Sunday, March 25, 2012

Sunday praise!

My brother had the liver transplant yesterday.  I prayed all day long.  The surgery was expected to last 15 hours.  It only took 7.  His body accepted the new liver : )  He's doing so well they took him off the breathing tube.  And his first words were, "Tell my family I'm alright."

My niece said the doctors are baffled by his old liver.  They are going to do scientific evaluation to figure out what happened.  I smiled and told her, that's the hand of God.  He does things that don't make sense to doctors sometimes.  Amazing grace, mercy, and love.  Our God is an awesome God!

Thank you to all who prayed.  I'll continue to pray for his healing.  They're saying he may be out of the hospital in 2 weeks.

God bless!

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Scripture & a Snapshot

"Getting the goslings in a row"
© Karen Kyle Ericson, all rights reserved.

He directs my heart into His love, there's nothing else that works.  The other day I prayed for peace in our home.  And God brought it.  Answers to our questions came immediately and showed us everything was ok in my husband's job.  

Sometimes I can see the truth of  God's Word illustrated in animals.  Geese are nowhere near as intelligent as humans, but they do their best to take care of their babies.  It comes from their hearts and instincts.  When I look at it that way, I wonder why it's so complicated for us.  Surely, God will guide us as well.  We mean more to Him than animals.  He created us in His image.  The little goslings trust their parents to lead and protect them in the water.  From their point of view this pond must seem like a great lake : )  As do our troubles at times.

May He always direct our hearts to His love.  This is where we find Christ's perseverance.  We were never designed to be independent from Him.  But to always be in His strength and presence.  It's so great to have a relationship with the Almighty God.  Now that I know Him, I don't want to live without Him.

That is why, for Christ's sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.
2 Corinthians 12:10 NIV
I can do everything through him who gives me strength.
Philippians 4:13 NIV

Side note:  Sorry I haven't been out posting regularly lately.  Tomorrow is my 52nd birthday.  Wow,  I made it!  So I'm hoping to be back on schedule next Monday.  For my birthday we're going to NYC so I can shoot an exhibit of the Dead Sea scrolls (original texts of the Bible).  I'm very excited to see them.  God bless!

Challenge sponsored by Katie Lloyd Photography.

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Word-filled Wednesday

"Advertising photo assignment, almost..."
© Karen Kyle Ericson, all rights reserved.

Jesus described us as the "salt of the earth."  In today's world salt isn't as important as it was in Biblical times.  Although some doctors are starting to come around and realize that salt is in human blood- it's a part of how we were created.  Too much salt can be fatal.  Before I became a Christian when people came on too strong, I wasn't very nice.   It wasn't until I started seeking Him that I found Jesus.  I have no doubt that the Christians I rejected, sprinkled a little salt in my heart.

Salt had many purposes in Biblical times:

  • like today, it was used for seasoning in food
  • it's a preservative
  • a disinfectant
  • used in exchange for items
  • melts snow and ice
As Christians, we add seasoning to the world.  We bring love and hope to dark places restoring others.  The truth is in us, Jesus Himself.  He can use us to cleanse others of depression and doubt.  What I've received in exchange for my simple acts of kindness always seems greater than what I gave.  I remember sitting in a cube working.  A man said how hungry he was.  I had some granola bars in my desk drawer.  So I gave him one, really didn't think it was a big deal.  His response overwhelmed me, "Why would you do this?  I don't understand it's so nice of you."

So I told him, "I'm a Christian.  It's what I do."

A manager was standing by me.  He smiled, nodded and said, "Yes.  That's what we do."

I didn't know he was a Christian.  Such a simple thing.  With my brother's illness, his family is struggling emotionally.  Waiting for a liver transplant is agony.  It feels like snow and ice for them.  I called last night and they were thrilled to hear from me.  We laughed and I encouraged my niece in her career.  We'll be going down on Saturday.  God has given us such a gift, I am so grateful.  It doesn't take much to sprinkle some salt, melt some ice, and pray.

I took this photo for one of my final projects with New York Institute of Photography.  We were supposed to copy an advertisement photo with lighting techniques.  Oy!  The ad looked so simple, after hours of work I got this shot.  Then I looked at the ad again and realized it was fixed in Photoshop...  No worries though, I think God had another purpose for this shot. : )  And I found a better subject for my assignment.

Challenge sponsored by Katie Lloyd Photography.

Challenge sponsored by Internet Cafe Devotions.

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Word-filled Wednesday

© Karen Kyle Ericson, all rights reserved.

I love the words in this verse:

God wants us to live, to really live.  Not to be caught up in worries and negative thoughts (this can be a challenge for sure!).  Let go and smile, tickle a child, play with pets, dream, and be creative.  Love others and pray for those who are a little hard to love.

He doesn't want us to get caught up by desires that weigh us down.  It would be nice to win the lottery and have all sorts of money.  But if I spend all my money on lottery tickets or believe money will make me happy that's not freedom.  Only Jesus can set us free.  Besides I heard the tax on a million dollars is outrageous.  Better to have enough and be free than anchored down in taxes.

To me this is a person who is full of life.  They tell stories, laugh, cry, dance, sing.  They enjoy the talents and gifts God has given them and enthusiastically live.

by God's Spirit
The Holy Spirit is within us.  Sometimes when I meditate on Jesus' name, I am full of joy.  But no one is always happy.  It's ok to feel bad; that's life.  Joy is deeper and stronger.  It comes from the Holy Spirit deep within our hearts.  Happiness comes and goes with circumstances.  Sometimes He nudges me to help someone I wouldn't usually notice.  I noticed after I became a Christian, I'd come out of illnesses with joy.  His joy waits for us.

