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Thursday, April 26, 2012

Family News

Since this blog is entirely eclectic (like a box of chocolates - you never know what you're gonna get)... I will start a new section of specific family updates.  This may bore some of you, but oh well.  You don't have to read it :)

This week we are venturing to move into a rental home while we attempt to sell our current home.  This means, if it sells we will move twice.  A big hassle, for sure, but we don't want to get stuck with two mortgages.  If our house doesn't sell, then, well, we will move on to plan B.  We don't exactly have a plan B, but we walk by faith and trust the Lord to guide and provide what we actually need (not 'want', though we wouldn't mind if He provided our wants too!), in His time.  In the meantime, we plod ahead and develop patience.  I often pray these thoughts from Psalm 16:

LORD, you have assigned me my portion and my cup; 
   you have made my lot secure. 
 The boundary lines have fallen for me in pleasant places; 
   surely I have a delightful inheritance.

In fact, I have been praying about moving for well over 2 years.  I never felt Sam would really understand or appreciate my desire to alleviate some of the day-to-day stresses of living in close quarters.  I wrestled with whether I should just be content and not pursue a move because perhaps God wanted to refine our character by allowing grit to get under our psychological skin on a daily basis.  As I evaluated and thought it through I realized that this could be God's plan for us - to grow us through daily struggles, but that He surely allows us to pursue creative solutions to our problems and invites us to trust Him on that journey.

I approached Sam about it a few times and my misgivings were confirmed.  He did not see the need.  He reminded me that people in other countries live in far smaller quarters.  I took that to heart and continued to pray. I came to believe that we would never move.  At the same time I continued to pray that God would cause my 'boundary lines' to 'fall for me in pleasant places.'  Either way, I was determined to be content no matter what our living conditions, and seek to grow in joy and patience with whatever the Lord gave to me out of His goodness and love.

Wrestling with contentment and joy and still pursuing a better living situation was actually a pleasure for me.  It increased my trust in and love for God, knowing and believing He is good to me, even if I ask for mere temporal pleasures.  I grew in seeing Him as my tender-hearted Father Who loves to listen to my want prayers as much as my need prayers.

Sometime around November Sam really began to understand the impact of our living space on family stress.  He too understood that it could be that God wants to refine our character by staying put.  But as an engineer (always seeking practical solutions!) he also understood that a move might be in order.  I was blown away to see the answer to my prayers in his change of heart!  I really thanked and praised God for such an open, willing-hearted, patient husband who listened and took my thoughts/feelings to heart.  When I think of the word 'husband' - it really means to care for, shepherd and nurture (like in animal husbandry!) - I realize Sam really rises to the challenge - with joy, and faithful courage.

So, on Saturday we will take the first step of moving out of here.  Even finding a rental was such a long process.  No-one wanted to rent to us short term.  We searched and came up empty.  Somehow we thought to ask our former pastor if his house had sold or if it was vacant for renters.  It was such a provision that the renters had moved out just a month ago!  It was available!  We had been aiming to move by April 1st.  And we had done due diligence and searched all over and came up dry.  When Sam talked to our former pastor and discovered it was available, he commented, 'We should have prayed about this earlier!'  Good lesson in seeking provision from the Father's hand rather than merely our own efforts.

We are trusting the Lord to lead in the upcoming months for a home-buyer and perhaps another house for us!  Either way, we proceed with our eyes on Him, trusting for His provision and with hearts fully content - because it isn't, afterall, our living situation that brings joy, but His very presence - and that we always have.

You have made known to me the path of life; 
   you will fill me with joy in your presence, 
   with eternal pleasures at your right hand.

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Moving West: A Pioneer Story by Caleb Logan

Far away on planet Destructo there was an aggressive, justifying villain who treacherously plotted evil.  Now, on one hazy afternoon he got his document and cautiously put it in a bluff so no-one could know who he was.  Once he had finished he had one mishap: tripping and falling off the bluff.  This overwhelmed him which caused him to want to emigrate to the luxurious 'West' (a place of ease and comfort).  There was someone called 'Alex' - an associate of Josh, a man who lived in the West.  When the villain came he saw glamour everywhere - the streets were made of pure gold!  He was deceived because this was fools' gold!  When Alex found out about the villain he was not flexible.  Instead, he was cautious and scanned the span of the West to see his document. (This little gadget could see who you are, 'cuase it was the law - you must wear your document).  He lingered behind a house and found and arrested the villain for not wearing his document.  Josh gave him a new gadget and a big "Congratulations old pal!"

