Thursday, February 28, 2008

Blessed Assurance

I'm smiling now as I think back on the past months. The knowledge that God was preparing me, the idea of suffering, the struggle, then the resignation, and then the anticipation. And now I see at least a glimpse of what it was for. He was giving me the armour I would need for this battle. He prepared the way so that I would not be shocked by it or overcome. He filled me up with His love and strength. It is an amzing thing when you can look at a situation that seems bleak and scary and still have peace. I don't think I have ever had this before. I have read about it, prayed for it, and seen others with it, but now it is mine. The peace that passes understanding. I feel safe and secure even though my world is shaking a bit. I know that I know that I know that God has me in His hands and whatever comes to me, good or bad, difficult or easy, is a blessing from Him. In the good times I will praise Him and in the bad I will praise Him. He has given me what I need - His presence, His love, and His grace. If God is for me who (what) can be against me?! I get it.

Sunday, February 17, 2008

A Little Boy is Running Out of Time

If he doesn't have a family commit to him soon he will be transferred to the home for the disabled and will no longer be available for adoption. His future there would be grim indeed.

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Redemptive Suffering

I just listened to the Feb 3rd sermon and I just think it is so cool that there is a name for what I was trying to describe in my post here: and here:

It just goes to show that you don't need some fancy, well-read theologian to tell you about God and the mysteries of how He works. He taught this to me, and I am quite often fairly unteachable!

The past week with G has been difficult at best. Just when we think he is coming around he will once again plummet into the abyss. Our therapist once suggested possible early onset bi-polar disorder. It seems to fit. He will have days, even weeks of being the G we know him to be - kind, affectionate, moderately obedient;-) but will then seemingly with no trigger or notice become this angry, irritable, defiant liitle tyrant. Every time it happens, even though it has happened consistently for years now, I become disheartened and completely discouraged. I get sad thinking about what the other three are exposed to - yelling, anger, destruction of property, and I get angry thinking how everything could be wonderful if he were just a normal kid. So, in light of my new revelations about suffering I have been asking the Lord what He would have me do in this situation. And the answer wasn't easy to hear. It was - ENDURE TO THE END. That's it. He didn't promise to fix it. He didn't whisper how it would be over soon. He didn't apologize for how hard it has been. He just said to endure. I think He wants me to truly start to practice this redemptive suffering thing! He wants me to keep loving G even when he is "unloveable" and ISN'T loving me back. He wants me to acknowledge that although being G's mother is going to be often heart breaking, that I was put in his life for a reason and if I can help his heart and mind to heal then it is worth it. It will be joyful! Even if I don't truly see the evidence of it in this life. So today I pray that God would help me to love in a selfless way that expects nothing in return. And I hope that one day G will feel the love that is indeed all around him.

It's All About the Joy-Part 2

This pastor seems to be speaking directly to me these days. Yesterday I went and listened to the January 27th sermon on joy and suffering. And so, as much as I keep thinking I have got this down and God can move on to the next lesson, apparently He wants to let it sink in a bit first.

Go to then click on recent sermons and go to January 27th.

And I see tht title of the next sermon is "Suffering for Someone Else's Joy". I guess I might as well go watch that one too!

Sunday, February 10, 2008

Southern Women - For Memaw

I come from a long line of proud Southern Women so I just had to swipe this off Ange's blog and share it here. Every single line is true and boy do I have a hankerin' for biscuits and gravy right now, and I sure do miss my Memaw. She was the perfect Southern Woman - she might kick your hind end to the curb every now and again, but while you's out there she'd be fixin ya a mess a greens and fried okra to make up for it(: I miss you Memaw and thanks for teaching me the Southern way. I couldn't be more proud.

