I am oober frustrated with the little rural community I live in. There has been a lot of crazy stuff that has gone on this year in this little town I call "home", and it has opened my eyes to what a rotten little place this is, and what retched little people live here.
If you read my last blog post, you may have sensed my disgruntlement.
Don't get me wrong: there are a couple of people.... okay, a few people.... who are decent. They are good, hard-working, honest folk who feel just as used and frustrated as I do. Besides those few good apples, though, this community it rotten and retched to the core, filled with conceited, egocentric backstabbers. Filled with vampires.
This town needs help with so many things, but anyone who comes in and tries to help, to change things, or to better them, is burned at the stake.
The vampires here don't want anything to change. If something were to change, they might be exposed for the abusive, monstrous frauds they are, and that just won't do.
The only "change" allowed here is whatever will make the vampires look good - a new building, a new sign, new equipment, etc. - whatever stands out and draws attention away from their misdeeds is welcome. They are willing to make small, insignificant changes to keep "the peasants" quiet and content. After all, they can't have their food and footstools - aka, family, friends, neighbors, town citizens - move away from here. If people moved away, the vampires wouldn't have anyone to do all the work, to blame for their mistakes, to wipe the mud off their boots, and no one to stand on top of to look magnificent.
From a Christian perspective, this town needs exactly what it has repeatedly rejected: revival.
Though they wear the Christian symbol on their hats, shirts, jeans, belts, and shoes, the vampires spit in the eye of any true believers, because true believers make this a better place. If the believers don't get the point, then the vampires burn them at the stake.
Revival is a change they don't want. It would reveal their hidden sins to the world and force the people to "clean house". It would make things better... just not for the vampires.
The same rejection has been dished out to youth groups (christian and secular), domestic crisis centers, counselors, personal trainers, or anyone who might encourage "the peasants" to make themselves better.
Better is not okay for vampires.
Thriving here is not an option. Survival is all you are allowed.
I personally have experienced the spittle in the eye. I have done a number of things to try and improve life here, to bring hope and find some way for folk to thrive.
Therapy dog/school reading projects? - Yep. That was a nope.
Equestrian school that teaches kids good life skills and character development? - Yeah... nope.
Book club? - Forget that.
Organic green house? - "Nobody has got money for that kind of stuff."
A self-sufficient, off the grid farm? - "You're trying to ruin the economy!"
The list could go on...
All of it has been met with toothy smiles beneath masks, only to be cut down behind my back.
For a long time, I thought it was my fault. But then, I realized one day that Jesus, along with many great historical figures (Joan of Arc, Galileo, Martin Luther King Jr., etc.), were all met with vampires who tried to stop the change they brought to the world. They experienced many "failures". More often than not, things did not work out for them. And guess what? It wasn't their fault. It was the vampires who were rejecting the message they had to share that got angry and tried to destroy them.
I was reading Matthew 10 the other day and verses 14 & 23 stuck out to me:
So, when people reject the message and will not receive you, what do you do? You get the heck outta dodge and move on to the next town. Because, as Jesus pointed out in verse 15:
Seem harsh? Not any more harsh than the vampires when they step on the people surrounding them, devouring all love and kindness, leaving folk dried up like bitter corn husks in summer.
Honestly, what Jesus said was not cruel. It was just good ole self-helping common sense: wipe the dust from your feet and leave those retched people to burn in their own fire.
Where is Hell? What is its purpose? Do bad people go directly to Hell when they die?
The Bible explains all of this, and to the surprise of many, the answer is nothing like the mental picture that comes to mind when one thinks of Hell.
I am going to go on a really quick walk through the Bible, which means that I am going to go through the Bible chronologically and point out several of the most prominent verses about Hell. I made a YouTube video and have it posted below, if you would like to watch/listen to it. But I also have the verses listed below, just in case you would rather read them for yourself without my comments.
