Monday, February 25, 2008

The Hand of God

Have you ever had times in your life where you could clearly see the hand of God? Without question you knew this was of God. Have there also been times when you questioned if God was even around?

I can remember two major times in my life where the hand of God was undeniably evident. The adoption of my daughter was the first of these times. My husband and I had been trying to conceive a child for several years and finally decided to pursue the idea of adoption. During these years I often questioned if I would ever be a mom. I questioned my ability to pray and devoured books about effective prayer. I questioned my own past sin and wondered if this was a consequence of my own sinful past. I questioned God's plan. But God did have a plan, and that plan included motherhood. Nine months after our first call to the adoption agency, we picked up our baby daughter from the hospital. It seems almost unreal that she was conceived around the same time we began down the road of adoption. The timing was perfect. God had clearly orchestrated the lives of several different people, in different circumstances, living in different places to bring about His plan. There is no question God created this family in His way, in His timing.

The second time I could clearly see God's hand was shortly after my divorce. Divorce had been devastating to me and I was a mess. About three months after the divorce was final my former husband announced that he and his girlfriend were going to have a baby. This news was more than I could handle. After all we had been through to become parents I knew I couldn't stand by and watch them have a baby. I wanted to move home. I had been raised in a city about 3 hours away and my family still lived there. I needed to go home. But I had a two year old daughter to consider and wanted to do what was right for her. I met with the singles pastor of the church I was attending and he gave me invaluable advice. He said I should send out some resumes and see if God opens a door. Wow, it was like the parting of the Red Sea. I had a job offer within two weeks. I had to get my former husband to agree to let my daughter and me move. He agreed. I had to sell my house. It sold in two weeks. Everything regarding a move back home fell into place so easily. I knew, without a doubt, this was God's plan.

I love being able to see God at work. I love to feel Him near. But most of the time, it isn't that clear. During the healing from divorce, there were times I literally felt as if God was holding me in His arms. But in the day to day of life we don't always see or feel God's presence. I have to admit I am in one of those times now. I would like God to talk to me in an audible voice. I would like a power point presentation on the plan to come. I would like a nice tidy map to follow, or at least find some answers in a google search (maybe if I google "plan for krista").

I feel a little like what I imagine Moses, or at least the people of Israel, felt in the wilderness. God is providing the manna daily, but where are we going? I sometimes feel like I am wandering with no real direction. All the doors I try to open seem to close. I wonder how Joseph felt. God didn't speak audibly to Joseph. He did speak to him through his dreams, but I would imagine that Joseph had to wonder about God's plan. Joseph had a dream that his brothers would bow down to him, but it took a long time for that to happen. And, in the mean time Joseph was sold into slavery and taken to Egypt. He surely wondered about God's plan as his brothers betrayed him. But, Egypt turned out pretty good. He was put in charge of Potiphar's household (the captain of the palace guard). Things were looking up. I imagine Joseph could see God's hand in all that had taken place to get to this point. But then, BAM! Potiphar's wife accused him of rape. Joseph was thrown in prison. I wonder if Joseph sat in the prison thinking, "what now God". Things started looking up in prison as the chief jailer put Joseph in charge of all the other prisoners. Things were looking even brighter as Joseph interpreted the dreams of two prisoners, the king's cupbearer and baker. Joseph thought he would surely be set free now because the cupbearer would tell the king about him. But the cupbearer forgot all about Joseph. Again, I wonder what went through Joseph's mind. HELLO, I'm in prison here, what was with the dream where the bundles of grain bowed to me? prison here! He sat in prison for two years waiting on the cupbearer to remember him and tell the king. But then one day the cupbearer did remember Joseph. The famine brought Joseph's brothers to Egypt and sure enough they eventually bowed down to him, just like in his dream. Joseph was reunited with his family, including his beloved father. Wow, that was quite a plan!

