Sunday, March 18, 2012

His Eye Is On the Sparrow

I haven't written in a while.  Honestly, I've been angry.  Angry at God.  Angry at my husband.  Angry at pretty much everything.  I thought I had it all figured out.  I've been trying to walk with God and guide my family in what feels like his will and then it all got a little more complicated.

 I've watched the news over the past few years.  I've seen sad stories of industries shutting down, family businesses closing their doors and driven by staggering lines at the local food pantry. I've seen tearful laments of families on the news evicted from forclosed homes.  Dear God please be with those people (and ps Lord, so glad it isn't me!) I prayed and went on about my daily life.  My husband's job was secure and we were okay.  Our bills were paid, our son in private school, and our nest egg growing slowly but surely.  Then the job was gone. We went from a one income family to a none income family overnight.

I was devastated.  What in the world were we supposed to with two kids, a car payment, a mortgage, utilities, and private school tuition? I was enraged. All of the sudden the forty dollar check for tee ball felt like a splurge.  We started trimming the budget and gas prices went up.  The situation felt dire but then a funny thing happened.

I got my husband back.  All of the prayer I sent up asking God to restore and revive my marriage and my home were answered. Who am I to question divine wisdom and the dramatic turn it took to bring us to this very day? Once he caught up on all of the sleep that working swing shifts had deprived him of, I got back the man I fell in love with.  My children have their daddy to spend quality time with.  He hated that job, but worked it to provide a generous lifestyle for our family.  It took all he had and then so much more.  Now, its all coming back.

As to being provided for, somehow its all working out.  We're both actively seeking jobs and treating it as a team sport.  We're tag teaming meal prep around the house and taking turns on the school runs in the morning.  We're preparing our garden for the summer and tackling all of those home projects that have been on the back burner for the last three years.  God is present at every turn.  I feel him in the surprise check for an overpayment that came in the mail.  I feel his mercy in the reprieve on mortgage payments.  I feel his grace covering this family as never before.  I'm ashamed that my first reaction was anger at God, but so thankful that he loved me through it and allowed me to see that HE knows the needs of this family.  We're not wanting for anything at all right now.  The money earned didn't hold a candle to the riches we have now.  We're rich in love, in the love of God, love for each other, and our family.   There's a hymn that I've always loved and have titled my post as such.  For those who don't know...  And for the record  I KNOW HE WATCHES ME!

Verse 1:
Why should I feel discouraged,
Why should the shadows come,
Why should my heart feel lonely
And long for Heav'n and home,
When Jesus is my portion?
A constant Friend is He:
His eye is on the sparrow,
And I know He watches over me;
His eye is on the sparrow,
And I know He watches me.

I sing because I'm happy,
I sing because I'm free,
His eye is on the sparrow,
And I know He watches me (He watches me)
His eye is on the sparrow
And I know he watches (I know he watches)
(I know he watches me)

I sing because I'm happy,
I sing because I'm free,
His eye is on the sparrow,
And I know He watches me (He watches me)
His eye is on the sparrow
And I know he watches me (He watches me)
He watches me (I know he watches me)

Verse 2:
"Let not your heart be troubled,"
His tender word I hear,
And resting on His goodness,
I lose my doubts and fears;
Though by the path He leadeth
But one step I may see:
His eye is on the sparrow,
And I know He watches me;
His eye is on the sparrow,
And I know He watches me.

Verse 3:
Whenever I am tempted,
Whenever clouds arise,
When songs give place to sighing,
When hope within me dies,
I draw the closer to Him,
From care He sets me free:
His eye is on the sparrow,
And I know He cares for me;
His eye is on the sparrow,
And I know He cares for me.

Saturday, February 11, 2012

Where does help come from?

Yes, I'm still alive.  Yes I still serve and awesome God.  NO I have not a had a great few weeks.  Times are trying, and in the midst of all of these trials its been interesting to see where my help comes from.

