On Earth and Sea, On Herb and Tree – Genesis 1:9-13

“You got baptized,” a five-year-old friend told my daughter.

She answered, “Yes. And one day, if you decide to, you can be baptized, too.”

Her friend looked solemn. “I don’t think I’m old enough,” she said. “I can’t close my eyes that long, and I don’t think I can hold my breath, either.”

Water’s kinda scary that way, even to adults.

And God said, Let the waters under the heaven be gathered together unto one place, and let the dry land appear: and it was so.

Kids learn water’s cohesive properties when it slips down the window pane and collects in little pearls. Objects floating in a filled bathtub teach them about its surface tension. Water is so enthralling few toddlers can resist taking a splash in the toilet. They can’t tell you the scientific terms for the properties of water, but they understand and appreciate them. God just spoke those properties into existence and told the water where to go. By letting the dry land appear, He introduces the system to support life on the Earth.

And God called the dry land Earth; and the gathering together of the waters called he Seas: and God saw that it was good.

Have you noticed when God names things in the first chapter of Genesis, He uses opposites? Light and Darkness, Day and Night, Earth and Sea. He’s teaching basic concepts by comparing their properties.

And God said, Let the earth bring forth grass, the herb yielding seed, and the fruit tree yielding fruit after his kind, whose seed is in itself, upon the earth: and it was so.treeblossoms

The word ‘grass’ is also translated ‘vegetation.’ There are two types of vegetation mentioned here, the herb and the tree. God explains that they were made to multiply. This system—the herb creating its own seeds and the fruit tree making fruit that houses its seeds—tells me so much about God’s forward-looking plans for design. Not only is the life He created made to sustain itself but to recreate itself.

And the earth brought forth grass, and herb yielding seed after his kind, and the tree yielding fruit, whose seed was in itself, after his kind: and God saw that it was good.blackberry

Plants reproduce what is in their own genetic makeup. An herb cannot reproduce a tree, nor a tree an herb. God points out His natural law for vegetation so that I’ll know that a walnut cannot be produced by an orange tree; components of the walnut tree are required to produce the walnut characteristics. In the same way, a carrot’s characteristics would not spontaneously come from the cabbage plant. According to God’s natural law, plant kinds have no instinctive or inventive capacity to produce another kind not their own.

BeeandflowerBut when it comes to reproduction, these herbs and trees needed the means to spread their pollen, right? Where are the bees? They have not been created yet. In this instance God is growing and fertilizing them before the whole system has been created. This answers the question, “Which came first, the seed or the plant?” The plant came first. It sprung up out of the ground out of nothing because God spoke it into existence. But wait! If the plant was created with the seed inside, weren’t they both first? Hm.

Speaking something into existence is a foreign idea because I’ve never seen God work directly, miraculously, by breaking His natural laws. I have to look at His mode of operation over time to see how and why He would do something through supernatural means that He doesn’t do today. There was a time when He directly told man the rules until the rules were set in place for mankind to grow and work independently. I can see this in His relationship with Adam. He spoke to Adam directly. He visited with Adam and Eve in the garden. Then came the era when He spoke to the fathers of the families, a.k.a. patriarchs, like Noah and Abraham. When He established the nation of Israel, He spoke to the people through prophets and deliverers (e.g., judges). Lastly, Jesus His Son entered the world, and He spoke to all the nations, establishing a world-wide kingdom that is other-worldly in scope.

whitebulbsSupernatural intervention was for times when His laws and words needed to be communicated. So, I see Him creating and pollinating the plants directly on the third day, but once the system of life on Earth is established, His natural laws that sustain and reproduce life take over. I see this same pattern when Jesus lived on Earth. Jesus performed miracles to prove His message was from God. He gave His apostles the ability to perform miracles to establish the words of His Will and Testament that went into effect after His death. Once that New Testament was written down, the Word was established to sustain and reproduce life. Spiritual life. How does it reproduce spiritual life? Spiritually alive people spread the seed of His Word to the hearts of others. The seed will take hold, grow in the heart, and reproduce more seeds of God’s Word to spread. Or a person will choose to reject that seed.

bluebellsGod established the boundaries for water.
He divided and named the Earth and the Seas.
He called them both good.
He established plant life and gave it the ability to reproduce.
Plant seeds produce only their own genetic kind.
Plants and their design He called good.

