Monday, August 10, 2009

One More Thing

Dare I ask what else could go wrong?? Honestly...a lot, so I won't, but really I hope something gives soon. Yesterday on the way to church the battery light came on in the Suburban(the car I have to drive to fit all three kiddos safely in car seats when I'd really much rather be driving my smaller safer easier to park Discovery) then the radio went out as I pulled into the parking lot, then the air stopped working as we drove around looking for a parking spot. I'm no mechanic, but I know these are not good signs so I tried to call John (7 hours away in Atlanta) to prepare for what I could only assume would be a car that wouldn't start by the time we were ready to head home. No answer, but sure enough I was right. I got out to the car in the 95 degree heat and to my relief it started, but by the time I had strapped all three kiddos securely into their car seats and loaded up the stroller, died. What?!?! I prayed "Please just let me get home!" I got the kids back out of the car and parked them in the shade of a nearby tree to try to keep them out of the heat while I tried to figure out what to do, I popped the hood, but that's about the extent of my car repair abilities. No one I know that would have been close by has a car big enough for me plus 3 car seats and much to my disappointment many many people drove by without offering to help a single mother with 3 kids three and under stranded in the heat. Finally a man stopped by and attempted to jump start the car. It started, he left, and as he was pulling out of the parking lot it died again. The parking lot was nearly empty and I was unloading the stroller to take the kids inside to get some lunch at the cafe and cool down assuming I would have to wait a while for a ride home when a family of 4 came by and offered to help. After I explained the situation the wife and 2 kids offered to stay at church while the man took me and my kids home. He is an officer with the Louisville metro police department and I felt at ease(and also desperate to get my children home and out of the heat). So I loaded all three car seats into the back of his old Buick sedan and he drove us home only to realize I had neglected to get the house key and garage door opener out of the truck before we left. I unloaded the kids and we waited in the shade while he went back to pick up his family and my house key. While we waited I thought and prayed about all the things that had gone wrong in the last 16 months...Single parent to 2 kids for a year while John was away, deaths of 3 loved ones, difficult pregnancy, John comes home unemployed, the stress of taking care of 3 kids 3 and under when one is a newborn, alternator goes out in the Discovery, water heater busts, John has to leave again, single parent to 3 kids, still no word on active duty assignment...suburban dies. I suppose I would be pretty justified to be depressed or at least down, but then I thought about all the blessings I have and how much closer I am to Jesus than I was before all this. Our basic needs are met and then some, we're nowhere close to loosing our house, we have cars to drive, good food on the table, my family has been supportive and helpful, and most importantly I have 3 beautiful healthy children. There may be a lot of things I want, but I have everything I need, for my father in heaven know what I need even before I ask him (Matthew 6:8)Comforting to know on days like yesterday when I try to pray but can't seem to find the right words. The thing I'm most thankful for though, last night before bed when we were praying Gracie prayed "Thank you that we got to play outside in the grass at church and please help us so our car will be fixed." What a blessing to have a child that can see the good in a bad situation.

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Purpose in Pain

There have been some heavy things on my heart and mind the last couple days. I woke up Sunday morning thinking about the challenges my family and I have faced over the last year and a half and how it has affected my faith. Even now I can't recall the verses I was thinking of, but I can recall my frustration as we struggled to get ready for church on time and that I could see on the screen that the message had already started as we were getting our children checked into childcare. We are members at Southeast Christian Church in Louisville and we LOVE our church. They speak truth from the word of God and they never sugar coat it for the sake of making people more comfortable to be there. Christianity is not comfortable, growth and change require some pain and it is easy to feel like an outcast when you embrace Jesus Christ in a world that rejects him. I am not a preacher or theologian, I do not even feel equipped to be a small group leader and I have a terrible memory which won't seem to allow me to memorize as much scripture as I would like, but I do know this, God does not make mistakes. Our current sermon series is on seeing God, and this Sunday it was on "Seeing God in My Pain". I cannot adequately summarize it so I really encourage you to click on the link and watch or listen to it, especially the interview with Cindy Winters, wife of pastor Fred Winters who was killed in his church in Illinois. God knew this was exactly what I needed to hear this day, I don't question that one bit. I had been second guessing myself and my ability to handle difficult circumstances. I grew up with this "suck it up" mentality, in my family it was never acceptable to complain or let difficulties affect your performance. I'm not saying there is necessarily anything wrong with this, to not complain is biblical, but we have to be careful about being too legalistic and find a balance between complaining and sharing our struggles with those who can reach out to us and lift us up in prayer or even grow closer to the Lord because of the struggles we are facing. To not complain does not necessarily mean to keep it to yourself, I think it has more to do with the attitude behind it. As I sat in church on Sunday listening to Kyle share about Job and the incredible pain he experienced and how God redeemed that pain I didn't necessarily feel comforted, in fact I cried through most of the sermon(something I don't really care to do in public), but I did feel hopeful. God's purpose for us is not happiness, but he does love us and He will redeem us, maybe not in this life, but he will. Job's pain was redeemed during his life on earth, he was blessed with family and wealth and I would say he deserved it though no human, fallen as we are, really deserves any blessing we receive. More than that, as Kyle shared, people have been reading his story for years and years and growing closer to the Lord because of it, amazing.
My struggles are pretty minimal compared to most. I have more than adequate shelter and can put food on the table for my family and clothes on their backs. I never had to try to get pregnant, let alone be denied that opportunity altogether and I have not lost a child which I can only imagine is the worst pain possible, and I am a pretty healthy person in general. That said, my pain is still real. The past year and a half has brought financial struggles, unemployment, loss of three loved ones, a difficult pregnancy, being separated from my husband and having to care for my very young children and maintain our household alone, and after months of looking for a job and waiting for answers we still don't know what the future holds for us. Those are not easy burdens to bear, but given the pain Jesus endured for me on the cross it hardly compares. He may redeem it in this life, he may not, it may get worse before it gets better, it may never get better. But the purpose of my life is not for my happiness, it is to bring him glory to God, so my prayer is just that. I will praise him in joy and in pain and hope that someone may grow closer to Jesus because of it. "I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us. The creation waits in eager expectation for the sons of God to be revealed. For the creation was subjected to frustration, not by its own choice, but by the will of the one who subjected it, in hope that the creation itself will be liberated from its bondage to decay and brought into the glorious freedom of the children of God." Romans 8:18-21