Thursday, April 5, 2012

When a Mom is sent to the Doghouse

There are times in life when we all feel like we're in the proverbial doghouse. I mean, as kids we falter and fail and the riot act is read to us and we're only wishing for a tail that could display our obvious shame and remorse for all the bad we are or have done. Then as we grow and become adults there seem to be many more of these doghouse moments. Unless of course you are of the high-performing, hardly-faced-a-failure-in-your-life kind of person. If that's you, just skip this entry because it won't apply.

There are those times when we fail to show up on time to something and people scorn us - if you're like me, there are repeated times when I fail to show up at all - having totally forgotten that I was supposed to be somewhere. Which is why being a stay-at-home Mom suits me just fine. I can never be late to my job. I can never fail to be on-site or available - unless I try really hard and get sucked into computer-land. Maybe it is easy after all to be late to my own obligations within my home. Either way, at least I have constant reminders if I am late or temporarily unavailable. The wails and pleas of children don't tend to fall on deaf ears - yet. I hope my ears and heart will always be open to them.

But lately I have come across an unnatural feeling for me. I can almost label it guilt. But I can't go that far because I tend not to live with much guilt. Maybe that's why it's so foreign to my experience. It is the feeling that I am, on occasion, sequestered to the emotional doghouse. Now, I'm not saying others send me there - though they may shoo me on my way by their attitudes and comments of my ongoing shortcomings. It is that I somehow get there and suddenly feel bewildered and downtrodden and in puzzlement wonder how I sank so low. And if any of you have ever been in the doghouse - whether in marriage, parenting, on the job or in other relationships, you know that the feeling is so bad that you want to do anything to get out of there.

I recently had another of these doghouse days - more like a few days - where I found myself in an emotional slump. I began to look at all the things I do wrong. All the ways I am a total failure. All the ways I could be better. All the ways anyone could honestly accuse me if they knew me well. I took inventory of my life and was not encouraged by what I saw. Okay, others helped me take inventory and they didn't help either. (These others will remain nameless to protect the privacy and reputation they so dearly hold :) )

It is not so much their fault for my wasted joy and time in the doghouse. It is mine for being unprepared and out of touch with the truth of God's Word which teaches me that my life really isn't about my performance, but simply about seeking God and growing in Him so that He receives glory from my efforts, lack of efforts, successes, failures, accomplishments or lack thereof.

When a Mom is sent to the doghouse - or discovers herself there and doesn't know why, it is time to consider the basics once again. Here are a few basics:

1. God loved me enough to sacrifice Himself, by sending Jesus to die to pay the penalty for my sins on the cross.

2. God loved me enough to rescue me from the pit of ugly sin and gave His very own Son to remedy the muck of sin in my life.

3. God loves me in spite of my performance.

4. God wants the best for me. He wants me to 'succeed' in life. But He wants me to know what He defines as success. Success in His mind may include suffering well, conquering difficult tasks, sharing His love with others, seeking to please Him even if it displeases others... - and that's just a few.

5. God wants to be glorified in me.

6. The Bible is life-giving truth which heals sin-sick souls by delivering spiritual nourishment to those who hunger and thirst for God.

7. Satan is known as 'The Accuser.' Anyone who wants to identify with him, go ahead and accuse. Otherwise, tread carefully.

8. Jesus stands before the Father interceding for me.

9. Perfect love casts out fear.

10. I am never alone.

Those are just a few basics to begin with. I know 1 and 2 are almost identical. I thought of labelling all 10 the same way - because the very basic truth is the Gospel and that is what will usher me out of the doghouse.

And it did, and it has. And I rejoice in the hope and secure redemption I hold - knowing that I can never fail so dismally that I am severed from His love for me.

Keep me, Lord, I pray, from wallowing in miserable doghouses when I could be enjoying sweet fellowship and rejoicing in Your presence. Let me be rooted and established in Your love, and not moved from the hope You daily hold out to me in the Gospel. Let me live each day for Your glory and commit to perform only for You. May You be pleased in me - today and always. Amen.