Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Quakers and Sunflowers

I made a lot more progress on my Quaker sampler today.  Even started on some of the letters which are stitched 1 over 1 on 28 count.  Got out my 28 tapestry needle for that.

I also started some work on the Sunflowers Sampler too.  Not much to see.  Stitching it on 28 count natural linen.

Quaker Progress

The Quaker sampler is going faster than I expected.  Here's a picture

I actually had to frog that whole green and purple vine/flower section so it's good progress that I was able to put it all back. 

There's a disclaimer on this fabric:  not recommended for Aida fabric.  I can already see why.  Soon, I'll be stitching one over one on 28 count and there are mini Algerian eyelets.

I'm using 28 count antique white Monaco instead of the bone Brittany.  I think it makes a great substitute.

Sunday, April 28, 2013

New Projects

I'm now going on Week 4 of being a stay at home Mommy.  I'm keeping my sanity by picking up a little stitching.  Still dangling on the fate of graduate school which will start in June if all gets approved.  I went through my stash again this weekend and did a bit of organizing.  If you read my guest post on Stitching the Night Away, you might remember me talking about inventorying your stash.  I did that awhile back but I went through it again and weeded out some stuff I didn't need. I also labeled all my fabric so that I know which piece is which.  I managed to find a few pieces on my "to do" list that I have the correct fabric for AND I also have a frame that will fit the finished piece.  These are the two I'm adding to my list:

I'm doing the bottom one first, which is "Quaker Sampler."  The stitching on it has been going fairly quickly.

Since I now have several projects that I'm rotating through because they're large, I have a new tab devoted to my "large projects" where you can see the finished item and where I stand progress wise.  No pic up yet on the Quaker Sampler.  Hope to have one tomorrow.

I should probably work some more ornaments, but I'm not in the mood sadly.

Something I made for my husband

So, my husband finished working his third week at his new job installing alarm systems.  He wanted some magnetic pouches to put his different screws in but he wasn't extremely satisfied with the commercial pouches at Home Depot, so I made him one.  I used corduroy fabric and sewed magnets into the inside.  This is what it looks like

The parachute clip allows you to attach it to your belt.  It works quite well.  The husband wants another one but I think I might modify the design a bit.  We'll see how this one holds up. 

Saturday, April 27, 2013

A Cottage

I finished up my cottage this morning.  Here's a picture. It came with a magnet attached on the back but I'm thinking of gluing a picture hanger on the back so it can be hung on the wall.  I love the colors in this one.  And the kit came with some kind of specialty needle. :)

I also wanted to post a picture of my teapot banner which is now hanging on the wall.

Friday, April 26, 2013

Race to the Finish

I've decided to end out A to Z this way because otherwise I just plain won't finish.  This week has been more exhausting than it should and it's not nearly over because it's the week my husband works Saturday which makes for a six day week.
U is for Uriah
Uriah the Hittite was the husband of Bathsheba and a soldier in King David's army.  After David's affair with Bathsheba when Bathsheba found out she was pregnant, David tried to cover it up.  He arranged for Uriah to come home on leave, hoping he would spend some time with Bathsheba and create an alibi for the child.  Uriah, however, was a man of some character and didn't feel it right to go home when all his fellow soldiers were sleeping in tents so he stayed with his troops.  You can contrast that with David who should have been out with his troops instead of watching women bathing.  After that, David had him killed by putting him on the front lines and having the other men pull away from him so he was sure to die.  Poor way for him to die.
V is for Vashti
Queen Vashti was the wife of King Xerxes of Persia.  She was deposed from her position after she refused to come to Xerxes at a dinner party.  He wanted to show off her beauty.  His advisers told him to remove her as queen because such insolence would set a bad example for the women of Persia who would feel they could rebel against their husbands as well.
W is for the Woman Subject to Bleeding
Unfortunately, we don't even know this woman's real name.  She had been subject to bleeding for years.  What people today don't realize is the ramifications of that condition.  If you check out Leviticus 15, please note that a woman who was bleeding continually like this woman would have been unclean the entire time.  This would have made her an outcast because if she touched anyone, they would also be unclean.  Elsewhere, some of the regulations also required you to call out "unclean" so she may have had to go through the crowds yelling this, to warn people away.  However, she had great faith.  She may have gone to see Jesus preach prior to this but we're not told.  She knew Jesus was too busy for someone like her but she fervently believed that if she just could touch the edge of his cloak, he would heal her.  So she did and she was healed.
Afterward, Jesus called her out.  But not to chastise her.  He did it to assure her that he had healed her and to commend her for her great faith.
X is for Xerxes
You remember Xerxes from that little blub about Vashi, right?  After Vashti, he sent out for all the eligible maidens to come to his palace so he could choose a new queen.  He chose Esther, who was secretly a Jew and God used Esther in her position of queen to save the Jews from Hamaan's plot (but you can read all about that in the book of Esther).
Y is for YHWH
In the Hebrew Bible, the name of God is written "YHWH" with the consonants omitted.  The Jews were afraid to say the name of God so the true pronunciation is lost but today, most people would write it "Yahweh."  
Z is for Zechariah
There are a couple of Zechariahs in the Bible but the one I'm thinking of is the father of John the Baptist.   Zechariah was a priest and it was his turn to go into the Holy of Holies during the Day of Atonement.  This was a semi-scary event for the priest because doing something wrong in the Holy of Holies meant certain death.  He would have been wearing bells so the other priests knew he was still alive and also a rope would have been tied to his ankle so that if God did strike him dead, they could have dragged his body out.
This time, Zechariah wasn't alone.  An angel was there too.  She told Zechariah that he would have a son who would be the forerunner to the Messiah but Zechariah didn't believe the angel because he was too old to have children.  The angel struck him dumb for his unbelief and his wife soon became pregnant.  He regained his speech only by writing "his name is John." on a tablet. 

