, ‘They have Moses and the Prophets; let them listen to them.’
30 “‘No, father Abraham,’ he said, ‘but if someone from the dead goes to them, they will repent.’
31 “He said to him, ‘If they do not listen to Moses and the Prophets, they will not be convinced even if someone rises from the dead.’”
Copied from the NIV version as printed at

The Lesson of Repentance

Jeff pointed out the "often unnoticed key to the story: the rich man never asks for forgiveness."


Jeff continued, "in fact, he goes right back to his old ways, demanding that Lazarus bring him water to quench his thirst."

Well, there is that. And it occurred to me that not giving him water may have been an act of mercy in and of itself. Like when you're hungry but you're trying to eat healthier or on a diet, so you take just a bite of something. Then you want More, but you can't have it, and it becomes it's own torment. The pain of the fire the rich guy was feeling would hardly have been quenched by dipping a finger in and having that drop might have been torture since he couldn't have more.

More from Jeff, "I don't think it's so much that Heaven is denying him water, as that Heaven is no longer allowing him to exploit Lazarus for the sake of his material comfort. Note that his first instinct, from within the very mouth of hell - is not to say, 'I see now what I have been and I have done. Father forgive me and comfort my victims,' but to brazenly tell Heaven, "Send Lazarus with water - I'm thirsty."

Heaven's answer: Lazarus is safe from the likes of you now.

I mentioned that I thought men have an easier time being cold when it comes to discipline than moms do. 

So Jeff pointed out one more thing, and it was a good one: If you look at the "guff" as proceeding from the rich man himself, from his own impenitence and intransigence, it may seem less cold. It was merciful of Heaven to allow the rich man life at all.

How long are the rich men of the world supposed to have to come around? How long are the Lazarus of the world supposed to endure it? The hard truth is, not everybody repents.

The Unforgivable Sin is to refuse forgiveness - how can it be otherwise?

To be clear, he was not railing about rich vs. poor here - there are good and bad people in each group, but those questions caught me. How long...? 

Asking for forgiveness should be our first priority. Treating others well and being kind should take place over our own comfortable little world. But there is a place for being put out of the larger group until you can behave well.

What Many Children Are Taught Using Lazarus and the Rich Man... 

The meaning to this group of verses is often taught (and certainly was to me in some of my Sunday schools growing up) from a literal viewpoint, and presented to Christian children as a means of teaching how to treat one another and as a description of the firey place of Hell. As a child, I found this idea that my loved ones - or even myself! - could be burned in a pit for all eternity, and further that God could allow such a place to exist when He was supposed to be a good and loving God, terrifying. I worried over it for years, actually. There is an example of that here in this Sunday School handout lesson.  

The message is very watered down in the lesson, of course and left open to interpretation. There are many interpretations of Verse, so the takeaway here could well be to keep a close tie with your children and discuss what they are told by their teachers whatever class they are in! 

Two Different Ideas on Lazarus and the Rich Man from Other Sources 

The ideas as presented in the two resources below were never presented to me in Sunday School, but I can see validity to both of them. Whether those more learned that I on each side would agree with one another, I don't know, but they both make sense to me.

I found a pretty thorough explanation of the various symbolism on in which the assertion is that the symbolism actually posits the listening priests of the day as the Rich Man and the "five brothers" as the other Jewish branches, and Lazarus as a stand-in for the Gentiles of the day, who will come to God and salvation through Christ. This series of verses one of many parables that Jesus told to send a message to his listeners. I am not educated enough in all the various symbolism of the Church and the Bible to speak about that (but I am studying on it with these verses to try to understand more). offers a somewhat different explanation. In this second version we're back to a slightly more literal meaning in which Jesus is said to be describing a state of the sinner's soul as it relates to the (for lack of a better word) energy of God. In this telling, that energy is felt by both Lazarus and the sinning Rich Man, but felt differently. The Rich Man feels that energy as a fire as he is in need of cleansing and not ready to perceive that energy as a loving, warming Light; Lazarus had his time of scourging while on Earth and so perceives God's Light as a warm, healing energy. 

What have you found to be the message in Lazarus and the rich man? 
How has your Bible affected you today?


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