About Me

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Blue Ridge Area of Virginia
Alicha McHugh is author of "Daughter of the Promise" first in her: Numbered Among the Stars series (available on Amazon.com). She is a homemaker to her husband of 15 years, homeschooler to their children. Writing, enjoying tea and creaming Raw Honey are three of her current pursuits. Grabbing time to read is always high on her list of priorities! If you'd like to contact her, she'd love to hear from you! Just email: alichamchugh@gmail.com

Friday, December 24, 2010

This Christmas...

There's something 'off' about this Christmas. There's a general calm about it, for me. Almost like it's moving in slow motion and I'm taking pictures or video clips of moments before they pass by. I do that sometimes. Like when Arowyn was born and her first few years, EVERYONE said how fast it all flies by, and it does ;). So along with a camera fused to my fingers(I took pictures in the GROCERY store of all places) I took hold of moments, I felt the very air around me and cemented the sights, touch, smells, emotions like a cast in my senses.

For example, I can revisit my first Mother's day and it's like I'm reliving a certain moment when I was rocking Arowyn in my arms (one of the only times she let me snuggle her till she was almost 2) singing "Hush my Dear". I feel the weight of her little body in my arms. Such a big baby for us! I see the slant of the late afternoon light filtering through to our little one bedroom apartment living room. I feel the alternating cool, warm air of spring moving in from outside as I open the screened porch, both airs pulling for dominance. But either way, I'm warm, Arowyn is my little heater. I hear cars and birds and the quiet of peaceful. I remember my world until then, all the wrongness and ugliness that had been a part of our lives for so long, it's distant now. So much so that it blurs and and my new reality is birthed.

But back then that moment grabbing, memory imprinting impulse was more inward. A result of the intent of my heart. This reminder I write of seems to be coming from outside me...it's the same feeling you get when reading through the comments on facebook and a message fades in that someone commented on something you commented on too. You regard while continuing on with what you were focused on originally. Just so, I've felt this gentle cautionary note fade into my thoughts to remember, that next Christmas is not a 'given'.

The fact is there are "lasts" for everyone and I don't mean to be morbid or strange and I really have no idea what, but the thought that has stayed with me seems almost like a promise that next year will not "look" like this one. Let me be clear...I don't feel impending doom. (I don't believe, as true followers of Christ, we can align ourselves with doomsday theorist, ie end of the world in 2012.) Only change. Drastic change. Today was the first time I understood the impression I've been under the last few months. Looking back, I can't help but wonder if this ambiguous feeling was what prompted me to meet my biological father. The impression that this was a final opportunity...this was it, if ever it was to be. I thought it had only to do with him...but the impression has not ceased since then, it's increased.

Whatever does that mean??? Perhaps nothing...Perhaps I'm entering into a phase in my Christian faith where the truest reality of all is becoming a closer reality to me. Though dying, we are eternal, this world is passing away, I am a new Creation in Christ. What have I done this Christmas of ETERNAL VALUE. And though there is no condemnation I'm under, and this has been a blessed season of merriment and cheer, there seems to be a turning in my heart towards the heaven, like a glance that has become a gaze.

Anyway, just musing aloud...on 'paper' ;)
Merry Christmas Everyone...for a Merry Christmas it has been!

Sunday, December 12, 2010

A Word, Santa.

Yesterday, Arowyn and I watched Veggie Tales: St. Nicholas, A Story of Giving while stringing popcorn for the tree (a lot more "ideal" in black/white, hearth/home movies than in reality). Between stepping on my string of fragile popped corn in trying to keep Selah from eating the debris on the floor and our cat Ember who we now know eats popcorn, it was quite the experiance. Once we (I) got the hang of it...it went much better. Anyway, the movie helped to pass the time and it was absolutely wonderful! They didn't even go into if Santa is really real or not...they simply side stepped it to bring to light the true story behind Santa Claus. I learned a lot from it! Anyway, it reminded me of this email (posted below) I sent out to friends and family 2 years ago, before I realized mini booklets of your thoughts, feelings and beliefs like this belong on a blog, not your poor friend's Inbox. lol....

I went to Barnes and Noble yesterday. I was looking for a book on "St. Nicholas". I found tens of books on how to " . . .Really Believe In Santa Claus" and "Everything You've Always Wanted to Know About Santa" but not one child's book even touched upon the man, Nicholas. Actually, sitting here writing this, I realize how counter productive it would be to have a book on Nicholas out there if you're trying to get a kid to believe in Santa . . .