About this photo- I was out shooting in Cranbury, NJ.  It's a little colonial town.  I was snapping away when I saw these ballerina dresses in a store window.  I smiled.  Ballerinas are so graceful and free. But the real truth is, they work hours and hours.  It requires a great deal of strength and discipline.  They are coordinated and graceful naturally.  Sigh...  I do cameras : )  Paint brushes make me feel whole.  Sketch pads are a new adventure.  I trip at least once a day...  But for a moment I saw someone's dream hanging in the window.  The skirts swirled.  The toes held balance.  It was beautiful.  Isn't it awesome how God gave us all different gifts and talents?  Uniquely animated for His glory!  It's good to enjoy the talent of others.  My Pastor, has a gift in teaching the Bible. So glad he's willing to share his gifts and talent.

Challenge sponsored by Katie Lloyd Photography.

Challenge sponsored by Internet Cafe Devotions.

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Standing up

I have a tooth that didn't close.  All the dentists I ever went to, told me not to let anyone put a filling in it.  It's not a cavity.  I went in for a checkup and the dentist told me I needed a filling for a cavity.  No surprise.  Afterword, he laughed and said, "It really wasn't a cavity.  But it might have become one- it never closed."

It hurt that a dentist would lie to me.  I felt stupid for not asking which tooth he wanted to fill.  It felt like I was being taken, betrayed.  A few months ago I ate a Peanut M&M and heard a crack.  I got it checked last week.  The tooth that didn't close was split down to the root.  The dentist showed me what was going on.  He said, "The filling is fine.  But the tooth didn't have enough wall."   Now I'll be going back to get it fixed again- maybe a root canal.  It's hard to trust people sometimes.  Multiply this by a billion and that's how God felt about what happened to the Temple.  Sometimes I think about what Jesus went through and my problems seem so small.

The temple was established for all people, rich and poor.  They were to come here to worship, pray and offer sacrifices to God.  The High Priest was to be God's servant who could approach Him and offer the sacrifices.  The Pharisees became leaders.  They were legalistic in their religious beliefs.  But, somehow they turned the temple into a money making place.  It became a den of robbers, unsafe.  It's easy for us to lose sight of what we know is right and start embellishing things.  A little here, a little there.  God won't mind.  But He did.   He didn't destroy all the people.  Instead, He sent Jesus because He loves us that much.  There were also many really great Jews during this time period, like the disciples, Mary, John the Baptist's Father, and Joseph.  Just to name a few.  

John 2:13-25

13 Now the Passover of the Jews was at hand, and Jesus went up to Jerusalem14 And He found in the temple those who sold oxen and sheep and doves, and the money changers doing business15 When He had made a whip of cords, He drove them all out of the temple, with the sheep and the oxen, and poured out the changers’ money and overturned the tables16 And He said to those who sold dovesTake these things away! Do not make My Father’s house a house of merchandise! 17 Then His disciples remembered that it was written, “Zeal for Your house has eaten Me up.”
I believe this is the angriest Jesus became in the New Testament gospels.  He's usually extremely patient as He encounters people. He must hate people being taken as much as we hate experiencing it.  Jesus removed the importance of a physical temple and chose to dwell in our hearts instead.

Do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God?
1 Corinthians 6:19
18 So the Jews answered and said to Him, “What sign do You show to us, since You do these things?”
19 Jesus answered and said to them, Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up.
20 Then the Jews said, “It has taken forty-six years to build this temple, and will You raise it up in three days?”
21 But He was speaking of the temple of His body. 22 Therefore, when He had risen from the dead, His disciples remembered that He had said this to them; and they believed the Scripture and the word which Jesus had said.
The Jewish leaders had no idea who they were talking to.  They tried to legalistically play with Jesus' words.  They were very angry at His behavior.  Sometimes when people get into leadership, the brain turns to jelly...  just an observation from years in business.

23 Now when He was in Jerusalem at the Passover, during the feast, many believed in His name when they saw the signs which He did.
This was probably a long awaited celebration for the good Jews of the day.  Jesus stood up to the religious leaders.  They must have longed for someone to take back God's temple.  This was just the beginning.

24 But Jesus did not commit Himself to them, because He knew all men, 25 and had no need that anyone should testify of man, for He knew what was in man.  NKJV
These words are humbling.  Jesus knew how people are, we change our minds, forget.  All sorts of things get us side-tracked.  He simply didn't commit to them.  He allowed them to commit to Him.  He allows all of us to make our own choices to believe and trust, or not.

As I read these verses, I remember why we can't do this.  It's because we don't have the authority that Jesus has.  He is the Son of God.  We are to be friends and show love not destroy religions.  However, I do believe we can stand up.  I am so pleased to see politicians standing up for our religious freedoms in the USA.  It made my day when a representative asked an official why contraceptives are so important.  Her answer was, "Pregnancies make higher medical costs."  His reply was, "Pregnancies are natural."  

Children are good.  Why would the government need to be involved in something so personal, even dictating to Churches and businesses?  

I believe we need more of this in America.  Solid discussion with the White House.  I'll keep praying for our nation.  And claim this promise-

I am still confident of this: I will see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living.
Psalm 27:13 NIV