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

S is for Solomon and T is for Thomas

I'm finding it increasingly difficult to finish A to Z this year.  I'm adjusting to life as a stay at home mom going solo and trying to get everything done to get into graduate school and today I was woke up by my daughters at 4:00 am again (for those of you joining me for A to Z, I have two toddlers ages 2 and 3 who are both language delayed and may or may not be autistic).  I'm going to try my best to finish out. 
Solomon is reputed as the wisest man who ever lived.  He was the son of David and Bathsheba and if you read 1 Kings, you'll discover that it wasn't easy to get him on the throne.  His brother Adonijah set himself up as king and Bathsheba had to get an aging King David to intervene.
Once Solomon was established as king, God came to him and asked for whatever he wanted.  Solomon asked for wisdom and God was pleased with his request so he also gave him wealth and honor in addition.  His wisdom was so well known that people  like the Queen of Sheba came to visit him.  There's also an account of a wise ruling that he made involving two woman fighting over a baby.
Solomon built the temple during his reign and it was glorious temple.  It took 7 years to build. 
Solomon's downfall was his wives.  He had 700 wives (mostly foreign) and 300 concubines.  The all worshipped different gods and led Solomon to worship these gods as well.  As punishment for this, God split the kingdom of Israel into two halves after Solomon's death. 
Solomon is known for writing part of the book of Proverbs and Song of Songs.  The book of Ecclesiastes is often attributed to him.  It is hoped that if he did write the book, it was a sign that at the end of his life he realized the foolishness of the foreign gods and renounced them.
Thomas was on of Jesus' twelve disciples.  He is most famous for being "doubting Thomas." 
After Jesus' resurrection, he appeared to his disciples in a locked room but for some reason Thomas wasn't with them.  When they told him about it, he didn't believe them and said he wouldn't believe it until he put his fingers in Jesus' nail marks and the mark in his side.  Jesus appeared to his disciples again and showed Thomas that he really had risen from the dead.  Then Thomas believed.

Saturday, April 20, 2013

R is for Rahab

Rahab is the prostitute who hid the spies in Jericho.

Israel was approaching the Promised Land after wandering in the desert for 40 years.  Joshua (who is now leader after Moses) sends two spies to the city of Jericho.  The king of Jericho gets wind of the spies and searches for them, but Rahab, a prostitute, hides the spies under some flax on her roof and later that night, lets them escape over the wall.

Rahab asks the spies for kindness to her family and the spies grant it by telling her to take all her family into her house and tying a red cord at the window. 

A little while later, Israel comes and decimates the city of Jericho by marching around it and after the city is a pile of rubble, Rahab is rescued.

If you look at the genealogy of Christ, it appears that one of the Israelites married Rahab and she is in the lineage of the Savior.

Friday, April 19, 2013

P is for Peter and Q is for Quirinius

Sorry for the double post again.  I had a bit of a crisis yesterday with graduate school stuff.

Peter is one of the best know disciples of Jesus and one of Jesus "inner circle.
Peter's actual name was Simon and Peter was a sort of nickname.  He joins Jesus in Matthew 4 while fishing with his brother Andrew.  They leave their nets and follow Jesus.  We know that Peter was married because in Matthew 8, Jesus heals Peter's mother-in-law.
In Matthew 14, Jesus walks on the water to his disciples who are in a boat.  Peter asks Jesus if he can come walk on the water too and Jesus grants his request. Peter starts walking but is afraid and begins to sink.  Jesus has to rescue him.
Peter is also present at the transfiguration of Jesus.  This is when Jesus shows part of his true glory and Moses and Elijah appear.  Peter, however, is so overwhelmed that he says “Lord, it is good for us to be here. If you wish, I will put up three shelters—one for you, one for Moses and one for Elijah.”  The book of Mark adds a note saying that Peter doesn't really know what he's saying, he's just frightened. 
When Jesus is arrested, Peter springs into action, cutting off the ear of one of the high priest's servants.  Jesus rebukes him for this and heals the man.  Despite this show of bravery for Jesus, Peter turns coward not hours later, denying Jesus three times.  However, unlike Judas, who felt his betrayal of Christ warranted suicide, Peter wept bitter tears and repented.

Peter was one of the first disciples (he went with John) at the tomb of Jesus when it was discovered that it was empty.  Later when Jesus makes his post-resurrection appearances, he reinstates Peter.

When they had finished eating, Jesus said to Simon Peter, “Simon son of John, do you love me more than these?”
“Yes, Lord,” he said, “you know that I love you.”
Jesus said, “Feed my lambs.”
Again Jesus said, “Simon son of John, do you love me?”
He answered, “Yes, Lord, you know that I love you.”
Jesus said, “Take care of my sheep.”
The third time he said to him, “Simon son of John, do you love me?”
Peter was hurt because Jesus asked him the third time, “Do you love me?” He said, “Lord, you know all things; you know that I love you.”
Jesus said, “Feed my sheep. Very truly I tell you, when you were younger you dressed yourself and went where you wanted; but when you are old you will stretch out your hands, and someone else will dress you and lead you where you do not want to go.” Jesus said this to indicate the kind of death by which Peter would glorify God. (John 21: 15-19)

After Jesus ascended to heaven, Peter became one of the driving forces in the early Christian church, starting with a rousing speech on Pentecost. 

Tradition says that Peter was crucified upside down.  There's no definitive proof of this, however, we do know that he was killed for his faith, just as Jesus prophesied.


Like a good little Lutheran schoolgirl, every year at Christmas, I would recite the Christmas account found in Luke 2.  I've had this memorized for like 20 years now and I'm pretty sure I can type it out now from memory:

In those days, Caesar Augustus issued a decree that a census should be taken of the entire Roman world (this was the first census that took place while Quirinius was governor of Syria).

When you're 6 years old and memorizing this, you find that Quirinius is not the easiest name to pronounce.  Why would God even mention this guy anyway?  It's not like he provides any significance.  Or does he?

This caused a quandary with Bible scholars because Quirinius didn't start ruling until like 5 A.D. and Jesus was born about 4 B.C.  Scholars have come up with two solutions.  One is that Quirinius may have been a high enough official in Syria even before his official governorship.  The second is that the Greek of Luke can also be interpreted to say "before" instead of "while."  You an read a more in depth article here.

