Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Silent Movies, Restored Memories

With great anticipation, I finally sat down on the couch last evening to watch the Cook Family Home Movies. I thought these visual memories were lost forever, but I found them recently in a drawer in my closet.  My sister and I had had the old reel to reel family movies converted to VHS years ago as a gift for our parents.  Since the VHS is now outdated and we have no way to play it, I took the VHS to Access Multimedia and had it converted again to DVD.  Today, I gave my sister her copy.


I wanted to watch this lost, but now found, collection of memories because the first anniversary of my mom's passing was yesterday.  I wanted to see her, my dad, grandparents, cousins, aunts, uncles, friends from the past; people who were a part of my early childhood and who provided me with such wonderful memories. 

 

Christmas mornings are some of my favorite memories captured on film.  The bright camera lights were always an unwelcomed guest to those freshly opened eyes as we saundered into the living room to see what Santa had brought. It didn't take long though for our eyes to be wide open with sparkle as we scanned the array of gifts neatly displayed.  I even got to see my dad in his Santa suit again.  He played Santa for children every year and I just loved being Santa's daughter. And to this day, I still believe!

Every winter it snowed.  Yes, in South Carolina!  One year after a rare ice storm, dad pulled us across the front yard in a huge aluminum pan which he used to fry fish in.  He drilled a hole in the front of the pan, threaded a ski rope through it, tied a sturdy knot, and the rest was pure, slap-your-granny fun! Although these are silent movies, you could almost hear our high pitched squeals as dad pulled us, slipping and sliding on the ice, so we could fly past him when he stopped.

At our home there were birthday parties, Easter pictures, baby showers, church luncheons and youth events, weekends at Lake Murray (our home away from home), water skiing, swimming, backyard swings, homemade ice cream, mountain trips, horseback rides, halloween costumes, and even a children's drama we put on at church. 

I watched myself play the piano with such little fingers at the age of 3, and the organ on Christmas morning at the age of 10 or 11 as the family opened presents.

For an hour and a half I watched a lot of happy unfold in silence.  Suprisingly, no tears were shed...just a lot of smiles and laughter.  I was able to see my parents laugh again, play again, love again, and I can't wait to watch it again.

Silence...golden.  Restored memories...priceless.

 
Thank you, Jesus, for this very precious gift.  Thank You for the joy we experienced and what an impact that joy had on mine and my sister's lives.  Loving You and loving people is what our parents did best.  I know that our home is where I began learning how to love You and how to love people.  Thank You for the silent, restored memories which remind me again of what great Christian parents we had, what a wonderful legacy they left us, and what a great, and mighty God we serve. 

My Pleasure,
Melanie

Friday, March 8, 2013

What to Wear...The Robe of Obedience -Week 3


"What to Wear...from this day forward" includes what-not-to-wear in Week 3.  A life lived under the authority of Satan, the dark commander and chief,
models this clothing line regularly. 
It is not attractive,
nor does it fit or flatter the Christian,
 and it definitely doesn't satisfy our souls.


In Galatians 5:19-21, Paul states that we must "put off" these items (sins) so we can "put on" the Designer's accessories (Fruits of the Spirit) listed later.





The dark line of clothing (the acts of the sinful nature) can be divided into four sections:

1.  Sexual immorality, impurity, debauchery
2.  idolatry and witchcraft
3.  hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, factions and envy
4.  drunkenness, orgies, and the like

These what-not-to-wear items are tagged with the label "ME" over the heart.  "It's all about me and satisfying my desires my way, no matter how depraved I become." 

Section 1 deals with selfish, sexual desires.

Section 2 deals with anything that we put ahead of Christ even to the highest
level of Satanic activities.

Section 3 deals with our relationships with others. Always looking out for number 1- ME, no matter who I hurt!

Section 4 deals with sins of totally escaping reality. 
By the time you get to section four, the sin nature is total control, living in total depravity.

All of the above are about living to fill a spiritual need with anything but Christ. The only Person who satisfies every need we have is Jesus.  You may be full for the moment through these acts of the sinful nature, but you always have to go back for more, and more, and more.  It's a vicious cycle.

Real satisfaction is never achieved when you're left with more emptiness in your soul.  The author, Ann Voskamp, calls these soul holes.  These holes can never be filled until you allow Jesus to fill them with His love, grace, mercy, and forgiveness.  Only then will you be truly satisfied!

