Owl's Head Lighthouse, Owl's Head, ME

Friday, August 20, 2010

When God Rewrites Our Schedule

Life changes so fast, but that reality is what keeps me aware of making each moment count. Thank-you, Lord for change, even when the adjustment is hard. We make our plans and then the Lord rearranges them to be what we need to make us more like Him.

I had planned my summer, even blogged about it, but it has turned into something that is totally different. It started with my husband being injured and needing surgery. Wasn't much we could do about that! Days spent in doctor's offices became the family outings. We were blessed to have friends willing to take care of our children during the surgery so that I could be with him.

In spite of weeks of needed recovery we were able to head to Maine for our scheduled family vacation. The chance to spend precious time with so many family and friends while there was another of God's gifts to us. The fact that one of those friends was lost to us while we were there was a terrible tragedy, but also a special gift as we were able to spend time mourning together with those that also mourned.

As time passed, my husband realized that he was going to be unable to completely return to his work which required constant travel, heavy lifting and alot of talking. He was up to all but the lifting. With frustration we slowly came to the realization that the only way he would be able to return to work was for us to leave our children and for me to travel with him as his "heavy lifter". That was a test that we did not feel up to taking. Our oldest and youngest would be celebrating birthdays, and for the first time we would not be there to share it.

The emotions became overwhelming as I contemplated the loss of a long-time friend, the loss of our family unit for a time, the loss of my husband's independence and the loss of my well-laid plans.

But as I sorted through the baggage in my mind, I was reminded of what the Lord had been teaching me over the last several weeks. The fact that each day He plans a perfect "job" for me to do. Sometimes it might be to be a blessing to someone else, but more often it is to make me into a woman that He can use and bless. My job is to submit---not an easy task. But when I do, I can feel His presence and blessing. He again gives the grace to accept each "job"---no, I don't always do that with the grace that I should, but Lord willing, each day I will reflect His grace a little more.

He does not ask too much from me, but I demand much from Him. I am so thankful that He delights in showering us with good things. Just as I want my children to experience the fullest out of life, my heavenly Father desires that for me. I can rebel or I can submit. Each day, each hour and moment brings chances for me to practice. Sometimes there are triumphs, and many times there are repeated failures. He continues to love and shape me.

I am so thankful for this time with my husband. A time to reconnect and work together as a team. Our children are making memories with family that we love. The Lord cares for them---for they are His children too. Yes, my plans changed, but how wonderful to know that the Lord cared enough to look at my puny little schedule and use His all-knowing finger to write in just the right changes to make my life more complete in Him.

"Teach me to do thy will; for thou art my God: thy spirit is good; lead me into the land of uprightness." Psalm 143:10

"Casting down imaginations, and every high thing that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ;" II Cor. 10:5

"The Spirit itself beareth witness with our spirit, that we are the children of God: And if children, then heirs; heirs of God, and joint-heirs with Christ; if so be that we suffer with him, that we may be also glorified together. For I reckon that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us." Rom. 8:16-18

Sunday, August 15, 2010

The Ministry of the Stranger

We knew that the convention would be one of the worst and were disheartened to realize that no one could be available to help him.

To represent a Christian curriculum company along the home-school convention circuit means to spend April to August on the road, often 60+ hours per week. Contact with hundreds, perhaps thousands of people on some level during that time. Long hours on feet, so many questions answered, back sore from unloading and reloading only to get back on the road and do it all again at the next stop.

The largest gatherings are nearly impossible to manage without assistance of some kind. While we had been hoping that somehow I would be available to help, in the end, the realities of four children, a dog and two cats pointed to the job He had for me now.

So he left for yet another state, and our hearts were heavy realizing the load that Daddy would carry over the next several days. We prayed for him. Prayed that somehow his body and mind would hold out, that he would have safety on the road, and that he would be able to be a blessing to someone this week. We prayed that God would meet his needs---but perhaps our faith was small.

We rejoiced with him when he called to say that the first day had been light. While that meant fewer sales, it also meant Daddy's load was lighter. We knew that the next two days would probably be a different story. Because of that he would be busy and we would have to wait for night to hear how he had fared.

So it was with surprise that I answered the phone the following day around noon and saw his number on the screen.

