Friday, April 27, 2007

A New Camera!

Mother finally ordered her new camera and we've been enjoying the excellent quality. I can't wait to take pictures of things that aren't grainy or blurry. Here's just some random pictures we've taken.

A pretty female cardinal swinging on
a hanging limb.
A bold male cardinal awaiting his turn
to eat down below.

And a random shot of our fat cat, Picasso,
lying around.

Sunday, April 22, 2007

As Anna has left me the blog in her absence, I suppose I shall post something. As the month of May approaches, I'm finding myself busier and busier. Tomorrow night, I get to babysit three wonderful children. I'm really looking forward to it. I'll actually be watching them at a ball game, which should be interesting. I haven't gotten to babysit much (if I don't count my own siblings), so I welcome the opportunity. Joel and Andrew are also coming with me.
I have a piano piece that I'm trying to finish memorizing and I just recently memorized a piece that is a favorite. I'm accompanying Caleb on his French horn with piano and we need to put that together soon.
I keep calling myself busy, but I'm actually very blessed! Some kids aren't able to play in a band and orchestra, or sing in a choir. I love being busy, too. Sitting still is sometimes hard for me, unless I have a good book. =)

I think I'm looking forward to the orchestra concert most. I love working with so many kids that actually love the instrument that they play and are serious about it. Few of them are there just for the social outlet, they're there to make music. In the time I've been in the orchestra, I've made few friends. It's hard to me to go up to a person and introduce myself, so I hang back and rarely speak. By now, I know pretty much everyone's name, but I only know about 10 or 11 by talking to them. I'm trying harder to push myself out or my comfort zone and am doing better, but I always have a inward struggle before I walk up to someone and introduce myself. The Lord is helping me. The people who know me well would probably never think that I have this trouble, but now my secret is out! :)
One of the people I enjoyed talking to most was our conductor's husband, and he passed away last Sunday morning. For me, it was a little unexpected and I shall certainly miss him, but he's definitely in a better place!

Well, I must take myself to bed and get some rest. I need to be fresh for the beginning of a new week.

God bless,
Miriam Rebekah

Friday, April 20, 2007

Setting off again...


Don't expect to hear much if anything from me in the next week. I'll be away in Arkansas, taking care of my sweet niece and nephews, and spending time with my brother and sister-in-law. I just thought I'd let you all know, so you don't start to wonder if I disappeared. =)

Have a great week!

The blog's all yours, Miriam dear...

Thursday, April 19, 2007

Soothe Your Senses

Feeling stressed? As the month of May approaches, with all the end-of-the-year recitals and concerts, it's easy for me to feel overwhelmed! Sometimes I wonder how everything will turn out. But, God is in control.

May I suggest something to help with the stress? Spend some time outside! It's amazing how just being out in God's Creation soothes one soul. The gentle breeze, the twittering birds, the beautiful green all around... It does wonders for one's peace of mind. You may not have long, but even a few minutes will help. Or, you could do as I did, and do something you have to do anyways (in my case practice my flute) outside instead of inside. Whatever it is, drink deep of God's beauty displayed - it really does help one get calm and regain a proper perspective admist all the hustle and bustle of life.

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Jochebed - Mothering Moses

When I found out that I was pregnant with my third child, I was excited; what mother wouldn't be? I rejoiced to think of the precious life growing inside my womb. Yet, in the midst of my joy, I worried. The world this little one would enter was not a safe one. You see, I am a Hebrew, a slave of the cruel Pharoah of Egypt. Enslaving our people wasn't enough for this evil man, however; he became worried that we would soon outnumber his own people, so he devised an awful scheme. Shiprah and Puah, two of our midwives, did their best to stop his plans, but he would not relent. When they wouldn't kill our baby boys, he enlisted the help of his own people, and gave a new order: "Every baby boy the Hebrews bore were to be thrown into the Nile River."

This is why I worried. If my baby was a girl, she would be safe, although her lot as a slave would never be easy. But if my baby was a boy, he'd risk death every moment of his little life. I knew one thing for sure: I would do my best to protect my child. I would fight with all that is in me so that my baby would live...

No, the world at the time of Moses was not a safe one for the Hebrews, who were oppressed by the Egyptians. Now, even their baby boys - the very strength of the next generation - were being brutally murdered. Who knows how many innocent lives were taken in this awful atrocity.

