Christian family life, homeschooling, humor, and articles for your encouragement and edification

Christian family life, homeschooling, humor, and articles for your encouragement and edification

Thursday, December 29, 2011

Living the Parable of the Wedding Feast

About the year 2000
Aren't they cute?
My princesses and brides to be.........

     See the little one on the left?  That is my Emily.  She is about two or three in this picture. I want to take you back to a significant day for both of us when she was about that age.  She has graciously allowed me to share the following circumstances in hopes that it will somehow edify you, as well, Dear Reader........
     My husband and I were leaving the neighborhood with these two little cherubs in the back seat when we heard a blood curdling howl.  It was Hayden, the one on the right side in our picture from the past.  I quickly turned around to find my oldest holding her nose and crying, while the little stinker in the carseat stared unremorsefully ahead.  "She bit my nose!"  Yes, Emily had bitten her. Hard.
    Biting.  This was a new, lovely, little habit she had learned from a buddy in the church nursery.  We had been trying for several weeks to rid Emily of this habit, but she had been finding it extremely effective in managing her sister and the temptation was apparently too great to resist.  I'll save my opinions about church nurseries for another time.......
    Scott and I looked at each other.  We had had enough.  He turned the car around and pulled back into the driveway.  "Come on, Emily."  He gently removed her from her carseat.  He walked her to the front porch and told her to wave good-bye as I took my place in the driver's seat and left with Hayden to the birthday party.  I'll never forget the look on Emily's face as we pulled out of the driveway.  She was stunned (so was Hayden for that matter).  Tears ran down her face as she expressed her first symptom of remorse - but it was too late.
   I felt sick as I drove down Dorchester Road.  I fought tears of my own.  It was then I heard the Still, Small Voice.
"How do you feel, Jennifer Wand?"
"I feel sick, Lord!"
"Remember this feeling."
".......The great sadness you feel when you must leave someone behind.  I have no desire to feel it either."
I suddenly thought of the parable of the ten virgins from Matthew 25:1-13:

                       Then the kingdom of heaven shall be likened to ten virgins who took their lamps and went out to meet the bridegroom.  Now five of them were wise, and five were foolish.  Those who were foolish took their lamps and took no oil with them, but the wise took oil in their vessels with their lamps.  But while the bridegroom was delayed, they all slumbered and slept.  And at midnight a cry was heard:  "Behold, the bridegroom is coming; go out to meet him!"  Then all those virgins arose and trimmed their lamps.  And the foolish said to the wise, "Give us some of your oil, for our lamps are going out."  But the wise  answered, saying, "No, lest there should not be enough for us and you; but go rather to those who sell, and buy for yourselves."  And while they went to buy, the bridegroom came, and those who were ready went in with him to the wedding; and the door was shut.  Afterward the other virgins came also, saying, "Lord, Lord, open to us!"  But He answered and said, "Assuredly, I say to you, I do not know you."  Watch therefore, for you know neither the day nor the hour in which the Son of Man is coming.

 Emily never bit anyone again.

     I realized that there was a far more important "party" ahead in our future and that some would, like Emily in this case, be left behind.  Those left behind would suffer far more despair than waving good-bye on a porch and feeling regret for a few hours.  No, their grief would be on a far grander scale and last an eternity - in great contrast to the eternal rejoicing of the faithful saints.  The Lord continued,
"I have called you to move the lukewarm to greater heat." 
    I never forgot those words.  The Lord allowed me to feel a mere taste of the great sadness He feels when it is simply too late.  Since that time, in addition to serving Him as a mother, I am prodded by a burden to maintain my passion and to fan that of others.  When I lose that focus, He reminds me........
     What does it mean to keep your lamp trimmed with oil?  You can find Scripture after Scripture in the New Testament where the Lord Jesus warns His people to "abide in Me," to "build on the rock" and not "on the sand" by obeying Him and not just hearing Him.  He teaches of a wedding feast where those who were invited make excuses not to attend and the Host invites those society most despises - for they are willing to come and so are "found worthy" by their determined Host.  Jesus warns the Church of Laodicea (Revelation 3:14-22) that if they remain lukewarm, He will literally, "vomit them out My mouth".   A lack of passion makes Him feel sick.  You must maintain your first love of Him and stoke the fire of the faith you have been granted, lest you find you never belonged to Him in the first place.  Many believe that "the Coming of the Bridegroom" only refers to His Second Coming.  Dear Friend, your life is but a vapor.  He could "come for you" at any time through death and not find you ready.  Stop sinning, abide, and obey.

