Life in the "waiting"

I stood out behind our house the other day, next to the little creek God so graciously allows our family to live beside. The sun warmed my face and I smiled because of its warmth that seemed oblivious to the fact that we were waiting for a snow storm predicted to descend on us in just a couple days.

Our family loves when the snow comes.

I looked around me at all the barrenness that would soon have a new look for a while. Brown, bare branches on tall trees reaching up and up, like arms trying to grab back the sweet summer days. Leaf piles everywhere, crunchy and dead, the proof that beautiful autumn was here for a time with brilliant color and cozy coolness. Now everything seemed lifeless and, well, blah.

Just the brown of transition.

The color of waiting.

As I took all this in around me I began to look a little further past the dryness. I remembered that for these works of creation waiting wasn’t death. Waiting still held life. The trees without leaves would still be vessels that produced buckets of sap for maple syrup in February. Those crunchy leaves would shelter underground creatures like moles, and worms, and bugs until the cold days passed and then would break down to become part of the life giving soil in the spring. The creek that now babbled over the rocks would soon become encased in thick ice, too thick to even see what hides below. Yet, crayfish, minnows, and frogs would accept this covering while waiting for the winter to thaw.

Waiting isn’t death. Waiting is a refuge until life is renewed. Waiting is hopeful.

Many times God uses his creation to speak to my heart. Often I am reminded of his control and creativity. This day I was reminded that God is faithful during the waiting.

There are plenty of barren, blah times in life. I’ve had my share. One day feels like the previous. No change. No growth. Just existence. And yet, Faithful Creator God is not resting. God works in the waiting. Even when I can’t see it. He is asking me to trust him, and wait.

I am learning much about God in my times of waiting. At one point in time in my life I would get upset, angry even, when I was waiting for something to work out (I’ll be honest. Sometimes I still do.) Sometimes I would think that God didn’t care or was just denying me an answer because he could, after all he is God. I even had attributed being made to wait as punishment for something I had done wrong.

I know much better now.

God is so faithful and God loves to give. In his time. In his way. And that means sometimes, often times, I have to wait. But I wait in hope. My prayers that are long term are prayed in the shelter of God’s goodness and God’s will. Because I am his child I can know that God has heard me and I can expect him to work. I can also be okay with the way he works.

Does this peace come easy? Sometimes yes and sometimes no. In my human-ness I often have to approach God again and again as I wait. He reassures me through his Spirit and his Word that he can do what he says he can do. I listen and then peace in the waiting returns.

Mostly, in my times of waiting and listening, I find my perspective gets changed. Just like seeing past the dullness of the late fall, I see past my idea of what should be happening and I begin to see a bit more of what the Creator is doing. I can trust more that God’s ways are better and perfect and do so much more than I can comprehend ( Isaiah 55: 8-13 ) So, I can wait.

Waiting is hopeful. Waiting means I trust God in his role. Waiting also means that I obey God in fulfilling my role.

Waiting is good because God is good.

The snow came.

We woke to find our landscape fresh and white and new. The trees that reached for more sun just days before now held a new work of God for a time as they continue to wait to be filled with green growth in June. The branches were accepting the task that God called them to that day. Strong, steady, waiting.

May I ( and you, reader) be one that opens my reaching arms to the blessings that God bestows while I wait. May I ( and you) be faithful to wait.

Are you waiting? What are you focusing on while you wait?

Silent times, Patient times

Our church does a “hymn of the month.” Sometimes a certain song picked will resonate with me and I will keep it pinned up so I can see it and think about the words and what God is working on in me through them. This song, by Keith and Kristyn Getty, is one of those.

It has been an especially significant song of late just because of some of the circumstances that have been present in our (my) life over the last few months. Several situations beyond my control sent me reeling. Money troubles, disappointments, strained friendships, etc. all at once. It just seems like there is trouble all over the place and it’s lasting a while. Very uncomfortable.

Sometimes when life around me gets a little hard to handle, I get silent. In typical introvert fashion I talk a lot less, read a lot more, and sort of want to disappear until I can put some sense into what is going on.

My silence freaks people out. And sometimes they get angry and confused. People who really know and care about me, though, just wait until I resurface. (I’m not the easiest friend to have.) I have learned that I have to wait, too. If I rush the process, nothing good comes of it.

I’m not good at waiting, but I’m getting better. On a scale of 1-10, I think I can claim the #6 position at this point. There is much work to be done though. And so, the trials come. With them, more patience.

Scripture has a lot to say about patience. Not only can we learn what a gracious and patient being God is, but we also can learn God’s desire for His children to become more and more patient. And, quite frankly, it is really only something we can develop through being tested. ( Sorry, no shortcuts!) I try to remember this when the ugly situations of life come my way. God is building patience in me.

In James 1:2-4 we read: “Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know the testing of your faith develops perseverance. Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.”

