Thursday, January 5, 2012

No Peeking!

Everyone has to admit that at some point in their lives they have looked at someone else and deep down wished life had handed them the same bunch of roses that the other had. We don't dare call it "envy" or "covetousness", because those would be sins and we wouldn't do that...right? At least we try to convince ourselves that. I have been guilty of that in the past. For right now, things are definitely looking up, I am so very thankful to say. Haven't been looking over the fence to see if the neighbors have greener grass in awhile. Give me time, I'm sure I will! It's just something, especially females, do. However, I read Psalm 73 today and the Lord touched my heart with the entire chapter. It is definitely a repellent to tuck away and pull out to use when the Green-Eyed-Monster rears her ugly head again.

So here is the paraphrase of the chapter. You'll just have to read it for yourself to get the whole mouthful. I think it may be too long to post on here, but just take and click this link and look up Psalm 73 via Bible Gateway.

The writer is believed to be Asaph. He starts out by saying that God is good to Israel but as for him, well, he's not doing so well. He's slipping, he has no strength, and he feels pretty beaten down. However, he looks at the prospering unsaved man and is dismayed at how well off that man seems. His strength doesn't waiver, he doesn't seem to have any troubles, he is arrogant and still he prospers - he has more than his mind could have ever set his sights on. And here the godly man is trying to do right and all he has is pain, agony, and a large lack of riches. Asaph even says he's tried to be godly in vain because no good has come to him from it. Here the unsaved man just continues to live in sin without Christ and he is increased on every side. What's the use!

Side note: Doesn't it always seem that way? Look at the missionaries who go and give their entire lives to spreading the Gospel to others? They don't usually have "much", as in money or things. Then there's you and me who love the Lord and try to do right and we have nothing compared to the movie stars and the bankers and the big business owners, who used lies and deceit to get to the top. Of course there's a lot of "rich" people who made their way upwards with honesty and hard work, so I cannot use absolutes when describing those who have a lot monetarily. (And as a side note to the side note: I know there's a lot of good Christians that God has blessed with large incomes and wealth, but for the sake of my point, forget that for a minute, to make my comparison easier.)

Then for the climax, Asaph announces, "Until I went into the sanctuary of God; then understood I their end." I love how real the Bible is. I love how Asaph really had us understanding his turmoil and despair and then in a sentence abruptly stops our sadness for him with a complete change of heart. He gets it. The unsaved may prosper, but it's only but for a short while. His day is quickly approaching when his riches will drop off of him like a heavy weight and he will be standing before our Almighty God, Who will not measure how well he did on earth with possessions and money, but will look at him with the knowledge of whether he ever trusted Him or not. And if that man had been given the opportunity countless times to accept Christ and didn't, what a devastating blow to truly know that all of his success never mattered at all. Then the saved but not so rich man will stand before God and suddenly, he will find that the whole time, on earth and then in heaven, he was the richest of them all.

Asaph finishes the chapter, after his great amazement of understanding, that he has been an ignorant animal to feel that way and not see that God was counseling him and holding him up and would until it was time to go to heaven. He asks the rhetorical question of who else truly was there for him anywhere except for the Lord anyway! He states how good it is to draw close to the Lord. And how hard would it be to draw so close to the Lord if we didn't depend on Him?

I don't feel as if I am adequately explaining what touched me so, but just know that the chapter is a wonderful reminder of when things seem tough and others' lives seem so easy, God is all we really need and we are rich in Him. I can honestly be transparent with you and say I have carried thoughts way deep down inside of how pretty other people's houses are or how well people match their expensive clothes together and wonder what it would be like financially if we didn't work in the ministry. Those feelings are pretty normal for us carnal humans but I just have to remember if those thoughts creep back in, that I AM rich in the Lord and I have something of greater value than any house could ever hold- a Father Who takes care of me and loves me.

Like I said though, it feels like spring time right now for the little Bradford family. Blessings have flooded our gates and I am completely humbled by the kindness of others and the doors being opened right now that seemed barricaded tightly before. We put an offer on a house that has been accepted but awaiting bank approval for the seller. It's hopeful! However, as usual, one set back and I'll be peeking over the fence again I know. Counting on that Still, Small Voice that will remind me of Psalm 73 and hoping He'll remind you of it too if you start peeking as well. =)

Sunday, December 18, 2011

A Present of Perspective for Christmas

Last Christmas I thought to myself how settled we surely would be by next Christmas. Now here it is Christmastime again and...we are still where we were last Christmas, making very little progress, and yet again saying, surely we will be settled into our "new" life by next Christmas. One just never knows how things will go or what will become of these situations so near and dear to our hearts.

