Sunday, September 29, 2013

No one can stand whining and complaining. Unless it is creative. . . .

There is no substitute when Mama is ill, but Daddy does a pretty good job.  I have found that creative complaining is more palatable than just plain old whining, and usually gives me a chuckle.  On my sixth day of fever, I give you a remake of the Bruce Springsteen classic, "I'm on Fire".  Because I am. 

Hey little girl is your daddy home?
Did he go and leave you all alone
I can't play, Mama's just too tired
Ooh ooh ooh
I'm on fire

Tell me now baby did he change your poo
Can he make dinner like I do
Oh no
Oven needs to be higher
Ooh ooh ooh
I'm on fire

Sometimes it's like someone took a knife
baby edgy and dull and cut a six-inch valley
through the middle of my throat

At night I wake up with the sheets soaking wet
and a freight train running through the
middle of my head

No Tylenol, the situation is dire,
Ooh ooh ooh
I'm on fire

Ooh ooh ooh
I'm on fire

Ooh ooh ooh
I'm on fire

Monday, September 16, 2013

Poison darts or arrows?

In the summer of 2010, we joyfully announced the expectation of our now 2 1/2 year old son.  Although news of him was a surprise to us (and after the initial shock was absorbed) we were thrilled to be expecting our fourth child----and third son.  I could not imagine life without my sweet little man, a gentle, considerate, slightly shy compilation of his older siblings.  He has soothed sorrows, brought much joy, and delighted our entire brood.

By the fall of 2010, I was growing weary.  Yes, I was pregnancy-weary, and I was homeschooling-weary, and I was housework- and discipline-weary.  But what I was really, really weary of was all of the intrusive, rude, misguided statements.  Statements framed as questions, yet hedging judgement and disdain for something of no concern to them.

"Are these all yours?!?  My, you will have your hands FULL!  Another boy?!? Your poor daughter!"

And my personal favorite, the one reducing the intended recipient of the question to a 10th grade health class flunky:


Being the wife of a preacher man does not come with an automatic proclivity to keeping one's mouth shut, although there are so many times that would be most helpful.  I did mostly smile and nod and "Hahaha" to the bulk of the commentary, but I do recall one unfortunate woman who received a, "No, perhaps you can enlighten me.  I just keep waking up all swollen like this" quip.

Four kids entered me deeper into the Freak Zone, deeper than special needs, deeper than homeschooling and deeper than a husband who preaches the gospel.When I talk of autism spectrum stuff or homeschooling, I make waves. When I introduce myself to people and tell them about my husband, I sometimes joke that I am wearing the "Scarlet P" on my chest, for "Preacher's Wife".  I can sense in some an icy demeanor change upon that announcement, but generally people are still respectful.  But for some reason my swelling abdomen was a permission slip for commentary about population control.

And four kids isn't even that many kids!  I live fairly close to Ohio's largest Amish population.  Fourteen, sixteen kids-----THAT is a lot of kids.  Four is still "regular mini van".  Four is just past needing only one hotel room, just past the family sleeper car on Amtrak, just past pickup trucks with extended cabs.  But it is still a normal amount of kids. 

Just like so many other societal "norms", we are going against the Book in our attitude and in our world view.

The Bible teaches us that:
Lo, children are an heritage of the LORD: and the fruit of the womb is his reward.
As arrows are in the hand of a mighty man; so are children of the youth.
Happy is the man that hath his quiver full of them: they shall not be ashamed, but they shall speak with the enemies in the gate.----Psalms 127:3-5

God rewards us with children.  They are his reward to us.  And like all blessings, they are given to us for at least two reasons:
1.  For our enjoyment
2.  For our edification.

We are to find joy in our children.  Children, like spouses, are given to us in part to bring us joy.  If we aren't feeling joy in our relationships with our blessings, it is a sign that something is not right.  Usually for me, this is a sign that I need to get down to business with the Lord by praying about the situation, searching the scriptures, and asking for His wisdom to discern the truth about my heart.  Sometimes I see my blessings as burdens.  This is a huge red flag that needs to be addressed when it arises.

Children teach us how to be better children of God.  My marriage has taught me about the mercy of Jesus.  My parenthood has taught me about my His wonderful, marvelous grace.  The Lord is so patient, so long suffering, and so willing to bless me--even in spite of my willful disobedience, my stubborn nature, my lack of showing grace toward others.  It shows me, that in comparison ---not to other moms or people on T.V., but in comparison to Him and Him alone---- that I am NOT patient.  I am NOT long suffering, and I do NOT extend grace even to my flesh and blood children as I should.  It helps me to humbly ask His forgiveness (and many times, my children's forgiveness) for my ways, and that humility reminds me of who I am in His sight.  I am only the daughter of a king through the merciful spirit of adoption. That knowledge in my soul gives me strength to extend grace to others.

