Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Process or Goal?

For a long time, probably too long, I have been a self proclaimed "finisher" kind of person. Very goal oriented. I would be a real good motivator for a company that has some major "# finished every hour" goal. Like the old McDonalds signs "A Billion Served". I was the fastest cashier at Bell's Grocery store when I was a teen at my first job. Each shopper was a new conquest, and they loved me for it-employer and customer alike! Walk into Bells, and there I would be on the speedy checkout lane. It is very gratifying to have a whole string of things all done simply from my efforts. "I did it!" kind of mentality. (Seeing it in type, it's hard to decide if I sound like a two year old, or very, very haughty!) Compared to the person who starts projects and never finishes them this sounds good, I would imagine. Especially if the partial doer is a husband, and the frustrated observer is the wife!

The kind if finisher I have been, though, is one who in the course of "the doing" seldom (if ever!) found real enjoyment in "the process". This is really-really bad, for as everyone but me understands, LIFE IS THE PROCESS!!!

All the stuff that happens moment by moment are the real meat of it all. When God saves a soul, the end result will be their eternal state rescued from the pit of hell, and that is a wonderful and amazing thing. A true death bed conversion reaps the same reward of faith. Life eternal with a righteous God cannot be minimized!

But the process of a person- coming to know Jesus and all that he is- the days that will be spent reading and praying and falling in love with The Savior- that is where the the real Glory of God can be seen. When a person realizes the immenseness of salvation, and has possibly many years to grow in the grace and knowledge of Jesus Christ- Oh the magnitude of that! All that God did for us was done before our first breath-All that we can do for God must be done before our last!

So in thinking on these things, I realize perhaps being a goal-girl has great benefits in the fact that all my projects get done (well, usually done- at least mostly!). But I really have to wonder if I am not missing a few things along the way.

The "stop and smell the roses" people used to really bug me because it takes a lot of time to do that, y'know? I would get frustrated when it took my husband more that 3 seconds to get out of the car after it was shut off... come on buddy! Times awastin'! I could list the endless times D. would say "would you wait just a minute?" and I would wonder "for what?". All the while I would be missing one of the most glorious sunsets God ever painted. Now, I cannot tell you how many times D. is amazed when I say, "Hon, look at those clouds!" I guess in the whole of it, I am growing up. Please don't misunderstand that to think I meant I am getting old, or even really maturing. Those are goals I have never set for myself, and hope to never achieve! But what is true, I slow down to realize it goes too fast all by itself! God wants me to learn a few things along the way, to enjoy the split seconds that I usually am too harried to even realize existed, let alone notice. There are many lessons to learn from moment by moment trusting in God's provision. Realize that each thought I have could be given over to God and allow him to mold me and make me. What a Great and Patient God I have, and to realize that the vapor that is my life, is still precious to Him.

Growing up, my mom had a mirror in her bathroom that she put a poem on the back. It was all damaged from the inevitable splashes of water and soap that happen in a loo. But every time I would brush my hair or wash my hands I would read that poem, and had I really put it to heart more than head, I am sure I would have missed a lot less process points than I did.

No time, no time to study,
To meditate and Pray,
and yet much time
for Things and Doing
in a fleshly, worldly way

No time for things eternal,
but much for things of earth,
The things of God are set aside
for things of little worth

'Tis true some things are needful
but first things first.

There are a few more lines, but I cannot for the life of me remember them. The mirror is long broken and tossed, and who knows who wrote it. The parts I do remember are enough to keep me in the right mindset. A little of what not to do, but I work well with that!

Saturday, July 28, 2007

Home again...

This is so packed a statement in my life, I can hardly begin to tell it all!

The immediate meaning is clear- we just got home from a week of Family Camping. I capitalize it appropriately because it is such an amazing week for our family. Our camp is "Camp Salt & Light" themed after Matthew5:17. We camp with 7 or 8 like minded families, and thoroughly enjoy the time away from home. We have devotions every night, campfires, daily trips to the beach (which can get a little dicey, truth be told!) and an annual "teams divvied up" full competition game. The prizes for first place are $5. McDonalds gift cards, so you can tell competition is fierce! This year it was "the Amazing Race" complete with clues, five teams scrambling madly to complete all the tasks. It is completely home made, but I must say we do a great job! There is always great enjoyment had by all from the youngest six year old to the oldest parent... not saying the age!