I turn to my friends.  They are my comfort.  They answer the phone when I call.  They give a heartfelt groan and offer to help.  They take me out for dinner and make me laugh.  They share their own heart-wrenching stories and suddenly my trials don't seem so bad.  They share their amazing victories and the gray clouds are gone if only for a moment.  I truly treasure my friends.  I hear them loud and clear.

I turn to my family.  My children delight me, challenge me and exhaust me.  Its hard to dwell on anything when there are diapers to change, spills to clean, discipline to enforce and life lessons to teach.  My husband says to quit pretending I'm carrying a bag of lead, its only feathers.  Well, darn-it, doesn't that jsut makes it all better.

I turn to my pastor.  Thank God for the small, loving church that I attend.  I am blessed that in this congregation our pastors have their hearts and  inboxes available for crisis moments.  I am blessed that we are small enough that our church is led in such a way that each family is led to God in a personal way.

But above all of this...My help comes from the Lord.  In the middle of a few of the roughest weeks on record, my faith has been challenged in a big way.  I want to yell at everyone, God included. I'm madder than I've been in ages. Instead I get this annoying voice in my head replaying a line from a song:  "...Oh God of Jacob..."  What the heck?  This got me reading about this guy Jacob. ( Again, I ask for apologies on the fact that I'm no scholar.)  Jacob tricked his brother, got duped by his father in law and literally wrestled with God (and the book!).  All the while, his faith in God was strong.  Jacob screwed up when he tricked his brother.  He figured that out, and learned in the process.  He was duped by his father in law, but he turned that situation around and bettered himself.  As to wrestling with God...that really happened and Jacob came out sunny side up, if limping.

So, back to the now annoying song in my head.  I only wish I knew the rest.  I am proud that the God who loved (and bailed out) Jacob also cares for me.  I am glad that I can know him in a personal way and share my griefs with him.  I can honestly say that I wish he spoke to me as loudly as a few of my friends.  I wish his will was as transparent as what my children want.  I wish he'd shoot me an encouraging text like my awesome children's pastor.  But at the end of the day, he asks me to give over my burdens (hard), get on my knees, and follow.  I'm limping now because I'm wrestling with life, but hold on God.  I'm coming.

Thursday, January 12, 2012

I'll Rise, But I Won't Shine!

This week has not been the easiest week for us in the morning. James is in school Tuesday-Thursday from 8-12.  On Tuesday I woke him up and was immediately met with screaming, crying and a a full on flopping tantrum.  It all amounted to he did NOT want to go to school.  He had a complete meltdown, I lost my cool, both of us yelled, and it was a rotten day for all involved. We got to school battered and ten minutes late.  I chalked it up to the beginning of the school week, and just knew that Wednesday would be easier.  

I overslept Wednesday (which I haven't done in AGES!!). I knew I couldn't rush Mr. Fun, so I resigned myself to being late and tried to sweetly coax him out of bed.  Well that didn't work and again he was a mess.  Dustin came home from work in time to help me get his clothes on him and get him to in the car.  Breakfast was a PB&J in the car and we were late for school again.  Crazy thoughts are flying through my head at this point.  Am I a bad Mom?  Is he feeling the stress of our family sharing a car this month?  Is he not sleeping well?  Is he getting sick?  Is he not having a good experience with school?  What is going on with my kid???

Today, Thursday, was the final day in his school week.  He managed to sneak into my bed sometime around 5 am and was snuggled close when the alarm went off at 6:30.  I cringed for a moment until he grinned at me and popped out of bed and took off running for his room.  I proceeded to stumble to the coffee pot, and was met by my smiling boy who was fully dressed.  He says Aren't you proud of me?  I sure was.  No screaming, no arguing, just a peaceful morning.  The ride to school was pleasant, even if we did have to take a few moments to pray for some generic bad guys and discuss the difference between speeders and real bad guys.  Why can't all mornings go this smoothly?  

