Monday, September 28, 2009


When Roy taught high school and our girls were growing up, summer break was a time of great anticipation, a time everyone looked forward to…well almost everyone. I saw summer break differently than my family. My husband knew better than to utter the two words that would land him in the death pits of slavery. But after our girls finished second and fifth grades, they didn’t understand that saying, “I’m b-o-r-e-d,” would drive mommy to desperation. When they first declared their dull existence, I went easy on them. I restricted their TV watching to one hour a day and created a little game by which they could “purchase” more time by earning monopoly bucks through chores and reading. That worked for two summers. But the third summer…well, let’s just say all our memories are crystal clear. Their schedule went as follows. SHOWER HOUR: one hour for breakfast, clothing and primping (they were in that middle school mirror mode). FLOWER HOUR: one hour of weeding flower beds and garden, harvesting, cleaning vegetables, etc. BODY POWER HOUR: one hour of outdoor activity (for middle school girls, this was sweaty torture). BRAIN POWER HOUR: reading, library (this did NOT include computer games). And their all-time favorite – SCOUR HOUR: one hour a day of cleaning the house! Oh yes, for five hours every day, five days a week, they were mine. And guess what? The other hours of their day, they never said they were bored or asked me to suggest an activity. Why? Because they were afraid I might think of another “HOUR” to add! (As you can see by the pic above, they have recovered from the trauma of that summer.)

When our kids ask and ask and ask, sometimes we finally give them an answer. Then they say, “Oh no! Anything but that!” I wonder if Abram felt that way after he badgered God and then received the covenant of circumcision…

Gen. 17:1-2 – “When Abram was ninety-nine years old, the LORD appeared to him and said, ‘I am God Almighty; walk before me and be blameless. I will confirm my covenant between me and you and will greatly increase your numbers.’”
  • Most of us hate waiting, and Abram had waited twenty-four years on Canaan’s soil. God finally tells him to DO something: “Walk blamelessly before God.” Yikes! Couldn’t we start with, “Don’t bite your fingernails?” The next time you get tired of waiting, remember the waiting may be preparation for the responsibility to come.

Gen. 17:3-8 – “Abram fell facedown, and God said to him, ‘As for me, this is my covenant with you: You will be the father of many nations. No longer will you be called AbramB[exalted father]; your name will be Abraham,C[father of many] for I have made you a father of many nations. I will make you very fruitful; I will make nations of you, and kings will come from you. I will establish my covenant as an everlasting covenant between me and you and your descendants after you for the generations to come, to be your God and the God of your descendants after you. The whole land of Canaan, where you are now an alien, I will give as an everlasting possession to you and your descendants after you; and I will be their God.’”

  • God outlines in detail His part of the Covenant, Abram’s part (vs. 9-14) and even Sarai’s part (vs. 15-16). Imagine for just a moment that you’re Abraham, hearing these promises about you and your family in God’s grand plan. Realize that you, like Abraham, are part of God’s bigger plan.
  1. God changed Abram’s name – his very essence – from exalted father to father of many.
  2. God promised kings and nations to spring from Abraham’s seed.
  3. God promised this covenant would be everlasting – extending to Abraham’s descendants.
  4. God promised the land of Canaan to Abraham and his descendants forever.

Gen. 17:9-14 – “Then God said to Abraham, ‘As for you, you must keep my covenant, you and your descendants after you for the generations to come. This is my covenant with you and your descendants after you, the covenant you are to keep: Every male among you shall be circumcised. You are to undergo circumcision, and it will be the sign of the covenant between me and you. For the generations to come every male among you who is eight days old must be circumcised, including those born in your household or bought with money from a foreigner--those who are not your offspring. Whether born in your household or bought with your money, they must be circumcised. My covenant in your flesh is to be an everlasting covenant. Any uncircumcised male, who has not been circumcised in the flesh, will be cut off from his people; he has broken my covenant.’”

  • Isn’t every human tendency to DO something instead of standing idly by and waiting? After waiting for twenty-four years, no matter how frightening, how painful, how embarrassing, how shameful to their culture – Abraham was ready to obey, when God gave him the directive. If God had instructed Abram to be circumcised twenty-four years ago, would he have been ready to obey then? Only God knows when our hearts are ready to submit to the blessings He longs to bestow on us.

Lord, Your timing is always perfect, though I seldom like it or understand it in the moment. Thank You for waiting, and for making me wait, until my heart is ready to receive all Your blessings – no matter what the cost.

