Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Head In The Clouds....

I had a fairly significant revelation this week that I wanted to share.  I was taking one of my evening walks when God gave me this understanding.  I am pretty certain that I was boohooing over some circumstances of the day....or possibly that day and the one before, primarily concerning my mommy-life.  I was asking God over and over, "when is this going to change?" and "when is that going to look different?"  When I finally shut my mouth (and yes, I take walks on my country road and rarely have more than 2 cars pass me in 2 miles....so I often talk aloud to God), He gave me some understanding that shed new light on my questioning.

When God speaks to me--as I believe He does with most of His children if we give Him the chance--He speaks to me in ways and words that I can understand or relate to.  So what He impressed on me was that the problem with most of us (myself very much included) is that we spend so much time looking forward.  What?!  Aren't we supposed to look ahead?  Fix our eyes on what's ahead...not behind?  Well, in a manner of speaking yes.  BUT, what God then said was that we are so busy looking forward at our horizon that we often fail to look up...at Him!

You see, the horizon can be beautiful at times and we can even become mesmerized by it!  Or (because life just plain stinks sometimes), our horizon might appear very discouraging.  I am not in the camp of denial-mentality Christians who think that somehow they are--or should be--exempt from life's messes.  You can choose to think that way, sure.  But you will quickly lose hope because you're believing a lie.  Jesus himself said that *in this life we would have trouble, but we should take heart because He has overcome the world.  I think we need to learn to be thankful in all circumstances and train ourselves to give thanks always...no matter what.  That being said, focusing on our horizon has the potential to become discouraging.  We can become irritated with the distractions or junk we see coming.  We can wonder when our horizon will ever look different!  We can even wish our horizon looked more like another person's...that we were headed in their direction.  Ahh...the comparison trap!

Moreover, we might become overly confident in what we think we are doing to create such a beautiful, seemingly endless picturesque horizon.  We might imagine that we are surely doing something right to see what we see ahead!  And while some of that might very well be true, we can falsely begin to depend on what we are doing rather than depending on God's goodness and grace!  In fact, we can (if we're not careful) begin to trust in what we see ahead, rather than trusting in the Creator of our horizon.  It's not at all wrong to look at our horizon, but we must be careful not to focus on that alone.

What God then impressed upon me was that we need to look up!  During this particular evening walk, the sky was very overcast.  But, as I looked up and allowed my eyes to truly take in the vast expanse of God's skies, I realized that even an overcast sky could appear magnificent.  When I looked up, I was reminded that there is so much more than what my eyes naturally see.  I was so in awe of the Creator God when I looked up and around!  It was then that I took my eyes off of what seemed apparent and evident and I began to dream about endless possibilities....because He is a God of infinite possibilities and wonders!  I was also freshly reminded to look to His face because that is where I find peace.  And often, even when there are clouds in the sky, if I look up I see His light shining right through them.  

God used this analogy to remind me to keep my eyes on Him!  It's not bad or wrong to look ahead.  And certainly I should move in the direction that I think He is leading me.  However, I cannot trust my horizon!  I have to put my trust in Him!  He is way bigger than my circumstances, however wonderful or lousy they may be.  In order to put my trust in Him, I have to look to Him....to gaze at Him!  Sometimes it truly is best to have my head in the clouds!

*John 16:33

Thursday, June 13, 2013

Where Do Your Eyes Linger?

So I've been consciously trying to change my focus--my perspective--to one of thankfulness.  With thankfulness as your focus, it is really difficult to allow the grumps!  In fact, it is downright impossible to be grumpy if you are being thankful.  We can only experience one true emotion at a time.  The trick isn't snapping out of the grumps.  The trick is training yourself to be continually and consciously thankful.

I have read books about gratitude and happiness and I've learned new things about myself and my perspective each time.  But, the one thing I have realized (and continue to realize) is that I can only experience true thankfulness if I practice being thankful regularly.  Ann Voskamp's book One Thousand Gifts  was a great read for me...mostly because I was encouraged to do what I need to do:  practice being thankful in a tangible way.  Recently I discovered the One Thousand Gifts app and I am kind of obsessed!  I am continually taking pictures anyway!  To snap pictures, add my text, and keep a journal I can readily click to in a moment and remind myself of all the wonderful blessings I have in my life....is a gift in and of itself!  In fact, I have found myself searching in the midst of normalcy for those things that are precious and that I want to remember.  I am choosing to rejoice and give thanks throughout my day. 

