Sunday, June 27, 2010

Doors Opened or Closed?

It is so easy to see the hand of God when He allows the doors to just swing open wide. I've written about this before - how every door literally flew open when my husband and I wanted to adopt and again when I wanted to move back to my home town after a painful divorce. But, if doors don't seem to be opening does that mean God is saying no? I read a recent post from one my favorite blog writers about this very subject. She and her husband are in the process of adopting a baby girl from Ethiopia and God is providing the financial means in an amazing way. It is clear God is in the center of their plans. But sometimes it isn't so clear.

I think of the story of Joseph is Genesis. He certainly encountered a few closed doors along the way! God had shown Joseph in a dream that his brothers would bow down to him, but it would be a long time and several closed doors later before any bowing down happened! Surely Joseph wondered about God's plan when he was sold into slavery, and again when he was thrown into jail falsely accused of a horrible crime. I also think of King David. This shepherd boy was anointed by God to be the King of Israel. But the red carpet wasn't rolled out heading straight to the King's palace. I imagine David had to wonder about this whole royalty thing when he was being chased by King Saul and his men. David cried out to God throughout the Psalms! Or how about Abraham and Sarah? God promised He would give them a son. I know how Sarah felt, longing to be a mom and how every month it must have seemed like God was closing the door on His promise. They questioned God's plan so much, they ended up taking matters into their own hands and made quite a mess of things!

It is absolutely wonderful when God allows the doors to swing open wide. But sometimes God chooses to send us to a few closed doors before we can get to the opened one. I heard a story of a woman who wanted to be a missionary. She knew this was God's calling on her life but after she had spent extensive time on training and preparation she failed the final test necessary to be placed by the mission board. She could have given up. She could have seen this as God telling her no to the mission field. But she didn't give up. She took the test again and was placed exactly where she was hoping to go. It is easy for us, knowing how the story ends, to see how God was orchestrating people and places to bring about His plan in the lives of Joseph, David and Abraham and Sarah. But it the midst of what seems like closed doors, we must cling to our faith knowing He is leading, directing and holding our hand along the way!


I pray that you will show me Your presence in the midst of the closed doors. Help me, as Your Word says in Proverbs 3:5-6 to trust in You with all my heart and lean not on my own understanding. Help me to acknowledge You in all my ways and I ask that you will direct my paths. Amen.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

A Little Independence

The whole point of parenting is to train your children to live without you...right? Hopefully, our kids will grow up and eventually be on their own, although my parents might tell you that children are never really on their own! But nonetheless, that is the goal and I'm just not completely sure I like it. I want to keep Hannah in a safe protected bubble under my watchful eye forever. And I don't see anything wrong with my way of thinking!

Letting go is hard, even the little steps along the way to adulthood. Turning the reigns of life over to a child is scary - there are big bad wolves out there just waiting to pounce on my little red riding hood, I mean, Hannah. Based on how I felt yesterday, I can only imagine how I will handle the day Hannah actually leaves home to truly be on her own. But again, I'm sure my parents will tell me not to worry because if she is anything like me, she we will be back!

Yesterday I let Hannah stay home by herself while I was at work. We agreed she could have a friend over for a few hours and they could go to the neighborhood pool. Summertime for Hannah can be a one big long television fest if we don't plan activities for her. I don't want her just laying around watching TV all day or playing on the computer. She usually goes to my parent's house, but in the spirit of allowing a little bit of independence I agreed to occasionally let her stay home by herself. Her friend came over and Hannah called to tell me the friend had arrived. About 10 minutes later Hannah called to say they were leaving the house to walk to the neighborhood pool. Another call came approximately 5 minutes later to tell me they had arrived at the pool safely. She is such a good girl! About an hour later, my mind started to wander. Are they still having fun at the pool? Will she call again soon just to check in? Are they re-applying sunscreen? Are they still AT the pool? Could something have happened at the pool? "Oh Lord," I prayed, "please keep them safe!" They are safe, right? Maybe I should try to call her. But, she won't hear her phone if they are in the water. But I should try anyway. No answer. I tried again. No answer. I tried her friend's phone. No answer. Maybe something horrible has happened. Maybe I should leave work and go see. Maybe I could call a neighbor to go check on them. I don't think I can breathe! My phone rings. "Hi mom, did you try to call?" THANK YOU JESUS!! She is still AT the pool...having the water...with lots of sunscreen...just like she should be....because after all, she is a pre-teen with just a little independence! Baby steps!

