Monday, February 25, 2013

Ready or Not

Don't you hate it when you get caught off guard?  Here's a perfect opportunity to share what God's done for you and you either miss it entirely or just trip over yourself trying to find the right words.  I do this all the time when sharing ANYTHING, not just when it has to do with God. Oral communication is not my forte.  Honestly, I'm not a fantastic writer either, but at least here I can cut and paste until it makes sense w/o confusing my audience too much. :)

Well this weekend we had our couches cleaned professionaly for the first time in 11 years. (I know, gross right? Relax, I've done it myself with a shop vac and spray bottle...I tried!) This was my little splurge from my husband's year end bonus.  The guys who came to steam clean the couches were great.  One of them worked for 15-20 minutes on one pillow before he came and got me. He was frustrated at himself because he could not get every bit of lint and pet hair off the plush cushions and he'd only tried to clean 1 of them so far.

I assured him over and over that I never expected him to get all the lint or hair off.  I've tried it myself and am content with what comes off when I vacuum, but really I just wanted to know that the seats were sanitized and not be able to see the spills we've decorated them with over the years.

He went back to work but after finishing one couch he was still very frustrated with the lint and hair and a couple of spots he just could not get out. He wanted me to look and see if I still wanted to have both couches done because he didn't want me to pay for something that didn't look much different to him than when he had started.  I assured him it was great, (it really did look a LOT better) and to yes, please go ahead and do both.  I promised him the hair and lint didn't bother me and told him, "not to discourage you, but you're going to walk out and the pets will sneak right back up on there. The chocolate ice cream stain is gone and the cushions are sanitary again,  that is what I wanted. Just do what you can with the other spots but if they don't come out, they don't."

When it came time to pay he told me he really wanted the couches to look different (minus the cat hair they looked brand new to me, by the way).  He's used to seeing a dramatic change when he steam cleans upholstery and the dark wine color (which hides a lot) didn't change the way a lighter color couch would have when it is cleaned.  So the big difference he had hoped to see was less lint and less pet hair.  I told him I thought it was great, the chocolate spill was gone, the blue laundry detergent spill that happened during our move was gone, he actually did get the other spots out, and there was less lint then he had started with.  I was thrilled.  But he still insisted on giving me a discount because of the bit of hair and lint he'd left behind.

After I paid he said "You sure are calm about this. Most customers would be very upset and expect perfection when they are paying for this."  I told him that I've tried cleaning those cushions myself and I know what to expect....which is why I wanted to pay someone else to do it!  Then I thought a minute and realized that a few years ago I probably would have been more upset about it.  I used to pay attention to every little detail in my home (and I'm sure I was no fun to live with in regards to that!)  Anyway my thought process Saturday morning just didn't go far enough.  But I admitted to him as it occurred to me, that "Yeah, ya know what? I probably would have been that way in the old house.  But it really doesn't bother me now."  And then he began asking about where we used to live and we talked about small towns and new construction before he left.

After he left though, I sat down to think it over.  What IS different?  Why doesn't this bug me when I KNOW I would have been upset about it in our old home. I sure wouldn't have kept telling him not to worry about it, I would have expected them to get everything off with their big machines and big price tag. Instead of being surprised when he offered me a discount, I probably would have demanded one (yes demanded, I might live in TX now but I'm still a Jersey Girl)!

And then my brain got there.  

It's because there was more than one time over the last 4 1/2 years where I thought that I would not live much longer.  I remember fighting that realization so hard. I couldn't leave my daughter and my husband, I wasn't ready to be done here. I didn't want my girl to face the world without me or my husband to realize what a lousy wife I had really been in comparison to whoever he would marry later.  I was comfortable in my life, my home, I wanted more children, and I had plans, darn it!  I remember throwing myself into that brick wall over and over and over, the brick wall of knowing I was not in control.  I couldn't stop what was happening.  All I have and all I wanted were not going to last.

