Sunday, November 26, 2017

Where Does the Oil Come From?

In only a matter of two days this past week, three of my friends died.  At my mother's funeral, I learned from her pastor that that's how one should state what had occurred.  She died.  My friends died.  People die. They don't "go to the other side." They die. It's one of the ugly truths of this fallen world that we, the survivors, are left here to grieve until it's finally our turn. Sounds like I'm hoping for that day, doesn't it? Well, I'm actually dying for that day. One of these days, my body will die, and when that happens, I'm just going to keep on living anyway. That's the sum of it! As I heard Dr. Oswald Hoffmann firmly state from the pulpit one Thanksgiving Eve, "I'm not kidding!!"

So, what of these three, Gary, Gary and Adam, and what's oil got to do with any of this? Their bodies died, and they live on, and the reason they live on is because they had all the oil they needed for their lamps. Our readings at church today were packed with how we prepare. Gary, Gary and Adam, believing Christians, lived the sinner and saint lives that Christians live -- Sinners because none of us are equipped to live lives as saints apart from Christ; and Saints because my baptized, believing friends lived in Christ and, as they lived, they prepared to meet Christ face-to-face on the day when it was their turn.

Jesus told a story about what the kingdom of Heaven will be like.  He taught by way of a parable about ten virgins who were attendants of a bride, and they were waiting one evening for the bridegroom to arrive for the wedding celebration to begin. They had oil for their lamps in order to go meet the bridegroom when he arrived. All ten virgins had oil in their lamps. Five of them, though, were wise and also carried flasks of oil; five were foolish and did not. The bridegroom was delayed, and the attendants fell asleep. Then at midnight, they heard "Here is the bridegroom!" They all got up to light their lamps. Jesus tells us, "And the foolish said to the wise, 'Give us some of your oil, for our lamps are going out,' but the wise answered, saying, 'Since there will not be enough for us and you, go rather to the dealers and buy for yourselves.' And while they were going to buy, the bridegroom came, and those who were ready went in with him to the marriage feast, and the door was shut. Afterward, the foolish virgins came also, saying "Lord, lord, open to us," but he answered, "Truly, I say to you, I do not know you.'" Jesus follows this lesson with the admonishment, "Watch, therefore, for you know neither the day nor the hour." (Read Matthew, Chapter 25). Pastor told us this morning before Bible study that, during a particularly rough stretch last Tuesday, Adam had asked him, "Is today the last day?" Tuesday wasn't Adam's last day, but the flame of his lamp was still glowing yesterday morning when God's Holy Angels cradled him and took him to meet our Savior.

I've heard the parable numerous times, and I understand that it is a lesson about being prepared for our final day on earth and the promise of being with Christ for eternity. Today, though, there was this bit of the story to which I had never really given the attention it deserved. That is, "...go rather to the dealers and buy for yourselves." The five foolish virgins left. They went away to buy their oil. He is telling us that the foolish invested their faith in a sinister, earthly dealer, who is always on the prowl hoping to convince a weak one into believing the lie that we have to buy what is actually freely given in order for us to enter into the wedding feast. That's why Jesus ends his lesson by telling us to be watchful and not fall into that trap.

Yes, I know how the naysayers would respond. I've already heard it too many times. "If there is a God who wants all people to be saved, then why would this good God allow the door to be shut in anyone's face?"  The answer is: HE DOESN'T ALLOW IT!!  In fact, He tells us in His word, "For God has not destined us for wrath, but to obtain salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ, who died for us so that whether we are awake or asleep we might live with him."  (Read 1 Thessalonians 5)  I remember a line from a sermon several years ago, when my pastor stated, "You're either in Jesus' camp or your not."  You can't have one foot on one side of the fence (just in case) and the other on the other side (not really believing His Gospel's promise).  It.just.doesn'

And one more thing, don't invite Jesus into your heart.  That's an ugly place.  It's an ugly place in every single one of us.  Our hearts are ugly, stinking pieces of trash, and they get uglier and stinkier with every sin we commit. Why would we invite anyone there; especially God?!  The only way we can have a clean heart is to ask that He GIVE it to us as King David did (Psalm 51).  Here's the best part: In His infinite mercy, God answers that prayer. We keep praying it, and God keeps answering it. It is only by His grace we are saved, through the gift of faith. It is God who invites us; not the other way around. He takes the action; not us. He does this by way of Holy Baptism where He sends the Holy Spirit to cleanse us from all unrighteousness and bring us into body of Christ, our Lord and Savior. We don't have to buy anything. God provides the oil you need (His Grace, His gift of Faith, His Word, all in His Son, our savior Jesus Christ).  Believe it, and just like Gary, Gary and Adam, you'll be ready.

