Sunday, September 22, 2013

The Story of a Wicked Woman

        Once upon a time there was a woman. She loved her husband dearly and loved living in her city but was very wicked. She was full of envy, strife, hate and pride. She committed many crimes against her husband and King. Her husband loved her despite her behavior, even when she was very hard to love, but he had to tell the King about her wickedness. So the King came to her. He said, “Woman you are very wicked and have committed many crimes against Me and My kingdom, your penalty is death.” The woman cried out to the king, she was pierced at the heart and saw herself for what she had become. “Oh my King, please have mercy on me!” The King was moved with compassion for her and said, “I am a just and good King, I cannot let criminals go without their penalty being paid, but this is what I will do, because I love you so, I will adopt you as My own and give you My power and kingdom, and I will send My perfect, blameless Son, the Prince of Peace, to die in your place and in the place of all criminals who enter my kingdom.” The woman with tear-filled eyes looked at her beloved King as he gave His only Son for her and gave her all he had and made her his daughter. “Lord I am not worthy, I deserve none of this.” The King responded only with, “I will look at you now, not as condemned, but as perfect. Obey what My Son and I have written and love and serve My people!”
            Her husband rejoiced when he heard what their great King had done for his wife and they committed their lives to serving the Son who paid for their great crimes. The woman began reading all that had been written in the Kingdom. One day, she read, “care for the orphaned,” and her heart was pierced. Their King had adopted her as His very own when she was in need, how could they not follow their King’s great example and adopt others in need? They studied and learned all they could from the King and His love for them spurred on their compassion for others. Even when great obstacles were encountered, when paperwork piled high, when schedules had to be arranged for endless appointments and interviews seemed endless their King reminded them, “You can do all things when I am your strength.” And the King walked with them as their guide.
            The day arrived when the command to care became a reality. Three orphaned, needy children showed up on their doorstep. They thought how complete their lives were now that they had begun to fulfill their purpose. How excited they were to reflect the great King’s love to these hurting, broken children. But problems arose. These small, sweet-faced orphans were desperately wicked. Every morning she would have to beg and plead and fight that they shower and just brush their teeth and hair. After searching for and finding the urine soaked items that were hidden she would pack lunches, backpacks, find lost socks and shoes, and missing homework. She would answer incessant, nonsense questions about the obvious. The woman would get them off to school then go to work tired and ready for a break. She would get a call. A child was sick, or refused to do their schoolwork, or comply with their teacher’s requests or had been sent out of class due to being a disruption. Weary she would go to the school to talk about a way to fix the problem. When school was over there was counseling and doctor appointments and visitations. She would begin to make dinner but have to stop several times to break up fights, to answer more nonsense questions, to help with homework, to beg them to do their homework, and correct or send them away when they refused. When dinner was ready and her husband walked in the door she would melt into his arms. “I am weak, I forget why I am caring for these children.”
            “Oh Sweetie, don’t you remember the words of the king? ‘Come to me all you who are weak and weary and I will give you rest’.” The husband held her tight and they tried to enjoy their meals together despite the gagging, crying, refusing to eat or the children fighting for attention, falling out of chairs, chattering on about nothing just to hog the conversation and heavy critique of anything that was on their plate. They followed their task parenting these little ones even with the belligerent attitudes that followed dinner, with the somber face that refused to take part in any fun of a new family, and even with the constant manipulations to gain what they wanted when they wanted it. Then came the nightly routine of begging and pleading and fighting that they just please get dressed, brush their teeth or go to bed, the never enough stories or songs, the twenty times someone had to get back up to pee or get a book or forgot to put a paper away or needed to ask something of no importance.
            Although the daily marathon continued the woman would just pray, cry and be strengthened by the King’s guidance to endure the trials each day held. The woman was struggling when another orphan was left on the doorstep, a baby, so sweet, so beautiful. She looked at this sweet baby, so helpless and remembered why she wanted to care for these little ones. In a moment, she had a renewed view of the mission.
            But the crying never stopped. The baby could not be consoled, not when being held, not in the car, not with noise or quiet. The door slams, again. Another runaway. Another phone call to the police, “Yes officer, that house, that child, yes again.” The woman’s head drops in exhaustion, "Why am I doing this?" The husband comes home early from work again. Another incident, another theft, always something new going missing, always something new is found hidden, then the lies. The lies just pour out like water from a well, completely natural. The constant smell of urine led to so many searches, so many hidden, putrid items found, more vandalism, another angry outburst, another refusal to eat, another runaway, the endless movement and chattering, so many needs and questions, now another visit with the principal, another doctor’s visit, another endless day of crying. It was too much. The woman was tired. The husband was tired.
            More writing on the wall, it was the last straw, we told the child this time we will take the markers. The child stood with the markers behind her, “Sweetie, I told you if you drew on the wall again I will have to take your markers.” The woman’s face stung in pain. The child smiled, “Go ahead, hit me back.” One phone call, the woman had to make one phone call and they would come take this wicked orphan away. The woman made that call.
            That night a burden heavier than caring for these children weighed on her. She remembered the King. She remembered how wicked she had been and how all her wickedness was paid and forgiven by the payment of the Son’s life. How could she not love this child the way the King had loved her? What made it so hard? The woman vowed to love these orphans sent to her, vowed that no matter what they did, no matter how tired she was, she would continue in love to serve her King.
            In just a moment, with the whirlwind this journey has already brought, now there is another orphan on the doorstep. A baby. This baby didn’t cry. This baby didn’t crawl. This baby didn’t smile or laugh. This baby didn’t move his hands to play with a toy or pick up food. This baby just sat. This baby would stare and study faces as he drank his bottle. So different than the other baby that cried constantly. So different than the children that chattered and moved and ran constantly. The woman fell deeply in love with the quiet, easy baby.
            The quiet baby eventually stopped being quiet, but still never cried. He laughed all the time and smiled. He would light up a room with his joy and applaud the woman when she came in. The woman couldn’t help but smile when she was around him. It felt like a glimmer of hope and joy in her very tired, dark world. The woman worked and prepared five little ones every day, the woman armored up for the fights and battles, she did her best to guard them against themselves so they could not devise evil and lie and plunder. The woman held them and told them the difference between evil and good. She showed them mercy and pronounced them free, although they deserved punishment for their deeds, she passed on the stories and gifts of her good and gracious King. The woman also failed daily, sought forgiveness and asked the King many times, “O King you know my heart, are you sure you chose correctly, did you truly choose me to care for these orphans? In all Your kingdom, You must have one more skilled, more loving, more obedient than I?” The King smiled as He whispered back to her, “I choose the weak to shame the strong, any good work I have began with you I will bring to completion.”
            Some days began to pass without a battle. Some days began to fill with joy, to even overflow with joy. The woman began to feel happy and want to hug and love. Then the day came when she got to mimic her King and she adopted all five of these needy orphans into her heritage and all her possessions and the kingdom her King gave to her.
I wished I could now write: The End, happy ending, but the woman did not get a break from her tiresome work and the woman’s children did not become perfect, they had hearts trained in wickedness. The battles did become fewer and less frequent but more massive in size. The woman often felt exhausted and like a failure, but the woman and her children did have one hope, a Savior, one to pay for their crimes, for their wickedness. Both the woman and her children needed strength to overcome the battles that did and would arise, they needed to rely on the One Good King who had provided a Savior, His very own perfect Son, Jesus Christ.