Now, in my last blog, I told you about the amazing peace I found when we lost the house we wanted so badly. Don't get me wrong, the peace was/is real, but just because God gives you peace in a storm does not mean that the waves won't still toss you around and still make you sea sick. Apparently I am not done learning lessons from this whole epic move and house search extravaganza, which is fine I guess because I have nothing else to do as I wait for the sky to clear. My newest revelation hit me almost as hard as my first one I wrote on here. I'll have to give you a little background leading up to the grand unveiling.  

This past weekend, we had the opportunity to go to Sight and Sound Theater. It's a really amazing theater where they perform biblical-based plays using real animals, plants, huge sets, and lots of talented performers. We went to see the Miracle of Christmas. I thought to myself, "Another manger-cattle-lowing rendition of the birth of Jesus..." nothing wrong with that, but so usual for Christmas, I thought. So after my daughter threw up pasta salad all over our car and her newly washed coat and clothes, we dropped our angels off at Jonathan's sister's house and went to Sight and Sound. It was a beautifully done play and though probably 80% of it was extra stuff not found in the Bible, it did give you a fresh perspective of the birth of Christ. We get so "used" to the Christmas story that we forget to really think about it. Some points that stuck out to me:

  • The day and age was tough. The Jewish people had nothing but a hope that someday they would be delivered, but they had to rely solely on what their fathers had told them that the prophets had prophesied. 
  • I always got the part that Mary was surprised and alarmed at being pregnant when she was a virgin, but I never really thought of the reviling she must have gotten when people around her knew she was pregnant but that it was probably a known fact that the baby was not from her betrothed, which still wouldn't have looked so great since she wasn't really married to him yet either. How hard would it be to be a loyal, dedicated Jewish girl, who was accused of being a harlot? 
  • Here is the main one: Sure, I had entertained the thoughts in the past of how the conditions where Jesus was born in must have been less than sanitary. However, so many renditions of the Christmas Story had placed pictures of soft, yellow hay and sweet baby calves and horses sitting around a small wooden manger with the Christ-child laying wrapped in clean, white cloth. It struck me much more this time of how horrible it must have been. I'm sure it smelled terribly there. I'm sure the animals were noisy, stomping up dust and dirt and manure. I'm sure it was probably hard finding even clean hay and how scratchy even that would be. The swaddling clothes were probably not clean and the manger was probably very hard and cold. There was no heater, I am certain. Having had two babies, it was hard enough being in a hospital and going through that, but not even being in a comfortable or sanitary place must have been horrible. The worst part was: our Savior was born there. This is leading me to my point, so hang on.
Today was Sunday and for the first Sunday in weeks my children allowed me to go to a morning service. I thought it was awfully nice of them to make the sacrifice. So after singing several Christmas hymns, I settled into my pew, wrapped up in my coat. Pastor told us to turn to Philippians 2:1-8. No sooner than he started reading it that I felt like everyone in the room disappeared and Pastor was talking only to me. You've heard the passage before, but unless you've been in my shoes this past year and a half, it might not speak to you in the exact same way.

1If there be therefore any consolation in Christ, if any comfort of love, if any fellowship of the Spirit, if any bowels and mercies,
 2Fulfil ye my joy, that ye be likeminded, having the same love, being of one accord, of one mind.
 3Let nothing be done through strife or vainglory; but in lowliness of mind let each esteem other better than themselves.
 4Look not every man on his own things, but every man also on the things of others.
 5Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus:
 6Who, being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God:
 7But made himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men:
 8And being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross.

For the past year and a half, we have not lived by the means that I am used to living in. I grew up much differently and have been used to doing things certain ways. It's not that I once was rich but now I'm poor, it's just that everything I was used to was now on a whole different scale and the way I was used to cooking dinner, doing dishes, housework, etc, was now done or not done in ways I am not accustomed to. It's very hard to explain, just try to grasp what information I can include. This all being the case, I have done my share (and the share of many others) of complaining and whining. This wasn't done like I do it, we cook this differently down south, this is weird, this is dirty, this is not the way I do this, that isn't how I do that, etc, etc, etc. I mean, we are talking about all out hissy-fits and anger. Bad stuff.

