‘He is no fool who gives what he cannot keep to gain what he cannot lose’
– Jim Elliot
Last week ended with two surprises for me. One was great! That was the kind of surprise that makes you jump up and down, do a happy dance that goes on forever and makes you want to call/email/facebook your friends immediately. That surprise was a real answer to prayer and in all honesty a real miracle.
The other surprise was the kind that does not make you happy dance. It was the kind of surprise that when it comes out of the blue, almost slaps you in the face and leaves you breathless for a while. The kind of surprise that makes you want to curl up and cry.
The details of these surprises aren’t important – but rest assured no-one has died and no-one is about to die. Whew.
I spent the weekend swaying from feelings of joy and wonder, to dismay and fear. From certainty and blessed assuredness to mind numbing frustration and disappointment.
Then this morning I was walking up my stairs for what felt like the billionth time already and it wasn’t even 9am (who needs to go to the gym when you live in a townhouse!) and this thought flashed through my mind; My surprises were not surprises to God.
My surprises are not surprises to my Lord and Saviour.
I know, that I know, that I know, that my steps are ordered by the Lord.
I know, that I know, that I know, that my family and I were led to a new ministry in America, for such a time as this and for a real purpose and every step of the way we have known that God has been leading us and providing for us. He isn’t about to leave us now – his track record proves that.
I know, that I know, that I know, that curveballs are thrown at people all the time, and we are not immune to that.
I know, that I know, that I know that God does not call us to a place where he does not enable us.
These are the things I know.
And I know that neither the good surprise we had, nor the bad surprise we had were surprises to God.
So who am I to fret and worry, when He is already Lord of my situation?
There was a news story in my town this week of a elderly homeless man who was found dead. He had died of heart failure from the extreme cold overnight. All in all very sad. I’m sure it happens all too frequently. What made it a news story though was the fact that this man had on him thousands of dollars worth of cash. Apparently it was enough to have brought him a roof over his head of some sort.
When I read this my overactive imagination went into top gear…..what made him homeless? Why was he not with family or friends or in some kind of shelter? Surely he knew he was weak and frail and should not be exposed to the elements….Why would someone have money but not use it for one of life’s basic necessities?
Maybe he had an addiction of sorts that kept him from loved ones. Maybe he couldn’t forgive himself of some action, so this was his way of punishing himself. Maybe it all came down to pride. Thinking he could look after himself when really he couldn’t.
Pride. Not reaching out for help when one can.
Yesterday I tried to give a neighbor family a bag of shoes and clothes that The Hurricane has grown out of. Decent items- not stained and stretched…lots of good wear left in them. The neighbor family has three boys altogether, two of them smaller than The Hurricane. The other day the middle boy was outside playing in his pyjamas, that barely covered his knees. And note he is not old enough to be wearing his pyjamas as a statement of his independence and own sense of fashion! There are seven people in that household living in a two bedroom house. The oldest boy sleeps in his parent’s walk in closet, so he tells us.
The Grandmother opened the door to me and said ‘No thanks’. Didn’t even look at the bag of clothes, just a no thanks. Me, being the stubborn woman I am left the bag at the door anyway, hoping they would change their minds. This morning the bag was at my door.
Perhaps there are certain rules in their religion that prevent them from accepting gestures like this. Perhaps it is purely and simply a cultural thing. Perhaps it was pride.
Pride. Not accepting help when one can or should.
My prayer today is that I never become so independent that I don’t seek help from others when I need it, or when it is offered. My prayer is that I be a gracious receiver of gifts.
I don’t ever want to be too proud for anything or about anything.
‘God never gives us discernment in order that we may criticize, but that we may intercede.’
– Oswald Chambers
We had visitors for dinner last night – the kind of visitors that you have around once your kids are in bed and fast asleep so you can enjoy adult conversation and not have your visitors endure ‘eat your vegetables 101’.
So I made some fancy pants flavoured butter to go with the loaf of homemade bread as a starter. Very Martha Stewart indeed. The flavoured butter just had some whole grain dijon mustard and lemon zest in it. The Thinker was very taken with the look of this butter and was itching to try it when I was preparing it. I said ‘no you may not dig a knife into that smooth surface just yet, but there will be leftovers and you may have some in the morning’. So, this morning he grabs some crackers and tries the fancy pants butter. It meets with the food critic’s approval. In fact he loves it.
He asks what is in the butter so I tell him. Then – lightbulb moment for me – I see a teachable moment. Mustard seed……..and I remember that verse in the bible……
“If your faith were only the size of a mustard seed”, Jesus answered, “it would be large enough to uproot that mulberry tree over there and send it hurtling into the sea! Your command would bring immediate results”
Luke 17: 6
I love that. A small amount of genuine faith in God will take root and grow. God can do so much with only a little. What a great concept for my seven year old to take hold of and really understand. There is no problem that he faces now or faces in the future that is too big for God. It is all about having the right kind of faith – an alive and growing faith.
Maybe I should make fancy pants butter more often, and get myself some more teachable moments….so good for me to remember these things as well as it is for The Thinker.