Sometimes I may feel like I'm wandering in the wilderness or that the cupbearer has forgotten me, but the God that was in the wilderness with Moses and in the prison with Joseph, is with me today! Faith is believing that which is unseen. I can not always see God’s hand, but through faith I know He has a plan for me.

"So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal." 2 Corinthians 4:18

Friday, February 22, 2008

The World's Best Job

A friend recently said to me that if someone had told her how hard parenting was, she would have re-thought the whole thing! Babies don't come with instruction manuals. I received more instruction on how to operate my cell phone than I did with my baby! You have to wing it, figure it out as you go. It's the most important job we will ever do and we are flying by the seat of our pants! There are lots of books to help, and trust me I have read most of them, but basically you have to figure it out on your own.

Every time I think I finally have a handle on this whole mom thing, the job totally changes on me. As soon as I became an expert at changing diapers it was time for potty training. When I finally figured out I needed to keep our house well stocked with the miracle ointment better known as Neosporin, the cuts and scrapes left the knees and headed to the heart. There is no over-the-counter ointment to heal the "Susie won't be my friend anymore" hurt.

It is no wonder that parenting is hard; it is multiple jobs in one. Talk about cross-training!
A parent is a:

Care Provider: We must provide a nurturing environment for our child to grow. We are to care for their every need. We must keep our children clean, fed, and somewhat presentable.

Housekeeper: We are responsible for keeping the child's environment clean and germ free. Thank goodness for Clorox Disinfectant Wipes! We must provide clean clothes to wear, in spite of the occasional week the child insists on wearing the same shirt every single day.

Chauffeur: We must make sure our child gets to school, church activities, girls scouts, soccer practice, piano lessons, the play date with her best friend and back home again.

Nurse: We must know when to use the humidifier versus the vaporizer. Or when to sit in the bathroom for 30 minutes while the shower steams the mirrors, walls and of course both of us. We must know that a sore throat is just a sore throat unless you can see white bumpy stuff and then it is most likely strep. We must bandage, medicate, soothe and comfort all boo-boo's, and sniffles, as well as diagnose each "I don't feel good".

Tutor: I mastered the alphabet song, please don't make me help with fractions!

Nutritionist: Did you know that a child aged 9-13 should have 2 cups of vegetables, 1 1/2 cups of fruit, 3 cups of milk or other calcium rich foods, 5 ounces of grains, and 5 ounces of meats, beans, fish or nuts per day? PER DAY PEOPLE! And I was feeling good with dinner at McDonald's (at least she ate chicken and potatoes).

Psychoanalyst: "How was school today honey?" "I dunno". "What did you do at recess today?" "I dunno", "Do you think the test went well?" "I dunno". I have a feeling this job is going to get much much harder!

Just think if parents were paid the equivalent salaries for all the above jobs that we do each and every day! My daughter recently told me that when she grows up she wants to have four kids. I just smiled and said "that's nice honey".

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Strange Noises

One of the things I do not like about being single is that I am the only adult in the household. I don't have a big strong husband to fend off any intruders, robbers, would-be bad guys. No, if any bad guys come, it is my daughter, our cat and our house! So needless to say I am jumpy at noises in middle of the night. And, if you listen for noises, you will hear noises! Plus, I have had some weird experiences in this house. So jumpy is to be expected.

Last night I heard noises. I was almost asleep and then about 11:00 I heard a loud bang. I had no idea what could have made the bang sound, but I was instantly scared. I sat up in bed and reached to the night stand for my glasses. I hear better when I have my glasses on. Hannah was asleep next to me. Yes, she should be in her own bed, but that is really a topic for another post! I sat listening, with my glasses on, and heard nothing. Hmmm, maybe it was nothing. I took my glasses off and sank back down into the bed. Well, of course now I can't sleep and I think I hear a car outside. It isn't driving by, just sitting there. Am I hearing things or is there a car outside? I could get up and check, but no, I think not. Could someone be trying to get into my house? I lay in bed praying for protection, thinking about what I would do if someone got into my house. I should probably get a ball bat or something to have under the bed.

