Friday, December 23, 2011

My new house....

Sometimes I just MARVEL at God's ways! Ever since John had that seizure on 10/21, we have been struggling to survive out here in the country. It has been TOUGH... 30 min ONE-WAY to the bus stop has left me more tired than I knew was possible. About four weeks ago, we started to feel God prodding us to give up our dream of a peaceful country existence... move back to the city... get closer to MU and our families.

We started quietly trolling craigslist for rentals and learned several things:

1. There are A LOT of scams on craigslist
2.  We have a CRAZY good deal here in this HUGE house on 2 acres
3. You can try do something in your own power as long as you want but until it is God's timing your efforts are in vain.

Last weekend we found something. We went to look at it on Sunday. I cried all the way home. This place gave small a new meaning. My kitchen table wouldn't have even fit in the kitchen. Our king size bed would not  fit in the bedroom. It was S-M-A-L-L. When we got home, we got back on craigslist. Miraculously we found FOUR places and e-mailed them all. Only one e-mailed back that night. It was CUTE... small... but CUTE.

By Monday we had filled out a rental application and Tuesday I went to see it. God pulled the proper people and the proper pieces RIGHT into place at HIS timing, and we are moving THIS WEEK! I'm not lying. The moving truck is reserved, Time Warner installation set up, packing helpers lined up... We take occupancy TOMORROW! Yes I'm slightly overwhelmed by the thought of planning a move in under a week, the week between Christmas and New Year's. However, as I drove John to and from the bus stop yesterday I nearly cried. This was my last 6 a.m. trek to the bus. We will be moved in before the next time he has to go to work. We will be living 15 minutes from Marquette, 16 minutes from Heritage and 20 minutes from Oma & Poppa!!!

We looked and looked and LOOKED for 6 weeks. We started to doubt we had heard God's voice. We wondered how we would EVER find a place. We would have NEVER picked moving in winter, moving with only a week's notice, moving the week AFTER Christmas!!!! But God has brought EVERYTHING together in His timing. From my sister getting us 150 boxes from work, to my brother bringing them out here today, to my other sister offering to clean the new house and my brother-in-law being willing to drive the moving truck and MUCH, MUCH MORE.

So last night we finished up most of Christmas: wrapped the presents, made fudge... and today we PACK and clean and finish cookie baking.

I just want to leave you with this thought... wherever you're at right now... whatever your struggle... remember that God is never even a second late. I know you're weary. I know you're done hanging on to the end of your rope. But take heart! He is working behind the scenes whether you can see it yet or not.

God bless everyone! Merry Christmas! By the next time I blog, I will likely be in my new house!

Friday, December 16, 2011

Another terrible, horrible, no good, very bad day.....

I have to chronicle this day... It is another one of those, "You MUST be making this UP!" kinda days.  But with God as my witness I swear that every word I am about to type is true. In fact there are even a couple of private, non-sharable things in ADDITION to all that I'm putting out there for the whole world to read that take the day to an even deeper depth of despair.

This day started much the same as the rest.... I awoke at the butt-crack of dawn to take John to work. He has had a HORRIBLE week. Hasn't felt right all week. VERY VERY dizzy... One day, he walked into a wall which caused enough concern that I called him in sick that day. Before he got out of bed this morning, I asked if I should call him in sick. He said, "No." One more time when we were halfway to the bus stop, I asked, "Should we turn around and go home?" He said, "No." He wanted to tough it out. He could work.

I came home and started RACING through my day... tons of work leftover from the day before... a bunch of stuff I needed to do for cheer..... all the while directing the kids through their chores and independent lesson parts.

Around 11ish I think it was, I got a call from John. He was not feeling well AT ALL. So dizzy he could hardly function, bad stomach ache, horrible headache.  I told him to get on the next bus and COME HOME!  He had his momma come and get him. She brought him ALL THE WAY home.

I continued on trying to get my work done, making dinner before we left for cheer, now nursing him, etc... Fielded at least three calls from the dr.'s office and four from the pharmacy. Took in some bad news that will make my life even MORE hectic. Hopped in the car to head for cheer. A little more bad news came my way (oh and SEVERAL more dr/pharmacy calls).

After cheer I ran one of my cheerleaders home and then returned to the school to wait for the boys' b-ball practice to end. I pulled the kids out of practice 10 minutes early to try to make it back to Hartford to pick up all of John's prescriptions before the pharmacy closed. All the way there we prayed and prayed and PRAYED... "Please God let us get there before the pharmacy closes!" When I realized we were going to be a few minutes past closing time, I called and they said they would keep the pharmacy open for me! WOW!