A good wife should not laugh out loud when her husband tells her he is planning on going for a run in the morning.
A good wife should not pretend to be asleep in the middle of the night when the munchkins are needing something.
A good wife should not be completely reliant on having a decent shot of caffeine brought to her, before she is fully or even partly functioning in the morning.
A good wife should not let the pantry become so low that the husband has to have jam sandwiches for his lunch.
Sometimes I am not a good wife. But I am the Spunky Hunk’s wife and I know I am loved, for all the things I do, and all the things I don’t do. It doesn’t matter to him – he loves me.
The Spunky Hunk and I are coming up to our ten year anniversary this month. Whoop whoop! I am very excited by that. That means we will have been married for nearly a third of our lives (yes we were infants when we said I do!), and I wouldn’t have it any other way.
I seriously think I have the best husband in the world. No, actually, I know it. I’ve often said that I got the better deal in marrying him.
You want to know the kind of man he is? He is the kind of man who has held my hair back from my face as I have seen my breakfast for the second time, many many times. The kind of man who has taught me to drive – in two countries – and never once raised his voice at me or sighed in exasperation. The kind of man who listens to my problems, concerns and worries and doesn’t try to offer his opinion or a solution. The kind of man who steals away for time with the Lord, making it a priority and a need, setting an example for the family. The kind of man who hungers for closeness to God, longs to see acts of God and doesn’t settle for mediocre in any area of his life.
That’s the kind of man I married. That’s the one who loves me.
We have a mighty fine relationship. Its been a fun and fulfilling ten years. We never had the ‘rocky first few months’ of marriage that so many people had warned us of, thanks be to God.
Now I have to say we are not marriage experts. Yes we are very happy and yes we are on a journey, but experts we are not. But the one piece of advice I will share today is something that was shared with us by a couple we love, spoken to us when we became engaged. Their words – ‘respect each other’. Above all else, respect.
Respecting my husband means that I will not speak ill of the Spunky Hunk. When the girlfriends gather around and talk becomes sloppy and grudges become public I refuse to join in, I refuse to stoop to that. Respecting means that I will not nag him, I will not pester. Respecting my husband means that I will continue to mould myself into a better wife, to meet his needs and to encourage him.
I’ve been having my early morning cup of tea made for me for nearly ten years now. I am a blessed woman. I respect my husband and he respects me. We’re a team. Roll on the next ten years!
Last night my husband showed me a great little video clip. The video clip featured one of the members of the ministry group that the Spunky Hunk is part of, reading out a prophesy by Smith Wigglesworth over a live radio broadcast. Heard of Smith Wigglesworth? He was a uber amazing prophet/ healer/ evangelist, ‘the Apostle of faith’, one of the pioneers of the Pentecostal revival that occurred a century ago. This prophesy was really cool to hear and particularly relevant for the people who were hearing it live.
In turn it was encouraging for me and the Spunky Hunk. We like hearing about BIG GOD DREAMS. We like hearing about WORKS of GOD that have happened, and are going to happen. We like being around people who have BIG FAITH and EXPECT God to move, and to move powerfully.
Why? When we’re around these people our faith grows. Our God dreams become revived again. We start believing for the impossible. We become the Jesus Freaks we used to be, and we’re happy that we’re not the only ones.
We want to always position ourselves around ourselves people who are living ‘it’. Living their dreams, walking by faith…..whose lives are a living, breathing opportunity for God to act.
Sometimes we target specific people that we want to spend time with. People that we want to gleam from. People that will lift us up and build us up. And in turn, in some way we can do the same for them. It is kind of target practice.
I’ve called this post ‘target practice’ – because it does take practice. Not every relationship with another Christian you ‘target’ will necessarily turn out to really lift your faith like you initially hope it will, and that’s ok too – but it is worth pursuing, until you ‘get’ those people in your life.
My friend Mrs W is a lady who I actively sought out to befriend. I value and love her walk with the Lord, her relationship with her husband, and the fact that she has older kids as well as a child the same age as my Thinker. She’s ‘been there and done that’ but is also going through so many of the things I face at the same time as me. A targeted friendship. When we’ve been together it doesn’t take much for talk to turn to God talk, to encourage each other and to challenge each other.
Look at the first chapter of Luke to read what happened when Mary, Mother of Jesus was first visited by an angel and had the big bombshell of an announcement dropped on her. What did she do? A few days after her angel visitation she visited the only person in the whole world who may have had any kind of empathy and understanding for what she was going through, her Aunt. Her Aunt Elizabeth was in the middle of her own wondrous miraculous act and recognized as soon as she saw Mary that Mary was indeed blessed, and that this was indeed a GOOD thing, in fact a ‘wonderful blessing’ that was happening to her.
God provided Mary with an amazing friend at this crazy time for her. A helper, whose faith was deep. It was a targeted friendship.
The Spunky Hunk and I are going to actively target more people to spend time with, people who are going to encourage and uplift. People not afraid to put their hands up and loudly declare – ‘PICK ME LORD. USE ME LORD’.