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

N is for Naaman and O is for Onesimus

The story of Naaman has become one of my favorite stories in the Bible.  It shows how God helped out Gentiles even before the coming of Christ.  The account can be found in 2 Kings 5
Naaman was the commander of the army of Aram, who was at war with Israel.  He had leprosy, a rather nasty disease.
Naaman's wife had a slave girl who had been captured from Israel.  This girl was a believer in God which is a small miracle considering she was from the Northern Kingdom of Israel which always had evil kings and worshipped many different idols.  In any case, she didn't hide her faith "under a bushel" as the popular Bible song says.  She tells her mistress that Naaman should go visit the prophet in Samaria so he could be healed.
Naaman goes to the king of Aram who gives him leave to go see this prophet and sends him with generous gifts and a letter:
So Naaman left, taking with him ten talents of silver, six thousand shekels of gold and ten sets of clothing. The letter that he took to the king of Israel read: “With this letter I am sending my servant Naaman to you so that you may cure him of his leprosy.” 
The king of Aram believed that such a prophet must be in the employ of the king.  How was he to know that the King of Israel didn't fear the true God?  The King of Israel, Joram, was all in a panic when he got the letter, fearing it was plot against him.  Fortunately, news of the letter reaches Elisha (through the grapevine or directly from God, we aren't told) and he tells the king to calm down and send Naaman over to him.
Naaman travels to Elisha's house.  Elisha doesn't even come to the door but sends a messenger to say:
“Go, wash yourself seven times in the Jordan, and your flesh will be restored and you will be cleansed.”
Naaman is not happy with this answer and went away angry, grumbling:
“I thought that he would surely come out to me and stand and call on the name of the Lord his God, wave his hand over the spot and cure me of my leprosy. Are not Abana and Pharpar, the rivers of Damascus, better than all the waters of Israel? Couldn’t I wash in them and be cleansed?”
Let me stop the narrative right there and interject that God could have indeed healed him by having Elisha wave his hand over the spot.  But he didn't.  We're talking about a God who created the entire universe with WORDS!  I ran into this quandary one day when I was reading the New Testament account where Jesus healed a blind man by spitting on the ground and putting mud on his eyes.  He had to do this not once but twice to restore the man's sight.  I asked my college classmate who is now a pastor why Jesus went to all that trouble to heal a man when he should have only to say the word.  He told me that Jesus always did miracles in accordance with the person's faith.  The blind man may have had a weak faith and needed the extra personal attention.  Other people like the Roman centurion, the woman subject to bleeding and the Canaanite woman had very strong faith and Jesus healed their needs over long distances with only his word or in the bleeding woman's case, without words at all.
Naaman, being a non believer, may have just needed an extra boost to give him faith.
Fortunately for Naaman, his servants talk some sense into him.
"My father, if the prophet had told you to do some great thing, would you not have done it? How much more, then, when he tells you, ‘Wash and be cleansed’!”
Naaman was convinced and washed in the Jordan and was healed.  He also becomes a believer in God and returns to Elisha.  Elisha refuses to take any gifts from Naaman, although at the end of the chapter Elisha's servant Gehazi accepts some gifts and is stricken with leprosy for his dishonesty. 
Onesimus is mentioned in the book of Philemon.  The book was written by Paul to a man named Philemon.  Onesimus was a runaway slave who met Paul, who at this point in his life had been imprisoned.  In ancient Rome, a runaway slave could face the penalty of death but Paul encourages Philemon to take Onesimus back as a dear brother and fellow believer.  Paul also asks that Philemon charge any damages from Onesimus to his account. 
This situation is a mirror image of our relationship with God.  We are like Onesimus, sinners with a death sentence for our sins.  Paul is like Jesus, a redeemer, paying the price that we could not pay.  As a result, we are accepted by God as his dear children instead of the pitiful trash that we are. 

Monday, April 15, 2013

M is for Melchizedek

Today I decided to cover one of the lesser known figures of the Bible.  He's only mentioned in three places:  Genesis, Psalms and Hebrews.
If you read my last post about Lot, there was a part when I talked about Lot getting carried off when some kings attacked and Abram sent his impressive army of private soldiers to get him back.  And then this happened:
Then Melchizedek king of Salem brought out bread and wine. He was priest of God Most High,  and he blessed Abram, saying,
“Blessed be Abram by God Most High,
    Creator of heaven and earth.
And praise be to God Most High,
    who delivered your enemies into your hand."
Then Abram gave him a tenth of everything. (Genesis 14:18-20)
At first glance, this would just seem to be a irrelevant side note.  Melchizedek means "king of righteousness" and Salem is a shortened version of Jerusalem.  This makes Melchizedek the king of Jerusalem and a priest.  It's possible that Melchizedek was a priest of the Canaanite gods, however, Abram's reaction to his blessing indicates that Melchizedek did worship the true God (not to mention that God used him as an example later in the Bible).
Then, Melchizedek shows up randomly in Psalm 110:
The Lord says to my lord:
“Sit at my right hand
    until I make your enemies
    a footstool for your feet.”
The Lord will extend your mighty scepter from Zion, saying,
    “Rule in the midst of your enemies!”
 Your troops will be willing
    on your day of battle.
Arrayed in holy splendor,
    your young men will come to you
    like dew from the morning’s womb.
The Lord has sworn
    and will not change his mind:
“You are a priest forever,
    in the order of Melchizedek.
The Lord is at your right hand;
    he will crush kings on the day of his wrath.
He will judge the nations, heaping up the dead
    and crushing the rulers of the whole earth.
He will drink from a brook along the way,
    and so he will lift his head high.
"Order of Melchizedek," you ask?  This psalm is a prophecy about Jesus and Jesus is often referred to as our "prophet, priest and king."  Melchizedek was also a priest and king at the same time.  In Old Testament Israel, the high priest and kings were entirely different people from completely different tribes of Israel.  Priests were from Levi and the kings that Jesus was descended from were from Judah.
To get an even better understanding, we have to look at the book of Hebrews.  If you're not familiar with Hebrews, it was written to the Jews after the ascension of Jesus to explain how Jesus fulfilled all the Old Testament prophecies.  The treatment about Melchizedek is found in Hebrews 7.
The writer of Hebrews (who has never been positively identified, but is often thought to be Paul), starts by giving some background about Melchizedek and explains that the "tenth of everything" that Abram/Abraham (remember he had his name changed by God) gave to him, was the same as "the tenth" that Levite priests collected from the people of Israel.  He also explains that Melchizedek was greater than Abraham because Abraham gave the offering to Melchizedek and Melchizedek blessed Abraham.  Since Abraham was the great-grandfather of Levi, this makes Melchizadek greater than the priests of Levi.
The people that Hebrews was directed toward would have been confused.  All they knew was the Levite priesthood.  So, as Hebrews 7 continues, it begins to explain things.  The Levites were part of Old Testament law so if a new priest came (Jesus, who was not a Levite), the laws would have to be changed.  Jesus, because he was priest and king, was able to save the people because he lives forever since he is both God and Man.  I'll let the last few verses of Hebrews 7 explain things.
 Such a high priest truly meets our need—one who is holy, blameless, pure, set apart from sinners, exalted above the heavens. Unlike the other high priests, he does not need to offer sacrifices day after day, first for his own sins, and then for the sins of the people. He sacrificed for their sins once for all when he offered himself.  For the law appoints as high priests men in all their weakness; but the oath, which came after the law, appointed the Son, who has been made perfect forever.
If you have the chance, I recommend reading the entire book of Hebrews, but especially chapter 7.

