Saturday, December 29, 2012

The Reluctant Post

  So, have pondered on posting this post. Glory to God is something of a high priority in my life but I have not mastered it at all. My struggles are embarrassingly numerous and some of them are even more embarrassingly shallow. Lately, I have felt quite alone and even in my faith, there has been a painful separated feeling. Nothing has been particularly awful or traumatic, it was just a slow buildup.
  I have put it in my mind to remember Psalm 3:3: "But you, O LORD, are a shield about me, my glory, and the lifter of my head." What more do I need? I wish I could say that my attitude revealed my trust in that Truth. Instead, I have found myself shedding tears, licking wounds, and harboring pain. (If you need a good cry but need a vehicle to camouflage it, try watching October Baby. No one will ask you any questions.) 
  So, after my eyes were dried out, I pondered on all the difficult situations in my life and as I did, God brought to mind Job so I read chapter 1 and the baseball bat of Truth hit me across the back of my head.

  A lot of people seem to focus on one of two things. Either they focus on what they perceive to be a terrible thing that God allowed to happen or they look solely at the fact that God doubled Job's blessings in the end. It hit me that neither of those schools of thought should be the focus. 

 Job was a man and he had lots of wealth and stuff. He had a family that he loved and he loved them enough that he wanted them to be right before God. Satan steps in and God offers to him the ability to test Job and the reason is not immediately clear. In one day, Job loses his children and possessions. And though he is heartbroken, Job does not stop in proclaiming that God is in charge. Satan turns it up a notch and takes his health. Add to Job's pain and suffering, a nagging wife and discouraging friends and surely, any of us can see that this man was in a terrible place. Job feels the despair, cries out, does some whining, and defending. Job and his friends all make claims on knowing God and what He is like or what He is doing but in the end, God steps in and this is what should be the focus. 

 God says, "Hey, stop it! You think you know me, you think you have wisdom? Well, ponder this..." God allowed suffering in Job's life and the purpose of it was not to be cruel or even to be able to reward him. It was to reveal more of Himself to Job. He challenges Job's beliefs and pushes him to examine himself and by chapter 42, Job is confessing what he now knows without a doubt about God. Then God corrects Job's friends. All the trial and suffering brought men to Truth. I am just guessing here but I bet that these men lived out their lives as men of stronger faith. That was more than enough. It was mercy and love combined but the fact that God restored Job and doubled it was inexplicably gracious. God is that way. 

  In my alone-ness, God is working and not only is He working but He is drawing me to Himself. What really do I have that I deserve? Thankfully, nothing because it would be anything but good. My constant mutiny is deserving of punishment and yet, I have many blessings and at the same time I learning more of who God is in Truth. So, as my daughter reminded me one day this past week: "Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds..."

  So, that's one joy, two joys, three... :)

Monday, December 3, 2012

I'm Rare & Other Not Well-Done Thoughts

  It feels like someone has hit the fast forward button. We zoomed through Thanksgiving and now Christmas is right around the corner. So much to do and yet here I am sitting in the radiating glow of my computer.

  My bio daughter made everyone take a personality test on Thanksgiving eve. Normally, I would not put too much thought into such things because God and His work in me is my focus, not man's view but this test was a little uncanny so, out of curiousity, I stepped up for my turn. 72 questions later, I click "done" and the reading of my personality profile brings entertainment for all except me. According to this test, I have a rare personality belonging to only 1-3% of the population.
   No surprise that I am labelled as an introvert but I am not sure how I feel about being "rare," although, my family finds it deliciously amusing and bring it up every time I do something they feel is eccentric (like my admiration for a stick I saw laying in a parking lot as we drove by but it was perfect in size and shape, great for poking a fire or walking). Hey, God knew me before He even formed me in my mother's womb, so there I rest toe socks and all. 

  The rest of my time has been spent with numerous vet trips, Christmas decorating, damage control, and chicken chasing. (I'm not helping my cause am I?) Anyway...

  Our littlest dog was outside with my hubby when two dogs from different neighbors' came into the field right beside our yard. She trotted over to investigate and immediately, they attacked her. Thankfully, my hubby was right there to save her but she was bitten twice. She came away from the vet looking like she had a terrible mishap with chopsticks.

  Onto prettier things...
I made a nice centerpiece for Thanksgiving with some apples, a few things from my yard plus an acacia wood platter and tiny candles I found at my favorite store, HomeGoods, on the cheap (less than $15 for the platter and set of 12 candles). What do you think?
  Now I am working on my mantle for Christmas. Here is what it looks like so far:
Sort of plain so far (yes, I know I need my photographer). My plan is to make a plaque with a Bible verse for the centerpiece but so far, there has just not been time. 

  Our girl from the group home has been very excited about Christmas. So far, things are going well but not without glitches. We found a wishlist she had created months back with some scary things on it, like books on black magic, but when she sent me the link to the wishlist, all of that was gone and she only had shoes and an IPod on it. She is also very drawn to dressing and acting like a boy but this seems to be not as bad the more she gets comfortable with us. It is understandable to be uncomfortable as a woman if you have not had a consistent example. Because of her oppositional behavior, we are not directly addressing this issue. The plan is to patiently guide her in love and truth. While doing a sewing project, I began to notice that she becomes very child-like when she and I do things like this together. 

  One area that has been difficult is dealing with our bio daughter's feelings. Surprisingly, she has quite a selfish streak and purposely does things to avoid our girl, even becoming sassy with us. She was enthusiastically on-board when we started this process but now reality has hit and she confesses that it is not as fun to share your family. Her goal after graduating is to do mission work so I think God is using this to sand off some of that attitude to prepare her for working closely with people. Appealing to her with Scripture and keeping communication open has been important but the struggle is not over. 

  In the midst of it all, God gives me lessons from everyday living to guide me. One day I let my little chickens out to free range but one of them got scared and flew over the fence. She ended up in the woods on the other side of the creek. After I climbed down into the creek bed and up the other side, she flew into a tree. The hen was small, an easy prey, and she had made a terrible choice in her fear. I could leave her there knowing that the chances of her survival were small since it was an area that many raccoons inhabited or I could patiently redirect her. I chose the latter. The first try just moved her into a new tree. The second try, she flew to a new tree and higher up but on the third try, she flew back across the creek and ran to the fence. Giving her moment to settle down, I coaxed her into the yard and back into the pen. 
  You see, if I am willing to climb down a sketchy creek bank and into briar- infested woods to try over and over to draw a chicken back home, how much more should I try to draw my children along. The love and patience for them should overflow because they are more valuable and the predators are much more fierce. 
1 Peter 5:
5" So I exhort the elders among you, as a fellow elder and a witness of the sufferings of Christ, as well as a partaker in the glory that is going to be revealed: shepherd the flock of God that is among you, exercising oversight, not under compulsion, but willingly, as God would have you; not for shameful gain, but eagerly; not domineering over those in your charge, but being examples to the flock. And when the chief Shepherd appears, you will receive the unfading crown of glory. Likewise, you who are younger, be subject to the elders. Clothe yourselves, all of you, with humility toward one another, for “God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble.”
Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God so that at the proper time he may exalt you, casting all your anxieties on him, because he cares for you. Be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour."