Archive | party

who is invited?

Is the family of God exclusive or inclusive?

When I was about seventeen, I was attended a soiree. That’s right, not a party—a soiree. “Who is invited?” I had asked. My brother and sister who were sure the invitation included me, though that wasn’t completely evident. They were friends of the family hosting the event and I was an acquaintance of theirs. I put on my satin skirt and a black top, my mom gently suggested I put a little effort into my hair and we took the long drive to their secluded home.

It was Christmastime, there was wassail on the stove and horse devours on the coffee table and a shining grand piano that it would seem every guest knew how to play, but me. Everyone was very nice and I enjoyed my wassail and the live music, but I couldn’t help but wonder if I was out of place. The group seemed very exclusive and I couldn’t help but wonder if I hadn’t been invited at all.

Have you ever felt that way? It’s not the most pleasant feeling.

Now imagine receiving an invitation to a big, wonderful party (or soiree!) There is sure to be food and drink, live music and games, lots of laughing and talking and good times. Anyone is welcome, but you have to bring an invitation, and invitations are sent out at request. Would you consider this an exclusive party?

This is similar to a question a lot of people have about Christianity. If God is good, if God is love, how can He “send people to hell”? If you really loved people, you would be more tolerant, more inclusive. All people should be able to go to heaven when they die, right?

First of all, don’t take my word for this. Jesus said of Himself, “I am the way, the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” (John 14:6, emphasis mine.) It doesn’t take a scholar to interpret that verse. The great news is, everyone is welcome into the Kingdom of God, but there is only one road, one gate, one key that we all must use.

The Bible doesn’t just say, “God is loving,” it says “God is love.” (1 John 4:8.) That means that everything He does is love, even his “severe mercies” as Elisabeth Elliot called them.  Making only one “key” to heaven’s gate, that excludes all of the other keys we could possibly try, and that’s done out of love for us. He isn’t trying to trick us, there is no riddle. There’s just one key. And the other keys? The key we make ourselves, the key someone else presses into our hands, the key we found somewhere along the way–they won’t turn the lock.

There was a time when God spoke to people only through occasional prophets on misty, glowing hilltops. He gave us the law carved in stone, there was no “buts” about it and we were swallowed by the earth if we failed to live up to those expectations. He was already Love, but His love for had not been consummated on the cross, yet. Out of love, He showed us that we cannot work for love. Love that we have to work for is not love at all. He chose a high priest, a Jewish man of a certain line, to communicate with Him. Communication was more tense than any meet-the-parents dinner. The priest entered God’s presence only once a year, and with so many particulars, Moses wrote an entire book of instructions based on God’s words to Him. The priests wore a rope round their waist when in God’s presence so their dead body could be dragged out if God struck them down for some reason (no one else could enter The Holy of Holies to retrieve him.)

When Solomon built the temple, the people who wished to worship were segregated into several sections. The Most Holy Place was for The High Priest only. Beyond that was the Court of the Priests. Beyond that was a court where men were allowed. Then there was a court outside of that for women. Beyond that was The Court of the Gentiles were non-Jews were permitted to enter. (Here’s a little diagram.) The curtain that hung in front of the Most Holy Place was a physical and spiritual barrier between God and you and I. (Personally, I am not a priest or a man or a Jew.)

However, when Jesus died, a miracle occurred.

And then Jesus cried out once more, loudly, and then He breathed His last breath. At that instant, the temple curtain was torn in half, from top to bottom. (Matthew 27:50-51)

I can’t get over the way the author of Hebrews puts it:

So, my friends, Jesus by His blood gives us courage to enter the most holy place. He has created for us a new and living way through the curtain, that is, through His flesh. Since we have a great High Priest who presides over the house of God, let us draw near with true hearts full of faith, with hearts rinsed clean of any evil conscience, and with bodies cleansed with pure water. (Hebrews 10:19-22)

The curtain that God Himself instructed man to create, was torn in half by the power of God’s love. His message was loud and clear: all are welcome in His presence, in his family and in His unending love. Men, women, Jews, Gentiles…absolutely everyone. 

That doesn’t undo what Jesus said about Himself. He is still the only way into God’s presence. We must come through he new and living way, through His flesh. That’s the only way we can have “true hearts, full of faith…rinsed clean of any evil conscience.” The party I was speaking of, is still invitation only. But there’s a catch: the invitation is open to anyone. As a matter of fact, when you come to the door empty handed, Jesus opens the door and gives you His own invitation to use as passage.

All you have to do is come to the door, knock and say, “I don’t have an invitation, I can’t get one on my own. But I want to come into the party and I know you can help.”

“It will not be just the children of Abraham and Isaac and Jacob who celebrate at their heavenly banquet at the end of time. No, people will come from the East and the West—and those who recognize Me, regardless of their lineage, will sit with Me at that feast.” -Jesus Christ, Matthew 8:11

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Happy Birthday, Daddy!

