Sunday, April 16, 2017

Christ Is Risen

stained glass window picture of empty tomb

Happy Easter! He Is Risen!

But on the first day of the week, at early dawn, they went to the tomb, taking the spices they had prepared. And they found the stone rolled away from the tomb, but when they went in they did not find the body of the Lord Jesus. While they were perplexed about this, behold, two men stood by them in dazzling apparel. And as they were frightened and bowed their faces to the ground, the men said to them, “Why do you seek the living among the dead? He is not here, but has risen. Remember how he told you, while he was still in Galilee, that the Son of Man must be delivered into the hands of sinful men and be crucified and on the third day rise.” And they remembered his words, and returning from the tomb they told all these things to the eleven and to all the rest. Now it was Mary Magdalene and Joanna and Mary the mother of James and the other women with them who told these things to the apostles, but these words seemed to them an idle tale, and they did not believe them. But Peter rose and ran to the tomb; stooping and looking in, he saw the linen cloths by themselves; and he went home marveling at what had happened. 
Luke 24:1-12



Christ Is Risen, He Is Risen Indeed
(If you are reading this in an email, you may need to click over to the blog to see the video.)

How can it be, the One who died,
Has borne our sin through sacrifice
To conquer every sting of death?
Sing, sing hallelujah. 
For joy awakes as dawning light
When Christ's disciples lift their eyes.
Alive He stands, their Friend and King;
Christ, Christ He is risen. 
Chorus
Christ is risen, He is risen indeed!
Oh, sing hallelujah.
Join the chorus, sing with the redeemed;
Christ is risen, He is risen indeed. 
Where doubt and darkness once had been,
They saw Him and their hearts believed.
But blessed are those who have not seen,
Yet sing hallelujah. 
Once bound by fear now bold in faith,
They preached the truth and power of grace.
And pouring out their lives they gained
Life, life everlasting. 
Chorus 
The power that raised Him from the grave
Now works in us to powerfully save.
He frees our hearts to live His grace;
Go tell of His goodness. 
Chorus 
He's alive, He's alive!
Heaven's gates are opened wide.
He's alive, He's alive!
Now in heaven glorified. 
by Keith Getty, Kristyn Getty, and Ed Cash

Friday, April 14, 2017

It Is Finished

Today is Good Friday. It is the day that we remember the sacrifice of Jesus on the cross. The Lord "laid on him the iniquity of us all" (Isaiah 53:6). Jesus suffered the wrath of God in our place. His suffering and death brought about great good - the salvation of all who believe!

Surely he has borne our griefs
    and carried our sorrows;
yet we esteemed him stricken,
    smitten by God, and afflicted.
But he was pierced for our transgressions;
    he was crushed for our iniquities;
upon him was the chastisement that brought us peace,
    and with his wounds we are healed.
All we like sheep have gone astray;
    we have turned—every one—to his own way;
and the Lord has laid on him
    the iniquity of us all. 
Isaiah 53:4-6

"Tetelestai" - It Is Finished

Photo Credit: Full of Eyes
The Crucifixion 
So they took Jesus, 17 and he went out, bearing his own cross, to the place called The Place of a Skull, which in Aramaic is called Golgotha. 18 There they crucified him, and with him two others, one on either side, and Jesus between them. 19 Pilate also wrote an inscription and put it on the cross. It read, “Jesus of Nazareth, the King of the Jews.” 20 Many of the Jews read this inscription, for the place where Jesus was crucified was near the city, and it was written in Aramaic, in Latin, and in Greek. 21 So the chief priests of the Jews said to Pilate, “Do not write, ‘The King of the Jews,’ but rather, ‘This man said, I am King of the Jews.’” 22 Pilate answered, “What I have written I have written.” 
23 When the soldiers had crucified Jesus, they took his garments and divided them into four parts, one part for each soldier; also his tunic.[d] But the tunic was seamless, woven in one piece from top to bottom, 24 so they said to one another, “Let us not tear it, but cast lots for it to see whose it shall be.” This was to fulfill the Scripture which says, 
“They divided my garments among them,
    and for my clothing they cast lots.” 
So the soldiers did these things, 25 but standing by the cross of Jesus were his mother and his mother's sister, Mary the wife of Clopas, and Mary Magdalene. 26 When Jesus saw his mother and the disciple whom he loved standing nearby, he said to his mother, “Woman, behold, your son!” 27 Then he said to the disciple, “Behold, your mother!” And from that hour the disciple took her to his own home. 
The Death of Jesus 
28 After this, Jesus, knowing that all was now finished, said (to fulfill the Scripture), “I thirst.” 29 A jar full of sour wine stood there, so they put a sponge full of the sour wine on a hyssop branch and held it to his mouth. 30 When Jesus had received the sour wine, he said, “It is finished,” and he bowed his head and gave up his spirit. 
John 19:16-30


