Dec 20, 2013

God bless us, every one!

Often during the past 10 months of unemployment I have had the opportunity to reflect upon having faith in the Lord.  We have often been blessed by answers to prayers almost before they are even uttered. 

A few examples...there are many others, but these ones stick out in my mind. 

We all came down with whooping cough in August.  Our little baby boy got it first, and when our little toddler came down with it we decided that it was better for us all to go on anti-biotics.    Anit-biotics for 8 people is not cheap.  Especially when you are trying so hard to live on savings and a prayer.   (Savings is nice to have, but prayer works!)  As I sat pondering and worrying over antibiotics, money and sick little ones, my husband received a call from a neighbor asking if he could help with a side job he needed done.  The pay? The exact amount we needed to buy anitibiotics for 8 people.   I have faith in the Lord.

As few months ago as we sat planning the meals for the week, we looked at the pile of rice, beans and wheat which we have faithfully stored and felt a little disheartened. ( Now, I am going to have to preface this story with a disclaimer that it is a huge blessing to have piles of rice and beans and wheat!   We are truly grateful for the Lord's hand in inspiring us to work hard to have food storage.  But some days a hamburger or some cheese could place your palate firmly in heaven.  This was one of those days.)   As I lamented and despaired about the challenges of eating the same onslaught of meals again this week, the doorbell rang.  Standing there was a good friend who was getting ready to move.  She asked if we would like all the extra food from her freezer.  In her bags were all the little goodies we needed to make beans, rice and wheat palatable for another week.  It truly was no big deal to her, just odds and ends and extras that they were not going to have time to eat, but to us it was an answer to prayers.  It was exactly what we needed it, and it came exactly when we needed it.  I have faith in the Lord.

There have been so many little needs met, just when we need them met.  And while it has been a trial to go almost a year without employment.  It has hardly felt like a trial.  Because the Lord has given us everything that we need, in the very moment that we feel we need it.  He has taught me what love and faith and hope truly mean.  He has taught me the need to never fear and to always walk forward with faith.

But there is something else the Lord wanted me to learn.   You see, it has been easy for me to trust in the Lord.  It has been easy for me to believe that the Lord can take care of all things.  The Lord is perfect,  He is pretty easy to trust.  But I have had a bit of bitterness in my heart.  I have had a bit of bitterness in my heart for those who we trusted and considered friends but who chose to put our family in this position.  I have had a bit of bitterness towards those who have interveiwed and interviewed and interviewed my husband and then never even called back to let us know their answer.  I have had perhaps a bit of bitterness towards mankind in general trying to grow in my heart. 

As we watched Christmas Carol a few nights ago I realized I had been a bit like scrooge in my faith in humanity.  As I sat watching, Marley's ghost seemed to be talking to me instead of  to Scrooge when he said; the purpose of life is to learn to love others and to spend your life in giving that love.  It really struck me that this is exactly why I have felt a little like a Humbug this year.  I have lost a little faith in mankind.

And so, the Lord, always the perfect teacher,  has given me the opportunity this Christmas season to have faith, not only in Him, but also in His children.  Words can not express the faith and love in my heart for those who have so selflessly and so graciously, and even of their own want, have served our family so lovingly the past week.  

I have truly learned from your example what it is to have love and kindness and thoughtfulness and the spirit of Christmas in your heart.  I have learned how to say, "I love you" in a million different ways.  I have learned how to truly care for those in need and how to lift hands that hang down by your example.  I don't know who all of these "elf's" are.  But I have felt of your love, your understanding, and your Christlike charity.   The Lord has meet all of our needs, and good neighbors, friends, and family have met so many of our wants. 

A few examples....there are many others, but these ones stick out in my mind.

A brother in law who calls from the BX and asks if we need anything the very day we run out of conditioner.  Have you ever raised three daughters with no conditioner?  Trust me this is one of those desperate wants!   Thank you for being inspired

A good brother who comes to visit for his vacation and ends up watching all my children while we go to court for two days. He even mops my kitchen floor  (which has not been moped for several months) without my asking or even expressing my overwhelming frustration that I just cannot seem to find time to mop the kitchen floor!   Thank you for noticing and giving me exactly what I need!

