In Me

Today’s blog post comes to you courtesy of my favorite devotional, Streams in the Desert by Mrs. Charles Cowman.  Again, I find the words penned here appropriate and relevant to my today.  Be blessed.

 

March 31

In Me

“In me . . . peace” (John 16:33).

There is a vast difference between happiness and blessedness. Paul had imprisonments and pains, sacrifice and suffering up to the very limit; but in the midst of it all, he was blessed. All the beatitudes came into his heart and life in the midst of those very conditions.

Paganini, the great violinist, came out before his audience one day and made the discovery just as they ended their applause that there was something wrong with his violin. He looked at it a second and then saw that it was not his famous and valuable one.

He felt paralyzed for a moment, then turned to his audience and told them there had been some mistake and he did not have his own violin. He stepped back behind the curtain thinking that it was still where he had left it, but discovered that some one had stolen his and left that old second-hand one in its place. He remained back of the curtain a moment, then came out before his audience and said:

“Ladies and Gentlemen: I will show you that the music is not in the instrument, but in the soul.” And he played as he had never played before; and out of that second-hand instrument, the music poured forth until the audience was enraptured with enthusiasm and the applause almost lifted the ceiling of the building, because the man had revealed to them that music was not in the machine but in his own soul.

It is your mission, tested and tried one, to walk out on the stage of this world and reveal to all earth and Heaven that the music is not in conditions, not in the things, not in externals, but the music of life is in your own soul.

If peace be in the heart,
The wildest winter storm is full of solemn beauty,
The midnight flash but shows the path of duty,
Each living creature tells some new and joyous story,
The very trees and stones all catch a ray of glory,
If peace be in the heart.
–Charles Francis Richardson

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ABC’s of me

I’ve been nominated!  Wow!  Thank you, Kat of To Talk of Many Things for the sweet compliments and the honor of being nominated for this award.  I’m settling into somewhat of a routine here in blogland, and have come to love  this outlet of the Body of Christ, where we can share with and encourage one another in our faith.

Rules for this award:

1. There is no limit to how many fellow bloggers you pass this on to.  You may post the ABC sign on your blog.
2. Share some things about you, but alphabetically, just a word or two starting with each letter of the alphabet.

1.  I nominate S.R. at To Have Her Heart and Camila at God’s Creation Through My Eyes.  Both of these blogs have been an incredible blessing to me.  I can’t count the number of times their posts have spoken directly to the heart of a matter in which God was speaking to my heart.  I am blessed by both of them daily.  I hope you’ll check them out and be encouraged as well.

2.  Kat and I have this in common, asking me to write one or two words about anything is like tying my hands and expecting me to be able to talk.  It don’t happen.  I’ll try to be brief, but 1-2 words would be impossible.  Here goes:

A.  Accordian – I have been complimented often that I march to beat of my own.

B.  Blog – My new best friend.  I actually blogged through the grief of losing my parents back in ’05 and ’06, and lost everything when our server crashed. B is also for BACK UP…’nuff said.

C.  Christian, convert, Catholic, Canada – Just a few of the Changes that have occurred in past few years.

D.  Daughters – Kaitlyn, Briana, and Kristin.  Three of my greatest treasures.  I was the first of two girls in our family after four boys.  I thought for sure when I had kids, I’d have a houseful of boys like my Momma did.  God had other plans, and has shown me so much about myself through raising these beauties.  I am so thankful!

E. Easter – Holds so much more meaning since 2010.  My favorite holy day.

F.  Favorite things:  Faith, Family, Friends, Frugality.

G.  Granddaughters!  Grace, Rowyn and Ryann.  I am 3x blessed!

H.  Happy –  If Momma ain’t, ain’t nobody!  I’m learning a whole new dimension to the difference between Happiness and Joy.  I choose joy.

I.  Idaho – Where I left half of my heart.

J.  Joshua – my firstborn and favorite son.  He’s a 2Lt. in the Army Nat’l Guard, now, they call him “Sir”.

K.  Kevin – The best 24 years of my life have been spent with him.  So thankful for God’s hand and his wonderful matchmaking skills.

