Monday, March 28, 2011

A Sweet Drink From The Saucer

"You prepare a table before me...
my cup overflows."
Psalm 23:5

I love the expression "I am drinking from the saucer because my cup is overflowing."  Currently, I am drinking from the saucer as He has overflowed my cup!  My heart is hushed and humbled by His love and goodness.  His name alone do I honor. 

"LORD, You establish peace for us;
all that we have accomplished,
You have done for us...
Your name alone do we honor." 
Isaiah 26:12-13

Do you remember the Table Testimony from two summers ago?  The Master Carpenter, Jesus, miraculously provided a table for me at my girlfriend's shore house.  It was a "Table For Two" where I met with Him each morning for quiet time in His Word while on our family vacation.  Click here to read the testimony of His miraculous provision:  "Table For Two". © 2009 by Sharon Sloan. All rights reserved.

My dear girlfriend, Tricia, and her husband were owners of the shore house.  The table resided in their shore home with their precious family, who were perfect keepers of the special table.  He has woven our friendship together, and what a beautiful choice of fabric He used when weaving us together uniquely through the gift of the table.

A few weeks ago on my birthday, I was driving the cherubs home from school and me home from work.  I was enjoying the afterglow of a beautifully blessed day at work with my desk being decorated so beautifully by a dear friend and her daughter, and lovely gifts from my friends and my bosses.  My heart was so thankful to the Lord.

As we drove down the street, I was excited to get home and enjoy a birthday dinner out with my little family that Jim had planned.  As we pulled up in from of our house, I was left breathless as I looked up on our porch and saw one of the most serendipitous, amazing gifts I have ever received.  Or re-received.

The Table 

THEE TABLE!!  I was in jaw-dropping, laid-out-on-the-floor AWE of God's goodness!! 

"You are kidding me!  You are kidding me!"  I couldn't move my foot off the brake pedal.  Pulled up by the curb in front of my house and gazing wide-eyed at the table on the porch, I repeated, "You are kidding me!"  I cried.  I laughed.  I cried some more.

The kids coached me through my temporary paralysis, "Mom, pull into the driveway, mom.  Pull into the driveway and get out of the car, mom."  As if on auto-pilot, I did.

I jumped out of the car and, shaking with surprise, I ran up to the table.  My sweet girlfriend, Tricia, had brought the table up from the shore some weeks back and delivered it to my porch that morning while I was at work.  She wanted me to have it in our home.  A birthday treasure.

I called her and could barely speak through the tears of thankfulness and joy. Humbled beyond words, I tried to express my thanks.  What I could not articulate through words, I think she understood through my sobs and silence. 

This gift represents her love, her grace, her generosity, her understanding, her sweet sensitivity, her depth of friendship, her reverence and love for the Giver of all good things.  "Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, Who does not change like shifting shadows."  James 1:17

Her giving models His. "For God so loved the world that He gave..."  John 3:16  

So as I sit at the table and drink from my saucer, my heart is overwhelmed with thankfulness to Him.  I remain hushed and humbled by His perfect love expressed through the beautiful generosity of precious saints who love with a pure heart.  Generous in love, generous in grace, generous in friendship, generous in unconditional love.  "A friend loves at all times..."  Proverbs 17:17  

I am humbly drinking from my saucer, and giving Him thanks.  His blessings are sweet.

"We give thanks to You, O God,
we give thanks, for Your Name is near;
men tell of your wonderful deeds."Psalm 75:1 

" one another deeply, from the heart."
1 Peter 1:22    

Monday, March 21, 2011

SerenDIPity© 2011

"He satisfies the thirsty
and fills the hungry with good things."
Psalm 107:9

"A great group of people!"  That's the comment we received over and over from our guests at our SerenDIPity party a few weeks ago.  "What a great group of people!"  We agree wholeheartedly. 

