Beginning again…

first week of school –  Maggie and Richard are both doing the same classes – these are  a “few” of their books!

The beauty of homeschool – our bedroom  is where Lydia and I do history…

and  Tanner’s first day…

“Have  patience with everyone, but chiefly with yourself.  I mean to say, do not trouble yourself about your imperfections, and always have the courage to lift yourself out of them.  I am well content that you begin again every day: there  is no better way to perfect the spiritual life than always to begin again and never to think you have done enough…”

St Francis de Sales

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Contentment

bloom where He plants  you…yes, you can.

“The fact is, in a  word, that we want to serve God, but after our will, and not after His….We are not to choose at our own will.  We must wish what God wishes; and if God wishes me to serve Him in one thing, I ought not to wish to serve Him  in another..

We must consider that there is no vocation that has not its irksome aspects, its bitternesses, and disgusts.  And what is more,  except for those who are fully accepting to the will of God, each would willingly change his condition for that of others… .  Whence comes this general disquietude of souls, if not from a certain dislike of constraint and a perversity of spirit that makes us think each one is better off than we?

…A person who has not the fever of self-will is satisfied with everything, provided that God  is served.  He cares  not in what capacity God employs  him,  provided he does the divine will.  It i s all one to Him…

We do not have to carry the cross of others, but  our own…”I should like this or that”; “I should be better used here or there.”: those are temptations.  Our Lord knows well what He does.  Let us do what He wills; let us stay where He has placed us.

Think often that all we do has its true value from our conformity with the will of God, so that …if I do it because it is the will of God for me to do it, I am more agreeable to God than if I suffer death without that intention.

I would wish you  often, during the day, to ask God to give you love of your vocation (or circumstances,  etc.), and  to say like  St. Paul , “Lord, what will  You have m  to do?”…  And coming to that particular thing that troubles you, say “Will You that I do such a thing?  Ah! Lord, although  I am not worthy to do it, I will do it most willingly,” and thus you humble yourself…Oh! What a treasure you will gain!  One greater, without doubt, than you can imagine…

For the rest, know that my spirit is all yours.   God knows if ever I forget you, or your whole family, in my weak prayers; I have you deeply graven in my soul.  May God be your heart and your life!”

from Thy Will Be Done: letters to persons in the world…..letters of St. Francis de Sales


I could choose to meet every day and event this way, couldn’t I?  Yes, I think I can…

The bitter and the sweet…

He never walked the same after that.  Really, he didn’t.  And it wasn’t a private limp, either.  One can’t hide a limp that is caused by a hip joint being intentionally wrenched out of its socket.

And she never walked the same either.  Hers didn’t come in a  grand way  like “I was wrestling with God the other day and…”  It was a fairly little take out the diseased appendix surgery in a fairly little hospital in Guatemala and when she woke from the anesthesia there was a f airly little dizziness and a fairly loud ringing in her ear and she thought her hearing was a  bit different…

We went camping last week for four absolutely glorious days.

                                                                                       getting ready to go…

I love the times when it’s not a “it was a blessing” said by faith –  I really really love those times that it is an obvious blessing.  I am grateful for those many times.   This was one of those times when God gives you more than you could ever imagine or ask for.  A perfect campsite: secluded, on a point, views of the lake from both sides…

sunset from our campsite…

A perfect lake, a s beautiful as a  Montana lake.  The first we’d found of this kind of beauty; canoeing with a canoe loaned to  us from new dear friends, a canoe which fits all five of us;  perfect swimming, clear clean water and a sandy beach; perfect laughter and enjoyment as we found again the rhythm of family, apart from life’s  daily business…

happy happy kids…

And to crescendo the perfectness, on  the last night God providentially gave us an unexpected delight in meeting these two friends who loaned us the canoe – who were camping in the same place, unbeknownst to either of  us!  they were at the other end of the campsite, and happened to take a stroll on  their last night and saw a canoe on top of a van – a canoe that looked vaguely familiar, with Maryland tags – and followed the steps down to our spot on the point –  who but God??

But – O, I wish those buts weren’t in this life –  the “but  God” buts are good, but some buts are just plain stinky, and nighttime came, as it always does, and there is always The Dreaded Trip to the Bathroom In The Dark.  And, since my “limp”,  I don’t navigate well even in the daytime,  let alone the  nighttime, and add camping and rough terrain and dark and…well, I walk as if I am somewhat intoxicated  and for the life of me I can’t walk a straight line.

