There has been a lot of stressors within our family in the last couple weeks. Health concerns at the top of the list for life stress. There have been a lot of friends losing loved ones and what seems like a lot of sad news. The health concerns have drudged up a lot of the grief and loss our family just went through ten months ago. There have been moments I have had to just go off to myself and weep. I have been doing a “read the Bible through a year” program and during my lowest time last week just happened to be reading the story of Joseph in the book of Genesis.
In Joseph’s life story he really had done no wrong to find himself in the predicaments he endured. Most of his sorrow was brought upon him by the sins of others. His jealous brothers throwing him into a pit then selling him into slavery. Potiphar’s (for lack of a better word) skanky wife throwing herself at him. When he didn’t take her up on her offers she framed him and he ended up in jail. God gave him the ability to translate a cup bearer and a baker of the king’s dreams while imprisoned. The cup bearer forgot Joseph’s favor once he got his taste of freedom and left Joseph in jail. Joseph kept making the right choices and was true to his faith in God. With each valley he went through God brought him through better and with greater influence. His influence in the end brought his family back to him. He was in a position that he could have sought revenge or could choose to forgive the past wrongs of his brothers. I count at least 6 times that the bible says that Joseph wept after his brothers came to Egypt for food. One of these times was in the passing of his father Jacob. I can only imagine the emotions he went through. Loss of time with his family. The fleshly urge to be angry and hold a grudge. The humbling fact that God had turned the bad in his life to good to put him right where he needed to be. The fact that he could see that his brothers were truly remorseful for what they had done. So many emotions to cause this man who now held a powerful position to weep.
Genesis 50:15-21 is the best summary “When Joseph’s brothers saw that their father was dead, they said, “What if Joseph holds a grudge against us and pays us back for all the wrongs we did to him?” So they sent word to Joseph, saying, “Your father left these instructions before he died: ‘This is what you are to say to Joseph: I ask you to forgive your brothers the sins and the wrongs they committed in treating you so badly. ‘Now please forgive the sins of the servants of the God of your father.” When their message came to him, Joseph wept. His brothers then came and threw themselves down before him. “We are your slaves,” they said. But Joseph said to them, “Don’t be afraid. Am I in the place of God? You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good to accomplish what is now being done, the saving of many lives. So then, don’t be afraid. I will provided for you and your children.” An he reassured them and spoke kindly to them.”
No matter what we are going through God has a purpose and a plan. There seems to be a misunderstanding that when a person is a Christian that they will no longer weep or have struggles. The difference in going through life’s hardships as a Christian is that one knows that God is always there and always faithful. That He will bring those who love him through the valleys in life stronger and with an even greater influence than before. We may be beat up by bullies, lied to, lied about, lose people we love, but God provides an indescribable ability to forgive. He provides indescribable hope and peace. It is ok to cry. Give it all to God and see what beauty he creates from our tears.
Some days it seems that every time I turn around something else is breaking. Today was one of those days as I walked in from church and discovered the turtle tank light burnt out then went to the restroom, sat down, and hear a loud snap!! It was as if my toilet said “Oh snap here she is again!!” The entire situation was hilarious to me as well as the rest of our family. Well God can speak life lessons through broken toilet seats as well. With the drama of home improvements and the fact that nothing is made to last this broken seat reminded me even more of how fleeting all material things are. Where am I putting my energy, thoughts, and worth in this life? Where am I putting the burdens of this life? Am I trying to carry the load myself? Am I placing my worth in things of this world that truly are not what they are “cracked” up to be? Where can I truly find “rest”? Clearly not in the “rest”room today. This experience reminded me that Jesus said in Matthew 11:28 “Come to me, all who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest.” I can “rest” in complete confidence in the fact that Jesus will not “crack” or break when I place all my cares, burdens, and sins upon Him. He is the only true “rest” that can be found in life.