Here are the verses:
Job 4:8-9, Job 21:30 & 32, Psalm 37:10 & 20, Ezekiel 18:20a, Ezekiel 28:18-19, Malachi 4:1-3, Matthew 3:12, Matt 10:28, Matt 13:40-42, 2 Peter 2:4, 2 Peter 2:6, 2 Peter 2:9, Rev 20:9b
I also strongly encourage you to read this free, short 36 page PDF about hell called "Hell-Fire: A Twisted Truth Untangled.". It is very well laid out, based completely off the Bible, has common sense, and explains everything in much better detail, yet it is short enough that I could read through it in 15 minutes (yes, I pre-read it to make sure everything was in-line with the Bible).
And it was at Jerusalem the feast of the dedication, and it was winter. And Jesus walked in the temple in Solomon's porch. - John 10:22-23
Hanukkah, also known as Feast of Dedication or Feast of Lights, is a winter feast that we are never told directly by God to celebrate. Yet, in protestant Bibles, we can find two places where it is celebrated.
Jesus apparently seems to be participating in John 10. We also see this feast being celebrated in 2 Chronicles 7 when Solomon dedicates the newly built temple to God.
But wait a minute!
According to tradition, Hanukkah wasn't created until after the Maccabean Revolt, some 400 years after Solomon's rein.
What was the Maccabean Revolt?
Around 2nd century B.C., the Greeks came into Israel and desecrated the Temple by setting up an altar to Zeus and sacrificing pigs on it. The Jews were so outraged by this that a terrible war broke out, lots of people died, the streets ran red with blood, and the Greeks got kicked outta Dodge... er.... Jerusalem.
As soon as the Greeks were out of the picture, the Jews cleansed the Temple and RE-dedicated it to the LORD. They simply re-did what Solomon had already done.
Some time after that, the "Feast of Dedication" became a traditional celebration and is associated with the Maccabean Revolt to this day (I guess Solomon had enough cool stuff credited to him already - he didn't need a memorial day).
There really aren't any rules when celebrating Hanukkah, though there are a few traditions. The only old tradition my family and I observe on Hanukkah is the lighting of the Menorah. You can read about that, and other things we do on Hanukkah, at my mom's blog post here: Feasts of the LORD - Dedication 2015.
Then the Lord spoke to Moses, saying, “Speak to the children of Israel, saying: ‘The fifteenth day of this seventh month shall be the Feast of Tabernacles for seven days to the Lord... ‘Also on the fifteenth day of the seventh month, when you have gathered in the fruit of the land, you shall keep the feast of the Lord for seven days; on the first day there shall be a sabbath-rest, and on the eighth day a sabbath-rest. And you shall take for yourselves on the first day the fruit of beautiful trees, branches of palm trees, the boughs of leafy trees, and willows of the brook; and you shall rejoice before the Lord your God for seven days. You shall keep it as a feast to the Lord for seven days in the year. It shall be a statute forever in your generations. You shall celebrate it in the seventh month. You shall dwell in booths for seven days. All who are native Israelites shall dwell in booths, that your generations may know that I made the children of Israel dwell in booths when I brought them out of the land of Egypt: I am the Lord your God." - Leviticus 23:33-34 & 39-43
My favorite holiday in America is Thanksgiving. People reflect on good things, they eat, they're happy, they eat, they actually seem grateful for once, they eat, the family gets together and remembers good times, they eat.... and there is food. Loads and loads of wonderful food.
Thanksgiving is basically the American version of Feast of Tabernacles. So you might be able to guess which Feast of the LORD is my favorite now.
Maybe William Bradford and the pilgrims got the idea of Thanksgiving from Feast of Tabernacles?
Oh my gosh.
You might have been celebrating a Jewish based feast since childhood and never knew it!
(BTW, in case you missed them, you can read about Feast of Trumpets here, and Day of Atonement here.)
Feast of Tabernacles is honestly one of the funnest feasts to celebrate! You basically camp out in a home-made tent for a week, harvest some Fall produce, and eat, and rejoice, and eat again.
Now, my family has always adored the idea of building a sukkah, or "booth"... aka HOME MADE TENT... to celebrate Tabernacles. But... well.... the state of Oklahoma takes our efforts to build a sukkah as a personal challenge and does its double best to find every weakness in our cute little "booth". Seriously. If it can't blow our home made tent into Kansas or Texas, then it rains bucket loads onto it (which, we never complain about the rain, but, seriously Oklahoma?)