There is not a respect given toward children in our world.  We
                                    preoccupy them with gadgets, rather than teach patience, diligence and respect;
                                    pacify them, rather than show them how to work;
                                    shelter them, rather than instruct how to handle responsibilities;
                                    thrust them into a popular culture they don't have the tools to navigate in. 

Our blessings should be cultivated gently and carefully and purposefully, like a garden.  Gardens will weed naturally, but a carefully cultivated garden will yield much fruit for the labor.

Hannah purposefully raised a child, only to give him back to the Lord.  In surrendering what she held so dear, she actually found her heart's desire; a child that would honor the Lord with his life.  By contrast, Eli took a less diligent approach to child rearing, and reaped a garden full of weeds, fit only to be burned down.

Big, wonderful families are blessings from God.  Those doing the task of raising them need our support and encouragement, not our scorn. 

I had two differing reactions this week to my "big" family.  Earlier I called on our first rental possibility in Oregon.  Upon finding out how many children we have, the landlord exclaimed, "Oh honey---that's too many kids for my septic tank to handle."  This left me in Mama Grizzly mode, although it would not be the first time a person has frowned upon or discriminated against our number of kids.

But today, a sweet older man at Sam's Club saw me with the kids, and we were having a good time eating pizza before shopping.  He watched us for quite some time and said to me, "I bet you wish you had four more swirling around you.  They sure are wonderful." 

And that was awesome.

Lord, help us to see our little people as blessings. Give us wisdom to teach and live out lives before them that are honorable and exemplary of what You want us to be.  Help us to encourage and support those with small children in any way we can.

Love to you all this beautiful day-----
Sandra :)

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Two Tired

 Cast your bread upon the waters, for you will find it after many days. 
 Give a portion to seven, or even to eight, for you know not what disaster may happen on earth. 
 If the clouds are full of rain, they empty themselves on the earth, and if a tree falls to the south or to the north, in the place where the tree falls, there it will lie.
He who observes the wind will not sow, and he who regards the clouds will not reap. 

As you do not know the way the spirit comes to the bones in the womb of a woman with child, so you do not know the work of God who makes everything.  

In the morning sow your seed, and at evening withhold not your hand, for you do not know which will prosper, this or that, or whether both alike will be good.            Ecclesiastes 11:1-6

Have you ever laid in bed, so thankful in prayer to God for life's trials that you had a full heart about to burst and tears streaming down your cheeks? 

If not, you sure are missing something.

This weekend, my husband had preaching appointments in Kentucky and Tennessee. I feel like it is the start of the "Good Bye Tour" for our family.  We are moving to Oregon, and although we plan to be back to this side of the country to visit family and friends, we will be a long, long way from our home, in a far away land not too familiar to us, for a time frame known only to God.  So it is nice, in the midst of packing, cleaning, and selling things on Craigslist, to take a break now and then to fellowship with family and brothers and sisters in the Lord.

We decided to test out the little RV that we purchased to help us travel West and work out any kinks we had on the road.  So we piled in on a busy holiday weekend and headed south.  We had plans to visit Mammoth Cave and the Creation Museum, and to visit a few of the many we hold dear.

All was well until about 41 miles north of Cincinnati on 71, when we blew a tire. Jason guided the RV to the shoulder of the busy highway, and we quickly loaded the children off, down a knee-high grassy hill, over a ditch, and up the next hill.  For the next 3 1/2 hours the kids and I huddled together on a sleeping bag, including our 2 year old, and read library books and talked---no iPod, iPad, or TV around.  We talked about why this had to happen, and how God had a plan in all of it, even if we never knew what it was.  We prayed for Daddy, and that the Lord would protect.  I am always amazed at the resiliency and maturity of our children when things like this happen. 

Jason tried to help me, but the very instant, and I am not kidding in the least bit, that he entered the grass his body responded with hives all over his arms and legs.  So he was stuck by the RV, and I was relegated to mothering on the grassy knoll.

For  2 1/2 hours car after car sped by our little group marooned on the highway.  Jason held a sign up that said, "NEED JACK", and later I tried too.  (I didn't really care at this point if "Jack" was a mechanical instrument or the name of a mechanic.)  And NO ONE STOPPED.

