Saturday, March 28, 2009

How we are hurting, and true heros

Alas, the economic recession has started to hit us, hard. B. has about three weeks of work left, and nothing else lined up yet for his business, which is unheard of for us this time of year. Actually, he did have a big job lined up (KOA) but we found out a few weeks ago that the verbal agreement he had would no longer honored; G.M. had got a less expensive bid. This has caused B. all sorts of grief because he had, in the mean time, turned down some other opportunities because he was assured continually by G.M. that this job was his because he's done a lot of work for him in the past. Losing this job could very well mean that B. will lose his business. It's really not looking very hopeful right now.

Now I know all over the country people are losing jobs and businesses, so I can at least take comfort that we're not alone.

In fact, part of me is glad that this economic crisis is occurring. Prosperity is not always a blessing. When things come too easily to us, we can forget how much we need God. Certainly this trial we are going through right now with the business has resulted in us praying more, both on our own and together. We don't know what else to do about the things we don't have any control over. As more people around us are affected by the economy, it may open new opportunities to witness to them. I certainly hope that with my parents: they've lost over half of their investments. My mom, a professor who teaches international economics, is horrified not only by what is happening here in the US but also globally. She is anxious about everything; she says she only gets 4-5 hours of sleep a night.

I've haven't been losing sleep, but I do feel the temptation to fret, to snap at my husband, or at the kids; I feel guilty over not having spent money wisely for the past few months when we were so sure all of financial problems would be solved by this big job we were supposed to get; I feel guilty when I'm reading or watching movies and I think about how I could get out my laptop and log a few hours of work, so I can pay a few more bills. I feel the temptation to jump all over B. when he comes home early from work ("couldn't you find something to do for another few hours, to get us a little more money?")

When I feel this way, this near-panic, I have only two choices: continue to fret until I end up snapping at someone, or take a deep breath and pray. I thank God for our blessings. We have so much to be thankful for. All we stand to lose, if it comes to that, is material things. Things that rust and rot and wear out, anyway. I think about how happy I was moving out here to Wyoming 15 years ago with all my worldly possessions (including my cat) packed into my car. Life was very good with very little. It can be, again.

I just finished My Heart in His Hands: Ann Judson of Burma by Sharon James (lend to me by S.H.). I have not read any biographies in almost a ten years (the last one I read was one about Jim Elliot). I have been missing out! God has certainly used the story of Ann's life to change my perspective about our current material difficulties. At the age of 20, Ann dedicated her life to overseas missions, feeling that sharing the Gospel with people who had never heard it before was far more important than anything else the world had to offer. She gave up not only material comfort, but her friends, her family, her familiar way of life. And she did this at the very beginning of the missionary movement in the early 1800's: truly going into the great unknown, back in the day when a voyage to Asia could take from six months to a year, and the likelihood of ever returning was very slim. Hers was a life of great faith in God and it has definitely inspired me.

I never had any heros when I was growing up; at least none that I can remember. If someone had asked me who my hero was, it would have most likely been a fiction character like Gandalf, the wizard from Lord of the Rings, or maybe Lucy, one of the four children in the Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe. As an adult looking back on my youth now, I consider my parents to be my heros, because they loved me so much, raised me so well, and gave me so many opportunities. As a Christian, I look on Elisabeth Elliot as the closest thing I can think of to a heroine, a woman I deeply admire because of her faith, her life experiences (many of them very difficult and sad), her wisdom, and her ability to share her faith and her wisdom through her writing.

As a mother, I am starting to think about who I want my daughters to admire and desire to emulate. Right now if I asked Blaze or Dreamer, I'd bet they'd name one of the princesses from the many princess movies I've let them watch so much (because I do love princess stories, myself, and there are some good qualities of these movie heroines... unfortunately faith in the True God is not one of them). Faith in a Disney Princess will not get them very far when they face the complications and hardships of life. I would really like them to discover the Elisabeth Elliots and Ann Judsons of the world earlier than I did.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Are there toys (and horses) in heaven?

