Monday, November 30, 2009

Where is our joy?

Circumstances in life can many times take the wind out of our sails.  They can get us down, they can beat us up, they can wear us out.  People can sadden us with their decisions, people can hurt us with their words, and if we let them, these things can all pile up to derail our joy.

But where does our joy come from?  At times, we can find joy in life's circumstances: the birth of a child, milestones in life, encouraging words from a friend.  While we may find joy in these things, we had better not make these things necessary for us to have joy.  All of these joys also can be reversed: death of a loved one, events we'd rather forget, hurtful words from a friend.

The Bible is clear that our joy comes from God.  He is the source, and when we find joy in who God is, what He has done for us, what He is doing in and through us, and what He will do for us, then nothing will be able to derail our joy.

"Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword? As it is written: 'For your sake we face death all day long;
      we are considered as sheep to be slaughtered.' No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord." 
- Romans 8:35-39

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Today's Thoughts

It has been over a week since I checked in here, and it's been a fairly busy week at that. Since my last post, we were able to get a tri-axle load of logs to split with our neighbor for firewood. All of our poles are cut up, and most of is is split and stacked and ready to heat the house in a few months. From my half of the truck, I ended up with about 10 face cord of fire wood. We also purchased a grain mill and have begun grinding our whole wheat to make flour for breads, cakes & cookies. It takes a little more time than scooping out of a store bought bag, but quicker is not always better. A week after leading to the destruction of the toilet, 2 of my children cut the pull strings on a mini blind, rendering it useless. The repair took slightly longer than the toilet, but I was able to re-string the mini blind with string I had around the house.

In the middle of all this business, I managed to injure myself. On the first truck load of firewood to be brought back to the house (first of six), I managed to bruise (or crack) my ribs trying to get the tailgate unstuck on the truck. I had my dad and a man from the church helping, so I couldn't call off the work day, and I'm not one for standing back, so we worked for about 5 hours that day. I'm not the best at letting things heal, I tend to be fairly active, but my body lets me know when I've overdone.

In the midst of this, I have found much to be thankful for. I am thankful for a wife who is willing to wait on me when necessary. I like to do things for myself, but I appreciate the service my wife has given over the past week, especially. I am thankful for family and friends to help make large tasks manageable. Just 8 days after the wood was delivered, it was all cut up! I am thankful for the endless variety in flavors of food that God has given. We have enjoyed the flavors and textures of fresh milled grain and have realized that all the convenience food we have at our disposal is not so much a treat or a good deal. I am thankful for being able to fix things. No plumber, no new mini-blind, just some labor in putting things back together.

And I am thankful for all the blessings God gives. Even when life isn't 'perfect,' God has given us all that we need to thrive in life.

"In everything give thanks,
for this is the will of God in
Christ Jesus concerning you"
- I Thessalonians 5:18

Thursday, November 12, 2009

One of 'Those' Days

I suppose the title is somewhat misleading. My day wasn't terrible, it was just one of those days. It started off well with being able to collect the firewood I had cut up on the hill and bring it back down to the house for the winter. I'm pretty sure that I have enough wood to burn until probably mid February now, depending on the weather. I also was able to get the rest of the wood I need lined up by splitting a tri-axle load of wood poles with my neighbor. Those should be coming in the next few days so there will be time to cut, split and stack the wood to dry out during the early winter months.

So, pretty good day, except . . .

I had cut myself short on time for a Wednesday with preparing for Prayer Meeting because I was hauling wood in the morning. Wednesday's message was taking longer to finish preparing than I anticipated (you figure out what to do with Numbers 5!). It was a day off for the local public school which meant that every child in the neighborhood with a fund-raiser (all of them - school budgets are hurting) showed up at our door to sell something. This week I have bought 4 poinsettias, and a tray of chocolate covered caramels. (We try as the small town pastor not to turn anyone away empty handed.) And finally, with two hours to go before dinner, 3 of my children conspired together to flush a small baby food jar down the toilet. And it went down the hole! Not all the way down the hole, mind you. It got stuck in the built in trap in the toilet. I guess that's a good reason to call it a trap. Anyway, having drained the toilet, and taken it apart, I was able to push the jar out of the trap with a piece of hose and clear the problem. I was happy the problem was solved and proceeded to put the toilet back together.

First I had to flip it back over carefully. Carefully being the key word. Just tapping the front of the toilet on the ceramic tile floor caused the front of the toilet to crack. Yup!, One of those days.

I will have to admit that my first response wasn't to rejoice in my circumstances. It hurt that my schedule kept getting tighter and I was running out of time. It hurt that the toilet has only been in use for 2 months, a brand new toilet. It hurt that I cracked the toilet by not being careful enough. But God is good.

I can rejoice because we had a brand new toilet sitting in the barn (been there for 3-4 years now) from when we changed the other fixtures in the downstairs bathroom. It just never got installed, and didn't get used when we put in the addition. I can rejoice because my children that were involved took up an offering to 'fix' the problem they caused. It was $1.06, depending on the exchange rate with Canada (I dislike Canadian coins - I mean seriously, couldn't they make their coins not look like ours?) And I can rejoice because Numbers chapter 5 shows us that our sin cannot be hidden before a Holy God. It was probably my children's 'hidden' actions that helped me to see the meaning in Numbers 5.

If you're having one of 'those' days? "O taste and see that the Lord is good: blessed is the man that trusteth in him." - Psalm 34:8 No matter what type of day you're having, God has a good and blessing filled day waiting for you to "taste ans see."

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Mini Vacation

Having just gotten home from a vacation less than a month ago, we've just barely gotten back into normal life, much less caught up with everything that needs to be done. We each have chores that we are getting to, slower than we should, but progress is being made. With all the pressures of the day, it seems like getting chores like wood done, children's clothes changed over for winter, and finishing canning will never get done. We've been chipping away at the list, but there is always something that upsets the schedule and gets us off a little.

Monday, it was Jen's chiropractor visit. It's only a two hour drive to the closest chiropractor that practices the method that Jen has found helpful, and, of course, a two hour drive back. We all load up because Jen doesn't like the drive into the Buffalo area, and if I go, we all go. Instead of it being a chore that ate up 4-5 hours, we made it into a little get away. On the way home we stopped in and surprised my parents in Cherry Creek. Grandma and Grandpa were glad to see the kids, and we don't make it out that way as often as we should. Grandma made us all some fresh cookies (homemade frozen cookie dough is a great idea) and we decided that we should go out for Grandpa's birthday (from two weeks ago). We left at 9 in the morning, and didn't get home until 6:30, and didn't get all of our errands run in town, but Monday worked out to be a nice relaxing day.

You might be questioning what this has to do with the purpose of my blog? I don't know for sure, but I do know that God has not made us to go 7 days a week without rest, and often a little piece of extra rest that can be carved out in a week is a necessary refresher in life. Sure, the chores still need to be done. There's wood to stack in the basement, more wood to bring home, and probably more wood to cut just to be ready for heating this winter, but Monday's opportunity for rest and fellowship with family was worth the detour.