Saturday, April 13, 2013

L is for Lot

Lot is Abraham's nephew who starts out with such a bright future but ended up sad and miserable living in a cave.
In Genesis 13, Lot and Abram separate because the land can't sustain their combined flocks.  Abram, gives him the pick of the land and Lot choses land over by Zoar and the city of Sodom.  This was done out of greed because it was the best land.  Can't say that I blame him.  Which of us when given first pick doesn't pick the larger half of the cookie?
Now the city of Sodom was a wicked city.  Lot originally pitches his tents outside of Sodom.  The kings in that area were at war and soon after he moves, Lot and his possessions are carried off as spoils of war.  This greatly distresses Abram and he sends his private army of 318 men off to rescue them.  His men are successful and bring Lot and his family and their possessions back along with others that were taken.  (At this point, I want to note that this is a huge indication of Abram's wealth.  A private army of 318 trained private soldiers?  Seriously.)
Remember that I noted that Lot originally lived outside of Sodom.  By Genesis 18, he's living inside Sodom.  And things in Sodom have not improved because God comes to Abraham (Abram has just become Abraham, God renamed him in his covenant) and tells him that he is going to destroy Sodom and Gomorrah for their sin.  Abraham pleads for the cities and talks God down to sparing the city for the sake of 10 people.
Well, there aren't 10 righteous people in the city at all so two angels come to take Lot and his family away.  Obviously, Lot knows how depraved the city is because he won't let the angels spend the night in the square.  And I think the city is rubbing off a bit on him because when the men of Sodom come to gang rape the angels, Lot is about to offer up his two daughters for them to gang rape instead.  Good father?  I think not.
The angels warn Lot to flee and he hesitates.  Could it be that he liked living in Sodom?  Sounds a bit that way.  Or perhaps he's rather attached to his possessions.  Something must have lured him from his life outside the city, into the walls of the despicable place.  The angels have to physically pull him and his wife and daughters away.  Lot hesitates again and asks to be able to go to the city of Zoar instead of the mountains.  The angels grant his request.  While they are fleeing, Lot's wife looks back and turns into a pillar of salt.  I won't go into details on that, however, you can find a wonderful study on that subject in Bad Girls of the Bible by Liz Curtis Hughes. 
The depravity doesn't end there.  At the end of Genesis 19, we see the fate of Lot who is living in a cave near Zoar.  It sounds like his daughters have also been educated in the ways of Sodom because they get their father drunk and rape him so they can get pregnant by him.  I'm not sure how they got it into their heads that they would never get married.  Perhaps Lot, who the Bible says moved to the cave because he was afraid to live in Zoar became an isolationist and refused to give them in marriage.  We're not explicitly told.  In any case, it was a sad end to a man who could have had a nice comfortable life but made some poor decisions.

Friday, April 12, 2013

K is for Korah

For the letter K, I've decided to do Korah, who with two other Israelite men, started a rebellion in the book of Numbers.  This happened while the Israelites were doing their 40 years of wandering in the desert. 
Korah was a Levite.  He would have had high duties for the Lord at the Tabernacle but it appears that he desired to be more than that.  So he challenged Moses' leadership.  He was joined by Dathan and Abiram and 250 other men.  They come to Moses, saying that "the whole community is holy" and therefore, Moses should not be able to set himself higher than any other Israelite.
Moses replies that God will chose who is holy and tells the rebels to bring censers of incense tomorrow so that God can chose. He goes on further to tell Korah that it should be enough that God has already set him apart as a Levite for important work at the tabernacle.
Dathan and Abiram (who are from the tribe of Reuben) make the excuse that Moses has not brought them to the Promised Land and that they were better off in Egypt.  This theme is used a lot throughout the wandering in the desert.  The people of Israel often made their hard years of slavery in Egypt sound rosy.
So, the showdown begins.  God tells Moses and Aaron to step away from the other 250 men plus Korah, Dathan and Abiram.  God then causes the earth to swallow Korah and his two compatriots along with their households and possessions.  Then God sends fire and takes out the other 250 men. 
The bronze censers of the 250 men are turned into an overlay for the altar because they are holy and to serve as a reminder to the Israelites of the events.
You would think that the Israelites would have been "seized with a great fear" or something but instead they turn the blame on Moses and Aaron saying "you have killed the LORD's people."
God strikes the Israelites down with a plague until Aaron quickly offers a sacrifice of atonement for their sin but 14,700 people die as a result.
It never ceases to amaze me the things that the children of Israel did despite having God's continued presence (remember, the pillar of cloud and pillar of fire were always there and they had seen God's wonders at Mount Sinai).  Perhaps this is why Jesus said "Blessed are they who have not seen and yet have believed."

