Monday, November 5, 2012

So I try to find a devo for women over 50, well over 50 actually.  In a few years it will be, "over 60."  I am thinking today about yesterday.  My husband and I find ourselves like so many others, dealing with long-term unemployment.  He recently got a good job, we thought, turns out after 3 months on the job, they have no work for next year and he is working 4-day work weeks now.  Hopefully they will get work and all will be well.

It has been a long path, over 5 years without work.  He would take whatever he could get being a man in his 50's.  So he did work a little, but nothing permanent until now.  During that whole time, we met, fell in love and married.  And the thing that can bring me to tears in a heartbeat is when I think of the faithfulness of the Lord.  We never lost our little apartment, went without food or medical care, because of the goodness of God's provision, and His people.  The upside was that my new husband and I were together 24/7 for the past 5 years and that was a blessing.  We very rarely had any money to do anything, but we are so in love, it was okay.  We made our own special times, preparing a special dinner together, going on picnics, watching something special on TV.  We took advantage of the things that are free in our community.  The First Friday art night was one of our favorites and was like a date.  And for a brief season, a local coffee house, The Dancing Otter, became a haven for us, serving up coffee, free music and poetry.  We got to know people there that we would not have met otherwise and we are still friends today.

My husband would walk over to the market and shop the bargain meat bin.  He almost always came home with a fantastic deal on stuff we could never afford otherwise.  We got food stamps and they were truly lifesavers and we are forever grateful. 

As time wore on and our church family became more and more aware of our dire straights, despite our best efforts, they helped us too.  We took a box of dry goods occasionally at church, we have received anonymous notes saying our rent was paid, anonymous envelopes in the offering, gifts from friends.  I could go on and on, each time, our hearts were absolutely broken at the generosity and love we were shown. 

I mean, to say it out loud, unemployed for over 5 years, it sounds impossible that we are still standing.  Only our God could sustain us.  We had plenty of down times, almost more than we could bear at times.  But that is when something would happen to let us know God had not forgotten us and was aware.

The key thing for us, after our own personal walk with the Lord, was staying as active as possible in our church.  We were there almost every time the doors were open, and we contributed what we could to meals and such for some of the classes.  It is like a sampling of heaven to be with our church family.  It gave us strength to keep on keeping on.

I know of nothing like prolonged poverty to humble you, make you grateful for every single thing, to help you lose all pretenses and show you just how good, loving and big, God is.  How personally He loves us and will care for us.

Now that my husband is working, we are relieved of course, but also know that we need to acknowledge it for what it is.  For now, it is a huge blessing and we pray it continues, but if not, we will look to God for our provision yet again.  I mean, we look to Him now, the job is from Him, but you know what I mean. 

If I told every story of the past 5 years, from how my husband and I met, all the little things He did to provide for us, it would be a book.  Suffice to say, God loves us, promised to provide, He kept His word, He always does....what love.

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Passing Understanding

My heart is heavy tonight.  I know of so many people suffering so many different things, illness, unemployment, dealing with new circumstances, etc.  I love each one and my emotions run high and hard for them, and for ourselves.  Still waiting to see if this job will work out.

It's not really about the circumstances, especially as a Christian, knowing the One who loves me best holds our days in His loving hands.  But sometimes sorrow can overtake a heart that yearns to see those deserving be blessed with an abundance of what they need.  I know that Christ is enough, His Word says His grace is sufficient, and so it is, I know by experience.  And i'm not saying it isn't, or pretending that it is because if I didn't, that would make it not true, and ergo, He not believable.  I know it is, but because of the very fact that His Spirit is in me, I long for justice, for blessing, for health, for enough, for laughter, for goodness.

What times we live in where things are backwards in many cases.  Where parents get mad at school principals because their kids cheated, where 6 inches determines life or death, where the government has taken over the church's responsibility because the church has either failed, or hasn't the resources needed.  That's just what comes to mind now, I am finding my mind being drawn away from what I know.  Looking at circumstances and deciding that I need to worry.  It does not matter what happens in the next month and a half.  If my God wants us in McMinnville, then that's where we'll be, nothing can stop it, and if He doesn't, nothing can force it.  I know that Dave is doing his very best, putting in longer than required hours and trying to live up to the excellence he demands of himself.  So if it doesn't work out, it wasn't meant to be, no matter little sense it makes to us.  I will cling to the Word of God and trust.