Several years later
Aren't they beautiful?
This time Emily is the one on the right.  Hayden's nose has recovered nicely.

  There was a little girl, who had a little curl
Right in the middle of her forehead,
And when she was good, she was very very good,
But when she was bad she was horrid.
Henry Wadsworth Longfellow     

     Emily, Emily, Emily.  Fast forward to December 2011.  I think it was about laundry.  The last thing I had heard was a "Yes, Ma'am" that sounded about as sincere as spitting and hit me like machine gun fire.  Cinderella was about to stay home from the ball.  She was warned.  But, alas, the tongue was on a roller coaster it could not get off.  When the smoke cleared, Emily was told she would not be attending the drama club party.  Drama Club.  Her first year.  She had received the role she had desired.  Ironically, it was as the sweet and submissive Jane from Pride and Prejudice. And now they were getting together for a Christmas shindig.  On the beach.  The entire family was attending.  Except, now, for Emily.  Within thirty minutes, she was in my arms, apologizing.  I forgave her, but I didn't want it to happen again.  The restriction would stand.
     We were an hour away from leaving for the party and I was driving alone to run a quick errand with tears streaming down my face.  I was taken back eleven years when my little girl was left on a front porch sobbing and holding her daddy's hand.  This time it would be different.  She would be alone.  We would be gone seven hours including the drive.  I had counted.  She had been amazing that morning.  The house was immaculate.  She had been as kind as Snow White to every last sibling and had graciously answered me consistently with a devoted and sincere "Yes, Ma'am".
      I thought of King Saul and Samuel (1 Samuel 15:22-23).

Has the Lord as great delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices, As in obeying the voice of the Lord?  Behold, to obey is better than sacrifice, And to heed than the fat of rams.  For rebellion is as the sin of witchcraft, And stubbornness is as iniquity and idolatry.  Because you have rejected the word of the Lord, He also has rejected you from being king.

     Emily had been making "offerings" all morning in hopes I would let her go.  She had not asked me to change my mind.  But I was definitely conflicted.  I wanted this rebellious behavior to change.  This child had a stubborn streak that served her as a great strength as well as a great weakness.  It was, I humbly noted, like looking into a mirror.  Had I been too rash?  Was she being punished because she had offended me - or - because she had sinned against God?  Where was my heart in this matter?  Was I like Haman - infuriated because Mordecai would not bow to me?  A little, perhaps.  But, my anger toward Emily had passed as quickly as it had flared.  Yes, I was offended by her disrespect and lack of submission - but now it was replaced by fear for her soul.  Twice she had now been used as an example of one being left behind.  Would her stubbornness be her undoing?  Sure, she was as sweet as honey now, but would it survive future testing?
"Please, Dear Lord, I want her to go to the party!  Please make a loophole!"
"Have mercy on her, Jennifer", came the reply.
I breathed a deep sigh of relief.
     I returned home from my errand and everyone was getting ready to climb into the van.  Emily sat meekly in the family room and still had not asked me to change my mind.  Was she trying desperately to trust the Lord and remain silent or was she still being stubborn?  No, her behavior that morning had demonstrated to me that she was desperately trying to be good.  "Please ask me!" I thought to myself.  Somehow, I knew that that would be my signal.  I was standing in the kitchen when she finally confronted me with tears in her eyes.  "Please let me go, Mama."
    I burst into tears and told her everything I have told you.  I shared my fear for her and that if she could not learn to submit even when things seemed unfair, that she would not only be unfit for an earthly husband - but a Heavenly One as well.  I told her that though I knew we were all struggling sinners, she must at least try to walk as much like Christ as she possibly could.  I reminded her that one day it would be too late and that even Mama would not be able to open the door for her once it was shut.  I also reminded her that there would be other parties and that if mercy didn't work this time, there would not be any next time.
     Emily went to the party.  She has not "bitten me" since that day and I pray she will continue to walk in the great sweetness of which she is so capable.  The change I have seen in her is also evident to me through her humble willingness to share our story in hopes that it will help others.  Though punishment of our children is Scriptural and effective - and even merciful, I have also learned there are times when forebearance is even more powerful: 

