I am a planner. I like to know what is going to happen next week, next month....even next year. I don't know why I'm wired that way, but I am. I like to have a "Plan B" just in case. So I plan and I plan and I plan, and invariably the plans that I've worked so hard to make concrete come caving in around me and I am presented with a totally different, but always better alternative. The truth is, I can have plans in my heart and on my calendar, but it is the Lord's purpose that prevails. You'd think I'd remember that, especially after God's purpose was made clear to us while we lived in Biloxi.
Seminary is something that Paul and I talked about even before we were married. He had always felt a call, and I had had my own calling to missions years before that. So we knew that eventually we would surrender to full time ministry. Someday. When the time was better. You know, since it was up to us and all.
Paul had visited New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary and had an application packet on our kitchen counter for months on end. It was our plan that he commute to New Orleans (about an 80 mile trip) to take part time classes.
Our home sustained a moderate amount of damage in Hurricane Katrina. We were fortunate that our insurance company paid for all of our damages and we were able, with the help of friends and church groups, to get all of our repairs taken care of in a little less than a year. We were very blessed, and by February of 2006 we were sitting in our newly painted home with new hardwood floors, reveling in the news that we were expecting our third child. Ahhh....life was good.
Fast forward to July. The months had flown by, with Paul working long hours at the newspaper, longer than before the storm. Tension in the newsroom between the publisher and the editors was palpable, and it made for one unhappy husband. One Sunday night, Paul was working, I was napping on the sofa, and it was raining outside. The boys were whining about going to church. After all, Tucker said, it starts at 5:00 and it's now 5:20. So I realize I'm being a heathen mother by keeping my boys from church. I get up and we go.....
Our church at the time was doing a group study "On Mission with God" by Henry Blackaby. They had already divided into small groups but my friend Sandra caught my attention and motioned me over to her table. Whew. It was a good table -- Sandra and her husband Chip (our pastor), Ashley (associate pastor) and Jim (our Sunday school teacher). I knew I could sit and relax at this table. After all, I wasn't in the mood to even be there.
I hadn't even positioned my pregnant belly at the table when Ashley looks me square in the eye and says, "So Jenny, how is Paul?" I burst into tears, telling them how miserable he was at work, and how his hours were unbearable and we never saw him, and on and on I blathered. My multi talented writer/editor/columnist husband who had won multiple awards and was even nominated for a Pulitzer was unable to even get an interview, no matter where he sent his resume. We felt defeated. Ashley then looks at me and says, "So where does he stand on getting over to New Orleans?" I told him that the application packet was sitting in the same place it had for months, but I had no control over that --- if he wanted to go he would have to fill it out and send it in. Then he said, in all seriousness, "Your house is all repaired. The market is good. You could sell it for a profit and move on campus." HA! No way was I moving my babies to New Orleans. The city was not a place for families pre-Katrina, now he wanted me to actually consider going post-Katrina? And hadn't he been to my house since we had all our repairs? It was beautiful! I wasn't about to leave it to live in student housing, for goodness sake. Oh, and what about the baby to come? Did he overlook my round belly and forget I was pregnant? What was he thinking?!
And then the Holy Spirit struck. Like a knife to my heart, Ashley said, never taking his eyes off of me, "Oh, so this is all about you..."
Did I mention that our Bible study was Blackaby's "On Mission with God"? About how we are called to join God on His mission. About how it is *so* not about us......but it's all about HIM?
I don't even think I cried. I just knew that I knew that I knew that I knew what we were to do. I went home and phoned Paul at work. I told him we needed to talk. Turns out he was just waiting for confirmation from me that this was indeed what the Lord had planned for our family.
Within the end of the week, we had hand delivered Paul's application to seminary and he had gotten a job at a local Christian school.
We listed our house on Monday morning. The sign went in the yard at 11:00 am. It was shown that evening at 6:00 pm and the family made an offer that very night.