Today I stopped and took a look in my mirror and was not pleased at how I had aged this past year and a half. In some ways, I feel like I applied some good anti-aging cream, in other ways I feel like I've gotten a little Botox on some areas that I let get bad, but part of me aged downright badly and it took the Holy Spirit to make me truly aware of it.

When Pastor read the passage, I felt that familiar still, small voice say, "You must think you're really special Sarah, to think that where you live doesn't meet your expectations or suit your ways. You must think you are pretty incredible to put others around you down to lift yourself up because you're not happy where you're at." Then to top the whole conversation off, remembering what had spoken to me at the play two nights before, I heard, "Jesus Christ, the Son of God, the Savior of the World - YOUR Savior - would have felt more like a king living in my situation that I complain so much about, than the way He came and lived in the world during His time on earth." There's a person in my life (not Jonathan, he's too cute to be upset with for long) that I have really struggled with. And for a year and a half, I have 80% of the time put my needs in front of theirs. How I felt has been more important and how I've been wronged has been of more consideration. I have not, with lowliness of mind, esteemed each other better than myself. I have not taken on the form of a servant and humbled myself, as my Lord did when He came to earth in much worse conditions with mean people all around him.

Now I know we can all say that we complain when we should be grateful. This went deeper though. I knew how much I have been complaining, I know the feelings I've felt, and I only give you a glimpse because it's important that if you go or are going through a situation like this, that you know you're not the only person in the world feeling that way. Sometimes we feel like we're the only people in the world that ever do anything wrong or have a mean thought. It's not a good thing to make a practice of, but you're not alone anyway. =) And God does understand when we go through things in an extended length of time how wearing it can be. He knows our frame, He knows we're human, and only dust. I know He loves me and I know He understands, though I know He would much rather me take a different approach to coping with it all.

Life most certainly is a roller-coaster - for everyone really, not just for me. I can truly say I am thankful for times that the Holy Spirit chides me and for the feeling of relief when I give the situations over to God. My shoulders feel lighter this Christmas, even if the burden is still heavy. Please take a moment this Christmas to really sit down and think of how Christ came to earth and how it must have been for his human parents to go through what they did. Think how humbling it truly would be for the King of the Universe to be born in a dirty old stable and later be raised up to die on a dirty old cross surrounded my mean, cruel people...all for you and me. These revelations gave me a present of perspective this Christmas season seeing where I can make some adjustments to make this next year, whether we're still in the same place or not, a better year, esteeming others more and remembering again and again what Christ has done for me.

Merry Christmas! Hope you have a wonderful, wonderful holiday season.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Utter & Complete Bewilderment

A lot of my blog entries have been pretty morbid, sprinkled with a little hope and aspiration, but mostly, they have been kind of bleak. Truly, I can't help it. Life has been happening and times have been rough. Just can't sugar coat that and feel honest with you or myself at the same time. However, today something terrible happened and when it struck, I should have crawled under a blanket and cried until morning, but instead, something amazing happened: I didn't.

I woke up this morning with every ounce of confidence imaginable that today we were going to have our offer accepted on a house...a dream house to me...far better than I could have imagined in our price range. To some it might seem like a faux fur coat, but to me it was genuine mink. My dad wanted us to have one last look at it and take someone who could check it out a little more thorough than us and then we were going to put our final bid down. It was a done deal. I had already decorated the entire house in my mind. Picking out paint samples would be a waste of time because everything was figured out in my mind with this house. The little garden out back I would have was practically producing tomatoes!

After surveying the house one more time, we were getting ready to leave when our realtor checked a message he had just gotten on his fancy phone. Low and behold, horror of horrors, an email came through like poison filling the air, saying, "Seller has accepted another offer." In five words, my dream home was ripped out of my hands and we were homeless again in a matter of seconds. It was a sad feeling and I teared up, apparent to our wonderful and patient realtor and our pastor who had come to look at the house for us. There wasn't time to cry, my Jonathan wasn't there to hug the tears away, so I put it aside thinking that later I would sit down and have myself a good cry. After all, this was the third house we lost.

