Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Perplexed, but Not in Despair

I read this as a tract many years ago, and have never forgotten the words below. (I would love to hear your thoughts on this!)

"The Lord’s appointments, to those who fear Him, are not only sovereign, but wise and gracious. He has connected their good with His own glory, and is engaged, by promise, to make all things work together for their advantage.

He chooses for His people better than they could choose for themselves; if they are in heaviness, there is a need-be for it, and He withholds nothing from them but what upon the whole it is better they should be without. Thus the Scriptures teach, and thus we profess to believe.

Furnished with these principles, we are at no loss to suggest motives of patience and consolation to our brethren that are afflicted; we can assure them, without hesitation, that if they are interested in the promises, their concerns are in safe hands; that the things which at present are not joyous but grievous, shall in due season yield the peaceful fruits of righteousness, and that their trials are as certainly mercies as their comforts.

We can prove to them, from the history of Joseph, David, Job, and other instances recorded in Scriptures, that, notwithstanding any present dark appearances, it shall certainly be well with the righteous; that God can and will make crooked things straight; and that He often produces the greatest good from those events which we are apt to look upon as evil."

(John Newton: More Than a Calvinist)

"We are troubled on every side, yet not distressed;
we are perplexed, but not in despair;
Persecuted, but not forsaken;
cast down, but not destroyed..." 2 Cor 4:8-9

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Saying "Farewell"

Yesterday, we said a final goodbye to some very special friends. After two weeks of thinking that each meeting was our last, the real farewell was a little anti-climactic, but still extremely difficult.

The first time I met the Witvoet family was at my parent's church in Williston, FL. I fell in love with them instantly and joyed in the birth of three of their children; even watching their older children while Angi was in the hospital giving birth to baby Gerrit. Soon after they moved to Illinois, I moved to Pensacola and we lost contact.

Then, almost six years ago, I ran into Gerrit at a Yard Sale here in Pensacola! I had heard that they were living here, but didn't know if they would remember me (or want to remember me). But he seemed genuinely pleased, so we exchanged phone numbers. Soon, Angi and I had reconnected and a beautiful friendship began again.

From the first day that I took baby Joanna to their house, our children have loved being there! Just driving into their yard would bring squeals of laughter from the girls, even as babies. It was a home away from home; a place of refreshment and peace. In reciprocating fashion, they watched the girls while I was giving birth to Felicity and then Brigitta.

(The Witvoet family with baby Joanna)

Yesterday, I got to tell Angi that their home, and it's occupants, always reminded me of "Palace Beautiful" in John Bunyan's allegory; "The Pilgrim's Progress". After a series of trial and struggles, Christian found rest and encouragement there. But he wasn't permitted to remain forever. It just strengthened and prepared him for the trials ahead.

The past month has been an emotional roller coaster for me, but I do believe that, although the Lord provides rest and relief for weary pilgrims, He wants us to remember that we have "no abiding city here" for "this world is not our home."

Farewell is not good-bye. Despite the tears, I will trust these precious friends to the hand of Him that "knoweth best and doeth well."

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Happy Mother's Day!

I realize this is a few days late, but I just had to share my Mother's Day with you all.

Honestly, the past two weeks have been so incredibly hectic, that I actually forgot about Mother's Day!  Rising early, as usual, for my Sunday morning shower, I then sat in the living room, obliviously reading, while waiting for the house to burst with life.

Soon, two pairs of feet could be heard running down the hall. Then, before I knew it, two little bodies were sailing through the air, two pairs of arms were wrapped around my neck, and two little voices sweetly wished me a "Happy Mother's Day!" A few minutes later, Daddy appeared with Brigitta, who squirmed out of his arms and ran to imitate her big sisters. What a wonderful way to start the day!!!

(Joanna, Felicity, and Brigitta)

After church, as I was preparing dinner, Thom took all three of the girls into the garage to sign my card. Not knowing where they were, I walked in on them to call them for dinner. Panicked, my beloved hid the card and quickly gathered the girls; but after dinner, he couldn't remember where he put it!

While he searched the house in frustration, I couldn't help but smile. You see, with three little ones at my elbows all day long, I am always so distracted and absent-minded-- I'm constantly losing and forgetting things!. So, his little episode made me laugh! I can't think of a better Mother's Day present, than to see Daddy having a "Mommy-moment."