I guess I am just in a blogging mood today. When I picked up my four-year-old, Carey, from preschool today, she got me with this question, "Are there toys in heaven?"

This reminded me of a little ditty that my father used to sing: "There is no beer in heaven, so I'll have to drink it all while I'm here."

Fortunately I have this book called 101 Questions Children Ask About God, and this was one of the questions (apparently Carey isn't the first to be worried about not having her toys in heaven).

"We like toys because we have so much fun with them. But we can get tired of toys, too. You don't play with your baby toys any more. That's because you outgrew them and got tired of them. God will have just the right kind of toys for you in heaven."

Ah, I like that answer. It is exciting to think about the things we love here on earth, and then think about just how more wonderful everything in heaven will be, when we've outgrown all our "baby toys." Personally, I've always hoped when I get to heaven that God will give me a perfectly trained horse (or help me train one perfectly) so I can ride Grand Prix level dressage (the very highest, most complex, and most beautiful level). But just think, in heaven, there will a level even higher than Grand Prix. We just can't even begin to imagine what toys there will be in heaven.

Spring Break

I went to visit an old friend of mine from college over spring break. 800 mile drive one way to southern Nevada, but it was worth it for the beautiful weather and time to catch up with a dear friend and her family. When B. said he couldn't come with me (too much work) we had to divide up the kids, no way I could make that trip trying to manage all four of them! I decided to bring Blaze so she could see her friend Coraly, and then we debated which twin I should take... Serious is grumpier, but Starlet gets into more trouble - which would be easier for me to handle on the road, and for B. to handle at home? In the end I took Starlet, because Starlet is very attached to Blaze.

Blaze and Starlet handled the long drive really well (thank goodness for DVDs, and motel swimming pools). Also we stopped at a few pretty places along the way.

Here's a picture of Blaze at the beautiful red rock canyons at Colorado National Monument:
Blaze and Starlet at a resort in Nevada where we stopped for a picnic lunch:

Blaze at the base of Bridal Veil falls, Utah (yeah, I found another waterfall! Every place I go travel, I always look for waterfalls)
Now we are all back trying get into the daily routine again. For my writing progress, I am currently struggling with editing Chapter 3 - since I re-wrote chapter 2, it now appears as though I'll have to re-write a lot of chapter 3, too. But after this it should get easier - I hope!

My next verse to memorize for Beth Moore's scripture memory challenge is one that I chose specifically to pray daily for my friend D.W.

Isaiah 61:1
The Spirit of the Sovereign LORD is on me, because the LORD has anointed me to preach good news to the poor. He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim freedom for the captives and release from darkness for the prisoners.

Beth Moore always seems to have something insightful on her blog, here's an encouraging little tidbit she shared to keep us motivated with memorizing:

Did you know that memorization is one of the best ways on earth to keep our brains sharp? Yep. And I also heard a few days ago that all the multi-tasking we're doing does not work the part of our brain that requires stimulation to tap into our brilliance. (Every single one of us has brilliance.) That part of our brain requires tremendous focus on one thing for extended periods of time, pushing our thoughts a solitary direction that stretches and works it beyond its normal exercise. That's part of what Scripture memory does!

Keeping up on my Bible read-through. And I have now lost 5 pounds, slow but steady progress. I have also been so blessed by three books I have been reading lately. I have so many good quotes to share from these... will have to wait for my next blog post, though.

Oh but one thing I do want to share right now though is this amazing Biblical resource: (Grace To You). I downloaded several sermons by John MacArthur before heading off on my long trip, and it was very refreshing to listen to powerful Biblical teaching to make the miles pass by (Seeing God's Purpose in Your Trials; Who is Jesus, and Why Should I Care). Years ago, I used to participate in Grace to You's tape library, where you'd pick 4 tapes and they'd send them to you, and you'd get four more once you sent the first bunch back. Now, they have all of MacArthur's sermons and studies on-line, most of them transcripted or available for download to listen to. I know there are many other good preachers out there (I'd like to check out John Piper, too), but my husband also loves listening to MacArthur when we go on road trips, so I keep going back to this familiar source.

