Thursday, April 23, 2009

Cookie Dough and Consequences

My Grandma was born and raised in the South…deep in the hollers of central Tennessee. Her upbringing was humble, yet filled with love. When she was 17, she fell in love and married my Grandpa, an Army Projectionist, stationed in TN during WWII. He was a “Yankee” and quickly whisked her off to Michigan after the war. She returned to her Southern roots as often as she could through the years, but to this day, still resides in the North, complete with sprinklings of her once very pronounced Southern drawl.

When I was young, we would sit at my Grandma’s kitchen table, and watch snowflakes fall out her frost-covered Michigan windows. With her rolling pin, she would shape the most incredibly tasting cookie dough into a lopsided circle, and we would press Christmas themed cookie cutters firmly into the dough. While her back was turned, I would secretly tear off a “smidgeon” (this word conceived and born in the South) of the cookie dough, quickly placing it in my mouth before she would see. I would slowly let it melt in my mouth to keep the evidence of my “sin” from being detected.

My Grandma has always been a talker, and I mean that most respectfully. She can carry on a conversation with the best of them, and her endearing accent is just part of her charm. She is an encourager, a letter writer, a woman who could change any heart from sad to glad just by using simple words like “dumplin’, precious, honey, and sweetheart.” The words wrap you like a comfortable blanket from your childhood, and have the power to remove the worst of moods on a rainy day. She has other patterned words she uses as well, like “so forth and so on” and “tidily-winkers.” But probably one of the words she uses often that stands out to me most is the word “consequently.” I think of her every time I hear it.

Consequently is a word she always uses in her story-telling. It is the part in her stories when she is going to state the outcome, whether obvious or unknown - essentially her moral of the story, the crux if you will. In all the years I have heard her say it, I have never really thought that deeply of its meaning. But recently, I have been thinking of the consequences of some choices I have made in my life, and I understand all the more the very weight of the word.

Honestly, I don’t like the word consequence. I don’t like to hear it. And I only like to say it when I am parenting…and even that is a stretch. Con-se-quence. I oppose it. I fight it. I hate when the word and its results seem to tighten around me like a straightjacket. It is in my nature to despise it, because I love getting away with sin in my life. It feels better than getting something for free. Without consequences, I am “free to move about the cabin” – do whatever I want without the fear of repercussions. But I live in a world created by a just God. And because He is just and loving, He cannot and will not allow me to go unscathed by my choices. As elementary as it might sound, it is the very pain from the consequence that hopefully discourages me from doing it again.

As parents, we think consequence only applies to our kids. We foolishly think we have outgrown the word and its effects. But I see it played out in me and all around me- both in those that know Christ and those that don’t want any part of Him. God will remain just and sovereign regardless of how you feel about Him.

In Galatians 6:7-8 (The Message), Paul states “Don't be misled: No one makes a fool of God. What a person plants, he will harvest. The person who plants selfishness, ignoring the needs of others—ignoring God!—harvests a crop of weeds. All he'll have to show for his life is weeds! But the one who plants in response to God, letting God's Spirit do the growth work in him, harvests a crop of real life, eternal life.” Maybe the New Living Translation says it even better. “Don’t be misled—you cannot mock the justice of God. You will always harvest what you plant. Those who live only to satisfy their own sinful nature will harvest decay and death from that sinful nature. But those who live to please the Spirit will harvest everlasting life from the Spirit.

So, consequently, how I live out my life matters. What I do with the designated amount of days God has ordained specifically for me has significant meaning. How I love, how I serve, how I engage my life with others matters. As much as I am forgiven for the choices I make (and believe me, I know this to be complete Truth), I still have a harvest of weeds I must contend with as a result. And I want my life to show more than that. I want to harvest things of beauty, things of worth, and things of love. I don’t want my legacy to be one of consequences. And I want those around me to benefit by my harvest -to not be hindered or affected negatively by my foolish tendencies.

Right now, I am in the middle of a consequence. So are you. Maybe it’s a positive one….maybe it is a result of something you have done that you wish you hadn’t. Be encouraged by the gift of forgiveness that God offers. And be thankful for the pain of consequence, which has the potential of changing patterns of behavior in our lives for good. Consequently, this reminds me that I am long overdue with a phone call to my Grandma. Wish we could be sitting at her kitchen table right now over some mighty tasty cookie dough.

