This was the second out of three playgrounds we visited this week. Jackson is tired of our living room.
Archive for November, 2007
by Melissa Moore
Do you ever have those days that you just feel sort of disillusioned by life? I mean, most of the time I feel content and satisfied with my life. After all, I have an incredible job that I absolutely love and an amazing family that I adore but every once in a while I get this nagging and empty feeling that something just isn’t quite right. I’m not talking about the kind of day when you are plagued by an argument you had with a good friend or family member or even the kind of day when you’ve dropped your car keys one too many times. I am talking about the kind of day when nothing in particular is wrong but, still, there is an overwhelming restlessness deep down in your soul. Then again, perhaps I am the only Christian who still experiences disheartening days when, in the midst of so much, I can’t figure out what is missing.
I think that this struggle may be due to the tension between living in the midst of an already but not yet kingdom. The tension of living in an already but not yet kingdom is not just theological in nature, for it plays out in everyday life experience. In one sense we already experience the realities of the kingdom of God but in another sense we still wrestle with the flawed kingdom of humankind. For example, we have been set free from the law of sin and death and so no longer have to carry the burden of guilt or the fear of everlasting punishment. Sometimes, however, the “not yet” nature of the kingdom is overwhelming. For all practical purposes we still fear physical death even though we know that we will rise with Christ on the final day to reign with him forever and ever. We still mourn, even though we now do so as those who have hope for final resurrection. We can rejoice in the liberating freedom that we have now in this life because of our forgiveness of sin and our identification with Christ. At the same time, however, we long to be rid of the sin that plagues us individually and the sin that plagues our world on an everyday basis. Though we have been fully redeemed, we have not yet experienced our redemption in full.
So I guess what I mean is that, even though I know full well that I am called to be an ambassador for Jesus Christ on this earth since the kingdom has not yet been fully consummated, every once in a while my soul is just flat restless. As I was reading Jesus’ farewell discourse to his disciples this morning (John 13-17), I couldn’t help but feel their pain. After washing his disciples’ feet, Jesus all at once tells them, “My children, I will be with you only a little longer. You will look for me, and just as I told the Jews, so I tell you now: Where I am going, you cannot come” (John 14:33). This is brutal news for the disciples who had spent countless mind-boggling and miraculous days with God himself! But Jesus, the ultimate comforter, then tells them, “Do not let your heart be troubled. Trust in God, trust also in me. In my Father’s house are many rooms; if it were not so, I would have told you. I am going there to prepare a place for you…I will come back and take you to be with me” (14:1-3). I don’t know about you, but even though I love my life and feel burdened to continue spreading the good news of the gospel, I can’t wait to see the place that Jesus has prepared for us. I can’t wait to see heaven opened with all its brilliance. And, most of all, I can’t wait for the presence of God to finally be with men; I mean, for him to actually dwell with us!
Sometimes life is just plain hard and it seems that the suffering switch has been turned on to the highest degree. Other times we are puzzled by relationships or difficult job circumstances. And, then, there are other times that something just feels a bit off deep down in our hearts. Nothing in particular has gone wrong. Maybe it is quite the opposite. Maybe everything has gone right and that haunting, restless feeling still lurks behind and mocks us! What is that about? Aren’t Christians supposed to be content in every situation? Joyful at all times? I find it interesting that the same man who urged us to be content and joyful in every situation also told us that he struggled with desiring to depart and be in the Lord’s presence. Though he found it necessary to press on and do the Lord’s work on earth, he said, “To live is Christ and to die is gain…I am torn between the two” (Philippians 1:21-26). Maybe it isn’t so bad, then, to recognize every once in a while that we are truly longing for a better country, a heavenly country, one that is being prepared for us by the nail-scarred hands of the resurrected Christ.
Let us hold fast to the promise that we will reign with King Jesus, in perfected, holy, and unblemished resurrected bodies, forever and ever in the new kingdom and let us rejoice that our names are written in heaven (Luke 10:20).
“Holy, Holy, Holy is the Lord God Almighty, who was, and is, and is to come”
Amen. Come, Lord Jesus.
