Saturday, March 28, 2009

Trials, Tests and Praise...

Oh my goodness, it has been forever since I have written anything! I'm sure many of you have forgotten about me or become so frustrated you wish you had forgotten me. Hmmm...let's see some excuses? Well, I can think of many but why bother listing them. The truth is I have basically been in a "funk" lately. Many times I have thought of writing but haven't seemed to be able to find the right words. My "yellow friend" Bryce (who is not yellow anymore!) had his second surgery last week and then had another due to complications the next day. What an ordeal for this young man and his family. He was hospitalized in Portland which placed them all far from home. I went up to visit him after his surgery and was just heartbroken to witness the struggle and continued uncertainty. I visited with him and Kaylee in the hospital room for awhile and then headed for home, feeling completely helpless.

This seems to be something I wrestle with a lot lately. Watching Bryce go through his surgeries and tests, has caused me to contemplate the same old thoughts. I don't really wonder why people struggle with hardship anymore. When my sister was diagnosed with brain cancer that was the only question I asked. Why? Why does a beautiful. loving wife and mother who only loves Jesus more than her family, have to face such pain and uncertainty? After weeks and months of asking this question, I began to rage at my Savior. I don't know if it was even a conscious decision. It just came over me, I was so angy at God. You know, now it's hard even for me to write that, let alone admit that I felt it and that I lived it. But there are lessons to be learned from "falling away". The enemy loves to use the circumstances of life to wear us down and cause us to curse our God. How heartbreaking it is when he succeeds and we give in to the very nature of our flesh. That was me. Thinking that somehow I didn't deserve to have a trial, that my family shouldn't have to suffer. It became an awful downward spiral that sent me searching for my own answers and finding my own way. What an awful pit...

I have learned tremendous lessons since then, because my Savior is an expert at lifting us out of our own self-created pits! The lessons are endless, but one of my favorites is the one from Romans 8:28, that the Lord will use all things for good for those that love Him. That is one that requires some faith. I was sure that some of my circumstances could never be used for good, but slowly I am discovering that indeed He can use them. What is interesting is that illness, tragedy and hardship don't escape any of us. What we do when faced with those circumstances says much about our faith. Unfortunately, when mine was tested, I failed miserably. But I wouldn't trade my lessons for anything. Probably because when you learn them the hard way they tend to stick. But watching Bryce has taught me much more...Bryce never asked "why me?" instead he asked, "why not me?" He found joy in his struggle and considered it an honor that he would be tested. In all of the moments I spent with him and Kaylee throughout his illness, all I heard from him was praise for our Savior. He shared the love of Christ with everyone who crossed his path. He praised his Savior through the rain, the wind and the hail. He stood strong knowing that even if the path led to his death, he would bring glory to God with his very last breath. His testimony takes my breath away. I am amazed at how much this young man has taught me about loving and serving God.

While I was riding in the car with Kaylee one day while I was visiting, a song came on the radio. The song talked about the trials of life, how unfair they can seem and how desperate our flesh is to cling to this life. In the desperation, the writer says, "I know my Lord is sovereign." Don't we always say that? But do we really know it? Is it written in our hearts? I filled up with tears listening to Kaylee sing it with the radio, because she lives it. The words came easy to her as they do to Bryce.

When I got home from the hospital that night, I sat with Thane and cried. I shared with him my fears about my sister's illness that seemed to somehow come crashing back in after caring for Bryce in the hospital. As I cried, he held me and as we sat together, the Lord comforted me, saying..."I am Sovereign. No matter what, I am always there." My deepest desire is that when my trials come again and I am tested, let me be like Bryce. Lord, let me stand in faith, a testimony to your love and a vessel for your Glory!

Saturday, March 7, 2009

Five Boys and Fishing Line...

So, our boys love to fish. The only complaint they have is they don't get to go fishing enough. Most of their fish have been caught during planned "kids fishing day" events and such. You know the kind, where some sweet person stocks a very small fishing hole with lots of starving fish and the kid drops his hook into the water and thirty seconds later...a fish fry!! Check the box, pack up the stuff and head for home, we're done fishing. We have taken the boys to many of these fishing derbies and they abosolutely love it. One time when Keller was eight or so, we took the boys to a free fishing day at one of the local hatcheries. The boys each caught two fish, but Keller actually lassooed one of his! Honestly, the fish had the line wrapped several times around its neck with the hook tied up in the line, not hooked to the fish. For years we have referred to him as the fish roper!

Anyway, this year we pledged to do more fishing with the boys. So, for Christmas, their grandparents bought them new fishing poles and I got Thane a new tackle box for his birthday. So now all we needed was to find the time. Last week, while I was visiting my family, Thane tried to take the boys fishing. Well, they came up against some licensing issues and by the time they got them resolved it was dark. He told them they would go the next day, but the next day we had a torrential downpour Oregon Coast style. So, long story short, today was the day for fishing. The boys got ready fast and we all headed out after lunch, packed the car and left for Florence for some lake fishing. It was cloudy but not raining, we couldn't ask for anything better in March! We stopped at the store to pick up some bait and tackle and headed to the lake with the new fishing poles. It took us a little while to find a good spot on the lake to fish from the bank. We found a spot, got out of the car, grabbed the poles and then we noticed something...none of the fishing poles had fishing line on them. Back in the car went the poles, the tackle and the kids and we headed back to town to buy some fishing line as the afternoon grew darker. Back to the lake after we bought the line, we had to park outside the closed gate now because it was after four, and hike in to the same spot. This is where the fun really began...