My mother-in-law, two crying kids, and I rode back to the house - not my house, just "the house" - and the strangest feeling came over me. Usually a little grey cloud comes and settles over me upon arriving at "the house" and follows me up to my room where it hovers until I leave the premises again. This time, however was not so! It was not the sad feeling of seeing "the house", and knowing I was going to have to go through those doors again for an uncertain amount of time. It was not the heavy-hearted feeling of despair. It was something I can honestly say I have never felt in this housing situation: peace.

I know! It seemed crazy! I can talk the optimistic talk, I can even walk it from time to time, but once the sun goes down, and the kids have zapped my energy, and it's just me and the Lord - I have to be honest, I am saved by the Blood of Jesus, but I am human, and I struggle. I do not take being homeless well. But here things have not changed - I'm still taking my laundry to get it washed somewhere else, I'm still cooped up in my little room, I'm still the other woman in a castle not my own, but IT IS OKAY! You have no idea how big this is in my life right now. I have peace in my life concerning my salvation and other issues, but this particular issue was anything BUT peaceful. It's been turmoil all the way. You cannot imagine my shock when I waited for my heart to break and found it to be joyful and...(gasp) happy? Yes, cannot begin to tell you my bewilderment.

I had been reading through the New Testament again, but dealing with all these things in high gear the last several months, I switched to Psalms. It has encouraged me so much. Honestly, a lot of times when I just wanted to get my Bible reading in and say I did it, Psalms and Proverbs were my books that I could read something and say, "I read it Lord!" But going back through Psalms now, searching for comfort and hope has been a balm on my sores and I highly recommend that if you are going through a rough patch right now, go through it, read it, meditate on it, and let it comfort you.

Psalm 4:1: Hear me when I call, O God of my righteousness: thou hast enlarged me when I was in distress; have mercy upon me, and hear my prayer.

Psalm 8:4-6: What is man, that thou art mindful of him? and the son of man, that thou visitest him? For thou hast made him a little lower than the angels, and hast crowned him with glory and honour. Thou madest him to have dominion over the works of thy hands; thou hast put all things under his feet: 

Psalm 13: How long wilt thou forget me, O LORD? for ever? how long wilt thou hide thy face from me? How long shall I take counsel in my soul, having sorrow in my heart daily? how long shall mine enemy be exalted over me? Consider and hear me, O LORD my God...But I have trusted in thy mercy; my heart shall rejoice in thy salvation. I will sing unto the LORD, because he hath dealt bountifully with me.

Psalm 17:5-8: Hold up my goings in thy paths, that my footsteps slip not. I have called upon thee, for thou wilt hear me, O God: incline thine ear unto me, and hear my speech. Shew thy marvellous lovingkindness, O thou that savest by thy right hand them which put their trust in thee from those that rise up against them. Keep me as the apple of the eye, hide me under the shadow of thy wings...

The verses could go on forever! So many verses talk of how the Lord will take care of the righteous and oh how that made me sigh because so very, very often in this situation have I failed from striving for righteousness. Some days I can honestly say I don't even try. But I praise the Lord that He loves me and He knows my heart, He knows my up-risings and my down-settings. He knows I'm but dust. Isn't that incredible??? And yet He loves us. Nothing short of amazing.

This verse pretty much sums up everything I'm trying to convey in this entry...

Psalm 16:9-11: Therefore my heart is glad, and my glory rejoiceth: my flesh also shall rest in hope...thou wilt shew me the path of life: in thy presence is fulness of joy; at thy right hand there are pleasures for evermore.

Definitely cannot promise that I won't have a down day. Definitely cannot say that I will not feel sad or in despair again, but I do know that this feeling of peace and joy even when it doesn't make sense to have it is incredible and I want to keep it. I wish I could adequately explain to you this experience, but hopefully you've felt it before or will feel it when you need to. And if you don't know the One Who can give you this hope, I hope you accept into your life today. He is the One Who can help us face tomorrow, if it comes. And if doesn't, I know I'll just be in His presence.