Thursday, April 11, 2013

J is for Jonah

Jonah is one of the most recognizable figures of the Bible.  Probably because of the whale. 
Jonah was called about the time of King Jeroboam II and King Uzziah (of Israel and Judah respectively).  He was called to go to Nineveh, the capital of Assyria.  He is one of the few prophets who was called to go to a Gentile nation.  God tells him to go there to tell them that he is going to bring judgment upon them.
Now the Assyrians were mean nasty people.  They were known for impaling people on poles and putting hooks though people's noses. 
Jonah doesn't obey God's command.  He turns tail and runs.  In the complete opposite direction.  Most people figure he was afraid of going to Nineveh, however, if you read chapter 4 of Jonah, you will find the real reason was that he didn't want God to change his mind if the Assyrians repented and save them.  He wanted them wiped off the face oft he earth.
Now, running from God is always a stupid and futile thing to do.  It didn't work for Adam and it certainly didn't work for Jonah.  God caused a major storm to come up.  Even the unbelieving sailors recognized this as a supernatural storm.  Jonah was found out by casting lots and thrown overboard at his request.

After that, he was swallowed by a large fish where he stayed for three days and nights.  He prayed to God while in there (you can read his prayer in chapter 2) and was spat back out.

He obeyed God this time (a wise decision) and went to Nineveh.  The people there took Jonah's warning that God would destroy them seriously and wore sackcloth in repentance. 

Jonah didn't like that one bit.  He sat outside the city and was angry that God had decided to spare the city.  While he was waiting there, God grows a nice plant (the old NIV translates it "vine" but the new one translates it "leafy plant") that shades Jonah from the sun.  But then God sends a worm to eat the plant which withers so that Jonah is scorched by the sun.  Now he's angry about the plant and the city.  God concludes the book by saying that Jonah was concerned for a plant that he did not tend so why should God not be concerned about the people of Nineveh.

I find the last chapter about the plant/vine is often not talked about which is sad because it sums up the main idea of the book.  Jonah is a very short book.  I recommend reading it. 

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

I've Survived a Week

Well, I've now successfully completed a week as an official stay-at-home mom.  It's been rough.  I've had a few days that started at 4 am.  I'm still having problems getting Adèle to go to sleep in her own bed but Zoé is really having bedtime success.  My husband points out that we had the same problem with Zoé going to bed last year so it might be an age thing.   My husband works long hours as an installer so he wasn't coming home until 9 or 10 at night.  But the last two nights, he's been home before dark which has been a bit of a treat. 

I've done a little stitching.  Not much since the bulk of the housework now falls squarely on my shoulders but I find that since I did a bunch of preliminary cleaning, the house is easier to maintain.

I is for Isaiah

Isaiah son of Amoz, was a prophet of God to the kings Uzziah, Jotham, Ahaz and Hezekiah. He was also the author of the book of Isaiah and is considered one of the major prophets.  He was married and had at least two sons.  Jewish tradition says that he was beheaded by Manasseh but there's no evidence of this.  He was a contemporary of the prophets Micah,
The book of Isaiah is one of my favorite books of the Bible for it's beautiful prophetic poetry.  My Bible dictionary says that it is quoted more than any other writer in the New Testament and was used by Jesus at the start of his ministry.  A good chunk of the text from Handel's Messiah comes from Isaiah as well. 
Notable parts of the book of Isaiah include:
Chapter 6 - Isaiah's vision of heaven (Holy, holy, holy is the Lord Almighty...)
Chapter 9 - For unto us a child is born....
Chapter 12 - "The First Song of Isaiah" (Surely God is my salvation...)
Chapter 40 Comfort, comfort my people....
Chapter 52-53 - The Suffering Servant (He was pierced for our transgressions...)
Chapter 55 - Invitation to the thirsty (Come all you who are thirsty)
One of the most controversial prophecies in the Bible also comes from Isaiah.  The book Isaiah was written before Judah went into exile and the book does predict the exile and also the return.  Cyrus is mentioned by name in 3 verses as the one who will let Judah return from exile and also rebuild Jerusalem (44:28, 45:1, 13).  Keep in mind that the events predicted are over a century in the future and that Cyrus is a Persian and the Persian empire doesn't even exist.  The specific nature of this prophecy causes many scholars who do not like the Bible to try to discredit the book of Isaiah. 
To conclude today, I want to leave you with a wonderful version of "The First Song of Isaiah" that has become one of my favorite hymns.

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

H is for Hezekiah

After King Solomon, the kingdom of Israel was split into two separate kingdoms: Israel to the north and Judah to the south.  The kings of Israel are all evil and the kings of Judah are a mixed bag of God-fearing kings and idol worshipping kings.  Case in point, Hezekiah's father Ahaz is an evil king but Hezekiah turns out to be one of the best kings that Judah has throughout its history.
Hezekiah takes the throne when he is 25 and rules for 29 years.  He puts into place some major religious reforms.  According to 2 Chronicles 29, once he takes the throne, he has the priests consecrate themselves.  King Ahaz had removed the bronze altar from the temple during his reign and the priests put it back where it should be.  In the next chapter, he decides to celebrate the Passover.  However, all the priests could not be consecrated in time so they celebrate it a little late.  Hezekiah invites his entire kingdom and has a great turn out, including some people from the Northern Kingdom.  He doesn't stop there.  He removes the high places, which were places on hills where the people would go to worship.  Many of the "good" kings of Judah had failed to do this.  He also destroys the Bronze Snake of Moses because people had been worshipping it.
During Hezekiah's fourth year, the king of Assyria sweeps the kingdom of Israel off the face of the earth, a judgment from God for their continual idol worship.  Ten years later, the newest king of Assyria,  Sennacherib, attacks Judah an lays siege to Jerusalem.  Hezekiah gives him a bunch of gold and silver but that doesn't appease the king.  So, Hezekiah cries out to God who sends an angel to smite the camp of the Assyrians and they leave.  Hezekiah correctly gives all the credit to God for defeating this mighty army.
Soon after this, Hezekiah becomes gravely ill and the prophet Isaiah comes to tell him that he is going to die.  Hezekiah's prayer is simple: Remember, Lord, how I have walked before you faithfully and with wholehearted devotion and have done what is good in your eyes.  God changes his mind and grants Hezekiah 15 more years.  He also gives Hezekiah a sign and makes the shadows on the stairway of Ahaz go backward 10 places (it was basically a giant sundial, so a sundial's shadow went backward). 
Hezekiah's one moment of weakness was when he shows envoys from Babylon all the riches of his palace.  Isaiah chastises him for this and tells him that all of his riches will be carried off, along with some of his people.
As I said, Judah's line of kings is a mixed bag and Hezekiah's son Manasseh is perhaps the evilest king of Judah.  But that's another story.