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Amazing, Astonishing, Overwhelmingly Wonderful Friday!

If I told you I sometimes struggle during the week approaching Easter Sunday, would you think less of me? I mean, after all, I am a child of God. I have been saved by grace. I am delivered. I have been made new. I am set free. By His wounds and by the very celebration of that infamous Third Day, I am healed. So, why do I feel sadness…even heartache, as we annually approach the remembrance of such a defining moment in the lives of those who know Jesus Christ?

In all honesty, I can’t stand that my sin caused Someone so perfect, so incredibly Holy, so innocent, so undeserving of such a vile death - to pay the ultimate price for wretched things I have done and most assuredly will do during this one life I have been given. It bothers me. I want to change it desperately. I want to rectify it. Make it right somehow. Maybe even go so far as to intentionally dedicate all my human determination just to live out ONE DAY without my natural bent toward sin - foolishly believing that if I try “really hard,” I just might accomplish holiness. But with all certainty, I will fail. I won’t achieve it no matter how much effort I put into it. This nature of mine will always be present, until I see The Remedy for my earthly battle face to face.

If I tried to analyze why Easter bothers me, I need to be a little more precise in my thinking. It’s not the day of Easter that surrounds me with sadness. It’s Good Friday that is difficult for me to experience. After all, according to John 19, we know that this is the day that Jesus was whipped. The day a crown of thorns were pressed firmly into His head. The moment in time He was slapped in the face and spit upon. Flogged. Beaten. The day He was crucified.

While others around Him had so much to say, so much to shout, scream, and chant, Jesus uttered few words that day. He had a minimal exchange of words with a wishy-washy leader named Pilate. He tried to share words of comfort with His mother Mary and His beloved disciple John, while the weight of His body sagged with gravity from a wooden cross – the very cross in which He had just struggled to carry on His own innocent shoulders. With little energy left in a ravaged, dying body, He simply uttered, “I’m thirsty.” Being offered a saturated sponge with sour wine for relief, Jesus died with His last words being, “It is finished.” Hallelujah!! Hallelujah!!


I love the honest questions kids ask. No embarrassment. No shame - just simply wanting an answer to satisfy a wonder in their mind. One day, I had a 6th grader ask me, “If Jesus was crucified on Good Friday, why in the world do we call it ‘good?’ It seems very bad to me. Why don’t we call it Bad Friday?” What a great question!!! Something we have all probably wondered at one time or another in our journey with God. I replied to the student that labeling it “Bad Friday” wouldn’t work very well. It just doesn’t describe the day accurately. It does in a sense - because the torturous acts that Jesus endured were horrendous. No one would argue that. But if He hadn’t suffered in the ways that He did, I would be left in darkness, a life-long prisoner of my own sin. He did it so I could have life, and have life to the fullest. And that is GOOD!!! Yet, maybe the name “Good Friday” doesn’t cut it. What Jesus did that day is GREAT!! It is AWESOME!! It is AMAZING!! ASTONISHING!! WONDERFUL!! It is OVERWHELMING!! It is BEAUTIFUL!! And He did this for me! He did this for you! And that is what makes it so “good.” Because He is good. He was good then and He is good now.

Reminding myself of all this “Good Stuff” this morning, leads me to feel not so sad anymore…not so heartbroken. There is much to celebrate. Much to praise. And so much to be exceedingly grateful for.

The servant grew up before God—a scrawny seedling,
a scrubby plant in a parched field. There was nothing attractive about him,
nothing to cause us to take a second look. He was looked down on and passed over,
a man who suffered, who knew pain firsthand. One look at him and people turned away.
We looked down on him, thought he was scum. But the fact is, it was our pains he carried—
our disfigurements, all the things wrong with us. We thought he brought it on himself,
that God was punishing him for his own failures. But it was our sins that did that to him,
that ripped and tore and crushed him—our sins! He took the punishment, and that made us whole.
Through his bruises we get healed. We're all like sheep who've wandered off and gotten lost.
We've all done our own thing, gone our own way. And God has piled all our sins, everything we've done wrong,
on him, on him.