Finally, about hour three, a nice gentleman stopped and attempted to help.  He didn't have the right type of tool, and he tried his road side assistance program, even offering to upgrade his membership by $30 to help us.  But the operator stated he would need to upgrade $60, and he was out.

The sheriff that was paid to help stopped, and he tried too, and by that time our road sided assistance company showed up.  The tire was changed to the spare, and at the end of it all we spent from 5:30 p.m. until 8:52 p.m. on the side of 71. 

After spending the night in the parking lot of a sister church, we woke up greeted by the pastor, his wife and another preacher.  We shared the story of our breakdown, and after visiting for a few minutes we were off again on our journey.

Not 30 minutes later, guess what?  Another blown tire!  But this time we had no spare.

So we called roadside assistance AGAIN.  It was just as user friendly as the day before.  Roadside assistance programs should unplug all of their GPS equipment and employ bloodhounds. We would have been found quicker, even if they were released from the company's Miami headquarters and we were in Kentucky.  They never did show up. 

But this time we made a different call too; one to a brother and sister that are members of the church we had just been at.

They immediately came to our aid, driving two cars to carry us all to their home, where we were fed, showered, and loved.  The kids got to play with their friends and made new ones.  The search was on for tires that were to be specially ordered on a holiday weekend, and in spite of the brother searching diligently, it was apparent that none would be found in time for us to return to Ohio.  So a different brother and sister allowed us to use their much-nicer-than-ours minivan to not only get to our destination, but drive back to Ohio. 

Another brother offered to chauffer us back the entire 6 hours to our home, and countless others offered their cars, food, and hospitality.

As I laid in bed Saturday night at yet another brother and sister's home, I was praying and thanking God for His beautiful, merciful, graceful, loving provisions on our little family.

And I thanked Him for blown out tires.

Without blown out tires, I would have missed visiting with brothers and sisters, and little spiritual nephews and nieces, that I love with a Godly love.  I would have missed seeing the hand of God work by placing on His children acts of kindness that they extended to us in faith----not in faith that we deserved it, but with faith in the One who supplied their own needs. 

And I would have missed out on all the love shown by God to me, demonstrated in the obedience of His children.

You see, there have been times that the Lord has put on my husband and I to help someone----to "cast our bread upon the waters".  To help someone in need that we are pretty well certain would not be able to return the favor in the same way.  I want to be very, VERY clear that I am NOT advocating a "help to be helped by God" system. What I am advocating is obedience to the Spirit.  If the Lord deals with your heart to give to someone, whether it be time, money, or resources, GIVE. 

To demonstrate this to the kids I took a piece of their waffle at breakfast----the last piece of waffle-----the one that they could have eaten gladly, instantly, and might have felt that they needed themselves----and tossed it into a bowl of water.

Instantly it began to dissolve, and after three seconds I retrieved the soggy waffle from the bowl.  I said to the kids, "Looks like it is wasted, doesn't it? Can you get any use out of it?"

But Solomon said, "you will find it after many days."

To find it at all would be miraculous---but to find it after many days?

That is just GOD.  It just is.  God loves a cheerful giver.  An obedient, faith-in-the-Lord giver.  Not a "I'll-give-'cause-God-is-watching-and-I-might-need-Him-one-day" giver; not a "this-makes-me-feel-good-about-me" giver; but a truly faithful, obedient, loving, cheerful giver. One who knowingly throws his last morsel of bread into the water, giving it in faith,  KNOWING that when he is hungry he will find it again after many days.  You aren't casting it on the waters so that you can retrieve it and use it; you are casting it because it is what God wants you to do.  Isn't that a demonstration of sacrificial love?

I detest the idea of karma, and it is such a popular notion in our society.  Karma says, "you get out what you put in".  So if you are generous, you get generosity.  If you are mean, you reap bad things.

But GRACE is so much better than karma.  Grace gives me what I DON'T deserve.  Grace gives me what I need, abundantly more than I could ever provide or procure for myself, and it does it in HIS time, in HIS way, using HIS methods and HIS children.  If I got what I deserved. . . .

I would still be sitting by I-65. 

Love your neighbor, brothers and sisters.  It is that Godly love that we have for one another that allows this dark, cold, uncaring world to see the Light of a beautiful Savior.  One who loves them just every bit as much as He loves you and me.  The first tire the Lord showed me how it looks to provide for myself (and He still helped us!). The second tire He showed me what it looks like when He does the providing.

So very, very, very VERY thankful for my Jesus, who constantly amazes me with His wonderful, matchless, abundant grace.

Love to you all,