"Therefore, I say to you, her sins, which are many, are forgiven, for she loved much.  But to whom little is forgiven, the same loves little."  Luke 7:47

    Hopefully, Emily will be grateful toward the Lord for His forgiveness and for allowing me to let her go to the party.  I pray she will continue to grow in her love for Him; and in so doing, strive harder to walk in obedience to his Word.  As for me?  I was disciplined that day.  I had grown sloppy in my call to stimulate more passion in those in danger of growing lukewarm.  The Lord allowed me to experience the pain of leaving someone behind again to remind me of His feelings toward his distracted children who are in danger of missing the greatest celebration of all.  As for parenting, I have learned that I must seek the Lord's will constantly to lead my children through each new circumstance because I simply cannot navigate wisely without Him. 
    I am reminded of something my pastor said once that really made an impression on me.  He referred to Matthew 16:24 where Christ tells His disciples to "Take up his cross and follow Him."  Our pastor said it would be akin today as saying, "Pick up your electric chair and follow Me."  As I meditated on this, I was suddenly reminded that the cross was a form of execution for criminals.  I am commanded to discipline myself as a criminal.  I cannot trust myself.  I must remember that I am not a pure innocent nobly picking up an undeserving burden like Jesus.  I must recognize that my heart can be desperately wicked and selfish and that I truly do not deserve to go to an eternal celestial party as a child of The Great King.  From a Holy God's perspective, I really do deserve the electric chair.  Instead of exalting myself by thinking I'm not as bad as so and so, I am told to be like the tax collector and beat my breast and exclaim, "God, be merciful to me, a sinner!" (Luke18:13)
    This recognition could make me despair or even abuse myself in self-hatred.  But God calls me to peace and only requires that I worship Him with deep gratitude.  I am so blessed to have been granted the great "loophole" to allow me to go to The Party:  His Mercy.  This mercy led to a sacrifice beyond my comprehension.  The least I can do is try harder.  One's failure to love Christ much through obedience means he simply does not know Christ at all.  May my daughter and I never forget that.  And thank you, Darling Emily, for letting me share our story.  May God be glorified through our stumblings as well as our glories.

My seventeen year old, Hayden, at the drama party
(She will portray the hilarious Mrs. Bennet)

 My almost fifteen year old overcomer, Emily was there too!
(She will portray the sweet and lovely Jane)


Thursday, July 28, 2011

The Princess and the Cross

Bear one another's burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ.  For if anyone thinks himself to be something, when he is nothing, he deceives himself.  But let each one examine his own work, and then he will have rejoicing in himself alone, and not in another.  For each one shall bear his own load.  Galatians 6:2-5

