Thursday, November 20, 2014

"Teach us to number our days"

So teach us to number our days,
that we may gain a heart of wisdom.
-Psalm 90:12

Today has been a difficult day. For most of the week, I had already been struggling with discouragement and heartbrokenness in some other areas of my life.  But after some time in my Bible with friends last night, I felt encouraged and ready to step back into the "ring" and "gear up", so to speak.  But then I started the day with a phone call from a good friend who informed me that another good friend had died.  Thing is, the friend who passed away is not someone I have talked to in a long while, mainly because we moved and life is chaotic and busy in a home with six kids.  This friend had a larger than average brood of her own, and so while we had talked of getting together for a visit, we were never able to make it happen.  But in my heart, I still treasured this person and while I am deeply, deeply thankful for the time God had her in my life and her family was in my family's life, I also feel such heartache that the world no longer has her presence in it.   Our daughters were friends as well, and well, it's just hard to consider that I will have to wait until heaven now to see her again. 
Then as I was in shock from the news of this and trying to confirm what had happened on the phone, my two year old got past the baby gate in the living room and went into my room and got into my hearing aid case.  I realized she had escaped pretty quickly, but not fast enough to stop her from getting into the hearing aid batteries, two of which were spread out on the floor.  And I couldn't remember if there were only two batteries in there, or if there had been three.  I panicked, called poison control, and quickly took my baby girl to the ER to have a chest x ray.  Thankfully, she had not ingested any.
So today has been a roller coaster ride, and throughout it I have felt overwhelmed, in both good ways and bad ways.  Overwhelmed by sadness, overwhelmed by how out of  control I feel, and especially overwhelmed by my lack of ability to do anything to minister to friends far away other than pray for them.  But when I consider my friend's life, I am also overwhelmed, but with good things: Overwhelmed with joyful tears when I remember laughing with her over the joys and trials of parenting, overwhelmed with encouragement when I remember some of the spiritual conversations we shared, and how she would spur me on to good works.  Overwhelmed by God's goodness in my own life, that he would see fit to allow me to know this person and live a season of my life with her as my friend, and that we could share each others' load and make each other's burdens lighter, somehow, just by being friends.  I wish that every relationship I had could be that meaningful and blessed.
I came home to a meal that had been brought to our family by another good friend, one who has just come into my life since we moved to Alabama in the last couple years.  Another friend who makes me glad to know her, and who challenges me by being my friend to love God more and to run the race with endurance.  I am a blessed person, that I have SO MANY friends around me I can say that is true of. 
 It is humbling and sobering to me to  realize today anew that I have NO IDEA what the future holds.  I could be here for fifty more years, or the Lord could call me home tomorrow.   And last night, with friends, I discussed the scripture at the top: "Teach us to number our days."  And from that conversation and hearing some of their thoughts as well, I believe I could say that that scripture means to live in a state of awareness of the finiteness of life.  Every moment is sacred.  Every moment we can choose how we will use it for the betterment of eternity.  We should live with an awareness of accountability for the way we spend our minutes, our hours, our days, weeks, months, years.  We should recognize the time we have for what it is:  an opportunity to be stewards and give it back to Him.  The giver.  The one it belongs to really.  Because all of our time is in His hands.
2014 has been a hard year.  I started the year out upbeat,eager to see what God would do.  My family and I have seen challenges with our finances, struggles within our local church, as well as personal illnesses in our home.  We have made three trips to the emergency room this year, which is a family record, I believe. Somewhere in the middle of 2014, I lost steam.  I became focused on the problems I was seeing around me, and I lost sight of the race I was supposed to be running.  And the running became hard, like running in mud. 
But 2014 has been a good year, as well.  God worked out the details for a family vacation that we could never have afforded on our own, one that my kids were the ones to say they wanted and prayed for.  I told them that we did not have the money to go on any expensive vacations this year, but they could pray about it and tell God their desires, trusting God that if he wanted to work it out, he could, but if he didn't we would be content without it.  And then God amazed me and even in that trivial, inconsequential-in-my-mind-to-anything-of-eternal-value thing, He  brought their prayers to fruition.  Of course, even more important than a family vacation is my son's health.  My son with Crohn's disease is doing better than ever.  He feels well, he is gaining weight, and except for the NG tube he has in his nose a few days a week,  you wouldn't even know he has an autoimmune condition.  God has been faithful in so many areas of our life.

There is so much I haven't done yet that I want to do.  I haven't written a book. I haven't been to Ireland yet.  Or New Zealand either.  I haven't seen my children all grown up yet.  But my times are in God's hands, and hopefully, as I am gaining a heart of wisdom by numbering my days, I will be increasingly faithful with how I spend that finite amount of time I have to spend on this earth, knowing that the choices I make will count for eternity. 

I have to say I like how Psalm 90 ends.  Verses 15-17 say:

 Make us glad according to the days in which You have afflicted us,
The years in which we have seen evil. 

 Let Your work appear to Your servants,
And Your glory to their children.

And let the beauty of the Lord our God be upon us,
And establish the work of our hands for us;
Yes, establish the work of our hands.

Friday, November 14, 2014

A poem: The Soldiers

I wrote this poem last night, and thought I'd share it here.

The Soldiers

David was donning his saber,
Grand armies he fought in his yard!
And as he went out,
He declared with a shout,
“Mom, I'm off to work hard!”

"Where are you going?” said Mom.
(For Dave was quite handsomely bedecked
With a pirate's kerchief upon his head,
And much ammo around his neck.)

Jon followed him, wearing a sword,
And around his neck was a cape.
The two young soldiers,
Their armory worn,
Stared back at their mom, mouths agape.

“Mom, can't you tell? We are fighting!
Defending the yard from our foes!
With a victory to win,
Amidst all the din,
We'll probably dig out a foxhole.”

“Very well,” said Mom rather calmly,
As she gave them a hug and much lovin',
“Just be sure to be done
By fifteen to one,
For our lunch will be out of the oven.”

“Oh, we will, Mom. “ And outside they jaunted,
Fearless and brave to the core.
And Mom paused and she smiled,
Wishing time would stop- for a while,
These two boys from growing much more.

For right now, she knew, they pretended,
But someday they'd grow up to be men.
And she hoped and she prayed
That for all of their days,
For truth and justice, they'd defend.

Someday, the foes would be real foes,
Like fear, and doubt, and greed,
Though the foes wouldn't be men,
Yet again and again,
They must do battle as they ever have need.

So Mom said a prayer as she watched them,
That God would guard their way,
And help her to be,
The mom that they'd need,
To teach them until that day.

Then Mom said a prayer for their daddy,
For though he was strong and brave and true,
It was wisdom he'd need,
From Jesus to lead,
And God's grace to see them all through.