I am proud but not stupid, and know I can’t possibly reach the bathroom alone on the trail.  This meant, that first night, even with Tom in front of me,  me  holding his hand tight, I still managed to trip over three  of the ropes holding down the tarp to our tent (the kids, when we returned to the tent: “Wow Mom, how’d you hit every one?  It was like an earthquake in here!“).

And as I walked behind Tom in the dark, all I could mutter to myself was ” You are so Stupid, Stupid, Stupid.”  I hated  myself at that moment.  I really, really did.  I HATED being so dependent on Tom, or one of the kids, to walk straight by myself.  To have to  grab ones shoulder like a blind  man.  I hate with a passion being needy and dependent.  And I DO call myself names at those times.

I am writing this in honesty and had a  point I was going to make – but as I just wrote the above,  He interrupted  me.  I am not kidding.  He just whispered to me!  And this is what He said,

O, My Beloved child, I call  you names at those times as well, but O, they a re life giving and not  life taking names…they bring smiles to your beautiful face and not tears…but you must Hear with your Other Ears, My Child…”

I am undone at this moment.  I have to think on this before I write more…

Ecclesiastes 3:11 and my giving God a cooking lesson…

behind our house  

Ecclesiastes 3:11  He has made EVERYTHING beautiful in its time.

Well, I suppose “everything” means…everything.

Every second of my life.

Every worry.

Every hard conversation.

Every bad thing I know I caused.

Every bad thing I know ______caused.

Every disease sin caused.

Every tearful good-bye

Every “Oh no, not them” hello

Everything bitter…

Everything means everything.

Now, if God would just tweak one little thing, and please, take out the next part, o.k.?

The part that says,ALSO He has put eternity into their  hearts, EXCEPT  THAT no one can find out the work that God does from beginning  to end.”

There’s the rub, isn’t  it?  “Nothing in post-Fall time can bring them complete satisfaction.” (MacArthur).  O.k., I can handle that – who doesn’t experience that every single second of every day?  But here’s the part I don’t like:

We can’t  figure out the “how?” or “when?” God will turn those “everythings”- those every single  things – into good.  And frequently, we can’t even see or feel or sense “the work God does” in bringing this to pass.

Here’s the deal – we have eternity in our hearts – we know, or somehow in the back of our mind,  we sense we were created for Eden,  and this certainly ain’t  it.  We are told, all  throughout God’s  words to us, that He will turn all this yuk into good.

But then  He tells us we can’t even see it?  His Hand  in this?

So – does He think we can just believe all this without seeing it transform?  We taste poison but need to believe that the poison is a necessary ingredient in making triple fudge mousse chocolate cake for us to eat all the days of our lives?

It’s  almost as if – no, it IS as  if – He forces us to faith…

So.  I had a little conversation  with the Lord about this this a.m. – a little time  of  “Cooking  Class with God”

Really, Lord?  That is  how it is supposed to  work? We can’t watch You cook?

Yes.

You create us.

Yes.

You put eternity in our hearts.

Yes.

So we can never be completely at home here – never be completely satisfied for every moment of our lives.

Yes.

We can never f eel  completely 100%happy? for more than an hour or a day, I mean.

Yes.

Is it wrong that I WANT to feel 100% happy?

No – but your expectation of it happening NOW is wrong.

But then, in Your mercy, You give us another reality that will sustain us when things seem and look and taste and feel so  stinkin’ awful?

Yes.

And that is this truth: the absolute bedrock not shifting that You WILL make EVERYTHING beautiful in its time.

Yes.

And you repeat it in the N.T. with Romans 8:28 for those who skipped Ecclesiastes in Sunday school.

Yes.

But – and this is a big but, Lord.  You also make it that we “can’t find out what God has done from the beginning to the end.” ?

Yes.

Really, Lord.  REALLY?? You give us a truth which is really our life raft to get through life down here – and THEN You tell us that this life raft will not LOOK or FEEL like a  life raft – we won’t be able to comprehend how in the world this thing will ever be beautiful – 

Yes.

I’m just sayin’, Lord, I don’t  think I like that.

How do you think it should be, Debbie?

Well –  I’d like you to give us the bad stuff – say, 3 cups of pain and 2 cups of heartache and 1  cup of disease and 2 cups of loneliness and for those in 3rd world countries, let’s add 100 cups of hunger –  and then I’d like to  SEE  “the rest of the ingredients” that will be a dded to make this thing GOOD – Oh, and how long it will take to  cook (would higher temp. make shorter cooking time?) – and let us make it up and then of course TASTE it to see that it really turns out how it is supposed to be.