The following recipe comes to you from one of our most avid blog readers: Keith Moore. You demanded it and he’s supplying it. That’s right, folks. Right here on your Living Proof blog. Who in the world would have ever guessed you could get a recipe here on this site with my reputation for failure in the kitchen? Shoot fire. I might even throw my back out and pitch you my Texas Sheetcake recipe later in the week if you keep this up. From Keith’s kitchen to yours, Living Proof Ministries proudly presents (drum roll, please)our first annual Texas holiday favorite, complete with a decorative tortilla turkey on top: King Ranch Chicken!
*1/4 cup butter
*1 medium green bell pepper, chopped
*1 medium onion, chopped
*1 can cream of mushroom soup
*1 can cream of chicken soup
*1 can (10 oz) RO*TEL Diced Tomatoes & Green Chilies (This is a staple in every Texas cupboard and critical to this dish but I’m worried that some of you far from the Lone Star State won’t be able to find it. Look for it near the cans of whole tomatoes. If there’s only one RO*TEL on the shelf, God put it there and is equipping you for every good work. Believe it or not, Keith uses two cans instead of one but don’t try that at home. We’re professionals.)
*2 cups cubed cooked chicken. (If you don’t boil your own, please don’t tell Keith. He thinks that’s sacrilegious. You’re supposed to always do your own so that you have fresh broth on hand for whatever recipe you come up with next. Gosh. This is boring me to tears.)
*12 corn tortillas, cut in halves or fourths
*2 cups (8 oz) shredded cheddar cheese (If you don’t grate your own and, instead, get the kind that’s already prepared in the bag like I do, don’t tell Keith that either.)
Directions: Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Cook pepper and onion in melted butter until tender. (5 or so minutes. Like anyone cares.) Add soups, RO*TEL and chicken, stirring until well blended. In a 13X9X2-inch (that dimension took me ten solid minutes to type. This is more than I can take) baking pan, alternately layer tortillas, soup mixture and cheeses, repeating for three layers. Bake 40 minutes or until hot and bubbling. (Good grief. I can’t believe I just wrote that. Hot and bubbling. How stupid is that? This whole recipe thing is bringing out my insecurities.) Serves 8. Or at my house, 3, because we eat like pigs.
Mine and Colin’s favorite part: If you’re making it for Thanksgiving or Christmas to add a little spice to an otherwise bland meal, take pair of scissors and cut out a turkey, place it on top, sweeping with egg-wash to help it stick together. Make waddle out of little piece of tomato or red pepper. Take picture and impress your friends.
I’m going to bed now. I’m exhausted. And hungry.
Here’s the sheet cake recipe! -Amanda
Happy Thanksgiving, my Beloved Siestas! The Moores and Joneses greet you from our mountain hideaway where the cabin is more stuffed than the turkey and the fellowship is sweeter than the Texas sheet cake disappearing in my kitchen. Between the time change, the altitude, a twenty-one-month-old and the fear of missing a single moment together, mornings start early around here. The Lord, however, put a spirit of slumber on the cabin and allowed me to have a few quiet moments with Him. I could hear the familiar sound of my man sawing logs and of my grandson starting to stir. Melissa was sound asleep in my bed and somehow looked about five years old. We are a fiery family of folks who rarely keep an opinion to ourselves but we are so crazy about each other. I was overcome with gratitude for the kindness and redemption of our God. One of my memory verses right now was perfectly fit for today. I have to peek because I don’t have it down yet. It’s Psalm 40:5.
“Many, O Lord my God, are Your wonderful works which You have done; and Your thoughts toward us cannot be recounted to You in order; if I would declare and speak of them, they are more than can be numbered.” (NKJV)
Among the thanks I give my God through Jesus Christ today, I thank Him for you, our cherished online community. Recently my ministry director, Sabrina, and I were preparing our annual employee reviews. As we discussed AJ, Sabrina said to me, “Beth, I can’t think of any addition that has been made to the ministry that has had a greater impact than the blog. That community has become maybe the single most important thing that happens on our website. What Amanda has done is huge.” She is so right. I know I’ve told you this before but, just in case you weren’t part of our community at the time, God has used you to provide something in my ministry life that I needed so badly. So many of you have become familiar friends and sisters in Christ to me and I look tremendously forward to your input. I also notice when someone signs on with a screen name that is new to us and I rejoice in a new connection. As silly as this seems, I just love this. Thank you so much for being part of it.