Southern women appreciate their natural assets:Clean skin.A winning smile.That unforgettable Southern drawl.
Southern women know their manners:"Yes, ma'am.""Yes, sir.""Why, no, Billy!"
Southern women have a distinct way with fond expressions :"Y'all come back!""Well, bless your heart.""Drop by when you can.""How's your Momma?""I'm going to kick your hind end all the way to the curb"
Southern women know their summer weather report:HumidityHumidityHumidity
Southern women know their vacation spots:The beach The rivuh The crick
Southern women know the joys of June, July, and August:Colorful hi-heel sandals Strapless sun dresses Iced sweet tea with mint
Southern women know everybody's first name:Honey Darlin' Shugah
Southern women know the movies that speak to their hearts:Fried Green Tomatoes Driving Miss Daisy Steel Magnolias Gone With The Wind
Southern women know their country breakfasts:Red-eye gravy Grits Eggs Country ham Mouth-watering homemade biscuits with momma's homemade jelly
Southern women know their cities dripping with Southern charm:
Chawl'stn S'vanah Foat Wuth N'awlins Addlanna
Southern women know their elegant gentlemen:Men in uniform. Men in tuxedos Rhett Butler
Southern girls know their prime real estate:The Mall The Country Club The Beauty Salon
Southern girls know the 3 deadly sins:Having bad hair and nails Having bad manners Cooking bad food

More Suthen-ism's:
Only a Southerner knows the difference between a hissie fit and a conniption fit, and that you don't "HAVE" them, you "PITCH" them.
Only a Southerner knows how many fish, collard greens, turnip greens, peas, beans, etc., make up "a mess."
Only a Southerner can show or point out to you the general direction of "yonder."
Only a Southerner knows exactly how long "directly" is, as in: "Going to town, be back directly."
Even Southern babies know that "Gimme some sugar" is not a request for the white, granular sweet substance that sits in a pretty little bowl in the middle of the table.
All Southerners know exactly when "by and by" is. They might not use the term, but they know the concept well.
Only a Southerner knows instinctively that the best gesture of solace for a neighbor who's got trouble is a plate of hot fried chicken and a big bowl of cold potato salad. If the neighbor's trouble is a real crisis, they also know to add a large banana puddin!
Only Southerners grow up knowing the difference between "right near" and "a right far piece." They also know that "just down the road" can be 1 mile or 20.
Only a Southerner, both knows and understands, the difference between a redneck, a good ol' boy, and po' white trash.
No true Southerner would ever assume that the car with the flashing turn signal is actually going to make a turn.
A Southerner knows that "fixin" can be used as a noun, a verb, or an adverb.
Only Southerners make friends while standing in lines, .. and when we're "in line," . we talk to everybody!
Put 100 Southerners in a room and half of them will discover they're related, even if only by marriage.In the South, y'all is singular, all y'all is plural.
Southerners know grits come from corn and how to eat them.
Every Southerner knows tomatoes with eggs, bacon, grits, and coffee are perfectly wonderful; that red eye gravy is also a breakfast food; and that fried green tomatoes are not a breakfast food.
When you hear someone say, "Well, I caught myself lookin'," you know you are in the presence of a genuine Southerner!
Only true Southerners say "sweet tea" and "sweet milk." Sweet tea indicates the need for sugar and lots of it -- we do not like our tea unsweetened. "Sweet milk" means you don't want buttermilk.
And a true Southerner knows you don't scream obscenities at little old ladies who drive 30 MPH on the freeway. You just say,"Bless her heart" ... and go your own way.

To those of you who are still a little embarrassed by your Southerness: Take two tent revivals and a dose of sausage gravy and call me in the morning. Bless your heart!And to those of you who are still having a hard time understanding all this Southern stuff, ... bless your hearts, I hear they are fixin' to have classes on Southernness as a second language!And for those that are not from the South but have lived here for a long time, all y'all need a sign to hang on y'alls front porch that reads "I ain't from the South, but I got here as fast as I could."Southern girls know men may come and go, but friends are fahevah !If you're a Northern transplant, Bless your little heart, fake it.

Thursday, February 7, 2008

It's all about the joy!