I mean, truly I hate raising my voice or my hand to my children.  A three year old in the throes of a fit isn't a logical creature.  A me without at least six cups of coffee isn't a logical creature either.  Our experiences this  week have me thinking a lot about patience.  I've repeatedly prayed to be a more patient person.  Rather than becoming more patient instantly, I've found that God keeps putting me in positions to find patience.  I keep coming up short.  Is it wrong to stop praying for patience?  Perhaps a wiser mind than mine can tell me, but at least for this week, I'm changing my prayer!

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Pass the Salt Please

I put forth a lot of effort to get my family to sit down to dinner together.  With a husband who works swing shifts and a toddler who goes to sleep for the night by 6:45 it isn't easy.  It is however, worth it.

I try to plan my meals around the shift work thing.  I cook more elaborate meals on nights Dustin gets home at 7:15, feasts on days off (when I'm not begging for take out) and easier meals when dinner is served at 5:00 so that he can leave for night shift.  I must confess, though I miss my husband when he's working nights, its the early meals that I love.  I mean, what Mom doesn't love having the family fed, dishes done, and kitchen cleaned before 6 pm???

Tonight was one of those nights.  Tacos around the table.  Evie was smearing cheese and salsa in her hair and Dustin was trying to get James settled at the table. I was pouring drinks and fixing my plate at the kitchen counter. That's when I overheard this:  "Dad, it's not good to be mean.  Jesus will still love you if you are mean, he just won't be happy about it. Daddy, do you want to make him sad?  Just try to be nicer, okay?"  I only wish I'd heard the rest of the conversation.  I will say this.  It was one of those "ahah!" moments that we as parents get.  One of those rare and validating moments when we know our children are listening too us, for better or for worse.

This got me thinking, how much else is my three year old getting?  I mean, I talk enough for ten people and assume I'm getting tuned out a lot of the time.  How much has this little booger banked in him little mind?  Dustin is off this weekend.  Maybe James can share a little more wisdom over a baked chicken.

Saturday, January 7, 2012

Worship with a mop.

I'm trying to be more diligent about keeping a cleaner house in this new year.  I must admit though, I hate it.  I'd rather just keep one room clean and shut the rest of the doors.  I LIKE my house lived in and comfortable.  I mean, we've all been in those other houses.  You know the ones where the pillows on the couch scream I DARE YOU TO LAY DOWN!  I don't aspire to that in my home.  I want my guests to feel like they can come over, put their feet up on my sofa and snuggle into the blanket conveniently located on the arm of each piece of furniture.  I want my children to explore building forts with all of the pillows and sofa cushions.  Children should be relaxed in their homes I think.

My resolution isn't about pillow forts though.  It's about the scary stuff under my stove.  It's about learning to clean these "tilt in" windows ( i hear they're great).  It's about worshiping God in caring for my home.  It's about showing my children that a home isn't four walls to be taken for granted.  It's about showing my husband that I respect his efforts to provide for us.  It's about the pride i feel when I can dance barefooted across newly mopped floors and my crawling daughter's pants stay clean.

Now I'm not going to go crazy and bleach all of my doorknobs and cover my kitchen chairs with plastic as have been suggested.  I have come to terms with the fact the the laundry pile multiplies while I sleep.  I love my incontinent dog more than I love rugs.  I must admit though, the smell of pinesol in the morning makes my motor run!

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

The Good List

In all of the post-Christmas fallout, one of the more unusual events has to be James's obsession with "the good list."  His little three year old brain is very concerned with ordering actions, people, and well, everything into "good" or "bad".  I must admit, this is useful when I'm trying to convince him to pick up his toys.  A little Santa threat and he kicks it into high gear.  The poor child is scared to death of the bad list, which by the way he was at the TOP of yesterday.  I reminded him of this and he promptly let me know that I too was on the bad list yesterday.  And...well...I was. 