And in Romans 5:3-4: “Not only so but we rejoice also in our sufferings , because we know suffering produces perseverance, perseverance, character; and character, hope.”

Perseverance is not patience. But patience is a by product. So as I faithfully commit to staying the course patience naturally develops in me. And as can be read above, I am on my way to being complete. I want that!

Scripture also says it is okay to be silent. In Lamentations 3:28-29 we can read: “Let him sit alone in the silence, for the LORD has laid it on him. Let him bury his face in the dust- there may yet be hope.”

So in my silent and patient times that I find myself in, I take comfort in knowing that it’s okay. I may not be what everyone expects me to be right now, but God’s okay with it and He’s working on it. “So, in its shadow I shall run, ….’Til He completes the work begun.”

Do you get “silent” times? Does music help you like it does me?

Our family “thing”

( This post was originally written in early fall. Then life happened. But I figured I would publish it anyway.)

In my introduction about myself, I shared that our family loves the outdoors. We do! It feeds our souls! While there are certain seasons we enjoy more than others ( Ahem…Summer. I ordered below 80 and no humidity what happened?), there is always something we can enjoy out in the wilds of NEPA. Fall is starting to arrive in our neck of the woods right now. It’s such a great time of year. One of our favorites. The colors get vibrant and the hotness and humidity have been replaced by crisp, cool mornings and comfortable afternoons (thank God!) It’s the season of archery festivals, hayrides, and campfires. But truly we can find some thing to enjoy about every season: winter sledding and deer hunting season, spring hiking and trout season, summer hiking, biking, camping and bass season. And no matter what, my husband and boys can always find something to go hunting for!

It is safe to say that this is our family “thing.” Anyone who knows us well, knows that we are most happy when we are out of the confines of four walls!

On the other side of this coin is the fact that that there are many activities that just don’t get us fired up. Favorite TV shows? We don’t have any; we don’t watch TV. We stream when we’re in the mood. Favorite football team? Uhhhh….. we’re on the east side of PA, so Penn State! ( But please don’t ask us to name players, stats, etc… We watch maybe one game a year!) What sports are our kids in? None. What gaming system do we own? Don’t have one. Our kids have never played a video game ever. I guess this could also be called our family “thing.”

So you might say we sorta don’t fit in sometimes. We’re cool with it. We learned to accept the strange looks and comments and be happy with who we were created to be.

We realize that the way we do things is somewhat strange to a lot of people. We’ve especially gotten questioned about our limit of sports and technology. It’s not that we don’t like these things. Our decisions really come down to one thing: family. We are a family and individual choices for one person affect us all. So, if a certain activity is going to mean that we don’t get to eat together as a family 2-3 nights a week, that’s a deal breaker. If a certain activity for one child is going to take a great amount of money out of the budget which will limit what we do as a family later, that also is a deal breaker. If an activity is going to cause one of our children to spend large amounts of time isolated in front of a screen and not interacting with a family member, sorry, no deal. Sunday worship/rest time is non-negotiable. No activities away from family on Sundays. The bottom line: family.

Is there a point when any of this might change? Sure. We evaluate things as they come up and decide whether an activity or interest is healthy to add in. But we don’t make those decisions quickly. For instance, last year our younger son wanted to join elementary band. Initially, he didn’t share that with us because he knew our rule about after school activities and perhaps the cost was too much. (We generally like to keep the weekdays evenings uninterrupted and we had no room for an instrument purchase). When he finally shared with us about it we thought that maybe we needed more information to make a good decision. And after getting all the info we thought that band would be a great thing! All lessons are in school and there are only a couple performances throughout the school year and there was an instrument he could borrow for free. We only had to pay $10 for a lesson book. It fit perfectly with our family style so it was a Yes! We have really enjoyed seeing our son learn his instrument and participate in a couple performances.

From observing families that I know and some that I am less familiar with, I have come to be really thankful that we’ve taken the time to decide to be who we are. I think for any family, that is really important. I have seen some families who have been made to feel guilty if their child isn’t in a sport. I have seen some people who wrestle with themselves over their child’s use of technology. I also know families who have children in all sorts of sports and are constantly on the go and are thriving. It just really depends on the family. Everyone is different. Some do well with less activities and technology. Some would be missing a big piece of their family enjoyment if they weren’t able to enjoy sports and games together.

So, can I just be an encouragement today and say, find your family’s “thing” and embrace it. There is room for everyone!

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So, let’s begin…

Let me start off with a friendly WELCOME to my blog! I am happy you stopped by.

I suppose we’ll start off with the facts and move on from there. I’ll tell you a bit about me and then why this whole blog thing came about.

Okay: Me

I’m 42 and living a pretty content life in the woods of NEPA. My husband and I have been married 14 years (as of this writing) and we are raising our three children ages 13, 11, and 9, two boys and one girl.