Good Friends who remember our favorite ice cream and drop it by just because. Good friends who have us over for dinner so many times in the past 10 months that I could not even count them.  Good friends who bring us fruit and vegitables to bottle.   Good friends and true sisters who give some money to make sure the kids have something for Christmas.  Good neighbors who pay my boys exhorbinent amounts of money to shovel their walks  (my boys are NOT that good at shoveling)  Kind neighbors who bring us a turkey.   Do you know how good turkey tastes...especially with rice and beans!   just kidding...potatoes are cheap  :)  Thank you for teaching me what true friends are and how valuable they are in my life!

Good Christmas Elfs who leave gifts on our doorstep that are exactly what we would ask for it we were to ask for anything in the world.  Good Christmas Elfs who give food and fun and funds.  Thank you for your generosity and for being our little Angels.  We have felt your love and it has changed our life.

So, if you, like me are tempted to loose your faith in mankind.   The Lord can teach you that kind of faith too.   The faith that makes your heart grow three sizes in one day.  Because that is what has happened to me today.  My heart has grown and is overflowing with Faith.   Faith in the Children of God who have taught me what it truly means to have Charity.   Faith in good people with good hearts and willing hands.   Faith in the goodness of others who are sharing the Light of Christ.  Faith in you!

May all your of your hearts find faith in the Lord and faith in each other, this Christmas season!

Ps.  My husband was offered a job today at a Law Firm in Salt Lake City.  (thank you again, good friends for the recommendation)   I know this is big news and should be at the beginning of this message, but it is so small when you consider the big things you have done in our life.  You have touched our hearts in our time of need.  You have walked beside us and borne our burden with us.  We are praying for each one of you to have the continual blessings of Heaven in your own lives and with all of God's children.  Thank you for teaching us how to love and be loved.   God bless us, every one.

May 19, 2013

Waiting for the Sun to Shine

I have been pondering on faith lately.

Faith, for me, is like Humility.  
Once I think I have it, I usually find out how wrong I am...and how much further I have to go in my quest to become what I am supposed to become.....

And so I have been becoming....
This past week we finished up our V.I.P. (Vanguard in Production) Shakespeare Play, Comedy of Errors.   We were scheduled to perform at an outdoor amphitheater.   We had spent a dress rehearsal baking in the hot sun, and we were ready to perform!

But, alas, the weather man said Rain.   Rain, and Rain, and Rain....oh my!   All day Friday it was cloudy...not a ray of sunshine in the sky.  And ALL day long in my heart I prayed, please don't let it rain, please don't let it rain, PLEASE don't let it rain.   And every five minutes I checked the weather, and ksl, and and the hourly play by play.   And everywhere told me that it was going to Rain through our WHOLE performance.

But it wasn't raining, and it wasn't raining...and (drum roll please)  it DIDN'T rain!
We had a lovely performance.  And the youth were shining, and the audience was laughing, and the concession stand nacho's were delicious, and it was just about as close to perfect as life can be in any given moment.   Ahhhh!

We finished our performance, took everything down, and started loading up the truck when, drip, drop, splish, splash the first inklings of water started to fall from heaven.   We hastened to finish our job and drove merrily home whilst all around us the torrents poured and poured.   It rained so hard that we didn't even unload any props, just sprinting into the dry abode.

And I said thank you, thank you, THANK YOU!   for holding the rain.   And the weather man even said, "it was so strange.  The storm system we told you was coming today just sat all day out to the west"   And I said,  Thank you AGAIN!     And I knew in my heart the Lord had given me a blessing.   And I knew that He had stayed the rain for me!   And I knew my prayers were answered.

And then....AND THEN...came Saturday morning.    And that rain that waited all day the previous day was still here with a vengance.   And, alas, the weather man said Rain.   Rain, and Rain, and Rain...oh my!  And all day Saturday it was pouring...not a dry patch of ground on the earth.  And ALL day long in my heart I prayed, please don't let it rain, please don't let it rain, PLEASE don't let it rain. And every finve minutes I checked the weather, and ksl, and and the hourly play by play.   And EVERYTHING I heard, saw and read told me that it was going to Rain through our WHOLE performance.

And it Was raining, and it Was drenching, and it Was Soaking.  And I got scared!   I looked at the puddles forming outside my window, and I looked at the gutters overflowing with streams of liquid, and I looked at the cardboard props getting soggy and I wondered... and my faith wavered.   And I thought...where is the line when you trust the Lord to solve your problems and when do you have to solve them yourself?    And I I worthy to have two miracles in one weekend.   And I doubted.   