So,  Debbie.  You want to 1) first SEE exactly what my “ingredients” (plans) are, and 2) UNDERSTAND my recipe and then,  3) TASTE it  for yourself, and THEN, (be honest with yourself Debbie)  you will want to ARGUE WITH  ME about how the same thing could be accomplished with,  let’s  say, 3 c. of common cold vs. pain, 2c. of a difficult toddler instead of heartache, etc. etc.

Well, Lord, I probably WILL be asking some “Why” questions or making suggestions (respectfully, Lord)

So – you want to SEE, then SEE ALL OF IT, then SEE AND UNDERSTAND, then SEE AND ASK  QUESTIONS,  – and, be honest with yourself  here  Debbie – you really want to “dialog”, as you put it, with Me, in maybe finding a  few ingredients to substitute.

Welllll – yes.

Debbie.  You  want to walk by sight.

NO!  Oh no, Lord!   I want to GROW in my faith, but sight WILL help me grow!!

(I think You throw back your head and laugh, along with those saints who have gone before us, while the angels are  shaking their heads, amazed You are not striking me dead and ...) Debbie, you really want to re-write the definition for faith (the assurance of things  NOT seen, the perceiving of real fact what is  not revealed to  the senses).  And, so I guess you  really want to re-write My Words, and

Really,

you are skating  on very very thin  ice here –

where I just might  need to say “Get behind Me Satan”.

 Are you sure  you want to continue this conversation…?

Debbie.  I am GOOD.  I DID  NOT come to steal and destroy.

You’re going

to have

to trust ME,

because  it is IMPOSSIBLE  

for you, on your side of time,

to  step back enough to see clearly.  

You’re too close to the jagged edge of  the  picture to see it clearly.

Can you  get out of the kitchen and leave the cooking to Me,  Debbie?  Can you just be happy with the many many things that you  DO taste and ARE good?  Can you walk by faith that all the rest will become good, for everyone, in the right time?

Class over.

The only word I need to say today (to myself)

There are some days  when the details  of one’s  life – those that  really shouldn’t affect how one feels –  makes  me really, really …spent.  Can I just go back to bed, please? And wake up in heaven?  Lord, can’t  You  do something so my faith in You as our Provider and Sustainer sustains me in the midst of this ?   O, there is so so so much GOOD in  our lives and so many areas where there is ripe juicy f ruit almost ready to harvest on the branches of our family tree, yet…yet...the odor from those other trees  over there – the trees of worry fruit and I don’t understand fruit and Why can’t I go back to Who I Was fruit seems to overpower the good fragrance.

I must speak truth  to myself.  I  can only handle one word today – more than that  makes my brain more  muddled than it already  it.

“Nevertheless”

Ps. 73:23  “Nevertheless  I am continually with thee.”

The Psalmist has been, well…he has been whining.  I relate to that.  But he doesn’t stay there.  He knows there  must be a way to get mentally OUT or ABOVE his circumstances  and thoughts, to  something  sustaining.

Spurgeon fleshes this out for me:

“By this is meant continually on His Mind

                                 He is always thinking of me for my good

Continually in His  Hand

                                so that none can pluck me out! (especially not even myself)

Continually on His Heart

                                I am worn there a s a memorial as the High  Priest bore  the names of the 12 tribes on His breast forever

He is Always Working Providence for my Good

His Love is as Strong as death; many waters cannot quench it

HERE is a COMFORT for

              the tried and afflicted soul!

Vexed with the tempest within,

LOOK at the calm Without,

Say in thy heart,

“Nevertheless” and take the peace it gives!

Spurgeon

Lord, it is embarrassing to live at the poverty level – Tom feeling he is a bad provider…our kids  needing free health care? Really?    NEVERTHELESS

The V.P. here wanting to put Tom’s  name in for his position?  Does he take that if offered?  they  won’t let us when we live on half  the support required.  He doesn’t know what to do…What do we do?  NEVERTHELESS

My brain – will it never go back to normal?  I don’t know if I can handle that…Will I never be able to work at a  job again?  I feel so sad and I miss the competent fireball I was…now I am so dependent...NEVERTHELESS

And Tom and his desire to go to seminary – but You haven’t given us any money and we still have debt from moving back so quickly- what do we do with that, Lord?  NEVERTHELESS

And now  property taxes – where is THAT money going to come from when we can’t make ends meet as is?  We thought You gave us the house which  is cheaper than renting, but now what do You want us  to do???  NEVERTHELESS.

That MUST be the word for me today: NEVERTHELESS.

O Lord – I am trusting You ARE with  ME

You DO know what You are doing

I AM in the palm of Your Hand to stay

You ARE in this moment working  providence for my good

I AM continually  on Your Heart.