AJ has helped me include a few picture highlights from our holiday week together and here are a few random things that have gone on in our house this Thanksgiving Day:
*Jackson and I had our milk and coffee together early this morning and watched the sun come up, played cars, and pestered PawPaw until he finally rolled up. We also danced our legs off when our favorite program came on Noggin. I was a little sore from the gosh-awful-est hike several of us took in the snow yesterday so I needed the stretch. (We hiked for over two hours and, when we made it back to the trail head, Keith was waiting there with his hands on his hips and looking stern like we’d better not scare him like that again. I told Melissa he’d think we were gone too long. We nearly got in bad trouble but he decided to get over it pretty quick AND we were mighty thankful not to have to walk the last quarter mile to the house. FWI: we were so happy not to have to worry about bears then, lo and behold, we saw wolf prints – first I’ve ever seen them – that I measured from the tip of my thumb to the tip of my little finger as wide as I could get my hand stretched. So freaky!)
*Keith made a King Ranch casserole to take to our lunch down at the ranch where we’ll celebrate with many good friends. He was asked to bring a native Texas dish of some kind so there you go. Melissa’s love, Colin (we love him, too, and, yes, it’s serious), and I cut a turkey out of a corn tortilla and used a red pepper from the salsa for his waddle. We laughed our heads off and thought we were brilliant.
*Melissa, Curt, and I quizzed each other (AKA: competed) in Greek for a solid hour then got into a good theological discussion. A blast to the three of us and a bore to everyone else.
*Amanda and I are watching Steel Magnolias for the umpteenth jillionth time and have hooted a ton and already cried. It’s a holiday must. Curt even sat down and got interested in it. He’s trying to act like he’s reading something but I know he’s watching the movie.
Well, everybody else is showered and looking darling and I’m still in my jammies and looking – well, like a woman who needs to get ready. Siestas, Happy Thanksgiving!! May God remind all of us all day long of even the little things we forget to thank Him for. Like a family enjoying each other so much that they’re liable to wake up the baby. Remember this holiday when “together” seems like “too-much-gether” to let people off the hook easily because you’re not dependent upon them to affirm you. Christ does that for you. Make a choice to laugh things off instead of taking an offense. Have a blast because God is good. Show Him how grateful you are with your joy. I dearly love you.
So, who’s going to be at the pre-conference in Phoenix? Bethie and half of our girls are heading out today.
We have something kind of cool going on at LPM right now. I can’t really share details, but please pray for my mom and dad and our leadership to be wise and to know God’s will.
To end this very random post, my Wising Up group finished last night. (We skipped the three sessions on marriage and motherhood since most of the girls in my group are only 18 or 19.) We had a really enjoyable semester together. I know I am biased, but I loved the sessions. I am ready to do a homework study again next semester. Thankfully, there’s a new one out! More to come on that…
LADIES! Well, it has certainly been a while! I have been missing you all! Let me catch you up on what has been going on since I last spoke with you in mid-June. For starters, I have spent every night at the Living Proof offices with my sleeping bag and my flashlight pointed to the worn and torn pages in my Bible that comprise the book of Esther. Gone are the tiara days that defined my first week working at Living Proof Ministries! I am, of course, half kidding, but the truth is that my Mom has put my brain and heart to work during this amazing research phase of the book of Esther! I have been completely and utterly obsessed. I think of Esther most of the time. For example, a friend of mine has a serious crush on a guy and she asked me to pray for the circumstances to come together…and so I have been praying that she would be given the same kind of favor with this gorgeous mystery guy that the Jewish orphan-girl Esther had with King Xerxes of Persia. I may be a bit out of line (and out of context—I really hope my Biblical Exegesis professors aren’t reading this) but I can’t help myself. I think mostly in terms of Esther and ancient Persia.