An eyeball was not literally lost during our task to provide a fun teenage hangout place in our home thank the Lord! Well at least no lost eyeballs yet. A blood vessel in my eye burst upon hearing some bad news that made me have to do some serious tongue holding. All companies and vendors that we have patronized during this endeavor have been great minus one. The very first thing I arranged and put money down for, an egress window, is a major hold up in our project. Because this space is in the basement and with wanting to have an additional bedroom we decided this would be the best thing to do to provide a fire escape for any occupants. The basement room would make space available upstairs for the extra sleeping accommodations. This would open up opportunities to have foreign exchange students, guests, possibly foster a child, etc…
The company doing this for us has been in business a long time and I had not heard anything bad about them. Their specialty is waterproofing basements so I figured who better to make sure a new hole in the basement wall is sealed tight. Unfortunately this company has disappointed several times, has always told different stories each time I have had an interaction with its employees, and has had delay after delay. Before the eyeball blow up they had already knocked my confidence level in them to a very low. Finally it looked like the installation of the window was actually going to happen. The guys showed up and everything! Unfortunately I was at work and my poor mother had to come and hold down the fort for us. The first install date I had been able to take at least one of the days off work to be home, but with the reschedule was unable to make such arrangements. That day I go to my lunch break and check my text messages. This is the message I see from my mother. “Bad news. The company that made the window made it the wrong way. The tall part was made horizontally instead of vertically. They are going to cover the hole. They are trying to see how soon they can get the right window.” It was the “cover the hole” that caused my stress level and blood pressure spike. The vision I had in my mind was a 5 foot 4 inch by 4 foot hole in the concrete wall of our basement in the middle of January left open to the elements indefinitely. As well as when it rains there would be a mudslide right into our house from the hole dug in the outside landscape. I clinched my fists, took a deep breath, and then pursed my lips. I am quite sure this is what cause the blood vessel explosion. Being in the lounge having lunch with my coworkers I got up and walked over to the lockers to call my mom with my back to my coworkers. I ended up speaking with the window installer and found out that they had only dug the hole outside and there were no cuts in the concrete. I will spare you of the details of the rest of the story as we continue to wait for this service to be completed. When I finished the conversation with the man and my mom I turned to face my coworkers. They exclaimed “Oh my gosh what is wrong with your eye?!?!” Half of my right eye was now bright red from a blood vessel burst from holding in my anger. It took all that was in me to prevent regretful angry words in loud decibels from being spewed from my lips!!
There are many verses about holding and taming the tongue and how to prevent sin when one experiences the emotion of anger. These are the actual verses that keep coming to mind though.
Matthew 5:29-30 ” If your right eye causes you to sin, gouge it out and throw it away. It is better for you to lose one part of your body than for your whole body to be thrown into hell. And if your right hand causes you to sin, cut it off and throw it away. It is better for you to lose one part of your body than for your whole body to go into hell.”
In this case my right eyeball took one for the team for my tongue. If I end up wearing an eyeball patch in the end you all will know the company doing this window failed yet again to come through. Either I am too nice or it is because I serve God who is the God of 2nd chances and forgiveness. Matthew 18:21-22″Then Peter came to Jesus and asked, ‘Lord, how many times shall I forgive my brother when he sins against me? Up to seven times?’ Jesus answered, ‘I tell you, not seven times, but seventy times seven.”
This morning our fourteen year old walked out of the bathroom all ready for school dressed in one of her new Christmas sweaters. I literally had to do a double take. Yes she is my offspring and I am looking through the lenses of a loving mother’s eyes, but had she been anyone else I would have thought the same thing. “She is beautiful!” I told her, “Michaela you look really pretty today. You look pretty everyday, but especially today.” Even her little sister complimented her hair. The next time I saw the girl she had gone and completely changed what she was wearing. She now had an old flannel shirt with a Cami shirt underneath. She now looked like the Brawny Paper Towel guy. If she had a grizzly beard she would have been able to pass for a lumber jack. She still looked pretty to me, but not near the stunning presentation that she previously had. Of course I had to give her a hard time about when one is fourteen everyday is opposite day. “My mother said I look pretty so that must mean I look like a complete troll!!!!!”
I had to laugh because I went through my “opposite” days too. Whatever God and my parents said I had an incredible desire to push the limits and go the complete opposite direction. Some days I could suppress that instinct and others I gave in and often suffered the consequences of doing things “my” way. The older I get the more I want to be completely in line with God’s authority.
Clothes are not a big deal to this mother as long as they are appropriately modest and fall within the school’s dress code. Personally I am much more relaxed in a pair of hiking boots and a flannel shirt in the winter and flip flops and a tank top in the summer. So I get it. Raising teen daughters is going to be a whole new parenting adventure.
Galatians 5:17 “For the sinful nature desires what is contrary to the Spirit, and the Spirit what is contrary to the sinful nature. They are in conflict with each other, so that you do not do what you want.”
When I really stop and try to think of a time that arguing has ever solved any kind of problem I truly can not think of an example. Even if someone gets their way by arguing what is really won when hostility and harsh feelings are left behind? There is nothing that cools the flames of anger any better than love. Love given when the person on the receiving end may be far from deserving of it. Love is the only power that can break down the walls of bitterness. Our human nature wants to always be right, but what is the cost? Our pride can cost us our family, friends, employment, reputation, blessings in life, and the list goes on.
Holding our tongue and showing love instead of anger is the greatest problem solving solution I have ever know to actually work. Maybe because it is God’s solution to conflict…LOVE!