Thank goodness God isn't legalistic about all this stuff. Honestly, I sometimes wonder if He doesn't get tickled by our tiny efforts against the "forces of nature"...
A "tabernacle" is traditionally made out of stuff that grows out of the ground... so there is a broad spectrum of materials to choose from. It is meant to be a quick-throw-together kind of project, so you don't put a lot of effort into it, but you make sure it is sturdy enough to last 8 days and keep you out of the weather, basically.
I've seen some folk build very basic booths out of corn-stalks and tree branches. Others get really fancy and do a nice bamboo roof and use clothe and tapestries for the walls, and even put rugs on the floor. Some take the smart route and just use trellis and, like, staple it all together around their picnic table (thumbs up).
As a fun project, I asked the kids to help me make a video of our doggies building themselves booths and staying in them to "celebrate" Feast of Tabernacles.
Well.... the dogs didn't actually build their booths. They wouldn't cooperate. So the kids and I built them, then the dogs reaped the benefits of our hard work by sitting in them for a few seconds while I videoed it and made them look cute and awesome.
The kids thought it would be fun if we took the "Three Little Pigs" approach with the video, so that's what we did (even though bricks aren't technically the proper material to build a sukkah with).
This was a lot of fun to make, so I hope you enjoy the video! (For those people who get email subscriptions that, for some dumb reason, don't show the YouTube videos - Click To Watch On YouTube):
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What is Trades of Hope?
Trades of Hope was founded in 2010 by four incredible women, a mother/daughter duo, who believe that all women should be empowered and have a chance to create a better life for themselves and their families, regardless of their circumstances.
By creating jobs and establishing income-generating businesses, the artisans that Trades of Hope support are able to work, break the cycle of poverty, feed and take care of their families, and send their children to school.
This is not a charity. It's an opportunity to help someone earn a living, dignity, and respect in their community.
Trades of Hope works with the artisans themselves and organizations that are helping women in difficult circumstances. Some women have been rescued from sex slavery. Others are raising handicapped children alone. Some are in war torn countries and others have AIDS. These women have never had the chances we've had, but they love their families and hope and dream of a better life for them.
Trades of Hope helps them by marketing their products through the home party model, so they can put food on their table, a roof over their head, get medical care and an education for their children. Through Compassionate Entrepreneurs, like me, we are telling their stories to the world!
What is a Compassionate Entrepreneur?
Compassionate Entrepreneurs are the consultants for Trades of Hope. We sell the artisans’ products through home parties in the United States. We are the women who are the voice for the women who have no voice, empowering them to rise out of poverty.
I became a compassionate entrepreneur to change the world. It is a career that feeds my soul. I am helping women around the world in desperate situations by selling their "Fair Trade" products. I know that, with every TOH item I buy or sell, I am enabling someone to make their own life better. Through my sales, women are helped out of the sex trade, slums, sweat shops, and extreme poverty. They are able to send their children to school, put a roof over their heads, and put food on their tables. They are no longer enslaved by poverty.
By becoming a compassionate entrepreneur, I can put food on my table while helping a sister around the world put food on her table at the very same time. It's a great feeling.
What is "Fair Trade"?
Fair Trade is a tangible contribution to the fight against poverty. It delivers sustainable livelihoods by developing opportunities for small and disadvantaged producers. "Fair Trade" means that the artisans are paid first, and they are paid their full asking price. Artisans are guaranteed a living wage through the Fair Trade principles, and they make an average of six times more selling their products through TOH than they would in their own country. They are provided with a healthy and safe working environment, equal employment opportunities, and long-term relationships between producer and buyer.
It's the way things ought to be.
Who are the Artisans?
Trades of Hope focuses primarily on helping women, because statistics show that when you help one woman out of poverty, she brings four others with her!
TOH partners with more than 20 artisan groups from 10 countries who...
… have been rescued from sex trafficking.
… are survivors of acid attacks.
… have handicaps and could not work without Trades of Hope.
… have scars from leprosy (a curable disease) so they are not allowed to go back home or work anywhere.
… live in areas of extreme poverty where there simply are no jobs.
… would otherwise work in sweatshops making little or no money.