Sung by Caitelen
Animation by Full of Eyes

If you are reading this in an email, please click over to the blog to see the video.
It Is Finished 
See the God-man in the garden
Calling, "Abba"
The cold set in as his weary friends
could not keep watch 
His hands, they were open
And his heart willed to obey 
So they took him
and they struck him down
And they mocked him
with a thorny crown 
But his hands remained open
praying "Father, forgive them" 
Tetelestai
Tetelestai 
Betrayed with an unholy kiss
Our curse became his heaviness
The Father's wrath upon his only Son
They pierced his side, blood and water flowed
The curtain tore and they laid him low
The sky went black, but darkness had not won 
It is finished!
It is finished!
Hallelujah! It is finished
It is finished! 
Tetelestai 
by Caitelen Schneeberger

Jesus bore the wrath of God so that you might never have to. Do you know Jesus as your Savior? If not, I'd love to talk to you about how you can be saved from the wrath of God and receive eternal life. 

Wednesday, April 12, 2017

Just a Little Update

Lake Shetek

Hello friends!

It has been too long since I have written here! About a month ago I accidentally stopped blogging. I had planned to keep blogging once or twice a week as I had been doing in the fall, but this winter I struggled to keep up with writing. Now it has been so long since I have written here that I’m not quite sure where to start. Maybe the best place to start is a rambling update letter.

Blogging has been hard for me lately. On some days I’m just too tired to blog. On other days I have more energy, so I do something around the house or with my family, and then I’m too exhausted when I go to bed to be able to blog. And then there are days when I have energy in my arms to type, but struggle too much with brain fog to be able to write well.

I like to keep my blogging limited to times when I already have to be in bed resting. I have a very limited amount of energy, and I don’t want to spend energy on blogging if that energy could be put toward my family. I want to be a wife and a mom to the best of my ability, even when that means letting my blog go untouched for a while.


Adelaide, Rachel, William, and Frodo at Lake Shetek

Relatively speaking, my health isn’t too bad right now. I’m not doing as well as I was in the fall of 2016, but I think I’m doing slightly better than I was in the spring of last year. I am extremely tired on some days, and on those days it is a mental battle to push through the fatigue and make my body walk around the house. But I’m not crashing, so no need to worry that my lack of blogging is due to a crash. It’s just a combination of good days, bad days, brain fog, and needing to spend time with my family.

I do want to get back to blogging, but I think I need to keep it simple for a while. I am considering sticking with easy blog posts and more of the "old style" blogging. Blogging has become so professional, and I need to let go of the pressure to write mostly professional articles and instead just have fun with my blog and connect with others. Maybe there are readers out there who need to read a casual blog as much as I need to simply write a casual blog right now.

Due to brain fog I have not been reading blogs as much as I used to. There are several very good, encouraging, and helpful blogs that I used to read regularly, but the articles are so long that it has been difficult for me to read them lately. Maybe some of you also need encouragement, but are having a hard time keeping up with long blog posts too. If so, then maybe my need to write short and easy posts is just what you need too.

I will continue to write for The Irresistible Church blog occasionally. I will share a link on Facebook when my articles are published there. Later on I will republish them here on Cranberry Tea Time for those of you who do not see them on The Irresistible Church. Other than my articles for The Irresistible Church, I plan to keep it casual here for a while.


Adelaide, William, Will, and Frodo at Lake Shetek

So if I haven't been blogging, what have I been doing? Last month I went out for a little adventure with my family to a state park. The pictures in this post are from that outing in early March. I thoroughly enjoyed the time out and about with my family! I think it took me a week to recover from those few hours out, but it sure was fun!

In February I went grocery shopping with Will. It is amazing how fun grocery shopping can be when you are usually stuck at home! I had a whole lot of fun! Last week I was able to attend William's 5th grade choir concert at his school. They did a fantastic job.