Yes, and I will rejoice, for I know that through your prayers and the help of the Spirit of Jesus Christ this will turn out for my deliverance, as it is my eager expectation and hope that I will not be at all ashamed, but that with full courage now as always Christ will be honored in my body, whether by life or by death. For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain. ~  Philippians 1

Sunday, June 12, 2016

Live Love Cards Challenge for June - Large Sentiments

It's been a couple of months since I've entered a card challenge. Lately I have been learning and practicing Bible journaling and, though I did manage to create a couple of birthday cards recently, I haven't been as focused on that branch of art and creativity. I love it all. Too bad working for a living has to take up so much of my creativity time. Today was a hot, sunny day here in the Midwest. I went out to do a little weeding in my flower beds and decided about fifteen minutes into it that I was ready to get back inside to the air-conditioning. Might as well be cool and creative, right? So here's my entry for the June challenge at Live Love Cards. I used the Hero Arts Happy Stamp and Cut set for the sentiment and Derwent Inktense colored pencils, for the background and die cut. I used white embossing powder on the smaller portion of the sentiment and Glossy Accents to make "happy" shine. A rainbow of sequins added balance and sparkle. Thanks for checking in!

Wednesday, March 30, 2016

Dad, Me, SPI and a Card Challenge

Earlier this month, I accompanied my father on what I now call his annual "pilgrimage" to south Texas.  When my mother was in better health, the two of them would escape the cold winters in Missouri and go to their home in Texas.  It started out as a January to April stay so that they could spend Christmas in the mid-west with the family. Eventually, they (or maybe just Dad) decided that four months wasn't nearly long enough, and they began leaving their Missouri home in October instead. I enjoyed seeing my folks enjoy their retirement like they did.  They made so many new friends, and even had a chance to visit more with some of the people my Dad had known since his younger days in southern Illinois.  They had a lot of fun and made a lot of wonderful memories.  Mom is no longer able to travel and Dad no longer drives, but that doesn't quell his desire to travel.  He began asking me last October "Where are we going to go on vacation this winter."  I'm the single one among my siblings, so he has appointed me as the offspring who should accompany him on these get-aways.  Is it my first choice for the essay "How I spent my winter vacation"?  Well ... I'm almost ashamed to say "Not really."  However, when it gets right down to it, whether he foots the bill or not, I can't help but think of the sacrifices he and Mom made for my siblings and me as we were growing up, always demonstrating their love for us, so the least I can do is spend some of my time off to look after him and help him get as much enjoyment as he can out of whatever years he has left. I sure wish Mom could still go, though.  Anyway, after he asked where we were going this year, I thought perhaps he had decided to do something different and go somewhere other than south Texas for a change.  Since I knew he still wanted to go where the weather would be warm, I mentioned we could go to a beach somewhere.  After several conversations about many other things and several weeks of not giving him an actual point on the map, his question then became "When are we going to south Texas?"  Now I don't mind south Texas, but if you've ever seen the Rio Grande River, you would know that the only common denominator it has with a beach is that water is present -- in some places.  So I suggested a compromise of sorts. Since his friends live only a little over an hour from South Padre Island, I asked if he would consider renting a place out there. We could still visit friends and be relatively close to good health care facilities (should that need arise), and I could still enjoy morning walks on the beach. He agreed. Our condo was right on the Gulf and the view was true refreshment. I sat on our little patio each morning in my jammies having my coffee and listening to the waves. After getting my caffeine fix, I would throw on some comfy "real" clothes and walk the shoreline ... and walk ... and walk ... and walk while Dad snoozed.  When he was ready to go, we would go.  We had a lot of fun, and he was happy. I was happy too.  That's what it's all about.  So all of this leads me to that picture up there. It's a photo of another card I made for another card challenge. I've nearly waited until the last minute (tomorrow is the deadline), but I can still get this one in under the wire. Darlene's March challenge at Live Love Cards is to use colored cardstock.  Like her, I don't tend to use it very often. I get more enjoyment creating backgrounds, coloring stamped images and trying different products and techniques when I make my cards.  However, I found a great deal around Valentine's day on some 12x12 card stock that I chose not to pass up.  This challenge gave me the opportunity to use some of my bargain paper and do a different kind of creating.  I decided to go with a "sunshine on the water" theme and memorialize the trip Dad and I took to South Padre. I used a Paper Smooches die to cut the waves in three shades of blue, and I used graduated sizes of Spellbinders circle dies for the yellow, orange and red of the sun. After layering the circles together, I traced the wave line with a pencil onto the sun and then trimmed it to snuggle up against the wavy horizon line. I went with a pale yellow for the rest of the sky to contrast with the blue waves.  The sentiment is from a Hero Arts wood block stamp I had in my stash.  It seemed fitting.  I layered the finished image on black and then added it to a white card base.  This was a fun way to combine a good card challenge with some good memories.