L.  Lottery – You can’t win if you don’t play.  I heard that LottoMax in the states is up to over $600 million.  My brain cannot even fathom.  I hope Kaitlyn or Josh have picked up tickets 🙂

M.  Momma – the sweetest word in the English language.

N. Never say Never.  It’s amazing to me how many of my “nevers” God has challenged and walked me through.  “My child will never see the inside of a public school”, “I will never work outside the home while I have children”, “I could never move back there!”, and my most recent “we are never going to make it through this one!“.

O.  Ontario, Oregon – My birthplace.  The same doctor that delivered me in 1968 retired the year after he delivered my first-born in 1988.

P.  Pessimistic – I am finding myself more and more this way lately.  It is such a weird role reversal, with Kevin finding the silver lining, and me hanging out under the dark cloud of gloom.  I’m ready for a change, but I have a feeling there are some deep truths under this cloud that I have to learn first, so I keep trusting God and waiting for Him.

Q.  Quotes – I collect them.  Share your favorites with me 🙂

R.  Reuse and Recycle – Learning how to in this season of little.  I’ve adopted the motto: “Use it up, wear it out.  Make it do, or do without.”  I’m actually pretty good at it.  Who knew?

S.  Seizure disorder – diagnosed in 1991 after 3 seizures, all six years apart.  Numerous tests were inconclusive as to the cause.  Haven’t had one now since 2007.

T. St. Therese of Lisieux – another new friend.  Funny, the communion of the saints was one of my big hurdles in coming to the Catholic faith.  It’s now one of my favorite subjects, and I learn so much from the lives of those that have gone before us.

U.  United States of America – How I miss you!

V.  Vocabulary – I need a larger one for memes like this.

W.  Walmart – We have some HILARIOUS memories there, my girls and me!

X.  eXample – of my statement in “V”.  Xing, Xmas, and Xylophone are the only words I know that really start with X, lol.  I’ve never been a Xing guard, I don’t like to X Christ out of Christmas, and I have no knowledge of the xylophone, except that Christmas carols played by a skilled artist are beautiful!  I talked more about what I don’t know than any of the above with personal knowledge, lol.

Y.  Year – We’re coming up on one the one year anniversary of leaving Idaho and moving to Canada.  In some ways it seems like yesterday, in others, it feels like much longer.

Z.  Zany – describes my personality, as well as the state of my brain after this exercise.  I love to laugh, and even more, to make people laugh.  I can be serious if I have to be, but tend to look for and find the humor present in the situation at hand.

By New Things Posted in Awards

Think on these things

I am, by nature, an optimist.  When life gives me lemons, I make lemonade, see the glass as half-full, and am the one to find the silver lining in the cloud.  Anyone who knows me, knows this is my typical M.O.  It’s the way I function, it’s how I cope.  At least it had been up to this year.  A strange thing has happened, as I walk through this wilderness valley, my personality and my regular way of functioning has changed.  I feel like I’ve done a 180.  Many days I don’t recognize the person that’s come to live here.  I know that a big part of it is culture change;  I don’t know anyone here, really, except for family.  I haven’t made any personal connections, I haven’t put down roots, and that in itself is foreign to me.  But even deeper than that, there is a fear that has settled into my conscious thoughts.  It’s a niggling doubt that my spirit knows is untrue, but continues to haunt me, a little doubt that questions the love and provision of God for His children, for me.  A doubt that challenges the all-knowing God in His will for my life, in my obedience to leading to a place that is not pleasant, instructing me to react in ways that do not come naturally to a person who is wounded and weary.  It’s been a dry wilderness for sure, and it’s taken everything in me to remember what I know is true, and respond like Christ did.  Somehow, what I know in my spirit has got to permeate my mind, and I find myself identifying with Paul and his teaching in Corinthians:

For though we walk in the flesh, we do not war after the flesh: (For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal, but mighty through God to the pulling down of strong holds;)  Casting down imaginations, and every high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ;       2 Corinthians 10:3-5

It starts in the thought life.  You can’t fight thoughts with weapons made for physical battle.  It reminds me of the temptations that Christ encountered in His wilderness…and how did He respond?  With God’s Word.  He quoted Deuteronomy to the devil, and I think this is a powerful example for me.  How else can we follow the instruction in Philippians?

Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.  Philippians 4:8

I believe this is the key to victory in our thought life, so I’ve been collecting Scriptures to meditate on when I feel my spirit struggling with doubt and fear.  For now, it’s an ongoing compilation in a page at the top of my blog that is updated as I find new Scriptures to fit my categories, and new categories that become relevant.  I’d love to have feedback, share your favorites with me so I can add them to my stockpile, and feel free to share your journey here as well, I could use the camaraderie.