Until then, I just wanted to shout it from the browser how encouraged, how hopeful, and how joyful I am today in what the Lord is doing in my life. Whatever your trial or burden, I pray you feel that same joy in the midst of it and if not yet, then soon...very soon.

Psalm 16:9-11: Therefore my heart is glad, and my glory rejoiceth: my flesh also shall rest in hope...thou wilt shew me the path of life: in thy presence is fulness of joy; at thy right hand there are pleasures for evermore.

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Strange Relations

I'm ashamed I haven't written lately. To be honest, I haven't written because I've not been practicing the lessons I learned in the first blog entry that I wrote. I'm afraid I've lost a lot of hope in some situations going on, and there is nothing worse sometimes than someone who says one thing and does another. =) I am reminded that I'm human and I will not perfect the lessons I learn, and I will probably even repeat stupid mistakes and re-learn the consequences and morals of those lessons again and again.

Even knowing that, however, does not make me feel any better about spouting off about hope and waiting...and then sitting in despair and hopelessness. The very worst part is KNOWING what I felt and learned in my first entry is the truth! Sometimes it's more comfortable for my attitude to sit in hypothetical sweat pants and eating a hypothetical gallon of Moosetrack ice cream.

Ever wonder what God truly has in store for you? Of course you do...we all do. Ever wonder what it will be like, Lord willing, to look back a year from now and see how different (for the good hopefully!) your life has become? Ever wonder if this years problems will be gone by that next year, but wonder what new problems will take their place? One would think with having two small children that there would be no time to wonder all these things, but I do. I wonder all the time about so many things. Sometimes I feel like the Lord is saying to me, "Get your eyes off of these 'what if's' and concentrate on what you're doing now...your family, ministry, etc." Other times it honestly brings me hope to think about bright spots of the future.

Now we will stop ABRUPTLY here and state that life is not so terrible now. I am thankful for so many things. I'm thankful for salvation, health, two adorable children who bring me constant joy, (though sometimes mingled with an exasperated sigh), a truly wonderful and amazing husband (again, sometimes with the exasperated sigh), many great parents, pretty things, and much more. So I don't want anyone to think life is so tragic right now. It just hasn't begun for us in limbo waiting for a house of our own to restart our family that is most definitely on hold. That's the main thing.

So bare with me and understand that this blog was not meant for a pity party or for despairing remarks on the low spots of Sarah Bradford's life. On the contrary, I hope my up's will help lift you and my down's help lift you even higher. However, as a disclaimer, I cannot write on here in sunshine and rainbows all the time, posing life to be one glorious chain of daisies. Then it wouldn't be life. =) 

Okay, I'm quickly loosing a point to this entry...moving on!

When I was a teenager, my imagination would always wander, turning some odd things into life lessons. I remember completely grossing a lot of people out with my "epiphany" of how pimples and friends can be related. I thought it was great! Friends are like pimples...sometimes too much oil - or issues - gets built up under the surface and goes unnoticed for awhile. Then they start to fester and make your friendship sore. We pick at them and only make things worse until finally one day it all comes to a head and we just have to have it out with that friend until it pops! It may hurt, but it heals, even if it leaves a little scarring. See? Wonderful analogy! Others just didn't enjoy it the same though...can't imagine now why!

Lately, I've noticed a lot of other things also...a lot of things from watching my children.

Emma is currently undergoing the education of going to the potty in a potty. She's made excellent head-way - or shall we say, bottom-way - but we have a long way to go. Lately she has decided it's not so exciting to go sit on her potty anymore. Yes, the novelty of sitting on a tiny plastic toilet that has its own toilet paper roll on the side has suddenly lost the glitz and glamor it once had, and she is regressing a little. If she would only learn how to do this seemingly easy thing (to us), what freedom she would have! Doggone it, what freedom I would have! But not knowing what that freedom feels like offers no incentive for her to graduate from this new education program. Same for me, in not as yucky of a sense. If I would only learn some of these lessons that I struggle with so much, or to even go a step farther, to lose some weight I've been trying to lose, then what freedom I would have! What bliss! And not that the Lord needs us to learn a lesson to give Him freedom, but how happy it would make Him to see me be liberated from the bondage that tied me to keep me from getting over that hump to success.