    The first word burdens in the Greek is baros and is used figuratively for weight, load, abundance, or authority.
    The second word load or burden in the Greek is phortion (for-tee-on) which means an invoice (as part of a freight), a task or service.  It looks like "portion", but believe it or not, it is more similar in word form to the word "fortunate".
    The King James version repeats the same word in these verses:  "Bear one another's burdens.......each one shall bear his own burden"..... Sounds contradictory, doesn't it?
    Several years ago I had read my first issue of Voice of the Martyrs magazine.  After reading article after article about persecuted Christians around the world, I was grieved and ashamed about the simplicity of my own life.  I could not imagine my children being ripped from my arms, witnessing the murder of someone as close as a spouse or child, being denied by family, or experiencing the pain of physical torture as an attempt to force me to deny my faith.  I sat on my couch with the magazine clung to my chest, tears running down my face, and cried out to the Lord with a visual.
    I imagined a long line of Christians.  They were wearing torn and filthy clothing and were bruised and bloodied.  As I stood in this line, I imagined that both the persons in front and behind me and all those before and after them were greatly burdened with huge, wooden crosses.  They were hunched over and groaning and could barely shuffle along as we traveled.  I showed the Lord this line and then gestured to myself as I stood in it.  There I was, clean, upright, and strong.  I was wearing a beautiful, long, pink, princess gown and the only cross to be found was a shiny little necklace around my neck. 
"Oh, Lord!  Why do all these wonderful people have such horrible crosses and all I have is this little one?" 
He answered,
"Jennifer, if everyone had such crosses, who could help the others carry theirs?" 
  He then showed a visual of me in the line running to the person ahead of me and assisting with his cross.  I eased his burden and began to see relief on his face.  He was strengthened and able to go on.  I then ran to the person behind me and did the same.  There were so many people to help!  I knew that my dress would get soiled and sweat was sure to break out on my delicate princess forehead from such labor, but I couldn't bear to watch their suffering while my hands were free.  But even though the task of helping so many seemed so great, I was still overwhelmed at my easy lot compared to theirs. 
"Lord, how can I live like this?  How can I bear to be so adorned and blessed while others around me are so weary, burdened, and persecuted for Christ?"
He answered simply,
"That is your cross to bear." 
   Our Lord is a just God and as I grew in Christ, I realized that although I may have had a season of free hands, there would be times when I, too, would feel an overwhelming cross upon my back.
   To my relief, brothers and sisters in Christ ran to my rescue and eased the burden.  I have been lifted with encouraging words, common experiences, timely verses, much needed hugs, much needed checks, groceries and food delivered to my door, and a mighty caravan of Christians moving us from one home to another.  How comforting to have kind and gentle eyes look into yours and a voice that simply says, "I've been there too."  Most of the time, the lifting came with the realization that I was doing so well in spite of my circumstances because my brethren were praying for me.  Yes, I knew they were praying because there was simply no way I could have made it in my own strength.
   These experiences have also taught me that when I do occasionally find myself as the "princess", I must pay attention to those around me so I can even recognize when someone has an overwhelming cross.  This means I must look into the lives of others, ask sincere questions, study faces, build trust, and know my brethren well. The enemy will often try hard to preoccupy me with the busyness of my own life so that I am so insensitive to the Holy Spirit, the Lord has to fling a big cross on my back just to get my attention.  No bit and bridle for me, thank you.  I'd rather abide, listen to that Still, Small Voice and walk accordingly.  I must also be willing to roll up my sleeves and take action. 
   Does the Lord actually want me to inconvenience myself, soil my pretty dress, and do something physical like clean this person's home, babysit her four or more children, hold her hand at a funeral, go with her to chemotherapy, cook a meal, or give away my last ten bucks?  Yep.  Remember, faith without works is dead.  A pretty, perfect looking princess is no princess at all in His kingdom.  His princesses are more like Cinderella.  Serve your brethren without complaining and you get to live happily ever after with The Prince.  I don't ask if I should pray anymore.  That, I have learned, is a very silly question. 