Friday, March 13, 2009

25 random things about me

Writing progress to report: Or rather, editing process. By now I would have liked to report that I have chapters 3 and 4 edited now. But instead, I went back to Chapter 2 and completely re-wrote it. I think I like it better now. But I have to STOP completely re-writing things if I'm ever going to get to the point where I can submit something for publication. There is such a thing as re-writing to death.

Still, I'm glad I did it. Now, don't lose momentum...

I'm keeping up with my Bible read-through in one year, though I'm skipping around a lot. I'm in May already... ah, wouldn't it be nice if the weather outside was skipping ahead to May, too!

Keeping up with Beth Moore's scripture memory challenge too. So far I have memorized Galations 2:20, Matt 9:12,13, Romans 11:33-36, and now I am working on:

Hebrews 10:35-36
So do not throw away your confidence; it will be richly reward. You need to perserve so that when you ahve done the will of God, you will recieve what He has promised.

Which leads directly to my forth commitment I made this year, which I like to delicately refer to as TTLW (Try To Lose Weight). I decided to memorize this verse (which was Beth's selected verse for March, for reasons entirely different than my own, I'm sure), because it seemed to speak to me about this particular challenge. I AM confident that if I keep asking God for help (even if it 5, 6, 7 or even 15 times a day), He can help me overcome the desire to overeat. But this verse reminds that I also need to PERSEVERE.

The benefit of having to ask for so much help is two fold: I've lost 4 pounds in the past 2 weeks. That's a start. But even better, coming to him many times a day to ask for help has been such a blessing in many other ways, too. The more time I spend talking to God and thinking about Him, the happier I am, and it prepared me to face a really TOUGH trial this week. (Which may be the subject of another blog post some time. key word to remind myself: KOA).

I am also including something fun that's been going around on Facebook.

25 random things

The rules: If you are tagged, you are supposed to post a note with 25 random facts about yourself and tag 25 other people. (It's fun; I'm actually learning new things about my friends!)

1. I only ever planned to have 2 kids, but I love having 4 and a stepdaughter

2. When I moved to Wyoming my secret plan was to marry a cowboy and live on a ranch

3. I grew up in New York but wanted to live in Wyoming since I was 10 years old and read "My Friend Flicka"

4. I don't drink coffee, only tea, and only with cream and sugar in it, and I'm a beast in the morning until I get my first cup

5. My absolute favorite thing to do is ride horses with my family in the mountains. I can't wait till the rest of my kids are old enough to go.... but can we afford that many horses? :)

6. My second favorite thing to do is curl up with a good book near a fireplace (with a cup of tea, of course)

7. I can read a 700 page book in 7 hours if it's good enough

8. I am a terrible driver. Keep an eye out for my van (the back of it is all caved in) and STAY AWAY from it

9. I got saved when I was 23 when a friend challenged me to read the Bible and I read the whole book of Job in one night and couldn't believe God would let such terrible things happen to someone who loved Him but then I read Job 38:1-8 and oh, wow. Wow. I still get the shivers.

10. I have named every car I have owned, and most of my Christmas trees (my cars: the Beast, Shade, Flicka, Snow Flicka, Cindy)

11. I collect nutcrackers and quotes

12. I have to watch movies with subtitles, because my kids interrupt all the time

13. I am terrified to share my faith with others unless they specifically ask me questions about it

14. I like to play practical jokes on my husband (anyone have any good ideas?)

15. I like to read blogs and lists like this one

16. I have been planning a trip to Alaska for 14 years now. (Maybe this will be the year?)

17. I expected to published before I was 30. Now I'm aiming for 50

18. I love road trips

19. I am a geography geek - I look up locations in my atlas that I hear about on the news or on nature shows

20. I hate materialism but I get suckered into wanting things all the time

21. I was a terrible shoplifter my senior year in high school but I haven't done anything illegal since

22. I can't believe I just wrote that!

23. I'm going to end this list now before I admit anything else incriminating

A few weeks later a friend from church (T.S.) posted her random 25 things, and I thought so many of her answers were so thoughtful - like what I might have written if I had given more thought t what I was writing - that I've pasted in some of them here, with my own comments

