Sunday, July 25, 2010

Too Big for Me: A God at Work Story

I didn't blog this week. My mind got a bit overloaded and needed a rest before it short circuited. But today I'm better and here is why:

This summer I have been dealing with a situation that I is of course bringing out other issues. Last night I found myself praying, "God, this is too big for me." And I wasn't exaggerating. It feels too big because it really is.

This morning, as I got ready for church, I sensed God communicating to me that it's okay to admit that the problem is too big for my brain and heart to handle. Some things are meant to be. The "too big" problems send us running to Him for help. They are often the hopeless messes that He does the best job of helping us clean up because we're too overwhelmed or warn out to take over.

So I'm letting this one be too big and giving it over to the One who can fix it. What a relief to know that I don't have to solve this one on my own--because I can't.

Thank you, God, for not thinking less of me when I cry out in defeat, "I can't do this one!" Thank you for being so much better at cleaning up our messes than we are, and for loving us enough to want to do it. Amen.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Providing for a Want

Today God answered one of my whiney prayers. It wasn’t even a prayer really; it was more like a plan that didn’t work out so I whined about it to God as if He hadn’t come through as promised. Yet He still answered it.

Here is the story:

We received a nice tax refund and immediately started budgeting how we would spend it. One thing that topped my list was getting the piano tuned. I won’t even say how long it has been since we called the tuner. (Hint: Nathan, who is now eight, spent most of the appointment slamming the lid of his toy box because he had just discovered that if he lifted it and let go it made a really cool sound.) Instead most of the refund went toward an unusually large gas bill, Norm’s sleep apnea machine, renewing car registration, and bills. The only item that got covered from my list was Nathan’s book fee for school. I was beyond bummed. In fact, I was mad. I felt like I had mapped out a reasonable plan for using that money wisely and it was getting sucked away!

I knew that I should be praising God that the money was there to suck away. How else would we have covered registration or that horrendous gas bill? God provided us with some new living room furniture through my parents, which we hadn’t asked for or expected. Why couldn’t I be satisfied with that? I could still afford to get the piano tuned if I really wanted to. We still had some of that refund.

Then I started getting less freelance work, threatening the last chunk of precious tax return money. On top of that life started getting hard—again. Suddenly getting the piano tuned seemed like the least of my worries.

Fast forward to this morning, when I sat paying bills and feeling needy for a little reminder that God had his eye on us (as if sending a check just in time to cover the bills I was paying wasn’t enough). The phone rang. It was the piano tuner from an embarrassingly high number of years ago! I explained to her that money (or lack of) had prevented us from calling on her. We talked about the economy and how quickly medical bills can send you to the poor house and the joys and frustrations of being in business for yourself. She clearly understood my situation—so much so that she offered me a deal and God immediately revealed how I would cover the cost. I have some birthday money stashed away that I never spent because I wasn’t sure what I wanted. Well, now I know! I’m getting the piano tuned! And I have just enough!

To some this might seem like a little thing but it was huge to me. As soon as I got off the phone I told my sons, “Well, God just answered one of my whiney prayers. He provided something that I didn’t need but really wanted.” I explained what happened then admitting that I need these little gifts from God sometimes, as a reminder that if He can cover something that I can get by without than He will certainly provide for what we need to survive. He knew I needed a reminder of His love today (I didn’t tell the boys that part—they would have considered it too girly) and sent it through a sweet surprise.

Thank you, God, for providing for our wants as You teach us to trust You for our needs. Thank you for caring about those little things that lift our spirits. You are so incredibly good!

Monday, July 05, 2010

God at Work on Independance Day

As a kid the 4th of July was always fun from beginning to end. If we didn’t have a big barbecue with friends we were at our family cabin. We spent the afternoon either swimming or running around with friend, always looking forward to fireworks at night.

Now, as an adult who can’t drive and whose husband often works on holidays, I’ve had to redefine my idea of July 4th fun. I’ll confess that I was a little bummed out yesterday. It seemed like everyone had a plan for the day except me and my kids. My husband thought he would have the day off then found out that he had to work. I hoped and prayed that someone would call me and ask if I had plans then invite me and the boys to join their party (or picnic or barbecue) but no one did.

I worked hard to hide my funky mood, throwing around suggestions for how we could make the day fun until Dad got home. Finally, my oldest suggested that we call Grandma and Grandpa (my husband’s parents) and see if they wanted to do something. I’d been avoiding that idea, fearing that they might start feeling like I only called them when I needed something or didn’t have anything exciting to do. Instead, I sensed that they’d been waiting for an invitation just as I was. We took a walk around the local marina, barbecued burgers, and had ice cream for dessert. Between activities my boys taught Grandma and Grandpa, how to play some Wii games. Now that was fun to watch! As we wound down from the day I didn’t even mind skipping the fireworks (my husband had to get up early for work). We hadn’t had the day I’d hoped for but we’d had a great time. The whole thing also reminded me of something important.

Days like yesterday might not feel good at first but I benefit from them. More importantly, I think my kids benefit.

While I grew with an engrained idea of what holidays, weekends, and other special events should look like, my boys learned at an early age to be flexible. They don’t need fireworks and a blow-out barbecue to enjoy 4th of July. Just give them some poppers and make sure there is ice cream in the freezer. As my oldest son said, “I’ve never cared about holidays being a big party as much as doing something that we don’t do on every other day.”

They know how to make their own fun. Knowing that Dad might have to work and upset our plan, they understand the need for a Plan B and openness to a Plan C.

They consider others. It was my son who suggested calling Grandma and Grandpa while I was still feeling disappointed that nobody calling me.

Maybe we need disappointment in order to grow out of the tendency to be so easily disappointed. I have a feeling that our next Independance Day will be even better.