Archive for the ‘Ramblings’ Category

The Honor of Suffering

April 28, 2009

I sent a note to a friend whose dad is facing the roller-coaster of prostate cancer. Having just been through it with my dad, I also wanted her to know about my pastor who is also facing what she and her dad are facing. I mentioned that my pastor had “submitted under suffering” and she asked me what I meant by that.

I can completely understand her puzzled response! Aren’t we supposed to pray to be delivered from suffering? To believe, have faith, be consistent, in order for God to deliver us? Why in the world would I want to submit under suffering when God has the power to deliver me? Here is a quick (although long!) explanation of what I meant.

(1) Scripture says that if I am a believer that I will suffer for Him (2 Timothy) It is a given.

(2) Scripture also says all over the place that I can ask to be delivered and that He has the power to deliver me out of suffering.

(3) But what determines whether God is willing to deliver? What is the purpose of suffering? Since God is in control of all of my circumstances, whatever he allows in my life has the intent to bring attention to Himself (glory) so someone can see Him through me.

(4) Now I often ask myself, if He would get more attention from allowing suffering in my life, would He trust me to submit to Him in it? Have I shown myself to be worthy? Or would He choose to use someone else because He knew I would not submit, and rather would become bitter against Him? Would I praise Him even if like Habakuk “even if the fig tree should not blossom and there be no fruit on the vines, Though the yield of the olive should fail And the fields produce no food, Though the flock should be cut off from the fold And there be no cattle in the stalls, Yet I will exult in the LORD, I will rejoice in the God of my salvation”?

(5) So, like Paul who had the thorn in his flesh, I always ask God to deliver me out of my suffering. When it would give Him the most attention, He delights to do so for me! He does not desire to see me suffer. But I am His servant, so when God chooses not to deliver me OUT of suffering, rather walking me THROUGH it, what should I do? I noted Paul’s reaction – he simply submitted under his suffering, trusting God to do something with it that would glorify himself, and Paul himself attempting to bring attention to God through it all. He never mentioned it again. Except to ask for prayer that he would promote God as he ought to though his suffering.

(6) How long do I ask God for deliverance? I usually pray until He answers one way or the other (Jas 5:13). Like David who prayed and prayed for God to spare his baby boy from the results of his sin, he did not stop until God gave him His answer. Once done, even though the answer wasn’t what he wanted, he submitted and did not become bitter. He accepted that God’s intent was good, although it did not feel good. His response affected those servants around him who suddenly saw a live example of submission (they were surprised to see him so readily accept God’s hand). If God hasn’t answered definitively, I keep praying, even as I look for ways to give Him glory in the moment.

(7) Joseph went through years and years of suffering that were absolutely unfair, and yet absolutely necessary in order for God to play out the plan that He had in mind. This plan was much bigger than just Joseph’s life! It involved a plan for an entire nation. Joseph simply chose to submit under the suffering, trusting God to do what he willed. Because of it, he was able to be a major player in God’s hands.

A friend of mine had a difficult co-worker who had worked her LAST nerve. She was done. Had NO interest in ministering to him, and so ignored and avoided him at every turn. So the Lord removed him from her life (he was laid off). She was so relieved, but I couldn’t help wondering if she had submitted to the difficulties in the relationship and stretched herself in order to minister to a difficult person, that perhaps the Lord may have had a greater blessing for her than just the relief of not having to deal with him.

It is relieving to know that the Lord will accomplish His plan for this man (and people in my life) without her or me, but I sure want to be a part of it if I can! I don’t WANT Him to have to use someone else!

Someone who is able to submit under suffering is someone who is able to view his or her own pain in light of the potential purposes of God — ahead of his or her own comfort. NOT easy. I am definitely not good at it!

If we are light in the world, we shine the brightest when things are dark. The world can’t see the difference that Jesus makes when things are going great or always corrected so that they are great. The world truly sees the difference Christ makes when we are able to walk through the DARK with a peace and grace that they don’t have.

The world sees Christ in HOW we walk through our circumstances, not by WHAT our circumstances are. (Philippians 4:12)

Anyway, long explanation, but that is what I strive toward! 

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Easy Packing for Kids

October 27, 2008

I am sure this is not new. In fact, I cant believe that I haven’t heard it before! I discovered a fantastic new way to pack for my kids! When we were traveling to Canada, having to pack for three kids was a chore I was not looking forward to. Living out of suitcases with kids is just not fun. Digging for socks, trying to find the shirt that matched the little pink corduroy pants, and where is that sweater we need for those chilly mornings? The bags were always a crumpled mess within hours of arrival at the hotel.

So what did I do this time? Duh. I packed outfits together instead of all shirts, pants, etc. separately. Laying everything flat, I put a sweater or sweatshirt down, then the shirt, then slacks or skirt then underwear and socks. Once laid one on top the other, I folded the sleeves down on top of everything, then folded the pant legs up on top of that, then rolled the whole outfit into a large burrito. Voila! I even made pajama outfit rolls with underwear and everything rolled up together.