Friday, March 18, 2016

Distress Crayons

It's been a chilly and dreary afternoon (and early evening), so I've been playing inside.  Kind of reminds me of "The Cat in the Hat," except that I didn't get any visits from talking cats with cakes on rakes.  Nevertheless, I made my own fun after finishing a busy, tiring but good work week this afternoon.  I've recently become interested in art journaling and have been really impressed with some of the creativity I've seen from others on the www.  I had a whopping 50% off coupon from Michael's this week, so I decided to splurge on a pack of Distress Crayons, a new product that I had been reading about and for which I have viewed a few tutorials.  While I realize that I just used this same Bible verse for a greeting card last month and, therefore, may be perceived by some to be in a rut, I really had a lot of fun creating this journal page with the new crayons.

Sunday, February 14, 2016

Because You Never Know

I was planning to drive down to Farmington after church today to see my parents.  Today is their 62nd Anniversary [No. That's not right, because 2016-1953 is 63!] and I wanted to be with them.  Nature changed all that.  It was snowing when I left church, and the roads were starting to get pretty slippery by the time I made it back to town.  Better to have one less car on the road when travel is not essential.  I'll call Dad in a little while instead, and I'll celebrate with them the next time I'm down there.  That means I have about four hours of driving time and a few more hours of visiting time to expend in some other way today. Therefore, after a quick lunch and a quicker snooze (which happened by accident while I was watching a YouTube tutorial on how to blend colors with Sharpies), I decided I should do something more useful.  I cleaned the junk drawer.  I confess that I have some junk in more than one drawer in my house, but I'm talking about the junk drawer; the kind that everyone has.  It's the one at the end of the kitchen counter which is closest to the wall where the land line phone used to hang.  Yes, Youngsters, there was a day when people had telephones that plugged into the wall and the only thing you could do with them was make and receive phone calls -- but I digress.  Now, go ahead and tell me that you don't have a junk drawer.  I won't believe you, because that would just be wrong.  It's the American way!  Anyway, I can't tell you the last time this particular drawer was cleaned out and organized, but I know it was since I threw the things pictured here into it.  I obviously did that because you never know when you might need two cup hooks and two of those little blue screwy things that go to ... ???  [shrugging my shoulders]  ... something that I might still own and which might lose not just one, but two of its little blue screwy things.  Then again, if these are yours and you've been wondering what happened to them, please let me know. I'll waive the storage fee.  I also found two tire gauges, because I might need to check the air pressure in my tires ... in my kitchen ... and, in the event that I lose one tire gauge, VOILA!  I'll have an extra!  Among a great many other treasures, I also found 34 cents. It's always nice to be paid for a job well done.

Friday, February 12, 2016

Stephen's Card

I finished a birthday card for my younger brother the other day.  I chose the Bible verse shown on the front, because, in addition to being an appropriate verse for a birthday, it reflects who he is -- a faithful servant of God.  Sinner and Saint all wrapped up into one "Loved by God Package," just like me.  The 17th will be a "milestone birthday" for him.  You know ... the kind that ends in a "0".

At the risk of sounding terribly maudlin -- not entirely appropriate following a "happy birthday" post -- I will say that as I watch my parents' declining health, I often think about my own mortality. My folks were both younger than I am now when they set out on an adventure and moved to a foreign country. They enjoyed their travels and returned safely to their home in the states just before my father retired. He was younger then than I am now. They continued to enjoy making memories, many of which were when they were younger than I am now.  Even with those thoughts in mind, I don't feel old. With all of its highs and lows, I'm still enjoying my life. I just know that time is unforgivingly short, and, if God wills it, one of these days I will be turning that same page my parents did and find myself in a whole new chapter. Not their chapter, my chapter -- but the chapter, if you know what I mean.  As the Beatles aptly put it, "Life is very short, and there's no time for fussing and fighting, my friends."  Better yet, Ephesians 4 is an excellent read on that subject.  Check it out.

Treat Boxes for Sweet Friends

A very quick post before I head off to bed.  I just finished making a few of these little treat boxes for some friends at work.  I used Craft Smith card stock from the Pinks & Corals pad (purchased in a Hot Buy at Michael's), DP by Pebbles (Be Mine 6x6 pad), a small Spellbinders flower die from the Daisy Flower Topper set, and my little 5/8" heart punch by Recollections (also a Michael's purchase).  I've filled the finished boxes with Herschey's Hugs and Kisses.  My inspiration came from a video by Paper Smycho on YouTube.  You can watch it here.  I think they turned out really cute.  Happy Valentine's Day!