09 April 2011

A Father's Great Love

This past week I had the opportunity to stay with my in-laws.  Recovering from surgery, my father-in-law was able to stay with me during the day while his wife was at work.  Besides learning more about the family that has adopted me as their own, I have received a clearer picture of God's love.  I had known this love once when I was younger, but my memory of it hid when I lost my dad and grandpa, for they had once displayed this love to me also.

Sunday night was my first night in the house.  It was a long night without Matthew (he had gone to stay with his friend in Sacramento while starting work at U C Davis and searching for a place for us to call home) but I slept okay eventually.  The next morning I awoke in cheerful spirits and good health.  Bruce asked if I would care to join him for a walk that morning.  Having nothing else to occupy me that day and glancing out the window at the incredible spring day, I said yes.  We drove in near silence as I gazed curiously at the busy streets of a sleepy little town.  I had forgotten that Bruce prefers loose dirt under his boots rather than the hard concrete stuff, so it was a long but pleasant drive out to BLM land. 

Once there, all conversation ceased as we were overwhelmed with the intense beauty all around us.  Here, a family of toads hopped across a tiny stream. There, a squirrel chased another up a tall tree.  Various birds sang old choruses of the beautiful day and geese bravely guarded their nests as we walked past.  Eventually I became aware that my father-in-law was still walking with me but had said few words only to point out the trail and points of interest in the area as we began; then, further in, silence. At first, being the girl I am, used to mindless chatter, I was agitated by the silence of conversation; then I became intrigued.  Gently, my dear Heavenly Father began to speak to my heart.   They were words of life and as soothing and melodious to my soul as the red-winged blackbird's song.

There is no need for words, my child, 
when one already knows the heart.

Of course! How could I have forgotten? What great joy and peace did this gracious reminder bring to my burdened, weary soul!  Over the past four and a half years, Bruce and I have had many conversations as we got to know each other.  But there comes a point in a good relationship when words are no longer necessary to express the intentions of the heart.  In the midst of the silence, his presence affirmed what I already knew in my heart - that I was loved and treasured as a precious daughter ... just as I was. And that I was safe and provided for and not alone nor lost on this path on which I was led! Rather than reaffirming these truths with words, he allowed me the pleasure of enjoying this beautiful piece of creation with him.  It was not a request for a long walk of conversation, but "come, let me show you this treasure I have found so we can enjoy it together."  

Is this not also the season I have come to with the Lord? This depth of understanding the heart where words are no longer necessary? At first I was greatly distressed by the silence of heaven and I soon became just as silent and continually scorned myself for it.  But God's gracious love is so immense, that He broke through the silence to affirm His love and concern and to say "let's enjoy together this life I have made for you."  No longer must I plead with him for hours for my requests or to express heartache or gratitude.  He is with me and knows my heart just as I know His.  We speak only to remind eachother and to reaffirm the love that we share.  

To know that she is loved is the very core of a girl's desires.  But in this world love is so frequently twisted and too often torn from its different components.  It is not just a feeling of value and appreciation or of kind and concerned thoughts toward another, but it is also a promise of protection and provision.  When the Lord began to reveal this mystery of how His Love is represented in a father's love for his child, a whole new world of understanding was opened up to me to understand both the love of my in-laws and of my Heavenly Father. 

The next instance of the revelation of this mystery was at Perkos' Restaurant.  Perkos' being the best milkshake makers in the whole world and the ravenous hunger created by our adventure in BLM land, it was the obvious next stop of our day. I did not realize that a simple sharing of a meal could lead to a much fuller understanding of the words of Jesus in Matthew 7:9-11... 

"You parents - if your children ask for a loaf of bread, do you give them a stone instead? Or if they ask for a fish, do you give them a snake?  Of course not!  So if you sinful people know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will Your heavenly Father give good gifts to those who ask Him?"

 As we walked into the restaurant, I realized I didn't bring my purse on this walk and was immediately concerned that Bruce would have to pay for my meal.  I was quickly and firmly rebuked by the gentle words of my Father:

How insulted would he be
if you refused him his right
to bless you?