Several outfit rolls, a couple pair of shoes, and 3 little rolling suitcases later, each child was packed!

Now, that wasn’t the best part. The BEST part was how easy it was to get everyone dressed! I simply took out a roll of clothes, and got that child dressed. No hunting for the right shirt. No wondering if I remembered the tights that went with that denim skirt. It was a BREEZE.

I am *this* close to doing this at home in their dressers. The only thing stopping me is wanting to develop a sense of creativity in their clothing choices.

So that’s it! Easy easy easy. I wish I’d done this forever ago!

My horrific fabulous vacation

October 20, 2008

It all started with the booking of our Canadian hotel, and the realization that my passport had expired, plus I had a name change during that time and could not find our marriage certificate. I ran around to every government office in a 2 county area, and then was finally told how to get around that. Whew.

We packed 2 days early (I discovered a FABULOUS new way to pack for the girls! I’ll post that later). We thought we were ready, but of course, were still running around packing last minute stuff 5 minutes after we were supposed to have left to catch the ferry to Sydney. Pitch black at 5am, the girls were still dead asleep. The plan? At the very last minute, scoop them out of bed, go potty, wrap them in blankets and throw them in the van hoping they’d fall back to sleep or stay sleeping.

No such luck.

At the last minute, I scooped up Kathryn, went potty, and she was still sleeping. So far so good. I ran out the door with her wrapped in her fuzzy blue blanket, and was smiling to myself that this actually might work. Then, not sure what happened, but my foot caught the front step funny, my foot went one way and my body went the other. I remember thinking on the way down that I wouldn’t be able to totally protect Kathryn, and sure enough, I somehow flipped so she landed mostly on top of me, but not quite enough. Her head hit the concrete and the pain receptors hit my brain simultaneously. We laid there on the walkway crying for a minute before Gerry heard us and came out to help us up. I was mostly crying because I had dropped my daughter…what a horrible feeling.

So, now 30 minutes late, some ice packs, Tylenol and lots of soothing and answering sweet questions from Stephanie (“Did you fall down, mama? Do you have an owie? Can I kiss it?”), we decided to head out the door. It might not be so bad. We could always turn around. Maybe we’d just take a ferry ride.

By the time we got to the ferry, we could see with relief that Kathryn didn’t even have a bump. She had some expected emotional scars (Gerry still laughs at me because she still doesn’t quite trust me to carry her! Not sure what we’ll say to her therapist when she’s 25…), but was physically ok. Me on the other hand, had a baseball where my ankle used to be, and a knee that would not stop bleeding.

But determined to VACATION, dangit, we kept forging forward, hoping for the best.

The hotel suite was fabulous – right on the harbor, with all the amenities we needed. We had decided not to bring a ton of food with us like we always do, and just go out to eat. We had to rethink that plan when not a few hours later, everything went black. Yup. Black out. Four cities wide. No restaurants were cooking. No heat. Apparently no generators to be found. And no hot water. Since it was rapidly getting dark, we got the girls ready for bed while we could still see where our luggage was. Thanksgiving dinner (we were in Canada) must have been interesting for local families!

Gerry and I looked at each other and laughed out loud. What a vacation! We ate snacks from the car, read stories to the girls until it was too dark to see, then went to bed.

The lights eventually clicked back on, I continued to ice my ankle, and the next day Gerry took the girls to the Bug Zoo and Miniature World. I stayed in the suite, relaxed and read a novel for the first time in … I can’t remember. We ALL had a great day!

Even though the swelling was still pretty fierce, we thought we’d stay through Tuesday and then ferry home. We went to the petting zoo. Closed! The train rides. Closed! The Planetarium. Closed! What the?!? Turns out, most activities for the kids were closed for the season the day after Canadian Thanksgiving. So we freaked Stephanie out at seemingly the only thing open — the Butterfly Sanctuary (she thought she was being attacked by these huge flocks of gorgeous butterflies swarming around), and went home. (Just wait till you see the pictures of her — hilarious!)

After all that, guess where the kids had THE most fun? At a local park. Swings, slides, seesaw. Just like at home.

We missed the ferry (it was full), so took another. Finally late Wednesday evening, we got home and back into our own beds.

We recounted the amazing way that God protected us, and how he blessed us with our family. Through it all, we laughed, made jokes, and made what could have been a really miserable time into something really fun and memorable. I am now convinced more than ever that whether or not the time we spend together is fun or agony COMPLETELY depends on us. We can experience the most annoying circumstances, and still find ways to enjoy one another.

I thank God for the blessing of my kids who just had fun as long as we were having fun, and my husband, who joined me on our vacation to Crazy, and returned with our senses still intact. 🙂