Trades of Hope has artisans in Bangladesh, Cambodia, Costa Rica, Guatamala, Haiti, India, Jordan, Nepal, Peru, the Philippines, Thailand, Uganda, and the Unites States!
These women (and some men!) from these different places are creative, talented, hard working, and grateful. They do not want our charity. They want an opportunity - an opportunity to have a job, to work everyday, and to provide for their families.
The artisan groups also teach valuable life skills and business skills; the artisans learn about health, sanitation, and raising healthy children. Some groups provide clean water to their area. Other groups have started schools for their artisans’ children and others in the community. Some groups offer housing assistance or help with home projects. Our artisans receive support in many ways and experience living in true community. But, most importantly, they are working and making a sustainable income to provide for their families.
One of my favorite artisans that Trades of Hope has partnered with (aside from those here in the USA) is from Cambodia.
Perhaps you've heard of Katie Davis, the author of the fantastic book "Kisses From Katie"? Well, through Trades of Hope, her artisan group in Uganada has been able to sell more of their necklaces and provide, not just for their families, but for their community.
Here is a short little video of Katie thanking Trades of Hope for their partnership:
What do you sell?
Products with a purpose!
Trades of Hope primarily sells jewelry - necklaces, earrings, & bracelets - but they also offer a gorgeous selection of scarves, some cool handbags and fashionable clutches, unique stationary, and beautiful home decor items.
There is a constant rotation of products - new items come in, and old items go out. It keeps things fresh and exciting!
How can I participate in the awesomeness?
There are 3 ways you can be a part of Trades of Hope:
Shop. Host. Join.
SHOP - The easiest and most immediate thing you can do is SHOP. Just use the link provided! Trades of Hope products are not only lovely, unique and affordable, but the soul and spirit behind them is what makes them truly beautiful.
I’m sure you can find a gift to buy, for a friend, loved one or yourself.
Want a super good deal? Check out the Last Call section for sale items.
HOST - Hosting a party is a wonderful way to take it to the next level and impact a greater number of lives. Hosting can be in the form of traditional home parties, a catalog party at work, an online event, a happy hour/coffee shop gathering, or even a playdate!
Everyone is always looking for unique, affordable gifts—why not help them out and host a party?
JOIN - Joining means becoming a Compassionate Entrepreneur, like me.
I won't lie: it's a lot of work. But it is very rewarding spiritually and emotionally, and I love that it is a flexible job that I can do mostly from my own couch.
You can find a CE sponsor in your own state to sign up under, or you can sign up under me and I can help you start your own fashion business (all from the comfort of my own couch, mind you).
What are you waiting for?
Whether you are interested in shopping deals, hosting a party, or joining, you can contact me on Facebook, Twitter, or email (all which can be found at the very top of the page or in the FOLLOW ME tab)! I'm ready to help you in any way possible (from the comfort of my OWN couch, mind you! Unless you have a spaceship where I could camp out... that would be cool).
If nothing else, I hope I have at least given you something to think about.
And the Lord spoke to Moses, saying: “Also the tenth day of this seventh month shall be the Day of Atonement. It shall be a holy convocation for you; you shall afflict your souls, and offer an offering made by fire to the Lord. And you shall do no work on that same day, for it is the Day of Atonement, to make atonement for you before the Lord your God. For any person who is not afflicted in soul on that same day shall be cut off from his people. And any person who does any work on that same day, that person I will destroy from among his people. You shall do no manner of work; it shall be a statute forever throughout your generations in all your dwellings. It shall be to you a sabbath of solemn rest, and you shall afflict your souls; on the ninth day of the month at evening, from evening to evening, you shall celebrate your sabbath.” – Leviticus 23:26-32
Day of Atonement is coming up on Sep. 23th. You can read about the day in detail in in the Bible in Leviticus chapter 16.
Mr. Dictionary defines the word “Atonement” as:
"Afflict Your Souls"
Author of the fantasy series, Tales of the Wovlen, Kathryn spends a great deal of time in the world of her imagination, having tea with fire breathing dragons, writing books on flying space ships, and practicing her mad scientist laugh with gusto. However, on occasion,she returns to this world just to play with her dog and blog about her fun.
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