2. I am a thinker. I like to question, reason, and consider both sides of an argument.

3. I think that one of the most quintessential questions that one must ask is this: Is Jesus who he said he was? There’s no gray area---either he was telling the truth--died for our sins, was resurrected, appeared to many witnesses, and is the only way to heaven….or, he was the most egomaniacal, self-deluded liar that ever existed.

4. I believe the former……Jesus told the truth and he is who he says he is. This is good news!....and I’m not ashamed to share it. [AMEN!]

5. If you disagree, I will love you anyway. [and I will enjoy respectful debates with you]

6. I had a wonderful childhood. [I did too, absolutely... my stepdaughter thinks this is because I was an only child, but I know it was because my parents cherished me and gave me lots of opportunities, and a lot of freedom]

7. I absolutely adore my family…..every single one of them. They are precious to me. [Not only my own family, but I am extremely blessed to be able the same thing about my husband's family too.]

16. I care about political issues, but I simply cannot identify myself with a political party. Until I find a party that actually stands for what they claim to stand for, not to mention what I believe in, I will remain a Liberpendipublicrat. [I love the name of this new party! I'm signing up!]

17. I like to play silly little word games with friends. Cereal you might not want to eat?.....Frosted Flukes….Count Botula.…Trixinosis. [I have got to ask her about more of her word games. Excellent character tag]

18. I really dislike the phrase “woman driver, no survivor”. The last time I really gave it much thought I backed into a car while the gentleman that I had just started dating laughed at me from my passenger seat. [I can relate to this all too well]

19. I love irony. [I like to call it "what goes around, comes around"]

22. I care about the environment, but I strongly believe we have to find solutions that are practical, fair, and sustainable. I find radical environmental groups that destroy industries with false propaganda (NRDC) as deplorable as self-serving, polluting mining companies. [as we get older... and hopefully, wiser, we have a harder time taking sides; or perhaps it's just that we can more readily see both sides of the situation]

23. I like being challenged…..mentally, spiritually, and physically. I enjoy a respectful debate, but dislike arguing. [I love being challenged too... respectfully. Arguing makes me want to cry]

25. I walk by faith and believe in things not yet seen, holding on to a glorious hope and future. [I believe the same, that we are actually only visitors here in this life, awaiting the day when we can go to our true home]

A late addition: here are a few more random things from another friend, H.L., that I wanted to keep (because I'm nostalgic, and also because some of these are wise)

7. I love chocolate. [I do, too, I think it is one of the greatest panaceas of of many reasons why H.L. and I relate so well with each other!]

10. I accepted Jesus Christ as my savior after our daughter was stillborn in 2003. Even though I thought I was one of the smartest, most capable people I know, I realized I am not the one in control of my life or my eternity and I turned it over to the One who is. [so well said]

11. It is and always will be the best decision I've made. [AMEN!]

12. Second-best decision, marrying my husband, he's made my life better than I thought it could be. [my list said I like to play practical jokes on my husband. I am ashamed that I did not also mention that he is the most wonderful person I know, and I still can't believe I found the love of my life... and got to keep him]

18. I love to travel. [this should have been on my list, too. Oh wait, I did say that I love road trips]

19. My most appreciated daily luxury is a long, hot shower.

20. Some of you might have thought I would say reading, but in my world, reading is a necessity, not a luxury. [I agree with the necessity part for reading. For me, my daily luxury would be computer time - whether it's having fun on Facebook, writing/reading emails or blogs, journaling, or writing stories.]

22. I became a vet because I like animals better than people, but I've finally grown up enough to value people more than animals. [I like this humble admission]