Thursday, February 20, 2014

"Your eyes have seen my unformed substance;
And in Your book were all written
The days that were ordained for me,
When as yet there was not one of them."
-Psalm 139:16

These words have been repeating themselves in my head these past few days. A little-known missionary in a small Cameroonian town joined the Savior's side in his eternal home last week. Only, he wasn't unknown. He was well-known by the believers in Cameroon, well-loved by his family and friends, by the small non-denominational church he was part of before he answered the call of God to travel to another country and culture and he is remembered fondly by the many who knew him. I thought about him while I was shoveling snow. I thought about how he moved his wife and son to Cameroon - was it a few short years ago? How he spent his life serving and loving he did not know that early that Wednesday morning he would take his last breath this side of Heaven. I think about him most of my I pray for his wife and sons. You see, his life is a reminder to me, to you, to each of us. Really, none of us know. We just can not say for sure that we will wake up tomorrow to hug our kids, to speak truth in to one more life, to say we are sorry for that harsh tone or judgmental spirit.

No, we just have not been given the knowledge of when our time on earth will end...but God knows. He has known since before He created me. He determined the number of my days before I ever took a breath. The number of my days? I have no choice about that...I don't get to choose how long I live, how many blinks I take. Each and every day I breath, every morning I awake, this is a gift...a gift from God. That little-known missionary? He could have chosen to stay here in the states, to remain in the comfort of what he knew. He still would have died...who knows, maybe shoveling snow on a blustery winter day like today in the northwest. But he did not. No, he chose to live only and always for Jesus, going where He to its fullest is found only in the Christ.

There is something really beautiful about this gift, this life...found in the freedom we are given to choose how we will spend it. How will I occupy my days? How will I spend the next minute, hour, day? This man, he set his heart on God and he spent his time serving the Savior. These last couple of years when his single purpose has been service to his Savior are the continuation of his living out his close walk with the Lord.

For me? Just like him, the days I have are already numbered. How I choose to live them is my choice. I can choose to fill my minutes, hours, days in pursuit of selfish ambitions, the latest fashion, the newest trend, the best technology, the next best unsatisfying thing. Or, I can choose to fill my days with Jesus, just only, always Jesus. I can prioritize His Word, reading it, praying, getting to know this living, breathing Word, letting the Word live in me, transform me, reach out to those around me. Dedicate those minutes, hours, days to getting to know my Savior better, serving Him selflessly, or I can spend them on myself. Either way, those days are going to come to an end...either way, I am one day going to be done counting the years...and I am going to have to give an account of those days to the One who ordained them before I was ever born.

So, how am I going to live? How am I going to spend those minutes, hours, days, weeks, months, years? What do I want people to remember at the end of a hard, long road? Do I want them to say, "I saw Jesus" or "She always got what she wanted." Because really, my life is going to be marked by something or it can be marked by Someone. My prayer is that it will be marked by Jesus. He is what people remember...not me. That like this missionary whom we remember as a presence that could fill a room, with a laugh that could draw a crowd and with a love for Jesus that shined to all, an obedience to his God, even when he was called to a far away place called Cameroon, I could know, follow, obey Jesus.

At the end of my days - whenever that comes, may it be said of me that people saw always, only Jesus.

Thursday, February 13, 2014

My Favorite Superhero

Sometimes, God He speaks to my heart through the words of the littlest among us. Today was one of those days. Me, curled in fetal position on the sofa, head throbbing so badly that I couldn't function, couldn't enjoy the sun shining blindingly through the kitchen window, couldn't get up without the pain multiplying and sending me to the floor, no words of kindness on my lips. Boy-man serving us all, fixing breakfast, fixing lunch, cleaning up the mess, setting up crafts for the littlest one - beautiful really, to see him love, to see him serve, and I am so thankful for this grace, the blessing of my oldest.

But it was this littlest one, the wee one, who made me weep. It was the wee one who spoke the light of God's Word into the darkness of my pain. Standing in front of me, after another time of me asking for forgiveness for a less than grace-filled response to his question...less than gentle, down right harsh. His face is all lit up, looking at me and in his small voice, he says, "Mama, do ya' know who my favorite superhero is?"

And so I ponder a minute, wondering, who is he going to say this time? Will it be Superman, Batman, Spiderman or the hero of his own making...Super Jacob? "No, sweetie, I don't know. Who?"

He smiles brightly and then offers, "God. Do ya' know why Mama?"

"No, precious. Why?"

"'Cause Mama, God IS REAL," he fiercely stresses those words, uncontainable joy lighting his face, "and ya' know what else Mama? He is my favorite because when He comes back, there won't be any more sickness..and I love that. And there won't be any more meanness...and I love that. And there won't be any more tears...and I REALLY REALLY LOVE that!"