 

And the evening and the morning were the third day.

God’s natural laws remain. They are proof of His faithfulness. If He can design and sustain this Earth, I can put my trust in Him fully that He knows everything I need for the life to come.

The feature image and all images in this post are used by permission courtesy of Keriography.

Knowing Momma

I knew the moment my son was born. I had to have a c-section, so I was unable to see him being born, but I knew all the same. Everyone in the operating room was introduced to his healthy lungs immediately. He was a screamer.

“Would you like to see your son?” someone asked me, and then a screeching, mottled head was pressed against my shoulder, his bellowing mouth raised to the ceiling.

I said something to him, something generic like “Hey, baby boy.” All I could think was how much I wanted to hold him, this loud, red explosion in someone else’s arms. My words, whatever they were, didn’t matter to him, either. It was my voice that registered because he turned his head toward mine with a catch in his throat. He let go a soft sigh, blowing his new breath into my face. It was my turn to catch my breath. I will never forget it. His reaction was instantaneous. My minutes-old baby boy knew me. He didn’t know my name. He didn’t know how old I was, my social security number, my previous medical history, or my ethnic background. It was obvious he didn’t care, either. He knew I was his momma.

How did he know? I’m not asking for the obvious answer—that he knew my scent or my voice, etc. I’m asking where the instinct to collect this information originated. Why is a new human being capable of perceiving the being he/she came from, the one who provided and sustained his/her life for nine months? It’s an amazing instinct, like the natural desire I felt to calm and hold him.

Pandora Jewelry has tapped into this mother/child instinct, and other natural behaviors of children and mothers, with a video advertising their products. Fair warning: it will leave you pretty emotional. Now if viewers will transfer those good feelings over to the company, Pandora may gain some added clients for Mother’s Day!

 

The First Sandwich – Genesis 1:6-8

When my brother was single, he claimed to be looking for the ultimate woman—the woman who could make a sandwich. After a long and arduous search, he found her. She makes sandwiches…and coffee! Their marriage is a blissful one.

After reading about what God accomplished in one day—which dwarfs my To-Do list, oh, for the whole of my lifetime—I decided to check out what happened next. Would you believe God made a sandwich? Stick with me here…

And God said, Let there be a firmament in the midst of the waters, and let it divide the waters from the waters.

When I think of a firmament, I envision something solid, some sort of mass. God describes ‘firmament‘ as an expanse on which something rests or hangs. The word is used later in the chapter as the place the stars were set and also where the birds are commanded to fly, i.e., “the open firmament of heaven.” (BTW, the word ‘open’ there is the same word that is translated ‘face,’ which I looked up last time.)

And God made the firmament, and divided the waters which were under the firmament from the waters which were above the firmament: and it was so.

So, we have a layer of water, followed by the firmament, and another layer of water. It’s a sandwich! A perfect atmospheric sandwich. Using water vapor, along with other gases in the atmosphere, God created an internal system to regulate the temperature of the world. This greenhouse effect warms and cools our planet.

The second chapter of Genesis divulges some intriguing information. Genesis 2:5-6 states, “…for the Lord had not caused it to rain upon the earth, and no man tilled the ground. But there went up a mist from the earth, and watered the whole face of the ground.” When the world was first formed, God set up instant irrigation—no rainfall required. So, once the plants were created, they wouldn’t need to be tended to—no tilling, no watering. And that’s a good thing since man wouldn’t be created for three more days.

And God called the firmament Heaven. And the evening and the morning were the second day.

Wait a minute! Why is God calling the firmament ‘heaven’? Didn’t He already create the heavens in verse one? I need to look this up…

The word heaven can mean three separate places. The first heaven is the sky. The second heaven is the universe. Deuteronomy 10:14 bears out that ‘heaven’ is used to describe more than one place, stating, “Behold, the heaven and the heaven of heavens is the LORD’S thy God, the earth also, with all that therein is.” So, God speaks of separate places using the same word.