Mercy me, this parenting thing is hard!

Monday, June 21, 2010

Treading The Deep Waters of Theology

There is no rest in this thing called parenting. You have to be on your toes every minute of the day! Last night as we were getting ready for bed, and let me preface this by expressing how extremely exhausted I was after an active day in the sun, Hannah initiated a random conversation that took us into deep, deep waters!

Hannah: What if we end up going to hell?

Me: Well, if we truly have a relationship with Jesus, we won't go to hell.

Hannah: What if God changes His mind because we mess up, like if we don't go to church enough?

Me: God won't change His mind and nothing we can do can earn our way in to heaven. We deserve hell, but because God loves us so much he sent His son to die in our place. He promised us our sins will be forgiven if we ask, and in turn we can look forward to an eternity with Him in heaven. God always keeps His promises. This is His gift to us.

Hannah: It is kind of scary because God knows everything we do and even knows all our thoughts.

Me: Yep.

A much needed pause of at least 1 minute, and just when I thought the waters were receding, the conversation resumed.

Hannah: Do you ever say bad words in your head?

Me: Yes, sometimes.

Hannah: Me too sometimes.

Me: After I have a bad thought like that I pray and ask for forgiveness.

Hannah: I don't.

Me: You don't?

Hannah: I can't just pray in front of everyone at school, they will think I am weird.

Me: You don't have to bow your head and close your eyes every time you pray. Prayer is a conversation between you and God and it can happen anytime and anywhere. No one but you and God needs to know about your prayers. When your dad and I were getting divorced I remember going into the bathroom at work, locking the door, sitting on the floor and pouring my heart out to God in prayer. No one but me and God knew what I was doing in the bathroom.

Hannah: Why didn't he answer your prayers?

Me: He did. Without God, I wouldn't have made it through that difficult time in my life. He literally held me in His arms during that time.

Hannah: But you and dad still got divorced.

Me: Yes, because sometimes people make poor decisions.

Hannah: Why didn't God make you and dad stay together?

Me: Because God doesn't want to be like a puppet master, he gave us a free will so we could choose things for ourselves.

Hannah: Well, God needed to take some of that free will away from dad!

Out of the mouth of babes - couldn't have said it better myself! Never underestimate the wisdom of a child!

Friday, June 18, 2010

Every Girl's Dream

You just never know the nugget of information you might find sitting in your facebook news-feed. One of my facebook friends changed her relationship status from single to engaged! I am so happy for her.

I am, really.
Stop looking at me like that.
I am truly happy for her!
Maybe a small hint of envy, but mostly happy.

This newly engaged woman is more of a friendly acquaintance than a friend in the traditional sense, but thanks to facebook our knowledge of each other has been elevated to a new level. When I saw the news I was thrilled for her. She is nearly forty and has never been married. I have often wondered how she felt about being single. After all, I know how I feel about being single, so I wondered if she too longed for more. I assumed she desired to be married and that she was holding out all hope God would eventually send His hand-picked mate. His timing can certainly seem perplexing. I can only imagine how Mary and Martha felt when it appeared Jesus was 4 days late and their brother lay dead! I take comfort in knowing He has a plan, but boy, sometimes that plan is hard for us to see or understand. I know this particular friend has been a bridesmaid probably more times than she would like to count and I imagine she has questioned God's plan from time to time. But now, it is finally her turn and it is obvious from her facebook posts that she is drinking in every moment of this long-awaited time in her life. And, yes I am truly happy for her.

