Thursday, April 22, 2010

seeing trim in my sleep

I do believe I'm starting to see trim in my sleep. Let me clarify what kind of trim: baseboard trim, window trim, and doorway trim. Specifically white trim. Kind of banged-up trim. Miles of trim.

Last Sunday Bryce was gone and so I decided to tackle the kitchen and dining room trim. (Let's see how many times I can put the word "trim" in this post.) I already painted the living room and library trim (read about here) a few weekends ago. Said me to myself: I should be a pro by now.

All painters must have good music (which I learned from the best - thanks Dad & Mom!). I made my very own playlist on Bryce's iTunes . . . a 3+ hour long playlist. Highlights include "Revelation Song" by Kari Jobe, Leeland's new CD, "Before the Throne" by Shane & Shane, needtobreathe's new CD, and "Beauty for Ashes" by Crystal Lewis. (Gotta throw a few oldies in there.) Music blasting from the living room, I poured a small container of semi-gloss, bright-white paint.

I painted.

Window trim is the hardest because of the many groves and making sure it doesn't dry on one side while trying to catch up on the other side. And baseboards are the most monotonous. I used a foot-long edger to make sure no paint got on the floor. The process goes something like this: put the edger up against the baseboard, paint the itsy-bitsy top edge (no taping - I just eye it), paint the rest of the foot long section up to the edger, remove the edger and wipe clean with a wet rag, make sure no paint sneaked onto the floor, scoot over a bit, and repeat.

I painted. And painted. Stopped to make some coffee. Painted. Stopped to eat a brownie and a handful of Cheese-Its. Painted some more. Poured more paint. Restarted the music. Turned on a light. Kept painting.

It took me from 2:00 p.m. to almost 9:00 p.m. (that's 7 hours) to paint the kitchen and the baseboards in the dining room. Gag. Seven hours of staring at whiteness. And I didn't even finish the dining room. No one told me how tedious it is to paint trim.

And no, there are no pictures. The trim has gone from white to slightly brighter white (granted, there are no more scuffs or stains or wood grain showing through). There's not a big difference, unless you're like me and notice that kind of thing. I hope the finished project is worth my stiff back and many hours of gazing at trim.

And yes, I just wrote an entire blog about boring old trim.
Which I will now stop writing.
About trim.
And boring you.

PS: I mentioned trim 17 times in this post. Oops. That's 18.

PS #2: I must not forget to mention that those 7 hours were one of the best times of worship I've had recently. Me, a paintbrush, and worship music. Time to sing, meditate & pray. It was a blessing.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Numbers: A Portrait of a Journey

Numbers picks up the Israelite story where Exodus left off. It's just a hunch but I think I know where the title "Numbers" comes from: In Chapter 1 Moses takes a census (the "Desert of Sinai" census) and then he takes another in Chapter 26 after the 40 years of wandering (the "plains of Moab" census).

"These [Israelites] are the ones counted by Moses and Eleazar the priest when they counted the Israelites on the plains of Moab by the Jordan across from Jericho. Not one of them was among those counted by Moses and Aaron the priest when they counted the Israelites in the Desert of Sinai. For the Lord had told those Israelites they would surely die in the desert, and not one of them was left except Caleb son of Jephunneh and Joshua son of Nun." (26.63-65)

After the first census, we're whisked into what became a 40-year journey to the promised land. Each chapter is a new story: quail from the Lord, Miriam & Aaron oppose Moses, 12 spies explore Canaan, the rebellion begins, Korah & his followers are swallowed up by the earth, Aaron's staff buds & produces almonds, water came from a rock, Balaam's donkey speaks, more laws & directions for living, and in Chapter 33 an entire recap of their desert journey.

Numbers is packed with stories. Far too many to comment on in one blog entry! Here are four that spoke to me as I was reading through:

Priestly blessing
"'The Lord bless you and keep you; the Lord make his face shine upon you and be gracious to you; the Lord turn his face toward you and give you peace.' So they [the priests] will put my name on the Israelites, and I will bless them." (6.24-27) What a beautiful picture: to bless someone with this prayer is to put the Lord's name on them. I remember my mother prayed this prayer over me and my siblings. I plan to pray it for my children.

