November 30, 2010

On being still...

"Be still, and know that I am God. I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth!"

Psalm 46:10 ESV

When our daughter was a a preschooler, Jeff was preparing for the pastorate. Knowing that we would likely be in a small church with no nursery, we began training her to sit in the service by giving her "still and quiet lessons" at home. This involved sitting her on the couch, first for just a few minutes, then up to 20 minutes, just being still and quiet. Occasionally she could quietly look at a book or hold a doll, but she had to be reasonably still and very quiet. This was a challenge for my verbal-from-birth girl, as well as for her active brother who came up behind her. (We never needed to do this with our oldest, but that's another story.) 

It was amazing to see that these children, who were never still and quiet unless they were asleep, could be trained to be obedient in this way. We began to see the benefit of these lessons -- they could be still and quiet in church, but also in the doctor's office, the theatre, while visiting the elderly, even when we were driving through hectic traffic (not to mention during homeschooling!). And I began to notice other benefits... they were more focused during those still and quiet times.

Sometimes I think I need still and quiet lessons. I'm such a Martha; there's always something to be done. It's fine to pray unceasingly as I go about my day; I even listen to spiritual things on my iPod as I work. But there is a certain benefit to being still and knowing that God is God, just meditating on that reality. Perhaps that's what I need in order to realize the opening verses of this same Psalm:
"God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble. Therefore we will not fear though the earth gives way; though the mountains be moved into the heart of the sea, though its waters roar and foam, though the mountains tremble at its swelling." (Psalm 46:1-3 ESV)
 Be still, and know...

November 10, 2010

Faith of our mothers

November is Juvenile Diabetes Awareness Month. Willow House is a proud sponsor and active contributor to the Juvenile Diabetes Foundation. This month's event reminded me of friends who have dealt with this disease and how they positively impacted my life.

Almost thirty years ago, while Jeff and I were just engaged, we were privileged to be friends with a special family. Mike and Christine Nelson graciously and regularly invited us into their home, allowing us a glimpse into thirty-something married life with three young boys. Along the way, Jeff and I learned many lessons in love, faith, and fun.

One lesson that I continued to be reminded of is the faith that motherhood requires. Not long before moving to Chandler, Mike and Christine had learned (through near tragic events) that their youngest son, Ben, was diabetic. As Jeff and I spent time with the family, it was easy to see what a challenge that parenting a preschool diabetic could be. I already marveled at the feat of parenting three very young boys -- but throwing a life-altering disease into the mix was just mind-boggling.

At some point, we came aware that the diabetes kept Mike and Christine on a very short leash. Ben required testing and shots throughout the day, as well as constant supervision and evaluation. My mercy-filled fiance offered to learn how to provide this care for Ben so that we could take the kids at times, giving Mike and Christine much-needed couple time. (Note: this was no small feat, as Jeff did not normally "do" needles, blood, or pain without great risk to his own consciousness.) As a mother, I can now better understand the faith it must have taken for Christine to allow the two of us to take her boys -- particularly Ben -- on an all-day outing.

In later years, Ben was active in the church youth group and participated in all sorts of events. I believe that he once had some issues related to his sugar-management while away on a youth trip, and wasn't handled quite right (but with no serious consequences, thankfully). Meanwhile, Christine continued to trust and pray, allowing her boy to grow up and spread his wings. And grow up he did -- now married and, I believe, with children of his own.

My children are healthy and, generally speaking, discerning -- yet I still deal with fear at times as their independence grows. I must be continually reminded that there is One who cares for them even more than I do: their Heavenly Father. Thank you, Christine, for your example in this.

 When you purchase a Roxy Reindeer ornament, Willow House will donate $2 to the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation.

November 8, 2010

Another cute giveaway at Ardent Sparrow

You gotta love Ardent Sparrow, and her great giveaways the little bird that much more lovable! Here's the latest: KikiLaRu Giveaway.


November 7, 2010

Rejoice always? Really?

For me, Philippians is one of my "go to" books. Maybe the fact that it's one of several biblical letters to believers makes it more personal to me; more likely it seems to readily identify my weaknesses and then give me hope. Whatever the reason, I found myself (once again) thinking on Philippians 4:4-9 this morning.

Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, Rejoice.  Let your reasonableness be known to everyone. The Lord is at hand; do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.
Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things. What you have learned and received and heard and seen in me—practice these things, and the God of peace will be with you. (ESV)
 I had been thinking about the past month, which included sickness in our home (including the dog), trying to identify potential food sensitivities (by eliminating a major dietary component), searching for employment, evaluating options for future relocation/employment/education, a weeklong trip away from home, a kidney stone flair-up, and all of the daily things that just go on.

Then I was reminded about other things that happened this month... God's continued provision for our family, new and renewed friendships, encouragement from surprising places, time spent with extended family, closure of a year-long family situation, patient and careful medical practitioners, unexpected time at a women's conference, along with other blessings and graces.

But here's my challenge... what if those other things had not happened? Could I still rejoice in the Lord? It is certainly a struggle to rejoice over difficult circumstances, but why are my eyes so much on the circumstances? Why am I not looking to God first, rather than a change in my circumstances? Why am I not thinking on what is true and honorable? Why is my mind so earth bound?

I need more practice. If I will practice these things, then I will know God's peace. And the last month or so has given me ample opportunity for practice, whether or not I was disciplined to obey.

Thankfully, God was gracious to provide me with big and little encouragers and encouragements along the way. Thankfully, He knows my weaknesses better than I do. Thankfully, He is infinitely more faithful than I am. And I can rejoice in that.