Yes.

“NEVERTHELESS I am continually with Thee.”

Make use of Him today…

Believer!

Thou dost not make use of Christ

As thou oughtest to do.

When thou art in trouble,

why dost  thou not tell  Him all thy grief?

has He not a sympathizing heart?

Can He not be trusted?

Can He not comfort and relieve thee?

Has a sense of guilt returned?

Come to Him at once for cleansing.

Dost thou deplore thy weakness?

He is thy Strength!  Why not lean on Him??

Strip off thine own fears, and put on the robe of Jesus’ righteousness!

It was meant to wear.

There is nothing Christ dislikes more

than for his  people to make a show thing of Him and not to use Him.

 He loves to be employed by us!

    Charles Spurgeon

Praying today, dear friends, that whether it is guilt, fear, weakness,  trouble of any sort that you face today, that you  will run to Him, for He does love to be used by us – O, run to Him!

Please, O please do…

Please, O please do…

Lydia’s apple pie for Thanksgiving extravaganza in C.R. – We usually had 30-60 people, friends, staff, church family, etc.  Joy.

 

“There are promises

          Which are like grapes

                    In the wine press;

     If you tread on them,

               The juice will flow…”

                                                                    Charles Spurgeon

“Exceedingly great and precious promises…” 2 Peter 1:4

 

Well.  If you are not in a laboring season right now, but you are in a bringing in the harvest season, save this for another season.  But…if you ARE in a season of drought, please please read this.  Of course I am speaking to myself.  But since all temptation is common to man, I trust that this rich meal I had this morning with the Lord will feed your soul as well.

Again, Spurgeon “…if we meditate  upon the promises and consider the Promiser, we shall experience their sweetness…”

Anticipation.  Do you see  it here?  And this thought: Anticipation gives sweetness BEFORE the promise  is even fulfilled!  It lets us taste it!  This is so amazing.   Anticipation seems more “reachable” than hope – more flavorful –

Please keep with me – really, this seems childish, what I am going to say, but so what – we are SUPPOSED to be childish.  This will help, truly!

The Cupboard

I know a little cupboard

With a teeny tiny key

And there’s a jar of lollypops

For me, for me, for me…

Think on just this:

There is a little cupboard

With a teeny tiny key

That has a jar of lollypops

For you, for you, for YOU.

With all my heart I reach across time zones and continents – and take your face in my hands and whisper, “These ARE for you, for you, for YOU.”  O, whisper to yourself today, “for me, for me, for me!”

The enemy says, “ahhh, yessss, yes, there is a little cupboard, that is true, and yes, there truly is a jar of lollypops  in there, “for you, for you, for you” as you so childishly put it.  But…you must remember all of this silly poem –  the cupboard is locked, with a teeny tiny key, that you don’t have, you don’t have, you don’t have…”

 

O, don’t let his words rob you of tasting NOW what IS for you, for you, for you!

Tell him, the half-truth liar, the anticipation robber, THAT  YOU KNOW  WHO  HAS THE  KEY.  AND,  the  person with the key is FOR YOU, FOR  YOU, FOR YOU:

 

“I have a small fat grandmamma

With a very slippery knee

And she’s keeper of the cupboard

With the key, key, key

 

Yes, In This Case I am saying that God is like a small fat grandmamma.  The good  kind of Grandmamma.   Who lets you visit and eat jello all day long because she is so happy to have you with her.

The enemy has NO POWER over Grandmamma.  He can’t stop her from unlocking that cupboard and giving you the lollypop.  BUT he CAN (if you  let him) TAKE what will sustain you UNTIL you are given that glorious lollypop…he can rob you of the joys of anticipation…

Don’t let him do that today!  O, don’t let him!  You NEED that anticipation to sustain you in this season!

 

Yes, it may FEEL LIKE you are not at Grandmamma’s house – in fact, you may be living in a place where Grandmamma seems to have left with a younger man and gone on a cruise, selling her cupboard full of lollypops.

Well.  That is certainly what the robber wants you to think!

There is a cupboard.

And it is full of really yummy full of glory stickiness and flavor. 

And it is for you.

It’s just not time yet for you to have one.  Really, it isn’t.  It wouldn’t taste as good as it really is.

It’s not time yet.  BUT – the time IS COMING – and each day you are one day closer to that lollypop.

 

O, dear one, don’t give up the gift of anticipation!  Go ahead, imagine that lollypop in all its sticky wonder.  O, please do.

Whisper to yourself today – you don’t have to feel it to be true –

“for me,

                                 for me,

                                                               for me…”