Have you ever thought that much about the words you speak, hear, and use each day? Have you ever put any thought into how nuanced your words are? Or, how nuanced the English language is? Or, honestly, is NOT? While I have pondered on this from time to time, I never gave it any real, considerable thought. At least, not until recently.
(As a side note, the reason I say our language is not very nuanced is because we tend to use the same words for many things. For instance, did you know that Eskimos have 50 different words for snow? Or, that the Tamil people of India and Sri Lanka have more than 50 words that mean variations of the word love? Isn’t that awesome?! I think so!)
I am doing a Bible study on happiness and it has brought all of this to the forefront for me. And, it is fascinating to me. Which, of course, means that I must share it with all of you.
How about the word word? Dictionary.com says that it is a unit of language. Which is true. But, thanks to my Bible study, I now think of words as containers that carry meaning. Isn’t that cool? A word is a container that carries meaning!
Now onto some words that are new to me, and one that I have been defining incorrectly.
Let’s start with the word blessed. Have you ever thought about what the true meaning of the word blessed is? I have always thought of it as meaning being gifted with something, or having something nice bestowed upon you, that you didn’t ask for or deserve. And, I have always associated it with being a Christian. Basically, I think of being blessed with gifts from God. (Gifts such as life, a home, food, etc.)
But, as we all know meanings of words can change over time.
Did you know that, in the Bible, blessed often really means happy? I had no clue! Blessed is the word that I mention above that I have been defining incorrectly.
Here are some new words for you. The Hebrew word for happy is asher. The Greek word for happy is makarios. So, both asher and makarios mean happy. And, many translations of the Bible use blessed for asher and/or for makarios. When the KJV translators rendered asher and makarios as blessed, their audiences knew the words meant happy. Happy was a synonym for blessed at that time.
Now though, no one seems to associate these two words--blessed and happy, happy and blessed. What a shame! God wants all His children to be happy. He wants all of us to be blessed. God has hard-wired all of us to want happiness. God, our Father, is a happy and generous Father, and He created us in His image.
Finally, before I go, I must share with all of you the word makarios doesn’t just mean happy, but it refers to deep, true happiness in God. Isn’t that beautiful?
I came across this post on Facebook today and I had to share it. Tera Elness is the Christian blogger who wrote this. Reading it was like an epiphany to me. I love, love, love it!
Thank you so much, Tera for writing this and sharing it. What a blessing you are!
I don’t know what you are waiting for Beloved, but I suspect you are waiting for something.
A breakthrough. A blessing. A boundary to keep him or her safe.
A dream to come true. A fear to get lost. A hope to fully be realized.
A restoration. A revelation. A real in-your-face-can’t-deny-it rolling away of the giant stone you just can’t seem to push out of your way.
Perhaps you are waiting.
For something to give.
For something to change.
For something to at least just shake loose.
Waiting is hard.
Amen and understatement.
And I’m not here to tell you otherwise, or proclaim it’s any easier for me.
I will tell you what He has shown me this year.
For truly, that’s what I do.
I can take the waiting and call it preparing.
Yes, I most certainly can.
I can call it glorious, holy preparing.
For I know, I have learned, that this is who He is.
A God who knows the value of the wait.
Babies in the womb take time to develop.
Seeds in the ground do too.
Cake batter in the oven doesn’t fair well after only five minutes in.
The best time.
The perfect time.
He knows the plans He has for us Beloved, He wrote them.
Each and every one.
For each and everyone.
And every one serves purpose.
He is the Author of our story and the Perfecter of our faith.
And I truly believe...that OUR waiting...is HIS perfecting.
Making us complete.
Making us whole.
Working things together for good.
Going ahead to prepare the green pastures before He leads us in.
For this is who He is.
He is good.
And His love endures forever.
And that will never change.
Trust the wait.
Trust the One.
Leaning on the everlasting arms...the ones that are carrying you home.
You can follow Tera's blog, One Girl's Faith Journey, by clicking HERE.
Have you ever looked at the cross and thought that it also looks like a plus sign? Or maybe you’ve looked at a plus sign and thought about how similar it is to the cross. I was thinking about this the other day when it occurred to me—maybe they look comparable for a reason.
When I see a plus sign (+) I know that that means to “add to”. If you look it up online, you will find that, “A plus sign is the sign + that is put between two numbers in order to show that the second number is being added to the first. It can also be put before a number to show that the number is greater than zero, and after a number to indicate a number that is more than a minimum number or amount.”
When Jesus died on that cross for us, He sure added a lot to our lives, didn’t He?
