Pepper Jelly, Patronymics, Pennsylvania, and Passionate Papa

Over the kitchen counter at the Christmas party at a friend’s house, now about100 miles from where I live, Doug asked me about the cream cheese spread I’d made. I told him the ingredient he wondered about was pepper jelly, something I’d first tasted in Pennsylvania Dutch country and enjoyed so much that I bought a Pennsylvania Dutch cookbook to get the recipe. He said they’d lived in Pennsylvania, asked if I came from Pennsylvania Dutch ancestry, and when I told him I did, he asked my maiden name. ‘Van Curen,” I replied, and his wife Janet’s eyes widened.

“That was my grandfather’s middle name!” she said, as amazed as I was.

Given what I knew about the history of the family name, and that part of the family had moved from New York, where the family started as Van Keulen (meaning “from Köln”) in the early 1600’s, on the ”Island of Man Hats”, moving to Pennsylvania before some ventured west to Ohio and Indiana, I replied in surprise, “Then I suspect we must be cousins, several times removed!”

There aren’t that many of us ”Van Curen,” ”Van Keuren,” or any other spelling of the name in this country, about 381 families in the 1990’s according to another distant cousin. What are the odds I’d run into a distant cousin in the Southwest nearly 400 years after our mutual ancestors set foot on American soil? The British, in charge of the census and taxation in the country in the early 1700’s, wanted to do away with the Dutch custom of ”patronymics,” naming a son with his father’s first name as the child’s surname. For example, a man whose name was “Mathijs Jansen ” would have a son whose last name was “Matthyssen.” The family went back to the name “Van Keulen/Van Ceulen” in 1715, changing the ”l” to “r”. Hard to keep track for taxation, so the British anchored the surname as Van Keuren and the spelling became Anglicized to Van Curen.

Three hundred and two years later, on the other side of the continent, Janet and I realize we’re related! And what was God showing me? That nothing is impossible for Him, that He is still here for me and with me, that His love is unfailing, that he is my Father, and that in Christ Jesus Janet and I are related TWO ways! The Bible, and Jesus himself, make our relationship with God, and to each other through Jesus, crystal clear:

He was in the world, and though the world was made through him, the world did not recognize him. He came to that which was his own, but his own did not receive him. Yet to all who did receive him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God— children born not of natural descent, nor of human decision or a husband’s will, but born of God. 1 John 1: 12-13 NIV

Now that this faith has come, we are no longer under a guardian.  So in Christ Jesus you are all children of God through faith, for all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ. There is neither Jew nor Gentile, neither slave nor free, nor is there male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus. If you belong to Christ, then you are Abraham’s seed, and heirs according to the promise. Galatians 3: 25-29 NIV

But he replied to the man who told him, “Who is my mother, and who are my brothers?” And stretching out his hand toward his disciples, he said, “Here are my mother and my brothers! For whoever does the will of my Father in heaven is my brother and sister and mother.” Matthew 12: 48-50 ESV

Just as a body, though one, has many parts, but all its many parts form one body, so it is with Christ. For we were all baptized by one Spirit so as to form one body—whether Jews or Gentiles, slave or free—and we were all given the one Spirit to drink. Even so the body is not made up of one part but of many. 1 Corinthians 12: 12-14 NIV

You, however, are not in the realm of the flesh but are in the realm of the Spirit, if indeed the Spirit of God lives in you. And if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, they do not belong to Christ. But if Christ is in you, then even though your body is subject to death because of sin, the Spirit gives life because of righteousness. And if the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead is living in you, he who raised Christ from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies because of his Spirit who lives in you. Therefore, brothers and sisters, we have an obligation—but it is not to the flesh, to live according to it. For if you live according to the flesh, you will die; but if by the Spirit you put to death the misdeeds of the body, you will live. For those who are led by the Spirit of God are the children of God. The Spirit you received does not make you slaves, so that you live in fear again; rather, the Spirit you received brought about your adoption to sonship. And by him we cry, “Abba, Father.” The Spirit himself testifies with our spirit that we are God’s children. Now if we are children, then we are heirs—heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ, if indeed we share in his sufferings in order that we may also share in his glory. Romans 8:9-17 NIV

So what? So even if you don’t have a single living blood relative, even one removed by several hundred years like Janet and I probably are, you have millions of brothers and sisters in the Family of God. And that tells me I should have kind regard for my sisters and brothers in Christ, and more than that, I know my “Papa” would love for me (yes, and you) to encourage people who don’t know the love and relationship Abba offers us through Jesus to come to recognize him and receive him as the ONE who makes that very real relationship with Almighty God very real and very possible.