I have a dear friend who deals with chronic illness every single day, and does so with a smile.  Other friends contending with cancer, and have been for a long time, I have never known such dignity and grace, and probably never will again.  We have lost a dear, dear friend this past year to cancer, the loss is still felt.  I know very few people who are okay on all fronts.  Everybody's got something.  It's how we deal with it that's the thing I guess.  But some it seems get more than their fair share.  Which could again, make me question my Creator.  But no, I lay the blame squarely where it belongs, and that is to the enemy of our souls.  We live in a fallen world, we cannot expect heaven here, aside from those beautiful souls that give us a glimpse from time to time.  This is not Home, can't expect it to feel like it.

So, I know the bottom line, and I trust in my God.  But tonight, this moment, I cry out to Him for my friends, for ourselves, and I know that as soon as my words cross my lips, they are met with compassion and love, and action, though I may not see it immediately.  Jesus...Jesus...what that name evokes in me is perfect peace, and love.  No way to explain it to someone who doesn't know, and how you wish you could.

I pray for wisdom, faith, patience and peace.  He is gracious, merciful, loving, kind, He gives what I need, when I need it.  And in His arms I rest.

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

I was just thinking...

After my walk this morning, while driving home, I was thinking of all that lie ahead.  If all goes well, a move 4 hours away.  All the packing, expense and details of that.  If it doesn't work out, what will we do then?  My mind began to swirl, and I was reminded of Philippians 4:6, "do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God."  And even more, I Peter 5:7, "Casting all your care upon him; for he careth for you."  So then I began to question why this is so difficult for me.  I mean I totally believe God's Word and do not struggle with salvation and other things, but to give Him all of my worries and care, that is so very hard.

So, it occurred to me, it must be a trust issue.  Jesus said not to be anxious, period.  He did not say, don't be anxious, give it all to me and i'll work it out just how you like it, don't be anxious, I'll do whatever you want, etc.  Just don't be anxious.  I know the why of it.  Because He loves us so much, no more need be said...if we trust Him.

Why is this so hard?  If you've been a Christian very long, you've learned that what seems good in our economy, is not always good in heaven's.  God sees the end from the beginning and always acts according to our good.  Romans 8:28.  Ah, there's the rub.  Who determines what "good" is?  If it is us, life will be prosperous, we'll be healthy and won't have a care.  If God does, there will be suffering along with blessing.  I Peter 4:12-13 says, "12 Beloved, do not be surprised at the fiery trial when it comes upon you to test you, as though something strange were happening to you. 13 But rejoice insofar as you share Christ's sufferings, that you may also rejoice and be glad when his glory is revealed."  And James 1:2-4, "Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance. Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything."

So it is in this tension between what seems right to me, and what is right in God's will, life must be lived.  So though I know I will continue to struggle between the two, I remain totally submitted to His will, ultimately trusting in Him, even when it is difficult.  After all, what is faith?  Hebrews 11:1, "Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen."  And 2 Corinthians 5:6, "We live by faith, not by sight."  So I must remind myself, He is trustworthy and I am to live by that alone.  Meanwhile, i'll struggle, get angry and frustrated, even though there is no need.....will I ever learn?  Thank You Lord for being patient with me and for helping me.

Monday, September 3, 2012

So, my other half just left to go back to McMinnville.  We are separated by miles and the yearnings of our hearts to be together.  I can't explain it, nor would I want to.  I know it's the way it has to be for now, and some may think me silly, it is what it is for me, and it's hard.

I laid on the bed crying, Sadie came up and tried to comfort me, as she always does.  She is the best friend ever, never tries to fix or judge or cajole, just, "I'm here with you, right up next to you."  Ron is right, she is the Holy Spirit, lol.  And lest you are quick to scream "Blasphemy!", if you have not been fortunate enough to know one of these furry souls, I ask you to withhold your judgement.  

