Let’s Be Natural

The other day Tallie said to Kendra, “mommie, why do you always not laugh when I try to make you laugh and you do laugh when i’m not trying to be funny.” I’ve seen this frustrate/dishearten her on other occasions when she was working hard to do something funny and it was just too much striving until the kernel of humor was killed beyond the point of reviving. the most hilarious things come out of her when she’s just being herself and funny observations or behaviors come out of her. In the same way the most heartwarming things that affect our heart as parents are when we see spontaneous love that the kids express to each other or the moments when they stop to take genuine delight in their little sisters (Karina or Caitlyn). They are just enjoying themselves and noticing the delightful qualities of the little ones before them and yet our hearts fill up with joy and pride in who they are. Nothing contrived…they are not looking over their shoulders to make sure someone is watching their good deeds.

I caught a glimpse in this exchange of the way God must take delight in us. I think it is simply in the act of being who we were made to be, natural and unencumbered, that God finds great delight in us. When we begin to strive to please him or labor after righteousness or think for a moment that we can add anything to the gift of righteousness he has given us, we begin to obscure the image of who he made us to be. We reach too hard after something that was always there inherent in our design…the ability to bring great delight to His heart. Much like sin (which in Hebrew translates to something similar to “missing the mark”) we begin to muddy the water of our interchange with God, feel it difficult to find his approval, wonder what it would take to really please him, say things like, “what does he want from me?”

The moment we cast off our striving, rest in what he has done for us, and begin to live freely and naturally in the knowledge that his delight is in us, we begin to hear his laughter reverberate in our ears as we clumsily express our love to each other, do things that appear silly to the minds of grownups as we express our devotion to Him…and a thousand other things every day that endear us to his heart. the lesson to me here is not to overthink this life, especially those natural reactions to God’s love and kindness made known to me.

Pains of Birth in Change

We got hit with 2 very difficult hurdles since we returned to BC from Auntie Marion’s funeral in Oregon. The first was that we picked up the flu on our visit to Oregon and my wife and 3 of my kids all have had fevers and sleepless nights since then (5 days)…that alone makes it seem as though the sky is caving in sometimes. Then we heard from our realtor that the financing for the buyer of our house fell through and he couldn’t get the banks to lend him the money (apparently they found something on his record about negligence with child support payments). With all the efforts involved with house showings it is a discouraging blow. I feel God has made us aware again of the spiritual battle that surrounds many of our activities and we feel that this move is a significant step of faith for us…especially me. I feel like God has assured me that he is in control and his help his coming but our faith is being tested…with his grace it may also be strengthened. The one encouraging factor that I hold on to is that for this much resistance to our steps of faith to occur, there must be something significant on the other side waiting for us and we will continue to persevere.

edit: I can see from previous posts that i’m repeating myself here a bit…a sign of the mental state of delirium i’m in with sleep loss. Ah, time to have a bit of a laugh at ourselves.

God has a plan and we must not lose hope or give in to despair even though, as Kendra said, “this has been the hardest year of my life.” In many ways I feel that this seems to parallel the birthing process and we are in the throes of birth pains where uncertainties tend to creep into the mind, i.e. “will it ever come, will things really change?” But God is faithful, has always been faithful, and we will not give way to doubt.

Encouraged in weakness

My Utmost for His Highest – March 19

…Living a life of faith means never knowing where you are being led. But it does mean loving and knowing the One who is leading. It is literally a life of faith, not of understanding and reason—a life of knowing Him who calls us to go. Faith is rooted in the knowledge of a Person, and one of the biggest traps we fall into is the belief that if we have faith, God will surely lead us to success in the world.

…Abraham is not a type or an example of the holiness of sanctification, but a type of the life of faith—a faith, tested and true, built on the true God. “Abraham believed God. . .” (Romans 4:3).

An appropriate reminder in our current circumstance…where it seems God is moving us to prepare for change and yet obstacles seem to test us and circumstances tempt us to believe that we will be stuck here indefinitely under burdens too heavy to carry. Kendra is so depleted that she got sick when we went down to the funeral and has had the worst flu of her life…then we find out the house sale is not going through. Karina and I have colds and raw throats, the baby still has congestion at night, Kendra has the report from the dentist of an $11,000 bill to fix her teeth. The Lord seems to be reminding me of the spiritual battle around us. I have the thought (slow in coming) that the Lord is calling us towards the dreams he’s given us – to glorify him with our creative gifts – and that the enemy of our souls feels an urgency to thwart these plans and bring us to discouragement. I feel ironically encouraged by this thought…that the future must be bright for the enemy to push so hard. In the moment i long for the cloud to lift but i want to be faithful to the hope God has planted in us and live a life of consistent faith.