His death was a game-changer. When Jesus died on the cross, He added eternity in heaven as an option for us. ETERNITY! In heaven! My small little mind can’t even truly grasp that. All we must do is believe in Him and ask Him into our lives.
With His death on the cross, we received so many amazing gifts. He died on the cross to forgive us of our sins. He died for us. For. Us. He died, so we wouldn’t have to. I definitely count that as a plus!
Jesus died to bring us into relationship with God. And, when we are in relationship with God, God gives our lives meaning. God also gives us unending grace, mercy, and forgiveness. Add in His unconditional love and constant support and perpetual strength.
These are just a few of His mind-boggling gifts. And, while each one is incredible on their own, when you tally them all up you begin to realize just how astonishing God and His love for us truly is.
By dying on that cross, Jesus added so much potential to our lives. If we believe in Him and trust in Him, we have the ability to do anything we set our minds to. Not the least of which is to extend His love, His forgiveness, His grace, and His mercy to others. That is certainly adding something to our own lives and the lives of other people, isn’t it?
As you can see, the pluses abound!
I am sure there are about a million more things I am forgetting that we could add to this list.
Thank you, Jesus, for adding so much to our lives by dying on the cross. May we open our eyes and hearts to all the many blessings you add to our lives each day. May we learn to be thankful and grateful for each and every one. It’s in your name we pray, Amen.
Today, I would like to share with you a comparison that I stumbled upon recently between theatre and God.
I am a theatre nerd. I was introduced to theatre, or drama club as it were, my sophomore year in high school. My junior year in high school I was treasurer of our drama club and by my senior year I was president. I hold both a B.A. in technical theatre and an M.A. in speech with the focus on theatre. I have worked in professional theatre, equity and non-equity, and community theatre. Overall, I spent more than ten years of my life working in theatre in some form or fashion. And, while I haven’t worked on a play in about eighteen years, I will always love it and it will always hold a dear place in my heart and life.
When most people think of theatre, or plays, the first thing that comes to mind is acting and/or actors. Most people’s acquaintance to theatre is as an audience member, so that makes a lot of sense. However, there is considerably more to theatre than meets the eye. It is made up of markedly more than just the actors and acting.
There is a whole other world that takes place behind the scenes and an abundance of work that goes into every production prior to the “finished” product that you witness. What makes theatre so magical, in my humble opinion, is that, if done correctly, as an audience member, you don’t even realize this part of it. What you get is simply a seamless experience—an escape, if you will, into another universe. You should be so immersed in that play’s particular environment, that you don’t even notice everything that is happening behind the scenes--the practical logistics of it. And, trust me, there are a slew of logistics!
As I noted above, my degrees are in technical theatre. Most people don’t really understand what that term means, so let me enlighten you. Technical theatre encompasses scenery, lighting, costuming, sound, and properties. Basically, it is everything that goes into a production other than the acting. And, it takes an army of people to get all of this work done. You have playwrights, dramaturgs, stage directors, production or stage managers, technical directors, scene designers, lighting designers, costume designers, prop designers, sound designers, carpenters, scenic charge artists (or painters), electricians, audio engineers, prop masters, costumers, stagehands, and board operators. If you are producing a musical you can add in musicians and choreographers. (And, these are just the people that come to mind right now, I am sure I am forgetting some people—my apologies to my fellow theatre peeps.)
So, what does any of this have to do with God and being a Christian? Well, a great deal.
I like to think of God as our playwright. He created us and brought us into being. He is the author and perfecter of our faith. (See Hebrews 12:2). Each of us is a character in this play called “Life.” And, we each play a critical role, weather we realize it or not. As Konstantin Stanislavski, the great Russian theatre practitioner, once remarked, “there are no small parts, only small actors.” We each play the lead role in our own lives. And, while the role we play in our own lives is critical, our roles are just as meaningful and necessary in the grand scheme of things, or the play of “Life” that I referred to earlier.
And while God is our playwright, He is also every theatre technician that I mentioned above, working furiously behind the scenes of our lives. Rarely, if ever, do we get a chance to see “behind the curtain” of heaven, but there are about a bazillion things going on back there. (Much the same as it is in theatre.)
If you went backstage during a show, you would see lots of folks running around and doing stuff that made zero sense to you. Even if you are a bonafide theatre nerd like me, and have a good idea of what is happening, you would never fully understand all the intricacies of it unless you were a part of it from the beginning. And, the only entity who has been around since the beginning is God. Only He knows what He doing. As a Christian, I am learning and growing every day—but I only grasp a very small part of His overall grand design. So, much like being backstage during a play, oftentimes our own lives make very little sense. And, that’s ok. What matters most is how it all comes together in the end.