Monday, September 21, 2009


Why do I feel better when it’s not my fault? No matter what “IT” is, my sigh of relief is palpable when I discover someone else is to blame. How awful is that? How common is that? As parents, we run the gamut of great decisions and colossal mistakes. When our kids grow up, we can say with gusto, “I’ll pay for the first ten counseling sessions because I’ve undoubtedly screwed you up.” Well, one of our early parental blunders happened when we assigned blame incorrectly. Trina, our oldest and strong-willed child, was a precocious four-year-old at the time. Emily, the toe-headed princess who was often big sister’s partner in crime, was two. Papa Roy discovered that his grandfather’s antique pocket-watch had been taken from his desk drawer. Now, who do you think might have done such a thing? The Andrews’ parental unit assigned blame to the elder daughter. Amid Trina’s repeated and tearful denials, Emily stood by somberly, while Daddy reached for the paddle. “I won’t spank you hard if you’ll just tell me where you put the watch,” he said. “But I didn’t!” came the reply, and POP! Paddle to butt cheeks, and the fight was over. Well, not quite. A siren-like whine erupted from the little blonde in the corner. “I took it, Daddy! It was so pretty, and Casey (the barn cat) and I were swinging and it fell in the gwass.” Ugh. (The picture above was a common sight in those days - Trina with her puppy and Emily with the barn cat - swinging back and forth, as the cat and dog glared at each other)

Four-year-old butt cheeks do not forget an unjust spanking, and to this day, the Andrews’ parental unit is reminded of the undue punishment dished out on that dark day in Muncie, Indiana. Blame can be a hurtful thing – sometimes physically, sometimes emotionally, sometimes spiritually….

Gen. 16:1-4a – “Now Sarai, Abram's wife, had borne him no children. But she had an Egyptian maidservant named Hagar; so she said to Abram, ‘The LORD has kept me from having children. Go, sleep with my maidservant; perhaps I can build a family through her.’ Abram agreed to what Sarai said. So after Abram had been living in Canaan ten years, Sarai his wife took her Egyptian maidservant Hagar and gave her to her husband to be his wife. He slept with Hagar, and she conceived.”
  • Sarai blamed God for her barrenness, and I suppose the Creator of Life is ultimately responsible. The deeper issue is Sarai’s impatience with God’s promise and her busy-body solution. Have you ever wondered if Sarai offered Hagar to discover if it was her womb or Abram’s seed that was barren? Shame on me for considering such a diabolical plot. We don’t know Sarai’s heart at the beginning of the process, but when she discovered there was no one left to blame but her own barren womb, she became an emotional time-bomb.

Gen. 16:4b-6 – “When [Hagar] knew she was pregnant, she began to despise her mistress. Then Sarai said to Abram, ‘You are responsible for the wrong I am suffering. I put my servant in your arms, and now that she knows she is pregnant, she despises me. May the LORD judge between you and me.’ ‘Your servant is in your hands,’ Abram said. ‘Do with her whatever you think best.’ Then Sarai mistreated Hagar; so she fled from her.”

  • Hurt people hurt people. Sarai was hurting, and she blamed the one she loved most. Though it was Hagar who acted pridefully toward her mistress, Sarai aimed her venom at Abram…and called on the LORD to agree with her! Unfortunately, Abram’s wisdom seems to have gone on vacation, and he caves to his wife’s fury.

Gen. 16:7-9 – “The angel of the LORD found Hagar near a spring in the desert; it was the spring that is beside the road to Shur. And he said, ‘Hagar, servant of Sarai, where have you come from, and where are you going?’ ‘I'm running away from my mistress Sarai,’ she answered. Then the angel of the LORD told her, ‘Go back to your mistress and submit to her.’”

  • Hagar blames Sarai with no mention of her own snarky attitude. When we enter “fight or flight” mode, though we are in a heightened physical response state, our emotions can override our five senses by making them extremely selective. We begin to see, feel, hear, taste and smell only those things that our emotions tell us are true.

Gen. 16:10-14 – “The angel added [the LORD’S words], ‘I will so increase your descendants that they will be too numerous to count.’ The angel of the LORD also said to [Hagar]: ‘You are now with child and you will have a son. You shall name him Ishmael, for the LORD has heard of your misery. He will be a wild donkey of a man; his hand will be against everyone and everyone's hand against him, and he will live in hostility toward all his brothers.’ She gave this name to the LORD who spoke to her: ‘You are the God who sees me,’ for she said, ‘I have now seen the One who sees me.’ That is why the well was called Beer Lahai Roi; it is still there, between Kadesh and Bered. So Hagar bore Abram a son, and Abram gave the name Ishmael to the son she had borne. Abram was eighty-six years old when Hagar bore him Ishmael.”