I then began to straighten up in the kitchen, and thought, is this how i'm supposed to be?  What would so-and-so say if she saw me?  Would they say I am weak and needy, and can't get along without a man?  Hmm, let's see, what kind of woman is the media telling me I should be today?  A strong warrior-woman who looks down on anyone with a penis, or successful, dependent on no one, I come first?  I know the answer before I ask the questions.  Proverbs 31:10-31:
10 [b]A wife of noble character who can find?
    She is worth far more than rubies.
11 Her husband has full confidence in her
    and lacks nothing of value.
12 She brings him good, not harm,
    all the days of her life.
13 She selects wool and flax
    and works with eager hands.
14 She is like the merchant ships,
    bringing her food from afar.
15 She gets up while it is still night;
    she provides food for her family
    and portions for her female servants.
16 She considers a field and buys it;
    out of her earnings she plants a vineyard.
17 She sets about her work vigorously;
    her arms are strong for her tasks.
18 She sees that her trading is profitable,
    and her lamp does not go out at night.
19 In her hand she holds the distaff
    and grasps the spindle with her fingers.
20 She opens her arms to the poor
    and extends her hands to the needy.
21 When it snows, she has no fear for her household;
    for all of them are clothed in scarlet.
22 She makes coverings for her bed;
    she is clothed in fine linen and purple.
23 Her husband is respected at the city gate,
    where he takes his seat among the elders of the land.
24 She makes linen garments and sells them,
    and supplies the merchants with sashes.
25 She is clothed with strength and dignity;
    she can laugh at the days to come.
26 She speaks with wisdom,
    and faithful instruction is on her tongue.
27 She watches over the affairs of her household
    and does not eat the bread of idleness.
28 Her children arise and call her blessed;
    her husband also, and he praises her:
29 “Many women do noble things,
    but you surpass them all.”
30 Charm is deceptive, and beauty is fleeting;
    but a woman who fears the Lord is to be praised.
31 Honor her for all that her hands have done,
    and let her works bring her praise at the city gate.

Okay, there's my answers, which I knew in my heart any way.  But there comes into play as well, my personality.  I lived alone, but with my kids every other week, for 18 years, made decisions, raised those kids, etc.  I find that I am simple and complex at the same time.  I enjoy wine and some drinks, can't stand drunkenness.  I like risque, can't stand smut.  I want my man to be the Biblical head of our home, but I want input...and a wise man asks for it, as does David.  I find I fit into no hole of any kind, square or round.  I'm old-fashioned about some things, but definitely do not want to be stifled in any way.  I just know that I have to follow my heart.  And right now, my heart hurts, because even though this job could spell the end of an extremely trying and in many ways, horrific time in our lives, like everything in life, it also brings some challenges.  Our being apart for a time is one of them.  

I only want to be a help to David, so I will not tell him until we are moved, if we do indeed move, how hard this was for me.  So I find, after the tears, the weariness, yep, even some fears, that i'm still there.  And most importantly, that there is One who is with me always and never leaves me, ever.  I feel His presence as vividly as though He was here physically.  And as I meditate on Him and see all that He has done in my life, a feeling of calm sweeps over my soul and I know that everything will be alright.  That He is with Dave too and ministering to him as well.  The Word says in Genesis 5:2, "He created them male and female, and he blessed them and called them "human."  And then in Genesis 1:27, " So God created human beings in his own image. In the image of God he created them; male and female he created them."  So the feminine attributes are God's as well, He understands my woman's heart, He created it like His.  I sense this in His presence and am quieted and peaceful once again.  

I will always miss David when we are apart, but I can rest in knowing that we will be together again, and in the meantime, God is with me.  And that He gifted us this little furry creature that seems to understand better than a lot of humans I know.  <3

Thursday, August 30, 2012


Trying to spend some time in reflection at this stage of life.  Looking back I see the sorrow of a husband's leaving for someone he worked with, leaving our two little ones to adjust to a life the three of us never wanted.  The devastation in my little 7-year-old boy's eyes, they literally looked different after the divorce.  That little boy and his anger transformed into a 30-year-old man who gave in to that anger and who now sits in prison for the next 3 years.  The little girl, then 3, now a woman who struggles with her own demons from a father that was anything but.  Long, lonely years trying to provide a home for these two that were more precious than life to me.  To remember the struggles, the emotional as well as the literal poverty that ensued, can still raise strong emotions.

The way I came to hold those two sweet souls, adoption.  Facing infertility and the decisions regarding how to deal with it, with a man that would turn out to betray me in the worst way.  Never the less, they are mine and we are close, and I am blessed to have them.

The loneliness.  Eighteen years of being on my own, looking, but nothing clicking.  Finally asking God to just take the desire away.  I am absolutely certain that He was chuckling.  My daughter was about to get married to a young man in Texas.  So in order to at least get to know each other a little, his father and I had talked some online.  When Dave came for the wedding, for me, it was really love at first sight!  We will celebrate our 5th anniversary this coming February.  And these past years with him have been the sweetest of my life.  It is truly a fairytale love that I never dreamed possible in real life.  He takes care of me in every way and my heart is safe with him.