God has a way of working things out His way. His ways are definitely not our ways, I can assure you. I really thought the commuting idea was a winner. Turns out I'd have not only been disobedient, but I'd have robbed my family of a tremendous blessing if we'd have done things my way. God has shown us over and over in the past 14 months that He is Jehovah Jireh, the God who provides...that He is Jehovah Shammah, the God who is right here with us, and that He is the omniscient, almighty, sovereign God.
Fortunately for us, the Lord's purpose prevailed. I am so thankful to have a husband that leads his family obediently and who doesn't listen to his sometimes nagging wife, but prayerfully considers what the Lord's plans and purposes are.
Thank you, Heavenly Father, that no matter what plans I attempt to make on my own, Your purpose prevails. Thank you for Your patience, Your forgiveness, and Your unconditional love. In Jesus' Name, Amen.
For one thing, I started to lead a "Moms In Touch" prayer group for our homeschool support group. Moms In Touch (www.momsintouch.org) is an international group of mothers with one goal: to spend one hour a week devoting themselves to prayer for our children. When we lived in Biloxi one of my friends started a MIT group for her school; I recall thinking what a fantastic idea! So when the opportunity arose here, I took it, knowing that it was God's call for me to begin to honestly pray for my children. It has been eye opening and humbling. I realize that while I feel like I have been praying for my children all along, it has oftentimes become rote prayers, me saying the same thing over and over. Now I am praying specific scripture for the kids, as well as praying for their character development and for godly virtues. It has been life changing.
The other thing that has changed my prayer life is the study by Kay Arthur, "Lord, Teach Me to Pray: practicing a powerful pattern of prayer. In this study, Arthur reminds us that when we come to the Father, we are coming into the presence of a holy God. She reminds us of Nahab and Abihu in the very first lesson, the sons of Aaron who go into the tabernacle to offer sacrifices -- but they do it in a way that God had *not* commanded them to do it, and they were immediately struck dead. God reminds Moses that "I am Holy, and I must be regarded as Holy."
I think of so many times that I approach prayer with the mindset that I am just pulling up a chair with Jesus and chatting about things. While Jesus *is* my friend, and I can tell Him anything, I needed to be reminded that my God is a holy God and MUST be regarded as such. I need to view my quiet times as times of coming into the presence of God, not just me having a cup of coffee and reading/journaling/praying because it's something I enjoy doing for me. It is *so* not about me!
So I thought I'd give once a month shopping a try.
I spent just a hair under $500 but that included 30 dinner meals, breakfast, lunch, and snack staples, and non food items such as disposable diapers & wipes, shampoo, razors, toilet tissue, paper towels, laundry detergent, etc.
On a side note, we have all been sick for 2 weeks now. Griffin and I have both done 10 days of abx but are still sick. Now Tucker and Paul are sick as well. We've all been back to the doctor adn are all on another course of abx. The ped cultured Griffin's nose & ear; she also cx'd Tucker's throat. The office called today and everything grew HIB.......so, we're all on self imposed bedrest. Try telling that to 2 boys, of course.
They are driving me so batty that I'm ready to send them out to the playground to infect every child on campus, but I suppose I'd be peeved if I were another parent.
Sis is the only one that has escaped any illness thus far. Her one year birthday is coming up in another week, so I've been doing a lot of doll research. She owns one Corolle doll that she got when she was born (the boys picked it out for her then) and she adores that thing. I looked at all the Corolle dolls as well as dolls from Manhattan Toy Co. and a few other places. But in the end, I ordered her an Itty Bitty doll from American Girl. They are just too dang cute. It should be here next week. I'm probably more excited than her!
Moses felt inadequate. In Exodus 4 he reminds God that he isn't a great speaker. God reminds him that He is, after all, the One that created man's mouth.
Gideon felt inadequate. In Judges 6, an angel comes to him and addresses him as "mighty warrior". Gideon reminds the angel that he is the youngest, from a lowly family. The Lord reminds him that He would be with Gideon, and that Midian would be defeated.
In Isaiah 6, the prophet cries out in a vision that he is inadequate -- that he was a man of "unclean lips". After a burning coal was placed to his lips, God asks, ""Whom shall I send?" and Isaiah promptly cries out, "Here am I. Send me!"
