Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Welcome Back, Spring! You Were Surely Missed...

Wow. We've spent most of the day outdoors, enjoying warm sunshine and temperatures in the 70s. After a playdate at the park this morning with friends, Jonah and I picnicked in the backyard for lunch and played out there until his naptime. Then I remained outside for an hour of his nap and just came indoors. As fun as the sun is, I couldn't wait any longer to blog about this.

Remember that sifting of desires that God was starting in my heart a few weeks ago, talked about here and here? It all had to do with Him pressing on my heart the need to engage more in relationships with nonbelievers and to be more intentional in the area of sharing Him with people who don't know Him. I loved all the input given by everyone. It's given me much to process and pray towards over the last few weeks. Something I just have kept sensing though is the need to be willing to WAIT on God's timing for the things He wants to do in my life and opportunities He wants to bring my way. I keep realizing how, YES, God is wanting me to develop that area of my life and to bring me closer to His heart for people coming to know Him. He definitely has something in mind for me there. I just know His conviction has come for a reason. And I so want all of this to just happen right now. And the heart change and preparation is what He is doing now. But the actual relationship changes have not occurred yet really. There are specific ideas on my heart, many were shared by you, on how to be proactive in building these relationships and getting myself "out there" in places where I'd have more connections with people who don't share my faith. And as of now, every one of them has a "not now" answer, having to do with the timing of our family growing, our budget, my children's ages, other things God has asked me to do and not stop doing yet, etc. Some of them are maybe only a couple of months away from being able to start. But still, they aren't things I am being asked to add to my plate right now. And while it is bothersome to keep praying about it and thinking about it and pursuing it and still not really have the specific answers I would like to have concerning what nonbelievers He wants to cross my path with, I have to remember that just because He shows me something He wants for my life doesn't mean that He intends on making it a reality right that second. Maybe He's orchestrating things and circumstances to prepare the person on the other end of the relationship for our paths to cross. He could have any reason, of course, and it would be right. This all sounds so simplistic, I know. But I have a hard time getting this one. I tend to resent the vision God gives sometimes because I so do not enjoy the waiting time between when He gives a glimpse of His vision and when He accomplishes it fully. I sometimes find myself wishing He'd never shown me something in the first place. Why is it so easy for me to live like His timing isn't perfectly trustworthy? So, I've been thinking the last few days about spending some Bible study time looking at this whole issue of waiting. (This might be some of the heart preparation He has in mind for me during this waiting period.) I've studied it before. But I've recently discovered that I often study different topics within in the context of ME. And I think I've done that with waiting. I've sought to learn more about it and grow, but, in even doing that, my seeking has more to do with waiting for what I want. So I want to look at it again...from the vantage point of what God has for me and what I'm supposed to do while waiting for it. I have no idea where I'll start. I'll take suggestions! And I'll let you know how that goes. I've been planning to blog on that for a few days now but hadn't done it yet. can imagine my excitement when today, this happened:

Jonah and I were playing outside, and within a few minutes, our next-door neighbor walked out into her backyard. She and her husband are in their 70s and we used to see them outside periodically last spring and summer, but we've noticed they have not been outdoors as much in a long while. When we first moved in and met them, she shared how her husband had recently had a brain hemorrhage that had forced him to retire and while still physically strong, his speech had been affected in a big way. And I remember her telling me that he was struggling with feeling depressed and things like that. Well, we know a little about this kind of thing. And we've felt compassion for their situation, but it's seemed that they've become a little more "closed off" since then and we've had very few chances to even talk to them. They aren't outside very much anymore, and there are only so many times you can take brownies to people's door! If people don't want to talk or invite you in, they don't. So today was the first time I've seen her outside since probably last fall. So I immediately wave to her from my chair and make some gleeful exclamation about the spring weather. And she walks towards the fence. YAY! So I went to the fence too. She then tells me that she wanted us to know what was going on with them. Her husband had fallen (in the street!) in January, and his brain had begun to bleed again. He had surgery to relieve it, then the other side of his brain began to bleed. So he had a second surgery, and that one took place the day before yesterday. Sometime within the last couple of weeks, she fell and broke her wrist. Both of their physical needs have grown a whole lot over the last two months. Anyway, they have no idea when he'll be able to come home from the hospital. It sounded like a bad day today... she mentioned something about him acting a little "crazy." Having procedures done in the brain can bring some strange behaviors in the patient, I know. And it can be really hard for family members to watch. I was just so amazed at how suddenly God had brought this opportunity to me! I hate that this suffering is happening in their lives, but WOW...we are in a perfect position to show them love and be the hands and feet of Christ to them! Joel can help with yard work because she said she'll have to hire someone to do all that. I can deliver food and check in on them regularly. What an amazing position to be in. Just to tell her today that we'd keep them in our prayers. I have no idea what she might understand that to mean, because she really didn't respond to it. But to use that language and then have the opportunity to follow up in acting out our faith in how we care for them is truly a privilege. One that I knew was coming. But that I also didn't. I knew God had something in mind and finally had started to set my heart on waiting for it when, out of nowhere except His perfect will, He places this opportunity in my lap. There may be waiting involved, but He sure can do some things pretty suddenly!!! And I just cry typing this because she mentioned that her husband's fall and bleed occurred on January 11th. That's the exact date that Joel's dad had his brain hemorrhage four years ago. Not a coincidence. Her mention of the date was just a little reminder to me straight from God's sweet heart that HE has put us where we are to reach out to them. And that He has put US where we are to reach out to them. A reminder of how He connects the difficult experiences in our past with the present and future opportunities for impacting others' lives. And a glimpse of how He longs to use where we've been to reach out to others in their time of need. It is an incredible thing to be freshly reminded of that.