2 Timothy 2:23-25 “And the Lord’s servant must not quarrel; instead, he must be kind to everyone, able to teach, not resentful. Those who oppose him he must gently instruct, in the hope that God will grant them repentance leading them to a knowledge of the truth and that they will come to their senses and escape from the trap of the devil, who has taken them captive to do his will.”
Proverbs 15:1 “A soft answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger.”
Words are so powerful. Words of anger cause problems. Words of love solves them.
So I was just reading in Genesis and in chapter 15 verse 18 God says to Abram “To your descendants I give this land, from the Wadi of Egypt to the great river, the Euphrates.” Out of curiosity I searched how much land that actually is compared to what the Nation of Israel actually ended up being through the Old Testament to our current time. Wow because of sin there is a lot of real estate missing. The nation never really even got close to what God actually had fully promised. You will have to read the entire Old Testament to find out why and how sin was the culprit. This made me question how much of God’s promise do we miss as individuals in our lives? Through my own doubts and lack of trust how much of His peace, love, protection, and blessing do I miss out on? What promises do I miss out on because of my sin? Every single time I decide “It’s ok God I got this myself!” what am I missing? What real estate in this life have I not even come close to scratching the surface of? A lot to think about…
Proverbs 18:9 “One who is slack in his work is brother to one who destroys.”
When trying to find a picture of laziness and idleness I came across this picture of our doggies. A lazy snoring dog is cute. A lazy snoring human being is not so cute unless that person is a helpless infant. That is the one time in our life that it is our job to sleep. That time of our life is the only time we are to be fed and provided for by others. We are to sleep the majority of the day to conserve energy for growing. Growing up to work. Yes we were created to move and to work.
This week my husband and I took vacation from our regular jobs to work on projects around our home. It has left us feeling very satisfied and accomplished. We actually are looking forward to seeing the final results of all of the small accomplishments compiled together in one large finished project.
We come into this world being owed nothing. Really what have we done to deserve any sort of hand outs, gifts, or greatness? God owes us nothing. This is the truth that our selfish human nature wants to deny. We puff ourselves up with the lie that we deserve all things that are good without putting forth any effort or struggle. This lie deceives us and robs us of the satisfaction that hard work brings. Hard work and tough times develop character. Hard work develops an appreciation for the hard work and sacrifice of others. Hard work develops endurance, perseverance, and strength within us. Only hard work can bring the satisfaction of seeing our own toil and strife turn to something that is good. This idea of entitlement is the greatest thief and form of slavery this country and world has known. It is a terrible lie that destroys individuals, families, towns, churches, and countries.
There are many verses about hard work, idleness, and sacrifice in the Bible. It definitely does a soul good to study them. It has been hard for me to narrow them down to just a couple for this blog.
Proverbs 13:4 “The sluggard craves and gets nothing, but the desires of the diligent are fully satisfied.”
Maybe it has been going through the holidays with someone missing. Maybe it is the let down after all the hype and busy time around Christmas. Maybe it is the cold and dark days of winter. Whatever is making the sting of missing a loved one stronger it is tough especially when it is children feeling the loss. Today each of my girls came to me in sobs crying “I miss Papa”.
I wish I had some amazing words of wisdom how to miraculously make the pain of the loss of a loved one go away, especially for children. There were no magic words when my best friend lost her husband and the father of her two young children. There have been no special words for the countless friends who have lost family or even their own children.
With my girls all I could do is hug them tight and acknowledge their feelings of loss and pain. My own mother lost her mother as a child just before turning twelve years old and she still feels that loss. There have been times I have witnessed the grief she feels over having lost her mother. This loss was over fifty years ago and it remains very real. So when comforting my children I couldn’t bring myself to say “It will get better”. To me this is not true and the loss will always be there until we go to heaven. The sneaky pain will creep up when looking at pictures or as a special memory sends an overwhelming since of loss.
What I could encourage them to do is to carry on and focus on others. Find what they can truly be passionate about. To work hard doing what will please God and help others. To be thankful to God for having known Papa. By doing this they will make their Papa proud as well.
Our greatest passion in life can come from our deepest pains of life. God provides the greatest healing, comfort, and purpose by turning our focus to others.
1 Peter 4:10 “Each of you should use whatever gift you have received to serve others, as faithful stewards of God’s grace in its various forms.”
Of course I then reminded them that because of Jesus we will see Papa again. Our grief is actually only for a little while until we meet again in heaven.
1 Thessalonians 4:13 “Brothers, we do not want you to be ignorant about those who fall asleep, or to grieve like the rest of men, who have no hope.”