Posted by Shannon
Soli Deo gloria - Glory to God alone

Sunday, September 8, 2013

A Story of Faithfulness in Very Difficult Times

Two weeks ago we were just arriving home after spending a week in Virginia with Brian's dad during his final days. He passed peacefully and we were very thankful for all the extra time we had with him (click here for previous post on preparations). We came home to a very sad, empty house, it was like coming home to another funeral. There were just blank walls where our smiling family pictures used to be, empty closets where all our clothes used to be and an empty fridge when once it fed a family of 7. We had packed everything we owned in the RV before we left. Anything left in the house after packing the RV was donated or sold. And our property was not RV ready yet, which has made a very strange living situation. Living in an empty house walking back and forth to our RV outside to get eating utensils or underwear or shampoo. I was really putting off fully unpacking knowing that I would inevitably be re-packing the RV this month.


It was back to school, work and our usual season of busyness. But it was September and we haven't even given a thought to school, I had groaned and worried and prayed all summer not knowing what on earth I would do for curriculum. We had so much to keep us busy just with the move that I let time get away from me, my teacher planning summer was over and I had nothing. This is where God reaches His mighty hand into my little world and bombarded me with grace and faithfulness. I was contacted by a woman I had never met and read an amazing message:
"Shannon, I don't know if you have plans for this school year yet but the Holy Spirit prompted me to gift you 3 spots in the local Classical Conversations (CC) program. It's really pretty all encompassing for school - it makes schooling with a large family really organic (little ones and big kids learn together). I would love if you would consider joining."

