God Already Knew!

Sometimes I am struck with the realization that God has been working out certain things in our lives.  Does this ever happen to you?  It is really an awesome, faith-building moment.  Yet, I sometimes have a twinge of guilt in a related realization – – that I hadn’t really trusted him enough.  But God knows. He knows already that I am weak and a worrier.  And, he points out the little bit of faith I did have to keep going and the little bit of trust I did have to look to him and follow, even if it took a BIG push.  Then I look back and see that God already knew and my striving and worrying did nothing to help his work, only (and this is where I feel that guilty twinge again) hinder his work, or at least hinder the joy that could have been greater if it weren’t for my bad attitude, etc.

I was struck recently by the fact that while I didn’t know my F.A.S. (Fetal Alcohol Syndrome) affected children would have an auditory processing problem that could be aided by using sign language, GOD KNEW!  God knew their needs and what they would need long before I did and he gave us a deaf son who would need us to all learn sign language to facilitate communication with him.

Years ago when I first began homeschooling my children, one beginning fourth grade and one beginning first with a toddler in tow, I thought I was doing it for my kids and their needs; I didn’t know how much I needed to learn and how God would use homeschooling to teach me, But GOD ALREADY KNEW!  He knew that the best Bible-based curriculum and resources, even my search for them, would teach me as well as my children, amazing truths  about God, his Word and living a Christian life.

When God saved my oldest daughter’s life at birth, again after her two month old vaccines caused a bad reaction, and then protected both of us when my car caught fire, I didn’t know that it was preparation for a life-threatening, chronic illness and her facing fear of death many times over, but GOD ALREADY KNEW!  He knew we would both need to reach back to those earlier times and see how his saving hand had been on her from day one.

When we found out about a crazy sounding genetic issue (MTHFR) this same daughter had that was a culprit in her ongoing health problems, we didn’t realize that learning about and addressing this issue would not only help her and possibly our biological family members, but our adopted family members as well.  But GOD ALREADY KNEW!

There are other instances where I can look back or have a sudden realization at God’s hand and his plan being worked out and coming together, knowing He knew all along how certain things would fit together down the road of our lives.  This gives me great comfort, even in the situations that seem difficult, and reminds me to trust God even more.  If you don’t see God’s hand in your life, or in the lives of those close to you, try asking him to show you or remind you of a time that he knew how things would work out down the road before you.  Ask him to show you that he really does know what you need and can work out even huge problems for your good. Then wait (expectantly) for God’s revelation!

By the way, God already knew that you and I would break his laws and sin even before we were born and he made a plan to work things out for our good, a plan for Jesus to come into the world and be the perfect sacrifice for you and me, and all of mankind, so that we could be saved and have an everlasting relationship with him.  He loves us so much.  May you be reminded of that love this Sunday!

FRIENDLY PHRASES

One of my children (not naming names) has gotten into a habit of sorts.  This was likely not intentional but it is not beneficial to her and is counterproductive to keeping peace in the family.  This habit grew for a long while, as it was difficult to actually identify and express accurately.  Have you ever thought something was just not right, but it was hard to put your finger on exactly what it was in any given situation, or rather as with us, recurring similar situations that were problematic?  This child has a habit of being less than friendly and perceived as rude, especially by our youngest son who you may know is deaf and is a real handful (if you get my drift).  Facial expressions are very important in communicating to him so although she might not say anything rude, it is there in her face and in the absence of friendly words or tone.  (Remember the saying, “if looks could kill . . . “?)  She recently admitted that she has decided not to show her teeth when she smiles.  (This is another issue; she had problem baby teeth but now her permanent teeth are beautiful – – a delayed reaction to earlier days I guess.) Therefore, it seemed for a while like all the conflicts stemmed from my son’s behavior since she hadn’t said/done anything.  But I began to notice that he would often start off in a playful, friendly manner with this particular sibling and that it would quickly escalate.  My daughter wouldn’t respond to him so he retaliated.  Or her response would always be in the negative, not at all receptive of the younger son’s initiation of play.

Over the course of time I have often intervened by telling her to respond nicely/friendly/playful – – all with little if any progress.  Tonight, I suggested that she think of some words she could use that would be friendly, make a list and practice since it seemed to be so difficult for her to think of anything friendly to say.  She also has FAS (Fetal Alcohol Syndrome) which may explain in part the difficulty of connecting her behavior to what others think.  Later, I was thinking that it might be good advice for me as well, as I tend to get so exasperated with these constant episodes and my patience — and friendliness — wears a bit thin.  Since we homeschool, my assignment for the week for all my students as well as myself is  going to be to write out and practice friendly phrases we can be armed with when faced with the temptation is to be less than friendly or rude to our family members. I will start and we can brainstorm some good ones for our particular family. Then we can practice them, perhaps with flash cards or a poster of friendly phrases. We may need to add ASL and copy them a few times over to get the new habit going. Homeschooling, with or without special needs, is a great vehicle to address needs that are particular to one person or family member. Perhaps you would like to think of some friendly phrases of your own, especially if there is someone whom you have a hard time being pleasant to.  Let’s face it — some folks are harder to connect with and some just tend to push our buttons.  Planning ahead may be just the thing to keep conflicts from erupting into arguments.

FORGING AHEAD

As we forge ahead into the new year (yes, I know it is almost February but I like to ease into things), I am once again reminded to wait on God’s open door while remaining ready to walk through it.  I am to expect it.  I am to eagerly expect it, without fear or dread.  The unexpected can surprise us catching us off guard.  The unknown can send us into a flurry of worry.