   Does the Lord want my children to eat bowls of cereal for dinner each night while I deliver gourmet style casseroles to all the widows?  Does He want me to leave my husband alone with five children three nights a week while I engage in various "ministries"?  Does he expect me to forsake marriage, laundry, homeschooling, and personal hygiene so that I might leave for a six week mission trip with my more spiritually minded girlfriends?  Uh, no.  Do not get carried away, my sister.  There may very well be times when you go without eating to help someone else, but don't allow Satan to pervert your enthusiasm and hurt your family.
   As for those seasons when I unexpectedly and suddenly discover that a large, overwhelming cross has been placed upon my own back, I have learned to humble myself and ask for help when I need it.  Even the Lord Jesus had help with His cross and I am certainly not better than He.  My cross shall always pale in comparison to His, but so, unfortunately, will my humility.  It is ridiculous to imagine walking around trying to act normal and pretend that everything is just hunky dory when there is a three hundred pound, splintering cross upon your back; but, my friends, our brethren do it all the time.  Those in leadership positions are especially vulnerable to this temptation. 
   It is unfortunate, but true, that others may judge us for having such crosses.  After all, we might have deserved them.  This is the thinking that has kept me and others from confessing a need for help in the past.  I can't let these people know I'm depressed.  I can't let these people know I'm broke, my marriage is shakey, my kids are rebellious, I am wrestling with a carnal sin, I don't have my act together....... it goes on and on.  That is the risk we must take for the sake of truth and recovery.  How we underestimate our brethren the way we underestimate our God!  I have witnessed pillars - men and women at whose feet I would be honored to sit - have their reputations besmirched and their hearts ripped out by lying tongues.  Some brethren may very well judge you, but keep in mind, honest friend, God is a just and faithful Father.  Some of your harshest critics have humbling crosses waiting for them right around the corner.  When that time comes, roll up your forgiving sleeves for them as well and bring glory to your God!
  Inevitably, the one trying to make the perfect impression crumbles under the weight and the feared humiliation finally washes over him.  Either he receives help and recovers from the stumble, or he runs away.  This is persecution?  How does this even compare with the sufferings of those abroad who are dying for their faith?  Born again Christians die for their faith everyday.  There are two kinds of dying for Jesus.  You can literally die as a martyr.  You can also die daily for Him while you live.  Pick up your cross and follow Me...... We all must die in order that we may truly live.  It is a waste of time to compare your destiny with those of others.  You must simply live your destiny well.
    There are obvious attacks against Christians through flesh and blood as Satan attempts to grieve and wound our precious Father who loves us to death.  I am also convinced, however, that many of our satanically orchestrated circumstances are a form of persecution as well.  This is a wearing down of God's people who think they are immune to oppression, because, after all, we live in a free country.......
    Jesus said that those who try to live a Godly life in Christ Jesus would be persecuted.  Period.  If He said it, it will happen.  Sometimes my circumstances are a true persecution event, other times they are simply a diversion to keep me too inwardly focused to care about anyone else.  While you are in the pit, it is always prudent to pray for others while you are praying for yourself.  It is truly a selfless and noble act and God honors it.  Don't forget that.
    Eventually, each one of us shall stand alone before the King of Kings and our "load" bearing will be examined. Did we help others with their loads?  Did we overcome ours - not because we were supermen and women, but because we were humble men and women who asked and received help?  In so doing, by the way, others may receive their rewards from the Lord for helping us.......
    We must bear each others burdens.  We must not be too proud to give help and we must not be too proud to receive it.  We are each personally responsible for our choices and priorities and will ultimately have to bear the load of our consequences or rewards alone when we have them evaluated before our Ultimate Example.  Yes, He gives much grace, but alas, He also gives much warning.