I spend some of my time and energy each afternoon training Frodo. He's still a puppy, so we still have some work to do. He is also dealing with fears and anxiety, so he's a little harder to take care of than the average Morkie. It's exhausting for me on my bad days, but I do enjoy Frodo's company. We all love Frodo, and we are doing what we can to help him.

I still crochet as I am able, and I have a couple of projects to share with you in the coming months. I also have some good books that I have been reading (very slowly!), and I hope to review them here on my blog soon.

The other exciting thing for me is that I have been doing some ancestry research lately. That has been enjoyable, and it is something I can often do even when my arms are too tired to type. I just need a mouse to click around.

How are you doing, friends? What have you been up to this spring? What kind of posts would you like to see here on Cranberry Tea Time? What would you find encouraging or helpful?

Blessings and joy,
Rachel

Tuesday, March 7, 2017

How to Pray for the Sick and Disabled

two women sitting on a sofa and praying together

When we know someone who is suffering from an illness or disability, our response is often to pray for healing. It is compassionate to desire relief for one who is suffering, and it is certainly appropriate to ask the Lord for healing. Our God is loving and compassionate, and He is grieved by the suffering of His children (Psalm 86:15, John 11:32-35). He is also a powerful God who is able to heal (Mark 1:29-34).

However, healing is not always God’s plan for those who are sick and disabled. Sometimes God chooses to heal, but sometimes instead He chooses to use a long-term illness or disability for the good of His people.

For this reason, it is good to pray for more than just physical healing. Let’s look to Scripture for examples of ways to pray for those who are suffering from an illness or disability.

  • Pray that God would comfort them (2 Corinthians 1:4).
  • Pray that they would “grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ” (2 Peter 3:18, NIV).
  • Pray that they would trust in the Lord and not lean on their own understanding (Proverbs 3:5).
  • Pray that they would grow in the fruit of the Spirit (Galatians 5:22-23).
  • Pray that they would suffer well. Pray that they would “commit themselves to their faithful Creator and continue to do good” (1 Peter 4:19, NIV).
  • Pray that God would grant them endurance and encouragement (Romans 15:4-6).
  • Pray that they would throw off sin and run with endurance. Pray that they would look to Jesus so that they do not grow weary and lose heart (Hebrews 12:1-3).
  • Pray that the Lord would provide for all of their needs “according to the riches of his glory in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 4:19, NIV).
  • Pray that they would thirst for God and that they would place their hope in Him (Psalm 42:1-5).
  • Pray that God would keep them in perfect peace (Isaiah 26:3).
  • Pray that they would “be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer” (Romans 12:12, NIV).
  • Pray that God would enable them to be content in whatever circumstances He places them in (Philippians 4:11-13).
  • Pray that they would hold unswervingly to the hope they have professed (Hebrews 10:23).
  • Pray that they would not lose heart, but that they would persevere and fix their eyes on what is eternal (2 Corinthians 4:16-18).

It is a great privilege to bring our requests to the Lord and be a part of the work He is doing. God chooses to work through the prayers of His people. Therefore, let us lift up our brothers and sisters who are suffering from disabilities, praying not just for their physical bodies, but for their spiritual growth and strength as well.

In what other ways should we intercede for those who are suffering from an illness or disability? If you are suffering, in what ways do you appreciate people to praying for you?

This article was originally published on The Irresistible Church.

Tuesday, February 14, 2017

Author Q & A with Esther Smith {Plus a Giveaway!}

I am pleased to have Esther Smith joining me today to talk about her new book, When Chronic Pain and Illness Take Everything Away. Esther is a blogger at lifeinslowmotionblog.com, where she writes about faith and chronic pain and illness. Her blog, and her books, have encouraged me in my life with a chronic illness. I hope you will be encouraged by her too!


This is our rebellion - just because we are in pain doesn't mean we can't be happy.


Thank you so much for joining us today, Esther!

Hi Rachel, thanks so much for having me!

How does chronic illness and pain affect you?

In a nutshell, my chronic pain affects my ability to stand, walk, and sit for long periods of time. When this first started to happen, I tried to push through and continue with my daily activities. But I quickly learned this strategy caused my condition to sharply regress. I had to learn how to rest and live my life without the unlimited movement I was used to.

It’s hard to explain how much physical limitations such as this affect every single area of life. I have to be so careful as I decide what commitments to take on, knowing my body can only handle being upright for a limited number of hours each day. This has placed significant limits on my ability to work, socialize, serve, play, and do regular chores around the house.