There are always unknowns ahead.  Sometimes we are more cognizant of them.  When things are going along smooth, we tend not to think as much about the unknowns or worry.  But when things are not so smooth, and we are forced to face some of the unknown head on, then we tend to worry and get upset about them.

Remembering and being reminded of who holds our future is key to facing the worrisome unknowns.  As a Christian, I know God can and will bring me through any hardship I must endure, and do it in a way that will be to my ultimate benefit.  I can remember personal and Biblical examples.  When I do, I can dismiss the worrying and think more clearly and function better in the present moment.  Also, my ability to get through a difficult situation with my faith in God at the forefront rather than my natural response indicates more.  More than meets the eye.  More than the present situation.  More than what may be feared.  Whatever giants are to be conquered, God is more powerful.

That confidence is what I need in order to anticipate my next open door without fear or dread, but with excited anticipation.  More than that, as I wait I am to be patient.  Yes, be excited but be patient.  Don’t go ahead on my own.  It could be less than stellar.  Waiting for God’s open door I am not to push doors down.  That is exercising faith, too.  Faith in God’s timing and his way.  While I wait I am reminded of Bible accounts of long-awaited doors, for Abraham and Sarah to have the promised son, for Joseph as he waited as a slave and then in prison, and others.

My daughter, my hero, (heroine to be more accurate) has struggled with debilitating health problems for years, and now is getting miraculously better with treatment that is completely unaffordable, yet God has provided it to her and enabled her to get through some incredibly difficult times, and times of unknowns.  We are away from home several weeks at a time for treatment, and there are difficulties in being away from part of the family at home.

My adopted children have had their own difficult transitions to go through,  and probably did not always understand how it was working out for their benefit in the long run.  We do not have the ability to see or know what is ahead, but we know God does!

We are waiting to move ahead with our ministry to Russian orphans and moving to Russia.  We had thought we would be there by now.  But we realize God has us where he wants us at this moment.  We said yes to the open door to adopt and then had to wait longer and jump through more hoops than we ever imagined.  We said yes to moving to Russia, and now must wait.  To trust God and his open door enough to walk through is necessary at some point.  When we don’t trust him we may miss out on something difficult, but the difficulty will be minor compared to the great good that will be ours in the long run.

To trust God in the waiting is also something we may be called on to do, whether moving to a new country as a missionary, dealing with health problems, adopting a child/children, praying for another’s salvation and your opportunity to share the Gospel.  Or it may be another situation.  Whatever door you are waiting on.  You can be patient, and do what you know to do during the wait period.  Stay close to God so you can hear his voice when he tells you to go!  You can pray to know if there is anything you need to do in preparation.  Be ready.  Be watchful.  Ask God to enable you to be ready when he opens that door.

Christmas Reflections 2013

Thanks to our sweet photographer and photo editor, Christina for this picture and the fun idea to wear winter hats and such!

Thanks to our sweet photographer and photo editor, Christina for this picture and the fun idea to wear winter hats and such!

This year Tony and I both turned 50.  Our daughter, Sarah has comforted me over the years whenever I mentioned being old/too old by saying sweetly, “Mom, you are not old until you are 50!” As 50 crept closer and was finally here, it became apparent that that was not exactly comforting anymore, and what was she going to change it to, 100?

Sarah turned 15 and got her learner’s permit for driving, and another milestone was when our oldest daughter, Christina, turned 20 last week.  She had the first really good birthday in several years as she was able to spend it without being sick at her stomach.  After battling chronic disease for years, she has been treated this fall at a clinic in Florida where they more fully and accurately diagnosed her condition.  Christina had gotten extremely weak and ill prior to this and we are thankful for all God has done and those he has worked through to get her this treatment and cause her to get much, much better.  Many prayers have been said and answered! Check out the youcaring.com/healingchristina site for more information on her illness and treatment from Sponaugle Wellness clinic.

Our oldest son, Jeremy has approximately one more year to finish his degree in Computer and Information Science at Faulkner University and has had some good teaching opportunities while there, as well as having his team’s project come in 4th in the AT&T national competition against some big name universities.  It is great having him going to college so close to home!

Polina continues to progress with her violin but is yet to be convinced to play for an audience.  Dimitry is good at doing tasks around the house.  He and Alexander are getting along much better (sometimes) and are learning to communicate better.  They both learned to ride a bicycle this year, and enjoy riding with Anastasia and Mason from down the street.  Nastya is interested in reading and making things – – from cooking to needlework and sewing.  Actually, we have quite a lot of interest in cooking and crafts around here.  I think Christina set the stage, now the younger children all think it is cool!  (Of course!)  In addition to caring for the hermit crabs all on her own, Polina is making sure the chickens are well taken care of with help from Dima each day.  We miss their eggs while they are molting, but Polina informs me they are about finished. She has been riding Cando some.  Christina is looking forward to being strong enough to ride horses again, too!

While Tony is doing great with his Russian language classes, the rest of us are going slowly.  We are also working on ASL (American Sign Language) to bridge the gap for Alexander’s hearing/speaking abilities.  I think he’s on his 5th processor for his cochlear implant.  Good thing it has a great warranty and a great company that wants to keep their customers hearing.  We are set to meet with the social worker to do his three year post adoption report!  Wow!

A lot has gone on in three short years!  God continues to guide and bless us through each trial!  We continue planning to move to Russia as God directs each step.  It continues to be apparent that it is the right track for us, even as the movement in that direction seems to be at a snail’s pace.  We know that God’s timing is best.  Check out the Dereva Dom website (derevadom.com) or the Facebook page for updates on the ministry and Tony’s upcoming trip to Russia for training in St. Petersburg with The Harbor!

Check back for the next post looking forward to 2014!