  • Blame stops when we finally realize God SEES us and our circumstances thoroughly. When God asked for Hagar’s explanation, He wasn’t seeking information. He was checking her heart – and it was ugly. When the penetrating gaze of God’s inspection sees through our blame-shifting, who can ever find fault again? Why accuse? God already sees – me and everyone else. So Hagar returned to bear Abram a son because she had full confidence that God was watching. Not only did she realize SHE couldn’t get away with blame before God (the only place it matters), but neither could anyone else!

Lord, I am utterly naked before You, exposed completely, not a shadow of blame to hide behind. My life, my attitude, my heart are ultimately my choices – no one’s fault but my own. I bear them before You and ask you to help me keep them free of blame before You and others.

Sunday, September 13, 2009


How much importance do you place on keeping your word? Would you sacrifice your health to fulfill a promise? Would you give up important family time to carry out a job commitment? When you look a person in the eye and say, “I’ll be there,” do they believe you? Or do they ask for proof? As I read God’s Word today, the thought occurred to me: What if no one believed anyone at their word? What if everyone asked for proof? What if my husband comes home and asks, “What’s for dinner?” I say, “Hot dogs and Mac’n’Cheese.” What if he said, “Prove it”? After I slapped him into next week, I’d scramble for the hotdog wrapper and Kraft blue box and show him the proof. Then he’d get to cook supper. What if with every question and answer we had to take an oath? “Cross my heart and hope to die, stick a needle in my eye…” I don’t know about you, but I’m not getting anywhere near my eye with a needle – I don’t care how certain I am about a statement or promise. Well, here’s one more question for you. If God tells you the same thing over and over again, do you really need Him to prove it? My doubt says I do. Abram’s doubt said, “Prove it.” Our humanness has a very hard time BELIEVING God’s divine promises.

Gen. 15:1-6 – “After this, the word of the LORD came to Abram in a vision: ‘Do not be afraid, Abram. I am your shield, your very great reward.’ But Abram said, ‘O Sovereign LORD, what can you give me since I remain childless and the one who will inherit my estate is Eliezer of Damascus?’ And Abram said, ‘You have given me no children; so a servant in my household will be my heir.’ Then the word of the LORD came to him: ‘This man will not be your heir, but a son coming from your own body will be your heir.’ He took him outside and said, ‘Look up at the heavens and count the stars--if indeed you can count them.’ Then he said to him, ‘So shall your offspring be.’ Abram believed the LORD, and he credited it to him as righteousness.” (emphasis added)
  • Sometimes, when God speaks, it’s simply hard to believe what He’s saying. Abram is involved in a common discourse.
  1. God promises
  2. Human replies with a “BUT I have a doubt…”
  3. God answers the doubt (using an object lesson)
  4. Human makes a decision – low and behold, Abram believes God! Woohoo! And God graciously considers Abram in right-standing with Him.

Gen. 15:7-8 – “He also said to him, ‘I am the LORD, who brought you out of Ur of the Chaldeans to give you this land to take possession of it.’ But Abram said, ‘O Sovereign LORD, how can I know that I will gain possession of it?’” (emphasis added)

  • The healthy divine/human dialogue begins again:
  1. God promises – “I brought you (Ab.) out of Ur…”
  2. Abram hijacks the promise/doubt/answer/believe dialogue with a “prove it to me” reply.

Gen. 15:9 – “So the LORD said to him, ‘Bring me a heifer, a goat and a ram, each three years old, along with a dove and a young pigeon.’”

  • When we ask God to prove Himself, the process involves our sacrifice. A heifer would have born calves for Abram, a goat provided milk and a single ram would have bred many sheep in his flock. Each was three years old, prime production age. This was an expensive lesson.

Gen. 15:10-11 – “Abram brought all these to him, cut them in two and arranged the halves opposite each other; the birds, however, he did not cut in half. Then birds of prey came down on the carcasses, but Abram drove them away.”

  • In Scripture, birds sometimes represent satanic activity. These “birds of prey” attacking Abram’s attempt to discern God’s promise illustrate Satan’s repeated attempts to interfere with God’s communication to His people. If the father of lies can confuse the lines of divine communication, the resulting chaos can rob confirmation of God’s good promises and intentions for the future.