The third heaven is where God resides. Interestingly, He does not talk about where He dwells until I understand where I dwell. Since He created the sky ‘heaven’ on day two, I can conclude the heaven of space was made in the first verse. (At this point nothing is in space, except Earth.)

What can I learn from firmament/firmament, heaven/heaven name-sharing? First, that God uses comparisons of characteristics between things to teach me how to compare spiritual concepts. For example, by connecting the heaven of space with God’s heavenly dwelling, He develops my awe at the vastness of space into a greater awe for the heaven where God dwells. What that heaven must be like! Second, Old Hebrew didn’t have a lot of words to choose from (not to mention that annoying absence of vowels). But that worked well because Moses’ audience, to whom Genesis was originally written, had limited ideas. Yes, they were advanced for their time with written language, amazingly detailed religious rites and craftsmanship, fixed standards for commerce, and unprecedented protocols for stopping the spread of disease (like God’s soap recipe); but they were still coming out of the prehistoric age.

God made a firmament, an expanse in Earth’s sky.
The firmament was sandwiched between water, creating Earth’s thermostat.
All He had to do was speak it, and it was.
He named it Heaven.

100_1645While reading this, I realized God had to wait a couple thousand years before humankind was even ready for the writing of the Genesis account. Just think, He was giving Moses His commandments up on Mount Sinai, while Aaron was at the base of the mountain forming a gold cow so they could call it the god that delivered them out of Egypt. How insulting! And that was before He had Moses even start writing Genesis. Sometimes I think, “These stupid ‘great ideas’ of early man really bring home what my Heavenly Father has endured to teach His people.” Then I laugh at myself for thinking I’m any smarter. I may comprehend civilizations, nations, empires, and world-wide unification, but have I really grasped the point? Why did He go to so much trouble to teach me about the beginnings of a place that will one day cease to exist? There will be no Earth—no sky ‘heaven,’ no universe ‘heaven.’ Nothing physical will remain. Only the spiritual will go on. Hebrews 1:10-12 repeats what David wrote in Psalm 102:25-27,

And,
“You, Lord, laid the foundation of the earth in the beginning,

    and the heavens are the work of your hands;
11 they will perish, but you remain;
    they will all wear out like a garment,
12 like a robe you will roll them up,
    like a garment they will be changed.
But you are the same,
    and your years will have no end.”

What’s the point? Maybe it’s this: God made a physical world so complicated that I will never reach the ends of knowledge about how it works. Word by word, I am made aware that He knows and is providing everything I need. If He can provide for me in ways—atmospheric sandwich ways—that I can’t just look at and understand (that it took thousands of years and better technology to study and comprehend), how much more will He provide for my comfort in a world where my physical eyes are unnecessary?

Light and Goodness (Genesis 1:1-5)

In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.

It’s the most inspiring line in literature. It’s the most inspiring line in the history of humankind. It’s not “Suppose God created everything.” There’s no, “What’s your opinion on the whole creation quandary?” It’s authoritative. It sets the first foundation stone of belief in a Creator.

And the earth was without form, and void; and darkness was upon the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God moved upon the face of the waters.

I’m trying to picture this shapeless, empty world, and I don’t think I’ve ever used the phrase “face of the deep.” (“Hey, Edgar, did you see the face of the deep today? It was looking exceptionally deep.”) ‘Face‘ is translated “surface” in some Bible versions. ‘Deep‘ refers to the sea. Later in Genesis 1, God uses ‘face’ to describe how the plants would grow “upon the face of the earth.” The same word is used when Moses sees the burning bush, hears God speak to him, and hides his face because he’s afraid to look on God in Exodus 3:6. God uses comparisons, like my face and the face of something inanimate, to convey characteristics. He uses imagery to teach me how to visualize concepts that will later help me grasp spiritual ideas. In Isaiah 66:1, He says, “The heaven is my throne, and the earth is my footstool…” Is this a literal account? Does God sit on heaven like a throne? He’s using metaphors, ideas I can grasp on my level, to give me a sense of His greatness.

