Saturday Morning Bliss

A change in circumstances in recent months has brought a bit more peace and calm to my Saturday mornings. A typical Saturday used to be full of have-to-do catch ups or out-of-town travels, and I am learning to appreciate the change!

I sleep in a bit more now—by just an hour. After some time in prayer, fresh-ground and brewed coffee is an eye-closing, deep-inhaling and slow-sipping delight that really does make me smile. 

I catch up on the news of the week by reading the stack of The Wall Street Journal newspapers which has accumulated from last Saturday—well, reading the recent ones and skimming past the days-old news. I don’t make the time to do this on most days—my weekly reading usually consists of the Bible, studies I’m going through, a non-fiction faith book I’m trying to cross off my personal list, or growth articles to help me grow in my career capabilities.

Sunny Saturdays are my favorite so that I can get my natural vitamin D for 20-30 minutes on a deck chair. The hum of farm machinery, the sound of a neighbor mowing grass or the crows cawing in the forest are the sounds that lull me into peaceful thoughts about how much I appreciate having Saturday mornings to enjoy such bliss. 

It really is bliss…a blissful blessing that I have come to greatly appreciate.

…a blissful blessing, indeed.

 


 

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Finding Hope in Friday’s Death

May you find yourself reflecting on what’s He’s done. This post is a more recent take on one done a few years ago about what today brings and how the death of a Friday can mean so much in our lives.

CrossOnHill.HS

Good Friday.  It’s a rainy morning here in rural Appalachia, and it seems fitting for the day Christians around the world mark as one of death and darkness.

…To be beaten, flogged and scourged with a barbed whip until nearly unrecognizable;
…To have a crown of thorns pressed into my head;
…To be nailed to a tree with spikes through my wrists and feet;
…To die by crucifixion alongside common criminals…

No. None of this, I’ve imagined, could be good if I would have to experience it.
I haven’t had to, but I know Jesus has experienced it all.

How could it be that we’d wind up called this a “good” kind of Friday when He had to go through such incredible torture?

It’s about 8 a.m., and I’m sipping my coffee while still in my pajamas and fuzzy slippers. I’m reflecting on the ups and downs and the clarity and confusion over the years in my own journey of faith. I’m also reflecting on what must have been going on more than 2000 years ago. My comfort of today makes me feel uncomfortable in comparison to what He must have been going through in these moments. 

It will be 9 a.m. soon…

Jesus was nailed to the cross in the morning at about 9 a.m.** after enduring questioning, a trial and brutal beatings.

Once that cross was set into place, He hung there until noon**, at which point the skies overhead darkened.

I don’t know if it was a rainy day on the hill of Golgotha that morning in Jerusalem as it is here in the hills of Appalachia, but I have a feeling it wasn’t. God often allows us to see great contrasts in revealing His will for our lives, and that tends to make me think it was a sunny day in Jerusalem.

The darkness lasted for three hours, and around 3 p.m.**, Jesus cried out amid His suffering and suffocation to proclaim, “Tetelestai!”  before giving up his spirit and breath of life.

It was finished.

Done.
Over.
Death.

Most of us automatically equate the “it is finished”  to His life, since, just moments afterward, His life was over on this particular Friday afternoon – the day we commemorate in remembrance as “Good Friday.” However, the “it is finished!”  was much more than just a part of the final words he uttered in the final moments of His life before giving over his life and spirit.

The it is finished!” was His “paid in full” proclamation regarding our sin.

He paid the ultimate price by taking the sins of all mankind – the past, present and future sins of the past, present and future mankind – upon himself and shedding His own blood to redeem us in exchange for Himself. The ransom price was paid, and the salvation plan was now complete. He had completed the will of God and the will of the Father.


That’s where the “Good” comes in. He suffered for us. He demonstrated his self-sacrificing love for us and for our wrongdoings by dying for us (Romans 5:8). What He did for us once does not have to be repeated by all of us (1 Peter 3:18) in order for us to live eternally in His presence (John 3:16).

For the longest time, I didn’t understand how His death could be “good” and recognized as “Good Friday.” I knew He died for us, but I guess I just didn’t fully grasp that He died for ME.


Almost 15 years ago, I went to a new church. On my first visit to this church there was a song sung which stood out to me. I didn’t know it, so I didn’t sing it. I just listened.

There can be such power in doing that once in a while.

I didn’t understand what the words meant, but that song awakened something within me.

The song was Above All.  The words which resonated with me were:

“…crucified, laid behind the stone.”
I understood this.

“…lived to die, rejected and alone.”
What did this mean?
Ok, He died on that cross, but what did it mean that he “lived to die?”

“…You took the fall and thought of me above all.”
Me? Me?!? What did that mean?
What did I  have to do with what He did?
I didn’t get it, but I was curious.

I’ll never forget those words. Even today, they still hold meaning to me. It’s like the stone of death and darkness was rolled away in my own life in some of those moments. An awakening within me had begun. I had come to that new church with questions, but now – after only one visit – there was an even bigger question burning within my mind…and in my heart. It was one that would lead to knowing what He did for ME, and one that would lead to me knowing HIM personally.

That’s what is good about Good Friday.

He died for US.
He died for ME.
If He died for us, and if He died for me, then he also died for YOU.

That’s what is good about Good Friday.