Isaiah 53:2-6 The Message

Monday, March 9, 2009

Rockin' down the highway

Hopie and I shared a rare moment the other night while traveling to Michigan in celebration of my Grandparents' 65th Wedding Anniversary. It's not often that she sits "shotgun" in the truck, but in order to curb the high potential of car sickness,"ya do whacha gotta do." We were on a long stretch of I-94 between Detroit and Battle Creek, watching the yellow lines between lanes passing rapidly out of the corner of our eyes. We weren't in deep conversation....just mentally ranking the signs of activity with each exit we passed. The ipod was plugged into the lighter. No longer is their need to scan local stations in desperation of a "decent" song we can both listen to. The ipod allows for such incredible musical freedom when you're "rockin' down the highway." The ipod also gives my girl a very unique song list in comparison to most of her 5th grade "associates." We hummed along to "Lowrider" by War...listened to "What the man said" by Paul McCartney and Wings,...and danced to "Rubberband Man" by the Spinners while attached tightly to the seats by our seatbelts. But the memory I'll forever have in my mind was when we threw all inhibitions aside and belted out "Midnight Train to Georgia" at the top of our lungs...she being Gladys and I being a "Pip." Her melody was incredible, and I must say my backup lyrics were...ummm..trulyunprecedented by any historical "pip." It was a bonding moment...the smile on our faces a mile wide as we mistakenly changed lyrics, and added whole new meanings to the word "rhythm." And then...after 4 short minutes and 39 seconds, our moment on stage was over. She went back to being Hopie and I went back to being simply Hestermomma without even a hint of my former stature as a "Pip." We looked and smiled at one another when our few tender minutes of "fame" were over. We had experienced a rare gift together...nothing calendar activity being achieved. Just a simple stretch of highway forever changed by two goofy Hestergirls and the smiling face of God who delights in any "joyful noise" made by His children.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Stay....just a little bit longer

WOW!!! It's been a while!! Maybe I should reintroduce myself. "Hello, I am the Hestermomma." Authorities in Blogland suggest you never break this long from writing. You'll lose your readership. People won't stay loyal to your blog. It is frustrating for the reader to continually see the same entry unchanged on the page. This hiatus I have inadvertently taken certainly wasn't intentional. Life at the Hesterhome has been extremely busy. Case in point... Tonight, we are having our first night together as a family since January 30th. Those are standards we are not comfortable with...but it has been just one of those seasons. As much as I don't like it, there wasn't a whole lot I could do about it.

And here is another thing which we are working on that we don't like. It is the fact that Gregg and I are creatures of habit and we are probably the most predictable people on the face of the earth. If it weren't for the promptings of well meaning family members, we would have probably never gone to half the places we have been to, both as a couple and as a family. Honestly, I think this frustrates me more than it does Gregg. Maybe it is because he gets to travel for his job while I hold down the fort. Maybe that is why he loves to be a predictable homebody. Of course, as always, I digress. We are trying to plan something special for our...ahem...should I really say it...40th birthdays. We are 5 days apart to the year, and this one will be especially tough as my husband will be married to a 40 year old while still basking proudly in his 30's. Totally unjust!!

We have been mulling this idea of going away for our birthdays for quite a while. We will talk a little bit about it...then life will get in the way, and it will be tabled for days...mostly weeks, until we revisit the subject again. Now that the birthdays are nearing and you only turn 40 once (thank goodness!), we are feeling some self-imposed pressure to "land somewhere" with our ideas. There are so many things that must occur before you can go anywhere. First and foremost, you have to find a safe place for your precious ones to stay while you are away. You don't want to impose on someone, but without local family, you are forced to succumb to the generosity of sweet friends. So, we've got that covered. Then there is that little annoying detail of money. This we don't have least not covered in abundance. We have a small budget to work within, and I am grateful for that. Next you have to find somewhere that you would both enjoy discovering together. This is challenging for us. While we are alike in so many ways, we differ greatly on our definitions of relaxation. As my husband put it so eloquently on Facebook the other day, "She is 'Dah-ling, I love you but give me Park Avenue,' and I am 'farm livin'is the life for me.'" Nailing down something we would both enjoy experiencing together is not as easy as I would hope.

So, yesterday, I approached him with the idea of a "Stay-cation," and the moment the words came out, I regretted saying them. I saw his demeanor change...a sparkle present in his eye...a small smile formed out of the corner of his mouth. Oh no!!! He likes the idea!!! I can already tell!! He likes it a lot!! He started talking about all the benefits to the idea of a "stay-cation"....some I cannot get into here. From a budget perspective, he loved it!! He talked about how much more we could do and see if we just used the Hesterhome as the Hesterhotel instead. And then my heart sank. I wanted to tell him how lame we are as a couple. How unadventurous we have become, ummm, always been. But as I have thought about the idea more and more...even gone on, I am getting kind of excited about the idea. It kind of sounds like fun.