Monday, April 8, 2013

G is for Gideon

Sorry about the lateness of this post.  I had a busy weekend.
If you haven't read the book of Judges, it falls into a bit of a predictable pattern.  Israel worships idols > God lets foreign nations invade > Israel says they're sorry and asks God for help > God sends a "judge" to save them > Israel is happy and worships God until the judge dies > repeat
These judges aren't what we think of judges today.  They were more of a ruler/warrior depending on the situation.  Most people know the judges Samson and Samuel from Sunday School.  The next most popular judge is Gideon found in Judges 6
At the time of Gideon, Israel is occupied by Midian.  The angel of the Lord comes to Gideon as he is threshing wheat and tells him that he will help Gideon defeat Midian.  Gideon, in a moment similar to Moses, makes a minor protest that he is the least in his family and of the least of the tribes.  God reassures him and Gideon asks him to stay while he goes and gets an offering. 
Gideon went inside, prepared a young goat, and from an ephah of flour he made bread without yeast. Putting the meat in a basket and its broth in a pot, he brought them out and offered them to him under the oak.The angel of God said to him, “Take the meat and the unleavened bread, place them on this rock, and pour out the broth.” And Gideon did so. Then the angel of the Lord touched the meat and the unleavened bread with the tip of the staff that was in his hand. Fire flared from the rock, consuming the meat and the bread. And the angel of the Lord disappeared. When Gideon realized that it was the angel of the Lord, he exclaimed, “Alas, Sovereign Lord! I have seen the angel of the Lord face to face!”
But the Lord said to him, “Peace! Do not be afraid. You are not going to die.”

After that, God asks Gideon to tear down his father's altar to Baal and then cut down the Ashtoreth pole and use it to offer their seven year old bull.  Gideon does this--at night--but somehow everyone knows that he did it because they call for his death.  His father, however, says something surprising.

 But Joash replied to the hostile crowd around him, “Are you going to plead Baal’s cause? Are you trying to save him? Whoever fights for him shall be put to death by morning! If Baal really is a god, he can defend himself when someone breaks down his altar.”

After this is the famous test of Gideon and the fleece.  The first night, Gideon asks for the fleece to be wet and the ground to be dry.  The second night, he asks for dry fleece and wet ground.  Both times, God gives him the sign. 

Gideon then amasses a bunch of Israelites to fight Midian.  Thirty two thousand men show up.  God says that it's too many people so after sending home 22,000 scaredy cats and another 700 who drink water on their knees, Gideon is ready to fight.  His battle strategy is definitely untraditional and involves trumpets, torches and clay jars.  You can read about the battle in Judges 7.

There's a bit more to Gideon's story including him dealing with two towns that would not help him and his troops and a golden ephod that was more trouble than good but I won't go into that.  You can find it in the book of Judges.  [On a side note, while you're there, may I recommend Ehud as well]

Saturday, April 6, 2013

Cutest. Thing. Ever.

So the hubby and the girls and I had a bit of an adventure today.  We had to get some supplies at Home Depot and then we made the drive out to Cabela's.  And then I saw the cutest thing ever.

And no, he's not stuffed.  That, ladies and gentlemen, is a live 7 inch or so tall Eastern Screech Owl.  He apparently is used for falconry so he catches prey for his owner (mostly grasshoppers and mice and sparrows and stuff).  He was very well behaved and sat nicely on his perch.  The owner demonstrated his swiveling ability by swiveling the base.  The body moved with the base but the head stayed in position.  Wish I had a video of that.  It was cute.

Zoé wanted to pet it.  Adèle was afraid of the hawk who was also there so she didn't even see the owl.

Here's a wide angle picture to show its size.

Use that Galaxy S III on the table as a comparison.

F is for Felix and Festus

There aren't a lot of options for people of the Bible starting with "F."  The two I found are both Roman governors who show up in Acts.  To understand how they fit in, we have to start with the Apostle Paul.

Paul was a Pharasee and persecuter of the Christian faith who was converted to Christianity after Jesus appeared to him in a brilliant vision on the road to Damascus.  After his conversion, he went on many missionary trips around the Mediterranian Sea proclaiming the Gospel.  The account of this can be found in the book of Acts.  In Acts 21, Paul has returned to Jerusalem and is arrested on trumped up charges claiming that he is causing disruption.  Paul is arrested in flogged and the Roman commander is horrified when he finds out that Paul is a Roman citizen (you can't flog or crucify a Roman citizen and they have the right to a trial).  In Acts 22, Paul goes before the Sanhedrin and he defends himself to them.  But, there's a plot to kill Paul so the Roman centurion sends Paul to Felix for safekeeping and a fair trial.

I looked Felix up in our Bible dictionary and I found out some interesting things.  First, he had three wives.  Second, apparently, he felt he could commit any crime because he had friends all over the court system.  Not a nice guy.

In Acts 24, Paul gets a trial before Felix and Felix keeps him in custody (minimum security though) because he wants Paul to bribe him to set him free.  I told you he wasn't really a nice guy.

After 2 years, Felix leaves Paul in prison as a favor to the Jews and is suceeded by Festus.