The humorous side of this is that once I decided to train myself to give thanks, I was also faced with many daily aggravations that I could allow or disallow to steal my thanks, and ultimately my peace.  Such is life!  So many lessons out there on changing our perspective, aren't there?  But the truth is that we can't and won't change our perspective unless we actively change what we look at...where we allow our eyes to linger!  So, here are some of my recent "thankfuls" that I'd love to share with you.

My caption here was "beautiful floors to clean."  I definitely could have found reason to gripe in the midst of this particular cleaning a couple weeks ago.  I have 4 young children and often feel I'm the only one who cares about a clean house.  Okay, who am I kidding?  I am the only one.  Anyway... I have wood floors throughout my house and it can feel overwhelming, BUT...I have beautiful wood floors!  (At least, they're beautiful to me!)

My almost 4 year old finally learned how to pump her legs on the swing!  This is so monumental because, out of all my kids, she loves to swing the most.  She wants to swing all day!  As you can imagine, mommy got real tired, real fast constantly pushing Tessa "higher!" and "higher!"...so this makes us both happy!

My creative kids are playing pirates!  We bought the Aardman animated film "Pirates" and they love everything piratey now, matey!  So I loved walking out to the play set to see Ella at the top with her knees on planks, using a kaleidoscope for their pirate game.  Even better, they were all playing together happily....for a time!

I just have to say that this one really doesn't need much explanation!  I mean, who wouldn't be thankful for a warm plate of homemade oatmeal chocolate chip cookies?  I fully intended to share with some neighbors, but oops!  We will do that another time, I promise!

"Some reading/coffee time to myself...."  Now, I truly don't get enough of this in my life, but I am SO THANKFUL when I do!  What a treat!  And, I also thanked God that morning for an amazing husband who recognizes my introverted need for times of refreshment...alone!

My husband, aka "Best Daddy in the World" hung a new rope swing for my kids in our front "willow weeper" tree, as my kids call it!  We had a rope swing in our tiny city backyard.  And although the kids now have 2 acres in which to run around, they missed their fun swing.  One trip to Lowe's after church and daddy fixed that!  Better still, my oldest is now strong and tall enough to push the others!  (and MOST of the time he's happy to do that...)

Okay, I love wind chimes...love them!  But, it didn't take long living in the country with the wind whipping through the fields that my wind chime broke.  I was sad!  The other day, as I was sitting on my front porch in our very worn porch-swing that my husband lovingly hung for me while I was grocery shopping, my daughter says, "Look, Daddy fixed your chime!"  Sure enough!  He made a new wooden piece at the bottom--so it could actually chime--and surprised me!  Such a happy surprise!  I have my front door open now and it's singing as my fingers type!

The funny thing about all of these pictures captured is that they are so normal.  We don't have an elaborate home or a fat bank account.  We have never had a family vacation, save weekends to visit my family in Cincinnati!  But, I am learning to focus, to celebrate, and to rejoice in the everyday blessings!  They overwhelm me even as I record them!  My life is a delight and worthy of celebration!  And I'll bet that yours is too!  No, everything is not perfect, wonderful, and beautiful all the time.  But many things are worth my gratitude.  I am learning to change my perspective because I am changing what I look at...and where I allow my eyes to linger.

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

His Timing is Always Best

Listening to the wind sweeping across the fields around me on this beautiful spring day, I'm reminded how winds of change can be so beautiful.  Change isn't often easy, but some change is a direct answer or culmination of answers to prayer...and it brings comfort!  As my school-age children got on the bus this morning, I heard a squeal from their morning bus driver.  I knew that she must be delighted at the small gift that my daughter had handed her!  I got momentarily choked up thinking over this school year that is quickly coming to a close.  My Ella finishes kindergarten this Friday and my boys finish school next Wednesday.  It is all bittersweet; their school year has been amazing!