This morning I had about a million things to do. I am sure you can relate. It was one of those times that you assume all of the things that you must get done are going to be accomplished by sitting completely frozen and panicked at your desk. In my desperate state, I decided to flip the pages in my Bible from the book of Esther to the New Testament (and this was not a simple feat). It was at that point that I once again read the following words in 2 Corinthians 11 that the Apostle Paul wrote almost two thousand years ago:
24 Five times I received from the Jews thirty-nine lashes. 25 Three times I was beaten with rods, once I was stoned, three times I was shipwrecked, a night and a day I have spent in the deep. 26 I have been on frequent journeys, in dangers from rivers, dangers from robbers, dangers from my countrymen, dangers from the Gentiles, dangers in the city, dangers in the wilderness, dangers on the sea, dangers among false brethren; 27 I have been in labor and hardship, through many sleepless nights, in hunger and thirst, often without food, in cold and exposure. 28 Apart from such external things, there is the daily pressure upon me of concern for all the churches.
Leave it up to the Apostle Paul to put you in your place, right? The part that hit me the most was not his lengthy description of the suffering that he endured. The part that hit me the hardest was that in the midst of such extensive and devastating suffering, he actually cared about the life and health of the local churches! Imagine that! Today at Living Proof, we fasted and prayed during lunch hour and at least twice my mind drifted to lustful thoughts about the turkey, dressing, and cranberry sauce that we would be eating during Thanksgiving Break. How lame is that? We were supposed to be fasting for crying out loud! Good grief! All I know is that I want to have a heart for the body of Christ like the Apostle Paul did. I want my heart to be burdened so heavily for the covenant community of God that thoughts of its well-being wouldn’t leave my mind even if I had been robbed or shipwrecked. So I am praying and trusting that the same wise God who raised Jesus Christ from the dead would cause this impure and selfish heart to beat with a pure and holy passion for the church and its glorious mission!
Well LADIES, Esther and Mordecai beckon me once again…but I am thrilled to be back in touch with all of you amazing saints at such a time as this.
Next week our clan will be heading to the mountains for Thanksgiving. We will all be dressed something like this, except with pants.
Jackson isn’t thrilled with his new jacket, but he’s handling it better than last year.
On a completely different note, one of our siestas compiled a list of all our aerobic praise recommendations. I have posted the list as one enormous comment under that post. (It’s the last comment.) Thanks so much, Sunny!
Hey, Siestas! It’s Saturday morning and I’m at AJ’s having so much fun. I flew up yesterday afternoon so that Jackson and I could have a date last night. We made Mommy and Daddy go to the movies. He and I are watching Wonder Pets so I’m going to see if I can drop you a note really quickly while he’s preoccupied.
Something so fun has happened in the last few weeks. Jackson has discovered words and he says everything under the sun. (He can say Bible and knows what he’s talking about! Oh, the joy!)In the midst of an exploding vocabulary, he’s started calling me a name! Yahoo-Jah!!!!! (He named Keith first – PawPaw – and I may never hear the end of that.) I think my granny name is going to evolve into “BeeBee” but right now it’s more like “Bibby” with a big accent on the second syllable. So darling I can hardly stand it. His little lips make the cutest shape when he says it. (He’s saying it right now. I think I’m on borrowed time. Writing fast. If I have a ton of type-o’s, you’ll know why.)
So, anyway, last night after I rocked him a long while, laid him in his crib, covered him with his blanket, and slipped out of the room, he stood straight up in the bed and started calling, “BibbEE!! BibbEE! BibbEE!” He never cried. He just called me over and over. Too much to resist! It was everything I could do not to go get him. I kept thinking to myself, if I give in to this, I’m going to ruin that darling child’s good bedtime habits. He’s a very active little guy and the fact that he’s been easy to put to bed at night has been AJ’s saving grace. I paced outside his door nearly laughing out loud, saying, “Oh, my word! Oh, my word!” and wishing I had someone to call so they could hear it. Keith was out of town and cell range so I texted Melissa back and forth for the next thirty minutes to keep the little dude from hearing me. He finally went to sleep and I like to think he dreamed of a fun next day with BeeBee. I woke up really early and could hardly wait until he’d start the name-calling up again and I could go in and get him. And sure enough. (OK, well, actually, it began with a few seconds of Daddy and Mommy but I beat AJ to the nursery door and when I opened it, he said, “BibbEE!!”)
