Friday, February 19, 2010

More S.E.A.M. Loves D.B.M., otherwise entitled,
Names, Part II

TopazTook's comment on my last post inspired me to re-look up what
my husband's first name means. I thought I remembered that my dear hubby's name had a meaning similar to my first name, which means "promise of God". But, Internet sources cite his first name as meaning "Beloved". (That's what most things I read say, but there were a few dissenting ideas about the name that I came across.) Certainly, he is named after a man who was beloved of God.

I like the idea of his name meaning Beloved, because I love the quotes in Song of Songs that reference the bride's view of her "beloved". For example, I love the verse (S of S 6:3) that says, "My beloved is mine, and I am his." I think the word for beloved there is from the Hebrew word that we would pronounce dodi, which is interesting as I think I remember that Doady is used as a nickname for the main character of David Copperfield.

Anyhow, whether that's what his name means or not, he is still my beloved after nearly thirty years of marriage. I've never been a big fan of the word "hubby" for husband, for some reason. As I posted some time ago, I've had a hard time coming up with a blog name that conveys my affection for my soul-mate. So, I think, henceforth, in this blog, dear hubby shall be known as "my beloved." I hate to copy CALM Reflection's beautiful references to her beloved husband, but it's the one blog title that seems to work for my dear D. :)

Three guesses what my husband's first name is. If you haven't figured it out from the clues already in this post, here's another one: There is a movie entitled ____ & _____. If you fill in the blanks, you will have my first name and his.


The story of a name

Re: the candy heart -- Valentine's Day is past, but I'm still celebrating.

Back in December I wrote a couple of posts about a study I was doing on the concept of blessing in the Bible. I posed this question in the first post: What president's name means blessing? I'm sure most of you have guessed it already. However, since this is black history month, it's a good time for me to post about the answer:

The given name Barack comes from an Arabic word that, according to some, means blessed or blessed one. It is similar to the Hebrew name Baruch and the Latin name Benedict. In Hebrew, the word ברוך (phonetically spelled in English as barakh) means to kneel, bless, or praise.

(As I said before, this is not a political statement about Barack Obama one way or the other; it's just a study of a name.)

Some English speakers pay little attention to the fact that most names in most languages have their roots in words that have some meaning attached to them. We might consider this when reading lists of potential baby names or check out the meaning of our own name once in our lifetime. My name, Elizabeth, for example came into the English language from Hebrew, and it means, "God's promise, or God is my oath."

If we put some thought into it, we can use the names of our children in giving them a vision for who they might become. Of course, when we name a child, we can't foresee all of the choices that child will make. There is no magic in choosing a particular name for our child. However, if we choose a name with an inspiring meaning, we can remind our child of its meaning and pray with our child about its meaning throughout the child's growing up years. Hearing the meaning of his or her name repeated often can help a child to feel secure and special. It can also steer a child toward higher goals.

Take the name, Allegra, for example. It means lively or cheerful in Italian. Wouldn't it cheer you up just to know that your name is associated with vitality and joy, as well as with joyful music?

Some of us are well past naming our children, but we can still probably track down the meaning of the name and find something beautiful in it.

Here's an interesting fact about naming children: Some cultures, like my own Southern U. S. culture, place a high value in passing on the name of a family member to a child. This way of thinking gives a sense of continuity and belonging to a child. If the child happens to know the person for whom he or she is named, the child can understand what good qualities the parents had in mind when they chose that particular name to pass on. In my case, some of the names that are common in my family entered the family so many generations ago that we know very little about some of the original bearers of the names.

There are other cultures in which parents strive to give a child an unusual name that no one else has. Or, they might choose a name after the baby is born and they have a sense of its personality. (I think the second option was more common in the past.) This category of naming gives a child a sense of specialness and individuality.

Of course, there are some people who pick names for their children simply because they like the sound or because they admire someone who has the name or for other various reasons.

No method of choosing a name, imho, is right or wrong. It's a matter of preference. However, it is interesting to think about what your family's practice is and why you might have been named a certain name and why you are (were) drawn to a particular name to give your child.

What about you? What is the meaning of your name?


Monday, February 15, 2010


Luke 9:23-25 tells us, "Then he said to them all: If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me. For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for me will save it. What good is it for a man to gain the whole world, and yet lose or forfeit his very self?