I am certainly looking forward to the summer:  we have plans and are still making some.  I intend to enjoy my time with all four of my children home!  However, thinking back over this school year truly brings a smile to my face and warms my heart.  God is so faithful to answer our prayers...in His timing.  What I realize is that when we see the answer--or the culmination of answered prayers, in His timing--it is so sweet.  Praying about a new home, a new community, and very specifically about a new school district for my children was in the forefront of my prayers for several years.  I have spent almost every day of this school year being so grateful for His answers.  As the current school year comes to a close, I am grateful (to tears) that He heard all of my prayers and answered them beyond what I could have asked or even imagined!

From teachers, to classmates, to opportunities, to parent conferences, to art shows and consumer fairs, to father-daughter dances, to agricultural day (complete with pictures of my children on local farmers' tractors), to community volunteers that my children know by name....this has been a fantastic school year!  You see, I home schooled for 2 years.  Yes, I loved many aspects of homeschooling.  Yes, I truly believe it was the best decision for our family at the time.  No, I would not trade that time or experience for anything in this world.  But, 2 years was plenty long enough for me!  Whether it's my DNA, my kids' very strong-willed personalities, God's specific will for our children's lives, or all of the above...2 years was long enough!

I prayed and prayed for our new property and home; for our new community; and for our new school district.  I was and still am aware that on my own I did not know what was best for our family.  There were times over the almost 4 years that we wanted to move and put bids on different houses; tried to sell our home; attempted to rent it and then retracted, that I thought we knew what would be best.  Certain houses or areas charmed me in certain ways and I dreamed; I often felt we had found "the one" or "the perfect area"...but God knew best!  I know that now--fully and completely without any hesitation!  But I did not always know that along the journey of faith.  At times, I even intensely doubted that God was listening to a single one of my prayers.  And, during times of struggle with homeschooling, I feared that I would have to take on another year.  (Disclaimer:  if you are a very committed homeschooling for the entirety of your children's school life kind of mom, I have immense respect for you!  I am also aware that you might be shaking your head at my admission.  But I am fully comfortable in admitting that it isn't for me and my children for the long haul.)

Two days ago Ella, who is in kindergarten, and Luke, who is in first grade, told me that Ms. Marty needed me to call the library right away!  Marty is one of our community's librarians.  My preschooler and I see her weekly at story time.  My other children see her almost weekly at school as she helps with student reading.  We've seen her at monthly school events such as "Science Night" and a Christmas theatrical program.  We know her.  She knows us.  At first I thought that I must have neglected reading a notice sent home or forgot to sign something for the end of the year, although I had no idea what that could have been.  Then I realized it was probably about the Summer Reading Program.  My suspicion was confirmed when I spoke with Ms. Marty later that afternoon.  You see, she knows our family and knew that we would enjoy taking part in that program.  She didn't want it to fill to capacity before we had the chance to sign-up.  To me, this typifies our community!  

We see our bus drivers at school functions; our teachers at holiday parades; our kids wave at our farmer-neighbor as he plows the field....and he returns the wave, or stops to talk; and our children color pictures for the owner of the local pizza store, who loves our kids and always chats with us when we stop in.  This is the community of our prayers.  Our kids are at a fabulous school.  As I said before, I am so grateful!  What blesses me the very most is the lesson in all of this:  God's answers to prayer, along with patience in His timing, allow for the very best outcome.  Sure, we could have jumped ahead of him.  I'm sure that we could have had other homes and our kids could have done well at other schools.  But, what I know is how I feel...and I can't deny the immense gratitude at the beauty of His answers and His timing.  Everything about where we are (our property, home, school, community, and church) is better than we imagined!  We are excited for the journey ahead as it continues to develop and grow.  The lesson I have learned (or re-learned) can be applied to any area of need, desire, or prayer!  God knows best...He really does!  And His answers to prayer, in His timing, are better than we can imagine!  Don't forget to pray!  Give everything to Him in prayer, with thanksgiving, and watch the Master at work!