I frantically spent my lovely afternoon....which I should have spent packing for our Outdoor Adventure... sending emails and texts and fliers and phone calls trying to make sure that everyone knew about a change in venue.  I finished.   I sat for a deep breath.   And then...AND THEN...the Sun came out!   And the SUN that wasn't supposed to be here was shining with a vengance.  And I said...please, can't you make it rain, I'm sure it's going to rain, it just has to rain, WHERE is the rain?!? And every five minutes I checked the weather, and ksl and and the hourly play by play.  And eveywhere STILL told me that it was going to Rain through our whole performance, but the Sun was Shining!  

And WHY couldn't it just rain, so I won't feel so foolish for my lack of faith.  And the sad part of that thought was....Heavenly Father...who is the only one who matters....already knows how foolish I am, and how much faith I lack, and how much humility I still need to learn, and how weak and frail and unfaith-full I am.   And He shared with me my need to repent, and learn, and try again...and again....and again.   And I pondered, and I was humbled, and I thought..."Oh me of little faith...wherefore did I doubt...especially when yesterday I was given a great miracle"  

And then I was blessed with a bit of insight.....I'll share it with you....       
  It is so easy to have faith that the Lord can stay the storm and that He can delay the weather, and He can be involved in the minute details of my insignificant life....when the sun IS shining.     

It is so hard to have faith that the Lord can send the sun to shine and that He can dramatically change the weather, and He WOULD WANT to be involved in the minute details of my insignificant life....when the rain IS pouring...and I don't believe the sun will shine again.  

I learn how much more I HAVE to become....  

Once I used to believe I had faith. ...But I am ALWAYS wrong; and I have much, much farther to go in my  quest to become what I am supposed to become.....

And Faith is JUST like Humility.   And I need lots more of both (thus the blog post ;))  

And I am still pondering on Faith.....

Mar 11, 2013

He is There

The other day, I thought I should start blogging again, lest anyone think from my last post that I was offended or swayed by emotion :).  I mentioned to one of my best friends how I didn't feel I had anything to write about....however, I am not sure I am glad that I have something to write about now.
Last Thursday I was preparing to go to a DCFS team meeting regarding my nephews...long story, for another day..... I stepped out of the bathroom and some papers fluttered to the floor.  I stopped to pick them up and read...Separation Agreement.  Not something you ever want to me.  There are no good separation papers.
As I read further the realization began to set in, after thirteen years, my husband was being let go from his job.   Immediately that deep dark pit formed in the recesses of my stomach.   I turned around and my good husband came around the corner.   What a tender mercy from the Lord.  He didnt have to explain, he didnt have to think of those devestational words to say, he didnt have to answer my questions.  We just shared a long hug and many tears.
I asked him, "What happened?"   He said, "I don't know."  We still dont.    I dont know that we ever will. 

It kind of felt like when you break up with your girlfriend/boyfriend....It's not you its me,  I just need a change.  Can I have my ring and letter-man jacket back?  Except it was more like.  You didn't do anything wrong.  This is due to corporate restructuring.  Please clean out your desk, and usually we would escort you out of the building at this point. 

After the long hug and many tears, thats when the miracles started.  The first one was peace.   Just peace.  Really.   I had imagined this moment many times--in my nightmares-- The husband comes home with the bad news, the devastated wife wonders how she will possibly feed eight people on nothing...the worry, the fear, the desperation.   But there was none of that.  None.  Just peace which filled the deep dark pit in my stomach.

I never imagined that the Lord could just take it away.  I never imagined that you could come to a place filled with uncertainty, worry, emotion, fear and that you could face that place with love and peace and faith and even a little joy. And then when those little fears and doubts and worry start to creep in they always do...I can remember.  I recall that peace.  He is still there.
But that is not the only miracle.  

I have learned the miracle of God's love.   When that peace came I knew I wasn't worthy to have such a heavenly gift.   I had a full understanding that there are so many ways that I need to be better in my life, more willing to serve, more quick to prayer, more gentle and soft hearted, more in just about every way that Christ is.  But God still loves me.  I have learned that God loves all of us. He doesn't judge me based on income, job skills or personality.  He doesn't love me based on my ability to cook with food storage (or lack thereof), my understanding (or lack thereof) of the scriptures, or my blog posts. (or lack thereof)  He just loves me.   He is there.