When the gas light comes on, I am reminded that if I don't fill it up soon, bad repercussions will soon follow about 30 miles down the road. Same for when I am running on empty spiritually or emotionally...if that tank isn't filled soon, there's a rough road coming ahead. Both with the car and myself, I am the one who makes the call how far to go before filling up, and that decision could cost me if I get lazy and decide to wait too long. It will take me much, much longer to get to where I was headed and it may cost a lot extra before getting there. How much better to be proactive and fill up ahead of time and just keep that tank filled?

The dumbest one I ever thought of - in my opinion, much worse than the pimple one - was when I was a teenager and I was eating generic Rice Krispy's. There was a burnt little fake rice krispy floating in my bowl of milk and I disdainfully pushed it to the side of the bowl vowing not to eat the nasty thing. Then I thought, how often do I treat people that way? They aren't so great to look at or be around, so I just push them off to the side and only take time with the more appealing people. I remember even eating the burnt flake, symbolically digesting my new life lesson. Yes, that one was really dramatic and really stretching things.

The list goes on. Some are pretty cheesy, some are kind of lame, but in weird ways, some of these strange little analogies remind me of things I know the Lord wants me to get. If I ever have any more as good as the pimple one, I'll be sure to post it. Haha.

In the meantime, I'm still here, still writing, a little down, but still knowing that God has great plans.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Peaceful Chaos

If there is one thing I know now that I did not know two years ago, is that having children does not make for always a peaceful atmosphere. Having added another one to our zoo recently has made "lack of peace" more concise to just say "chaos". It's not so bad until Jonathan comes back and I worry more about them driving him nuts as they continue their chorus of screaming than anything and before I know, I'm irritable with them and Jonathan is fine! I'm getting used to the extra vocals now with Jackson, but it is definately taking some getting used to. He's just lucky he's so cute and cuddly. =)
Recently my Bible reading was in Romans, chapter 4. It wasted no time in getting to what I needed.  "Therefore being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ:" Peace. Ahh the word itself makes me yearn for it. I have peace in salvation and my walk with the Lord. I know that I know that I know He is my Heavenly Father and that He has a place reserved for me in heaven someday. (All God's people said?) I also have a peace that He is ever with me and that if I confess my sins, He hears me when I pray. Glad I've got those nailed down.

It's the peace of knowing that we're where we're supposed to be, the peace knowing there is a home out there for us (before heaven hopefully??) and SOON, the peace knowing Emma will heal of her Arthritis, the peace that she won't have any bad side affects from the medicine she's on, the peace that Jackson will continue in good health, the peace that we can get rid of some old conflicts even if that means we will get some new ones, ETC. ETC. ETC. The list is lengthy. I yearn for peace with those things.

But my reading continued. "By whom also we have access by faith into this grace wherein we stand, and rejoice in hope of the glory of God. And not only so, but we glory in tribulations also: knowing that tribulation worketh patience; And patience, experience; and experience, hope: And hope maketh not ashamed; because the love of God is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Ghost which is given unto us."

I realized in one giant gulp, "We're not promised hope from the beginning!!" In the whole picture, we have hope through Christ ALWAYS, but there is a "To Do List" to go through before we REACH that hope and peace. We go through different tribulations and trials throughout our life. Before this trial I'm living in now, I had other things that would wear me down or make me feel sad. We're always going to have something. But it's THROUGH those things that we go through a series of transformations.

We start out by making the choice of whether or not to choose Jesus Christ to be our Savior and save us from eternal damnation. After that, if we choose Christ, we go down our path of life and we have problems. From that we learn patience as we go through those trials and from that we learn from our mistakes, from what we did right, and from what we've been through in general. It is after gaining patience and experience that we find hope. And I think that once you've been through that long road, you have more love and understanding towards those involved in those problems because of the love of Christ, Who worked in us the whole journey.

Now why does it have to be such a long road though? I don't know. I do wish I had a fast forward button to whisk me and my little family to our future house and life where we start living like a normal family again, but then I think, surely I would miss something a long the way that I wouldn't want to miss. I can say that now but you ask me fifteen minutes from now and I'll probably just start crying again. However, I know the truth. I just have to deny myself the undesireable luxury of basking in self-pity and self-inflicted sadness.