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Times of Refreshing

Recently I looked up the meaning of "refreshing" because I realized that I have thought about, referred to, and used that word so much over the last few months in different contexts.  The meaning was what I thought it to be, and the definition I liked best said:  agreeably stimulating because of freshness or newness 'a refreshing change of pace'.  I really like that!  And, I think that we need that in our lives, don't you?  It seems that nothing good can come from the same old, same old.  In fact, if we don't change it up a bit, I think life has a special way of changing it up for us!

Well I have certainly felt a sense of refreshing over my life in different ways over the past few months.  This is not to say that there have not been unwelcome circumstances or speed bumps, because there have, but there has been so much come into my life that has been refreshing, and I am grateful!

Most often, I think that refreshing comes from following that still, small voice of God in our lives.  Do you know He speaks to us?  In so many different ways He does.  But He doesn't shout or pester to get our attention...as my children do more times than I care to remember.  He is gentle.  He is strong indeed.  But He deals with the important issues in our lives with such love and patience.  He embodies love and patience.  I so long to learn to be like Him in this way.  Let my heart be changed to be more like yours, God!  Through love, patience, and gentleness He speaks to us.  He prompts us.  He reminds us.  He encourages us.  He gives ideas.  Those thoughts that just don't go away about an idea or inspiration:  that's God's voice in your life.  Refreshing comes when we follow!  Times of refreshing await as we begin the walk of true and ultimate obedience, whatever the cost.  

Oftentimes the cost is what scares us the most.  This is where we hesitate.  We are all about self-preservation (selfishness) just as our children are, actually.  We don't want to move or go in a direction that we know will cost us...in some way.  But, as we obey and head in the direction that He encourages us to walk, we begin to step into times of refreshing.  We may not see or feel them right away...but they will come.  

Each of us has a different road to travel.  A different path to walk.  The beauty is in trusting that God has made no mistakes in the road He has chosen for you.  Trust says that I'm willing to go through the icky and the ugly to come closer to Him.  To come closer to what He has for my life.  Only in the icky and the ugly can we learn to trust.  And, when we really begin to trust--without hesitation and without reservation--we experience refreshing.  We experience a freshness or a newness!  We experience this because God provides us with these times.  He loves to do a new thing in our lives.  He loves to change the pace in our lives. This doesn't mean that He changes because truly, He is the same yesterday, today, and forever.  But He does love newness and freshness.  I am realizing that He delights in seeing us refreshed as we allow Him to move and create newness in our lives and in our life's journey.  

I am thankful for the times of refreshing I have been experiencing.  Grateful is the other word I've heard myself saying.  That's more accurate.  I am truly grateful.  Not just grateful for the refreshing times, but I am grateful because I know, without a doubt, that the times of refreshing have come into my life as a result of trust and obedience.  And, I can take no credit for that.  He has been too patient with me.  He has been so good and gentle toward me.  So, if you find yourself yearning for times of refreshing...if you feel tears well in your eyes because that is the prayer and cry of your heart...  Listen for Him.  Be still and quiet before Him.  Even for a few moments of your day.  Be still.  Ask Him to speak to you.  Ask Him to reveal Himself to you.  Ask Him to show you the plans that He has for you.  He will.  He hears us and He longs for us to seek Him.  God will speak into your life.  He will direct your path.  He will make it clear.  It might take a while for you to see it clearly, but it won't be long before you see the next few steps in front of you clearly.  And when you do, walk in obedience.  Without hesitation, trust Him.  And as you trust in God, those times of refreshing will begin to come.  

Friday, March 22, 2013

Looking For the Smiles

Feeling very fulfilled and content creating precious memories with our children.  I'm focusing on remaining content in all things.  This is good.  Really good.  Circumstances cause me to look up, look down, look around, seek, seek, and seek; they're not altogether bad, constantly changing, because once I seek, I find.  I find Him.  I find the One, the only one, in whom my soul rests.  Once I find Him--as I always do when I seek--I am fully reminded to rest in Him.  To be content.  To remain content.  In contentment is the peace which my soul desperately craves.  I crave this peace more than I crave any other thing in my life!  I crave peace as my body craves water.  And I have found...I am finding, again and again that peace, true peace, is found in contentment.

