Friday, June 17, 2011

Lemonade...

Have you ever heard of the saying "When life gives you lemons, make lemonade." ? Chances are you have. I have always thought of it as a reference to an attitude adjustment like "In every cloud there is a silver lining" or "Looking at the glass as half full". Sometimes these little sayings can be annoying and not very practical. Other times they can be used to challenge us to think differently.

One lesson that I continue to learn is that I can choose how I react or respond to things in life. My family and I have had some difficult choices to make in response to my husband's last week of school. We could choose to be moody and sad, angry at the school board, frustrated, and even fearful. While we may have at times felt some of those emotions, we have chosen not to react or respond with them. Instead we threw a small party!

The girls and I went and got streamers, balloons, a card, and dessert at the store. Then we came home and decorated. They made a banner that I hung up that says "Celebrate New Beginnings". That is what we have chosen to do, celebrate. You can call it what you like, making lemonade, looking at the glass half full, or finding the silver lining. But I call it a teachable moment.

I want my girls to see that uncertainty is not necessarily a bad thing. If we trust God it is an adventure. I also want my girls to see how they can take advantage of a difficult time and use it as an opportunity to love and encourage someone, their daddy. Finally, I want my husband to know that we are proud of him and the many years that he taught the students at his school.

How about you? What are your lemons this week and what do you need to do in order to choose to make them into lemonade?

Monday, June 13, 2011

Lesser vs. Lasting...

This is the last week of employment for my husband in our school district. After Friday we venture off into the great unknown of the world of unemployment. I am watching him in all of this and what I see is a little sadness, some questions about where he will work next, and a lot of graciousness. He takes things in stride he always has that's just him. I have always loved that about him, well except when we go shopping because it takes him longer than me to make decisions!

We have been talking a lot these past few days about the future. We are wondering what it is going to look like. Is this geographical area where God has planted us for good, or will searching for a job lead us to another state? Do we take the first job that is offered or do we hold out? What is God up to and what are we going to learn from this? So many questions and so much uncertainty! But still we are not experiencing any anxiety only supernatural peace. I have also had several family members and friends tell me that every time they pray for us they experience the same peace and a knowing that God will take care of us. Thank you God!

These past few days I have heard a song play on the radio several times that has touched my heart and caused my thoughts to wander back to the lyrics regularly. It's sung by Laura Story and the name of it is "Blessings" Here are some of the words that I keep pondering:

"We pray for blessings. We pray for peace. Comfort for family, protection while we sleep. We pray for healing, for prosperity. We pray for Your mighty hand to ease our suffering. All the while, You hear each spoken need. Yet love us way too much to give us lesser things. Cause what if Your blessings come through raindrops? What if Your healing comes through tears? What if a thousand sleepless nights is what it takes to know You're near? What if the trials of this life are Your mercies in disguise?"

I have never been one to welcome a trial have you? I already know from personal experience how hardships can end up being God's mercies in disguise so those lyrics didn't surprise me. What got me was the phrase "You love us way too much to give us lesser things." Those things that she calls lesser are not things that I necessarily have thought of as lesser. But I see that they are because they don't last. They are temporary. What is produced in our hearts and lives from the hardships of this life is lasting. The lessons learned have the ability to shape us and strengthen us for years to come. The closeness that we can experience as we cling dependently on God for provision, wisdom, comfort, and direction is priceless and enduring. Once we experience Him as faithful in our hardships it spurs us on to be more faithful to Him. All of these things are priceless and eternal.

While I sit here thinking about this I realize that even though it's not necessarily wrong to pray for good health, safety, and peace there are things I miss when I am focused on these "lesser" things. Perhaps my prayer should be not to miss what it is God wants to teach me and my family through this period of uncertainty, that He would do a complete and enduring work in us.

As I seek Him for the lasting and eternal things He wants to accomplish in my life and the lives of my family the "lesser" things will become just that, less of a concern. God knows our future and He has already provided for it in the mean time I think it's important to let Him work in our hearts and lives through the process of the wait. How about you? What are the "lesser" things that are keeping your focus from the lasting and eternal things?

Saturday, June 4, 2011

Conversations With God...

When I started blogging the purpose was to encourage others by sharing how I find God in the every day stuff of life. What I have had to learn over the course of my relationship with Him is that He often speaks quietly, which requires me to be still enough to hear Him. It's like any other relationship, it requires give and take in conversation and consistency. I am a busy mom and so my conversations with God through the years happen in small spurts throughout the day. I may be doing dishes and something comes to mind that I need to tell Him, or I may be in the middle of a trying day with the kids and need to tell Him how much I need His help not to lose it! Maybe I need direction on a decision I am mulling over regarding a purchase in the store so I ask Him what He thinks. Sometimes I just need to empty the concerns on my heart before they build up and it doesn't matter where I am, I know He is listening. And so this brings me to a recent conversation I had with him at the Cracker Barrel gift shop this weekend!

Sometimes the way God speaks to me is by allowing me to be sensitive to my surroundings and to notice things that I may normally pass by, in order to send me a message. This was one of those days. My family and I were on our way home from the end of the year event at Hershey park held by the kids' cyber school. On the way home we were discussing my husband's recent job layoff. He has one more full week of the school year and then who knows what job God has for him! He had applied at the kids' cyber school and up until that day at Hershey Park it had sounded hopeful that there would be an opening and he would be a good fit. But while he was at the Park he spoke to the administrator and was informed that job openings in Phys Ed could go either way, it wasn't as sure as he thought it had been. This was a little disappointing! Although we still had peace, I struggled with my disappointment on the ride home.

We stopped at the Cracker Barrel for dinner and while I waited for my food to be served I decided I needed space so I went to walk around the gift shop. My intention was to quiet my frustrations by giving myself space away from the family, talk to God, and find a birthday gift for a friend. See what I mean by busy?! As I walked around and began leaving my questions and disappointments with God I was stopped by a beautiful beach picture that had the words "Be still and know that I am God." Psalm 46:10 written on it. I couldn't help but thank Him for reminding me in that way. I continued to walk around looking for that birthday gift when I came across a necklace in a box with the words to an old song printed on it. I remember singing this song often in church when I was a girl; "Because He lives, I can face tomorrow. Because He lives, all fear is gone. Because I know He holds the future. And life is worth the living just because He lives."

God knew that not only did I need to be reminded to be still but I needed to be comforted with those familiar words from the song "Because He Lives". I would have missed it if I hadn't spent enough time in my relationship with Him to experience His voice in this way before. How about you? What do you miss in being able to find God in your every day? Perhaps there are ways in which He has tried to speak to you similar to this and you just didn't realize it? Will you join me in asking God for a consistent sensitivity to the many ways He tries to get our attention? I don't know about you, but I don't want to miss a thing He has to say!