There’s a hope to be found, a purpose for this life, and a plan for your future. It’s all a part of the “good” in what was done for us. If you know the story, but you don’t know Jesus in a very personal way, I encourage you to take some time today to reflect on these thoughts and to think about them.

I then encourage you to reach out to THAT friend you have… you know who I mean… the one who has been living a life of expectant hope… the one who seems like she gets this… the one who has been gently loving you while trying to help you see a different way… Yes, her. Reach out to her on this Good day of Friday, and let her know what you are thinking.

He also died for you. That’s what is good about Good Friday.

CrossOnHill.HS.Verses
Photo taken on a rubbled hill in Costa Rica

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 **Notes about the times of day:
The Gospel of Mark uses “the third hour” to designate when Jesus was crucified or put on the cross. This would have been 9 a.m. (Mark 15:25). Mark then goes on to say that at “the sixth hour,” darkness came over the land (Mark 15:33). This would be noon or 12 p.m. In Mark 15:34, we are told that Jesus cried out in the ninth hour, at 3 p.m., and then, shortly afterwards, took his last breath (Mark 15:37).
The Gospels of Matthew and Luke use similar time designations (see Matthew 27:45 and Luke 23:44). This way of calculating time was based on the Jewish method, where 6 a.m. would have been the first hour of the day, so noon would have been the sixth hour and 3 p.m. would have been the ninth hour.
It is believed the Gospel of John, which presents a different time for the start of the crucifixion, used a Roman method of time calculation, which would have started the day at midnight (John 19:14). There could have, however, been a three-hour period of time between his sentencing before Pilate (sixth hour) and time Jesus spent under the charge of the soldiers, time spent carrying his cross (John 19:17) and arriving at Golgotha where the crucifixion took place.
Various commentaries show a consistency in these interpretations of time. I’ve used Sonic Light, The Bible Knowledge Commentary, and Got Questions for my sources in this post.

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Monday’s Musings – The Artificial Flavor of Life

Tea.HS.COMPRESSED

A discussion ensued in our household this morning after I was asked a question about my tea:  “Mom, are the flavors in tea real?”

I like to drink tea, and I also like to drink coffee. Not all teas and coffees appeal to me, though. I like REAL flavors.

I explained to the boys that anytime one sees “artificial flavors” on a tin, bag, box or label, there are chemicals used to make that product. In defining “natural flavors,” I told them how I like to find products that are flavored with true flavors, too, and not just labeled with a natural derivative.

As an example, I told them how I’ll look for a tea with “orange peel” or “vanilla bean” or “hibiscus flowers”  in the ingredient list, rather than “natural vanilla flavor,” which may really not be from nature at all. We also talked about how coffee can be flavored with spices, ground nuts or pure essential oils added on top of the grounds before brewing to have a real experience instead of grinding coffee beans that have been soaked in a lab-created substitute.

Artificial flavors have infiltrated a lot of our cupboards.

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Artificial “flavors” have also infiltrated our parenting, our marriages, our laws, our doctrines, our morals, our thoughts and our faith.

So often today, we can see what God intended for good has been made bad, and what He intended for evil has been made good. (Isaiah 5:20a) Lines are so often blurred that we no longer know what is real, what is good, what is right, or even what is desired based on His Word. We, ourselves, often blur those lines even more by rationalizing what we see as accepted by the world serves as more of an authority to us than what is taught in the Word.

You know what? He calls us to be a natural flavor, not an artificial one, and he calls us to live IN this world as Believers, but to be cautious about being OF this world.

Time to drink a cuppa and study some more…

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Monday’s Musings — Caffeinated Chocolate

Caff Chocolate

I’ve been out of the country on a business trip with plenty of time in the schedule for some personal time. It’s been a relaxing one.

The other day, I pulled into a convenience store to fill up the rental car with gas, and I decided to go into the store to grab a coffee. I’m not usually much for convenience-store coffee, but I needed a jolt to finish my day. I was pleasantly surprised to see a dark roast. The clerk, who had greeted me with a happy, smiling face upon walking into the store, told me it had just been brewed. He also said I was welcome to try a taste before buying (does that ever happen in the United States?). It was pretty good!

So, I grabbed a cup, added a creamer and was putting on my lid, when I noticed these chocolate bars in a display box on the counter right near the coffee. Caffeinated chocolate? I had never heard of it! Granted, I know that chocolate does naturally contain some caffeine and stimulants, but this was totally different. One of these bars had the same amount of caffeine as a cup of coffee.

I snatched one of each — a milk chocolate and a caramel — and paid for them with my coffee. I decided to tuck them into my bag for later as I settled into the car to enjoy my coffee and head to my next destination.

The following morning, I had to jump on a very early flight. At the airport, I had time to pick up an omelet bagel and some water, but didn’t get a coffee. When the flight attendant asked about beverages, I asked for a coffee (another place that doesn’t usually serve good coffee), and while drinking it, I remembered the bars in my bag.

I went for the caramel. It was great! I usually prefer a dark chocolate (hint-hint to the company), but I like anything that has caramel with it or on it. It tasted just like a regular chocolate bar, but soon I knew that it was an extraordinary chocolate bar when the caffeine jolt kicked in.

WHY do we not have these in America? I was wishing I had bought the whole display box at this point.

I’ve since found out that they are available on a very limited basis in the U.S. The chocolate bar’s website (Awake Chocolate) tells me that the chain-brand convenience store in the next town over from mine might have them. I WILL be looking when I get home!