As an audience member, a good audience member, it is our job to sit back and take it all in. We, as good audience members, must do what is referred to as “the willing suspension of disbelief.” Basically, this means that it is necessary for us to accept the given premises and parameters of the story unfolding in front of us. It is our job to simply believe. It is both a very easy and a very complicated thing to do. Just believe.
I really like what Ed Hooks has to say about this topic:
“A theatrical experience is a unique thing. Think about it, focusing for the moment on the legitimate theatre: Actors, audience members, tech crews all come together at the same time in the same place for a common purpose. Their meeting is not any more random than meetings at church, synagogue or mosque. The purpose of this meeting is to share a theatrical experience, and all parties – including the audience members - have to work together to make it happen.”
In theatre, as with life, we have to work together to make the desired outcome happen.
As audience members at a play, we have no idea what is going on backstage. This is how it is and how it should be. As members of the audience of the play, we have to work together and believe, with the actors and tech crews, to make the theatrical experience happen.
As members of the body of Christ, we have no idea what is going on behind the scenes in heaven. Again, this is how it is and how it should be. We have to work together with God and believe in Him and trust Him and all that He is doing behind the scenes.
If we work successfully with the actors and tech crews at a play, we should walk away with a joyful, fulfilling experience. All we have to do is just believe.
If we work successfully together with God, we should come away with a joyful, fulfilling life. All we have to do is just believe.
We moved into our new home three weeks ago. If you haven’t moved in a while, I must remind you that moving is stressful. And tiring. (And, categorically sweaty in the summertime). Plus, moving with three cats and one dog is even more stressful and tiring! I would really like at least one week on a beach somewhere doing nothing but reading books and sipping pina coladas and allowing my body to recover! Alas, that won’t be happening any time soon. Le sigh…
Anyway, I had to share with you one part of our moving experience that was simple, and if I may say so, amazing. It was literally a God-send.
We hired a local moving company to move our belongings to our new home. We had used them before and remembered them doing a good job for us, so we figured we would use them again. And, I am so thankful we did!
The company we hired is called A Better Way Movers. They are part of A Better Way Ministries, a local nonprofit that helps men find refuge from life controlling issues such as drugs and alcohol. Their program is Christ-centered and Biblically-based. The moving company is used to help fund their ministry. They offer packing services and do both local and out-of-state moves. You can get a free estimate by visiting their website or giving them a call. And, we were blessed to have them help us with our move.
On the morning of our move three guys showed up. Being the natural introvert that I am, I always find it awkward to meet new people, and this was no exception. But, as soon as one of the guys reached his hand out to let our dog smell him in way of greeting and expressed how much he liked animals, I knew we were in good hands.
Broderick, Jordan, and Joshua were our movers and they were top-notch. Not only did they do their jobs quickly and effectively, but they did it with smiles on their faces the whole time. They took extra special care of our items and did not damage anything—not the items, not our old home or our new one.
By the end of the day, I had felt like we had made three new friends. However, I hadn’t seen anything yet. Before these new friends left, they presented us with a printed “House Blessing” and asked if they could pray with us! I was floored! I looked at Paul, my hubby, and, just like me, he had tears in his eyes. Of course, we heartily accepted their invitation.
We all gathered in our living room and Joshua led us in a wonderful, spirit-filled prayer. Afterwards, I asked if I could hug each of them, and they were happy to oblige me. I had realized that not only had we made three new remarkable friends that day, but we met our brothers in Christ. We were truly moved by the whole experience. (Horrible pun intended!)
That evening as we sat exhausted in our living room, I told Paul that I felt like, once we got everything settled into our new home, we should have a cook-out and invite our three new friends over. Who knows? Maybe sometime soon we can actually do that!
Those of you who know me, know that I am enormous animal-lover. There are very few creatures on this earth that I don’t care for. I like most critters that others do not, including spiders, snakes, sharks, and bees. Actually, the only living thing that I don’t like is roaches. (They completely gross me out!)
And, if you know me, you also know that I considerably tender-hearted. So, it should come as no surprise to you that when I come across animals in distress, I do my best to help them. I will stop and help turtles cross the road. I will fish lizards out of water bowls. I will pick up wiggly worms from the sidewalk and put them back in the dirt. I will scoop up spiders inside the house and take them outside. I will guide hummingbirds out of my garage with a rake. I will pick up snakes and relocate them to safer areas. This is just who I am. It is who God made me to be.