I picture the Spirit of God moving over the face of the deep and it becomes clearer why He chooses this imagery to introduce me to Him. It’s a picture of a Being—with no physical qualities—actively interacting with what He has made. He’s 100% involved. You know that song, “From a Distance?” That’s completely the opposite of the God I see here. His Presence is so close He’s face to face with the water.

And God said, Let there be light: and there was light.

As a mom, I’m quite amazed at the instant response here. When I say, “Turn on the light,” my kids don’t seem to know how to perform this task. Exactly whom was I calling on to turn on the light? Did I mean right now or after they’ve finished this one last game? This isn’t a problem for God. He says it, and light is.

And God saw the light, that it was good: and God divided the light from the darkness.

God is looking at the light He made and noting it’s good. Why? He’s telling me something about His character. He wants me to know He doesn’t just create things, He creates good things. No half-baked creations here. The Master Builder makes only the best.

“But wait,” I think. “How can there be evil when God only made good creations?” If God grants me choice, it does not mean the creation itself is bad but that I’ve been given the ability to use His good creation in a good way or a bad way. He wants me to choose His way, but to do that I have to be able to have the other option. I have to be capable of rejecting His use for His creation.

If God is the Creator of all good, then rejecting God means one is left with the opposite of good. There’s no meh, sorta, or kinda good. There’s no gray area. Like that fabulous ghee the paleo dieters are crazy about, God is clarified, purified good. He separates the light from the darkness. He doesn’t care at all for the half dark, half-light behavior. Even the little-bit-of-dark-but-mostly-light ideas don’t cut it with Him. There are two options, ‘good’ or ‘evil.’

In the beginning God was.
He created everything from nothing.
His Spirit was active and present.
He spoke, and light came into the world.
The light was good, and God separated it from the darkness.

And God called the light Day, and the darkness he called Night. And the evening and the morning were the first day.

He did all of that in a day! Isn’t that incredible? Actually, it’s quite credible. A Being Who can create the heavens and the earth from nothing must exist outside of the laws of matter, space, and time. He’d have to have complete control.

This is why I find the first five verses of Genesis fascinating. They not only shed light on the world, but on my understanding of Who my Creator is. He is God, He brings light, and He creates only good things.

 

Feature Image Courtesy of Keriography.

Winter Weather Woes

I see green outside—green grass and green leaves on the bushes. The sun is shining, and there are birds perched on the long, bare tree branches. I don’t trust my eyes. I keep wondering if any minute now the sky will turn black with rainclouds that will bottom out in a drenching downpour. That happened two days ago. I’ve lived in North Alabama for about five years now. February and March are the bipolar months. You never know what you’re going to meet with day to day. One minute I’m contemplating opening up the windows because it’s so nice outside, and in fifteen minutes there’s a lake at my front door. In a couple of hours the temperature has dropped twenty degrees and is still falling rapidly. The next day Realm’s car is covered in ice. This place is crazy!

I feel so sorry for the folks up north, cooped up for days by heavy snowfall. At least, to some degree, they know what they’re in for each year, though. And they’re prepared!

Yeah, I’m that Florida girl with no concept of winter. Last week we had a few inches of snow. It seemed to come out of nowhere. The schools were closed. A friend asked me whether Alabama even had a snowplow for roads. Snowplow? What’s that? Okay, I’m not that bad. I lived in Kentucky for a handful of years. The winters there were…awful. The salt trucks came out after a snow, making the gray sludge beside the roads my constant memory of winter in Kentucky. That and the salt eating the underside of my car. Yick.

Why is winter so…so sad? In literature winter often represents death and loneliness. I’m not lonely, and I’m not dead. I do feel low when the cold sets in, though. It’s worse when I see the spring attempting its entrance; I become all hopeful that the winter days have passed. Then another bucket of snow falls on our heads, like March is saying, “Ha! Gotcha!” How do you handle the winter?

7 Steps to Overcoming a Haircut Crisis: by Rapunzel, Anne, Jo, and Me

Rilla Z:

New Do Truths!

Originally posted on A Bookish Charm:

IMG_20150228_180729 My face post-haircut. Goodbye braids..

“It looks so good!” gushes the stylist.

You nod vaguely, but inside you’re screaming, “Since when does ‘two inches’ mean ‘take it all’?”