Living this truth is key because I know that my children are watching me more than they are listening to me.  (Often I wonder if they're ever listening to me.)  But, do you know what I mean?  The way that I live my life and walk in contentment and peace...or not, is what they get more than what I say to them.  I have to keep this truth in the forefront, because I want my children to live life in peace more than anything else.  Just as the apostle Paul said, whether they abound or are abased (Philippians 4:12), I want them to live life content; this brings about true peace. 
Today is a perfect opportunity.  My husband and I finally have a date night planned.  They are few and far between so we are ecstatic when one is on the calendar!  My 7 year old woke up complaining of a headache.  I gave him medicine, prayed with him, and sent him on his way to school.  I had a very strong suspicion that the school would be calling me by lunch time, at the latest.  Just had a feeling.  Sure enough, I got off the phone with my older brother mid-morning and there was a call from my son's school.  So, I pouted for a minute.  Then, I packed up my 3 year old and drove to get my son.  He had a low grade fever.  I sent a message to my friend, who had so graciously offered to watch my children.  I let my husband know what was going on.  I pouted just a bit more.  Then I began to seek.  Why, darn it?  Well...why not?  Life is life...and sometimes it's unfair!  But, you know what else I found?  Contentment.  Peace.  I watched our new chicks for a while...and they made me smile.  I looked around my beautiful living room (beautiful in my eyes as we're still renovating and it's been a long journey).  I smiled.  I breathed.  I listened to my son talk to his sister with kindness.  I relaxed.  It's okay.  He may feel better after resting, and we may still get to go.  Or, he may not and the date will be off.  Either way, I'm okay.  I'm fully content and enjoying this day.  I am at peace.  My soul is at rest.  

So, this peace is truly what I want my children to catch, if they don't get anything else from me.  This is my prayer for them.  Am I always at peace?  No way!  But, this is my prayer for myself too.  And I'm learning.  I'm growing.  I'm seeing God work His peace in me as a master craftsman.  He is perfectly able to finish all of the good works that He has begun in me.  I will continue to look for places to smile.  I will continue to thoroughly enjoy creating memories--and opportunities for memories--with my children.  Some of the things making us all smile recently are our 8 new baby chicks.  They are darling.  And yes, I know that they grow up!  We are so excited about this new chapter in our new country life!  Loving the moments.  Loving the days.  Looking for the smiles.  Learning to remain content.  Learning to live in peace.  

Thursday, March 14, 2013

Too Much is Not Enough

Remember having a pen pal?  I do.  In fact, I remember having many pen pals throughout my childhood and young adulthood.  Now, not so much.  What seems to have taken the place of something like pen pals is something like emails, texts, and social media outlets.  Believe me, I am all for these advancements.  I email; I text often; and I have used social media regularly.  There is nothing, in my opinion, inherently wrong with any of these mediums for connection.

I do use the word "connection" hesitantly however, because I have had a slight change of heart.  Or, maybe it's just my perception that has changed.  Either way, I have begun to wonder if there is much of a genuine connection that takes place via emails, texts, and social media.  Up until approximately 4 months ago, I used social media regularly to connect with friends, family, and acquaintances.  I really enjoyed it!  Circumstances caused me to make a decision to deactivate my social media account.  At first I felt very disconnected!  I missed seeing pictures, fun quotes, interesting status posts, and my friends' check-ins.  But before long I realized that in the innermost makeup of who I am, I wasn't missing anything at all (in terms of feeling connected with people who I care about).

Fast forward 4 months and I am doubtful that I will re-connect in this particular way any time soon.  Again, nothing at all wrong with social media; it can be a whole lot of fun.  But, it can also be a waste of time.  It can be a source of hurt.  It can allude a false sense of identity.  And it can sure be a false sense of community...or if you will, connection!

Please understand that I am not on an anti-social media rant nor am I suggesting that anyone who participates is falling prey to what I specifically pinpointed.  But for me, I saw most of this at play in my own life or those with whom I was connected.  You know, the perfect marriage online....but have dinner with them and it's a completely different couple.  Or, the constant bragging about all the do-gooding in one's family or children, while failing to consider the feelings of some who think they'll never measure up.  I've been a part of entire meal-time discussions about something posted on a person's social profile page.  Had circumstances not prompted me to bow out, I would probably still be an active participant.  But not having this as a part of my life has been nothing short of a refreshing change of pace, if not a blessing.  (Again, this is just me!)