Jochebed was a strong women - she had to be! As wife of Amram and mother of two children, she must have been as busy as any other preparing for the birth of a third child. And who could know whether she would have this child, simply to have him killed in his first week? In time, Jochebed gave birth to her baby, a fine child and... a boy. However, she was determined not to let her precious son die; instead, she hid him for 3 months. How wearying those months must have been, trying to stifle her baby's cry and prevent anyone from finding her precious son. As he grew older, she realized that she wouldn't be able to hide him any longer. Everyone knows how busy and noisy little ones can be! So, she did something a bit unusual. She took a papyrus basket and coated it with tar and pitch. Then she took her helpless son, held him close one last time, and placed him in the basket, putting it among the reeds along the bank of the Nile. Then, she left, leaving her daughter Miriam to keep watch.

Now pause just a minute, and reflect on what she did. Most of us grew up listening to stories about the "baby in the basket", and simply accept what she did without a second thought. However, really consider this: Was this a normal thing to do? Where would she come up with the idea of putting a baby in a basket along the bank of a river? I don't think it was very common among the Hebrew mothers of that time! I mean, what in the world would it accomplish? However, I believe that Jochebed did what she did simply because that's what God wanted her to do. I don't think she could or would have come up with the idea on her own; to our way of thinking, it's absurd! However, God, in His Divine wisdom knew what He was doing. Jochebed simply did what He wanted to her do, leaving the rest up to Him.

We all know the rest of the story, right? It "just so happened" that Pharoah's daughter came with her attendants to the water to bathe. "Somehow" she spotted the little basket, and, after her maid brought it to her, found inside a tiny, crying (or more likely screaming!), helpless baby boy - a Hebrew baby boy. Did she do as the law ordered and immediately drown him in the river? No. Instead, she felt sorry for the infant. Yes, God indeed knew what He was doing!

Miriam took that most opportune time to ask if the princess wanted a nurse for the baby, then went and got her mother Jochebed. Then, not only did Jochebed get her son back safe and sound, she also got paid by Pharoah's daughter to take the baby - her son - and nurse him until he got older. Jochebed must have done so joyfully; her son, whom she'd almost given up hope on, was saved from looming death. Not only that, she got to care for him in his tender years, rejoicing in his every smile and coo. How she must have praised God!

Then, when he was weaned, Jochebed had to give him up once again. She had to bring her precious child, her little miracle, and give him to the Phaoah's daughter. How that must have torn her mother's heart, to have her son returned to her, only to give him up forever a few years later. Yes, he was spared from death, but only to a become a pagan Egyptian, living the life of a prince far from her home and arms. She must have wondered why; she must have ached years afterward for her son, yet she was unable to hold him. He became an Egyptian, and she remained a lowly Hebrew slave.

The Bible doesn't tell us what happened to Jochebed after that. We don't know whether she ever got to see her son again. We all know who her son was - Moses, the deliverer, who led his people out of slavery and toward the promised land. Perhaps she lived to see the glorious day of freedom for her people. Perhaps she eventually understood why she had to go through the pain of letting Moses go. However, more than likely, she died in Egypt. After all, it would be eighty years before God would use her son to accomplish His plan in freeing His people. She may have died in slavery, wondering what had happened to the son she had lost.

She didn't know what would be the end, but she did her part. She didn't know why God would have her go through all of the pain, but she let her son go. How many of us willingly do that? We all too often - myself included! - want to know now the reasons we have to suffer as we do. We want to know why these things happen; we want to know what the future will be. However, like Jochebed, we must let go. We must let go of our hopes, our dreams... our "rights". We must leave them in God's hands and trust Him to work the details out. He does indeed have a plan. Our place is to simply follow as He leads us step-by-step. WE must follow Him even when it sounds crazy - even when it feels like what we're doing won't be worthwhile - even when it sounds crazy.

Whatever it is, remember the example of Jochebed, and like her, purpose to follow God wherever He leads, and do whatever He says. God will indeed work all His little details out, if we simply trust. We many not know why we had to do what we did for years to come. We may never know why. All He asks is for us to do our part, and leave the rest . . . up to Him.

