Sunday, December 31, 2006

Humble and Helpless....but not Hopeless

I dedicate this post in loving compassion and encouragement to my dearly beloved friends online and elsewhere who are experiencing difficulties in their lives. In the words of our Lord, "I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world." [John 16:33]
Some time ago our local Christian bookstore shut their doors after determining that they could not compete with the online booksellers who were able to offer bigger discounts. It was a sad occasion for us as we had been loyal customers for years. They were located practically within walking distance of our home, had been an oasis in the desert (aka The Northeast) for me as a newer Christian, and had witnessed Anna-Rose growing from a child in the womb to an adorable but haughty-looking baby they christened "The Princess" to a charming little girl who loved being the store helper whenever we dropped in.
Dwayne stopped by one day during the final week of their going-out-of-business sale and bought me a book I had been longing to own called The Valley of Vision. Next to the Bible, this book has been the source of more encouragement and inspiration to me than any other book I have read. The prayers and devotions were selected from the works of several Puritan men of great and lesser reknown, including Isaac Watts, Charles Haddon Spurgeon, Thomas Watson, and Richard Baxter. The first prayer in the book reads as follows:
The Valley of Vision
Thou hast brought me to the valley of vision,
where I live in the depths but see thee
in the heights;
hemmed in by mountains of sin I behold
thy glory.
Let me learn by paradox
that the way down is the way up,
that to be low is to be high,
that the broken heart is the healed heart,
that the contrite spirit is the rejoicing spirit,
that the repenting soul is the victorious soul,
that to have nothing is to possess all,
that to bear the cross is to wear the crown,
that to give is to receive,
Lord, in the daytime stars can be seen from
deepest wells,
and the deeper the wells the brighter
thy stars shine;
Let me find thy light in my darkness,
thy life in my death,
thy joy in my sorrow,
thy grace in my sin,
thy riches in my poverty,
thy glory in my valley.
The start of a new year usually prompts me to devise all sorts of plans which inevitably look good on paper but, when the realities and responsibilities of day-to-day living materialize, they not only wither, fade, and fall to the ground, but get trampled underfoot!
"Many are the plans in a man's heart but it is the Lord's purpose that prevails." [Proverbs 19:21]
Having been afflicted with physical pain that has become a handicap to accomplishing that to which I aspire, I am brought to my knees, and know that it is a good place to be. The Lord does not desire sacrifice, but a broken and contrite heart he does not despise. After a long struggle with my flesh, I am in that place of brokenness wherein my only plan is to seek his leading. The Lord has designed us as unique individuals and each one of us is a child of our Father's heart (I speak to his disciples here); his desire is to conform us to the likeness of Christ. As unique individuals we each require disciplines tailored to our personal needs and weaknesses, and, therefore, are going through trials meant to mold, refine, and perfect our faith. What I am enduring is not necessarily what my brother or sister is enduring; theirs may be physical, emotional, financial, spiritual, or one of many others. I can think of several fellow bloggers who are experiencing trials of one type or other. Despondency may have overtaken some of you; despair may have become the state to which you are accustomed; depression may be driving you to tears several times a day.
But my brothers and sisters, I say to you: let us be humble and helpless, but not hopeless! For we can do all things through Christ who strengthens us, and not only that - we are victorious unto death!
Peter says,
"Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! In his great mercy he has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, and into an inheritance that can never perish, spoil or fade - kept in heaven for you, who through faith are shielded by God's power until the coming of the salvation that is ready to be revealed in the last time. In this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while you may have had to suffer grief in all kinds of trials. These have come so that your faith - of greater worth than gold, which perishes even though refined by fire - may be proved genuine and may result in praise, glory and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed. Though you have not seen him, you love him; and even though you do not see him now, you believe in him and are filled with inexpressible and glorious joy, for you are receiving the goal of your faith, the salvation of your souls." [1 Peter 1:3-9]
Fellow pilgrims, I beg you to abide by these words as your journey takes you forward. May the coming year find you filled with a desire to walk humbly with a servant's heart, submissive to the will of the Lord, and filled with the joy and peace that only he can give. Onward and upward!

Saturday, December 23, 2006

Back at Home

I brought Calvin home just about an hour ago. The poor little guy mewed all the way, just dying to get out of his crate and be cuddled. The second I stopped the car the sound of his purring filled the air. The vet remarked on how sociable and people-loving he is. He wouldn't even eat at the clinic as long as there was someone around, he was so longing for attention. Sounds more like a dog than a cat!
So, anyway, the good news is that the mass in his tummy has moved into his lower intestine and the vet feels confident that he will pass it without incident.
Of course we had to take out a second mortgage on the house to pay the bill. 8^P

Friday, December 22, 2006

My Poor Baby!