I flew into Walmart just a few minutes after 9, grabbed John's scrips and then as long as I was there, grabbed a few groceries and the rest of the Christmas presents I needed.

On the way home from Walmart less than 5 miles from my house, my tire blew. So there I was one of my top 3 worst nightmares coming true: stranded in between two cornfields on a dark country road. [In high school I made the mistake of watching Children of the Corn... driving in the country night has NEVER been easy for me, and this was what I had ALWAYS feared.] But here's the best part: I was stranded just miles from my house, but my hubby couldn't even come help me. Even if he decided to try to drive the broken down Buick (which we aren't sure even runs anymore) ILLEGALLY because he currently is not allowed to drive, he prolly couldn't even get down the driveway because he is SO dizzy!

I sat there with the cornfields closing in trying to figure out what to do. I called the tow truck.... (ohmigosh!!!!! Collete from Reliable is an angel walking around with skin on!!!!!) called John... texted my sisters and mom... and tried to call my neighbor. Sent her one cryptic text, "Can you call if you're up... stranded on Madison."  I was talking to my sister about how this could REALLY not be happening. There is no way this day could be real! I'm likely walking around in a bad dream I just can't seem to wake up from. When all of a sudden over the hill came the first pair of headlights I had seen all night. I said, "Jodi, pray this is my neighbor." The lights approached and then STARTED TO SLOW!!! It was! It was! It WAS my neighbor!

She took Noah and Jeremiah back to the house (they were btw TERRIFIED... Jeremiah had his hands over his face and was praying the whole time. Noah kept asking me to turn the radio up, attempting to appear strong but very, VERY scared of being stranded in the dark.) Then she even came back to keep me company until the tow truck arrived (she's heard about my cornfield phobia MANY TIMES).

Collette towed me back home so we could unload the minivan and then drove off with our only real form of transportation attached to her tow truck. I don't really have words to explain how vulnerable I feel right now. I literally can't even drive someone to the hospital if they need it. I am terrified and left virtually alone as John is completely unconscious (the way he has been most of the day from his ailment).

After being dropped off I busied myself with emptying my Walmart bags. I lifted the first one off the ground and it split apart, spilling its contents all over the floor... and that was when the tears started threatening to fall. I held them back until the kids were in bed... but now the typing of this terrible, horrible, no good, very bad story is dragging them out of me.

So here... in my bed... pecking away at my laptop... tears STREAMING down my face and hope nowhere to be found... Here's what I have to say... here's what is in my heart:

I know... my Redeemer lives... I know my Redeemer lives... All of creation testifies... this life within me cries... I know my Redeemer lives...

I don't know why that is the song that is on my heart right now. Maybe because in the midst of all this chaos... in the midst of a blown tire that may have resulted in a damaged rim... in the midst of messed up anti-seizure meds that have left my husband foggy and unable to function... in the midst of the ick and filth and mess and YUCK of this day... I KNOW MY REDEEMER LIVES!

Nothing Satan can throw at me will change my mind. Nothing that happens to me can alter that fact...


Goodnight everyone.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Favor ain't fair...

This is one of my FAVORITE Pastor Aaron sayings.

"Favor ain't fair." 

Recently I've been contemplating how, "Struggles ain't fair either...." So often it seems as if struggles just aren't fairly distributed. My great-grandmother buried 4 of her children before she died.... That just isn't fair.

I had a brief e-mail conversation with Pastor Aaron about this, and his reply was food for thought. He said that since the fall of man, NOTHING on this earth has been fair.

This applies to all concerned. Yesterday I wrote about Tim Tebow.... his recent success and fame could easily be attributed to hard work, dedication, a love for God, but you know what? Favor ain't fair! Ultimately God CHOOSES whom he uses. God decides a man's fate. How silly we are to think we control our own destiny! Yes Tim Tebow worked hard... he also loves God... but that isn't the SOURCE of his success... God is!  This also applies to those suffering.... "Struggles ain't fair either!" Pick up your Bible and read about Job. He worked hard, was dedicated, loved God, yet you know what??? His was a lot of suffering. In fact, his suffering is what he went down in history for.

