In retrospect

I wrote a post about my current perspective on the past few months, but my wireless stopped working and I lost it.  That’s probably just as well.  It was long-winded, full of explanations, but over-analysis, too.  While I am not fully settled on what we were meant to learn from the job loss and waiting and eventual provision, and while I struggle to comprehend the possibility that the new job, which was about as close to a perfect answer as we could have hoped for, could mean that we really and truly do matter to God, I think those are not what I need to be focusing on at the moment.

In spite of however else I might try to explain things, and in spite of whatever else might still need clarification, my response right now needs to be nothing other than the simple acknowledgement that God has proven Himself faithful and good, again.  He answered the cry of my heart – in His own time and in His own way – and I am thankful.

if…then

Sometimes, I think…

if I can just figure it out

if I could only explain

if they really tried to see

if I got an answer

if the baby would sleep

if I knew the whole truth

if obedience would happen

if I wasn’t afraid

if it didn’t hurt so much

if I was better, or prettier, or calmer, or more organized, or talented, or smart

…if my life wasn’t my life, and this world wasn’t this world, and there was no sin and no consequence and no struggle and no pain…

then I would trust

then I would be thankful

then I would love

then I would be content

then I would be lovable

then I would matter

…then things would stop being hard…

and I wouldn’t have to choose

and I wouldn’t need faith

and I wouldn’t know grace

and I’d never learn compassion

and I’d not see that I’m a sinner

and I wouldn’t recognize true love

…and I might just forget that I need You, every second of my life…

to do all the things for me that I can’t do

to be everything for me that I can’t be

to take all my worthlessness and make me precious

to take all my dirt and make me clean

to take all my failure and make me righteous

to hold me up

to set me free

to make me victorious

…to be my life and breath and reason for being, my Savior, my God.

 

 

 

weariness

Tim has a fourth interview with a particular company on Monday afternoon.  This interview was supposed to happen yesterday, but his computer ended up being overloaded by having too much running at once (video chat, plus desktop sharing, plus running code (?)), and since the whole point of this particular interview is for him to show them programs he has written, and then to do some coding for them to see, having a functioning computer was necessary, and the interviewers did not have time to wait for him to resolve the problems.  He has another computer he can use, so the same thing shouldn’t happen on Monday.  But still, it was a bit of a blow that his computer ended up having issues yesterday.  Even though technology malfunctions seem to happen to everyone, during an interview is not when you’d prefer for them to occur.

So, Monday.  We’re hoping and praying that Monday will be an end to the job search.  This position seems like a good fit.  It would pay enough.  It is specifically a telecommuting job.  Tim has a lot of experience in the areas of software development they are looking at.

If this doesn’t work out, I don’t know how I will handle it.  Just the postponing of the interview yesterday seemed like too much to bear.  I honestly feel like there is something pulled tight around my chest all the time.  This stress physically hurts.  It is exhausting, and along with sleep that never amounts to more than 3 hours straight, I feel like my body just can’t hold up to any more.  I think I’m having potassium deficiency issues, which it seems can be triggered by how the body responds to stress…achy, tired, cramping muscles; heart palpitations; dizziness; abdominal cramping and bloating; numbness in extremities…I guess it maybe sounds worse than it is, but it is a frustration nonetheless since I do have what is a normally sufficient amount of potassium in my diet, and increasing that intake enough to relieve symptoms is an annoyance I don’t really want to have to deal with right now.  I get that, somehow, I should be able to just trust God and then the stress and its related problems would be gone, but I don’t know how to just let go.  I hope that isn’t a lesson that needs to be fully learned before this trial is done.

I feel like I’m at the end of myself.  This job issue came at a time when I probably would have already said that I had no faith, no hope, no strength to stand.  Now, almost three months later, I’m really just done.  Numb.  I don’t even think that I can offer an assessment of my faith, it’s been worn down to simply falling at His feet, speechless and empty.  There are no more arguments, no more ideas, no more attempts at understanding, no more thoughts of what might convince me that He’s here or that He cares.  I know I can be pretty fickle about all of this.  I wish I wasn’t.  Still, He should be able to meet me where I am, right?  He should be able to take this emptiness, this hopelessness, this lifelessness and help me see Him in it all, right?  Somehow, I just need to see Him.