The extended meaning of "Home again" is a little more hazy... or should I say long a drawn out!

I am sure I will have to continue this another day, ( I did tell you I just got home from camping, right? ... just imagine the laundry my family of 7 has now!)

We are finally settled into our home. It is such a blessing to be "moved in", you cannot even know! God is so amazing in the way He teaches us about Himself in real, fleshed out ways. After moving five times in just less than a year, there are so many things we have learned about his character, our weaknesses and strengths, and the Christian walk.

We have learned that to walk by faith is so very hard, but so very rewarding. That in and of itself is an amazing thing and if it was all we learned, that would be enough!

Add to that the testing our five children had in whittling down all of their earthly possessions and actually being OK with it!
I remember in April '06 when the journey began, the thought of packing up our household loomed on the not so distant horizon. I gave each child a fairly large box-bigger than a banana box-and said "put all that you must-have-cannot-live-without-stuff in here, and that is what you can keep in the move."
Some had harder choices to make than others! "Do I keep 74 little green army men?" compared with "OK, I have four cases of wires and motors that surely could change the future of electronics as we know it, so how much do I really need?!" Needless to say there were struggles for them all! By the time the actual move occurred in June, I had whittled them, box by smaller box, down to a shoe box. Every couple of weeks, I would dole out four more boxes, one to each, (S. was spared the process, I just tossed out all her stuff, no questions asked, none answered! The blessings of her being only three at the time!) and eventually they all were sufficiently pared down!

In the voice of fairness, I did the same thing for myself. Not a shoe box, mind you. But just let me say if you attended my wedding and gave me some really beautiful but not- so- functional piece of crystal or china, I don't have it anymore... I am sorry.

More lessons learned were that we have amazing children.

* We lived with friends in Hilton for three weeks because the two bedroom apartment that my husband was converting in a friends basement wasn't finished yet... another entry to be sure!
* We then lived for six months in the two bedroom basement apartment. We had several wanna-be boarders try to live with us, but we smashed them wolf spiders with every ounce of passion we could muster. (I think the Lord was preparing us little by little for Zambia... big spiders they were!)
*During our apartment days, we (Dad and Mom, O. & J.) traveled to Zambia for three weeks, while L., M, and S. stayed with great friends. All of our friends were so amazing to our kids!
* In January we moved into my former bosses house... definitely another entry here!
* In April, we went back to our friends in Hilton- only to be land squatters! We slept in our camper for around 7 weeks... it is a really nice camper, but, well, it is a camper! Their garage was converted into a furniture store featuring only dressers pre-filled with clothes! Ir resembled a very bad garage sale gone even worse~!
*Finally in June, on the 18th to be exact, we moved into our current home! Whew! Are we thrilled to be settled!

Through every move, packing up and lugging boxes, rain, snow, shine, vans, trailers, and things inevitably getting lost, broken, or accidentally thrown away (everyone uses garbage bags to pack up things, right?) our children did not complain. They didn't form coalitions to impeach their parents. They didn't cry and whine about having their questions answered numerous times with the same answer: "I'm not sure yet, honey". They still trusted that the Lord truly was orchestrating this in our lives. They still, honestly, and without reservation had great attitudes.

That is not to say they didn't have many times of wonder. Who wouldn't? I did!

Our youngest son, M. is still to this day terribly worried we might leave him again, even for a night. There was a period of several weeks he was physically sick every night. He still sleeps with a bucket for fear he will be sick.

Our oldest son, J. is now 13. There are normal teen age adjustments that were definitely magnified with all of the uncertainty this past year had.

O. and L. faced the year with the steady, rock solid character traits they exhibit in every situation... at least on the outside! I am sure little by little they will reveal their thoughts and feelings.

S. reacts to the whole thing by referring to our old house, our old-old house, our new-old-house, and Gramma Jane's house... as if every child has had so many!

All in all, to say "I am home" takes on a whole new feeling. I still feel like I don't want to get too comfortable, and Maybe that is the best thing. For truly I am still not home. I "desire a better country, that is, an heavenly: " I know much better this world is not my home, for The Lord has been my rock. When I felt very unsettled, He was my stay. I hold things "here" with not-so-tight an hold now, and it is good.

I will definitely come back to those things that I said will have to be future posts, but for now, this will have to do!