And in looking back I see the one steady influence in the whole thing, all through the years, all through the tears, all through the joys.  The steady, unfailing presence of Christ sustained me, held me, carried me, encouraged me, disciplined me, loved me, and most of all, never, ever left me.  And I have found that the worse things get, the clearer I see Him.  The clearer I see Him, I see myself and how unworthy I am, and yet He stands steady, always reassuring me of His great love.   Not only that, but that He loves me, He is not like a harsh Father, waiting to zap me, but rather always there to support and lean on.

I was thinking of all the broken dreams I have, and how they don't just lie on the floor, but my entire home is tiled with them.  But Christ has made them into a beautiful and colorful mosaic.   I can look at what was without too much pain and see how one piece next to the other provides the walkway into joy. That what the enemy of my soul meant for harm and pain, He has used for good.

Part of that, a big part actually, was David.  As the Bible says, we are truly one.  He takes my breath away and has no idea that he does, lol.  My heart is safe with him, something I thought would never happen again.  And his love for God moves my soul.  Because of it, I feel secure and on solid ground.  

How do you explain to those who don't know Him?  I have never known such unconditional love, human beings are incapable of it.  Some come close, but fall short.  How else can you know that when you get the lab report that says cancer, or you lose a loved one, even though you prayed for safety, fill in the blank, that all will be well with your soul?  Because my eternity is secure, my vision is corrected.  This truly is temporal and this earth, though filled with magical, beautiful things, is not my home and only a foretaste of what lies beyond.  So in the interim, I choose to continue to take His hand and follow and enjoy His love.

Saturday, January 14, 2012

Josh has been sentenced to 5 years with time off for good behavior.  As long as I live, I will never forget how he looked coming into the court room.  Ankles shackled, wrists shackled to each other and his waist.  How he had to scoot the paper around so he was able to sign it.  Orange sweatshirt, black and white striped pants, orange crocs.

One would expect a repentant, remorseful man.  One who sat at attention, hanging on every word, his future hanging in the balance.

Not so.  He sat as though he were somewhat disinterested, just waiting for the outcome.  When given an opportunity to give a statement, he went on and on about how he drank too much, took pills and blacked out.  Doesn't remember the incident.  And while he feels bad for Lisa, he, basically, isn't responsible.  Meanwhile, Lisa sits in the very back row, I can only imagine how she felt.  Here was his chance to apologize profusely to her, and he just blew it off with lame excuses.

I don't understand him, probably never will.  This has been his life.  We went through behavior modification programs in kindergarten, eventually he was diagnosed with ADHD, put on Ritalin and that helped.  When 17, declared he would no longer take it, and that began an odyssey into hell that lasted a few years until he met a girl he cared about.  Even then, it was chaotic living, often times not knowing if he had shelter and food.  But the last few years he seemed to be doing better as far as maturing.  The birth of his children did have a profound impact on first.  Lately he was beginning to pour his venom into their young minds, so perhaps this is a good thing, he can no longer do that.

Then there's my own feelings in this.  Josh is rather a pathetic figure.  All wrapped up in himself, never feeling empathy for his victim, though she actually made a statement pleading for mercy for him, unbelievable.  She is articulate, intelligent, let them know she didn't think she deserved it and was not part of that lunacy that can exist in these cases.  She's smart and she will be fine in the long run, and better away from Josh. 

His thoughtless, anger-driven actions hurt a young woman severely, costing him his freedom.  But also, eliminating his children from his life, as well as the rest of us.  I will no longer see his carefree smile walking in and laugh as we cook in the kitchen.  I'm so angry for the loss of him, he never thinks of anyone but himself.

So I am thrust on a road I never wanted, would never choose, would avoid at all costs.  There are fellow sojourners on this road, some I find a kindred spirit with, some I want far away from.  I have no sympathy for Josh, my life is not going to be all about him and how he is doing.  He put himself where he is, he'll have to live with it, sort of alone.  I will see him when I can, write him, etc.  But if prison is hard that's tough, shouldn't do the crime if you can't do the time.  I am not heartless, I abhor some of the prison conditions i've seen televised, but that is why I cannot dive into this.  To think of my son, my child, in that environment could cause me to lose my sanity, I must keep it at arm's length.

I know that God will help me in this, and there may come a day that I feel very differently than I do now, when everything's so new and raw.  But for now, my heart is absolutely broken.  I have loved Josh since the moment the placement worker placed him in my arms and he looked up at me at 4 weeks old.  He has taken years of love, nurturing, trying to be there, all of it and thrown it all away.