We have our homeschooling for this year figured out, not based on my amazing planning and teaching ways but, PURELY by God's amazing grace and loving faithfulness to our family!


The kids have loved the past 2 weeks at CC and it has kept me organized and structured while so much of our life is chaotic right now. We have continued working on the property after school so life is busy, busy now. More good news, when we got back the goats had completely eaten all the greenery from their penned area and were ready for more clearing ground. We started "operation move goat pen" and pulled up the 100'x50' area worth of fencing. Now we had to get it up around their new very green, ready to be eaten area. As we were just getting started on the fifth post the unexpected happened......
 As Brian was pounding the top of the green t-post with the 25lb fence post driver (red tool pictured) he must have pulled it just high enough to clip the top of the post and his sweaty hands slid to the bottom of the handles making the pure steel tool top heavy and it dropped on his head.

He stepped back momentarily holding his head, he was answering us saying he was fine but as he pulled his hands away blood began spilling down his face and shirt. We rushed to the van, my heart pounding and screaming directions to the kids. It took too long to figure out how to call 911, I couldn't tell the operator where we were, what had happened or what was wrong. I couldn't think, I was freaking out, I was driving but I didn't know where. I just know that while I was being told to "calm down ma'am, I can't help if you don't calm down" Brian started to pass out.

This had to be the most traumatic thing I have ever been through. All I could do was beg the Lord not to take him, I wasn't ready! This is my husband, my best friend, the father of my children! I am so in love with him I still get excited butterflies when he comes home from work. This is the man that texts me without fail everyday that he loves and misses me. This man completes me, our love lets me know how two can really become one flesh.

The operator had me pull over, remove my shirt to press against the wound and wait for the ambulance, Brian was drifting in and out of consciousness and every time he came to he would whisper, "we'll be fine, the Lord is good." What would I do without him, I pleaded that the Lord wouldn't bring me down the path that I would have to find that out. After some oxygen and the paramedics checking his vitals Brian was back with us and asked if I could drive him to the ER. He knew we don't have insurance and ambulance rides cost a fortune. The EMTs were worried about me as I was shrinking next to the car in a tear-filled panic. "Sir your wife can't drive you like this." My sweet Brian just said, "it's okay, I will keep her calm." We made it safely to the ER and he is just fine. We even recognized our ER doctor as he lives in our neighborhood and I had babysat and dogsat for him on several occasions years back when we were gung-ho paying off debt before we had kids! Brian got a CT scan and 10 staples and I recovered from the shock of it all after many more bouts of tears and prayer. 


Since we didn't have any insurance or a way to pay that moment they sent in a lady from billing for us to talk to. She was very helpful and told us not to worry. As she was taking our information she realized she had met us at a co-worker's wedding in May this year. We were one of the only couples with kids at the wedding (let alone five kids of different color) and she definitely remembered us! (Here are some flashback pics from the wedding 5/18/13!)

She kept going on and on about how well behaved and sweet and cute our kids were and how she talked about our family for weeks after the wedding because she was astounded by just how well our kids listened and behaved while still fully enjoying all the events of the wedding! I love the paths God crosses and the people we meet as He weaves the story of our lives!

Brian turned out to be just fine and healing well, not based on my amazing emergency crisis handling ways but, PURELY by God's amazing grace and loving faithfulness to our family!

We did have to finish the goat pen fencing the next day but this time Brian couldn't help (doctor's orders) and we bought a hard hat based on Wikipedia's recommendation! :)
 "Single-person post pounders tend to be around 20 pounds (9 kg), but weight varies with model types. The diameter depends on the size of the post to be pounded. They can be dangerous to handle, especially if the lower edge of the pounder catches on the top of the post, when it can pivot towards the user and strike them on the head. Hearing protection and a hard hat are often recommended." - Wikipedia


We couldn't even imagine what was going to happen next...


Just yesterday an army appeared. An army of strangers and friends. They all came to help get our property cleared.


They came with backhoes, trucks, chainsaws, shovels, wheelbarrows, rakes, trashbags, gloves, water and hotdogs. They came because the Holy Spirit prodded them to help us, a neighbor in need.

They came and worked so hard! They got two over full truck loads of trash picked up and hauled away. They got pile after pile of trees knocked down and burned.

They cleared almost 2 full acres of land and we have a perfect leveled out spot just right for our RV!

We have our property cleared and ready for our move, not based on my amazingly skilled land clearing ways but, PURELY by God's amazing grace and loving faithfulness to our family!

Do you know!?! Our God is SO big and SO good!

Posted by Shannon
Soli Deo gloria - Glory to God alone