Eventually he found the card and it was beautiful, but knowing the love that went into finding it, made it even more special. You know, being a mom is hard work. Anyone who says differently is selling something. But it's the most rewarding job on the planet. And it definitely has it's perks. =)

"It takes a mouthful of kindness, an armful of hugs;
A barrelful of fun and games: to keep away the bugs.
A pinch of understanding, completes the recipe,
And you mix it all together for a happy family."

(Ron Hamilton: Recipe for a Happy Family)

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Felicity's "Green Thing"

Less than two weeks ago, my husband and I did one of the hardest things we've had to do as parents. We took away Felicity's "green thing." Those of you that know "Issy" have rarely seen her without this piece of silky, green material (a piece of my old nightgown).

For the past two and a half years, she has carried that cloth around, dragging it through the dirt, cuddling with it after falling down, and begging for it day and night. When it was lost, the whole house was turned upside-down until a squeal of delight indicated that it had been found. Leaving the house in a hurry, we would turn around and go back for the beloved "green thing" or there would be no peace.

Finally, Thom and I decided that it was time. But we dreaded the results. If she was this fussy with her precious blankie, what would she be like without it? We didn't know; but something had to be done. Sitting her down, Daddy and I explained to Felicity that it was time to say "good-bye." As the tears filled her eyes, I felt my own heart being torn, knowing how important that piece of green cloth was to my little one.

That night was terrible. After crying for an hour before going to sleep, Felicity woke up around midnight and came into our room, crying pitifully. Gathering her into my arms, I rocked and crooned to my little girl until exhaustion took her. Half an hour later, she was awake again, but didn't cry quite as long. For the rest of the night, she would wake every 30-45 minutes, but each time the crying was a little less.

(Felicity sharing her "green thing" with Baby Brigitta)

The next day, I was dreading nap-time. And I needed a nap! Surprisingly, she only asked for the "green thing" one time, and as I rubbed her back, she was asleep within five minutes. That night, she didn't even ask for it.

Over the next few days, I was astonished at the change in her behavior. I expected it to change, but I didn't expect it to improve, especially that drastically! All the sudden, I had a happy girl on my hands again! She laughed, played, talked incessantly, sang with all her heart, and used every excuse to cuddle and whisper sweet things in my ear. Her temper flare-ups became few and far between, and her cheerful obedience soared. I was puzzled; How could a little piece of material (or the absence, thereof) make such a drastic difference in a three year old?

Discussing this with my friend, Noreen, I was thunder-struck to hear her comment that, to Felicity, the "green thing" had become an idol. An idol? Really? I mean, aren't idols just fat, little, green images that people bow down to and worship?

But the suggestion was stuck in my head. This piece of cloth was not just a piece of cloth to Issy. It was her life-- her world. It was something she thought she couldn't live without. It was an idol. And when we removed it from her, we were releasing her from it's power over her.

Now, I'm not going to go overboard here, and start condemning every little child that walks around with a precious "blankie." But this train of thought made me consider how every one of us has an innate need for comfort and security. We try to find them in different things like family, possessions, relationships, jobs, financial stability, religion, and a myriad of other things. But the fact is; comfort and security can only be found in Christ. Whatever it is that we think we can't live without, has become an idol unto us. Anything that robs us of our fellowship with God, is our god.

But when, like Felicity, we are forced to relinquish them unto Him, we find His presence closer, His smile more precious, and His grace so amazing, that we wonder how we could ever love anything more than we love Him.

"Father, I want to know Thee,
But my cowardly heart fears to give up its toys.
I cannot part with them without inward bleeding,
And I do not try to hide from Thee the terror of the parting.
I come trembling, but I do come.

Please root from my heart all Those things
Which I have cherished so long
And which have become a very part of my living self,
So that Thou mayest enter and dwell there without a rival.
Then shalt Thou make the place of Thy feet glorious.
Then shall my heart have no need of the sun to shine in it,
For Thyself wilt be the light of it, and there shall be no night there.
In Jesus' name, Amen." 
(A.W. Tozer: The Pursuit of God)

"Little children, keep yourselves from idols." (1 John 5:21)