This got me thinking. So, I thought I'd share with you my experience this Christmas season. To all you moms who have already dealt with the giant elf and been victorious - I know you will read and rejoice with me as another milestone rolls down the mountain, and for those who have this future battle to wage, here's an alternative view to the all or nothing mentality I fought for so long! Enjoy - I even put a pun in here somewhere. . .

I entered this season girding myself for the whole 'Santa Claus' issue that millions of Believers battle during this time of year. You all know the questions that swirl around in your head ~ Do I go along? Isn't it just a nice form of make-believe? What if I take the hard nose stand of "Santa doesn't exist, but Jesus does! What if my child tells another child that does believe in Santa! Should I feel sorry they told the truth? Should I feel superior because I didn't throw my hat on the sleigh and say "HO! HO! HO!? ON and ON it goes.

But now, I can finally say I've made my peace with that big bearded man in the fuzzy red and white PJ's! And though I will not plaster his picture on the wall or bake cookies and leave out milk for his fictional midnight visit, I no longer resent his presence in the mall or feel the need to give a doxology to little old ladies kindly asking Arowyn if she's "been a good girl" and "are you ready for Santa Claus?" (Ready for that pun?) God answered this concern in the "Nick of time!" as Arowyn just turned 3 and this is the first year she's starting to understand and remember things. Isn't God awesome!

But first, I'd like to show the process by which I came to my way of explaining Santa Claus to Arowyn. This past year I discovered in my research of Ancient Egypt a fascinating man named Sinhue. He is the author of "The Tale of Sinhue" which is, as far as significance goes, a literary equivalent to our Beowulf. Both stories are the earliest writings found of two different cultures which have survived til modern times. That is where the similarities end. The Tale, written two and a half millennium prior to Beowulf, is based upon actual events in Sinhue's life, and it's writing style, use of prose/poetry are said to rival our very own Shakespeare.

What does this have to do with Santa Claus? I was hoping you'd ask!

At the time I stumbled over Sinhue, I was in a pensive mood and I couldn't help but wonder, why in the world did God let this man's simple tale survive? Sure, it's well written, but as far a plots go, it's pretty streamlined and uncomplicated. So I looked deeper and though I won't share the specifics, I found Dates/Events/Regional and Tribal References along with Sinhue's adopted monotheistic beliefs in a polytheistic world all build a convincing argument (which I've used in my writing) that he was married to Dinah, Jacob's only daughter. You will not find this hypothesis anywhere. Mainly because, you'd have to be researching Jacob/Dinah and Sinhue at the same time but even if an Egyptian did come to this conclusion, they hate Israel so much, they'd dismiss the idea as ludicrous on the spot. (I tell Rick - If I EVER do finish this book we may get death threats from angry Egyptians!- As opposed to crickets chirping in the background, I'm okay with that kind of recognition. Tongue in cheek!)

Moving right along . . . All over Scripture, especially in the OT, God reminds us of our own mortality while declaring his intention to establish the righteous and their deeds upon the earth. . . for generations. Now, in truth, most of what I'm about to conjecture concerning Sinhue's beliefs are not definitive. That said, my gut feeling, based on his journey, testimony and the reigning historical integrity of his manuscript, I believe he trusted the God of Israel to accomplish what He said he would do. And God honored him for it, just as He said he would.

With this year's exciting discovery in mind, I couldn't help but notice/look for the similarities with Santa Claus, whose real name is of course, Nicholas. He too has endured through the centuries, nearly 2 millennium, though all we really know of him is: he lived in the region of what is now Turkey, was once very rich, that the fathomless gift of Christ moved him to give away his money in various forms of dowries and both material and edible goodies. Thus his selfless gift giving inspired the evolved, modern day Santa.

And though little by little the memory and 'inspiration' of a man called Nicholas is erased, the facts remain; Jesus lets him share a day the whole world has set aside to give gifts and to be joyful, even though millions don't understand why. He is a man who gave all he had not because he was good, but because God was so good to give him/us "Jesus Christ, the only name give under heaven, whereby we must be saved!"