Try to stay on track with me here. Between a toddler crawling on me and giggling, Noggin going strong on the television (don’t even try talking to me about not letting a child watch a little Saturday morning TV) and Beckham barking outside, I’m having a little bout of ADD. Oops. Just got a beach ball in the head. On borrowed time here. Run fast with me. So, last night I just all at once had this revelation. You young moms have already thought it a thousand times and I’m sure I did, too, twenty-five years ago but one of the beautiful things about time is that you get to relearn things as if they’ve never occurred to you before. It hit me how much God loves for us to call Him by Name and that, when we cry out to Him with titles that have become such meaningful endearments to us – such expressions of relationship, those cries are utterly irresistible to Him. Sometimes, because He knows what we need more than we do, it may seem He’s not responding but, in reality, He’s right on the other side of that door greatly moved. And timing His obvious entrance just right.
Simple truth this morning. God LOVES to hear you call Him by Name. A Name that MEANS something to you. A term of deep endearment. When the spirit within you cries out, “Abba, Father!” your voice is irresistible to Him. If you’ll permit this English teacher a double-negative, God never DOESN’T respond. You may not see Him right away but He will be right next to you all along. He hears you and He WILL act at exactly the right time. Somehow it was profound to me. We – fretful, inconsistent children weak in our natural selves – MOVE THE HEART OF GOD. Because that’s the Way He wanted it. Every single time we cry out. Every single time we use His Name and mean it. We are heard. His heart teems with affection and His retraint demands His own long suffering. Take heart!
“Those who know Your Name will trust in You, for You, Lord, have never forsaken those who seek You.” Psalm 9:10
I so love loving Jesus with you.
When Curt and I bought our little 1925 wood frame house two years ago, we knew we were in for a long journey of renovation. The house was quite a bargain, but there was a good reason for that. The inside needed tons of work. It was six months before we spent our first night in the house. Actually, Curt pulled a few all-nighters trying to get some projects done so that we could move in before the blessed return of our Lord. I will never forget the night that Janelle and I, both at least seven months pregnant, donned our husbands’ workout clothes and some pretty ineffective masks and painted my kitchen cabinet doors. She is a true friend. We decided that if our kids ended up with very challenging dispositions, we’d blame it on the paint fumes. Those six months were pretty stressful, but there’s something sweet about knowing that your (or mostly your husband’s) blood, sweat, and tears are in the fabric of your home.
Even post-renovation, our home has plenty of quirks. Each of our old doors opens and shuts differently. Our bedroom door has to be slammed shut or it won’t stay closed. Jackson’s door has to be jerked open when it’s cold and doesn’t like to shut all the way when it’s hot. It’s funny how after time you just get used to each quirk. My poor college girls who come over on Wednesday nights have yet to master all the door opening and shutting tricks.
Our front door was absolutely the worst offender. I had to push it open with my hip or shoulder, and that was after fighting the ancient screen door with a toddler in my arms. It was hard work just getting in my house. You can imagine how challenging it was when Jackson was asleep on my shoulder! The door had a diamond shaped window right at eye level. Anyone who approached it couldn’t help but look inside our house. When we had Jackson, I taped a wash cloth over it so that I could have some privacy. It was so classy. When the previous home owner dropped by one day to see all the renovations we had done, she couldn’t believe we hadn’t replaced the front door. That hollow-core door was at least fifty years old. It was so brittle that an eight-year-old could have kicked it down.
Some months ago Curtis and I ventured into Lowe’s after a lunch date. I walked slowly through the door aisle and saw the door of my dreams. I never knew there was a “door of my dreams,” but there it was. It was red and had a beautiful window so high up that it would let some light in, but someone would have to be very tall or nosy to see in. It looked like a door that would go on a beautiful old bungalow. Our house is not quite a bungalow, but I thought it would look great. Curt shocked me by saying yes when I asked if we could get the door. We decided to think on it for a while first.
Soon we found out that our neighborhood was going to be in the middle of a major redevelopment project and some houses would be bought and torn down. We didn’t know if our street was being targeted for something new or if it would be left alone. We still don’t know, but we think we are staying put. (The city is not going to use eminent domain.) So we finally took the long-overdue plunge and my beautiful new door was installed last Thursday. It is even more gorgeous on my house than it was in the store. It opens and shuts gracefully. Praise God, the screen door has finally been retired. It feels secure and private, and the window makes rainbow reflections on my wall in the afternoon. I am completely in love with a door, of all things! But those who are proud of their door, the Lord is able to humble.