I have been most fully adopted into this family just as I have been adopted into God's family - through the love of the son.  I have seen how my father-in-law loves each of his daughter-in-laws as if they were his own flesh and blood.  He would lay his life down for them and sees clearly that while they are in his care, it is his responsibility and privilege to provide for them not only their needs, but also their wants. 

A Father's great joy is to find treasures to gift to his children.  A trinket, a toy, picture or book is a pleasure to give to a child.  But a meal is such a basic gift that we discard it as an obvious necessity.  What father would deny his hungry child food if he was able? None!  Indeed, he sees it as his role and responsibility to daily provide for the child in his home.  The child need not ask - it is just provided.  But occasionally the child's hunger is unnoticed or beyond what is normally given, so they ask the Source of their provision for the supply.  Could it ever be denied them? Certainly not!  And beyond that, would not the father feel shame that the child felt the need to ask?  Would he not quickly supply in abundance all the child desired? Of course!  So why do we ask our Father with such trepidation? 

The relationship Jesus describes in this passage is a healthy one.  The child does not ask for a single piece or crumb of bread like a beggar or a dog, but asks for his rightful portion - a loaf.  When have I asked God for a loaf of bread?  Have I not been content to ask for only a slice of bread and a small portion of fish?  Is my appetite small or my pride great? 

Oh what joy and great miracle it would be if I could fully comprehend and live out these truths! How gracious is my God that he would place me in a loving family so quickly after loosing my own that it may continually be demonstrated the love of a father towards his children that I might learn to accept the unspoken love, protection and provision of my Father.

Thank you Matthew for bringing me into your family.
Thank you Bruce for accepting me as your own daughter.
Thank you Jesus for loving me and Your Father enough to lay down your own life to bring me into Your family that I might learn to live as a daughter of the King. 


03 April 2011

A New Home

This morning we said good-bye to our church family.  The Stirring and it's people have been my family for more than 10 years.  I have never known friendship and acceptance so consistently in my life.   The Stirring has inspired me, challenged me, kept me going through some of life's greatest challenges, and walked along side me through many seasons of joy and pain.  God has used the leadership of The Stirring to draw me closer to Him and into a much deeper walk than I could have ever imagined.  So, despite the joy of stepping forward in the journey that God called us to and the Stirring has encouraged, there was a great sadness in my heart to say good-bye to the comfort of "Home."
So, yes, we are saying good-bye to Redding. I'm sure we will come and visit, for it will always be our home. But we are moving forward in this journey towards Indonesia.  We are having a stop over in the Sacramento area so we can pay some debts and gain some health.  Matthew has been offered a full-time tech job at UC Davis and he starts tomorrow!  I will be staying with his parents until we find a more permanent residence in the Sacramento area.  Once we are settled, I will be continuing the jewelry business in Redding and Sacramento so I can still come up and visit my family on occasion, so if you want to book a home show and get some free jewelry for you or the women in your life and support missions work, just send me a note or give me a call!

We are having a going away party for our Redding friends and family on April 12th at Round Table Pizza.  This is to say our last good byes but also to help us get some things for our new home!  Two years ago we sold most of our possessions to prepare for our journey to Indonesia.  Now that we know we will need to be in the States a bit longer, we have to reaquire some essentials for our new home.  My dear friend is a Pampered Chef Consultant and she is throwing me a party to help us aquire some of these items.  Some of you have requested that I create a wishlist so you can purchase gifts for us.  Following is that list.  You can purchase these items on my friend's website or just let me know that you want to order something as a gift for us at the party on the 12th!  If you want to just order something for yourself, please do! Every purchase at this party helps us get some free Pampered Chef products for our new kitchen.
 My friend's website: www.pamperedchef.biz/tristenskitchen  
On the home page, click on "shop on line" then just make sure to  type in "Erica" where it says "host's first name/organization" and then click on my name on the next page so that your order can count towards the show.  Also, if you are ordering as a gift, just send me a quick email or comment below to let me know so I can send you a thank you card!

