Monday, December 31, 2012

Count My Blessings ~ Even the hard ones

Recently, I was visiting with a friend and we began to reflect on the blessings of the the last year. This is my short list ~ a  Godly husband that loves and supports me, three great kids, family and friends that are amazing, a new and unexpected job for me with an organization that I love... the typical list that goes on and on. Then they gave me a challenge: "look back and find God in the hard stuff ... and keep finding Him when new hard stuff happens in 2013."

Here goes:

Twice this year our boys have had accidents in the truck. First on our Anniversary and then again on the last day of term finals at the high school when we got blasted with this winter's first big winter storm. Both times the truck spun 180 degrees and slid backwards and sideways into a ditch. Both times there was no oncoming traffic, the truck missed a telephone pole, the truck stayed upright and didn't flip. Both times our sons came home safe. God is GOOD.

Twice this year we had vehicles that needed unexpected and significant repair. The Pilot's suspension broke in a dangerous way, on a day when I was driving across the Cities while at the same time cell phone reception for Verizon went down for the several hours. I made it home safely. The repair was costly but possible. All of our vehicles have at least 150,000 miles on them, and yet they continue to get us (car payment free) where we need and want to go. God is Good.

I ended up with a really bad dental issue. A crown failed, I ended up with a cavity that went from the base of the crown to the underside of my jawbone. The root canal that had been done on that same tooth also failed and I ended up with an abscess that stretched along the top of my jawbone and sinus cavity. But we found a specialist that got me on some strong antibiotics to clear up the infection. Oral surgery included two bone graphs on my upper jaw (not covered my insurance) but the rest of that procedure and all of what will happen next year should be fully covered by insurance. Treatment and recovery will be a long process. But it is possible. God is Good.

After planning a family hiking/camping trip to the Appalachian Trail for the summer of 2012, one of my son's and I both had injuries the week before the trip. My son hurt his knee playing basketball at teen camp. We were able to get him to the hospital and a specialist (while at teen camp) and confirmed that he had a severe sprain and would not need surgery. I rolled my ankle the same day (with an audience of hysterical jr. high girls) but again, nothing real serious. We had to modify what we did, how much we walked and how much we carried, but we had a blast. Even saw 2 black bears, but not up close and personal! God is Good.

Matt's had issues with his back for several years. It sucks. Good doctors and good meds (both covered by our insurance), exercise, a new inversion table and preventative care have helped. God is Good.

Our children. They are tweens, teens, young adults. Trying to figure out life, God, relationships, college and other mysteries. They have each made many choices this year, some have proven to be good and solid ~ others have ended up being opportunities for growth (all be it painful and hard.) Sometimes we are able to be the parents they need in the moment they need us. Other times we have failed and had to seek forgiveness and do our best to make things right. All of us are still learning, growing and seek God. God is Good.

We didn't make it back to Arizona this year. It was a hard choice. Instead, our teens did the HS Band trip in the Spring of 2012, we did a family trip to the Appalachian trail this past summer and we will go to Guatemala with our oldest sons in Feb of 2013 as part of a Jesus Film ministry team. We miss our Arizona family. We love them. They support us, love us and miss us too. We hope for a trip in 2013. God is Good.

A dear friend in her 90's who went with us to church every Sunday for the last few years went home to be with Jesus this fall. She filled a hole in our heart and life that we didn't know we had. We are thankful for the time God gave us with her, and we are so glad that we KNOW she is now home. God is Good.

After 9 1/2 years with our family, our beloved boxer, Angel died on Thanksgiving morning. We know we did all we could. She was with us when death came. We loved her as a family, raised her and did life with her together, said goodbye together and miss her now. It's still hard. God is Good.

Matt and I have been trying to go on a date for over a month.  Every time we set up a night something happened. Work forced Matt to stay and work an extra shift. All I want is a night alone with my man! But work is very short staffed. Some changes at the plant regarding who does what  went into effect in late October and have caused a shortage of staffing in Matt's area.  It is a shortage that will continue until at least the spring of 2014 - yep you read right - this will be our reality for at least another year. But Matt has a job. A very good job. Matt will be able to work there for as long as he chooses. He is paid well for what he does and for what he knows. We have health insurance, dental insurance, vision insurance, prescription coverage, a 401K, paid time off, a pension. In a time where many of our friends and family wonder and worry about employment, we have peace. God is Good.