I guess all I'm trying to say is that life in general is not FAIR. In fact fair is kinda a stupid word... It isn't FAIR that I was born in America where I am free to worship Jesus Christ and blab all about Him and my faith here on the internet while a pastor in Iran is on death row for preaching about Jesus. It isn't FAIR that my babies were all born in a sterile hospital, healthy and hearty while millions of babies in Africa are born in filthy, slop, hungry and frail from the moment they leave the womb. It isn't FAIR that I have my husband alive even though he is suffering, while many others have buried theirs and laid them to rest.

Life is NOT FAIR! Before you go refuting my assertion with your: "I deserve what I have!" or "I earned everything I have by my good choices." Let me just give you one final thought, torn from the words of Scripture:

..... all our righteous acts are like filthy rags....
Isaiah 64:6

The only thing every single one of us DESERVES is death and destruction for:

....all have sinned and FALL SHORT of the glory of God...
Romans 3:23

Therefore, I suggest we all PRAISE GOD today that "Favor ain't fair."

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

What God's taught me through Tim Tebow...

Tim Tebow! Wowzer! Is he the hot button topic in sports today??? I think he must be perpetually trending on Twitter!  I have to admit that until a couple of weeks ago I had no idea who Tim Tebow was, and I really didn't have a clue what Tebowing was either...

My thoughts on this Tebow phenomenon are many and varied. For example, I find it FASCINATING how many people are crucifying the dude for loving Jesus... REALLY??? In a world full of athletes who are in trouble with the law, concerned with only themselves, living lifestyles that are an example to NO ONE we are going to hate on a guy for loving God?  Mind-boggling that this is the way our world is!

However, that is not what this blog is about. I'm not jumping on the Tim Tebow bandwagon to talk about whether or not he should "Tebow". I have something different to say about Tim Tebow.  I read this article yesterday, and it really hit home. It struck me deep in the heart and brought a STRONG word from God.

Here's the part that got me:

If Tim Tebow’s professional career as an NFL Quarterback comes crashing down around him, or if he becomes wildly successful and rich, will he stand firm in his commitment to Jesus Christ?  My bet is ‘yes”.  What about the rest of us as Christians?  Whether faced with economic calamity or great wealth; popularity or being hated; will we remain committed to Jesus and the truth of His Word?  Time will tell…

See I think that is what God is trying to teach me through this recent (okay not so recent we are into our 3rd year of it now) series of trials and struggles. Will I stand firm in my commitment to Jesus Christ through this endless stream of medical issues, financial woes, and constant daily irritations? Will I keep my language pure? Will I keep my temper in check? Will I give him the praise and the glory when things are tough AND when they are terrific?  What if this NEVER changes? What if I am driving a broken down car, living in a rented house, and barely making it from payday-to-payday for THE REST OF MY LIFE??? Will I still serve Him? Will I still PRAISE HIM?

My answer is I will (however, lately my "I will" has been coming only after more and more and more pouting, stomping my feet and tons of tears). Yes, it is MUCH easier to "Tebow" when you are pulling off miraculous wins in the final seconds of a football game then when you are facing defeat after defeat after defeat. But I have to believe from the little I have seen of Tim Tebow that whether he is throwing touchdowns or interceptions he will still remain committed to Christ. I also believe that God is still on the throne whether we are facing success or defeat. Therefore the answer to my predicament is:  praise Him when the fridge breaks, praise Him when the furnace won't heat, praise Him when my husband is on his way to the ER, praise Him when I lose my writing job... and should I happen to end up in the end zone someday: with a writing contract... a car that works... enough money to pay the bills and (GASP!) accrue a little savings... FINALLY up on that podium with a State Champion cheer team... or best yet in that PROMISED LAND of no more Chiari Malformation woes, not trouble by any aneurysms... My answer will be just the same, PRAISE HIM!

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

When the simple becomes profound....

I haven't been writing much lately. It is from a combination of lack of time and something else. See lately I have been feeling (on my blog and in person) that people are sick of hearing about my struggles. So I've stopped talking and writing. It is a lonely and scary place for me... because I thrive off getting this crud OUT of my system and I cling to the hope that if I have to suffer at least someone can learn something from it... However, I'm just so raw right now I cannot take anymore correction/judgement/disapproval. Don't get me wrong... there are a few faithful out there that I can FEEL are dedicated to seeing me through to the VERY end of my struggles... but silence seems an appropriate choice to protect myself from the other stuff. All this to say that something has to BURN in my belly before I will write it out right now. I cannot bring myself to invite more criticism without a REALLY good reason. Well this morning I have a really good reason.