I love the story from Mark 5 about a woman who not only felt inadequate, but society told her she was inadequate. The woman had been bleeding for 12 years. Mosaic law said she was 'unclean', as was anything she sat on...and by extension, anyone who touched her or anything she'd sat on was also considered unclean. Needless to say, this poor girl was an outcast. Yet she has the courage and the faith to step into a crowd and reach out to touch the hem of Jesus' robe. She thinks to herself if she could just touch His garment, she would be healed. Jesus, knowing her thoughts, turns around, calls her out, and, in a gentle, loving, and intimate way, says "Daughter, your faith has healed you."
When I read the stories of these men and women of old, I am so encouraged. I tend to feel the need to remind God that I'm not very good at math, or that I really don't like to put laundry away. I have to admit that sometimes I wonder if He forgot that we are here at seminary and living on one income.
But then I come to God and He reminds me that He does not call the equipped... He equips the called. He is unconcerned with what we lack. He lacks nothing! If we have the abiding power of the Holy Spirit in us, we can do all things through Him. Imagine for a minute. The power that made blind men see, that made barren women give birth, and that raised the dead to life again...that same power enables me to teach one more math lesson, wipe one more runny nose, read one more book, and make one more peanut butter and jelly sandwich.
Amazing, awesome God...Thank You for loving me despite my many inadequacies. Thank You for your precious Holy Spirit that empowers and equips me to do what You have called me to do. In Jesus' name, Amen.
Saturday was the social event of the season at NOBTS. the boys had their combined birthday parties -- Tucker celebrated #6 and Griffin #4. 22 kids came and partied, played, ate cake, and played some more. It was a good day. Sissy enjoyed the swing and she *really* enjoyed eating birthday cake and drinking hi-c.
The boys are already planning their next birthday. Praise God I have another year to recover from this one! ha!
I love Psalm 61:2 and find myself repeating it when I feel like this. My paraphrase - "when my heart is overwhelmed, lead me to the Rock that is higher than I." I can picture Jesus leading me up a rocky mountain to a beautiful, smooth, enormous rock, and when I sit down, the view is breathtaking. And I feel peace....and Jesus and I just sit there, breathing in the beauty and the calm that envelops us. Ahh.....
So I will go lay down Sissy for her nap and get the boys started on school, and in my heart, I will know that Jesus is right there, waiting for me, to lead me to that Rock that is higher than I; the Rock that never gets overwhelmed but is a steady, strong fortress.
Six years ago today, my first baby was born in Elizabeth City, NC. Looking back, I could never have imagined the incredible child he would become. He is such a wonderful young boy --- full of life, funny, incredibly intelligent and sensitive...Happy Birthday Tucker!
“I am doing a great work and I cannot come down.” Nehemiah 6:3
I love reading the story of Nehemiah as he rebuilt the walls of
In Nehemiah’s story, it was Sanballat and his pals who plot to deceive Nehemiah by inviting him to come meet with them. Wise Nehemiah replies with “I am doing a great work and I cannot come down.” (emphasis mine)
So many times when I am really making progress – be it in character training, Scripture memorization, or even spelling or math – the enemy tempts me to leave the work at hand. Some times it’s a phone call; others it’s the internet or a television show, a book or a magazine. Some days it’s simply frustration or fatigue. Distraction. It is Satan’s finest tool. The enemy is desperate to hinder, slow down, or stop any work that brings honor to Jesus. And isn’t raising godly children one of the best ways we honor Christ?
In these times I need to do what Nehemiah did --- focus on the task at hand, rely on God, and refuse to come down.
Nehemiah succeeded in his plan because he never lost sight of the reason for the work and the source of power with which to accomplish the task. His motive was to please God by building the wall. Our motive should be to please God by building up strong children for His kingdom.
It is my prayer that we would recognize the enemy’s attempts to distract us and stand firm. We really *are* doing a great work, moms. Refuse to come down!
Dear Father God, help us as mothers to focus on the task You have given us. Help us to recognize when we are being distracted and to rely on Your mighty power to refuse to come down from our wall. In Jesus’ name, Amen.