At the beginning God is Good. In the middle God is Good. Even when I don't feel it God is Good. While I don't understand it God is still Good. When I am hurting God is Good. In the end God is Good. Amen.

The Last Day

So here we are. The last day of another year. A good time to look back, a good time to dream ahead.
And so on this last cold December morning in 2012, the house is quiet. The fire is burning and the den is warm. My coffee is poured and my Bible is in my hands.

Psalm 86

1 Hear me, Lord, and answer me, for I am poor and needy. Guard my life, for I am faithful to you; save your servant who trusts in you. You are my God; have mercy on me, Lord, for I call to you all day long. Bring joy to your servant, Lord, for I put my trust in you.
  • Actually today I feel richly blessed and not poor and needy. You are my God, and You have extended to me mercy and grace that I can hardly understand. Help me God to continue to put my trust in You, and help me to remember that trusting in myself is the quickest way for me to end up in trouble.
 5 You, Lord, are forgiving and good, abounding in love to all who call to you.  Hear my prayer, Lordlisten to my cry for mercy. When I am in distress, I call to you, because you answer me. Among the gods there is none like you, Lord; no deeds can compare with yours.  All the nations you have made will come and worship before you, Lord; they will bring glory to your name. For you are great and do marvelous deeds; you alone are God.
  • Forgiving and good, abounding in love.  Where would I be without Your forgiveness, goodness and love? Thank you God for listening to me. There is none like you. You are the beginning and You are the end. There is no authority above You or beyond You. You will be honored. Every knee will bow.
 11 Teach me your way, Lordthat I may rely on your faithfulness; give me an undivided heart,
that I may fear your name. I will praise you, Lord my God, with all my heart; I will glorify your name forever.  For great is your love toward me; you have delivered me from the depths, from the realm of the dead.
  •  Teach me your way, Lord - Shape my heart and mind to be teachable. I want to turn to you first and trust you fully. An "undivided heart" ~ remove those things in me that distract me from You. Remove those things in me that do not honor You, or reflect Your character. I want to soak You up re-present Your character to others. Your love to me is great, and it has transformed my life. When I praise You will ALL of my heart and glorify Your name FOREVER - there is no room for selfishness, self-centeredness or self importance. I need my eyes, my heart, my mind - my everything to be fully focused on and surrendered to You God.
14 Arrogant foes are attacking me, O God; ruthless people are trying to kill me— they have no regard for you.  But you, Lord, are a compassionate and gracious God, slow to anger, abounding in love and faithfulness. Turn to me and have mercy on me; show your strength in behalf of your servant; save me, because I serve you just as my mother did.  Give me a sign of your goodness, that my enemies may see it and be put to shame, for you, Lord, have helped me and comforted me.
  •  But you, Lord, are a compassionate and gracious God, slow to anger, abounding in love and faithfulness.  This simple verse sums up so much truth. Your character is consistent. 
I don't know what You have in store for the next 12 months. My guess is that some things will be fun and easy, while others will probably be hard and scary. I don't want to rush ahead of you, and I don't want to lag behind. I want to walk right next to You. I wanna hold Your hand. I wanna be close enough to hear your whisper and brave enough to obey. Love You God ~ and I know You love me too :-)


Friday, December 28, 2012

Lamest Saying Ever!

I met a woman this week that lives just up the road from me. In the course of chitchat we came to realize that we have some things in common. We are both married, we live in the same area, and we chose the area for similar reasons. We both have 3 sons, and the ages and spacing of our children is nearly identical. However, her boys are 1, 4, and 6. She is still at the beginning her parenthood journey. She's writing the chapter on childhood. She had questions like "when will it get easier", "when will they get along better" and "when will I not be sooo tired all of the time?" I smiled. She didn't want to hear the truth, she wanted encouragement and support. Those pages in our book are already written. There was laughter and tears and not much sleep! There were family snow fights, cross country road trips,  and various falls, cuts and visits to the ER. Bed time stories and night time prayers, dinners around the table, moves, new schools, new churches...just life. It was hard. It was fun. It was great.