Two sins that can really mar my days, if I let them, are pride and selfishness. Along with fear (which probably has its roots in pride and selfishness), these are at the heart of my sinful nature -- of what I am without God's holy and loving influence in my life. These things can affect every aspect of my life, but, like most deep character sins, they can show up most vividly in who I am at home.

So, I rejoice that God, through Christ, has freed us from our sins. Each day presents a new opportunity for me to turn from pride and selfishness and to grow in love. Each day presents every one of us with opportunities to put away our selfish nature and to live the full and abundant life that Christ gives us.

As we embrace what our Lord accomplished for us through his atoning death on the cross and through his resurrection, He invites us to take up our own cross and to walk with Him. Popular language speaks of a "cross to bear" in terms of a trial or a burden, but, truly, the cross was an instrument of death.

For many Christians throughout history and even now, taking up the cross literally, and even quickly, led or leads to death by persecution. We should always be prepared to die for Christ's sake; we equally must be prepared to walk many, many days with the Lord before He calls us home. We may die a peaceful, natural death or might possibly even still be alive when the Lord returns.

So, if the Lord chooses that we do live many days, what does it mean, then, to take up our cross daily? I think it means to daily die to our old self and to daily choose the new life that Christ made possible through His crucifixion and resurrection. In dying to self, we exchange our dreams for the Lord's dreams, our plans for His plans, our will for His will, our sins for His righteousness, and our desire to be in control for His reign.

I think taking up our cross also means being willing to sacrifice so that others might be saved. Though only Christ can be the atoning sacrifice for someone's sin, we can point others to Christ. Paul was an example of someone who joyfully sacrificed much that others might know the Lord. He said to the Philippians, "But even if I am being poured out as a drink offering upon the sacrifice and service of your faith, I rejoice and share my joy with you all."

The cross we take up is painful, as death always is.
It goes against our instinct to think that losing our life for Christ is how we find our true life. In our natural selves, we do fight to hold on to our lives. But, we must remember that the cross was followed by the resurrection.

In the Lord's hand, our cross is an instrument of mercy.
As we daily pick up our cross and walk with Christ, God molds us more and more into the perfect image of his Son, who was tempted as we are and yet never gave way to sins like pride and selfishness. God matures in us the new life that He gives us when we believe in Christ, repent of sin and turn to Christ as our Savior and Lord, and are baptized. (Matthew 18:18-20; Acts 2:38) He enables us to die to sin and to live for righteousness, something that we are unable to do on our own.

As Titus 2 tells us, "For the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation for all people, training us to renounce ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright, and godly lives in the present age, waiting for our blessed hope, the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ,who gave himself for us to redeem us from all lawlessness and to purify for himself a people for his own possession who are zealous for good works."

J. R. Miller has some thoughts on dying to self and yielding to Christ as Lord of our lives:

"There is no blue sky in the picture, of which SELF is the center. There are no stars shining overhead. It begins and ends in a little patch of dusty floor, with gray walls surrounding it and shutting it in. But when SELF decreases—and Christ increases, then the picture is enlarged and takes in all of heaven's over-arching beauty. Then the stars shine down into its night and sunshine bathes its day.

Then the life of friction and worry is changed into quietness and peace. When the glory of Christ streams over this little, cramped, fretted, broken life of ours—peace comes, and the love of Christ brightens every spot and sweetens all bitterness. Trials are easy to bear when self is small—and Christ is large.

We are apt to grow weary of the bitter, sorrowful struggle that goes on in our hearts, evermore, between the old nature and the new nature, between the old self and the new Christ. It seems sometimes as if it never would be ended. It seems, too, at times, as if we were making no progress in the struggle, as if there were no decreasing of self—and no increasing of Christ. We find the old evil things unconquered still, after years of battling—the old envies and jealousies, the old tempers, the old greed, the old irritabilities, the old doubt and fear and unbelief. Will there never be release from this conflict?

Yes, if only we live patiently and bravely, in faith and love and loyalty, SELF will decrease—and Christ will increase until he fills our whole life. If we reach up ever toward the light—our past of failure and unworthiness will be left behind and we shall grow into the fullness of the stature of Christ! The new will conquer and expel the old—until it becomes "None of self—and all of Christ!""



Belated Valentine's Thoughts...

Hope everyone had a happy Valentine's Day. I'm thinking warm thoughts of my dear husband, who has been my Valentine since 1979.