I wrote a little tribute to my dad on Instagram for his birthday, and then I decided I should share it here. My dad is truly the best! So thankful to my Heavenly Father for my Daddy!

blog photo-pops

This is my dad.
It is pretty hard to catch him in front of the camera, but I found this shot from Amsterdam on my phone.
Some of you are already thinking about Father’s Day, but I’m going to get ahead by talking about my dad today, on his birthday!
My dad got married while he was in college and they had my brother Joey the next year. He finished college by taking several semesters off to work every job imaginable. He was a janitor, a pressure-washer, and a construction worker. He worked an assembly line, he went door-to-door, he mowed the alligator pen at the zoo!
My dad has not stopped working hard to provide for his family since then. By the time I was born, he was in med school, still working hard. From the moment Joey was born, he’s made sure my mom could always stay home with us.
My dad hasn’t ever had a lot of time “off,” but when he’s off, he’s at home with his family…or taking us on a “vacation” (adventure!)
He used to line us girls up on the bed with our hair hanging off to blow dry it, and then he’d brush it and sometimes even French braid it! He’s a man of many talents!
He builds houses, pins butterflies (but only those that die of natural causes, because he’s awesome,) cooks, bakes, takes beautiful photos (he taught us how to develop film in our own darkroom,) fixes All The Broken Things, and has great taste in music, coffee and cookies. smile emoticon
Now I realize that my dad was really young when he started his family, and was still a young child in the family of God at that point. Now that I’m in my twenties, I see what a remarkable man he has been to love his wife as Christ loves the church, to raise his nine children to follow Christ unapologetically and to otherwise never be a “follower.”
I still learn from him, I still sit on his knee and he still braids my hair sometimes. We definitely still go on adventures!
I love you SO much Daddy! Have a groovy birthday!
P. S. If I never get married, it’s all your fault. You’ve given me such high standards, the guys I meet just don’t usually measure up! That may have been your plan all along…

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…and other things that make up my unusual life

Jubilee on a cold day (photo credit due to Birdie)



{Things aren’t always pleasant at Eyrie Park.


That isn’t to say that a day has gone by when I didn’t have much to be thankful for, but we are not a perfect family and we do not lead perfect lives. I just wanted to remind you of that. And remind myself that this is okay. And do a bit of late-night rambling.}


For starters, you may have noticed that I have not posted a deep thought and beautiful collection of photographs for every day of Advent this year. You hadn’t noticed? Well, maybe that’s because you’re expectations of me are healthy and my expectations of me are silly

photo by Pops



You may have also noticed that my family has been recognizing Advent this year. The rumors are true. I am proud to say that every available member of the family (which isn’t always the same number) has gathered for devotions and discussion every day of Advent so far. We’ve read books, talked, lit candles, hung ornaments and prayed together. This is a success.


We’ve had a lot of warm fires and typically fickle weather. (It was 70 degrees today but when the sun went down, we still lit the fire and toasted marshmallows.) We’ve had some movie nights and games around the table that gets moved into the middle of the living room to make way for the Christmas tree. It’s amazing how moving a table can make people want to deal cards.

Mumsy is the official instructions reader.



We’ve also had some stress and tension. One family member who often makes it her goal to toss wrenches into the gears has begun doing this more openly lately. There have been stressful moments and avoided topics and sighs of “what are we going to do now?” There have been prayers for resolution. There have been fights. There have been moments of peace and quiet and moments of fragility. This isn’t something I enjoy writing on the prayer  request board because I find it hard to explain, but your prayers for my sister and my parents and the rest of the clan would be coveted. 


If you’re actually curious about what I’ve been up to, I will tell you. I’ve been feeding the neighbor’s pets while they were at Disney World. I’ve been copying scripture into my journal and keeping my own words inside. I’ve been listening to the squeak of the mouse wheel. I’ve been watching Iron Chef. I’ve been poring over Christmas cards. I’ve been rather lazy in the normal things. I’ve been loving falling in bed at night. I’ve been laying in bed and looking at the moonlight. I’ve been having sibling-conferences about parent-gifts. I’ve been dreaming of writing letters. I’ve been worrying…about a lot of stuff. I’ve been watching a cold travel between family members and never leave the house. I’ve been eating up sermons. I’ve been shopping at the mall and Toys R Us (which I don’t like) and grocery shopping (which I do, unless I’m rushed.)

Eyrie Park, 12-13-2011



I threw a really wonderful party with the help of Birdie. She made amazing dessert and amazing paper snowflakes. I made plans and paper chains. I was, of course, really last-minute with everything, so it ended up being a family-effort to get the party together before the guests showed up. The guests were wonderful. Just a very few close friends who can laugh at anything. There was chili, rice and cornbread (even my gluten-free friend could partake!) and sparkling grape juice, s’mores and Christmas candy. There were writer-ish games and fireside conversation and a piano concert by the lovely Jubilee. Everyone was wowed and she beamed. I was very satisfied. 


Anyway, that’s my unofficial Christmas card. I hope it wasn’t too mellow. It’s the real me, at this real moment. Tell me about you now. Please?



everly

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exciting news

Young Ladies Christian Fellowship
Well everyone, I’ve got some exciting news. I am happy to announce that I am the newest member of the Young Ladies Christian Fellowship writing team. YLCF was the first blog I ever read (back in 2006 or 2007) and it is an honor to be writing for them now. 

Stop over and see me there sometime! Of course, I’ll still be writing here as well.

Also–go check out their current blog carnival. Link up to a post on your own blog about your passion and enter to win some awesome prizes! (That’s the one-and-only downside of being on the team…I’m not longer eligible to win prizes!)

Anyway, I just wanted y’all to be able to celebrate with me!

Thanks for all of your support and encouragement that have brought me to this point.

Everly
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