Fill us Lord with you faithfulness, hope and courage for the road you have chosen for us.

Hearing God about the house

Well today we found out the discouraging news that the financing fell through for the couple who were supposed to buy our house. Apparently he was behind quite a bit on child tax payments and although this information is not supposed to be easy to find on credit checks, the banks did find this out and none of the banks want to lend him the money…

So that was a blow to our morale for a while with all our hopes that the house showings were behind us…on top of the fact that Kendra has been so physically depleted by the funeral weekend and catching a nasty flu. When i tucked the kids into bed i told them we felt a bit sad with the news about the house not selling and Caleb said it made him a little sad too. Then i said maybe we should ask God what he wanted to do with our house. We asked him and about 10 seconds later both of them said they had something…Tallie started by saying “we could just trade our house with one in America” so that we could live closer to Nonny and Papa. Caleb said “I have something” and then “I think…it’s ok because someone else is going to buy the house.”

Then they asked what i got. I chuckled and said I wasn’t as quick as they were…i was holding the baby and keeping a soother in her mouth. so i asked for a few more moments and listened and felt God say “don’t be worried, I am with you and I will go before you.”

So, God is in this and perhaps didn’t want that couple to have this house…perhaps time will show His wisdom in this matter. For now we choose to walk in his peace. Amen.

Poem to Papa

written for Father’s day, June 2007

Papa went to foreign lands
to walk a mile
in foreign sands
he tried to teach men
right from wrong
but found his cry
for God in song
He opened his heart
to dream a great dream
and his dream did
swallow him whole
so it seemed

Some men sit in places
where shadows grow long
and wonder inside
about what could have been
but papa moves heaven
as he carries his song
and looks on in wonder
at all he has seen

Never did he ask
what the cost might be
or consider more than once
what loss he might see
for his life was indeed
not his own

I am the son of a dreamer
and a product of change
with a new road to follow
as i look for my name
I’ve tried out these limbs
on the road he has travelled
and have found our stride
not the same

I have watched from afar
as he shoulders his load
and looks for a right arm to hold
and i grieve a great sorrow
that i’m not within reach
and my strength is not
his to borrow

Some days I feel
I have lost a great friend
yet somehow i am proud of this pain
and yet it still is so hard
and yet is still is my joy
how do i laugh and cry
like I did as a boy?

I hope it is strength to his frame
as he walks sunset trails
to know that his son
has been blessed by his hand
and will ever be proud
to carry his name

Good Advice

this was circulated by email and had some good advice for daily living:

An Angel says, ‘Never borrow from the future. If you worry about what may happen tomorrow and it doesn’t happen, you have worried in vain. Even if it does happen, you have to worry twice.’

 
1. Pray

2. Go to bed on time.

3. Get up on time so you can start the day unrushed.

4. Say No to projects that won’t fit into your time schedule, or that will compromise your mental health.

5. Delegate tasks to capable others.

6. Simplify and unclutter your life.

7. Less is more. (Although one is often not enough, two are often too many.)

8. Allow extra time to do things and to get to places.

9. Pace yourself. Spread out big changes and difficult projects over time; don’t lump the hard things all together.

10. Take one day at a time.

11. Separate worries from concerns . If a situation is a concern, find out what God would have you do and let go of the anxiety . If you can’t do anything about a situation, forget it.

12. Live within your budget; don’t use credit cards for ordinary purchases.

13. Have backups; an extra car key in your wallet, an extra house key buried in the garden, extra stamps, etc.

14. K.M.S. (Keep Mouth Shut). This single piece of advice can prevent an enormous amount of trouble.

15. Do something for the Kid in You everyday.

16. Carry a Bible with you to read while waiting in line.

17. Get enough rest

18.. Eat right.

19 Get organized so everything has its place.

20. Listen to a tape while driving that can help improve your quality of life.

21. Write down thoughts and inspirations.

22. Every day, find time to be alone.

23. Having problems? Talk to God on the spot. Try to nip small problems in the bud. Don’t wait until it’s time to go to bed to try and pray.