I had lost sight of the fact that this is not my real home. "Our citizenship is in Heaven." (Phil 3:20). I think I had such a crazy tight grip on the blessings I had turned into idols, that I needed years of illness to pry my fingers loose. I needed to realize my heart had become divided.  And when you are finally laying in bed thinking that there can't be many weeks or months left now, it's amazing how clearly unimportant so many things are. And who really wants to cling to idols that crumble?.....

Now, I know that sometimes I'm a little slow to catch on. It used to mortify m though now it mostly just amuses me. But this time I was ashamed and frustrated because he was gone and I could have told him! I could have told him that I was calm because the couch doesn't matter, it doesn't last. And I could have told him what does last! Christ's payment for my debt of sin, His amazing love, and the home He's preparing for me. Those will never have an end.

But I wasn't ready (1Peter 3:15). I didn't tell him. 

So now I'm telling you, and praying to be ready for the next one.

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

A Sure Reward

Proverbs 11:18
"The wicked earns deceptive wages, but one who sows righteousness gets a sure reward."

Another promise. Rewarded for work He did, because any righteousness we have is Christ's.

Have you honestly ever been able to "sow righteousness" without even a little sin being mixed in there?  I haven't. There's always some pride, some bad thought, or even trying to keep some of the glory for myself...either intentionally or just by failing to keep Him first in my thoughts, my focus.

If we are able to "sow righteousness" it's because of Christ in us. It's His work and He promises US a sure reward.  Just one more reason I'm sure we'll be laying it all at His feet. :)

Friday, February 8, 2013

Two Questions...

...assuming anyone reads this.

Is there a Bible study or Bible curriculum you have enjoyed using with your young ones? Or is there a Bible verse memorization plan that you have found particularly helpful?

Feel free to share this link with your friends if you think they could help and please leave me a comment below. I look forward to hearing your great suggestions!

Thanks!

~ Sharon

Thursday, February 7, 2013

Playing Catch-Up....Again.

So I guess it's not really blogging if you average only 2 posts a year. :) 

Maybe this year will be different.  We're no longer in limbo with my health, the sale of our home and the search for a new one.  God has blessed me with improving health from early June 2012 to the present. Just 4 more months until I should be declared officially in remission after being out of remission since November 2010.  Can I get a woot-woot!?

Meanwhile, we are loving living in a small town.  We did get the house of our dreams, after waiting out 3 more months with our friends in their home...with our dogs. (Surprised we are still friends? God bless these people!  Ha).  The poor kitty had to stay in a closet sized room at a pet hotel where we visited her weekly.  She is very happy to be an indoor kitty now, with a huge window for dreaming in, while the pups are loving the backyard, and gardens, and the parrot in the yard behind us who barks back at them from time to time.  (The wiener dog is not loving the 2 gerbils we added to our family zoo on New Year's Eve). And we are loving the library, parks, neighbors, and shops. 

I'm pretty sure I will be creating our own unit studies (and borrowing some from others!) this year for our third grade studies. So that library, about a 1/4 mile away, is quickly becoming one of our favorite places here....not to mention the playground behind it!  LOVE. :)  There is also a YMCA nearby, so swimming lessons may be in the very near future. And horseback riding lessons are a possibility not too much further down the line.  Did I mention that I love this little town?

We are very fortunate to have more time with friends.  Not long before we moved in (Oct 16, 2012), our friends, Paul and Lisa moved back to TX to a home 3 miles from our new one.  They currently have 7 children and you know how much we love big families.  We know now that we will not be able to have more children of our own, but we love that God provided plenty of other great kids for Sammy to grow up with so close by.  I love hearing the noise of Sammy making great childhood memories with friends!  My best memories of growing up are centered on my sibs (and my bestie, Nina). :) Thank you God for giving Sammy that too!

We've also gotten to spend more time with a few families in church who live out this way, even carpooling with them on Weds. nights since our husbands both work for the same company.  They are looking to move soon and I'm hoping they move to our little town, though I think they will end up further away.  So we are enjoying the carpool and extra time together for as long as we can! :)

God has been good and I look forward to sharing more of what He does in our lives in the days ahead....how many days will it take me to update next time? :)

Friday, July 20, 2012

Where We've Been

Wow. No posts from January to July.  Where have I been?  Mostly here.  In my house. And mostly sick.  Though praise God I have been feeling well for almost 2 whole months now!  God has really been working on me this year.  Mostly I think He's been showing me that I am not in control.