Just this past weekend, I tried to make it to a women’s event at church. I lasted a half hour and had to come home because I knew if I stayed it would affect my ability to go to work next week. Every day I have to make choices like this about what is most important, and in the process, so many wonderful things in life get pushed to the side.

What made you decide to write When Chronic Pain and Illness Take Everything Away?

I wrote this booklet because the physical limitations I described above lead to a lot of emotional pain and distress. They lead to a lot of questions and doubts and confusion. For me, it was confusing to see ways in which God had gifted me, and then feel unable to use these gifts. It also didn’t make sense that God would take away things he says are important – things such as being in community, serving others, and enjoying his creation.

I wrote this book because the losses of chronic pain hit me hard. And not just me. My friends with chronic pain and illness were experiencing the same things. I was struggling to know how to approach God and accept God’s will for my life in the midst of my losses. Writing through this helped me gain some understanding of what I was experiencing and how to move forward. And I hoped that what I was learning about grief would help other people in the process as well.

Grief is not an easy topic to read about. I wondered if people would be interested in a book about grief. But, in my heart, I knew it was such an important topic. And when people were ready to approach their grief, I wanted them to have a resource that would help them do so.

What is one thing that has helped you to deal with the grief that comes with chronic pain and illness?

In seasons of grief, I always find myself writing. Sometimes I journal. Sometimes I write a blog post. At one point, grief led me to write this booklet. Sometimes I write for my eyes only. Other times I write directly to God as a prayer journal of sorts. And at times I write for other people to see so that we can share our grief together.  

Whatever form my writing takes, it has become a way for me to process everything I am thinking, feeling, and questioning. As I write, I begin to make better sense of life. All the grief that has been building up in my head and in my heart falls onto the piece of paper, leaving me to feel a little bit lighter. Writing allows me to approach my grief instead of pushing it away or ignoring it. I believe that anything that helps us move through the grief in this way is a positive thing, and over and over again, writing has done that for me.

You mention in the book that Lamentations 3 is a chapter you turned to often in your grief. How did the words in this passage of Scripture help you?

I think this chapter gave me permission to feel deep emotional pain. It gave me permission to feel hopelessness and desperation. It mirrored some of my deepest fears – that perhaps God was shutting out my prayers, and perhaps he had walled me in and abandoned me. While rationally I knew these things were not true, sometimes it still felt like this was happening.  

I also liked that Lamentations 3 held a few verses of hope. It didn’t end with hope; hope was found right in the middle of the passage, a brief reprieve from the darkness. At times my life has felt like that. I wrote in the booklet that Lamentations 3 gave me just enough hope that I could still believe it. Passages with too much hope felt like a lie; those with no hope tempted me to think all was lost. Lamentations gave me a balanced view of both – in this life we find both grief and hope intermingled together.

What brings you joy in the midst of pain?

I could answer this question in a lot of different ways. But, what I have been focusing on lately is finding joy in the little things God gives me. A conversation with a friend. A favorite food or beverage. Eating a piece of chocolate. Buying a new book. Going to church. Getting out of the house for a short trip somewhere. These things do bring me joy. It’s easy for me to focus on all the things that I can’t do, so lately I have been trying to focus on the things that are still possible.

What advice do you have for someone who is considering self-publishing a book?

My advice is that you should definitely go for it, but don’t rush the process.

I worked on a full-length book about chronic pain for over a year. When I finished, a part of me just knew it wasn’t ready for publication. In the end I decided to take the best material from that book and repurpose it into several small booklets. I am so glad I didn’t publish that book and that I waited long enough to realize this was the right decision. I would have really regretted publishing material that wasn’t ready.

Self-publishing can be too easy. It only takes a few minutes to submit your manuscript. So, my advice is to go for it, but to wait. Wait until you know without a shadow of doubt you will be proud of the finished product.
  
Esther Smith
Esther Smith is a counselor, writer and blogger who lives in Maryland with her husband. She blogs about life, faith and chronic pain at lifeinslowmotionblog.com.


When Chronic Pain & Illness Take Everything Away by Esther Smith

Esther is giving away a copy of her book to a Cranberry Tea Time reader! The winner may choose either a paperback book or a Kindle version. To enter, please use the Rafflecopter form below. The winner will be notified next week by email.

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