When it’s all been said and done pt.2

Continued from Part One

Our time here has been one disappointing closed door after another, including but not limited to being unemployed, fractured family dynamics, and fruitless attempts to get back home where we both can work and try to get back on our feet.

BUT, it’s also been an exciting faith walk (not to be confused with the cake walk), of total dependence on God.  On numerous occasions, we’ve watched Him provide money when we were down to our last dollar, food when the cupboard was all but bare, and sweet streams of refreshing and comfort when we were tempted to believe God had forgotten us.

We’ve been on the receiving end of harsh, judgmental attitudes of misguided, self-righteous individuals; as well as sincere Christian charity from God’s people who take Matthew 25 seriously.   We have found God’s love and provision in places that many self-proclaimed christians (with a little “c” on purpose) would be embarrassed to frequent.  We have been humbled and tried in the furnace of adversity, and we are in the process of learning to love as He loves and forgive those that have wronged us, leaving our offenses in the hands of the One who has the right to repay, the One who defends and delivers His own.

We are now at what feels like the tail end of our stay here.  Our household items are all being stored until we have the funds to move us all back to the U.S.  We are receiving word after word encouraging us to look up, and see our deliverance; to believe without seeing that our victory has already been given to us, and to thank and praise God for the work He’s done.  Reminders of His love and faithfulness come numerous times in the day, and as my mind continues to meditate on the lyrics of this song, I know, deep down, it’s been worth every step.  Worth every heartache.  It’s been growth, and it’s been for Him and His glory.

Lord, your mercy is so great, that you look beyond our weakness,and find purest gold in miry clay, making sinners into saints.  I will always sing your praise!  Here on earth, and ever after, for you’ve shown me heaven’s my true home, when it’s all been said and done, You’re my life when life is done.

…Did I do my best to live for truth, did I live my life for You?

When It’s All Been Said and Done

This is going to be at least two posts.  A lot of it is old information, but I needed to process again for the sake of the new.  If you know me, I know you understand, if you don’t know me, this is a good starting place to get to do so.

Only what I’ve done for love’s reward will stand the test of time

In 2004, when my little world was simple and complete, my husband and I felt the Lord leading us to do a very strange, scary thing:  We both received separate confirmations to God’s leading, and we both were in agreement that we would obey, even if we didn’t completely understand or see God’s plan in what He was asking of us.  Kevin accepted a job 8 hours north of where we were currently living, and we left behind a wonderful church family, dear friends, a half acre of kid friendly space, and a sweet little bungalow on the outskirts of town.  We downsized to fit a family of six into a 3 bedroom apartment.  We knew the consequences of obedience,  we believed God was calling us to lay it all down, and we put our trust in Him, and walked in obedience to His voice.

In the last Sunday worship service we attended, the song above was played.  It was like an exclamation point to our declaration of faith and hope in God, His will, His way.  We saw it as confirmation that God was pleased with our obedience.

In October of 2004, just months after we moved, I had a strange dream.  I dreamed that I was in a funeral parlor, and there were people crying, and at the front of the parlor, there was a casket.  In my dream, I thought it was my aunt’s funeral (she had passed away a few years prior), but when I approached the casket, I saw my Daddy there.  The very next day, I got a call from my mom saying that the doctor had found a spot on Daddy’s lung, and wanted to operate to remove it, but Dad refused.  I truly believe God gave me that dream to buffer the blow, so that I could be strong for my mom and my kids.  I had a deep sense that I would be saying goodbye to my Dad soon, but was not prepared for the whirlwind that became my new reality.

I phoned my parents the day after Thanksgiving, to see how they were doing and how their celebration went.  I asked if they enjoyed their dinner, and they both said “yes”.  I asked “what did you have to eat, dad?” and he answered that he couldn’t remember.

What he ate.

For Thanksgiving dinner.

Something was very wrong.  Thus began an onslaught of phone calls between my brothers and sister, and plans were made to all make it home in February to celebrate their 5oth wedding anniversary.  We kids collaborated on poems, stories, memories, and pictures to bless them with, and all six of us-from separate ends of the US-were all able to attend their celebration.  When we arrived, however, it quickly became evident that things were definitely not okay.