One other thing about the experience that touched my heart had to do with Jonah. I have mentioned how he's been praying for our friend with cancer. She received an encouraging doctor's report yesterday (though still needing much prayer!), and sensing a great opportunity for a lesson in prayer, we talked to Jonah about God hearing his prayers and answering.
So when my neighbor left, I told Jonah what she and I had been talking Mr. Marsh was sick in the hospital and we needed to start praying for him like we've been praying for Mrs. Thomas. He immediately stopped what he was doing and prayed, "Dear God, thank you help Mr. Marsh feel better. Amen." And it just was an amazing moment for me. Here's why: It seems that we often think (or at least I do) that to live out this call to engage in relationship with people in such a way that we can show them Christ, we will sacrifice the opportunities to invest in our children's knowledge of Christ. It's like we think we have to choose one or the least in this stage of motherhood. And that moment with Jonah just confirmed to me that I don't have to choose between one or the other! That God will lead me into these opportunities as I seek them (whenever He wants, of course) and still give me precious moments to teach my child about God and ultimately help nurture him into an understanding of his need for Christ as well. I love that!!! I didn't think I had to choose....but sometimes, people act like you do. And I had started to believe them. Now I remember the truth...and I see the joy that comes from involving my children in the mission with me.

God had so much in mind for this day of sunshine. And here I was thinking He sent it so that I could get tan. I'm slightly embarrassed to tell you that's really what I thought. Oh, silly me.


the melton's said...

That's an encouraging story that God will prepare others for Him to work on their hearts through US. Sweet little Jonah...I love that he's so sensitive. I pray that Luke will be the same way.

Is next week good to babysit? Hopeffully, our family will be free from "the crud" by then.

Love you, friend.

Courtney said...

that is awesome...what an opportunity! let us know how it goes

Christa said...

Thanks for sharing! God is so faithful to put us where he can use us. I am encouraged by this. Keep us updated.

Kate said...

Thanks for sharing what God is doing through your family! That is an exciting opportunity.

Dalene said...

I always find it interesting how God plants a seed, and then what grows is often different than what we had in mind, but just as beautiful. You're so sweet...I'm glad your heart is filled with gladness regarding your ministry opportunites.

Marci said...

ok, I just read this post for the first time from the link you provided from your post today. . . .I somehow missed it before. Anyway, it brought tears to my eyes. Especially when you wrote this:

"It seems that we often think (or at least I do) that to live out this call to engage in relationship with people in such a way that we can show them Christ, we will sacrifice the opportunities to invest in our children's knowledge of Christ. It's like we think we have to choose one or the least in this stage of motherhood"

It was just the confirmation I needed this week as I am sacrificing what I think I "should" be doing with my kids to help out a single mom with her kids. My kids may not be getting the "school lessons" I had intended to do with them this week, but they are receiving a lesson on "servanthood". These types of life lessons and love lessons are just as important as math and history!!

Thanks for sharing your journey. I love reading it! Keep us updated on this sweet older couple.