"(Now Moses was a very humble man, more humble than anyone else on the face of the earth.)" (12.3) Note: those parentheses are from the original text and I think I remember that Moses wrote the books of Numbers. If I let my imagination run wild for a moment, I imagine that Moses did not pen that sentence about himself. So I picture someone sneaking into Moses' tent just before the parchment was published, slipping that sentence in the middle of a story, and laughing quietly to himself as he left. And God smiled because we now know a little more about this amazing man named Moses. I can't fathom that level of humility.

Don't forget
I'm terrified of the Israelites in the "Korah & friends" story - terrified because I'm afraid I see myself in them. Short version: Korah, Dathan, & Abiram say "Moses & Aaron, you should not set yourselves above us; we are just as holy as you"; Moses is appalled and falls facedown; God says he will destroy the entire nation; Moses & Aaron pray for those not involved; and then God causes the earth to open up & swallow Korah, his followers, and their entire families. This all happens in chapter 16, verses 1-40. And THEN in verse 41: "The next day the whole Israelite community grumbled against Moses and Aaron. 'You have killed the Lord's people,' they said." The next day! I can hardly believe it. You would think they would not quickly forget the earth-splitting and 3 entire families disappearing! Yet, how quickly do I forget what God has done in my life....whether blessings or discipline. Let this be a reminder to me!

Zelophehad's daughters
The final chapter of Numbers tells the story of five sisters: Mahlah, Tirzah, Hoglah, Milcah, and Noah. Since they had no brothers, eventually their family would lose their tribal inheritance. In this story, I love the fact that God cared enough about these women and their family line to provide a way out for them: "'They may marry anyone they please as long as they marry within the tribal clan of their father . . .' They married within the clans of the descendants of Manasseh son of Joseph, and their inheritance remained in their father's clan and tribe." (36.6, 12) A small story to display the detail of this book and also God's concern.

The Israelite journey continues . . . Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus.
And now Numbers.
With all of the nitty-gritty detail of an historical account.
I love how this gives a portrait of God.
He is a God of journeys; is He not?
The larger picture journey - His plan for the universe.
And the small picture journey of our lives.

Friday, April 16, 2010

Leviticus: A Portrait of Atonement

Leviticus has 27 chapters.
There are 52 references to "atonement."

"He is to lay his hand on the head of the burnt offering, and it will be accepted on his behalf to make atonement for him." (1.4)

"Then have the trumpet sounded everywhere on the tenth day of the seventh month; on the Day of Atonement sound the trumpet throughout your land." (25.9)

Chapter 16 details the Day of Atonement. Once a year, the priest is "to lay both hands on the head of the live goat and confess over it all the wickedness and rebellion of the Israelites--all their sins--and put them on the goat's head. He shall send the goat away into the desert in the care of a man appointed for the task. The goat will carry on itself all their sins to a solitary place; and the man shall release it in the desert. . . . on this day atonement will be made for you, to cleanse you." (16.21-22, 30)

In addition, throughout the year many different practices were observed by the Israelites, all relating to atonement, cleansing and purification. Three different words about the atonement process came to mind as I read through Leviticus:

So many sacrifices and a special process for each sacrifice: Burnt offerings. Wave offerings. Fellowship offerings. Grain offerings. Sin offerings. Guilt offerings. There were specific directions for how to handle the animal insides, blood, meat, and carcass. I don't know how the priests remembered it all. Not to mention the wide variety of directions for other areas of life: clean & unclean food, purification, infectious skin diseases, mildew, various punishments for sin, etc.
Praise Jesus for His perfect atonement for my sins that fulfilled the law!

Sacrifices were not a pretty or clean process. Just imagine the blood splattering . . . and sometimes hundreds of animals were killed at one time and their blood sprinkled on the altar. One example from the sin offering: "[The priest] shall dip his finger into the blood and sprinkle it before the Lord seven times in front of the curtain. He is to put some of the blood on the horns of the altar that is before the Lord in the Tent of Meeting. The rest of the blood he shall pour out at the base of the altar of burnt offering . . ." (4.17-18) Blood is certainly significant: "For the life of a creature is in the blood, and I have given it to you to make atonement for yourselves on the altar; it is the blood that makes atonement for one's life." (17.11)
Praise Jesus for shedding His blood for my sins . . . bloody sacrifices are no longer necessary!