Not of my health.  Even though I have to monitor every single thing I ingest to keep from getting sicker and hopefully promote healing.  I might be the one making the menu, doing the shopping, making the meals and sometimes even the ingredients from scratch.  But ultimately, God is the only one who can make me heal.  He took me to my breaking point to show me that I needed to hand over the reins and trust Him.  And then almost overnight He gave me a measure of health that I have not experienced in years!  And along with that, a joy, gratitude, trust, and love for Him that I do not want to lose.

I'm not in charge of how soon this house sells either.  I found that I could do the repairs, clean, and stage it over and over, but God could make the buyers take one look at our street and decide to not even set foot inside our home.  And that is exactly what happened over and over and over again.  Until May.  ;) And if all goes smoothly, by this time next week, this little house will belong to someone else!

After whittling away at me and my power struggles in these areas, God started showing me that I also needed to work on lining up under my husband's lead.  My husband is pretty easy going.  And sometimes that can make it pretty easy for me to sort of steer where we are going in certain situations. After we got a good offer on our house, we began looking for our next home. This was when God started reminding me to let Jossue take the lead without any steering from me. I would remember Beverly telling me how blessed they had been because she allowed her husband to take the lead when it came time for them to move from California to New Jersey.  And I started to think that maybe if I pushed and prodded too much with such and easy going guy, I might steer us right out of a blessing.  Sometimes the best way for me to help Jossue is to just hold my tongue and see what ideas he comes up with before start to share all my opinions.

I wasn't sure I was 100% on board with my husband's plan to look in one small town for a home.  The inventory of what we could afford there was low and not really increasing either. At first I tried to make suggestions of other areas to look in.  He did agree to look at them, and I went with him to see those houses, determined to let him give is opinion first.  It became clear very quickly neither one of us liked those homes or areas. So I settled in to the plan of searching only in the town he had mentioned, even though that meant very few options were available to us.  It was where Jossue felt led and that was going to have to be enough for me...well that and knowing that God would lead and bless our family through the one He positioned to be the leader! So that made it easier. :). 

We went out one day with very few homes to look at.  We walked around one of them for quite a while.  I didn't love it but I didn't hate it either.  I was literally indifferent.  That was unusual because every other home I've seen I knew immediately how I felt about it.  After a bit I began to watch my husband to see what he was thinking.  My only thought was that the kitchen was quite small and I would need more work space (which was my deal breaker as far as I was concerned when looking at any of these houses).  Other than that, I had no real opinion one way or the other, I just needed to hear his thoughts.  And boy did he have some. Before we'd finished driving to the next house on our list, he and I both knew this was the one.  I had fallen in love with the house listening to how excited he was over it. The more times we see it, the more I love it, the more plans we make to enjoy it. :) And if I had continued to push against his desire to look in such a small area, or not given him the chance to talk openly (without first hearing a complaint from me) about his thoughts, I may have missed out on this house that now seems like it was made for us! :)  Right down to the kitchen that has plenty of room to work in because it will be extended into the dining room. :)

I know God isn't done working on us to trust Him.  He's been giving us little tests along the way over the purchase of this new home and we're not done yet.  It's currently in the short sale process and we've been told repeatedly "we'll let you know next Thursday" if our offer is accepted and when the closing will be.  THEN we can have the inspection done and make sure the house really is worth  buying! This weekend we move out of our old home and in with friends who are taking us and our dogs with no date set for the closing on our next home.  Thank God for friends like them! ;) And for walking with us, hand in hand, through all the lessons He hand picks for us.

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

New Year, New Look, New Resolve

Wow, another post AND a new look!?  Somebody must have some time on her hands...or else is procrastinating putting away the Christmas decorations....might be more of that second one.