Most little girls dream of the day they will marry their prince and have a family of their own, and my daughter Hannah is no exception. She makes up imaginary families complete with the names, ages and personal information about each member. She types all the information up in a word document and prints out a family biography of sorts. For example the Harrison family may have Sarah age 36 as the mom and Jeff age 38 as the dad. They have three children named Shelby (10), Taylor (8) and Erica (2). She has oodles of these "family biographies" printed out! She is constantly talking about the family she dreams of having someday. She wants at least three kids: two girls and a boy, or, maybe three girls and no boys. In our home she is an only child and because of the small size of our family she wants to have a big family.

With the onset of adolescence, boys have become a focal point for Hannah. We have been praying together, asking God to begin preparing today the boy who will someday be her husband. I have stressed the importance of following God and staying true to His standards when it comes to dating and marriage. My fervent prayer is that she will make good choices about relationships with the opposite sex. There is no greater blessing from God than family and I pray He will bless her abundantly! One night we prayed together about this boy God is preparing just for her and after we were finished she asked me something astounding. "Mom," she asked, "do you think that boy is praying for me?" Wow, I was almost brought to tears at the thought of a little boy somewhere in the world praying for the girl that will someday be his wife, and that God, right now, knows his wife will be my precious Hannah. "Yes, Hannah," I replied, "I do think there is a little boy out there right now praying just for you." In the paraphrased words of the charismatic preacher, Tony Evans, if you want to know where your mate is, you better be following God, because He is the only one who knows where he is!

Friday, June 4, 2010

Oh How I Dream Of Blogging

I want to blog, really I do. Yeah right, I haven't blogged since January. I know that's what you're thinking. And you're right, I haven't blogged since January - at least not in written word. But oh, how many blogs I have at least started in my head! I heard something recently from a real-life writer that sums up my love-hate relationship with writing, "I love to have written, it's just the writing I struggle with." I know exactly what that author means. I love it after I have written something - anything really. After I have finished writing something I have to call my parents and ask them to read said masterpiece. I then call all my friends to read it. I even have the desire to do a little show-and-tell after I have written what is clearly the most clever PowerPoint bullet of all time! I write a lot of PowerPoint bullet points in my line of work - nothing wrong with taking a little pride in your work! I suppose that is exactly why I was attracted to the whole idea of a blog in the first place. Someone might actually read that which I have written. But again, it is the writing I struggle with, and boy do I struggle!

Since my last post (yes, the one dated January) I have started to write, in my head at least, about a variety of topics. These topics have included the meanderings of my middle school daughter, dating in midlife, the startling fact that according to a recent report, only 39% of Presbyterians believe Jesus is the only way to Heaven, my love of business travel, more middle school antics, and of course I have started, at least a gazillion times, the blog named "I am back." Well, as of today, right now, guess what. I AM BACK!

Tonight I was watching television, well sort of. I was really just desperately trying to avoid doing more preparation for the mother of all garage sales I am having tomorrow. Anyway, while doing this avoiding, I happened to catch a show about a professional blogger. Hmm. I think that is an interesting job title. This woman makes more in one month blogging than I do in a year! She must write about something really important...right? NO, she just writes about the random happenings in the life of her family - which includes two small children, one husband and a couple of dogs. Her blog has so many readers that advertisers pay her to run their ads on her site. I am in advertising, so of course I know of this type of thing, but I suspect most "professional bloggers" have real jobs outside the blog-o-sphere. Her story got me to thinking. I thought about all the posts I had started in my head but never quite made it to the written word. I started thinking about the power of this thing called social media. If advertisers can use it, just think of what God can do with it! Of course I thought about how the 6 or 7 loyal readers I once had are now gone. And then I got inspired.

I want to blog, really I do. I believe God can use me through writing somehow and that He is waiting for me to let Him - He is waiting for me to just say yes, I will write. I am saying yes to God. I will write as often as possible (but remember I struggle with the actual act of writing, so please bear with me when it looks like I may have gone on vacation - I promise I'll be back). The good thing is that those 6 or 7 loyal readers I once had are all related to me, so I'm pretty sure I can convince them to start reading again!

Happy blogging y'all! (I'm calling my parents to read this now!)