You came in wanting a simple trim (freshen up the layers, cut the split-ends, the usual), but one ambitious beautician and several pairs of scissors later you’re sitting open-mouthed in a nest of your own hair.

I’ve been there.

We’ve all been there.

In fact, haircuts-gone-wrong are so common that some of the most beloved characters in fiction have also been there and can offer great advice for getting over the horror of your hair disaster. So here you go, 7 Steps to Overcoming Your Hair Crisis, brought to you by some of your favorite fictional ladies:

1. Recognize that your new ‘do is…unexpected. 

"I just wanted a trim!" “I just wanted a trim!”

Especially if you’ve had the same hairstyle for a long time, change can be shocking and it’s…

View original 622 more words

Just Between…We?

So, I’m happily reading a blog, I’m editing a fanfic for a fellow writer, or I’m talking to a friend. One trendy eyesore–or earsore, as the case may be–always smacks me in the face.

COMPLETE THIS SENTENCE WITH THE CORRECT PRONOUN:

“She waited for him and ____ to get off the bus.”

A. me
B. I

If you answered ‘I,’ try again.

“She waited for him and me to get off the bus.”

This is correct.

Notice the prepositional phrase ‘for him and me.’ Prepositional phrases have objects. The objects of the preposition ‘for’ are ‘him and me.’ ‘I’ is a subject pronoun, not an object pronoun.

To be certain you are using the correct pronoun, remove the first object of the preposition:

“She waited for ___ to get off the bus.”

You’d say, “She waited for me to get off the bus.” You wouldn’t say, “She waited for I to get off the bus.”

“They went to the party with my husband and I.”

They went to the party with me, not with I.

It sounds so proper, using ‘I,’ I know. The rules of the English language can be confusing, but this one really is logical.

Too Much Water

Water drop animation enhanced small.gif
Water drop animation enhanced small“.
Licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons.

“She used way too much water for her shower, Mom!” complained my daughter about her twin. “The floor is soaked.”

Soaked? The bathroom floor was a pool, and the carpet was matted in the hallway. The imprint of my husband’s shoes tracked a path into the bedroom as he tried to assess the damage. Yes, it was way too much water for a shower.

“The water is spreading under the bed,” Realm observed as we worked to get everything out of the closet that shared a wall with the bathroom. In fact, the water had traveled to the far wall of the bedroom in a matter of hours that spring-like day while we were outside cleaning up the garage and washing the car.

With ten gallon jugs lined up by the toilet, we shut off the water and stayed up late Saturday night, waiting in gratitude for the repairman who brought blowers to dry out the floor and carpet. The wet carpet pad was done for, pulled up, and discarded. We slept to the sound of tornado-force gales swirling round the front bedroom all the night. A commercial de-humidifier sat in the bathroom, a machine capable of drying out the entire house. And it did. In the mornings that followed we woke with sore throats and nose bleeds.

The plumber arrived and removed part of the wall to clamp off the flow to the busted pipe. He finished just in time for Realm to make it to worship services with us.

The wall was patched on Tuesday, only hours after the plumber replaced the pipe that had a one-inch slit punched through it. The patch-up job on the wall was splendid; the leftover paint poured into our green city garbage can wasn’t so much.

The loud fans and dry air we’d endured for four nights were scheduled to go away, but then it was discovered that the porous baseboard in the bathroom had soaked up the water. The soggy boards were ripped away from the wall, and the de-humidifier and one tornado fan remained in the bathroom. We shut the door and breathed a sigh of relief at the relative quiet. At least the grating helicopter sounds throughout that night were muffed by the bathroom door. The walls dried. The machines were removed.

The pulled-up carpet lay flat like a steam-rolled pancake in the hall and bedroom until this morning, when four repairmen entered the house just before 8 o’clock, replaced the carpet pad, and laid the carpet down again. They were gone by 9.

Only the smell of cigarette tar lingers…and the frame and mattresses of the bed stacked against the living room wall…and a whole lot of mess spread out all over the house that needs to be returned to the rescued bedroom.

I have nothing to complain about. We rent. It was all taken care of for us. I’ve thanked God again and again for our fabulous property manager. Ah, the luxuries we enjoy, like running water and quietness and a home with plenty of space.

