Be strong and let your heart take courage, all you who wait for and hope for and expect the Lord!
So many eras I didn't think I would live through----crying babies with colic; ear infections and nocturnal asthma; hysterical fits and fusses and tantrums for never ending years, one day at a time, with a mysterious child with adhd, ocd and odd; marriage struggles between me, a totally romantic, relational woman married to a totally rational, organized man who had to work way too many hours to keep this family afloat; messes, rejections from family for our ideals; 17 moves; loneliness, too little help or support systems; financial crisis; illnesses and hospitalizations and testings never ending; church splits; irrational people; and on and on.
Today, as I look back, I am still here, but God has changed me through it all. I am more patient with everyone, because I see how much I needed patience and still need compassion. I appreciate my faithful husband who has stuck with me through it all and has continued to dream of how we can change the world and write new books and keep this ministry afloat, (amidst him doing 4 loads of laundry last weekend, while I grocery shopped, bought birthday presents--again, and wedding presents for family).
The failures and mistakes I made gave me humility--a gift that allows one to be more appreciative of God's forgiveness, love and grace. Humility prepares one to minister to others with compassion and sympathy. Few leaders are wise without a dose of failure and having to submit to God's discipline. Children have a way of humbling mamas.
I see that I appreciate the Lord more, I am less attached to this world, because after many disappointments, I have finally realized in my heart as well as my head, that this world is temporary, the broken place and heaven gives an anchor in the midst of taking our love for this world out of our hands.
I don't really care as much what other people's opinion of me is, because I know that I cannot please others and than my audience is the Lord. Only He can make me feel ok and centered with so much potential for failure in the eyes of someone who is looking and wanting to tell me their opinion.
I greatly enjoy my adult children as my best friends. After all of these years, our tastes were developed on the same food, movies, books, travel, spiritual experiences--Clay and I built our own kindred spirits and we all love being together. (Maybe through all the struggles, my efforts at keeping going, training them, reading to them and telling them passionately about the Lord was really accomplishing eternal results in their hearts--but I didn't always feel like it mattered at the time when they were fussing over things like, "He touched my toe! or His piece of brownie was bigger than mine--and all of these very important issues.) I am pretty relaxed with Joy as a 17 year old in college, because I know the Lord will faithfully guide her, teach her, speak to her and protect her--because I have seen Him be faithful three times before now.
I often didn't think I could make it through another day, depressed, exhausted, overwhelmed. Feelings were often dark. But I had no choice but to keep putting one foot in front of the other. God knew I could make it. God breathed life into my children's souls. God taught Clay and me more about unconditional love and grace. As a good Father, the Lord was training and disciplining me, as His own child. Stretching me and building into my life, by using my own children as a soul-shaping tool. He is so good and so faithful. My family and my life became the road to my ultimate joy and freedom from the things I thought would fulfill to the things that truly fulfill. He used them to surgically remove some of the rough edges, expose the immaturity, remold my values and thoughts.
I still have my ups and downs, sometimes sadness and dark thoughts that a fallen world brings, and don't know how my children's stories will sort out, but I am more familiar with the process and the Trainer.
So, this week, though still filled with more and different kind of issues, I,
Thank you, my sweet Lord, for your wise ways, for keeping us going, for filling our souls with that which matters. Thank you that you helped me to keep going and going and waiting and waiting. How grateful I am that it is all in your good and capable hands. The sweet memories, the hope that comforts, the work that satisfies, all the things I did not know or understand when we first started. Keep me faithful and hopeful as I continue on this path of your making.