Gen. 15:12-16 – “As the sun was setting, Abram fell into a deep sleep, and a thick and dreadful darkness came over him. Then the LORD said to him, ‘Know for certain that your descendants will be strangers in a country not their own, and they will be enslaved and mistreated four hundred years. But I will punish the nation they serve as slaves, and afterward they will come out with great possessions. You, however, will go to your fathers in peace and be buried at a good old age. In the fourth generation your descendants will come back here, for the sin of the Amorites has not yet reached its full measure.’”

  • God’s proof sometimes bears ugly truths that we could otherwise have been spared if we’d simply taken Him at His Word and lived life one step at a time.

Gen. 15:17-21 – “When the sun had set and darkness had fallen, a smoking firepot with a blazing torch appeared and passed between the pieces. On that day the LORD made a covenant with Abram and said, ‘To your descendants I give this land, from the river of Egypt to the great river, the Euphrates-- the land of the Kenites, Kenizzites, Kadmonites, Hittites, Perizzites, Rephaites, Amorites, Canaanites, Girgashites and Jebusites.’”

  • God’s promise was given the physical sign of a smoking pot and the Promised Land was for the first time given physical boundaries. In previous mention, God simply told Abram all the land he could see would be his, but when pressed to qualify His promise, God gave Abram the specifics he required in the fiery darkness of physical proof.

Lord, in those circumstances when my heart, like Abram’s, needs a special revelation of Your proof, have mercy on me. Let me participate in the process humbly and with discernment, realizing that in asking for that proof I may experience dark revelations or limitations I hadn’t expected. Remind me to remain thankful for Your proof – however it comes – and trust in Your grace and goodness to provide the best for me in every circumstance.

Monday, September 07, 2009


I remember many sleepless nights, fretting over our children’s choice of friends. From toddler play time in the church nursery until they become adults in the workplace – our children’s associations form and shape the people they become. Perhaps the most important decision of a person’s life is his/her spouse, but as all married folks can attest, we don’t just marry a person. We marry a family. Yep, with that blushing bride or dashing groom come the in-laws…or the out-laws, depending on your particular circumstance. Imagine this scene. 1984, a young and bold Roy Andrews calls his grandfather in southern Indiana, an elderly and conservative WWII vet, to announce his impending marriage. “Pa, guess what? I’m getting married. Her name is Mesu Cooley.” Now, if you had fought against Japanese soldiers in WWII and lived a relatively secluded life in the hills of southern Indiana, would the name Mesu Cooley be of concern to you? Pa’s response? “She’s American, ain’t she?” You see, Pa was worried about his grandson’s associations. By the time the picture at the left was taken (two+ years later), I can assure you his first grandchild calmed any fears he might have had in the beginning.

Now, when my mother named me, she didn't for one moment consider Roy’s grandfather’s opinion. In fact, when my mother chose Maralasu as my legal name, she had no idea that my toddler pronunciation “Mesu” would be the nickname by which I’d become known. I’m guessing she also never imagined the crossed-eyed glances of substitute teachers, when they tried to pronounce my given name. When my mom chose my unique and intricate name, she did it because she loved me enough to give me something beautiful. We make choices everyday that unwittingly affect life down-the-road…sometimes wise, sometimes not so wise. Lot’s choice – not so wise. Abram – very wise.

Gen. 14:1-12 – “At this time Amraphel king of Shinar, Arioch king of Ellasar, Kedorlaomer king of Elam and Tidal king of Goiim went to war against Bera king of Sodom, Birsha king of Gomorrah, Shinab king of Admah, Shemeber king of Zeboiim, and the king of Bela (that is, Zoar). All these latter kings joined forces in the Valley of Siddim (the Salt Sea). For twelve years they had been subject to Kedorlaomer, but in the thirteenth year they rebelled. In the fourteenth year, Kedorlaomer and the kings allied with him went out and defeated the Rephaites in Ashteroth Karnaim, the Zuzites in Ham, the Emites in Shaveh Kiriathaim and the Horites in the hill country of Seir, as far as El Paran near the desert. Then they turned back and went to En Mishpat (that is, Kadesh), and they conquered the whole territory of the Amalekites, as well as the Amorites who were living in Hazazon Tamar. Then the king of Sodom, the king of Gomorrah, the king of Admah, the king of Zeboiim and the king of Bela (that is, Zoar) marched out and drew up their battle lines in the Valley of Siddim against Kedorlaomer king of Elam, Tidal king of Goiim, Amraphel king of Shinar and Arioch king of Ellasar--four kings against five. Now the Valley of Siddim was full of tar pits, and when the kings of Sodom and Gomorrah fled, some of the men fell into them and the rest fled to the hills. The four kings seized all the goods of Sodom and Gomorrah and all their food; then they went away. They also carried off Abram's nephew Lot and his possessions, since he was living in Sodom.” (emphasis added)
  • When Lot chose the beautiful green valley and bustling city life of Sodom, he didn’t check out the lease, didn’t check for liens on his deed. Sodom had been straining under the tyranny of Old King K for twelve years, and Lot got caught in the shackles of someone else’s fight.