Read all about Jochebed in Exodus 2:1-10

Sunday, April 15, 2007

Discovering My Roots

Preparing once again to send in my paperwork for the Ballet Magnficat! Summer Dance Intensive, I realized that they had asked the same question in the short biographical sketch: "If you could go one place in the world, where would you go, and what would you do?" Not wanting to give the same exact answer I gave last year, I thought of 2 other countries I'd like to visit instead. Armed again with the handy World Book Encyclopedias, I wrote the following:

If I had the opportunity, two of the places I'd enjoy visiting would be the countries of Sweden and Norway. Because I am part Swedish, Norwegian, and Finnish, I'd enjoy the opportunity to go to the countries of my ancestors, exploring the places from which I get my roots. Traversing the high mountains, soft lowlands, and icy seas, I'd breath in the beauty of God's handiwork displayed. I'd climb the tall, rocky mountains, and get get a glimpse of the land, lakes, and dense forests stretched out for miles. Descending into the lowlands, I'd travel the rolling hills, visit the beautiful farmland, and splash in the clear, cool lakes. I'd then take a trip to the edges of Norway, and see all the fiords that make up the jagged coast land.

My trip wouldn't be complete without visiting with the people of Scandinavia. From the tall, fair skinned, blue-eyed Swedes, to the Lapps of Northern Sweden and Norway, I'd get to know the people from whom I get my heritage. I'd delight in hearing the speech similar to the “Ya sure,” and “You bet 'cha!” expressions of my Grandma Nordholm. The brightly-colored, cheerful clothing of the Lapps, and the old-fashioned, full dress of the others, worn at festivals and holidays, would enthrall me. I'd probably begin thinking of how I could make a Swedish dress of my own! I'd also consult the women of the land, asking them to teach me how to braid my own hair on top of my head – and actually get it to stay! Once I learned, I'd delight in weaving a crown of my own with my long, straight hair.

I'd wander through the cozy, quaint villages of the old country and try the food of an authentic smorgasbord. If it was December, I'd celebrate with them St. Lucia Day, the Festival of Light, dressed like the other girls in a long white dress and crown of evergreen leaves. If it was June instead, I'd dance with them around the Maypoles in celebration of Midsummer's Eve. I'd probably also visit at least one of the many Lutheran churches dotting the countryside, bringing to mind the churches of my parents and grandparents. In all my sojourns, I'd seek to bring the light of Christ to the Land of the Midnight Sun.

What about you? Where would you go, if you could go anywhere in the world?

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

A Hailstorm!

"Praise the LORD from the earth, you great sea creatures and all ocean depths, lightning and hail, snow and clouds, stormy winds that do His bidding..."
~Psalm 148:7-8~

It just hailed! We heard warning sirens, and the sky rumbled ominously. However, we never expected hail! Without much warning, the heavens burst open with intense rain and hail. The downpour lasted for about 10 minutes, then simply stopped, almost as abruptly as it began. It truly brings to mind God's power!

I guess you could call it Alabama snow... The weather has been so weird lately!

The calm after the storm. The sun came out, and a strange mist arose and is still hanging around. Sadly, our flowers haven't faired very well - they're a bit crushed. But, perhaps they'll come back. Thankfully, it doesn't look like our blueberry bushes have been damaged too badly. Praise God for that!

"I know that the LORD is great, that our Lord is greater than all gods. The LORD does whatever pleases Him, in the heavens and on the earth, in the seas and all their depths. He makes clouds rise from the ends of the earth; He makes clouds rise from the ends of the earth; He sends lightning with the rain and brings out the wind from His storehouses."
~Psalms 135:5-7~

Monday, April 09, 2007

Willing to Wait

Commitment. Restraint. Real, sacrificial love. Sadly, these attributes seem to be missing from the majority of boy-girl relationships. Gone are the days of gallant gentlemen wooing modest maidens; in its place is something lacking any type of real commitment or thoughts of the future. When did everything become so - so casual?

Last Saturday, my sisters Miriam, Jubilee, and I went to Six Flags over Georgia to celebrate Jubi's turning twelve. Braving the cold, we enjoyed the exhilarating roller coasters and the time spent with each other. While waiting in the every-present lines, I couldn't help but notice the couples. They were everywhere - teen girls and guys dominated the crowds, and it was rare to see an unattached male or female. Each one seemed to have their own boyfriend or girlfriend, and they weren't ashamed to make it obvious that this certain someone was theirs. "Public displays of affection" are no longer frowned upon; in fact, no one really even seems to notice anymore. They were hanging all over each other, "making out" while waiting their turn to ride the attractions. No one really gave a thought to the fact that their relationship probably wouldn't last - or perhaps hadn't even lasted - for more than a few weeks. They lived for the moment, gratifying their desires without thought to how this would scar them emotionally and physically.

