Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Baby Birthdays

Still counting my blessings...

1,673.  Good conversation with my #2 son, along with a fine merlot and good German chocolate
1,674.  My daughter-in-law and my last child busy cooking late on a Saturday night
1,675.  Houseful of joyful children celebrating birthdays

Another family birthday party, this time for Joey who just turned two and Caden who just turned one.  All of us gathered in this tiny house, filled to bursting with good food, lively conversation, and energetic kids enjoying each other.  


Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Big Decisions

In general, I don't like changes.  I like routine and predictability. This has been a brutal winter and we are heading into spring.  Praise God!  But still, I can think of a few things I will miss about winter.  But bigger events than a season change are before us right now.  The foundations we have built our lives upon the last few years have become shaky ground.  The earth is rumbling under our feet.

The first big change came with the girls in their co-op this year.  We are gone from home two days a week.  That means our quiet mornings on the sofa reading books together in a gentle home school pace is over.  Oh, it was time for a change!  For Arielle, this routine became stifling.  And it often wasn't so peaceful at home.  The girls bickering with each other, tears over math, dictator mom pressing them to finish their work.  Now the girls are thriving--blooming! at their school.  They work hard for their teachers without complaint.  And we still have three mornings together.  But I tend to hang on to the past and long for the good old days with my little girls.

The second and saddest change ahead for us is what is happening at church.  We became members there when we had incredible pastors and leaders.  We grew in spiritual wisdom and knowledge and passion for God.  The girls grew up in this church under loving, godly teachers.  But things have changed.  Our original pastors have moved on.  It took us two years to find another pastor, and then he left too.  We are floundering again.  I long for solid, Biblical, gospel-centered teaching.  With Fred on staff at church, a lot of other issues have come to light and we realize it is only a matter of time before we have to search for a new church.  It's so hard.  

Where will the girls feel comfortable with new teens?  Where can we find good teaching to grow in faith and serve others as God calls us to do?  So far, the preaching at other churches we've visited has left us empty and hungry.  Recently Damien sent me a link to a sermon by Matt Chandler out in Texas.  When you hear good preaching, you know it.  Yes!  That's it!  That's what we're longing for--dynamic, passionate and deep exhortation, that feeds us and challenges us.  But can we find it outside of Texas?

The third change is tied to the second.  Fred has seen too much while working at church.  He said it is bringing people down into discouragement and despair.  So Fred is looking for an additional way to provide for us. He made the decision to start up another chiropractic office.  Scary stuff!  At his age, starting over?  Adding another responsibility to our already overwhelming schedule right now?  But my husband has been sinking lower and lower the past few months.  He needs this change.  Maybe we all do.  I think it will bring the four of us together as we work hard to make this venture successful.

We shouldn't fear change.  Our lives are overseen by our great God.  He will not let us fall too far.  He is always near to catch us, restore us, and lead us.  Today in my reading I came to Psalm 143, which prompted this post.  "I remember the days of old; I meditate on all that you have done; I ponder the work of your hands.  I stretch out my hands to you; my soul thirsts for you like a parched land."  I long for the past, but we're hungry and thirsty now.  We pray for help.  
"Answer me quickly, O Lord!  My spirit fails!  Hide not your face from me...let me hear in the morning of your steadfast love, for in you I trust.  Make us know the way we should go, for to you we lift up our souls...Let your good Spirit lead us on level ground." 

Strange, as I have been daily reading through Psalms this past month, we came to a "no-turning-back" moment when Fred signed a lease on an office.  The next Psalms I read were 144 and 145, God's word to us back in 1999 when we had our South Carolina fiasco.  Bad decisions made, our lives turned upside down.  I'm reminded God was there then when we slipped and fell--but not too far.  He set us once again back on level ground.  My friend Connie said risk it good.  It teaches us to trust in God.

I read these passages again and God reminds me of his promises.  A life free from strife?  No.  Security in the foundations we build for ourselves?  No.  Security only in him.  He is our rock and foundation--the solid rock. It's the only place to stand.  (All other ground is sinking sand.)

The prayer and the promises given long ago: "May our sons in their youth be like plants full grown, our daughters like corner pillars cut for the structure of a palace, may our granaries be full...blessed are the people to whom such blessings fall!  Blessed are the people whose God is the Lord!"  (Psalm 144)  

"The Lord upholds all who are falling and raises up all who are bowed down.  The eyes of all look to you, and you give them their food in due season.  You open your hand; you satisfy the desire of every living thing.  The Lord is righteous in all his ways and kind in all his works.  The Lord is near to all who call on him, to all who call on him in truth.  He fulfills the desire of those who fear him..."  (Psalm 145)

I lack trust when I fear the future.  We long for spring this year.  It will be a welcome change and a new beginning.  The possibilities are endless!  Like our garden early on, the ground is brown and empty.  But we know it will soon be lush and green.  We don't wonder whether it will flourish. We wait patiently and work hard, knowing the reward will come.

Saturday, March 08, 2014

Something to Ponder

Nobody says it better than Charles Spurgeon...

We must through much tribulation enter into the kingdom of God."—Acts 14:22.
OD'S people have their trials. It was never designed by God, when He chose His people, that they should be an untried people. They were chosen in the furnace of affliction; they were never chosen to worldly peace and earthly joy. Freedom from sickness and the pains of mortality was never promised them; but when their Lord drew up the charter of privileges, He included chastisements amongst the things to which they should inevitably be heirs. Trials are a part of our lot; they were predestinated for us in Christ's last legacy. So surely as the stars are fashioned by his hands, and their orbits fixed by Him, so surely are our trials allotted to us: He has ordained their season and their place, their intensity and the effect they shall have upon us. Good men must never expect to escape troubles; if they do, they will be disappointed, for none of their predecessors have been without them. Mark the patience of Job; remember Abraham, for he had his trials, and by his faith under them, he became the "Father of the faithful." Note well the biographies of all the patriarchs, prophets, apostles, and martyrs, and you shall discover none of those whom God made vessels of mercy, who were not made to pass through the fire of affliction. It is ordained of old that the cross of trouble should be engraved on every vessel of mercy, as the royal mark whereby the King's vessels of honour are distinguished. But although tribulation is thus the path of God's children, they have the comfort of knowing that their Master has traversed it before them; they have His presence and sympathy to cheer them, His grace to support them, and His example to teach them how to endure; and when they reach "the kingdom," it will more than make amends for the "much tribulation" through which they passed to enter it.