24. Make friends with Godly people.

25. Keep a folder of favorite scriptures on hand.

26. Remember that the shortest bridge between despair and hope is often a good ‘Thank you Jesus .’

27. Laugh.

28. Laugh some more!

29. Take your work seriously, but not yourself at all.

30. Develop a forgiving attitude (most people are doing the best they can)

31. Be kind to unkind people (they probably need it the most).

32. Sit on your ego

33 Talk less; listen more.

34. Slow down.

35. Remind yourself that you are not the general manager of the universe.

36. Every night before bed, think of one thing you’re grateful for that you’ve never been grateful for before. GOD HAS A WAYOF TURNING THINGS AROUND FOR YOU.

It’s time to trust

a good and appropriate word from Oswald Chambers (one of my favorite writers)

March 6 entry:

When you have no vision from God, no enthusiasm left in your life, and no one watching and encouraging you, it requires the grace of Almighty God to take the next step in your devotion to Him, in the reading and studying of His Word, in your family life, or in your duty to Him. It takes much more of the grace of God, and a much greater awareness of drawing upon Him, to take that next step, than it does to preach the gospel.

Every Christian must experience the essence of the incarnation by bringing the next step down into flesh-and-blood reality and by working it out with his hands. We lose interest and give up when we have no vision, no encouragement, and no improvement, but only experience our everyday life with its trivial tasks. The thing that really testifies for God and for the people of God in the long run is steady perseverance, even when the work cannot be seen by others. And the only way to live an undefeated life is to live looking to God. Ask God to keep the eyes of your spirit open to the risen Christ, and it will be impossible for drudgery to discourage you. Never allow yourself to think that some tasks are beneath your dignity or too insignificant for you to do, and remind yourself of the example of Christ inJohn 13:1-17 .

Our own silly song

I met a funny man in Kalimantan
he tried to cross the desert and melted in the sand
I asked him “did it hurt a lot?”
he said, “I’m feelin’ fine, but i’d be thinkin’ better if I hadn’t lost my mind”

Oh, the cool wind blows
and where it’s goin’ no one knows
but it sure keeps us on our toes
that’s how it goes
that’s how it goes

I went to see a king who got eaten by a frog
I sang a song beside him on his favorite hollow log
He tried to sing along with me but something in his throat
Sang out even louder, it turned out to be a goat

(chorus)

A really big man who built big trucks
had sprockets in his pockets and twenty-seven bucks
He drove into the jungle for to catch himself a croc
But the only thing he caught there was a case of chicken pox

Tallie came up with the “chicken pox” to rhyme with croc. Caleb had an alternate “rock” and “croc” which i worked into a different version…

Flying through the jungle
He climbed up on a rock
Much to his amazement
He was sitting on a croc

music is a river through the soul

It’s sunday night and i was feeling the burdens of this season yet again without the support and refreshment of fellowship with other believers to strengthen my heart. The sense of loss becomes palpable at times…it’s as though i had lost one of the main visible reflections of Christ and can’t seem to recapture the image. All this is true and yet at the time my heart swells with gratitude for all he is doing and has been showing me in the desert. It truly is in the desert where he speaks and feeds the soul.

So…i decided to play some guitar and worship when all was dark and the day was through. A song from Leeland “Beautiful Lord” has been speaking my heart the last few days. Music seems to access all the passion centers of my being and bypass the centers of reason filled with countless excercises laboring over problems that i can’t solve. I found myself pouring out my heart, playing the same 3 chords and just singing my heart to my beautiful saviour. my mind filled with images of the many ways he has sheltered, protected, and cradled me since my childhood in the same way that i hold and treasure my beautiful little baby girls…yet with much greater faithfulness, tenderness, patience, and passion. i became overwhelmed with gratitude and was filled with a sense of peace about our future…an assurance that He is leading us somewhere good…somewhere that will be a testimony of his love and truth that speaks through both the blessing and hardship, joy and pain of our journey. The words just seem to flow and come together naturally from a place of truth and honesty…and i haven’t felt my hunger for God so stirred up in quite a while. I guess the tears streaming down my face were a sign to me of how i’ve needed this kind of access to my heart and emotions…a way to tell God what i long to say and know that He hears and deeply cares. Thank you Jesus for the great lengths you have gone through to convince your children that you care. There truly is no one like you.