 

Choosing Him

The thing about choices is that every time you choose one thing, you also reject some other thing, or things.  It can seem easy when the choice is between strawberry shortcake and saltines (obviously, strawberry shortcake would win every time).  It can even seem fairly simple when the choice is between two really amazing desserts…perhaps apple pie, instead of saltines, compared with the shortcake…because even though you have to reject one of them now, you know that sometime down the road, you can choose the apple pie.  It’s not a forever choice.  I think I’ve often gone through life with that mentality.  I can forgo a good thing in the moment if I know that I’m not denouncing it forever.

But the truth of the matter is this: when we choose God, the absolute, unequivocal best, there are seemingly good things that we will at some point have to reject.  Things that maybe, in and of themselves, are not bad or sinful, but in God’s plan are not best for us.  It could be material wealth, social status, friendships, family…heart’s desires that might seem borne out of noble affections but that, somehow, would conflict with the One who has to always be first.  It’s the call to be a living sacrifice for the Lord.  And, honestly?  I just don’t get it, sometimes.

I understand the need to have to put Him first.  It’s the daily walking it out that can be confounding.  Because so much of choosing Him means choosing a truth that – though cemented in the deepest parts of me – is, even so, often intangible – a hope, a believing when I can’t see, a wrestling not against flesh and blood.  And in that choosing, rejecting my heart – emotions that can overwhelm and convince and distort and make themselves seem to proclaim the necessities of life; and rejecting circumstantial reality – concrete, life facts that can seem unchangeable.

In these moments, I find myself wondering why.  Why this heart, made to feel, but which only matters when it agrees with Him anyway?  Why these felt needs, that can really be painful, or difficult, or confusing?  I’m not sure I understand the point of Him making us this way.  It isn’t that I don’t know the answers that are given, they just don’t always make sense to me.  I get tired of laying the same things down over and over again.  My heart feels bruised and weary and weak.  I know I will always choose Him…I’m not trying to find a reason to choose something else…but couldn’t He just make it easier?  Couldn’t there be some limit to the sacrifice?  It’s selfish, I’m sure, but I’d just like a break from the hurting for a while.

And he’s eleven

Another year has passed, and Caedmon is now eleven.  He’s the oldest and, therefore, the most responsible.  I’ve heard that’s how it’s supposed to be, and in this case, it really is true.  Maybe it’s just the nature of the fact that he’s older, maybe Bethany is as responsible as he was at eight.  I can’t really say for sure.

But, now, he is the one who likes to have his schedule figured out, and then methodically (sometimes hurriedly) goes about checking things off his to-do list (merely a mental list, most days).  He keeps tabs on his siblings…occasionally a bit too closely…and, as much as it affects him, tries to keep them on task.  He likes to know what to expect, excitedly anticipates any out-of-the-ordinary happenings, gets really disappointed when reality doesn’t meet expectations (I can’t imagine where he got that from), and is often planning his own elaborate play-time endeavors or hopeful ideas for family activities.  I rely on him for many things, and I mostly trust him to be conscientious in whatever he’s asked to do.

He loves family.  Our family, extended family, the idea of more siblings, and even his hopes for a large family of his own one day, all hold places of high importance in his heart.  He joyfully and affectionately cares for his youngest two sisters, and often asks when there will be another one.

He’s beginning to think more about the kind of person he should be, and why other people are the way they are, and how he can and should respond when life gets hard.  As often as not, when his weekly turn comes to stay up later for playtime and prayer time with Tim and me, his choice of activity is to simply sit with us and talk.  It’s sometimes serious, sometimes not, and I think there are still times when he keeps some of his deeper feelings to himself…perhaps for lack of understanding more than anything else…but it matters so much to me that he wants to talk and ask questions, and sometimes, just laugh with us.

I can see moments when it’s hard to keep that parent/child line clearly defined, and sometimes wonder where, exactly, it might okay for it to blur a bit.  Obviously, the day will come when our authority in his life will wane to a great degree and our relationship will look very different than it does now.  I imagine there is some process along the way, and we find ourselves slowly starting to figure that out with Caedmon (don’t worry, though, we are acutely aware of just how much these next several years require diligent direction, correction and wisdom).  For now, we are encouraged by his desire for the Lord, his willingness to ask hard questions and his genuine interest in serving the Lord with his life.

He is a blessing, in so many ways, and we take great joy in celebrating him today.