I haven't told him yet that I am on board with this idea. I am sure he is thinking "If you didn't like the idea in the first place, why did you even suggest it?" Such a woman thing to do, isn't it? Suggest something, but not really mean it. Or is it simply a "woman approaching 40" thing to do??!!! If so, it might be a rough decade around here. "Oh where, oh where have my 20s and 30s gone? Oh where, oh where can they be???" (Sung to the tune of "Oh where has my little dog gone?")

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

The Misnomer of Sin Lite- Half the Disobedience, with little consequences

I have been thinking a lot about David lately. It's not that he is taking over the rightful place where my husband should be in my thoughts...but he comes pretty close. I have come to the place in my study where David spends too much time feasting his eyes upon Bathsheba and plunges to the depths of sin like he never had before. (Don't you think it is weird that she happened to be taking a "Bath" on a rooftop, and her name just happens to be BATHsheba? I've always wondered about that.) In previous chapters detailing David's life in 1 and 2 Samuel, he triumphs in everything he does because he is a humble man after God's own heart. He experiences success upon success in his life, all the while recognizing the sole source of his prosperity comes from God and God alone. He understood this clearly...he got it...he lived it...and yet somewhere along the way, he lost sight of the benefits of obedience to God and His protection. And when he lost sight, he lost sight in undeniable ways. He stole another man's wife, he slept with her, got her pregnant, tried to trick her husband, then had him murdered, and went on with his life like nothing had ever happened. After the "proper" amount of grieving time had been allotted, he even had Bathsheba move in with him. Who was this guy? It's incredibly hard to recognize who David was at his core after all that had "gone down" in such a short amount of time. I wonder if he even recognized himself. Had he traveled so far from God in thought and deed that even he couldn't remember what his life with God once looked like?

I can think of a lot of things that scare me in life...probably the very same things that worry you at times. But something that ranks very high on that list is the ravages of my sin....the consequences of my sin...the ramifications of my sin. And maybe more importantly, the thought of knowing that I might just willingly walk into it, if my sinful heart so desires. An extremely dangerous place to be. Literally makes my heart pound faster just thinking about it.

When I read about David, I don't stand in judgment...I read it as if he were me. And it is pretty easy to do (except for the fact that he was a man) because of our commonality of sin. As much as I don't want to identify with his mistakes, I can. Mine look different, but the results needed are still the same....forgiveness from God, sprinkled with the judgement of His Holiness. Because of His love for David, He couldn't allow the behavior and the choices to go without accountability. And He will do the same for me. I know it and I have experienced it.

I wonder if David took these choices (sin) that he made regarding his infatuation for Bathsheba lightly. Did he realize how one act "snowballed" into many equally devastating choices? Did he give any consideration to how God was feeling about his new path in life? How lightly do I take my own sin? How often do I take the time to confess my impure thoughts, words, and deeds to God? Do I subconsciously save the act of repentance just for the "big" stuff...the full calorie "Fat Sin?" Isn't all sin "fat?" None of it is "lite." It is all equally as devastating, isn't it?

I love how God doesn't walk away from David ("I will never leave you nor foresake you") and wash His hands of him. He shares the outcome of David's sin with him...because of His love for him. As a result of David's choices, God shares that "the sword will never depart from your house." (Meaning killing and murder will always be a part of his family) And it was. As I think about my own sin, I wonder what swords are a part of my life because of the sin choices I have made. Pondering this has caused me to speculate specifically what some of my own swords might be, although it has never been confirmed by the words of God Himself in my case. (David was privileged to hear from God specifically on that.) I just know they are there.