Gen. 14:13-16 – “One who had escaped came and reported this to Abram the Hebrew. Now Abram was living near the great trees of Mamre the Amorite, a brother of Eshcol and Aner, all of whom were allied with Abram. When Abram heard that his relative had been taken captive, he called out the 318 trained men born in his household and went in pursuit as far as Dan. During the night Abram divided his men to attack them and he routed them, pursuing them as far as Hobah, north of Damascus. He recovered all the goods and brought back his relative Lot and his possessions, together with the women and the other people.”

  • Abram’s alliances had been built on integrity and trust. So much so that even when the odds were stacked against them (318 men of Ab’s household against King K’s five king-alliance and their armies), his friends supported him and became a part of the Lord’s victory.

Gen. 14:17-24 – “After Abram returned from defeating Kedorlaomer and the kings allied with him, the king of Sodom came out to meet him in the Valley of Shaveh (that is, the King’s Valley).

Then Melchizedek king of Salem brought out bread and wine. He was priest of God Most High, and he blessed Abram, saying, ‘Blessed be Abram by God Most High, Creator of heaven and earth. And blessed be God Most High, who delivered your enemies into your hand.’ Then Abram gave him a tenth of everything.

The king of Sodom said to Abram, ‘Give me the people and keep the goods for yourself.’ But Abram said to the king of Sodom, ‘I have raised my hand to the LORD, God Most High, Creator of heaven and earth, and have taken an oath that I will accept nothing belonging to you, not even a thread or the thong of a sandal, so that you will never be able to say, “I made Abram rich.” I will accept nothing but what my men have eaten and the share that belongs to the men who went with me--to Aner, Eshcol and Mamre. Let them have their share.’”

  • Two kings came out to greet Abram after his victory. Melchizedek praised God and blessed Abram, and Abram offered a tithe to God’s representative on earth – a spiritual commitment, a bond uniting them not only with wealth but at heart. The king of Sodom met Abram with a demand and a bribe – a promise of wealth with a lifetime of strings. Thankfully, with godly insight, Abram cut him off.

Lord, I feel like I need hind-sight, near-sight and far-sight. It’s no wonder I walk into walls with all the directions I need to consider! Only by Your Spirit can I avoid some of the pitfalls and cut some of the strings. Help me to walk wisely in Your ways, listening for Your voice rather than jumping at the first sparkly thing that offers quick joy. Give me Your wisdom, Lord.

Thursday, September 03, 2009

The Familiar Stranger

One of the greatest blessings about our move to the Northwest has been rubbing elbows with new and established authors. The gals in the picture are two new friends and new authors.

Christina Berry (right) has just sold the first copy of her debut novel, Familiar Stranger (Moody Publishers) to fellow author, Camille Eide. I'm planning to take a break from my biblical fiction reading to spend a cozy weekend with Christina's book. Listen to this cover copy:
Craig Littleton has decided to end his marriage with his wife, Denise. But an accident lands him in the ICU with fuzzy memories. As Denise helps him remember who he is, she uncovers some dark secrets. Will this trauma create a fresh start? Or has his deceit destroyed the life they built together?
Yikes! I gotta know about this Craig Littleton guy! The other fun thing about Christina is her transparent, godly heart. I asked if I could share with my blog family a few words from her e-mail about the day she received her first box of Familiar Stranger books on her doorstep. Here's how she described her feelings:
"What a rush of emotions to open that box from Moody! Truthfully, I was in shock for an hour or so. As I called a few family members and friends, the tears came, along with a deep gratitude to God. Whom am I that He would bless me with a book? An urge to offer some type of thanks sacrifice gripped me, but I've yet to decide what that will be. Seeing my parents cry at the dedication was also a high point. It took a decade of writing and 42 rejections to find the right time and place for The Familiar Stranger. [I'm] Praising God from Whom all blessings flow, Christina."
I feel so blessed that the Lord has surrounded me with amazing people like Christina Berry - talented, godly and real. If you have a chance for a little leisurely reading, curl up with The Familiar Stranger.