What most of us crave is real connection--person to person.  I text friends and family frequently (and honestly, 9 times out of 10 it's just easier than a phone conversation).  But, I am refreshed and affirmed after a coffee date with a friend, like the one I recently enjoyed.  I appreciate the short and sweet messages my husband sends me, but what I really crave is some face to face time with him (I'm talking about conversation....mostly!).  I enjoy reading and sending a nice email, but how much more special I feel to open or send a card in the mail.  Snail mail, yes!  That's what I'm referring to!  I love it!  Writing notes, letters, and cards is one of my things--always has been!  And personally, I've found that one is much more deliberate this way than when the "send" or "post" button is pushed.  And boy, can buttons easily be pushed!  I've been the recipient and I've been the perpetrator.  Yes I have. 

I was having a phone conversation with one of my lifelong friends, who unfortunately lives thousands of miles away from me.  She too, has recently taken a leave of absence from the social media world.  She echoed everything I was expressing in relation to that decision.  She is the one who used the term deliberate.  She wanted to become more deliberate in her relationships.  So do I!  So do I.  When I think of a friend or family member and send that card, or make that phone call, or even when I send that text...I want it to mean something.  I don't want it to be haphazard or careless. 

You know, when you see 60+ "likes" on a post or a picture, it's very easy to fool yourself into thinking that 60 some people genuinely care.  When in reality, what happens in life...is what's real!  Go through a life-altering circumstance or an extremely difficult transition and observe who is by your side.  Most of us, if we're honest, are pretty darn lucky to have 6 people genuinely care, check in, bring a meal or dessert, pray with us, cry with us, celebrate with us, or break bread with us!  And that is not a bad thing!  It's a very real thing.  We can be fooled into thinking we are surrounded by swarms of people who love us, care about us, and are cheering for us...but when the rubber meets the road we see who is really there...walking this life road with us!  That's where the blessing is!

There is a bible verse that refers to throwing pearls before swine.  It is not my intention to take that verse out of its context, but the general idea of deliberate relationships can be similar.  We only have so many hours in a day.  We only have so much emotional energy.  We only have so much to give.  As is the same for those around us.  How realistic is it to think that our 500 online friends are really our friends?  Or even 50 for that matter?  And why would we continue to pursue relationships that are rarely--if ever--reciprocated?  We can either invest in those few meaningful relationships or we can spread ourselves thin...and possibly miss out on enjoying rich, meaningful fellowship or connection.  Most of us have looked at the life of Jesus, who had the multitudes, the crowds, the disciples, the 3, and the 1 close friend.  This is a very real picture.  And I repeat what I said before:  social media is a fun use of time, but we were created for nothing short of real life connection. 

Sometimes there is just too much noise in our lives!  Too much.  Too many distractions.  Too many obligations.  Too many scheduling conflicts.  Too many business ventures.  Too many after-school activities.  Too many toys.  Too many clothes.  Too many shoes.  (Well....maybe not that necessarily!)  Too many posts.  Too many people constantly around us.  Too much noise.  Not enough life.  Ironic?  I don't think so.  How many times did Jesus deliberately leave the multitudes and the chaos?  How many times did he steal away to be quiet?  To pray? 

And on the heels of that, if I may:  real life and growth most often occurs in the stillness and the deliberate quiet.  How else can we hear what God's still small voice is whispering to us?  I read a wonderful passage in a beautiful book recently.  The book is Hinds' Feet on High Places:  it is the story of Much-Afraid making the journey to the high places with the Shepherd's guidance.  Toward the beginning of Much-Afraid's journey, the Shepherd explains to her why it's necessary for this journey to the very highest places to be one made in quiet and solitude--not before the eyes of beholders. 