For these long-winded reasons listed above, I cannot take my sin lightly. As much as I would humanly like to, there is nothing "lite" about my sin. I must strive for obedience knowing that I will never attain it fully, even in all my heartful attempts. I am grateful that there is the hope of forgiveness, the promise of God's best for me in my life, even when I clearly don't deserve anything remotely that good. I'm tired of living in a sinful world. I am tired of my own sin. Do you ever feel that way? If only something much different had taken place in that garden so many, many years ago. You know...I'd really like to pass the "sin buck" to Eve and her apple. It is in my very nature to do so. :)

Friday, January 23, 2009

Something I am "passion"ate about

In this coffee-crazed, Starbucks status, $5 cup of java world, one might feel pressured to drink coffee even if they didn't like it, just to be "cool." I have never been interested in even trying coffee. Coffee is for my grandparents....I am just too young to drink it. But sometimes I would like something warm to drink in the winter which is not full of calories like hot chocolate or lattes. So, just recently I took the plunge and decided to try hot tea instead. I love it, I love it, I love it!!!! My food knowledgeable friend Brenda says that it is healthy for you, especially those that don't contain caffeine. Tea has no calories (unless you add sugar) and it has those very needed antioxidants for healthy whatevers. There are so many flavors to chose from....there is bound to be one that you would like. My ultimate favorite is "Passion" by Tazo. You must try it!! You can spend the same amount for a tea bag of it at Starbucks...or you can by a whole box of it at Meijer. It is excellent, and for fussy drinkers like myself, you just can't beat a hot cup of "Passion." I am recommending it to all my friends. And....four out of five dentists surveyed recommend Tazo's Passion Tea for their patients who chew tea. Now those are some convincing statistics!!! Give it a try....and tell em the Hesterwoman sent you.

Monday, January 19, 2009

It was "Totally Tubular" a way

Last night, I had the pleasure of having our EPIC HS Girls over for a Movie Night at the Hester-theater. It seemed like perfect school the next day for MLK. They could stay as long as they wanted without the fear of having to go to school the next day. And what else does a teen girl have to do on a cold winter's Sunday night in suburban Columbus?? We chose "13 Going on 30" as our selection for Movie Night. I had seen this movie once before, by myself, one Saturday afternoon, and I must tell you it is completely different watching it with a group of texting savvy teenagers who have no "respect" for what it is like growing up in the 80's. :)

"13 Going on 30" is the female version of "Big" if you haven't seen it before. Definitely worth seeing. Throughout the movie, the girls commented on the atrocity of our hairstyles, the bold loud colors of our clothing, not to mention ridiculous music we listened to. I knew we were deep in the pit of a huge generation gap when I had to explain to them the incredible musical milestone of the video "Thriller." After viewing a segment of the movie with the "King of Pop" flashing on the screen, one teen innocently asked "What's up with Michael Jackson?" It seemed we had no choice but to stop the movie for a much needed dissertation on the sheer relevance of the Thriller album ("What's an album?" they would ask) back in the
80's. And the glove....should I even take the time to go into the glove and when Michael himself strangely caught on fire during filming a Pepsi ad? Could they relate? Would they even understand? Should I go so far as to share the "phenomenon" of the moon walk? Would they treat it with the respect necessary? Would that be too much to ask?

Sprinkled throughout the movie was the soundtrack of my teen years with songs by the Go-Go's, Talking Heads, and sadly, Madonna. At times, I felt so old as we watched the movie, much like my mom must have felt when she would listen to AM Radio with us in our Chevy Vega, with a smile on her face, humming to "My Boyfriend's Back and you're going to be in trouble." Sing it with me, "Hey-la, Hey-la, my boyfriend's back." Music has a way of taking you back in time, doesn't it? It has a mysterious power to remind you of who you were, and what was important to you at the time the song was at its most popular. I wonder how today's music will effect this group of teens as they age. Will they look back at their songs fondly like we did? (What are their songs, anyway. I have no idea.) Will the music still have the power to paint a picture for them of their teen years? I suppose it does with every generation. Maybe my grandma is even taken back in time when she listens to Glenn Miller. I know I am.

Didn't it just seem like yesterday we were teasing our bangs and plastering them with hairspray? Wasn't it just the other day when I put on my leg warmers and tied my shoes with multi-colored shoe laces with sayings printed on them? And didn't I just put on my tapered jeans rolled up tightly around the ankles? I guess much time has passed and I didn't even realize it. Although, if you look around lately, it seems that the skinny jeans are coming back. Oh why, oh why, must we succumb to that trend once again??? This is one body that can not and will not do those jeans ever again. They are soooooo grody to the max.

In all seriousness, I truly enjoyed my time spent with the girls last night and witnessing their take on a generation that is as foreign to them as speaking Vietnamese. And now, I must humbly join the ranks of generations before me who struggled greatly in sharing the relevance of their growing up years to those misunderstanding "youngsters" below them. Make room for me, Mom. It's my turn now.