Tears, they poured down my face at this wee one's faith...and for this gentle reminder from my Shepherd that He is not going to leave me here in this agony forever. And just that reminder of what is ours, spoken triumphantly by the wee one, strengthened me for the day. The head, it continues to pound, but I just want to share this joy with you. One day, Jesus is coming back. He is coming for His own. And for those of us who belong to Him? Our day of suffering will be over...He will wipe every tear from our eyes. He will wipe away all sickness, all death. That day is the one we wait for...we who hope in Him, knowing we will see Him face to face, be with Him and He will right all the wrongs. Today, whatever your struggle, whether it is sickness or loss, heartache or financial trouble, may you find Him and His Word to be water for your soul. May His Word renew you, strengthen you.

"And I heard a loud voice from the throne, saying, 'Behold, the tabernacle of God is among men, and He will dwell among them, and they shall be His people, and God Himself will be among them, and He will wipe away every tear from their eyes; and there will no longer be any death; there will no longer be any mourning, or crying, or pain; the first things have passed away.'" -Revelation 21:3-4

Sunday, February 2, 2014

Our Little School At Home: MTMM & LHFHG

So, this week was one of the worst homeschooling weeks I have had in the past fourteen least that I can remember. The oldest deliberately chose not to do writing, regardless of the consequences. He loves the writing program, but extremely dislikes the writing process (did you catch the difference?). So, Dad happened to be off work with an injury (prayers appreciated). He heard the heated discussion and decided that the best route of attack was to enroll the boys in online school. And for me? I breathed a sigh of relief...because honestly, with the migraines pounding, the loss of memory and the struggling to accomplish the simple stuff, homeschooling, whether or not I love it, is proving to be a little strenuous for me. But then the application arrived in the mail, we sat down and read all the information. The husband, with a lot more input from me than I planned on giving, decided that it was not really going to help us accomplish the intention of our hearts: raising sons who love and honor the Lord. And again, I breath a sigh of relief, because in my heart, I know that this homeschooling with Heart of Dakota is the best thing for all of us.

So, my oldest got down to business, came up with a plan to play catch up on his writing. We made him come up with it on his own and I recognize that I have to be more involved in this area...mama failure, here.

Missions to Modern Marvels

My oldest son, he loves the reading for MTMM. He has been enjoying Something Greater Than Gold, the story of Eric Liddell (an extension book). Just a little funny: before he started the book, I asked him what he thought the book was about. He had not seen it yet, and he did not know whom it was about. His answer was, "Oh, probably about some gold rush failure." When I handed him the book a couple weeks ago, he chuckled. As he finished the story, he tells me, "Eric never ran on a Sunday. That is a really neat thing." For the oldest, he really enjoys studying the cultures of the times, so the living books are great. He still struggles with Algebra, but is progressing so well. He thinks that he is awful at it, but he got a 95% on his test. So I have to wonder, what is not going well? The answer is pretty takes him a long time to complete the lesson. I usually sit by him and "help." But, what I have been finding is that he is lacking confidence more than he is lacking ability to complete the assignment. Writing is the same. His history papers are so well-written, but he lacks confidence in writing. I am not sure how to build this, except through experience and encouragement. So, I try to point out all the things I really enjoy about the paper every week to help him. This week, he also got to take a day off and help his dad at work making deliveries.

Little Hearts for His Glory

The littlest guy is having so much fun learning. This week he was so excited because he completed his reading lessons without any struggle. HOORAY! We are continuing to use The Reading Lesson and enjoying it - just finished lesson nine. We studied the Pilgrims and Jonathan Edwards. I was amazed at how easily he answered the questions at the end of the readings and how quickly he is able to give a short narration of what was read. Amazing! We finished our Burgess book early, because it is something that I can do when I can do nothing else because of the aching in my head. We so enjoy getting to know the characters. Saying good-bye to Chatterer the Red Squirrel this week was sad and we are now impatiently waiting to meet our next character! For science, we made and sailed a boat on the salt sea in our sink. Of course, after we were done, the little guy had to keep playing in the water (that is why it was the last thing we did). It was a memory verse review week, and I am happy to report that he remembered ALL of his memory verses, along with their addresses. We played hot potato every day while he recited his verses. Lots of giggles were happening here. Math is always a hit and it amazes me how quickly he learns the concepts. We transitioned from number bonds to addition this week and he did great. I can't say enough good things about Singapore math. I like it far better than the programs I have used with my oldest. And my youngest? He begs to do more math everyday. And then, when we are finished, he writes out addition problems for me to do, trying hard to stump me. I confess, he wrote a number so long that I had to find out how to say it on line. He thought that was pretty funny. I always want to write, "One of my little guy's favorite things is...", but today I realized that he loves just about everything. His handwriting (we are using A Reason for Handwriting) is progressing quite nicely...and again, he begs to do extra pages. Finding the Answers is fun, gives great practice cutting and gluing, but he did struggle a little with rhyming this week.

As a parent, I appreciate that the lessons are gentle, focused, fun and engage not just his mind, but his heart. And for this mama struggling with migraines? I am so thankful that we are usually able to complete school even on a bad day.