Charity suffereth long, and is kind; charity envieth not; charity vaunteth not itself, is not puffed up,

Doth not behave itself unseemly, seeketh not her own, is not easily provoked, thinketh no evil; Rejoiceth not in iniquity, but rejoiceth in the truth;

Beareth all things, believeth all things, hopeth all things, endureth all things.

Charity never faileth: but whether there be prophecies, they shall fail; whether there be tongues, they shall cease; whether there be knowledge, it shall vanish away. -- Corinthians: 13:4-8

Lovely prayer for a marriage:

God, the best maker of all marriages, Combine your hearts into one.
-- William Shakespeare


Saturday, February 13, 2010

We took this shot in a butterfly house in Texas a while back.

Guess when the following quote was written:

"There are others of us who are discontented...with the world. The time is out of joint, and we are sick at heart because no one seems to be wise or strong enough to set it right Government is corrupt; the church seems dead or dying; the home is a failure or scandal; society is superficial and tainted; the social order is ready for the burning; the economic system is a burden and curse; the whole framework of the world needs to be reconstructed, and, alas, who is sufficient for such a Herculean task? The men with the antidotes are loud-mouthed and confident; the prophets of reform are vociferous and ubiquitous, but unfortunately they do not agree among themselves, and the remedies, when applied, are impotent to cure. The medicines do not seem to be powerful enough, and the doctors stand by the beds of feverish and delirious humanity, outwitted, discredited; dumbfounded. Modern civilization has become a tower of Babel, and the air is so filled with theories of social revision and programs of industrial reorganization that the clearest headed are bewildered by the din and tumult, not knowing in which direction deliverance must be sought."

I've been reading blogs, listening to conversations, and hearing news reports all of which voice similar sentiments. No matter what are one's political convictions or one's philosophy of life and government, it seems that many of us find our world to be confusing, disappointing, disordered, in trouble, and in need of a savior. Well, it is.

Yet, the quote above was not written today, this week, or even this year or the last. It was written by Charles Edward Jefferson in....imagine a drum roll here...1908. As Solomon says, there is nothing new under the sun.

Fortunately, Mr. Jefferson does not stop with his dismal observations of the pain felt by people of his day (and ours). He goes on to tell us that God has sent a true Savior, and he speaks of him this way:

"If His ideas have in them the force of dynamite, and if His personality has power to change the policy of empires, and even the temper of the human heart, it may be that This Man is the very man the "modern" world (quotes mine) is looking for in its wild quest for a way of deliverance from its miseries and woes. Surely all of those who are sick of the world as it is and who long for the coming of a world which shall be better, must, if they are wise, come to Jesus of Nazareth for his secret of pulling down the strongholds of iniquity and establishing righteousness and peace on the earth.

"...We discover that his supreme concern is for the rightness of heart of the individual man. This molder of empires gives himself to the task of molding individual men. This arch revolutionist starts His fire in the individual soul. He draws one man to him, infuses into him a new spirit, sends him after one brother man, who in time goes after a third man, and this third man after a fourth...

"When we speak of the environment, we think of the physical surroundings: the paving in the street, the sewerage, the architecture of the houses and the lighting of the rooms. We are convinced that with better sewerage and better ventilation and better lighting the plague of humanity would be speedily abated. But, this reformer of Nazareth acts and speaks as though environment is not a matter of brick and plaster, but rather of human minds and hearts. Men are made what they are, not by pavements and houses, but by the men among whom they live.

"If you would change the environment, then begin by a transformation of men, and if you would transform men, then begin by a transformation of some particular man. It is by the changing of the character of a man that we change the character of other men; and by changing the character of many men, we change the character of institutions and ultimately of empires and civilizations. When Jesus says, "Behold I make all things new" he lays his hand on the heart of a man. It is out of the heart the demons proceed which tear humanity to pieces, and it is out of the heart that the angels come which restore he beauty and peace of Paradise."

Mr. Jefferson sites numerous examples where human kingdoms and nations have been altered for the better by the values of the gospel. For that, we are all thankful!

Of course, we have to note that, ultimately, the kingdom of the world has been, is now, and will be until the final day opposed to the kingdom of heaven, for the kingdom of heaven turns the values of the world upside down. When I say kingdom of the world, I'm thinking of the way the fallen world operates and the value system held by those who resist God's beautiful and perfect will. It is only in the kingdom of heaven that we find true love, peace, and everything ordered as it should be.