I've been three days with no cigarettes, and what a span of three days its been! On Monday I was trapped at home with both children and no vehicle.  Mounds of dirty laundry in front of me, a football game during nap time and two demanding children made for a busy day.  Enter Tuesday.  I had to practically drag James under penalty of death to the car for the 20 minute drive to Clemson  Montessori School.  He and Evie both fussed the whole way home.  They both woke up cranky from their afternoon naps and neither of them appreciated my chicken dish (did they know it was a weight watchers recipe????).  I almost cried with relief when I tucked them in to sleep.  I had high hopes for today and was willing to give it a chance.  Really.  Again I had to drag James to the car to take him to school.  The dog ate Evie's breakfast.  The cat shook catnip all over the kitchen floor and tore into a bag of deer jerkey I just finished drying.  I had to drag my son  (kicking and screaming) to church for a pot luck dinner that he squirmed through.  I attempted small group with my daughter playing peacefully at my feet.  That lasted until she tried to answer the ipod "HELLO" and popped herself in the face with a silly band rubber band.  I then had to manhandle James into his car seat and pick Dustin up from work (25 minutes late).

Now I'm finally done.  This day that I've made an effort to find the good in is over.  I'm pretty sure I'm at the top of the bad list today too. I'm definitely sure that a cigarette sounds like a good idea.  Here's the thing though, I will lay my head down tonight knowing that the GOD who loves me keeps no record of my wrongs.  He loves me whether I'm good or bad.  Its willingness he seeks not perfection, at least in my understanding.  Whew!  I get to try again tomorrow!!

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

What's a Year Anyway?

"Teach us to number our days, that we may gain a heart of wisdom" (Psalm 90:12 NIV)

I've become a little uncomfortable at how fast a year goes by.  I remember being a child and the school year crawling like a turtle in a tar pit.  Now it seems that by the time I work up the nerve to put on a swimsuit, autumn is dropping her leaves and it's time to bake Christmas cookies.  The sense of time speeding up was never more apparent than after my children were born.

 James was colicky and didn't sleep that first year.  Dustin and I didn't sleep much either, and therefore so much of that first year is cloudy.  Of course I remember his first tooth, his first steps, the magical sound of "ma-ma" and  the hilarious time that Dustin tried to "scare" the hiccups away from our then three week old son.  Those are easy to remember, but what about the everyday?  The feel of downy hair against my face, the exact pitch of the hunger cry only Mommy can fill, the hefty weight of that sleeping boy in my arms.  These things are sadly harder to conjure the further away they get. So, what do you do when you forget what babies smell like?

Have another.  Evie wasn't colicky.  She didn't cry.  Her infancy was marked by a feeling of gratitude and pride. Grateful for her good nature, pride because surely I'm such an awesome Mom that I must be responsible for this...right?  This is the kid that we took to the pediatrician convinced that she was broken.  Our complaint?  She slept too much and didn't cry.  I still remember the look on his face when he asked us what we were expecting from a newborn.  We explained the colic situation during our first go-round and he clapped Dustin on the back and said this was how it was supposed to be.  Wow, this was parenting on the easy button.

Now I find myself at the beginning of another year trying to figure out where the last one went.  Evie's sweet downy baby hair is getting thicker and longer.  She squirms to get down more.  My once chubby James is a rail thin pre-schooler.  2012 is here, and to this child of the 80s and 90s it still sounds like science fiction.  A whole new year of challenges, setbacks, ice cream cones, heartache, cheeseburgers, milestones, snowstorms, and opportunities are here for this family.

 Are we brave enough to face it?  Strong enough to face it united?  Humble enough to know on which side our bread is buttered? My personal challenge...remember this year.  Take the time to sit and let my baby fall asleep on my chest.  Tickle my three year old until he can't take it any more.  Take the time to thank my husband for providing for his family.  Take the time to really talk to God, and unplug my ears when he starts to answer.  2013 will be here tomorrow after all.