Somehow, somewhere, we have lost the sacredness of the beautiful relationship that can develop between a man and a woman. Most teens and young adults are caught up in a world of dating, trying out different girls and guys as casually and quickly as they care to. They're not building quality relationships, but are living for the moment. "How will this make me feel?" "How will this girl or guy make me look?" "How can this person gratify my desires?" - these are the questions they're asking. As soon a they have no more use for their date or simply loose interest, it's on to someone else.

However, that's not the way I desire my relationship with a "special someone" to be. I want more - more commitment, more restraint, more thought to the future. I know I'm young and idealistic; I know I'm a romantic; but I truly believe that it can be done. This is why I'm waiting. This is why I'm not spending my energy and youth on relationships that won't lasts. This is why I'm committed to courtship. I'm not going to pour myself into passing attractions. I'm going to wait until I'm ready to enter a relationship with the purpose of discovering whether or not our path together will lead to marriage. I'm not going to freely give out my affection any average guy that wants it; I'm going to withhold myself and wait for God's best, and when he comes, he'll have to work to win my heart and hand. Casual physical affection won't be a part of our relationship. Instead, we'll spend our time getting to know each other in a family atmosphere, learning about each other in group settings, and covering almost every topic in long conversations. One special day we'll share our first kiss - right after the minister pronounces us man and wife.

Yes, I admit that I don't know exactly how everything will happen when I begin courting. After all, God works in mysterious ways. Dreams of a beau coming to call in the evening, bearing flowers and carrying himself as the perfect gentlemen while I am the demure maiden, receiving him with the utmost respect make me sigh happily. As our relationship deepens, I dreamily think of special candlelight dinners, heartfelt, meaningful conversations, and long walks in the moonlight. Yes, my dreams are rosy... the thoughts of being wooed and won. It probably won't be quite like the storybook romances of eras gone by, but I hope that it's special and above all, honoring to God.

All this is most likely going to be many years away, but I am content to wait. Meanwhile, my time won't be spent dreaming about what will be either. My time will be spent productively, preparing myself emotionally, physically, and spiritually for the day that I become a wife, if that is what the Lord wills. I won't merely sit at home waiting for Prince Charming to show up and sweep me away. I will do my best to serve God as an unmarried virgin, devoting myself to His affairs (1 Corinthians 7:34), whatever that may mean. And one day, if it's in God's plan for my life, I hope to embark down the path called courtship. It can be done. There are many ways, many examples, and many stories. When my turn comes, I will, with the Lord's help, seek to uphold our relationship with sacredness, commitment, and self-control, as we learn to love each other unconditionally. With God at the center, it can be done. Until that time comes, I am more than willing to joyfully wait.

Sunday, April 08, 2007

Jesus is Alive!

Because He lives...

I can face tomorrow.

Thursday, April 05, 2007

Godly Womanhood

Godly womanhood...the very phrase sounds strange in our ears. We never hear it now. We hear about every other type of women: beautiful women, smart women, sophisticated women, career women, talented women, divorced women. But so seldom do we hear of a godly woman - or of a godly man either, for that matter. We believe women come nearer to fulfilling their God-given function in the home than anywhere else. It is a much nobler thing to be a good wife than to be Miss America. It is a greater achievement to establish a Christian home than it is to produce a second-rate novel filled with filth. It is a far, far better thing in the realms of morals to be old-fashioned, than to be ultra-modern.
The world has enough women who know how to be smart. It needs women who are willing to be simple. The world has enough women who know how to be brilliant. It needs some who will be brave. The world has enough women who are popular. It needs more who are pure. We need women, and men, too, who would rather be morally right than socially correct.

-Former U.S. Senate Chaplain, Peter Marshall
Written in the 1940's

Wednesday, April 04, 2007

Back to Journals

Last April, I wrote and posted a poem on my old blog called Letters to My Dearest. While I've enjoyed writing these letters in my diary, I now feel the need to stop them, and go back to just journaling. I didn't want to do it at first - after all, I had already blogged about it and everything! =) But, I feel it's needed. And, since the first post was written in poetry, I thought I should write a poem for this one as well...

The Letters to my Dearest
have come to an end.
I've gone back to the old way
of journaling instead.

The Letters were nice while
they lasted, 'tis true!
I learned a lot while writing them;
I matured and I grew.

However I was thinking, praying,
and looking ahead,
And decided that I'd rather keep
a plain journal instead.

I'll still let him read them,
to learn more about me,
But the journals will also be
a witness to posterity.

Perhaps one day my daughter
will read them as well,
And learn that her mother was also
a girl that often fell.