Yes, the SerenDIPity is about DIPS...savory dips, dessert dips, culinary creations, posh nosh and prizes.  But it is really about fellowship, fun, laughter, sharing.  Nourishing friendships.  Reviving an old friendship.  Making new friendships. 

We are blessed with a great group of friends.  We were blessed to entertain many who have entertained us and blessed us with their love and friendship.  And for those who couldn't make it, we missed you. 

As the host and hostess, our hearts are humbled, content and thankful.  God is good.  He satisfies us and fills us with good things. 

(Recipes of the award-winning dips will be posted soon!!)

Here is a slide show of our 2011 SerenDIPity (© 2010 by Sharon Sloan. All rights reserved.)  Photographs by Rich & Meg:

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© 2010 by Sharon Sloan. All rights reserved.

"Blessed are those You choose and bring near to live in your courts! We are filled with the good things of Your house, of Your holy temple."
Psalm 65:4

Thursday, March 17, 2011

St. Patrick's Day Parade 2011

"...the little ones dance about."
Job 20:11

Top o' the mornin' to ya!  Erin go braugh!

Gabrielle, our Irish Lassie, danced in the Philadelphia St. Patrick's Day Parade 2011 on Sunday 3/13/11 with the Ryan-Kilcoyne School of Irish Dance.  Gabrielle began lessons in September 2010, and this was her first parade.  It was an exciting day for all of us.  My mom "Nan Nan Hansen" was so thrilled and has generously treated Gabrielle to her Irish Dance lessons (and accompanying wardrobe!!)!!  Nan Nan is 100% Irish! 
We are grateful for her family and friends who were so excited for her!  Thank you!  (The Ryan-Kilcoyne School of Irish Dance was awarded FIRST PLACE in the children's division!!)

Joshua, our Irish Lad, made Gabrielle a poster and decorated the house with big, bright green balloons!

Click on the Smilebox below to see some pictures!

Happy St. Patrick's Day!  Wear your green today!

Oh..and did I is my birthday!!!!

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Monday, March 14, 2011

Playing Through The Pain

"Even youths grow tired and weary, and young men stumble and fall; but those who hope in the LORD
will renew their strength." 
Isaiah 40:30

When the children's school's telephone number pops up on our caller I.D., I know it is usually one of three things:  a recorded message for all of the students' parents, a prayer request, or the school nurse.  A few Fridays ago as I was home folding laundry, the phone rang and up popped the school's number.  I answered with a bit of hesitation knowing that, if it was the school nurse, one of our cherubs wasn't well. 

Our school is blessed with a wonderful, calm, caring and wise school nurse.  She is a sweetheart.  And while, thankfully, we don't receive calls from her too often, it is always a little unsettling to receive a call and hear her sweet voice on the other end.  (One of these days, I am thinking she is going to call me simply for a lunch date or to chat!)

"Hi, Sharon.  It's Karen from school."  The school nurse.  Those few seconds from hearing her voice until knowing which cherub was in her office and what the problem was seemed forever.  "Joshua injured his left thumb at recess playing basketball.  It is very swollen and black and blue."  Now this would never be good news, but this particular Friday was the eve of Joshua's basketball team's championship game on Saturday and the league's All-Star game on Sunday afternoon.  An injured thumb could mean he would be cheering his team mates on from the bench rather than playing with the team in the games.

After talking with Karen and getting both her nurse perspective and her mom perspective, I told her I would call his pediatrician and be right down to school to take him for medical care and an x-ray.   His thumb was not misshapen, no bones were sticking out and there was no blood.  While she did not think his injury was serious, and Joshua had gone back to class once before coming to her office again for more ice, we both thought it best to get an an x-ray. 

I asked to speak with Joshua over the phone to be sure he was OK and so he could hear my voice and reassuring words before heading down to school.  "Mom, I don't want to leave school early.  I want to stay.  I don't want to miss the afternoon classes.  In music, we are starting to learn about a new composer today and I don't want to miss the video on him.  I will be OK, mom.  My thumb really hurts, but I will be OK.  Can I stay, mom?" 