". . . [the sons of Aaron] offered unauthorized fire before the Lord . . . so fire came out from the presence of the Lord and consumed them . . ." (10.1-2) The priest & the Levites' job was a very serious one. How heavy to carry the responsibility of a nation's atonement. A wrong move on their part (in this circumstance, perhaps disrespectful? certainly unofficial & wrong) and God responds immediately with punishment. It must have looked like the scene from a horror film or one of those CSI shows . . . charred remains in front of the altar of Lord. God doesn't mess around when it comes to protecting His honor and holiness.
Praise Jesus for satisfying God's commitment to justice and perfectly honoring His holiness on our behalf!

The phrase "I am the LORD" is written almost as many times as "atonement" in Leviticus - 49 times, to be exact. Yes, indeed, He is the Lord. And since He is the Lord, our sins must be atoned for. In Leviticus this was accomplished via sacrifices and attention to the law. In Jesus, we are perfectly consecrated. And it is free (on our part . . . it cost Jesus everything).

"Keep my commands and follow them. I am the LORD. Do not profane my holy name. I must be acknowledged as holy by the Israelites. I am the LORD, who makes you holy and who brought you out of Egypt to be your God. I am the LORD." (22.31-33)

Thursday, April 15, 2010

attack of the plant

I can be extremely jumpy. I think I get it from my mom. Bryce scares me all the time, mostly unintentionally.

My boss is gone for about two weeks, so yesterday afternoon I decided to clean the desk & shelf in his office. Towards the end of my vigorous furniture polishing, I started to move the fake plant off of the desk. As I was removing it, the leaves started rattling and the more I moved it, the more they protested and the plant almost started coming out of the basket. I literally thought there was something alive in the plant - I made a little screaming sound and dropped it on the floor, scattering wood chips everywhere. Only then did I realize the window blind pull string was stuck in the plant (thus making the leaves rustle when I moved it). I looked at the door to make sure no one was walking by during that little episode.

My heart didn't stop pounding for a good five minutes afterwards. And the plant is still on the floor in the office. I really should go clean it up and put it back on the desk. Maybe tomorrow.

Monday, April 5, 2010

Revelation 21:1-5

Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and there was no longer any sea.

I saw the Holy City, the new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride beautifully dressed for her husband.

And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, "Now the dwelling of God is with men, and he will live with them. They will be his people, and God himself will be with them and be their God. He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away."

He who was seated on the throne said, "I am making everything new!"

Friday, April 2, 2010

"happy Easter!"

I just received an e-mail from a fellow secretary. She was passing along meeting materials for next week and included a "happy Easter!" in her e-mail. Easter. My world is so crazy at the moment that I almost forgot the day was approaching.

This used to be my favorite holiday. No, it had nothing to do with Easter eggs or bunnies or chocolate or new dresses...never did any of those (well...maybe I ate a little bit of chocolate). I simply enjoyed the specific time of remembrance. Remembering His death and His resurrection. I set aside time to meditate on each account in the Gospels. Relishing the history & story & deeper meaning. Some years I would spend weeks leading up to Easter reading and re-reading the last sections of Matthew, Mark, Luke & John. And some years (4 or 5?) our church prepared a huge Easter production...lots of dancing and favorite expressions of worship.

But this year. Everything is different this year. I haven't really been home for the past week. There's no margin for downtime. I'm not sleeping well because of my back & weird dreams. And because of my back there is no dancing for me. I feel out of it. I feel lots of things. So much on my mind. Overwhelmed emotionally. Working through things.

How do I celebrate Easter in this state?
Can Easter still be meaningful to me?

There was no time for me to be "super spiritual" this year. Does Jesus understand? Perhaps He is okay with an overwhelmed & emotional Jana coming to Him two days before Easter with a "I don't have it all together" and "I need You." I hope He still wants me to come that way. I truly do need Him even more than I realize.

I'll miss singing the old hymns this year. Easter hymns are my favorite . . . and led to some of my most meaningful times of worship. Low in the grave He lay, Jesus my Savior. Waiting the coming day, Jesus my Lord! Up from the grave He arose. With a mighty triumph o'er His foes. He arose a victor from the dark domain. And He lives forever with His saints to reign. He arose! He arose! Hallelujah, Christ arose!

And I'll miss dancing. Perhaps next year, Jesus?