Monday, February 11, 2013

A week of trials. A week of joy!

I am thankful that last week is over! Yet, I will remember what it taught me quite fondly. Here is a little snapshot of last week. We visited Urgent Care 3 times.

First, on Friday, for Mirabel's infected cut on her foot (playing outside without shoes on against mommy's advice)
After our 1st visit to Urgent Care, on Tuesday morning, Brian and I were awakened at 6:30am to a clanging/thumping sound in our bathroom. We ran in there to find our beloved Shaka having a seizure. This was a full on, body thrashing, head knocking, jaw clenching, tongue biting, mouth foaming, severe seizure. It lasted about 2 minutes while we were actually awake. Who knows how long she had been going before that. I worked at an animal shelter for 3 years. I have seen a handful of dog seizures but this one killed me. This was my baby before my babies. This was my Shaka and I couldn't do anything but wait and attempt to make her comfortable. When she finally stopped it took several more minutes for her muscle strength to return and for her to recognize me. She kept trying to pace around the bathroom but kept falling into walls until I held her and waited and cried. I begged God not to take her yet. She is only 8 years old, not yet.

Later that same day we received several calls from Brian's family in VA. Brian's dad's health is deteriorating even further. He is 87, and in the past year has had several strokes, has Alzheimers, is mostly paralyzed. Now he cannot eat due to his recent trouble aspirating any food into his lungs. They will be attempting to have a feeding tube put in but due to many possible complications this was the "get ready" call. Get ready to come up here quick if things turn for the worst.
We are so thankful that we got to visit grandpa recently, in November 2012. When all 5 kiddos were finally adopted we made a trip up there and he got to meet his 5 new grandchildren for the first time. Brian and I had visited before our journey into fostercare and adoption started in May 2011, what a change for both of us! Grandpa was still healthy and driving back then and we were childless and barren. In a little over a year both of our lives had changed so much!

 On Wednesday, after a vet appointment for Shaka and several more family calls to update on grandpa, it was back to Urgent Care.
This time for little Ty-man and myself. We both tested positive for strep. Boo!
And a 3rd time, on Thursday, to get the rest of the herd strep tested. Only little Maggie-pants tested positive.
Thankfully, after antibiotics the strep was gone in less than 24 hours, but the antibiotics that I got wrecked my digestive system and kept me nauseated and dizzy for several days following. For 2 days all I could eat was yogurt. It didn't help either that I had really thought, for some reason, that this month was timed just right and God would open my womb. Well, that was not the case as the day I started antibiotics my crampy, monthly visitor showed up a week early. After some tears, I praised God anyway for His all-knowing and perfect timing. To top it off the letter and pictures I mailed to Maggie's birthmom back in early January was returned by the jail due to "no padded envelopes allowed". I have awaited a response from her, for what feels like forever, just to learn that she hasn't even received my letter yet. Again, God's timing is perfect, even when I don't know why.
So here I am.
I have survived, we have survived this week that didn't just rain, it poured. The best part of this week? God's continued faithfulness, grace and mercy lavished upon us! I have to say that my heart, my attitude and my joy was consistent this week despite the circumstances. I was able to pray, read and enjoy God even with all the trials. "Consider it all joy, my brethren, when you encounter various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance. And let endurance have its perfect result, so that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing." James 1:2-4.
This week I endured. I have been through many smaller trials than what this week brought and I always feel broken, hopeless and weak. This week was the first time I practiced what I know to be true. This week I leaned heavily on God's strength and He provided lavishly as He promised He would do. Not only did He provide my spiritual needs this week, but also my physical needs as dear friends brought over groceries, soup, diapers, coffee, toothbrushes and other goodies!
This week, through suffering and trials, God proved ever more faithful and trustworthy. He used a recent bible study in my life to keep me on track and joyful during these trials.
He tells us we, as Christians, have received the same faith as the disciples (2 Peter 1:1) who went through far more trials and seemed far stronger, yet we have the same faith! He promises that grace and peace will be multiplied to us (2 Peter 1:2) and that we, as Christians, have God's divine power and has granted us EVERYTHING we need, pertaining to life and godliness (2 Peter 1:3). We are able to escape the corruption of this world because we, as Christians, are partakers of His divine nature (2 Peter 1:4). Nature determines appetite, behavior, and environment. As partakers of God's nature we should have an appetite for what is Holy, behavior that is Holy and surround ourselves in an environment of Holiness.
"5Now for this very reason also, applying all diligence, in your faith supply moral excellence, and in your moral excellence, knowledge, 6 and in your knowledge, self-control, and in your self-control, perseverance, and in your perseverance, godliness, 7 and in your godliness, brotherly kindness, and in your brotherly kindness, love. 8 For if these qualities are yours and are increasing, they render you neither useless nor unfruitful in the true knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. 9 For he who lacks these qualities is blind or short-sighted, having forgotten his purification from his former sins. 10 Therefore, brethren, be all the more diligent to make certain about His calling and choosing you; for as long as you practice these things, you will never stumble; 11 for in this way the entrance into the eternal kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ will be abundantly supplied to you." 2 Peter 1:5-11
I LOVE LOVE LOVE this verse! Through much study the week before last, I vowed to begin to attempt to "apply all diligence" (2 Peter 1:5). I have all the faith I need right now! I have God's divine power and nature! I have God living inside me, through the Holy Spirit, my Helper! God has acted, THEREFORE I act! So NOW, apply ALL diligence, exhort ALL effort, exercise ALL your energy to supply, provide lavishly, stock fully, through faith, these qualities to your life: moral excellence, knowledge, self-control, perseverance, godliness, brotherly kindness and love.
This list begins with faith and ends with love. I love that.
Why do we, as Christians, diligently work to "stock" our lives with godly attributes? So that we will be useful and fruitful for Him (2 Peter 1:8), so we will not stumble (2 Peter 1:10), and so we can be completely assured of our future hope in heaven (2 Peter 1:11)!
This week was full of trials. But my hope isn't of this world. As trials come I can keep in peace and joy! God proved that to me this week. Although tears were abundant this week, my faith was unwavering. Although, after 2 days of being nauseated with nothing but yogurt to eat, I slipped up and momentarily gave in to sin and anger, I was able to quickly remind myself of my divine nature and power to escape the sin and corruption of this world. I was able to quickly begin again to stroke against the current of this world so that I don't drift away in it.
This world of suffering and trials is a strong current, waiting to pull us under. God reminds us in 2 Peter that if we are not stroking against the current we will drift. As Christians we must stroke!
God is present in our trials. God is good. ALWAYS!!!