Endless Love

Could we with ink the ocean fill,
And were the sky of parchment made;
Were every stalk on earth a quill,
And ev’ry man a scribe by trade;
To write the love of God above,
Would drain the ocean dry;
Nor could the scroll contain the whole,
Tho’ stretched from sky to sky.

-Fredrick Martin Lehman, 1917

These lines by Lehman capture my imagination. It’s an incredible analogy–the thought of a sky being a writing pad, the ocean the ink, and the fields filled with quills that, used to their immense capacity, cannot touch the hem of God’s love.

John gave a similar statement at the end of his eyewitness account of Jesus’ life on earth when he wrote, “And there are also many other things which Jesus did, the which, if they should be written every one, I suppose that even the world itself could not contain the books that should be written” (John 21:25). Is John writing in hyperbole? Whether he is or not, his sentiments express the point that God’s Son did so much for us while He was on this earth. And wasn’t God’s greatest act of love sending Jesus?

The magnitude of God’s care and devotion is fathomless, just as His mind and His ways are so far above me. How can I return so great a love? I can’t, but I can open my arms to His love. I can open my mind to His thoughts, which He has had written down for me. His Word has been preserved through generations so that I get to rediscover His plan from the beginning. I can open my heart to His wisdom and His instruction, knowing that He will teach me to walk in His ways. It is no hyperbole to say it will take an eternity to fathom the perfection of His love. Lehman’s lyrics help the writer in me better contemplate that truth.

New Device Phobia

There are moments in my life when the technoflop in me leaps out in all her spandex and tinfoil brilliance, and I just want to crawl under a rock, refusing all digital modes of communication. Yes, I got a new laptop. The moment I saw the matte black surface, still in its plastic, something in me cringed and started sucking its thumb.

“Do I really want to do this to myself?” I thought, thanking my husband profusely. (First World ingrate here.)

I bravely took on the beast…on day 3. It was right after Realm asked, “Have you even turned it on?”

I just laughed. “I keep meaning to,” I told him. Inside I was crying, ‘No! No, I haven’t turned it on! That would require courage comparable to storming the living room and taking down the Christmas tree!’

I turned it on and found it wanted to get to know a little bit about me: my name, my occupation, my shoe size, any moles or important identifying marks… I tried to be open and answer all the questions honestly. After all, we would be friends for some time, providing I made it through the setup wizard.

The questions became more restrictive after that: Did I have an Outlook email address? I took the “alternative email” option, which it accepted for about three seconds, then returned me to the Outlook email prompt. Twice.

‘Fine, I’ll register for your sponsor’s account. Satisfied?’ I thought. Because, hey, I can always use an extra email account! I only have 306.

Armed with my new Outlook account, I entered the inner sanctum, the desktop. Oooooh, ahhhh. I was enthralled for a full ten minutes before I discovered how much I hate Windows 8.

1024px-Blue_Screen_of_DeathI was in the midst of giving my new laptop a gentle facelift when it happened. My laptop decided to update and needed to restart. So it restarted, I swirled the touchpad to enter my password, and it blue-screened me. Yes, it wielded the blue screen of death with its simpering frown-y face, informing me it would restart again after a few corrections. The cycle of powerlessness had begun.

I sparred with that patronizing blue screen for a few days. I learned a lot of new things about the virtual innards of my laptop. Had the blue screen continued, I would have become well acquainted with its actual innards. In that time my laptop began to take on a personality. At first it was smug, rejecting my “foreign” email address; then it was sullen because I ditched its ready-to-go software and changed its boot-up preferences. It became downright malicious when I installed open source—not open source! For shame!—software. The white frown-y face stared at me, impassive, but I didn’t flinch.

“You will not sabotage this relationship, Wizfect,” I whispered to it late into the night after the fortieth reboot.

It seems Wizfect the Laptop has a sensitive touchpad and didn’t want me to know. Since I have always found the touchpad an annoying bane of smooth typing, I had no qualms about disabling it. I think that’s when Wizfect began to learn to trust me. I have no doubt we’ll be making great stories together.

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