The LORD is near to all who call upon Him, to all who call upon Him in truth. Psalm 145:18

Therefore, brothers and sisters, since we have confidence to enter the Most Holy Place by the blood of Jesus, by a new and living way opened for us through the curtain, that is, his body, and since we have a great priest over the house of God, let us draw near to God with a sincere heart and with the full assurance that faith brings, having our hearts sprinkled to cleanse us from a guilty conscience and having our bodies washed with pure water. Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for he who promised is faithful. Hebrews 3: 19-23 NIV

So what business of mine is it if people don’t hear about relationship with God through Jesus? Is that my concern? I’ve heard a lot of sisters and brothers in Christ say, “My faith is a very personal, private matter to me…” Well…. Maybe you don’t feel comfortable telling people about your Savior Jesus, or maybe you don’t want to risk ridicule and rejection, BUT I’m thinking If it concerns my Father, it oughta concern me! Here’s why I believe I do have a responsibility to “let my LIGHT shine” (and by “my light” I mean let Jesus shine through me with HIS light so the focus is on HIM, and be quick to say it’s HIM, not me, as the motivation to do good)

 But do not forget this one thing, dear friends: With the Lord a day is like a thousand years, and a thousand years are like a day. The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. Instead he is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance.  But the day of the Lord will come like a thief. The heavens will disappear with a roar; the elements will be destroyed by fire, and the earth and everything done in it will be laid bare. Since everything will be destroyed in this way, what kind of people ought you to be? You ought to live holy and godly lives as you look forward to the day of God and speed its coming. 2 Peter 3: 8-12 NIV

Maybe my discovery with Janet came at Christmas time because God wants to remind me to show grace in the aisles of the crowded grocery store, thank clerks and other service people for their help, and wish them “Merry Christmas”. Maybe just as importantly, God wants to remind me (and yo9u by this post) that he IS my loving FATHER, my PAPA, who gave me the greatest gift I ever could receive when he sent Jesus into this world as a helpless infant, feeling and knowing what it is to be human, with the purpose to give his life for mine so that I can live forever as God’s chosen, delighted in child. THAT is something to joyfully celebrate! And hey bro, sis, let’s celebrate the daily chance to help this family grow!

 

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Just Giving God Glory!

I HAVE to share this. God IS Love, and powerful kindness. He did a wonderful, incredible thing for me yesterday to prove it again to me.

When I was in high school, my family bought an acre of land in the mountains, and my father built a cabin on the land. It took two years to build, driving up on weekends, and I have many happy memories of helping him. In 1984 my dad and mom had to sell the cabin, because the high altitude bothered my mother’s blood pressure. I was married, but we didn’t have the extra money to buy the cabin, so it went to another owner.

In 2005, before my older son and his family moved to Asia, we drove up to see the cabin. A new owner had purchased it, and it was his wedding day, but he let us walk around inside, renewing my son’s memories of good times there. I was amazed to see two of my Grandmother’s kitchen chairs in the kitchen. I told James, the owner, how I sat at her kitchen table when I was four and she taught me to play a card game called gin rummy. He said he really liked the chairs, too, so I thought I’d never see them again. Because he wanted to know about who built the house, I made him a photo book of pictures of my father and us building the cabin. Two months later a truck came to my house and brought me the two chairs!

Yesterday “we” looked online at some pictures of land up in the mountains to hopefully buy. About twenty minutes later I got an email from James, at my new email address. He said he needs to sell the cabin, and he had been searching for a month to find a way to contact me – I no longer have the same phone number, last name, or email address – to ask me if I would like to buy it back! He found my blog by searching for my name online and found my new email from that. How amazing is God’s love, to care so much! Even if it is too expensive for me to buy, I am filled with knowledge of God’s great and compassionate, affirming love for me.

James told me yesterday that he could feel love in the house when he bought it. God is gracious, powerful love!

Pardon the King James version here, but 1 John 4:8 – He that loveth not knoweth not God; for God is love. 1 John 4:16 – And we have known and believed the love that God hath to us. God is love; and he that dwelleth in love dwelleth in God, and God in him.

1 John 4:9-11 In this the love of God was made manifest among us, that God sent his only Son into the world, so that we might live through him. In this is love, not that we have loved God but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins. Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one

Zephaniah 3:17 The LORD your God is in your midst, a mighty one who will save; he will rejoice over you with gladness; he will quiet you by his love; he will exult over you with loud singing

Deuteronomy 7:9 Know therefore that the LORD your God is God, the faithful God who keeps covenant and steadfast love with those who love him and keep his commandments, to a thousand generations,

Read more: http://www.whatchristianswanttoknow.com/20-inspirational-bible-verses-about-gods-love/#ixzz4nrKXqmTj

A “…BUT…” to pray: God, sometimes it seems, it feels like, You are far away and unconcerned about me, because ______________________________________________BUT YOU promise me YOU will never leave me and never forsake me (Deuteronomy 31:8), and You put Your promise in writing in the Bible, so I’m going to dare to ask YOU to “Show me a sign of your goodness, that those who hate me may see it, and be put to shame, because you, Yahweh, have helped me, and comforted me.” (Psalm 86:17) And I will let YOU choose the way, God, You show me Your love, because You know my deepest heart, so I’m listening now for Your voice above every other noise and voice in my life, InJesus’ name, amen!   _____________________________________________________________