My dictionary doesn't say that much about Festus so it sounds like he wasn't so colorful.  The chief priests try to convince him to transfer Paul to Jerusalem for a trial.  What they really want to do is assassinate him en route.  Paul appeals to Caesar instead (his right as a Roman citizen).  Festus consults with Herod Agrippa who hears the trial and decides that Paul could have gone free if he hadn't appealed to Caesar.

Thus ends our experience with Festus and Felix

Friday, April 5, 2013

E is for Elijah

Elijah is one of my favorite people in the Bible.  Most likely because he plays a major part in my favorite Bible account.

Elijah was the major prophet during the reign of one of the wickedest kings of Israel.  Most of the kings of the Northern Kingdom were wicked but Ahab takes the cake.  Married to Ahab is the even wickeder Jezebel who has set up Baal worship throughout the land while killing off God's priests and believers.

Elijah starts out by announcing a famine in 1 Kings 17.  God still takes care of him during this time of little food.  First, he feeds him with ravens and then he sends him to a widow to whom he gives a never emptying jar of flour and jug of oil. 

Then comes my favorite story in 1 Kings 18.  It's Elijah at Mount Carmel.  It's a showdown:  God vs. Baal. 

Elijah proposes a test.  Each side will take a bull and offer it and pray to their god and one that is supreme will light the fire on the altar.  He decides to let Baal go first.

The 450 prophets of Baal pray all day, even cutting themselves.  Elijah starts to feel pretty confident in God because he starts taunting them.

1 Kings 18:27 At noon Elijah began to taunt them. “Shout louder!” he said. “Surely he is a god! Perhaps he is deep in thought, or busy, or traveling. Maybe he is sleeping and must be awakened.”

Eventually, the prophets of Baal give up.  Then it's Elijah's turn.  He builds an altar, lays out his sacrificial bull and then douses his altar in 12 large jars of water.  Anyone knows that wet wood does not a fire make.  Elijah then prays to God and God answers by sending a massive pillar of fire that destroys everything about the altar, including the stones and the soil and the water. 

On a side note, I hope they have instant replay in heaven because I want to see that moment.  Moreover, I'd really like to see the faces of the 450 prophets of Baal who have just spent their entire day cutting themselves only to not have their prayers answered.  It had to been a sight to behold.

Anyway, directly after this, God decides to send rain back to the land (there was famine, remember).

After this, Elijah seems to have a hiccup in his faith.  Jezebel is not happy that her priests were all slaughtered after Elijah proved they were frauds and she threatens his life.  Elijah decides to go hide in a cave. God comes to him and asks what Elijah is doing.  After Elijah answers, God decides to come to him.  But he doesn't come to him in a great wind or an earthquake or a fire, he comes in a gentle whisper.  After that, Elijah has his faith restored and leaves the cave and does God's bidding.

Elijah is only one of two people in the Bible  who was taken directly to heaven without dying (the other was Enoch). 

Of all the Old Testament prophets, Elijah and Moses are considered the "greatest."  Neither of them has a grave.  Elijah was taken up in the whirlwind and Moses was buried by God so that no one knew where he was buried.  Very smart move on God's behalf.  With the track record of the Israelites, their gravesites could have easily turned into shrines. 

Thursday, April 4, 2013

Some Stitching

Yeah, I know, three posts today.  Got to get them in while I can.

I finished up my Window Box today and glued it to the card that came in the kit

So, now I have all my spring things gathered together on my shelf

I also started a cottage.

The one on the right ^
Here's where it is so far.

Little Suzy Homemaker

For those of you who are long time followers, you already know that my husband and I have been unemployed for over 6 months now.  He was a stay at home dad for our two toddlers while I slaved at T-Mobile in one of their call centers.  Then, T-Mobile closed my call center, leaving us both out of work.  He's been trying to get back into installing alarm systems (which is what he used to do) but hadn't been successful until now.  So yesterday became my first official day as a stay-at-home mom. 

And "stay at home" it was.

We have two vehicles.  We used our tax money to purchase a truck because my husband will have to furnish his own truck for this new job.  We also have an old Saturn that was my father's.  It hasn't been operational since last fall.  When it appeared that he was going to get hired, my husband went out to work on the Saturn and it started right up.  It started up several times over a week.  We figured it was working.

But it wasn't.

So, I was stuck at home yesterday.  Couldn't take the kids to school.  The teenager took the bus today because I called yesterday to set it all up but I still can't get the preschooler to school.  The husband thinks it's a bad starter but he won't be able to fix it until Sunday when he's off.

So, I've become Little Suzy Homemaker.  Cooking, cleaning, taking care of the kids.  Bit of a shift considering I used to be the breadwinner. 

A photo from my younger days proving I could iron and read the Star Trek Technical Manual at the same time.

D is for David

King David is probably one of the most recognizable figures in the Bible.  He's the hero of "David and Goliath."  He's the guy who plays the harp and writes Psalms.  He also majorly messed up several times and God doesn't sugar coat it at all in the scriptures.
We first see David in 1 Samuel 16, tending his father's sheep.  Samuel shows up and anoints him king of Israel.  If you read the previous chapters, you'll remember that Saul, the first king of Israel, was rejected by God as king for doing things his way instead of God's way.  After David is anointed king, he gets a second job playing harp for Saul who has been afflicted by an evil spirit for his disobedience. 
1 Samuel 17 is the account of David and Goliath. It's a familiar story but it has a lot of misconceptions attached to it.  The first is that David is a little kid (a myth made popular by several children's tv versions, especially Veggie Tales).  The exact wording in 1 Samuel is "little more than a boy" which I take to mean a young teenager.  However, he's "glowing with health and handsome" so even if he is young, we can't really describe him as a "scrawny little kid."  Think of him more as a high school freshman football player or wrestler.  Young, but with muscles.  After all, he has killed a lion and a bear by himself while tending his sheep. 
But enough on that, after David kills Goliath, he becomes really popular with the ladies.  They come up with a little song for him "Saul has slain his thousands and David his tens of thousands."  Makes Saul a bit jealous.  More than a "bit" jealous, actually.  Saul tries to skewer David with a spear at one point.  David is forced to go on the run (with a little help from Jonathan, his good buddy and Saul's son), even pretending to be insane at one point.  He's not a vengeful guy either because he has a golden opportunity to kill Saul in 1 Samuel 24 while Saul is peeing in a cave.  Instead of killing him, he cuts off a corner of Saul's robe but even doing that bothers David.  So he confesses what he did to Saul and there's a bit of a truce finally between them.  But that's only temporary.