I try to sleep. Hannah moves and elbows me in the head. I roll her over, saying "please move to the other side" (okay, if I'm honest, I think it was more like "MOVE OVER"!). She is sleeping. I am awake. It is now about 1:00. I hear another noise. It sounds like a lawn mower. It gets a little louder and then softer. Where is that noise coming from? Hannah rolls back over and I discover the source of the noise, she is snoring! Okay, so that noise won't hurt us, and I am truly a bit too jumpy! I keep listening, trying to get back to sleep, but very aware of every sound. Again I say, if you listen for noises you will hear noises! As I lay, totally awake, my memory takes me back to another night.

When I was first married we lived in a mobile home. One night, in the middle of the night, we heard a huge crash sound. It sounded like an earthquake. In fact, I thought it was an earthquake. My big strong husband jumped up and ran down the hall. Halfway down, he turned around and came back and said "I forgot to ask if you are alright". Once he knew I was fine, he headed back down the hall. A car...yes, a car had crashed into our kitchen! The car was stuck and the driver was trying to get out of the car. The police were there in a matter of minutes and they took the driver, a drunk male into the station. Apparently he was driving too fast and hit a speed bump that took his car airborne straight into our kitchen! Our mobile home had a huge hole in it and our kitchen was a mess! Luckily insurance paid for everything, including broken dishes and glassware and no one was hurt.

Back to last night. At about 3:00, I was finally able to sleep. I never did determine what the bang sound was, but apparently it wasn't an intruder. I still had to endure the occasional elbow to the head, or foot in the side, but from 3:00 to 6:00 I had pretty good sleep. I'm still thinking about getting a ball bat to put under the bed!

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Valentine's Day and the Single Person

For the single person, Valentine's Day can be sad or at the very least annoying. It's a day that reminds us of our singleness. We watch as deliveries of flowers, balloons and candy are made to others, all the while feeling left out. It seems everyone around us has a valentine. It almost feels like we wear a sign that flashes in bright neon letters "I'm single, all alone, not loved".

I recently answered one of those email surveys that a friend sent me. The email has a list of personal questions and the idea is to send this on to friends in an effort to get to know more about each other. One of the questions was "what is your biggest fear". I answered honestly. My biggest fear is the fear of being alone. I want to be married. I want to have a partner to walk through the rest of my life with. I yearn to be loved by a man. I want to grow old with that someone special. But here I sit for another Valentine's Day, single.

Why is that? Why doesn't God bring someone into my life? I'm not sure, but one of the reasons may be that God is waiting until I have learned He is really all I need. His word tells me in Isaiah 54, that my "maker is my husband, the Lord Almighty is his name". God has been faithful to his word and has been my husband. He has been my provider and my protector just like a husband would be. But I have to admit, that although I find great comfort in the words of Isaiah 54, I still want an earthly husband. You know, the kind that will take the trash out on the really cold days, and kill the big spider lurking in the corner, or fix the toilet that just overflowed. I remember not long after my divorce, the vacuum cleaner broke. I was still reeling with the hurt and loss of a broken marriage, and was now faced with a broken vacuum cleaner. Handy is not a word I would use to describe myself, so I fixed it the best way I knew how....I bought a new one. I underestimated the severity of the three simple words "some assembly required". I sat on my living room floor with a new vacuum cleaner that required "some assembly" and literally cried. Vacuum cleaner parts and assembly instructions surrounded me and all I could do was cry. It seems silly now looking back on that day, but at the time that broken vacuum cleaner and the assembly of a new one embodied the way I viewed my life. The old one was broken and the new one needed assembly.

Well, here I am many years later and God has assembled a new life. I am no longer that broken girl devastated by divorce. And remembering that day helps me realize how far God has brought me.

Psalm 34:17-18 "The righteous cry out, and the Lord hears them; he delivers them from all their troubles. The Lord is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit." I will continue to cry out to my Lord. I will continue to pray for a husband. Today I am single, but praise God, I'm not alone and I am loved!