Ironically – so very ironically – our across the street neighbor got some new furniture that very day. In my city, it is extremely common for people to leave their old furniture out on the curb so that someone else can come and reap the blessing. Usually things like that are taken away within hours. Many people drove slowly by our house that day, not to admire my lovely new red door, but to see if the large couch in my neighbors yard was something they’d like to have for themselves. It was a perfectly good leather couch. What completely baffles me is that it remained there for three days. Three days! On the fourth day it was kindly taken away by the city.
The irony of this may be lost on you without my confession that the Lord has been dealing heavily with my pride lately. I’m not sure if I’m being more prideful than usual, or if the Lord is simply giving me eyes to see it. Whew! It has been a challenging couple of weeks! I recounted all the stories of my many recent humblings to my mom and we were squealing with laughter. If I can’t laugh, I might cry!
Even though this post is already very long, I’ll go ahead and share another little slice of life with you. Curt and I were asked to help distribute the elements of the Lord’s Supper on Sunday night. I was to stand up front and hold the cup of grape juice while church members dipped the bread into it. Let me tell you, I was very nervous about doing this because of my recent pride issues. I did not want to take or distribute Communion in an unworthy manner, lest I offend the Lord and become sick or fall asleep! (See 1 Cor. 11:27-32.)
I was getting some last minute instruction from my sweet pastor’s wife on the two sentences I was supposed to say to each person as they dipped the bread. Then she broke the news to me that by the end of it, I would probably have grape juice splashed all over my pants and shoes. I looked down at the cute new wide leg pants that I got from Anthropologie for my birthday and grimaced. I quickly tried to think right thoughts about the situation and offer my pants as a sacrifice to the Lord. What a very, very small sacrifice in view of Christ offering His body and His blood for the redemption of my soul. Well, the Lord put a holy scotch guard around my trousers and did not allow any grape juice to touch them. I’m absolutely positive that He gave me the vision of being bathed in grape juice in front of our congregation to protect me from that ugly pride during Communion. Now, if anyone saw me standing up there with spittle, it must not have been enough!
I’ve only talked to one of my neighbors since we dropped off the butterscotch haystacks, but I think they liked them. Someone asked about how to package them. I bought some small, square aluminum cake pans that came with lids and I lined them with a little bit of wax paper. That worked great because they were cheap and disposable. I also wrote a little card to each neighbor and included the recipe inside.
Thanksgiving and Christmas will be here before we know it and we will all have some great opportunities to take sweet treats to our neighbors. I would just encourage anyone to pray and ask God how you could be a blessing and spread the fragrance of the knowledge of Christ to those who live closest to you.
I’m not sure how many of you have listened to the “A Christmas Collection” CD that we have in our online store. It would be a great thing to include in a basket of goodies for the holidays. In it, my mom narrates a few Christmas stories and poems that she wrote several years ago. It’s one of my favorite products that we have. Diane always gives me a few copies to give out at Christmas.
While I’m on the topic of products that help you get ready for the holidays, let me mention one other thing. I recently heard Dennis and Barbara Rainey talking about her book Thanksgiving: A Time to Remember on Family Life Today. It is a “beautifully illustrated coffee table resource to help your family recognize God’s hand in our history, remember His blessings in the past, and express thankfulness to Him for His goodness today.” If you order the book, they will include the audio book – the dramatic presentation of the real story of Thanksgiving – for free. They played a portion of the audio book on the radio program and it had me hooked! It was very moving. So I will be ordering that for the Jones family before Mr. Jackson wakes up from his nap!
Here we are with our friends Janelle and Ella at our church’s fall festival. My mom will appreciate that the girls were 80’s aerobics instructors. You can’t tell in this picture, but I wore a poodle skirt and some saddle shoes.
Happy November, everyone!
“But thanks be to God, who always leads us in triumphal procession in Christ and through us spreads everywhere the fragrance of the knowledge of him.”
2 Corinthians 2:14