In my former life (Ha) I was an elementary and early childhood trained teacher and I worked for a local childcare agency for 15 years, in various positions. My work outside the home ended in 2014 as we made the decision that I would become a stay-at-home mom. A hard decision, but absolutely the best one we have made!

Every part of our life is centered around our love for Jesus Christ, our Lord and Savior. In our everyday lives we seek to live for Him. And, as those words come together on the screen, I am deeply reminded how much we rely on God’s unending and unfailing grace toward us, as we fail often!

Our family loves the outdoors and we take advantage of many opportunities to hike, camp, hunt, bike, fish, and explore. We so enjoy our time as a family and make being together a priority.

And now, while taking care of my family and home, I am also able to spend time doing some things I love such as: reading great books, serving at my church, knitting and crocheting, figuring out how to live simply and frugally, cooking, gardening, and…as of right now…blogging!

Okay: The Blog

Obviously every blog gets started because someone has a desire. My desire is for this space to be somewhat of a creative outlet for the words that swirl around in my head.

I ponder. A lot.

I question. A lot.

I figure things out. A little.

For about a year I’ve felt this nudge to share some of the thoughts that I have. And, after a lot of praying and waiting, I have decided to stick my toes into the big waters of this word-filled world.

So, my plan is mainly to write just to write. Sort of record my journey along life’s twisty ups and downs. But, I am also wanting this space to be encouraging for anyone else who decides to read and/or share.

You will probably find me writing a lot about what I’m learning from God’s Word as well as from the books I read. So many great authors, so little time…

I’ll also share some of life’s snippets along the way.

A Slow and Steady Pace – It seems that this is me. If you’re looking for a super outgoing, go-getter, trend setter, on the edge of all things great… Sorry! BUT, if you are interested in the thoughts of someone who is committed to finishing the race well, someone who enjoys the little things in life, someone who believes that the ordinary is extraordinary… then we can probably be friends. I surely don’t have everything in life all figured out, but each day I am learning more and more to walk with the Lord at the pace he has set for me.

Thanks for being here!

Your kind comments will always be welcome! I love hearing others ideas and thoughts! However, I do reserve the right to keep this a safe, positive place for all who share. So, any cutting down of myself and others will be removed.

Saying “yes”

Have you ever come across that picture or heard that phrase? I don’t know about you, but my first thought when I read that is, ” No way!” I do not do things scared. I’d like the whole plan clearly laid out, thank you very much. And be sure to include the guarantee that says everything will go great and no harm, disappointments, etc. will come to me or to those I love. ( I’m not asking for much, right?!)

People who know me IRL know that I am not the first to volunteer. I do not like attention and prefer to be behind the scenes. (I’m thinking of purchasing all the introvert t-shirts I see online…) I do well at cheering on the brave ones, the ones that jump in without hesitation. Oh yeah, I’m all for that!!

I have no problem saying no to people’s requests and usually do not feel guilty in the least.

BUT

When it’s God making the request, well now that is when it seems that my way of doing things comes to a screeeeeeching halt. Saying “no” does not work with the Lord.

In recent years there have been several situations that I knew there was no saying no to. One of those times was when I was asked to be a Sunday school substitute. (Public speaking in front of adults. Yikes!) You know, just fill in when the regulars weren’t there. No big deal, I’m a trained teacher, right? Yeah

After thoughtful prayer and a talk with my husband, it seemed that my answer was going to have to be a “yes.” Just couldn’t come up with a good enough reason for no. I tried. I really tried. So there it was. And then. it. happened. I had to fill in! Fear set in. “Why, why, why did I say yes??? Huge mistake!!” was all I could think. So I prayed, prepped and panicked. And then I did it. Scared. And I didn’t die! Ha!

Funny thing is, Scripture is filled with people like me. Maybe they weren’t flat out saying “no” ( some were ), but there were definitely people who were saying “yes” and doing it scared. Abraham, Moses, Joshua, Mary, the diciples, and so many more. How do I know? Because I can go to each of the accounts of these people and see the Lord or His messenger saying: Do not fear. Pretty sure those words were being said for a reason! But, God always promises to be with them. He doesn’t leave people to do His requests on their own.

So, since agreeing to teach, I have filled in many times and even led a couple studies that lasted 6 months each. And all praise goes to God Almighty. He took my scared “yes” and my step of obedience and has blessed it beyond what I could imagine. It humbles me that God would use me to speak about His word and encourage His people.

In all honesty, my first reaction to unfamiliar territory is still “No!” However, it usually doesn’t last long. I keep learning that saying “yes”, when I’m sure it is God asking (that’s a subject for another day) leads to amazing blessings and joy. This blog is a step I’m taking in obedience to a nudge of the Lord, I believe, and it has taken a lot of courage for me to begin to put my words out there for people to read. (Oh, Nellie!)

So, is there something you know you should be saying yes to? My encouragement is this: Pray. Pray. Pray some more. And then you might need to say “yes” and see what blessings come (Even if you’re scared!)