This past Sunday, as I was taking Clancey for a walk, we came across a young opossum that was hurt. I could see a big scratch on his head and he was curled up, breathing heavily. I initially panicked, not knowing what to do. But, I knew I could not leave him there like that to die. I quickly headed back home to jump online and search for help. My husband and I tried calling at least six different places, hoping they could take him in. No one could. After those strike-outs, I got back online. It took me a while, but I finally got some help from a wildlife rehabber, Melissa, on a Facebook group I belong to.
Melissa first advised me to be careful in handling this baby, as opossums are wild and they do bite. However, most often they freeze up, or “play possum” and handling them shouldn’t be that hard. She told me to clean up his wound with peroxide and antibiotic ointment. She also told me he would appreciate some water and fruits and veggies.
By-the-time I got back to take care of the little guy, lots of flies were flying around. This really worried me. But, I got to work, cleaning up his head. I also noticed he was hurt under his arm as well. So, I cleaned that up too. Next, I put out some fresh water and peas for him and even tried putting some drops of water in his mouth. Next, I covered him with a cloth to keep the flies away. I then decided to leave him alone for a little while, and give him some time to rest.
Honestly, I needed some rest too. I was so worried over this little guy. I was anxious and fretting about him. I went home and cried and laid down for a quick nap. And, I think, most importantly, I prayed and prayed and prayed for him. I truly didn’t think he would make it.
The next time I went to check on him, well I almost didn’t even go. I didn’t think I could take seeing his little dead body lying there. But, I also had to know how he was doing. So, off I went, holding my breath.
When I got there, he was gone!
The cloth I had covered him up with was still there. The jar lids I put his food and water in were there. (Along with ants who were eating what was left of the food.) But, my little guy was gone.
The only thing I can figure is that God used me and that little bit of work I did on him, to allow him to rest up and leave of his own volition.
And, this is why I am sharing all of this with you today—God is so, so good!
God heard my prayers. He saw my tears. He saw my heart. And, He took care of this sweet little opossum.
To me, it was a miracle.
But, that is what God does, doesn’t He?
That is the business that God is in, isn’t He?
Dear Heavenly Father,
Thank you, Lord, for allowing me to see this first-hand and be reminded of Your mercy and love. Thank you for allowing me to play a part in it. And, thank you for allowing me to share this with others. I give you all the glory. For, it is nothing that I did, but what You did.
In Your son’s name, I pray, Amen.
P.S. Did you know? Opossums eat ticks and copperheads. They are immune to snake venom and, due to low body temps, they rarely contract rabies. So, please show these critters some love!
A major life change is currently taking place in my family. We are preparing to move into our new home! It is an exciting, albeit, hectic and stressful time. Packing up all our belongings is one of those chores that demands physical strength and endurance. And, unfortunately for me, I don’t really have either one of those anymore. (Shout-out to my mystery illness!)
My husband and I have been anxiously awaiting this move for almost a year now. On the plus side, this time has granted me the freedom to clean up, clean out, purge, and pack things a little bit at the time. There is no way I would be able to handle doing all this the week before we move. (Talk about corporal punishment! I get exhausted just thinking about it.)
On another note, while waiting on our home to be built, I came across an idea that I thought was wonderful—and I want to share it will you. As I am sure you have already surmised, I love God. And, I want to grow in Him and share His love and light every day. With this endeavor, I am a work in progress!
I also want to fill my life with as much goodness as I can. This is especially true for our home. I mean home should be our sanctuary, right? It should be the place we long to be and feel most comfortable in. And, while I know that heaven is my true home, I want to make our earthly home as Godly and humble and inviting as I possibly can.
With that thinking in mind, it occurred to me that it would be lovely to find a blessing/prayer to christen our new home with. As I scouted around online, I stumbled upon an even better idea—write Bible verses in each room of your home. I must thank Laura Tucker for this fabulous idea. I encourage you to read her article A Strong Foundation: Bible Verses For Building A Home.
So, after deciding which Bible verses I wanted to use, I got my trusty Sharpie and went to work. Below are some pictures of the results. All of these are now covered in drywall and paint, but we know that they are there. And, more importantly, God knows they are there. I also wrote out this new home blessing in the middle of our living room floor:
May peace so fill this space
that strife will find no place.
May love so lift each heart
that pain will have no start.
May joy be in such supply
that sorrow’s tears will quickly dry.
And may each room be
filled with laughter, joy,
and song all the day long.
Building our new home on the firm foundation of God is the best investment we can ever make. It will pay dividends in every area of our lives. The same is true for you. It is true for all of us. When we put God first, everything else will fall into place.
I am so glad you are here! I am Erica Strickland, a girl who loves God. My goal here is to simply share His love and light.