Tuesday, August 14, 2012

smiley faces

1 Sam 2:1-2 "And Hannah prayed and said: 'My heart rejoices in the Lord; My horn is exalted in the Lord. I smile at my enemies, because I rejoice in Your salvation. No one is holy like the Lord, for there is none besides You, nor is there any rock like our God.'"

This last month has been hard, really hard on many levels, and most of the "behind the scenes" stuff that made it so hard are unknown to all but God.  The month has been good too, overflowing with things to give thanks to God for. Both of those can be true at the same time without contradiction.  We are complex creatures, able, for example, to mourn the loss of a loved one while simultaneously rejoicing that they are home with Jesus, their race having been run with endurance to the end.

In Philippians 4:8, God instructs us to meditate on the pure, the lovely, and so forth...looking for the praiseworthy daily is a God honoring discipline.  And those of us who take up that discipline can say with Hannah, "My heart rejoices in the LORD...I smile at my enemies, because I rejoice in Your salvation."  We have enemies. We face all kinds of things that challenge us emotionally, physically and spiritually...things outside of our control, but they are NOT OUTSIDE of GOD's control.  BECAUSE He is on the throne bringing about all His holy will; BECAUSE He loves us with passion and is working all things together for our good and His glory; BECAUSE He saves and redeems and restores and delivers and strengthens us, we can face our enemies in their various forms and smile.

We don't always feel like smiling though do we? Sometimes our feelings get out of sync with what we know to be true.  And God is so gracious, bringing encouragements in all kinds of unexpected ways. On Saturday, while out walking our dog, God gave me one of His big encouraging kisses.  I had a lot on my mind to sort so I went without the kids, and as I walked I prayed, pleaded really, for God to help me wholly rejoice in Him.  My "feelings" were out of sync and I knew it.  We tend to walk the dog on what we call "the loop", which is basically one mile's worth of a strangely cut city block.  Soon into my journey, I noticed someone had drawn a big smiley face with chalk on the road.  I didn't think anything of it.  I kept walking, sorting my thoughts and praying...then I saw another smiley face, and a little farther along there was another, then another.  After about a half mile, I started to chuckle.  I don't know who drew these smiles along the whole loop, the last one being just across the street from our house, but I think God used them to remind me that He has it all sorted (everything that is weighing on me), and that I can rest in Him, and smile at my enemies because of His salvation. By the time my foot crossed our threshold, I too was smiling again.

Someone had drawn those smiley faces intentionally spreading some cheer...I share this little story with you in hopes that it will do the same.  The Lord bless and keep you, and make His face shine upon you, and give you peace.

Friday, August 10, 2012

Time with my mother-in-law...

When God took a machete to my "to do" list last month, He quickly handed me a different one. This whole month has been filled with the unexpected on a daily basis as we've dedicated ourselves primarily to caring for Pat in her time of recovery.  I mentioned in my last post that my mother in law fell and broke her femur.  The next day she underwent surgery for a partial hip replacement. A few days later she was moved to a rehab facility.  I wish I would have taken a picture of the wall that faced her bed...the grandkids covered it with pictures and messages to cheer her on.  It was lovely.

This is her little great grand-daughter Allison (with her mommy Ciara) and I think her visit was some of the best medicine of all.  The card "she" made suggested we needed to "bust Grandma out of this place".  Truth be told, we were grateful for the care she received in this facility, but there simply isn't anyplace like home and we were all agreeing with Allison to bust her outta there asap.  
Two weeks ago we did that very thing!  We have enjoyed the privilege of being able to camp out at her house as she's continued to heal.  A visiting physical therapist and an occupational therapist have come to help her be able to live independently again.  Oh how we praise God for her continued healing!  What an incredible example she has been to us all of receiving a difficult "gift" from God with a spirit that looks for the praiseworthy!  I love this woman who birthed and raised the man I am thrilled to be married to...I am so grateful to God for her friendship and example over the years.  

She is still healing and has some restrictions on her movements, but she has "graduated" to being able to care for herself once more.  Having received the stamp of approval from her physical therapist this afternoon, we plan to move home in the morning.  

Remember that month old to-do list that God took a machete to?  Did you know He is in the business of resurrecting the dead?  Resurrected life (and lists) never looks exactly like it did before it died...God has been at work in us this month, bringing clarity to His call upon us...I think just maybe the list will look a little different.

Here are some pictures from the past couple of weeks as we reflect on God's presence with us and His goodness to us...these weeks have stretched us all, but God's mercy has overflowed:
 MJ giving Grandma a manicure :-)

Grandma catching up on paying bills 
while we snack on popcorn and watch the Olympics

MJ and Paul playing Monopoly after finishing their school

 Bekah and Sprocket curled up with a Hardy Boy mystery

 MJ getting "kissed" relentlessly by the doggies

MJ and Paul giving Sprocket a bath