I have learned that money causes stress.  There is a joy that comes from only thinking of the things that we absolutely need.  We need a pair of shoes.   That's it.   I don't NEED anything else.   I feel free from the burden of money.   The first thing my dad said to my husband after the loss was, "Remember the first rule...Money is emotional." But it isn't.  The Lord has taken that away too.  He is there.

I have learned that when there is no other explanation is Gods why.  As my husband has asked many it money?  is it me?  did I upset someone?  did I make a mistake?  and the answer always comes back no.  No, no, no.  And, there is no answer why.   It is God's why.  He is there.

I have learned that you never know how many people love you, and how many people you love until something like this happens.  Choices and consequences do not just affect me.  This job loss has touched my family, my friends, my ward family, my neighbors, people near, and people far.  Some have dropped off ice cream...our favorite kind.  Some have sent little thoughts via email.  Some have given great advice from being here themselves.  Some have come with a listening ear and the spirit so the Lord can give greater revelation through thoughts and words.  And with each little piece of their love I feel a great depth of love for them and for Him.  He is there.


I have learned that there is STILL always something worse.  As I look around there are so many suffering, so many with burdens to carry.   Sick children, unfaithful husbands, wayward children, abuse, death, loss.  As I said to a friend.  This is hardly a trial.   I remember when I had my twins.  I knew something was wrong...this was not how being pregnant felt!   I was sure I had cancer or was dying.  When I found out it was twins, people would ask how I was going to do it...what a trial.  To me it was not a trial, it was a blessing.  I had imagined all those things that were trials, but twins was a blessing.  I remember feeling with my four year old, two year old and two babies that if I had to pick a trial I would pick the one I had.   I feel this way again.   This is hardly a trial.  When the Lord fills you with His love and His peace and His hope any trial is hardly a trial.  Because He is there.

I have learned that sometimes you just need a listening ear.  What a blessing to have good friends.  I have had many good friends stop by or call during this time.   I appreciate their love and guidance but mostly I appreciate their ears.  I needed to pour out of my heart all those thoughts that God has been giving me.  They were blessed in my heart, but sometimes you need to hear His words.  Sometimes you need His words to be spoken in your own voice, or from someone elses voice.  Sometimes you need to hear He is there.

I have learned that sometimes (always) you have got to write it down....thanks to a good friend.  What a blessing to have good friends who give great advice.   So many wiser that I have said again and again to write these things down...and I usually never do.   But just like a listening ear, I need to pour out of my heart all those thoughts that God has been giving me.  Sometimes you need to see His words.  Always I need to remember His words.  Then I will always remember that He is there.

I have learned that there is something you can always say....I love you.  I never know what to say when something bad happens.  What do you say to someone who has lost a job, a spouse, a friend, a child, a parent?   I didn't know how to comfort them.  I do now....I love you!  Or you could try are amazing, you are wonderful, you can do this,....etc.   all those positive thoughts lift your spirit when it is sitting in the bottom of the barrel.   There is power in someone believing in you and then verbalizing those words.  The words bouy you up and carry you on.  Words have such amazing power.   Especially Gods words.  He is speaking them to us.  Those little thoughts in our hearts and minds.  Saying He is there.

I have learned that all of us need to grow.  A month ago a few members of my family gathered for a baby blessing.  During this time my brother was deciding if he should remain in the Air Force.  He mentioned, "If I stay in I won't grow.  In three more years I will be in exactly the same place I am today."   I felt the truth of his words and I felt so proud of this amazing younger brother for the maturity and the wisdom to see this truth.   His words came rushing back to me in our own time of deciding and pondering.   If we stay here we won't grow.  In three more years, or five more years, or ten more years, or when we retire we will be in exactly the same place we are now.  We won't be rich, but we won't be poor.  We wont be miserably, but we won't be joyful.  We wont be growing.   Good job, Good ward, Good friends, Good family.  But the Lord knew it was time to grow.  Growing because He is there.

I don't know that I will start blogging again.  Maybe I am offended or swayed by emotion :)  But I know that in all I do and say and feel; in all the trials and blessings; in all the growing and changing and becoming that The Lord is there.   And with God nothing is impossible.