Wherever Christ truly reigns in the hearts of men and women now, we see the kingdom of heaven breaking into the stronghold of the kingdom of the world. Our citizenship, as Paul says, is already in heaven. One day, we will see the fullness of the heavenly kingdom in all of its glory. Mr. Jefferson's point is well taken that the present advancement of the kingdom of heaven happens heart by heart by heart, and this total transformation of people's hearts is made possible through our Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ.

Mr. Jefferson makes another point that is also well taken: Dealing with the externals of our lives does not solve our deepest need for redemption of the heart and soul. Of course, we do want to improve people's environment and circumstances. It pleases the Lord when we serve the poor, help the sick, and treat others with love and justice. In fact, James 1:27 says, "Religion that is pure and undefiled before God, the Father, is this: to visit orphans and widows in their affliction, and to keep oneself unstained from the world." Yet, in doing that, we also want to share the glory, majesty, and love of Christ with others.

Jesus gave his apostles the radical, world-changing, life-transforming mission, which has been passed down to us. "Then Jesus came to them and said, 'All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.' " Matthew 28:18-20.

This mission was urgently needed in Jesus' day, in Charles Edward Jefferson's era, and in 2010 today.

A woman whose heart is truly surrendered to the Lord and whose heart has been infused with His Spirit has many opportunities to touch the hearts of others. What an exciting thing it is when the Lord uses our lives to help others know Him and to fall in love with Him! What could be a more exciting endeavor than to be Christ's disciples, maturing each day in doing our Father's will on earth as it is done in heaven? What could be more satisfying than to help others become disciples, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit and teaching them to obey the wonderful commands of Jesus?


Friday, February 05, 2010

Dreaming of spring...

With a few flowers in my garden, half a dozen pictures
and some books, I live without envy.
- Lope de Vega

I was able to get in some pruning before it started raining yesterday afternoon. Being out and puttering in my yard has me dreaming of spring and summer, though I am still enjoying the beauties that winter has to offer, as well.

This year, we are converting a small veggie plot to a flower bed. I'm picturing so many fresh flowers to pick for the house, as well as to share with others. Of course, I'm not the world's greatest gardener, so my dream may exceed the future reality. But, this is a nice time of year to ponder and plan for the garden.

How about you? What are your garden dreams for this year? Of course, if you live in the Southern hemisphere, you may be still living your garden dream for the year. Share some links with us to your garden. Some of us who are in winter would love to visit a warm, flowering place right now -- even if it's only vicariously!


Monday, February 01, 2010

What a weekend...

The view outside my window is white, white, white. We've had a rare snowstorm here, and many people have just been staying indoors. However, my intrepid husband and I (not so intrepidly, but with great motivation) decided to keep our plans to drive to see our son and his wife this weekend. So, we were on the road during the first part of the 24-hour snowfall, and what should have taken us only three hours to drive took six and a half. We were heading southward, out of the storm, and it was only raining by the time we finally got there.

The photo I've attached it not my window, but the window in the condominium that my son and his wife bought. They live in the city where I grew up. Their new home is in a historic factory that has been converted to residential living. I'm amazed at this change to fashionable lofts, since this more than hundred year old factory was still in operation when I was a girl. The little neighborhood around it is composed of the homes where the factory workers lived. The factory provided some of the very first industrial jobs in the entire South, as it was built when we were mostly an agricultural region.

The condo is right across the street from an even more historic cemetery. Among the notables buried there is a famous golfer. Though he died in the 70's, people continue to leave golf balls at his grave site. Next to his headstone is a golf cup with a ball in it.

My daughter and her husband now live in the north, in an area that receives a lot of snow. Her many friends from here sent her photos of our amazing snowfall -- four to six inches with a coating of ice on top. Since she could see sprigs of grass sticking up through the snow in several of the pictures, she was amused that we are all so excited about this. But, just a few years ago, she'd have thought this was a huge deal, too. It's all relative.

We are back home now. The Interstates are clear, but the other roads are still dicey. The sun is shining, so I assume some of it will melt today. But, it is quite beautiful.

Since this storm covered much of the country, I'm sure many of us have snow stories to tell. How about you? What was the weather like in your area this weekend?