My dad was in constant pain, refused to eat, was weak, and held his head moaning horribly.  He refused to go to the hospital, and stated on more than one occasion that he felt like he was dying.  Despite our begging and pleading for him to do so, he refused to go to the hospital or doctor for pain management.  He verbalized that he did not want to die in a hospital or a nursing home.  It took us weeks to convince him to do so, fervently promising that we would not leave him there, and we would not allow him to be admitted to a nursing home.  When he was convinced we would honor his wishes, he finally consented.  They ran him through the battery of tests, and found that he had stage 4 lung cancer that had metastasized to his brain, where there were several tumors.  The doctor put him on steroids and got his pain under control, then instructed my brother to take him home, call hospice and put his affairs in order.  He gave him 2-6 weeks to live.

Upon firming up hospice care for my dad, we learned that my Mom’s breast cancer had returned to her bones, and she instructed us to call hospice for her as well.  We all collaborated again, arranging our schedules and our lives around our new reality.  I began alternating weekly visits to my childhood home to care for my parents, with what essentially became weekly visits to our little apartment to catch up on things there, all while continuing to homeschool my girls.  Daddy passed away in April of 2005.  Momma followed a year to the month later.  I got a crash course in hospice care, C.N.A. duties, and grief counseling.  Through this year long journey, I was struck with the beauty of God’s providence.  Kevin’s new job was night shift, seven days on, seven off.  We had friends that came alongside us at that time, assisting the girls and I to travel when Kevin was not able to accompany us, somehow, we were able to make it financially through all that, and I gained useful skills for the next chapter God had written for me.

After my Mom passed away, it became financially necessary for me to return to work.  In effect, this required my girls to be enrolled in school.  Another loss that carried it’s own share of grief, in more ways than one.  I went to work doing the very thing that God had trained me in for the past year, employed in long-term care.  I loved my work, and found deep satisfaction in serving the elderly.  During this time, my husband made several trips home to see his mother, who had become ill, and passed away.  Each time, he returned home with irreversible homesickness, and we began to talk (again) of moving back to his childhood home in eastern Canada.  It was also during this time, that Kevin shared his desire to convert to Catholicism.  We visited with Fr. Joe who encouraged us to attend RCIA in the fall when it started up again.  We did so, and being convinced together that this was God’s will for our family, were confirmed with our girls in April, 2010.  Almost simultaneously with this process, our son got married, our daughter informed us that we were going to be grandparents, and we planned a second wedding within 3 months.  In fact, her reception was scheduled for the same day as our confirmation, we dressed up for one and went from there to the other!  Our first grandbaby was born the following September.  Talk about a wild ride!

Through a series of complicated circumstances and events, we expedited our move to Canada, planning to complete the immigration process from here.  When we arrived, however, it became apparent that the job that Kevin has done for the past 23 years, would not employ him without large amounts of money for a Canadian Registry process, and at least two years of waiting time.  We did not have that kind of money or time to spare, and so he took the first job that would hire him.  Our time here has been one disappointing closed door after another, including but not limited to being unemployed, fractured family dynamics, and fruitless attempts to get back home where we both can work and try to get back on our feet.

Go to Part 2

The Walk

Kristin's photograph from summer, 2011

“I walked a mile with Pleasure,
She chattered all the way;
But left me none the wiser
For all she had to say.

“I walked a mile with Sorrow,
And ne’er a word said she;
But, oh, the things I learned from her
When sorrow walked with me.”

I love this picture.  When we first moved here, we had the wonderful opportunity of enjoying and exploring some beautiful countryside and shoreline.  Our youngest daughter has an eye for beauty and snapped this shot on one of her walks.  I’ve wanted to use it since, and have finally found the perfect place to do so.  I think it pairs well with the poem I found at Streams in the Desert, don’t you?

I’ve been thinking a lot lately of the deep truths we learn in the quietness of our sorrows.  In the quiet, secret place of our soul, a war occurs between all we thought we understood, and the new reality that presents itself as truth.  Through heartbreak and tears, we gain a fresh perspective on life, love, and the eternal; things that we often take for granted in times of plenty.

I’m thankful today for the miles walked with Sorrow.  Difficult as those days were, I am a better person as a result.

By New Things Posted in Poetry