Thank you so much for your support.  With God's grace and your friendship and support, we are moving forward!

Registry for:  Erica Parsons and Matthew Parsons 
Photos Product Price

#2430 Apple Peeler/Corer/Slicer   $32.00

#2435 Apple Peeler/Corer/Slicer Stand   $18.50

#2427 Apple Wedger   $12.50

#1114 Kernel Cutter   $8.00

#2418 Mango Wedger   $14.50

#2581 Manual Food Processor   $49.00

#2416 Pineapple Wedger   $18.00

#1302 Pizza Cutter   $10.00

#1088 Professional Shears   $22.50

#1258 Quikut Paring Knives   $5.00

#1071 Vegetable Peeler   $7.00

#1755 Chef's Silicone Basting Brush   $8.50

#1900 Clock/Timer   $16.00

#2711 BBQ Basting Brush   $18.00

#2272 Quick-Stir® Pitcher   $16.50

#1587 Stackable Cooling Rack   $15.00

#1625 Easy Clean® Kitchen Brush   $9.00

#2256 Easy Conversions Magnet   $8.00

#2175 Easy Read Measuring Cups   $23.00

#2177 Easy Read Mini Measuring Cup   $6.00

#2576 Garlic Press   $16.50

#2730 Ice Cream Dipper   $15.00

#2506 Kitchen Spritzer   $12.50

#2265 Measure, Mix & Pour™   $12.00

#2257 Measuring Cup Set   $15.00

#2308 Measuring Spoon Set   $8.00

#1702 Micro Scraper   $12.50

#1656 Mini Mix ‘N Scraper®   $9.50

#1785 Salad & Berry Spinner   $59.00

#2475 Stainless Whisk   $12.50

#2997 i-Slice®   $3.75

#1825 1-cup Prep Bowl Set   $20.00

#1742 2-cup Prep Bowl Set   $15.00

#2258 Adjustable Measuring Spoons   $8.00

#2595 Citrus Press   $18.50

#2230 Classic Batter Bowl   $15.00

#1650 Classic Scraper   $11.50

#2651 Twixit! Clip Combo Pack   $5.50

: Cookware Accessories
#2955 Chef's Tongs   $22.00

#2242 Digital Pocket Thermometer   $16.50

#2705 Meat Tenderizer   $28.00

#2583 Mix ‘N Chop   $10.50

#2779 Rice Cooker Plus   $26.50

#2797 Stainless Mesh Colanders   $35.50

: TPC Stainless Cookware
#2893 3-qt. Covered Saucepan   $150.00

: TPC Executive Cookware
#2863 8" Sauté Pan   $48.00

#2867 Double Burner Griddle   $155.00

#2866 12" Glass Lid   $40.00

#2865 12" Skillet   $150.00

: Cookware Tools
#2049 Bamboo Slotted Spoon Set   $10.00

#2044 Bamboo Specialty Cooking Set   $10.00

#2346 Ladle   $12.50

#2341 Pasta Fork   $12.50

#2344 Slotted Turner   $12.50

#1051 3 1/2" Paring   $29.00

#1079 5" Santoku   $50.00

#1069 Color Coated Bread Knife   $19.50

#1057 Forged Cutlery Honing Tool   $19.50

#9664 Chili Lime Rub   $4.50

#9880 Chipotle Rub   $4.50

#9723 Cinnamon Plus® Spice Blend   $6.00

#9734 Citrus & Basil Rub   $4.50

#9733 Rosemary Herb Seasoning Mix   $6.00

#9819 Sweet Caramel Sprinkle   $7.00

#9062 Sweet Cinnamon Sprinkle   $7.00

#9703 Thai Red Curry Rub   $4.50

#1001 Bar Board   $9.50

#1615 Handy Scraper   $6.50

#1023 Large Grooved Cutting Board   $30.00

#2033 Dots Large Round Bowl   $39.00

#1321 Deep Covered Baker   $85.00

#1445 Large Bar Pan   $34.00

#1418 Mini Loaf Pan   $34.00

#2610 Nylon Pan Scrapers   $2.75