Saul finally dies off in 1 Samuel 31 when he kills himself on the battlefield and after a few more struggles with Saul's family, David becomes king.  But his struggles are far from over.

David's first major blunder is Bathsheba which is recorded in 2 Samuel 11.  It's a very familiar story.  David sees her bathing on the roof, decides to sleep with her and gets her pregnant.  Her husband Uriah has been off at war so he tries to cover it up by bringing him home but he won't go sleep with her because it's not right for a solider like him to go home when all the other soldiers are not at home.  David decides to get rid of Uriah in a sneaky way but putting him on the front line and then having everyone but him pull back.  God, of course, doesn't let this one slide.  He sends Nathan to tell David a story about a rich man and a poor man and some sheep. 

If you've been following my little A to Z series, you'll see that Adam and Cain share a commonality of not owning up to their sins.  They try to pass the blame.  David, surprisingly doesn't.  He fully admits his sin and asks for forgiveness.  The consequence of his sin is the death of the child he had with Bathsheba.  David gives us an awesome example for prayer life after this.  In 2 Samuel 12:15-23, we see David praying and fasting and wearing sackcloth, hoping that God will spare his sick child.  After 7 days, when the child died, David gets up and resumes his normal life.  He tells his servants that there was a glimmer of hope that God would answer his request but now that the child has died, there is no more reason to beg God for the child's life.

David has more struggles after this within his family.  One of David's sons rapes one of David's daughters and gets himself killed by yet another of David's sons.  Then the avenging son from that incident goes on to try to take over the country from David and gets killed in the process.  After all that drama, we come to David's second major blunder.

Now, David's second blunder isn't all that well known.  It normally doesn't show up in Sunday School.  This blunder involves taking a census.  Now that sounds innocent but verse one of 1 Chronicles 21 says that Satan coerced David into taking the census.  Again, David owns up to his sin and takes the consequence which is 3 days of plague. 

What we can take away from David is that he wasn't perfect but you can definitely see that he trusted in God throughout his life and admitted his guilt whenever he messed up.  He also wrote a lot of beautiful psalms that still have meaning for us today. 

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

C is for Cain

Cain is a very interesting character in the Bible and one of the best known as well. He has the distinction of being the first son of Adam and Eve and also the first murderer.
The conception and birth of Cain happens after the fall into sin and the expulsion from the Garden of Eden. God has just promised to send a savior into the world but he has not given Adam and Eve a timeframe so if you read between the lines, it's apparent that Eve thinks that the infant Cain is the savior.
The Bible doesn't record any of Cain's childhood. All we know is that he has a younger brother Abel. There may be other brothers and/or sisters at this point, but we're not told. Cain becomes a farmer, while his brother Abel tends sheep.
Then one fateful day, Cain and Abel decide to offer sacrifices to God. At this point there are no ceremonial laws or any recorded command from God to offer sacrifices (now he may have ordered sacrifices and it wasn't recorded in Genesis, but we'll never know), so it appears that both were doing this out of their hearts. Genesis 4:3-5 tells us:
"In the course of time Cain brought some of the fruits of the soil as an offering to the Lord. But Abel brought fat portions from some of the firstborn of his flock. The Lord looked with favor on Abel and his offering, but on Cain and his offering he did not look with favor. So Cain was very angry, and his face was downcast."
We are not specifically told here why Cain's offering was rejected. I highly doubt that Cain offered God moldy veggies. I picture Cain trudging to the altar and half heartedly tossing the bowl of produce onto it like the little child who is told he has to say sorry but doesn't feel sorry. Then again, that's just my speculation. 
After this little incident, God comes to Cain to ask him what's up.
Genesis 4: 6-7 Then the Lord said to Cain, “Why are you angry? Why is your face downcast?  If you do what is right, will you not be accepted? But if you do not do what is right, sin is crouching at your door; it desires to have you, but you must rule over it.”
Cain doesn't respond to God after this.  It seems he doesn't want to take responsibility for his actions just like his father Adam (remember Adam, blaming God for putting a woman with him who sinned?).  He broods for awhile, decides that Abel is the source of his problem so he kills Abel.  Just like with Adam, God gives Cain a chance to come clean with what he'd done.
Genesis 4:9 Then the Lord said to Cain, “Where is your brother Abel?”
And just like his earlier blunder, Cain refuses to take responsibility.
“I don’t know,” he replied. “Am I my brother’s keeper?
God isn't going to take that for an answer
Genesis 4:10-12 The Lord said, “What have you done? Listen! Your brother’s blood cries out to me from the ground. Now you are under a curse and driven from the ground, which opened its mouth to receive your brother’s blood from your hand. When you work the ground, it will no longer yield its crops for you. You will be a restless wanderer on the earth.

Then, Cain has the gall to whine about his punishment.  In re-reading this section, I really get the sense of Cain as the whiner of the family.  God could have just struck him down and killed him.  He gives him chances to come clean and Cain feels it necessary to play the blame game.  But even with the whining, God protects Cain from any family vengeance. 

Genesis 4:13-15 Cain said to the Lord, “My punishment is more than I can bear. Today you are driving me from the land, and I will be hidden from your presence; I will be a restless wanderer on the earth, and whoever finds me will kill me.”
But the Lord said to him, “Not so; anyone who kills Cain will suffer vengeance seven times over.” Then the Lord put a mark on Cain so that no one who found him would kill him.

There's been a lot of speculation over the centuries as to what the "mark of Cain" really was. I have no idea.  It's not really important.  But we do know that Cain was not killed by any of his family members and lived on to build a city.