Knowing that I often ask God to direct me through my children, I felt He was quieting my heart with His perfect parental love.  Taking Joshua's cues and trusting he would tell me if the pain was intolerable, I respected his request to stay in school.  I was glad he wanted to stay for class, and I am sure the weekend's basketball games were on his mind as well.

When I picked the cherubs up from school that day at regular dismissal time, I took a good look at Joshua's thumb.  It was very swollen and quite black and blue.  "Mom, I really don't want to get an x-ray until after the games this weekend.  I can play, Mom."  Proud of him for his courage and tenacity, I told him we would do whatever Daddy thought was best.

When Jim arrived home from work Friday evening, he carefully looked at Joshua's thumb.  Jim was the Team Medic for Joshua's football team a few years ago, and he is also the coach of both of our cherubs' basketball teams.  He was considering the situation from several perspetives - medic and coach, but most of all as Joshua's father.

After talking with Joshua, Jim said to him, "Joshua, I think it is OK for you to play through the pain this weekend.  You can play in the championship game and the All-Star game.  I've asked God for His wisdom and protection.  I think you can play through the pain." 
As soon as Jim uttered those words to Joshua, I could see Joshua's confidence and courage immediately confirmed and validated.  "Mom, Dad told me to play through the pain.  I can play, Mom!  I am going to play through the pain!" 

Words from a loving father.  "Play through the pain."  How poignant.  Often, our Heavenly Father leads us to "play through the pain".  Pain from unfair judgment and criticism, pain due to a broken relationship, pain from lack of mercy and unforgiveness,  pain from consequences of our own sin, pain from loss, pain from tragic circumstances, pain from conviction.  Whether our pain is physical, emotional or spiritual, God may instruct us to continue to "play".
Joshua playing through the pain.

Sometimes when I am in such pain, I want to run and hide. Honestly, when the pain seems intolerable, sometimes I'd rather quit the team.  But our Heavenly Father strengthens us and His sufficient grace washes over us so we can play through the pain.  He is our confidence and hope.  "For you have been my hope, O Sovereign LORD, my confidence since my youth."  (Psalm 71:5) 

Like Hagar in Chapter 16 of Genesis, He finds us in our desert, in our misery, and He speaks to us.  He washes us with His Word and whispers His promises into our hearts.  Our Heavenly Father refreshes us.  He is the God who sees and provides.  Genesis 16.  He gives us everything we need for life and godliness.  (2 Peter 1:3)

Life's pain won't sideline us when our Heavenly Father whispers His words to us:  "Play through the pain, My child."  He gives us the courage and tenacity we need.  Whether He calls us to cheer from the sideliness or get in the game, He is our sufficiency.

We did not ignore Joshua's injury and pain, we just waited while he played through the pain during two significant challenges.  On Sunday afternoon after the All-Star game (which Joshua's team won...Glory to God!!), we took him straight to the emergency room for an x-ray.  Joshua's thumb had a buckle fracture, which required only a splint to protect his thumb.  God does not ignore our injury and pain either.  Sometimes we just have to endure and play through the pain a while.   "Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything."  James 1:4      

The pediatric orthopedic doctor gave Joshua permission to continue playing sports while his broken bone is healing.  In the doctor's words, "The splint will provide perfect protection while allowing him to be fully active."  That reminds me of our Great Physician's perfect care.
"He gives strength to the weary
   and increases the power of the weak.
Even youths grow tired and weary,
   and young men stumble and fall; 
but those who hope in the LORD
   will renew their strength.
They will soar on wings like eagles;
   they will run and not grow weary,
   they will walk and not be faint." 
Isaiah 40:29-31

 Glory to God! 