There is hope in Christ. There is hope in this situation I live in. I guess I just have to learn patience and experience first before I reach my finish line.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Like Mother, Like Baby

My son (sounds weird to say that since I just recently acquired one) is not a happy little man. I just don't remember Emma being so grumpy at life, but Jonathan assures me she was the same way. That encouraged me since I had obviously blocked out the memory, therefore I would probably do the same when my son, Jackson, gets older. But until then, it is constantly in my mind that the kid just does not love life (as my husband would say) in his new surroundings. He sleeps great at night, praise the Lord, but when he's awake or not eating during the day, he is screaming. His vocals actually sound more like a dog squeezing a little rubber chew toy, but either way, it is a very loud, squeaky sound.

And when he's hungry, the whole world knows it because the little rubber chew toy suddenly comes alive and ferociously becomes louder and just meaner. Yep, I have a mean little three week old who does not like life. It's funny though, (sometimes you just have to laugh you know) but I'll get his bottle ready and get it in his mouth, expecting instant bliss from my little squeaker, but the anger does not end. No, he is still angry even though he's got that bottle in his mouth and that nasty formula is dripping down his throat. It's not until a few seconds later (which seem like an eternity for dear ol' mom) that he gets the idea that he got what he wanted and he should stop squabling.

Do you see it yet? It dawned on me today when I experienced some hope in my life about our housing situation. I was instantly perked up at some possibilities (that did not involve living in a car or a cardboard box, which I was secretly entertaining the thoughts of in my head). However, if I were to freeze that moment and hit the rewind button, I would have hung my head a little as I watched myself moap and doubt, cry and complain.

There I would be, like my little Jackson, screaming and squeaking because I didn't have what I wanted when I wanted it. Then God gives you a little - or sometimes a whole mouthful - and me, not recognizing God's Hand, continues flailing and kicking. I think I find myself looking for the bleak first sometimes, rather than the positive because it's hard to bask in my selfishness and sorrow if I'm trying to be opptimistic. Finally, I get enough of a taste, like a little today, where it hits me that hey! The Lord is working and is going to do something! Oh my goodness, there is hope! Like it wasn't there before.

How the Lord must see doubt, as an impatient, squeaky baby. Poor Jackson, he doesn't understand that I'm planning on taking care of the little guy until he gets old enough to do it himself, and I am planning on meeting his needs as best I can. Poor Sarah, how often she doubts the Lord, Who has never let her down.

Want to hear the WORST part? I can tell you these things I learn and truly believe them, but you just drop in sometime tomorrow, Lord willing, and I cannot promise you that I will be as opptimistic or as hopeful then. Please don't judge my lack of faith and my abundance of takes over far too often and I take steps back that I know good and well I shouldn't take, but in order to nurse and comfort my impatience, it simply feels better to go back to my little security blanket of complaining and griping. Hopefully one day I can wean myself of that tattered blanket. So glad the Lord loves also Jackson should be glad we love him with all that crying he does! =)

"And he said unto me, My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness. Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me." II Corinthians 12:9 (KJV)

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Tattered Pieces & Tarnished Edges

I wanted to start writing this blog more for myself than for anyone else. All too often the Lord teaches me something and I reluctantly acknowledge the lesson, only to conveniently forget it so that I can either feel sorry for myself or complain later on when faced with a trial or concern. If no one reads this or any other entry, then that will be fine. It is accountability enough to know these things I've learned are out here on the web for me to look back and remember what the Lord has taught me and brought me through.

For this entry, I wanted to share a little of where I'm at right now and what astonishing state I have found my heart in.

We moved to Pennsylvania a year and almost two months ago. It was a ready change that Jonathan and I both felt we needed to make. Everything seemed to fit into place. Then life it does everybody...and we were faced with new challenges that, ready or not, we were and are supposed to go through. You know how it goes though - everyone goes through things that they feel is harder than anyone else ever has to go through, when really, when examined, others have it so much harder. Still, your trials are hard for you no matter what you know others deal with.

We moved in June and by July, there was definately something wrong with our little girl. Upon further investigation, she was diagnosed with JIA - Juvenile Idiopathic Arthritis. They found the auto-immune disease in both of her knees, both ankles, and in one toe - enough joints that it was apparent it would not be an easy fix. We went through months of trying to get into the specialist, trying new medicines that had scary possible side-effects, and during this time, Emma quit being able to walk. It was a very trying time.