Excerpt from a sermon by John Piper: 


Don't Float; Swim Hard

Last week I read a true story to the boys entitled Glenda's Long Swim in "The Incredible Series." Glenda and Robert Lennon were four miles off the coast of Florida fishing alone from their yacht. Glenda decided to take a swim and soon found the current had carried her too far out from the boat. Her husband, hearing her cries, without thinking dove in and swam to her, but then realized they were both being carried out. He was a champion swimmer, but not she. They made a plan. He would swim against the tide to keep the boat in view until the tide ceased and he could reach the boat. She should save her strength and just float with the tide and he would come and get her. He fought the tide for six hours and just as the boat was about to disappear on the horizon the tide turned and his strokes carried him to the boat exhausted. The sun had set. His searching was futile—he could not find his wife. The next day on one last effort of search, the search party found his wife—twenty miles out and still alive. It was an incredible story.

What it illustrates is this: Christians who just float never stay in the same place. Christians who disobey verses 5–7 and do not apply themselves with diligence to bear the fruit of faith drift into great peril. We must strive even to stand still, the tide of temptation is so strong.

The effort towards virtue, knowledge, self-control, patience, godliness, brotherly affection, and love is not dispensable icing on the cake of faith. If Robert had not swum with all his might, the yacht would have gone out of sight, and he and his wife would have drowned. I've said before and will say again: we do not judge a person's genuineness by how close he is to heaven but by how hard he is stroking. The evidence that God's power has been given to you by faith is that you are now making every effort (as verse 5 says) to advance in the qualities of Christ.

Verse 8 makes explicit the warning I have sounded: "For if these things are yours and abound, they keep you from being ineffectual and unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ." Recall from verse 2 that it is in "the knowledge" of Christ that there can be a barren and fruitless knowledge of Christ. It is possible to make a start in the Christian life, but then to become indifferent and unfeeling and careless in using the means of grace, and to drift into destruction. 2 Peter 2:20 says, "If after they have escaped the defilements of the world through the knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, they are again entangled in them and overpowered, the last state has become worse for them than the first." If the knowledge of God's glorious promises does not spur us on to strive against the tide, then we will be barren and fruitless and drift to our destruction.

Click here for the entire sermon by John Piper on 2 Peter 1:5-11

Posted by Shannon

Soli Deo gloria - Glory to God alone