Thursday, May 22, 2014

Learning



Not giving up when it gets hard.

Looking for the good. And having a thankful attitude.

Focusing on the source.

Lessons in school. And lessons in life.

Challenging math problems. Wanting to quit and saying, “I can’t do this. It’s too hard.” Trying to help our boys to not give up. To not turn off their brains and check out. But to push through and to believe “With God’s help I can.”

Challenging attitudes day after day. Feeling like giving up and saying “God, I can’t. This is too hard.” But the lesson is for me as well— to believe: “With God’s help I can.” Don’t turn off my heart and check out. Keep pressing on. Lean into Him.

In our family, a common prayer is that God would help us with our attitudes. That we would try our best when we’re doing schoolwork. That we would be respectful of each other. That we would have soft and obedient hearts. Hearts that love God and want to please Him.

We also want to have thankful hearts. We want to turn away from the temptation to complain and to dwell on problems. He has been so good to us. We want to remember His faithfulness in the past and in the present, and to trust Him for what He has yet to do. Charly has been leading our family the past few Sundays in encouraging times of praising God for what He has done both in Bible times and in our own lives.

After reading recently in the book of Joshua about the Israelites’ crossing of the Jordan River and their saving 12 stones from the river bed as a reminder of God’s faithfulness, I wrote several pages in my journal of high and low lights over the past seven months and I reflected on all the ways that God has carried our family. He is good. He is faithful. And He is the same—yesterday, today, and tomorrow. We can trust Him.

This week I was helping Daniel to look at a block pattern and copy it with real blocks. Trying to help him see where his block pattern was not like the original. That he needed to not only look at his, but to carefully examine the source. And then to look back at his.

And so in life. My eyes need to be fixed on the true Source, as I ask Him to show me where He desires to change my heart patterns so that they are more of a true reflection of Him. My application is to not keep looking at myself or my circumstances or to attempt a self fix-it program. God is the One who will change me more into His likeness as I daily offer Him a soft and teachable heart. Sometimes I can feel overwhelmed by how short I fall of where I want to be, but I know that God is still working, and He will carry on to completion the work that He has begun. (Philippians 1:6)

Thankfully, all of us are a work in progress. Our learning never ends.


Wednesday, May 7, 2014

To Give What I Have



I can only give what I have.
And recently that hasn’t felt like much.
It seems like my fuel gauge has been hovering below empty.
Drained. Spent. Exhausted.

Jordan and I have been running in the mornings these past two months, and we sometimes see a homeless man along our route, sleeping at various locations on the sidewalk. It’s the same homeless man who inspired me just before we brought our boys home last October. I noticed him then with two little puppies, tucked into the crook of his arms, sleeping soundly under the bridge. “If this man— who has nothing—can take care of these two little lives, surely I can do my best to take care of the two little lives that God has entrusted to our family.”

What do I have to give?

Last night after dinner our family went out to play soccer in a nearby hospital parking lot. Several others joined in our game and I ended up talking with some of the young women afterward. Charly and the kids returned home as it was starting to get dark. And these new friends invited me to the hospital room where one of them has been getting psychiatric treatment for the past 30 days. The room was crowded with 6 beds, 5 other patients, and countless family members. I was humbled by the conditions this 24-year old woman has been living in for the past month with both of her parents, her sister, and a cousin helping to look after her.

They quickly offered me the apple that was sitting on the bed stand—the only food that I could see they had—and a bottle of ice tea. I refused them both, saying that I had already eaten at home. They continued to encourage me to eat and drink, but I kept refusing, not wanting to take what little they had. We visited for awhile and they seemed so appreciative of my being there. When I said it was time for me to go, the mother handed me the apple again and I felt that I needed to take it this time. They really wanted to give me something. Then the four women walked me out to the road, and the dear mother held my hand tightly, thanking me over and over for coming in to visit with them.

What a gift and lesson I walked away with. An apple. Appreciation.
Humble people gladly giving all that they had.
What do I have to give?

I’m learning from a homeless man and a poor family from the countryside.

I simply give whatever I have—how little that may be—and trust God with the rest.
For however limited my reserves might feel, His supply is unlimited.
And free for the asking.


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