Arowyn knows "Santa Claus" is a nickname; so, it is the name 'Nicholas' that she shouts with excitement when she sees a red and white suit, and though I would be naive to believe it will always be that way, the line which follows will remain the same "And he looooovvvvvveeeeddddd Jesus soooooo much!"

Rejoice friends! Whether a nation or the world or God alone knows them, our words and deeds as the children of God are eternal . . . and He is a debtor to no man!

Merry Christmas and a Joyful New Year!


Thursday, April 15, 2010

Living in the Kingdom of Heaven

About two weeks ago I went to meet my friend down the street for a walk with our girls, when I saw what I assumed were hired help by our side hedge with tools and such, looking oddly guilty and hurried. I figured they were going to do some trimming (it's the start of the growing season~ HOW MUCH trimming does it need! And it's on the side of their house, NO WINDOWS/ DOORS or anything to merit such actions!!)

But the extent of my thought was: oh good, now Rick doesn't have to do that side this weekend. I actually waved to them as a sign of goodwill and still they waved nervously back to me. When I (and my 'posse' as my friend Beth called our group of three moms and a six little girls) walked back from their house to mine, we came upon the now non-existant hedge they said they were 'prunning'...TO THE GROUND with a CHAINSAW! (Like Rick says, "Don't pee on me and tell me it's raining!")

"Where are our bushes!"

Gone was our lovely hedge in our front side yard. We could see everyone's yard down the street and everyone could see into our yard too. Gone was our privacy! I stood there as the girl said they were actually doing us a favor because it was a tangled mess in the bushes. The...guy....who actually lives there said, "What can I say...'I apologize'." Do I really need to put in here how not 'sorry' he sounded. He also said he'd been looking at it for 5 years...we haven't even been there two years yet and Rick is fastidious about our yard.

Now, last summer the man "trimmed" a different part of our hedge, again without discussion...it died and left a hole but since it was on the very side of his home with just brick to look at and away from the street, it didn't bother Rick as much as it bothered me. So, we didn't say anything and I decided if he was going to feel free to do that, I was going to put the trash can there so he can look at that...that only lasted a while as I haven't been able to move the trash can for the past 6 months. I think...THAT little bush we didn't challenge him on was Hitler's Poland.

BUT, GOD is so kind to me...had my saved friend not been with me...I know I would have gone off...I mean Jersey style of going off on someone. Then, when in the house, I started fuming and praying because I knew it was mounting and I was just hormonal enough to want a fight, but then my older brother called and we talked and I remembered what Jesus said about doing only those things which please His Father. I'm not nearly as ashamed as I ought to be that if there was a balance scale measuring my desire to please my Father and the importance of my bushes...it would have been pretty dead even.

Well since then Rick tracked down the owner of the home. (Yes the...guy...living there is a renter.) Rick has lost two weekends digging and planting and putting up a front fence. But something Rick did last Saturday made me so angry I couldn't even talk about it. After he was done with the fence, he mowed the...guy's...front yard for him. How weak, how disdainful, how low...why don't you just lay down in his front yard and let him jump on you! Thus were my thoughts which only the verse which had been playing over in my mind since moments after I came upon the bushes gone, "The wrath of man does not produce the righteousness of God" kept me from uttering. Then David's first wife came to mind...Michel. I knew I had the same attitude. Do you remember her punishment?

Then yesterday I was thinking about the Sermon on the Mount and the Kingdom of Heaven. I had understood the point behind the sermon for the first time at North Hills Community Church. It NOT a pattern for living, a list of rules to follow and then you get to 'inherit the earth' or are 'blessed' or whatever else. It's what NATURALLY happens to you by the working of the Holy Spirit inside you when you are a member of his kingdom, living under his authority. I've found it's rarely a question of not knowing what to do in His Kingdom, but doing what the Holy Spirit prompts you to do and then has promised to give you the strength to do.

But what if you allow yourself to forget where you're from? Jesus said, "I have come that you might have life, and have it more abundantly!" If I, an eternal member of his body, chose to live outside his kingdom, it's worse for me than moving from America to China. It's like willingly becoming comatose. Even though alive, I cease to 'live'. That is the reality of having become a Christ follower. It really does HAVE to be HIS way. My first reaction to realizing this was, "Well, I didn't sign up for this way of 'rolling over'!" Then I was reminded of the alternative, of what I was REALLY saying I wanted...the dead way, the way of wrath, the way of destruction, my way.