Basically I'm in a sea of confusion right now... Unsure exactly what God is doing here... Not seeing what He is bringing about... TERRIFIED (I cannot think of a word that actually expresses the depth of my fear) over my circumstances yet still somehow inexplicably just KNOWING that even though I cannot see Him working right now, He is still "on the clock" working on my heart... working on my circumstances... working out my perseverance....

I have been STRUGGLING through some SERIOUS attacks of the enemy.... ones where I can LITERALLY feel my struggle is "against rulers, against authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms."  I don't know really how to explain it... If you have ever been in a battle of spiritual warfare, you just "get it," I guess.

So yesterday on my way into town, Your Great Name by Natalie Grant came on K-Love. Now this song is not new to me. (I've blogged about it before.) And the concepts held within are not earth-shattering or ground breaking. However, as I flew down the highway, this line hit me:

     The enemy, he has to leave, at the sound of Your great name.

And all of a sudden an epiphany occurred to me: when I am in the midst of those battles I need His great name. Now this is not a new concept to me. I know that when battling Satan we must call out the name of Jesus. I know that the very NAME of Jesus holds power we cannot fathom. I know that demons shudder and walls fall at the mere SOUND of the NAME of JESUS. But it struck me right then and there, the next time I am in the midst of a battle.... the next time I start to get the sense (through the absurdity of the sheer volume of CRUD that is being hurled at me) that Satan is toying with me, I need to call out the name of Jesus!

[Hang on... I'm not done yet!]

So this morning I awoke at 4:17 a.m. because I had to pee [sorry if that is TMI (too much information)]. I realized that it was FREEZING in my house so I went to the thermostat. It was 66 (thermostat is set at 68) I could hear that the furnace was running, but I couldn't feel any warm air coming from the vent. A groggy John reported it would take a few minutes for the blower fan to engage, but my gut said, "Nopes! Something else is going on here." Long story short, it was an easy fix... we have hot air blowing again but here's the part I must share... this is the part that is burning in my belly:

I sat at the kitchen table trying to concentrate on my devotions for the morning while John tinkered away in the basement. Finally I just stopped and started praying, "God PLEASE I need a miracle here. I NEED this to be an easy fix, because right now I cannot take another thing to deal with. As I sat at the table, praying.... just before I heard the blower fan engage, I realized that there were lyrics running through my head as I prayed, "Jesus, worthy is the Lamb that was slain for us, Son of God and Man You are high and lifted up; and all the world will praise Your great name."  Those lyrics running through my head were God reminding me of the message He had spoken to me yesterday! I started repeating out loud, "Jesus... Jesus... Jesus... I need you Jesus. Please do something JESUS."

The simple can be profound. You don't need special words. God won't be convinced by a well-worded request. You do not need a formula or strategy... You need JESUS. For salvation, for eternity, for right HERE AND NOW... You just need JESUS.

The funniest part is that this revelation wasn't followed by a great mountaintop high... It was immediately followed by another dip down low into the valley of uncertainty and fear.... it was followed by the realization that something is wrong with John. I haven't put my finger on it yet, and I'm still assessing whether we can handle this at home or not, but he is NOT right and will not be going to work today. You know how I'm handling it? With an odd sense of peace and one word on my lips, "Jesus."

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Repost: A sermon from Hannah Montana

I'm reposting again.... I am just TOO BUSY TO BLOG right now... So instead I am reading through my blog.... Today I'm feeling sassy so I thought I would repost a blog that got me in A HEAP O' TROUBLE!  Oh the heat I took for proposing that Hannah Montana might be able to give me a Word from God... To all of you nay'sayers who think Hannah Montana can't present a GREAT sermon straight from God, need I remind you???? God spoke through a donkey... A DONKEY!

I reiterate a line from this blog:  God uses whom HE chooses!

Hope he uses this repost in your life today.

A sermon from Hannah Montana

Friday, December 2, 2011

Repost: Don't be a Bildad...

I have been comforting myself through this most recent bout of trials with some of my own writings. I have been going back in my blog and reading stuff I wrote years ago and thinking, "Mhmmmm! that is EXACTLY what I needed to hear!"

After several recent encounters with Bildads of my own, I kept thinking of a blog I wrote back in the EARLY stages of this blog's development. I went back and read it, and  it REALLY ministered to my soul. We NEVER know the fullness of what God is taking us through... and ESPECIALLY of what God is taking another person through. I believe it is, therefore, a good idea to keep our Bildad"ish" opinions to ourselves. Reminding myself that even Job had friends who spoke out of turn and INCREASED his pain in a time of suffering, encouraged me.

I hope it encourages you as well.

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