As I write this our sweet little Calvin is at the veterinarian's, spending the night while they run tests and keep watch over him. I'm sure some people would consider it trivial to ask for prayer for a pet cat, but I'm asking anyway. If you are so inclined, please pray for Calvin. We are fearful that he may have an intestinal obstruction. His symptoms indicate that possibility but the vet seems optimistic.
I forgot how much mischief a kitten can get into, not having had one in so many years. Yesterday he wasn't as playful as usual, then threw up in the afternoon. He spent the night in Anna's room with her, then when I went upstairs later on I found a *hairball* type mass on her floor that looked like it was full of some kind of fuzzy fabric and a small piece of rubber. Oh oh. What has this little guy eaten? All morning he just lay around sleeping, not purring when stroked as he usually does, even flinching at times as though in pain. Didn't want to eat, didn't want to drink. Not good.
After making a few calls, I found a vet who would see him on short notice. Not too far away, so that was helpful. They questioned me as they examined him and assured me that they would do as much testing as necessary to diagnose his problem. Oh oh. $$$$$$
I know some people would have just as soon have the cat euthanized but we just couldn't do that. We've only had Calvin for a week and a half but we feel like we're responsible for him, and we're already very fond of him. So........$$$$$$$
I talked to the vet around dinnertime and he gave me the rundown on what they've done so far. Gave him fluids transdermally because he was dehydrated. Gave him a dose of Amoxicillin. His fever did come down after that. Did a series of x-rays. Blood tests. Urine tests. Tried giving him some kind of nutritional ointment orally which he licked but wasn't really interested in eating. The vet didn't feel comfortable sending him home when he still wasn't eating or drinking on his own so they're keeping him overnight and I'm to call first thing in the morning to check on his progress.
I'm sure this is way to much information but I'm having a slight anxiety attack worrying about him and our finances so it helps to talk about it. If you'd rather pray for our finances than for Calvin, please do!

Friday, December 15, 2006

A New Addition to the Family!

***A cautionary note: Be forewarned that the following post contains some talk of "female issues" that may be somewhat embarrassing, discomforting, or just downright boring to the menfolk in my little audience.

For women, the approach of middle-age brings with it a variety of physical and emotional changes which can either delight or horrify depending upon ones attitude. Rising and declining hormone levels can make life a daily roller-coaster ride, wrinkles begin to appear, weight is harder to shed, and muscles grow slacker. But grey hairs do not necessarily signal the descent down the other side of the hill. God's Word invokes the image of wisdom and respect in regards to a grey head. So we should rejoice in growing older, correct?
It's not the numbers, though, it's the uncertainty. Each monthly.....ahem.....cycle brings either surprise, shock, disappointment, or rejoicing.....again, depending on ones attitude. When Dwayne and I were married, I came to him with two sons. After several years, we were convinced that we were not to have a child together and were accepting of that as God's will. Not actively trying to conceive but at the same time doing nothing to prevent it. (Please understand that I am not attempting to begin a debate on this issue but comments are always welcomed.)
At the "ripe old" age of forty, I began to feel a bit odd one month. Lo and behold, a pregnancy test confirmed what one friend suspected, and I was "with child" as they say. I'll never forget the mix of emotions......elation, fear, shock! When Dwayne got home from work that day, I led him into the bedroom and suggested that he sit down. He was absolutely clueless, had no idea that I had even taken a test. When I told him the good news, he became hysterical and couldn't stop laughing. Just couldn't believe it. And so began the life of Anna-Rose, a blessing from the Lord in my middle age. (Her birth story is worthy of its own post, so I will leave that for another time.)
This past year I've taken pregnancy tests a few times, most recently last month. The little pink line was very adamant. Negative. Again I felt that poignant mix of emotions. Sadness, relief, disappointment. It was the Lord's will and yet I felt a loss.
At any rate, we discussed adopting and this past week we made a decision. What better time than Christmas to take in an orphan?

Allow me to introduce you to Calvin!

Did I have you going there? No, I do not equate acquiring a kitten with the glorious arrival of a new baby but he sure is warm and cuddly! Our Christmas present to ourselves was to go to a local shelter and pick out a new best friend for Anna-Rose. Somehow chickens and guineas just do not cotton to being snuggled and they are definitely not welcome to share her pillow. This little guy really was an orphan, along with three siblings, but we elected to take only one. His personality matches Anna's......affectionate, sociable, playful, strong-willed, and adorable. A perfect pair!

Thursday, December 07, 2006

Not Funny

I've been told I have a great sense of humor but lately my life seems to be a comedy of errors and I'm not laughing. Perhaps I'm not cut out for this lifestyle, and I'm wondering whether the Lord is speaking to me by allowing my physical trials to prevent me from moving forward with any further plans. It could be that I am simply discouraged and frustrated at my lack of ability to accomplish anything without hurting myself but maybe, just maybe, He wants me to "be still" and listen to His plans for a change.
I've been seeing a chiropractor for the past few weeks. I'm feeling progress, albeit very slowly. With the right treatment plan, maybe this problem can be licked once and for all. I certainly hope so, if only for the reason that I can't even take proper care of my family. Next to the Lord, they are my priority. There is a lesson for me here, and I've been ignoring it for too long.
I have to be truthful in saying that if I hadn't instigated it, we probably would not have gotten involved in any agrarian undertakings in the past year since moving here. Dwayne's job is very consuming, physically and mentally, Isaac has absolutely no interest, and Anna-Rose is just a little girl. Getting chickens was my idea, getting guineas was my idea, planting vegetables was my idea, etc., etc., and all these "ideas" relied on an initial financial outlay, and further expenses with next to no profit. Sure, we're getting eggs now and we did have a small crop of tomatoes, but at what cost? Dwayne and I never sat down and planned it out together. I read and researched and got excited and said, "I want, I want, I want!" without even having the consideration to ask, "What do you want?" or even, "May I?"
So here I am at rock-bottom, confessing my sins with shame and feeling disgusted at myself. Everyone has been so kind to me, helping, encouraging, inspiring, sharing knowledge and advice, even praying for me. That I surely need because it's not about me but God's will for me. I'd sincerely like to know what that is.