Maybe that's what I'm really afraid of...by allowing God's way to reign...it will become my way too. And then, anyone can do, or say anything. And I won't be able to 'set them straight' 'put them in their place' or even talk about them with Rick and vent my ugliness with him. I guess it boils down to: What do I really believe? Do I believe His way is best? I say I do...But more times than not, my attitude says about my Lord, My Creator, My Savior...you don't have a clue. How wrong...

If Jesus is our example...is that what I think he did? Rolled over? Well, I started wrestling it out with God~ My "But"s were plenty and after a pause in my rant he silenced them with one reminder. When Jesus went to wash Peter's feet, Peter pulled back, acting on the belief that he's understanding was better. Jesus answered, "Unless I wash you, you have no part with me." It's like the Lord was telling me, "My way...it must be my way."

My anger is vanquished and instead of feeling ashamed at Rick for 'rolling over' I am proud of him and not a little in awe, for acting against his nature and choosing ON PURPOSE to live in the Kingdom of Heaven.

I think I'll camp out on Matt. 5-7 for a while...along with Hebrews 11-13

Monday, April 12, 2010

Do you ever feel like Winnie the Pooh?

"Oh Bother!"
Well, I finally did what my husband has been saying to do and that is reload Word onto my computer. I swore up and down to him that Word wasn't going to let me reload because I've done that 3 times and I thought there was a three time limit...Plus, I didn't want the hassel of reloading everything I've worked on so far from email back into Word. He was right, of course, and I didn't have to reload everything. Apparently the Word disk fixed the access issue and didn't have to actually "reload". (I really have no idea what I'm talking about.) Thus editing has commenced. I do have a bit more pruning to do than I thought in the second part...but not terribly much. It's distractingly readable!

Anyway, I want my blog back, so if you'd still like to read the rest, I can email you what you missed. Otherwise, I'd really like to blog about the homebirth and somethings I've been mulling over (Jersey summers, my Aunt Catherine and songs like "Fields of Gold"). For closure, I'll blog when I finally send Dawn the info she requested.

Saturday, January 30, 2010

A word on Dinah’s defilement...

A word on Dinah’s defilement: For obvious reasons, from the beginning of my story I needed to establish for myself whether Dinah was raped or Dinah was a willing partner in her own “non-virginal” status. What I found…there are as many scholars who believe she was raped as those who believe the sexual relationship between Dinah and Shechem was consensual. The phrase “took her by force” is not as definitive in Hebrew as it is in translation. So I looked to the biblical account for clues, words the Holy Spirit used to describe both Dinah and Shechem.

There is, I believe, a definite attitude of the heart described in Genesis 34:1: “Now Dinah the daughter of Leah, whom she had borne to Jacob, went out to visit the daughters of the land.” Some might say, well it’s just a phrase saying where she was going or that she was going out with friends. I have a hard time dismissing the relevance of a phrase the Holy Spirit went out of his way to put down. For one, Shechem’s name clearly shows Dinah’s general location. More significantly, (And I don't know if this is an original thought or something I gleaned from a resource) it reminded me of Lot’s perusal of the land and the telling phrase “pitched his tent toward Sodom”. At the very least it shows a bent in the mind/heart towards that which is perhaps unhelpful. I AM NOT saying the bible is saying stay away from unbelievers or any such nonsense. I am talking of heart attitude and motivation (which, of course we don’t know for certain because we don’t read minds) Think of it from my side…I’m looking for clues, any clues that will lead me to discover one way or the other if the relationship between the two was mutual or not! This is a very small clue, but one I’m comfortable sticking to.

Then you look at the pains the Holy Spirit takes to describe Shechem’s attitude towards Dinah and her family, it definitely leads one to consider the possibility that there was true love that exists, at the very least, on Shechem’s part, and given how I see her home situation, I would be amazed to find Dinah did not, at least in part, return similar affection. The Holy Spirit says Shechem "delighted" in Dinah, Shechem "loved" Dinah. He was willing to be circumcised so that he might wed her (regardless of the other advantages of a union between them).