She could read all the lessons
God showed me as a teen.
Just perhaps comfort and insight
from their pages she'd glean.

The journals will also serve
as a reminder to me
Of what I have learned
and struggled through, as He

Has been my constant source
of comfort, strength and love;
And how in Him I've learned to rest
and seek all help from above.

My maiden years are a gift,
perhaps better spent
Not on thoughts of my future,
But on what I am sent

As I walk through this time
of maidenhood with my Father;
As I learn to focus on my Saviour,
and learn to be His daughter.

I'm still committed to purity
and waiting for God's timing.
I'll still probably have hopes
fill some pages with longing.

But the entries will not be focused
on a man as I write.
I'll instead record my life
As I live to be a light.

~by Anna Naomi Lofgren, April 3rd, 2007~

For more on my enjoyment of journaling, read the Joy of Journals.

Monday, April 02, 2007

Shiprah and Puah - Obeying God Rather Than Man

Our work is not easy, but it's a joy. For years we have been the primary midwives for our people, the Hebrews, and have had the great privilege of seeing each new life being brought into this world. Although our people are foreigners in a strange land, we Hebrews welcome each new life with joy. We know that children are a gift from God, and He has indeed blessed our people abundantly!

The Egyptian king, Pharoah, became afraid of our people and how fruitful we've become. We were enslaved, and oppressed greatly; instead of dying off, however, we've multiplied all the more! Pharoah then gave us an order to kill all of the Hebrew baby boys as they come into the world, thus causing our nation to shrink. We knew we couldn't do such an evil, and trust God to help us make it through...

When I first began the Women of the Bible series, I didn't even consider putting these courageous ladies on the list to write about. I mean, we've heard of Eve, Sarah, and Rachel, but who's ever heard of Shiprah and Puah? After all, they're only mentioned in a few verses at the beginning of Exodus! However, as I was preparing to write about Jochebed, I was struck by the courageous lives of these little-known women, forever a part of their nation's history.

Exodus 1:6-14 sets the stage for the showdown: the Hebrew people were fruitful and multiplied greatly, filling the land. An Egyptian king who'd never heard about the wonderful things Joseph did came to power, and, being scared of the numerous Hebrews, forced them all into slavery. When they continued to spread, he devised something even more evil: killing all of the boys while they were yet being birthed. He summoned Shiprah and Puah and commanded them, "When you help the Hebrew women in childbirth and observe them on the delivery stool, if it is a boy, kill him; but if it is a girl, let her life." (Exodus 1:16)

The next verse gives us a glimpse into the character of these strong women. "The midwives, however, feared God and did not do what the king of Egypt had told them to do; they let the boys live." (Exodus 1:17) These women were truly courageous! They weren't merely disobeying an order from some small official; they went against the top man of that day, the very king of Egypt! They were not wimpy women who caved in after the smallest pressure. They were mighty women who feared God! They knew that it might cost their lives, but they refused to kill the precious lives that God had created.

Enraged, the king summoned them and asked them, "Why have you done this? Why have you let the boys live? (Exodus 1:18b) The midwives' answer was evasive; they replied, "Hebrew women are not like Egyptian women; they are vigorous and give birth before the midwives arrive." (Exodus 1:19b) Some wonder if this was the whole truth, for it would seem like the midwives may have lied or stretched the truth to not anger Pharoah. We just don't know. What we do know from the next verses is that God was pleased with the courage of Shiprah and Puah.

"So God was kind to the midwives and the people increased and became even more numerous. And because the midwives feared God, He gave them families of their own." (Exodus 1:20-21)

God must have scoffed at Pharoah. Who was this man to try to kill off God's people? Instead of their size decreasing, God blessed them with even more descendants! He was especially kind to Shiprah and Phuah. Because they feared Him, He blessed them with families of their own. Now, they not only helped bring babies into the world, they had little blessings of their own.

Is there a situation in your life where you're tempted to obey man rather than God? Are you scared, and think you may have to do what is asked, just to keep the peace. Are you afraid of what others might do to you if you don't do whatever it is? Maybe it's just a little thing, just a little disobedience, that you don't think will really matter. Don't be afraid! As the apostles said in Acts 5:29, "we must obey God rather than men!" Remember the lives of these two courageous women who, because they feared God, were willing to go against the most important man in the whole land! They were blessed for it, because they trusted and obeyed and did not give in to fear. Next time you're faced with such a situation, what will you do?

Read all about Shiprah and Puah in Exodus 1:6-21