How is it going?" I asked, dreading the answer, but his voice was light, encouraged.

"I actually have a couple here right now helping me."

"What? I thought you had tried everyone and no one could come?"

He explained. "Well, I had a line of people in front of me this morning waiting for help. I saw this couple waiting over at the side, and recognized them as customers I knew. They had placed their order yesterday. So when I got through that line, I asked them if there was anything I could help them with. They said, "Actually, we were hoping maybe we could help you. We can see that you are backed up, is there anything we can do?"

Later that night he called to say that the couple had stayed all day, answering people's questions the best they could and just helping with managing the numbers of people coming through. Not only that, but they had said they would be back the next day.

And they were. For two days, they stood by his side, refusing the offer of payment, just following the leading of the Lord in their own lives. My husband said that without their help, sales would have been much less, but also that he would have been unable to manage the crowds.

While this was a few months ago, now, we think in awe of how the Lord provided in this situation. He chose to use two servants of His who were willing to listen to the leading of the Holy Spirit to meet the needs of another child of God.

I wonder if I had been the one there, would I have had the courage to follow that leading--offering my help simply on the basis of seeing someone bogged down in work. I am so challenged by these two. Sometimes God works, miraculously. Sometimes he actually sends angels to meet our needs, but sometimes there are Christians who are living such a Spirit-guided, love-filled life that they are ready vessels to be used of Him.

My prayer can only be that my ears and my heart will be tuned to Him each day, and that my response will be that of a willing servant.....as it was with these two.

"And whosoever of you will be the chiefest, shall be servant of all. For even the Son of man came not to be ministered unto, but to minister, and to give His life a ransom for many." (Mark 10:44, 45)

"And above all things have fervent charity among yourselves: for charity shall cover the multitude of sins. Use hospitality one to another without grudging. As every man hath received the gift, even so minister the same one to another, as good stewards of the manifold grace of God." (I Pet. 4:8-10)

Thursday, August 5, 2010

For The Love Of Family


Its almost such a deep and muddled subject that sharing can be uncomfortable, even unbearably painful. Not because we don't love our families, but because their presence in our lives works as a light shining on all of our frailties that can remain hidden to the rest of the world. With family you will never forget from where you have come.

The good and the bad of your life are shown on those screens which are each one's memory. Tensions can mount as we are reminded of why we do not like ourselves. Most often it is not because the others are wrong in their perceptions, but because they are right. Each one somehow affected by who you are and who you have been. Sometimes the line between the two becomes blurred as we feel tied to the perceptions of those who know us best.

Mountaintop experiences, humbling spiritual growth, maturity that comes with age---all fall away as we face those who have known us the longest. We can feel like children again as we look at the faces who have brought love, but also ridicule. Hurts of a lifetime can cripple. Ones who knew who they were before, lose that sense when with family.

Those are the reasons that "dysfunction" is the word so often associated with families today. Are there any of us who have never felt the brokenness of that union with the ones from whom we come? What else can there be when it is simply a compilation of sinners trying to live together?

Parents.....sinners. Children.....sinners. Not one perfect in any way, yet forced together by birth, marriage, adoptions, etc. At the beginning of each relationship hope reigns high. Time passes and age brings with it the wrinkles and spots as expected. Each relationship becomes a combination of loves and hurts. We hope the good will out way the bad. We hope the maturity will come in time before more bridges are burned.

Acceptance of each other brings us together year after year. Knowing each other's failures, but also becoming more aware of our own. That in itself allows for fellowship which continues in spite of the "dysfunction".

God in His wisdom planned this out so long ago when He created families. He knew the dangers inherent in placing sinners in such close proximity to each other. But He also knew that it was not good for "man to be alone." For all the difficulties of learning to live together, the fear of being alone is worse. And so we look to Him for the grace to age each relationship with love. That as we look to Him we will find less dysfunction and more peace together. Strengthened by each other as we can be by no one else.

As we see ourselves in the memories of others, may we have grace to give that memory to Him Who sees and loves us in spite of everything. Then may we share that grace with the others. May we be as kind in our memories of them. Each one, a work of grace that we are allowed, and yes, called, to love. Lifting each other up, thankful for the treasure of memories together....the good and the bad. For how would we ever see the growth if it were not for those mirrored memories?