Monday, March 7, 2011

A Truthful and Secure Identity

"Love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength. These commandments that I give you today are to be upon your hearts. Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up. Tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads. Write them on the doorframes of your houses and on your gates."
Deuteronomy 6:5-9 

As I read Deuteronomy 6, I am hushed and humbled again by the commands given to us by God as Christian parents.  Impressing God's Word on our children's hearts and teaching them His truth is a privilege, honor and responsibility.  Truly, there is no greater desire or prayer, and no greater joy than to know our children are walking with and in the Truth.  (3 John 1:4)  God is faithful and His Word is truth.  If our children are abiding in Him and seeking out His precepts daily, our parental hearts will be free, peaceful and joyful.  "I will walk about in freedom, for I have sought out Your precepts."  (Psalm 119:45) 

The "when you lie down and when you get up" part of our command in Deuteronomy 6 has to be intentional for me as a parent.  A general plan needs to be in place or the mornings and evenings can get swallowed up.  We talk about God's Word all the time as we "sit down at home and when you walk along the road" (or, in our case, "when you drive the children here and there in your Ford Explorer").  Mornings and bed time have always been so precious to me as a mom since they were babies.  Making the opening and closing of each of their days most meaningful and sacred as they grow is our time in God's Word.  
For our 2011 daily Bible morning devotion for our children, we are doing a "Who We Are In Christ" Bible study.  After reading through God's Word in 2010 (click here), I prayed God would lead me for 2011, and I know He has.  Our identity as Christians is secure because of who we are in Christ.  Our identity is based in TRUTH.  We are not defined by what others say we are, who others think we are, by our sin or by our accomplishments.  We are who we are because we are IN CHRIST, which is stated beautifully in His Word.  And His Word is truth.  By His truth, He sanctifies us and makes us holy.

"Sanctify them by the truth; Your word is truth."
John 17:17

We are who we are in Christ because of who HE is.

For Christmas, we gave each of the children a new journal.  Each morning, usually before they wake up, I write a scripture reference in the journal and I date it.  When they awake, they are excited to look up the scripture and write it in their journal.  We then talk about who they truly are in Christ by what His Word says.  I pray this journal of their truthful, secure identity becomes a treasure to them as they grow up.  I pray His Word grounds them securely.

Here are just a few entries in their journals:

We are children of God, the perfect Parent!
"Yet to all who received Him, to those who believed in His name, He gave the right to become children of God..." 
John 1:12

We are a friend of God!
"I have called you friends, for everything that I learned from My Father I have made known to you."
John 15:15

We are the apple of His eye!
 "He shielded him and cared for him; He guarded him as the apple of His eye..."
Deuteronomy 32:10

We are forgiven!
 "I write to you, dear children, because your sins have been forgiven on account of His name."
1 John 2:12

We are redeemed!
"Christ redeemed us..."
Galatians 3:13

We are sealed by the Holy Spirit!
"And you also were included in Christ when you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation. Having believed, you were marked in Him with a seal, the promised Holy Spirit..."
Ephesians 1:13

Wow!  I am excited to go through the year and fill their journals, hearts and minds with the truth of who they are in Christ.  Already, going through the scriptures and teaching the children who they are in Christ has had a serendipitous blessing and lesson.  While we want them to know their truthful and secure identity founded in His Word, we are also reminded of the privilege and responsibility that comes with being His child, His friend, the apple of His eye, His forgiven.  (This is a blog post for another day.J)  

We pray our children will moment-by-moment hold firmly to the Word of life and thereby shine like stars in the sky for Him and boast on the day of Christ that, indeed, they did not run or labor in vain!  Only by His grace and strength.

"You will shine among them like stars in the sky as you hold firmly to the word of life. And then I will be able to boast on the day of Christ that I did not run or labor in vain."
Philippians 2:14

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Treasure Verse Tuesday - My Life

 “Take to heart all the words I have solemnly declared to you this day, so that you may command your children to obey carefully all the words of this law. They are not just idle words for you—
they are your life."
Deuteronomy 32:46-47

His Words truly are my life.

"The word is very near you; it is in your mouth and in your heart so you may obey it."
Deuteronomy 30:14