Monday, February 11, 2008

History Lesson

American Girls are big in our household. My daughter has several American Girl dolls and almost all the books. Both Hannah and I love the American Girls and their stories. I have been amazed at how much American history I have learned by reading the American Girl books.

Through the stories of Felicity Merriman I have learned that there were loyalists and patriots. Felicity was nine years old in 1774 as our country was at its inception. I think I assumed everyone was for the independence of our country, but that was not the case. Many of the colonists were very loyal to the king and did not approve of the movement toward independence. Through Kit Kittredge, from 1934, I have learned about life during the depression and how families learned to cope with the economic situation of their time. Molly McIntire, in 1944, has taught be much about WWII, and Samantha Parkington from 1904, has taught me about the working conditions in the factories at the turn of the century. I have truly enjoyed learning more about American history through these American Girls.

I did not think, however, I would learn anything about American history from the latest American Girl, Julie. Julie is from my time. What could I possibly learn from her stories...I lived it. Julie is nine years old in 1974. I was nine years old in 1974. "Julie's Journey" takes place in the summer of 1976, the year of America's Bicentennial. I learned that there was a covered wagon train that traveled from the west to the east. Each state had a wagon that toured around the state passing out re-dedication scrolls. The wagons left at different times, meeting up with each other along the way. They journeyed across the country just like the pioneers had done. The end destination was Valley Forge. The re-dedication scrolls were given to President Ford on July 4th 1976 at Valley Forge. I don't remember hearing about any of this! I remember celebrating the Bicentennial, but I do not remember any covered wagons or any re-dedication scrolls. Does anyone else remember this event?

I am concerned that such a historical event took place in my lifetime and I am totally oblivious. But, then I guess I shouldn't be too hard on my self. In 1976 I was 11. I probably didn't watch a lot of news programming and information wasn't as accessible as it is today. Still, it is bothersome. You would think we would have learned about this great wagon train in school! Thank goodness for American Girl books!

Thursday, February 7, 2008

Dance Dance Baby

Last night Hannah had dance class. She takes ballet as well as a hip hop competition class. This is her first year to be on a competition team and she is the youngest in this class. I have been somewhat fearful all year that she might be swallowed whole by the older girls in the class. The ages range from 10-17 and most of the girls are in junior high or high school. They are all older, wiser in the ways of the world, and seem to have more hip hop dance experience. My little 4th grader seems so small and innocent. But last night it became clear. Watch out baby, my girl can dance! She can hold her own with these other dancers and she is not fearful at all! The dance teacher gave her a very special part in the dance and wow, Hannah rocked it!

As I stood there watching her perform, my heart was flooded with all the hopes and dreams I have for her. I would love to see her become a famous entertainer of some sort because that was my dream...a dream that didn't come true. But I have no plans to live vicariously through my daughter. I want her dreams to come true, whatever they may be. But my hopes and dreams for her are so much more than an occupation. I hope she knows love. I want her to love and to be loved. I hope she makes good choices and doesn't have to suffer the consequences of bad choices. I hope she has a thirst and fire for life that is never tempered by the harsh realities of the world. I hope she will always have a sense of innocence and wonder. I hope all the things listed in Lee Ann Womack's song "I hope you dance". But most of all, I hope her faith in Jesus Christ grows daily and that she will love Him and choose to serve Him. I pray that His word will be a lamp to her feet and a light to her path (Psalm 119:105).

As a single mom, I fear that I am not enough. Can I "train her up in the way she should go"? Between laundry, school activities, homework, full time career and the ongoing list of life's demands...can a single parent do it? Certainly single parenting isn't God's design. My heart can become overwhelmed with the fears that encompass single parenting. I find much comfort in Peter. Peter walked on water, did the impossible when he had his focus totally on Christ. When his focus waned, he sank. So it is for the single parent. We can do the impossible, if our focus is on Christ. I cling to His promise, that He will never leave me nor forsake me (Deut. 31). I don't want to let fear get in the way of experiencing the joys of parenting, because in the midst of it all, there comes rare, wonderful moments like watching your daughter totally rock it!