A friend of mine posted her New Year's resolution recently.  It was only one phrase, a simple prayer to "be still and know" (Psalm 46:10).  What a great prayer for this year!  With so much in life to distract us,  I know it's easy for me to forget why I'm here.  The purpose of each day should be to glorify God in whatever we do.  Whether it's cooking, caring for a sicky (being a sicky :P), cleaning, getting to the thank you cards....or finally packing up those ornaments.  We can and should do it all to the glory of God (1Cor 10:31).   How can the ordinary and mundane be done to His glory?  It has to do with the heart.  It's the attitude of my heart while I serve Him where I am that is more important than the tasks themselves.  It's a heart that gives him thanks for house I'm cleaning while we wait for a buyer month after month, thanks for the ability to cook and afford the foods I need to help me heal, and thanks for the little one who requires more patience, love, and wisdom than I could ever come up with on my own, reminding me to lean on Him.  (How's that for a run-on?!)

So I'll take her resolution as my own this year, "be still and know", and though I could add so many more I will add only this one:  cultivate a heart of thankfulness while serving where He puts me.

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

My Golden Nugget

I'm going to share something today that I've spent more than half of my life trying to hide or deny.  But I've come to the realization that I need to just accept it and deal.  I'm sick. 

I was 14 in late 1993 when I first realized something was wrong.  It started out as mono but my symptoms never fully went away, and some got worse.  My parents took me to doctors for a few years trying to find out what it was but I soon realized that my doctors didn't like to say "I don't know what's wrong".   It was pretty lucky for them there was a diagnosis like Chronic Fatigue and Immune Dysfunction Syndrome (CFIDS) to latch on to.  To me the diagnosis was embarrassing and frustrating.  It meant, 1- They don't believe me or 2-They don't have an answer and don't want to admit it so I'm still not getting real help.

After a few years of too many trips to the doctor, too much blood work, and the insistence of too many doctors that maybe I should just take some antidepressants to boost my energy, I gave up on them all and decided to just keep my copay in my wallet.  My symptoms were still present but they were easier to accept if I told myself "this is just the way I am"....and if no one asked me questions like "Have you been to a doctor about this?"  or "What do the doctors say you have?"  I don't like admitting I'm sick to myself let alone to others, it makes me uncomfortable...especially when there wasn't a correct diagnosis to back up my claim...I felt like I was just complaining.  I mean, this is life in a fallen world.  Our bodies won't last forever, they are slowly dying from the moment we are born.  I'm no different than anyone else in that respect so maybe I was just being too whiny about it.

Fast forward to late 2008.  My same old symptoms were still present only now they were joined by a few that were new and worse.  It took me a few months to decide to see another doctor about it, but it didn't take him long to realize this wasn't CFIDS.  It was pan colitis.

This past year has been full of ups and downs.  This past month I began a short round of prednisone, so one week ago I felt great for the first time in more than a year.  I had 1 full week totally symptom free and even began putting on weight that really needed to be put back.  I had energy and appetite and didn't have to think about being sick for a moment.  It was wonderful!  But that week is over now.  I'm still thankful for it, it was a much needed break and so encouraging.  But now I'm here again.  Sick, struggling and watching the numbers on my bathroom scale begin to slip again.  An hour or two earlier I wanted to just give in and go back to bed.  Let today not have to count.  I'll start cooking all my safe/healing foods again tomorrow and being optimistic again about every gained ounce I see on my digital scale after each meal has been eaten.  But today let me just throw in the towel.  This is what I was thinking to myself when a little light flickered and caught my eye...A tiny golden nugget right there on the side of my gloomy little road.  And engraved on it was the thought "Serve Me where you are."   God knows what's going on with me.  He knows the plans He has for me and my family, and His plan is not for me to call this day a do over tomorrow.  I need to serve Him where I am.  Sick.  Tired.  Not feeling like homeschooling a 6 year old who has way more energy than I do.  He knows how I feel, He knows how much health He's given me for this day and He's told me to serve Him where I am with what He's given.  Not where I think I should be and with what I think I should have.

So  now I've tucked that nugget into my pocket and I'm off to serve the King where He's chosen to place me. :)