God’s dot-to-dot again

 

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Me on the river again, Jesus steering the canoe from the stern, and I have no clue where this river is going …. but he’s paddling

Monday, normal day after the worship intercession group I’ve been attending now for nearly two years. Driving home after some shopping, I took a detour to stop in at the church I’ve been attending since summer, and squeaking into the office just 15 minutes before  they closed, I met the receptionist and began sharing  with her the wild way I/we  got connected to the church and all of the God  connections that have happened to me there since August. I had to add the latest dot-connection with her:

The day before, for once relatively early to church,  we sat  down politely in the middle of a row so people  didn’t have to climb over us to find a seat. I put my travel cup with the photo of my kids under my seat, got up to use the restroom, promptly noticed when I came back that I’d kicked it over, so I moved it  to underneath the chair in front  of me. Just before worship started, a couple sat  down next to us, the polite one empty seat between me and the young woman. Nothing unusual in that.

At the end of the service, though,  the young woman, Stephanie, pointed to my cup as we stood to leave and said, in surprise,”I know those people!”  It was my turn to be surprised! It “turned out” totally randomly – ha, I know better – that  the  teacher of one of her  children at a local Christian school is the mother-in-law of my daughter-in-law, and  she and her husband took a foster parenting class with my son and his wife! I’m starting to feel like a bowling pin knocked down in amazement on Sundays by a ball rolled by Abba/Jesus /Holy Spirit just to remind me He’s here in my life, active and loving.

Pastor Jeff came into the office about that time, and since I’d wanted to share all the dot connecting with him, I repeated the”coincidences.” I added that I/we are trying to figure out where to move once the house sells: stay in Tucson moving nearer the church, or move back up to East Mesa and find a new church?

(Sound of “pins resetting” in the celestial bowling alley )

Pastor Jeff asks me,”Have you heard of Red Mountain Church?”

I add a  question,”You mean the one north of the freeway?”

Jeff: “Yes. My uncle Rob is the pastor  there.”

Me:”You mean the Rob who lived across the street and down six houses  from me in Mesa, whose wife bought some things from my yard  sale in 2013? That pastor Rob?”

Strike! Down I go figuratively in absolute astonished wonder at what a bowler Jesus is!

Why does this matter in the grand scheme of my life? Well …Jesus keeps reminding me what he told his disciples before he sent them out to minister in his name:  :

Jesus called for his 12 disciples to come to him. He gave them authority to drive out evil spirits and to heal every illness and sickness.

“So don’t be afraid of your enemies. Everything that is secret will be brought out into the open. Everything that is hidden will be uncovered. What I tell you in the dark, speak in the daylight. What is whispered in your ear, shout from the rooftops. Do not be afraid of those who kill the body but can’t kill the soul. Instead, be afraid of the one who can destroy both soul and body in hell. Aren’t two sparrows sold for only a penny? But not one of them falls to the ground outside your Father’s care. He even counts every hair on your head! So don’t be afraid. You are worth more than many sparrows. What if someone says in front of others that they know me? I will also say in front of my Father who is in heaven that I know them.  Matthew 10: 1, 26-32 NIRV

“Hmmm…,”notes my Father in Heaven, smiling, “when Rose heard that, hairs #20, 512 – #20, 567 stood at attention!”

God bowls me over to lift me up, connects dots again and again to remind me how very much he loves me and yes, he is indeed out of love paying attention to my situation and yes, he wants  me to remember  that GOD IS IN CONTROL so I should get over fear and thinking that man is in control of my today and tomorrow.  And yes, I WANT to say in front of others (you in particular) that I KNOW JESUS, AND  HE IS LORD OF LOVE AND LORD OF ALL!

I was  so swept away by God’s love for me in Jesus again today, suspecting he’s connecting more dots I just can’t see yet to bring his goodness and victory out into the open in and through my life, perhaps so you,  dear Reader, can believe he is doing and wants to do the same in your life out of his immeasurably passionate kindness, goodness, mercy, power and love for you.

So the one”…BUT…” to pray today is your  call, your crying out to truly  see some dots connected, or your recognition of the dots God has  connected for you in the past: LORD, here I go again thinking that my life doesn’t matter to you, thinking that people determine my situations and blessings  or lack thereof, BUT I know that in truth, YOU ARE GOD AND YOU ARE  LORD AND YOU ___________________________________ and YOU WANT TO __________________________________________ to me, for me, in me, and through me, so I’ll say THANKS by faith that you are connecting dots for my blessing. BOWL ME OVER  WITH YOUR LOVE! In Jesus’ name, for God’s Glory, and Holy Spirit,  I’m watching AND listening for Your Amen!