Because we still live in our fleshly bodies, even Christians, who are seeking to model the clothing of Light, sneak back into the dirty hamper occasionally and pull out something from their past wardrobe to put on.  This is where the conviction of the Holy Spirit, Who lives inside of us, plays a huge roll.  Once a Christian realizes that sin has entered the wardrobe, she needs to remove the clothing immediately, in true repentance (sorrow) ask for forgiveness, and bathe herself in the Word. This is really refreshing!

The Christian life is a journey of process.  We are being saved, being sanctified, becoming like Him!  As we move through the process, we sin less and less.  This is what it means to mature, to grow up in Christ.  Our old nature is sin-FULL; our new nature is sin-LESS.  Get the picture?

To remove or "put off" these dark items as we are commanded to do takes faith and OBEDIENCE!  So this week we hang in our closets the robe of Obedience

Until next week...

My Pleasure,
Melanie



Tuesday, March 5, 2013

An Act of Kindness, Not So Random

 
Have you ever been the recipient of a "random act of kindness"?  Have you ever extended to someone a "random act of kindness"?  I have experienced both. (The gift above is an example of receiving.) But I have to say as I've thought about this, acts of kindness, from a Christian perspective, are not random, but intentional! Being kind is a way of life!

The Fruits of the Spirit listed in Galatians 5 are:  Love, Joy, Peace, Patience, Kindness, Goodness, Faithfulness, Gentleness, and Self Control.  In my Bible study, What to Wear... from this day forward, I describe these "fruits" as accessory items needed to accent our spiritual wardrobes. They accentuate the character of Jesus Christ living in and through us, which causes others to take notice.

So it seems to me if kindness is part of our spiritual fashion to be worn all of the time, then why would we only express it randomly?  Kindness should be on display all of the time.  But offering up kindness can be hard sometimes, especially when despensed via tough love.

An act of kindness, via tough love, was  intentionally served over 50 years ago.  When you understand the sovereignty of God, and that He works everything for good according to His purpose, then you'll understand why I view this long ago act as truly kind.

 
Many of you know that I was adopted.  Adoption is one of the most kind acts I know of; taking in a child, not of your flesh and blood, and grafting them into your family as your own flesh and blood.


I've always loved telling my story of adoption because of what a wonderful mom and dad God chose for me.  I've always understood that being adopted is something very special.  That's how I've always been made to feel... celebrated!

 
How I came to be adopted through an act of kindness, not so random, is what I want to share with you.  I didn't find out this part of my story until about 7 years ago when I met the woman who birthed me.  She shared with me that, because of the circumstances surrounding her pregnancy, she was given a choice; either give me up or never see her other three children again.  She was told this by her husband, from whom she was separated at the time, and it crushed her spirit.  (This is the part where if you don't understand the sovereignty of God, you will think this an unkind act.) 

My favorite story of the Bible is the story of Moses. He was adopted to accomplish God's plan and purpose for the Israelites.  Pharoah's heart was hardened many times as Moses was fulfilling God's call on his life.

God had a plan for my life as well, and through the hardening of a man's heart, the process of adoption began.  Whether he realized it or not, God used his not-so-random act of kindness for my best interest, and ultimately, God's glory!

The woman who carried me for nine months reluctantly chose to give me up out of fear.  Her husband chose to give me up because I needed a fresh beginning.  God chose to place me with my parents because that was His plan all along! 
.
Adoption!  What a beautiful picture of God's redemption!  When we accept Jesus' very intentional act of kindness, we are adopted into God's family. He gave up His own life for our best interest, and for His Father's glory. God orchestrated His plan of redemption through very difficult circumstances to reveal His grace, mercy, love, forgiveness, joy, and peace. 

Because of both intentional acts of kindness, I've been adopted... twice!  For both gifts I'll always be grateful.  

The man who served the not-so-random act of kindness, passed away last Thursday, February 28, 2013.  I never met him, but if I had, I would loved to have said this to him, "Thank you! Thank you for making the hard choice.  Your difficult act of kindness gave me a chance to begin life fresh so I could experience and understand the gift of God's amazing grace in a very special and unique way- through adoption!

"For I know the plans I have for you, says the Lord, plans not to harm you, but to give you a future and a hope." Jeremiah 29:11

My Pleasure,
Melanie