OK, somebody mentioned (in response to my suffering series) that I might be a bit on the edge. That maybe I am working too hard to impress God or to be a "super Christian". I think the exact quote was the "Tiger Woods of Christians". Yikes. If that is the impression I left then I said EVERYTHING wrong. Let me try to clarify a few things.

1. I am NOT actively seeking for huge, meaningless, calamity to come into my life.

2. I do NOT expect to ever impress God, nor do I think it is possible, nor do I think that is God's desire for me.

The suffering or sacrifices that I was referring to choosing had nothing to do with wanting to impress God by experiencing pain. I was thinking more about cutting out my cable and cell phone so that I have money to send to missionaries(boy does that sound lame!) or choosing to take the time to plan menus and cook to avoid big bills eating out. These are tiny things to be sure, but they are done with a servants heart and a desire to see more people come to know the Lord. Then there are slightly larger sacrifices such as taking in a foster child knowing full well that not only will I be sleep deprived for a few months, but my heart will be broken in two when they leave. All of these things are choices I will make that require something from me, in order that more people will know the love of Christ. There are people who sacrifice so much more - the Livesay's are serving in Haiti with their entire family as are Lori and Licia. They have given up the comforts and securities of living in America for the sake of others. They want to be there to physically be the hands and feet of Jesus. What I am doing is soooooo small. If anyone is the "Tiger Woods of Christians" it would be them. So to sum up:

1. I DO fully expect suffering to come into my life that is not of my own choosing and I pray that I can glorify God in that and point people to His all-sustaining grace.
2. The choices I make regarding what has been entrusted to me matter in the Kingdom of God and I hope I will choose more and more based not on my level of comfort, but on my level of compassion and love for others.
3. It is quite possible that God could ask me to make a much larger sacrifice and suffer more than my present tiny amount. If/when that happens I want to be ready to say "YES" without hesitation.

"And he who had received the five talents came forward bringing five talents more, saying 'Master, you delivered to me five talents; here I have made five talents more'. His Master said to him 'Well done good and faithful servant. You have been faithful over a little; I will set you over much. Enter into the joy of your Master."
Matthew 25:20-21

When we start to see the world the way God sees it, and start caring about the things He cares about we can only find true joy in doing His work. Working for the kingdom or suffering for the kingdom ultimately leads to the only pure joy you will ever know. He has entrusted us with much and I for one want to be a good steward of it and to enter into the joy of my Master!

"Those who sow in tears shall reap with joyful shouting, He who goes to and fro weeping, carrying his bag of seed, shall indeed come again with a shout of joy, bringing his sheaves with him."
Psalm 126:5-6

Monday, February 4, 2008

Friday, February 1, 2008

Chosen Suffering :Step 2

One of the ways God continued my lesson on chosen suffering was in a conversation with a friend. She also happens to be the pastors wife. As we got on the subject of difficulties in life she said that she wanted to write a book titled something like "It's Your Destiny". She thought it would be a catchy title. People always seem to be searching for their purpose, their meaning, the "why" of their existence. Then, the twist would be that if you are a follower of Christ, your destiny is the cross. It is to die to self, take up your cross and follow Him. Sounds pretty grim huh? And yet we read that Jesus took up His cross, suffered and died "for the joy that was set before Him." THE JOY. One of the results of our lives of sacrifice is that people see the love of Jesus in us. We are choosing someone elses gain above our own. But it is not without benefit for us.

By faith, Moses when he was grown up refused to be called the son of Pharaoh's daughter, choosing rather to be mistreated with the people of God than to enjoy the fleeting pleasures of sin. He considered the reproach of Christ greater wealth than the treasures of Egypt, for he was looking to the reward."
Hebrews 11:24-26

The joy. The reward. These are ours for the taking. And what do we give up in return. The fleeting pleasures of sin. We give up a vapor. A mist. Only that which turns to nothing. And in return we get the true, real, eternal good stuff!

As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Abide in my love. If you keep my commandments, you will abide in my love, just as I have kept my Father's commandments and abide in His love. These things I have spoken to you, that my JOY may be in you and that your JOY may be full.
John 15:9-11