Wednesday, February 6, 2008

Snow Day

I am not a morning person. I like to sleep, but as a single mom with a full time career, mornings seem to come early. Most mornings, after the alarm has gone off and I have hit snooze, I lay in bed silently lifting up praises to God for giving us this day. Today was an extra special day as I woke up to snow, ice and no school. The alarm went off and I quietly went to the computer. Ah, yes an email from the school district: NO SCHOOL DUE TO INCLEMENT WEATHER. I emailed work letting people know I would be taking a day off to stay home with my daughter and went back to bed. Sleep! As I drifted back to sleep I thanked the Lord for this special snow day!

On days like today I like to pretend I am June Cleaver or Donna Reed (I realize my age is now obvious, and many people may not know who these women are. For those too young, June and Donna were perfect television moms from shows way before you were born). I have such a desire to have a warm, inviting home that smells likes something wonderful is baking in the oven. Most of the time our home feels more like a pit stop from all the activity or possibly like a hotel meant just for sleeping. But today, we were home all day. I cleaned house, cleaned out some drawers and closets, chatted on the phone with a neighbor, made a lunch that consisted of several necessary food groups, and fixed a wonderful dinner that was on the table shortly after 5:00. Short of vacuuming in my Sunday dress, heels and pearls, I would say I came pretty close to good ol' June Cleaver. Hannah even had some friends come over to play (which is how I was able to clean out drawers and closets).

Before I was a mom, I envisioned myself reading books, helping with homework, gently teaching God's word in a meaningful way each day, all while serving wholesome snack foods. Funny how our vision is usually far from reality. I certainly never pictured myself a single mom just trying to keep my head above water. As for helping with homework, well, I always knew there would come a day when I wouldn't be much help with math, but who knew it would be as early as the 4th grade! But today, this very special snow day, our home felt nearly perfect....a haven filled with love, laughter and good smells!

Joshua 24:15 As for me and my house, we will serve the LORD.

Tuesday, February 5, 2008

A New Glaxay of Communication

Here it is; my very first blog entry. I am not a very tech-savvy person and therefore I tend to shy away from most types of new technology. My 10 year old daughter often assists me in working all things electronic. Recently there was a strange icon on my cell phone and after searching frantically for the user manual, my daughter informed me it was the calendar icon she had activated. My phone has a calendar...who knew!

But as scary and daunting as new technology can be, I am fascinated with the changing ways we communicate. Although I wouldn't call myself an early adopter, I am quite taken in with the whole new social networking arena. I love my myspace page! I have had a blast reconnecting with several friends from high school and college. About a year ago, I started reading some blogs and was instantly amazed at how connected I felt to people I didn't even know. It all started with a blog a friend of mine shared with me. It was a blog by a local woman chronicling her battle with cancer. By the time I started reading the blog, she had passed away and her husband was keeping everyone informed on his state of mind, their two small children and life after the death of a loved one. I felt like I knew this family, but yet I had never met them and most likely never will. Through this blog, I was changed, and that in and of itself was amazing.

Since then I have browsed through many other blogs. Some have very defined purposes such as the aforementioned blog, yet others are nothing more than a personal diary on public display. I have both laughed and cried at the stories found in blogs, but always left the blog feeling somehow connected to someone...someone I don't even know. I like this idea of connectedness. God created us for relationship. First is our relationship with Him, and then relationships with others. We have a God given need to feel connected, loved and a sense of belonging. I found it strange that some of that need was met by reading the thoughts, stories, ups and downs of others in this new fangled thing called a blog. I don't have a defined purpose for this blog right now, but I'm curious to see where it might take me....who it might connect me with...and how God may choose to use it.