A closing window

When Tim found out that he would be out of work at the end of December, we both kind of concluded that our window for only looking for a job that would allow us to stay here will run out at the end of January.  At that point, our finances, and the time it would take to go through an interview process and potentially move, will make it necessary to apply to any jobs that seem like a fit, so that something can hopefully be found before money runs out.  Well, this week is the closing of that window.  Sunday is February 1st.  Up until now, nothing has shown much hope of working out.  Today, though, he got a reply from a job he applied to, asking to set up an interview for Friday afternoon.  It’s just an interview…a long way from a job offer…but it’s something.  I really felt like God promised to answer, to provide before we have to go scrambling, looking for something somewhere we don’t feel led to be, but I’m having a hard time hoping that this interview on Friday is the answer.  I don’t want to be even more disappointed if next week comes and we’re still at square one.  But, at the same time, I want to have faith that God can and will come through for us.

So, I’d like to ask for prayer, if you’re reading this.  Obviously, if this job that he’s interviewing for on Friday could work out – if it was the type of work Tim can excel at, if it would pay enough, if they would offer him a job – that would be huge.  But if not, we could really use prayer for direction, for peace, for wisdom, for faith.  It just doesn’t seem like a good plan to continue only pursuing jobs that would keep us here, just because we want to stay.  We want to be responsible, and also recognize that it’s possible that what we want is not what God wants in this.  I don’t think that’s the case, but there isn’t enough certainty to bank our family’s well-being on what, at this point, amounts to little more than feelings.

Psalm 18

There it was again, yesterday, in the kids’ devotional reading for the day.

He makes my feet like the feet of deer,
And sets me on my high places.

I’ve been reading some or all of Psalm 18 most days lately, because it seems there’s something I’m supposed to be seeing.  Or maybe, I just need the frequent reminders that God is in these days.  I’m trying to listen.  I tend to have a problem, though, when I read Bible passages of not actually seeing how things go together…reading verse by verse instead of getting the big picture…and I miss some pretty simple things sometimes.  So it took me reading it a couple times to understand what the chapter was talking about.  See, how I read it was: David is in distress, and then gears shift completely to talking about God being big and powerful and kind of scary, and then to talking about God’s goodness to David.  And somehow, I missed how it all was related.  But then I looked at the transitional verses

In my distress I called upon the Lord,
And cried out to my God;
He heard my voice from His temple,
And my cry came before Him, even to His ears.

Then the earth shook and trembled;
The foundations of the hills also quaked and were shaken,
Because He was angry.

David cried out, and God heard and proceeded to literally move heaven and earth to come to David’s aid.  Almighty God was zealously protecting His own.  He didn’t respond half-heartedly.  He wasn’t unconcerned for David’s need.  On the contrary, He made sure that David’s enemies knew just exactly Who they had to contend with when they went after him.

But, interestingly, God didn’t show up before David was in distress.  He didn’t keep him out of the battle.  In fact, David seemed convinced that his situation was dire

The pangs of death surrounded me,
And the floods of ungodliness made me afraid.
The sorrows of Sheol surrounded me;
The snares of death confronted me.

God waited until David was at the end of himself.  Why?  For (at least) a couple reasons, I think.  First, so that he would know beyond any doubt that his deliverance was of the Lord and not his own strength

He sent from above, He took me;
He drew me out of many waters.
He delivered me from my strong enemy,
From those who hated me,
For they were too strong for me.

and

For You will light my lamp;
The Lord my God will enlighten my darkness.
For by You I can run against a troop,
By my God I can leap over a wall.
As for God, His way is perfect;
The word of the Lord is proven;
He is a shield to all who trust in Him.

For who is God, except the Lord?
And who is a rock, except our God?
It is God who arms me with strength,
And makes my way perfect.

Second, so that David would be strengthened for future battles

He makes my feet like the feet of deer,
And sets me on my high places.
He teaches my hands to make war,
So that my arms can bend a bow of bronze.

And in the rest of the chapter, David goes on to talk about his victories over his enemies.  God had reminded David whose strength it is that wins battles, and that deeper knowledge, that increased faith, that broadened humility(?), brought David to the place of victory.

God had a plan.  He had a reason for letting David get to the point of distress.  He wasn’t slow to answer.  He never was anything but absolutely, unconditionally, passionately loving. But He knew the end from the beginning.  He knew what was necessary to accomplish His purposes.  He knew what would be the greatest good for David.

So, here now, for us, I will trust that God has a plan. I will trust that God has a reason for letting us get to this point of distress (though I hope that we won’t end up confronted by the snares of death).  I will believe that God is not being slow to answer, and that even in this, He is only absolutely, unconditionally, passionately loving us.  Because He knows the end from the beginning.  He knows what is necessary to accomplish His purposes in our lives.  He knows what will be for our greatest good.  And He will perform it.