All the fairest beauties in the human soul, its greatest victories, and its most splendid achievements are always those which no one else knows anything about, or can only dimly guess at.  Every inner response of the human heart to Love and every conquest over self-love is a new flower on the tree of Love.  Many a quiet, ordinary, and hidden life, unknown to the world, is a veritable garden in which Love's flowers and fruits have come to such perfection that it is a place of delight where the King of Love himself walks and rejoices with his friends.  Some of my servants have indeed won great visible victories and are rightly loved and reverenced by other men, but always their greatest victories are like the wild flowers, those which no one knows about.
That last paragraph may read like a diversion from my main topic, but it really is not.  When we are deliberate with our time and relationships, we can enjoy the kind of connection that God intended for us all.  When we deliberately separate ourselves enough from the noise of this world we live in, we can even ascend to more meaningful places in our personal lives,  in our relationships, and primarily--and most importantly--in our relationship with God.  When we make a deliberate decision to say no to too much, we are giving ourselves the space and permission to grow; the energy to enjoy our most precious relationships; and the strength to enrich our life's journey.  Simply put, too much is just...not enough.

*quote from Hinds' Feet on High Places, Hannah Hurnard

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

That Could Be Us

Recently my family and I were visiting with a friend.  She was telling us of a recent furnace problem.  We were telling her about having to replace 3 things in my husband's truck--3 weeks in a row; having to re-route our laundry room drain that was backing up; having to thaw a frozen pipe in the laundry room; and having to replace a breaker that was bad.  I mean to tell ya, sometimes like the past few weeks, I wonder when we will get a break!  Thankfully my husband is handy!  But, he is also one person with limited time...and we are one family with limited income.  My friend had commented about the several hundred dollars they paid their furnace guy.  No household problems are welcome, are they?  They are always inconvenient.

A day later my husband and I were talking about our busy few weeks of fixing things as well as his busy schedule completing a job outside of his regular schedule.  I brought up the discussion of my friend's furnace and commented that our problem isn't simply the frustration of things breaking down or needing replaced, but also the cost.  For some, it's inconvenient but the cost isn't too big of a factor.  For us, it's inconvenient and the cost can often be another setback.  You know, you save and pay off debt only to have something happen...one step forward, two steps back!  I began the "woe is me" rant.  "All I want is a date!  You know, one where we can go do what we choose?"  "I want to see our savings build, rather than being depleted over and over and over."  "I want to visit my dear friend who lives thousands of miles away."  On and on it went until I sighed and said, "Some people just don't know how blessed they are."  My husband looked at me very seriously and said, "You know?  That could be us...we may not realize how blessed we are."

Ahh...he was certainly right!  Admittedly I wasn't in the mood to hear it or agree at that moment.  I was still playing the pity card.  I was doing a good job at it.  In fact, even after his revealing reflection, I was still immersed in self-pity.  We can stay in that funk just as long as we choose to!  And sometimes others around us will even agree that we are due for a break!  But, I couldn't (and I can't) admit that my husband wasn't right, darn it!  We have a very happy, healthy marriage and we have 4 beautiful, smart, creative, and fun children.  And even if it doesn't look like it just yet, we have our dream home (well, we will after we replace the windows, put doors on all the rooms, finish the drywall upstairs, and a million other things...)!  We have a space in the country that we love.  Our kids are now attending a wonderful school with teachers and administrators we trust.  And, we have found a church home where we are so happy and at peace--a church of integrity with goals and a vision in which we wholeheartedly agree.  Life is good!  We are truly a blessed family.  

Any mom or dad reading this could write his or her own similar story.  It is so tempting--and so easy--to fall into the trap of self-pity.  We all have circumstances that we wish could be different.  We can focus on those all we want.  We can drown ourselves in self-pity if we so choose.  And boy doesn't that feel good?  No, it does not!  Never.  But, if we change our perspective and count our blessings, we see things so clearly.  And honestly, I wouldn't want to be on the other side of our circumstances if it meant that God wasn't in control.  There is a reason for every circumstance in which we find ourselves.  Who can put a price-tag on the love, joy, and peace we feel in our marriage and family?  Sometimes we need someone to look us in the face, in the midst of our personal pity party, and remind us that we may not realize how blessed we truly are.  I suppose I should admit to my husband that he was right...  If I'm not careful--if I don't change my perspective and count my blessings--I may miss it!  I may not realize how blessed we truly are!