Also, from a psychological perspective and an actual statistic, something I think is found in the scriptural account of the definite rape of King David’s daughter, Tamar, by his son, Amnon, a rape is 9 out of 10 times motivated by the desire to feel power over an individual, to be in control. It’s not about sexual desire, it’s the lust for control fed by the physical. And what was the Amnon’s response after raping his sister: 2 Samuel 13:15 Then Amnon hated her exceedingly; so that the hatred wherewith he hated her was greater than the love wherewith he had loved her. And Amnon said unto her, Arise, be gone.” He actually had her put her out of his house after the act.

My last point is that Shechem is deemed, by the Holy Spirit, honorable. Some text I read believed the phrase ‘most honorable of his house’ can be interpreted, ‘most honorable of the land’. That would include the sons of Jacob. The Holy Spirit's dub of the word 'honorable' upon Shechem seems to me a statement of the person and his actions horizontally towards men not a vertical position in relationship to God, contrasted in God's declaring Lot, who had intercourse with two of his daughters, righteous. I am thinking as a human, but consider this, we understand the phrase, "Honor among thieves" But "Honorable Rapist" It's an oxymoron.

In closing, these are not biblical absolutes I’m willing to fight to the death over. These are speculative assertions that, in my opinion, are as equally supported as they are dismissed. But, I will say, this is what captures my wonder as I go to the bible and enjoy the freedom to imagine, while staying within the context and boundaries defined by the Word of God! What an amazing God, who would tickle our thoughts as He transforms our soul through the washing of his word!

Saturday, January 9, 2010

"God Reigns. Let the Earth Rejoice!"

The beauty and fascination of such a phrase as "God Reigns. Let the Earth Rejoice!" is multifaceted and though I know I will not exhaust it's meaning or intent I wanted to jot down a couple of things.

First, it's a phrase that puts things in proper perspective. In relating to the issues and sorrows which God has promised will be our lot in life it's that ray of sunlight through the clouds. Not just of illumination but the reminder that the sun still reigns in our heavens despite the storm clouds rumbling near the surface. God doesn't stop being God because we are having a difficult time of it.

Secondly, the phrase is a reminder to US not, as some would take it, an assertion the the Lord's authority (not that that would be wrong as he alone is deserving). I realized this this morning as I was thinking about the incredible COMFORT I find in these words. If all we had were these words, as true and worthy as they are...I would despair. But God, in his goodness, has given me a little understanding over the years of his infinite care and love concerning...ME. ME! And who am I? A drama teacher at BJU once compared me to Jane Eyre. Little did he know I had played her for a competition piece in high school. The words "Poor, obscure, plain and little." came to me at once...but I didn't use them. I pretended I didn't know anything about it and gave him a half smile.

The truth, that I was so afraid of then that I know and even embrace now, is..the words she used to describe herself, describe me perfectly. Likely it's a two-fold freedom, starting with: HE LOVES ME. He placed worth upon me when made me his own, sinful, sorry and pathetic are more accurate to describe myself. He died in such a horrible way, setting his face like flint to to the cross, that we would KNOW how great his love for us is! And with the power to take his life back up he showed us how worthy he is of our following him where ever he may lead. Secondly...To such a God I have plenty of company being "Poor, obscure, plain and little." And yet he set his attentions on us and redeemed us. What a hero. What a God!

When I write this phrase at the end of a note "God Reigns. Let the Earth Rejoice!" I am writing those words rising from a mountain of knowledge of the character and care of/from the one I'm praising. The summit is simply the culmination of that minimal understand, which by his grace grows with every passing trial. And I do mean passing.

"As Long as You are Glorified" By Soverign Grace Ministries/ Come Weary Saints

Shall I take from Your hand Your blessings
Yet not welcome any pain
Shall I thank You for days of sunshine
Yet grumble in days of rain
Shall I love You in times of plenty
Then leave You in days of drought
Shall I trust when I reap a harvest
But when winter winds blow, then doubt

Oh let Your will be done in me
In Your love I will abide
Oh I long for nothing else as long
As You are glorified

Are You good only when I prosper
And true only when I’m filled
Are You King only when I’m carefree
And God only when I’m well
You are good when I’m poor and needy
You are true when I’m parched and dry
You still reign in the deepest valley
You’re still God in the darkest night

Bridge So quiet my restless heart, quiet my restless heart
Quiet my restless heart in You

This is such a powerful song. It speaks to my heart about heart submission, true reality (of who God is and the saints of Hebrews 11/12 and the enduring hope of Ps 107.