This unique year at the Wilson house. It's a "season" that feels like it is full of "lasts."  Next spring our oldest son will graduate from High School, and the Spring after that our middle son will do the same. In May our youngest son completed the 5th grade and moved into the middle school building, we have finished our time in the elementary school arena, and are now the proud parents of tweens and teens. In June our family took what may end up being our last big family trip. This fall we watched our oldest boys preform on the marching band field together for the last time. A few weeks ago we took what was probably our last trip to the mall for "family Christmas shopping." This might have been our last Christmas morning with all three of our wonderful sons.

It happened so fast. Matt and I have tried to enjoy every "season and stage" with our boys. We were never the people that said I can't wait until they are past the baby stage, or the toddler stage or in school.  We looked on purpose for what was special at each moment, and did our best to enjoy it and ride the wave. Some days were better than others. Such is life. I am sure great things are still to come for our ever growing and ever changing family; yet today it still feels bittersweet. Our goal was to take the boys God gifted us with and help them grown into loving, functioning, productive, independent, dynamic Christian adult men. They know we love them, believe in them, support them - and we really want them to have lives that are bigger than our basement when they are 30!

"Give them roots and give the wings." That's gotta be one of the lamest sayings ever! But as we continue to take off the training wheels and encourage our young men to choose the path of adulthood, I can see that the lame saying has a seed of truth. I asked my Grandma Betty and Grandpa Dick once not to long ago when it got easier as a parent. They paused for a moment and then said this "It doesn't get easier, it's just a different kind of hard. Just keep trusting God."

That wisdom brought me back to this verse:

"I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go. I will counsel you and watch over you" Psalms 32:8

God will continue to teach my sons, and so will I.
God will also be teaching me. Life as the parent of adult children, won't be the same as life with teens and tweens, but it will still be good, crazy, stressful, frustrating, funny, amazing and blessed. Very Blessed.

Sunday, December 2, 2012

Hey Now, Don't Judge Me by my Flip Flops!

It's been another crazy upside down week.

It's November, well actually now it is Dec, but the weather seems more like early fall or mid spring. Mornings have been chilly, but afternoons just keep getting better and better. Today we may hit 65! So what's a simple girl to do when the weather goes warming sideways in what should be a cold and cruel time of year? Well this girl dug out her capri's and cute flip flops and painted up her toes cute as could be - then headed out into the world for 3 full days of appointments :-) There were puzzled looks, and even a few questioning comments. I'd just smile and say "Hey, don't toes wont see the sun again for another four long months." Usually we'd both laugh and move on to whatever business needed to be settled.

On Saturday I had the privilege of going with our oldest son for a follow up college visit. It was a great day for a visit with more beautiful weather as a special little gift from God. I had on jeans and open toed platform strappy shoes with a cute little red short sleeve sweater. I looked and can confirm with great confidence that my toes were the cutes ones there. Again, several times I was asked about my shoe selection for "this time of year" and again I simply smiled and replied, "Hey don't toes wont see the sun again for another four long months." We would laugh and then return to the fun of watching our kids continuing to explore the possibilities of college life.

At the end of the day the two of us loaded back into the car and headed back to the highway for the 150 mile drive home. We stopped along the way at a random Walmart to pick up a few things I would need for church the next morning. As we were standing in the line to check out, I discovered that the bag of cookies I was holding to purchase had been opened and mostly eaten :-( Who does that? I was ticked. My son offered to run back and get me an unopened bag while I continue to wait in the line. So off he went and there I stood - stewing and waiting in the slowest check out line ever in the history of Walmart.  The cashier seemed nice enough, though she didn't chat at all with her customers. And the customers were pleasant too, though none were in any kind of hurry to be anyplace but there. Then it happened, just as my cashier was about to start my order, another cashier came buy for something. My lady said to this other employee as she walked past "Hey did you here about 'so-and so' in the fabric and craft depart? She is gonna retire at the end of the week! She's retiring?" The other woman said back flatly "yeah, I know." My cashier blurted out, "but she's retiring! She's not much older than me and she's retiring! Must be nice. What's up with that anyway?" What happened next was quick, but I am glad I didn't miss it. The lady she was speaking to stopped, and I mean completely stopped, looked her straight in the eyes and said "she has lung cancer, she's dieing." Then she turned on her heal and walked away.


How many times have I done that too.
I know a piece of the story. I see things from afar. I think I am smarter than I actually am, only to discover how little I know or truly understand.

Heart check in the middle of Walmart - ok God. I'm listening...