I don't think I can even do this justice in writing! Thane is sitting at the picnic table and he and I have five poles to fill with fishing lines and then outfit with hooks, sinkers, bobbers and bait. So we quickly develop a system for prepping the poles with Brey and Keller diligently helping, while the younger kids started a war with sticks. We finished the first pole and handed it to Gabe. He couldn't decide which kind of bait he wanted. "Nothing catches fish like worms," Thane told him. Gabe looked hesitantly at the container full of squirming worms. "I don't think they're dead, Dad", he said. "They're not supposed to be dead, " I told him as I attached one to his hook. He looked skeptical but headed down to the bank with Brey to help him. We started on the second pole. Gabe casted once and waited. "Dad!" he yelled, "Something is wrong with my fishing pole!" We look in his direction to see him standing holding his pole with fishing line quickly springing off his reel and onto the ground. I go down to help him while Thane hands the second pole to Aubrey and starts on the third. I managed to somehow salvage Gabe's reel and cast his line again, and Aubrey is yelling to Thane as his line is springing off his reel. Trying to fix it, he now has several large knots in his fishing line and his hook is hooked to something, but its not a fish. Thane hands the third pole to Rhett and runs to help Aubrey. Gabe is now yelling again, and has another mess the result of his most recent cast. Brey rolls his eyes and sets off to help Gabe. Now, Rhett starts yelling, "My line is tangled Mom!" I run to help him and end up cutting the line completely off the reel and forfeit everything that was attached (don't worry, it wasn't a fish!) Thane has sinced finished with Aubrey and has set up Keller's pole and Keller is now headed to the bank with his pole. Keller casts and the entire line starts springing off the reel. This leads to a "lesson in casting" from Thane for all to attend. It was actually very helpful for me, but it didn't seem to help anyone else. The springing and tangling continued. Our fourteen year old provided comic relief by rolling his eyes hanging upside down from the picnic table and singing songs about how much fun fishing is! ( He never even got his pole outfitted!)

So now its five o'clock and Thane and I both have handfuls of fishing line looking at each other from different positions on the bank. All the while boys are yelling, "Mom, my fishing line..." and "Dad, I need help!" At the same time we said, "OK, let's pack up and go get pizza!" And that's exactly what we did.

On the way home from the pizza place, Thane lamented about how sorry he was that our fishing trip wasn't more successful. Some things you have to work up too. Maybe next weekend we'll actually catch a fish!!

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

A Legacy of Faith...

So, some of you know I just got back from the East Coast. My family lives there and my dad had to undergo a procedure on his heart. I had been wanting to make it back there for my mom's 60th birthday and so I took the opportunity to travel back, surprise my mom for her birthday and support my dad through his procedure. I really felt the Lord's leading in this trip and was grateful for the chance to serve my parents during an anxious time. As I sat on the plane, traveling to NJ, the Lord placed some scripture in my heart. Psalm 56:3 says "When I am afraid, I will trust in You." Pretty simple, right? As I recited this simple verse over and over on the plane (flying is NOT my thing!) a peace that only comes from God settled in my spirit. During my layover, I called my dad. Since I wasn't going to see him until the next day, I wanted to talk to him about his procedure and let him know I was thinking and praying for him. At the end of our conversation, I shared the verse with him. "Thank you, hon", he said. As we hung up, something struck me...the Lord was using me to minister to my dad.

The next day, my sister and I arrived at the hospital. My parents were shocked to see me as they had no idea I was coming (that was fun!) As they prepared my dad for his procedure, my brother arrived. There we were, the five of us, all together for the first time in a long time. I asked if we could pray for dad and we joined hands and prayed together around my dad. The Lord is so faithful. As we prayed, holding hands, I was reminded of the legacy my dad was obedient to pass on to me. It goes something like this...when my great grandfather was in his twenties, he lost his daughter. He was so grief stricken he went to the local church, where he asked the pastor what he needed to do to see his little girl again. That pastor led my great grandfather to the Lord. He raised his children in the church and his son, Harry was also saved. Harry was my dad's, dad. My dad was also raised in church and came to know Christ as his savior. My dad raised me with Christ as his guide. I accepted Christ as a small child and I have many memories of dad teaching us from the Bible, praying with us at night and always reminding us of the love of Christ and His sacrifice for me. He worked hard to teach me to live by faith and seek the Lord's will for my life. This legacy of faith that started with my great grandfather, impacts my life every day. I am so thankful to the Lord that He would bless me with a dad whose greatest priority was my salvation. There was no greater concern to him than the state of my heart. Nothing was more important to him than my eternal security. What a blessing!

So now it comes full circle. The dad who lifted me up to the Lord, prayed for me faithfully and taught me according to His Word, was now receiving ministry through me. How amazing is the Savior's love. Being able to serve my dad, spiritually, was fulfilling. Any time I am used for the work of my Lord brings joy beyond compare. I am thankful for the occasion.

My dad is a Godly man. He loves the Lord with all his heart, with all his mind and with all his strength. He lives his life an example to his example I will always be thankful for!

P.S. He is doing great, by the way. His procedure went well and we were blessed to have a tremendous time of fellowship as a family. As I get older, I appreciate this moments all the more. I love you, dad!