From there things would get worse in different areas of life and then they would lessen up and get a little better...once agian, normal life rollar-coaster moments. Though terribly grateful for a place to live, we have been living with my in-laws for currently one year and two months. Now I have wonderful in-laws, but there is a reason why the Bible says that a man should leave his father and mother and cleave to his wife. Everyone has different ways of doing things contrary to the way you think things should be done. That is a very present reality for us, but also, it's difficult when you've been out on your own - your own little family - and suddenly, you're not the Queen of the Castle anymore. You're in someone else's palace where they've been queen for a lot's their place, their kitchen, their food, their way of doing things and though they go out of their way to make you feel like you have a part in the kingdom, it's just not the same as being the queen in your very own castle. It's hard, I won't lie. And most hope of being our own little family again anytime soon seems to fade away as the days keep passing. That doesn't help either. There's so much we can endure sometimes when we see the light at the end of the tunnel. When all you see is the on-coming train, it's not quite so bearable! =)

Besides the housing situation, I won't go into detail about some of our issues that have come up over the past year, but there were some that shook the very ground we walked on and life seemed like a very hard, upward hike to a peak I feared we would never see. I kept thinking to myself, "It's because of your bad attitude Sarah! God is trying to make you get happy before He changes these different situations!" So I would try to get happy and see all the problems magically disappear. Didn't happen. And my attitude always returned. =) Then I would think it was because of this or that, his fault, her fault, etc. I don't know the true answer to why we go through such hard things sometimes, but I guess I have come to the realization that I've got a lot of learning to do and no matter the reason for the hardships, God has something for me to learn through them. Now, do I always enjoy this revelation? No, I do not like learning lessons and I dislike going through these trials to learn them even more. But what do you do? We can't turn them off, we just have to go through them.

Anyway, as many times throughout the past year, one day I was feeling very low, feeling very sorry for myself, and feeling very discouraged. Jonathan wanted me to talk to someone but there just didn't seem like anyone who would understand where I was at or what I was going through. However, the Lord did send a lady I love to talk to me briefly and though she didn't totally understand, she gave me a verse that honestly, smacked me straight across the mouth. I'm very grateful for the verse and I needed that slap. It's found in Deuteronomy 8:1-10, zooming in to verse 2. It's the part where the Israelites were being told that good things were coming and quit complaining...basically. Verse 2 is what instantly so painful.

"And thou shalt remember all the way which the LORD thy God led thee these forty years in the wilderness, to humble thee, and to prove thee, to know what was in thine heart, whether thou wouldest keep his commandments, or no."

"To know what was in thine heart"... I was convicted immediately about the state of my heart. My heart condition was tattered and tarnished, an altogether very ugly thing. Now I know the Bible says our hearts are "desperately wicked" and they're never going to be beautiful until we get to heaven, but mine was extra ugly these days. I had complained and cried over so many things, small and great, and lost my focus on being God's child, that my heart had just about uglied away. The rest of the passage continues...

"And he humbled thee, and suffered thee to hunger, and fed thee with manna, which thou knewest not, neither did thy fathers know; that he might make thee know that man doth not live by bread only, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of the LORD doth man live.

Thy raiment waxed not old upon thee, neither did thy foot swell, these forty years.

Thou shalt also consider in thine heart, that, as a man chasteneth his son, so the LORD thy God chasteneth thee.

Therefore thou shalt keep the commandments of the LORD thy God, to walk in his ways, and to fear him.

For the LORD thy God bringeth thee into a good land, a land of brooks of water, of fountains and depths that spring out of valleys and hills; A land of wheat, and barley, and vines, and fig trees, and pomegranates; a land of oil olive, and honey....

When thou hast eaten and art full, then thou shalt bless the LORD thy God for the good land which he hath given thee." (Deuteronomy 8:2-10, KJV)

We still haven't reached the mountain top, but I'm hopeful that it is there and that we will be able to see the view of where we were to where we made it by following the ever Sunlight that led us in our path. I can't say I have perfect, selfless, brave days all the time...I fall quite often, but the hardest part is knowing that God showed me this verse and convicted me on it. I know what's right to do, it's making that choice to accept it and practice it that is so difficult. Thank the Lord His mercies are new every morning!