On the normal days

I’m kind of feeling like I should take note of these days…you know, life that’s happening when I’m not panicking about what ‘tomorrow’ will hold for us.  ‘Cause, despite what my posts on here might seem to indicate, I really am trying to maintain some sense of normalcy.  Here’s some moments, as proof…

…Isabelle officially crawling, just in the last week.

…Elijah finally catching on (somewhat) to the whole addition and subtraction thing.

…rediscovering my love for the O.C. Supertones, and doing my very best [read: ridiculously unimpressive] ska dancing with my kids while completely ignoring the fact that schoolwork and chores were supposed to be happening

…watching Ken Burns’ Jazz documentary as a start to our history unit on the roaring twenties.  Possibly a bit self-serving, since I find it fascinating and my kids…well…don’t, but I think it is giving a good picture of what life looked like for certain segments of society at the time.

…Tim working on the house for his Mom…she was going to hire someone to do the work, so he is now the “someone”.  It’s been a mild adjustment not having him around the house all day…some of it difficult, but some of it beneficial, too.  Just a temporary solution to the job need…I have mixed feelings about it, but I can’t deny that it’s better than nothing.

…eating eggs a lot.  We get 13-15 eggs a day, which means most days need to include a meal of eggs.  Surprisingly, I’m not tired of them, though the kids have had their moments.  Tim has figured it out to be just under $2 a dozen, when taking everything into consideration, which is definitely a more economical alternative than most other proteins, so I’m not complaining.

…very little sleep.  Well, okay, for me what I get is very little.  And actually, it’s more the lack of uninterrupted sleep.  Isabelle has been waking up a minimum of 3 times a night with very few exceptions for more than 2 months.  She’s had a cold this week, which has meant even more interruptions, and more difficulty in getting her back to sleep.  It affects me…energy, mood, productivity, patience, and the quantity of desserts I eat.  I almost never ate sweets before I had kids…but, I digress.

…calisthenics every school day before recess (outside play time)…stretching, sit-ups, push-ups and jumping jacks.  It hardly constitutes a PE class, but it’s something.  And maybe, eventually, they’ll all have it firmly ingrained in their minds that push-ups require bending their elbows, and not just moving their waists up and down.

…reading to my Ava Grace, and “eating” all of the fantastic play food creations she brings me throughout the day.  Also, our many-times-a-day exchange of I love you/I love you, too; you’re beautiful/you’re beautiful, too; you’re cute/ you’re cute, too; you’re precious/you’re precious, too; and, occasionally, you’re handsome/no, Daddy and Caedmon and Nathanael and Elijah are handsome; oh.

Well, speaking of Isabelle not sleeping…I guess I’ve got to be done.

Refining

He makes my feet like the feet of a deer, and sets me on my high places.  He teaches my hands to make war, so that my arms can bend a bow of bronze. —Psalm 18:33-34

This verse.  It’s come up so many times these past couple months.  Sometimes I question what God is doing through these days, when my feet feel more like those of a toddler than of a deer climbing mountain crags, when my arms are barely strong enough to lift in surrender, much less to endure battle.

Over and over, in the midst of my doubt that God is in this at all, He has brought me to this passage in Psalm 18.  The words stick in my mind and I can’t get around them.  When I fear that we are going to be forced down a path we don’t want to take, or stuck in circumstances that promise only difficulty and not enough, I am reminded that the whole point of trials, the only way to increase in faith and strength, is to be taken beyond our abilities…to know the pressing of a weight we haven’t yet borne, and to find that before we can be crushed, He gives an answer, and we come to know His strength in greater measure than at first.

I would think that a deer must surely stumble when first daring to walk the harder path, and a soldier must push himself to the limits of his strength – to the place where he finds himself faltering – in order to grow stronger, and so some trials only serve their purpose if we are brought to the end of ourselves and, in that place, learn more the faithfulness of our God who promises to be our everything.

I forget this truth easily, which is probably why God has been setting it constantly before me lately.  And it’s what I find myself clinging to, this hope that He is working His purposes through these days, to make us more fit for service in His kingdom, to enable us to proclaim His faithfulness with even more certainty, to have strength to stand through future storms.

Despite all of the unpleasantness of this season, I am thankful that God will do what’s necessary to draw us closer, and make us stronger, and help us see ever more clearly that He is always faithful and always good.