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Toes And Teeth

     I was hopping up our stairs the other day in a pair of my favorite fuzzy flip flops, when the tip of my flip flop "flipped" on a stair and my big, left toe "flopped" in the opposite direction.  Then I "flopped" onto the landing thinking, "Oooo, this one's gonna hurt."  My toe is now UUUUGLY and I'm not sure if it is just sprained or fractured, so I've decided to keep it elevated and stay in my bed like a princess for a few days.  I try not to look at it because it is DISTURBING, so I keep it covered with a blankie like it's deceased or something.
     Meanwhile, my youngest has been struggling with his VERY FIRST loose tooth.  For some reason, the first wiggly tooth has been a bit traumatic for all my kids except for Harrison (kid number three).  Harrison yanks them out if they even THINK about getting wiggly in hopes of a cash reward.  We do not do the tooth fairy thing, but my husband has been known to slip a kid a dollar in celebration when this event does occur. 
    My memories of children and the loss of the FIRST tooth include much whining and vacillating of, "Please pull it out... wait!  No!  Don't do it!"  My oldest, who is ironically terrified of the dentist, has been pursuing Joseph with many various and sundry methods for tooth removal.  She has offered to tie it to just about anything as a physics experiment.  Her favorite idea is tying it to a toaster and flinging it out a window.  See six year old's eyes widen. (Uh, NOT HELPING, Hayden!)  Her ichy little fingers have been dying to yank the little treasure out.  "I just want to SEE it, Joey!"  Little head shakes "No". 
    I finally resorted to the method I used with child number four.  I offered to sneak into the patient's room while he is sleeping and pull it out.  This was very easy with Sammy because he sleeps like his father.  Total surrender - mouth wide open.  I simply went in, tugged, and the kid didn't even move.  Joey, however, sleeps LIKE HIS MOTHER: like a soldier surrounded by the enemy.  Any little noise opens my eyes and I faithfully keep my mouth clamped shut in case any kind of spider wants to journey down my esophagus (could happen!).  I don't think I ever completely let go.  Each time I hobbled into the room (toe injury, remember), and attempted to pull out the little rebel, Joey would clamp his teeth together and turn his head away in his sleep.  I must have tried a half a dozen times that first night.  My husband tried it early the next morning and had the same response.  I have never prayed so hard about a tooth!  "Please, Lord, don't let it bleed.  Please Lord, let it not be traumatic.  Please Lord, don't let him swallow it!"  I tried again last night to no avail. 
   This morning, I woke up with Joey snuggled in my arms and Hayden, my oldest daughter, standing over us.  "Hey Joey, did your tooth come out?"  Joey quickly pulled the blanket over his head and spoke to her from underneath,
"It is coming out TODAY." 
"WHAT did you say?  I can't understand you under there!"
Head pops out.  I SAID, (head goes back under blanket)  "It's coming out to....AUGH!!!!!! (head pops out) "It's out, it's out!"
Joey is grinning triumphantly with a little bitty speck of a tooth cradled in the palm of his hand.  "Momma, you're my HERO!"
Momma is confused.  "Whaaaa?"
"When I crawled into your bed, you hit my tooth with your elbow while you were sleeping and you made it DANGLE!"
I had to laugh and delight in the Lord's sense of humor.  "Joey!  The Lord pulled a fast one on us!  I couldn't sneak into your room and pull it out while YOU were sleeping, so He had you sneak into my room and had me pull it out while I was sleeping!" I've been smiling all morning.  The Lord even knows how to handle uptight, recovering control freaks like us: with humor and great gentleness.  How I love Him! 
   Joey and I actually have something in common with my toe and his tooth.  And it's the BEST!  BENDY STRAWS!  Wooo Hooo!  I keep the bendy straws in my big first aid bin.  They are USUALLY only used for bedridden occasions.  I promised Joey he could use one through his new gap once his tooth was out.  And I, of course, am bedridden so I get one too.  Bendy straws always make things better.
     Meanwhile, I shall continue to teach school from my new "control" center: the bed.  I sort of like folks bringing me my meals while my foot is up, but it IS pretty boring and I am beginning to think my little darlings may be taking advantage of my situation.  They keep disappearing and I think I heard some air hockey going on this morning.  "Hey!  Are you boys doing your math?!  Emily, where ARE you? Alright, everybody bring your stuff into Momma's room.  Whoa, watch the foot!"
    The most DANGEROUS result of my injury is watching waaay too much HGTV.  Anyone want her house redecorated?  Cuz I GOT IDEAS.......

Sunday, May 29, 2011


Baby number five (Joey) and I in 2005.

     When I was pregnant with my first child, my husband and I attended Bradley Method birthing classes.  Natural childbirth.  No pain meds.  We had been coached for months and prepared the best we could for labor.  We had even prepared for the phase of labor when "you think you're gonna die" called transition.  This is the phase right before you get to push: the peak of the birth pangs.  After five births (three at home) and over six years to recover from my last birthing experience, the word transition still brings me a little flashback and I have to shake my head and marvel.  Transition.  Yep, ya think you're gonna die. 
    But you don't.  Somehow you make it.  Soon, there is a miracle in your arms and you forget the pain.  Soon you're crying with joy instead of agony.  Sometimes you just gotta HANG ON until it's time to push and then - sweet peace.  A miracle.  And that time before pushing?  Forget the dignity, man.  You're focused.  You want relief.  You'll ask ANYONE for help.  My mom used to joke that while she was having babies in the hospital, the door could have been wide open and the janitor could have walked by and she wouldn't have cared.  Forget the modesty.  I WANT THIS PAIN TO BE OVER!  That is the common attitude of "transition".
    No, I'm not pregnant.  But somehow that word has been popping up a lot lately.  I've heard it in the news.  First I witnessed Maria Shriver asking for counsel during her painful time of "transition",  I read an article about Billy Graham entering his "twilight" season of life and being referred to as being in a time of "transition", and then there was Cher's former daughter, now son, Chaz, promoting "his" book, "Transition".  You cannot attend a graduation without hearing the word in someone's speech.  And finally, today, I heard it in church as we prepare to place a new brother in the position of Elder.  We are to pray for a smooth "transition".
    When I sought this word in the dictionary, its meaning was far less loaded than the one it holds for me - far less painful.  It simply means a great change.  I suppose most people believe the nature of the change and its magnitude affects the level of pain involved, but I'd like to share a secret with you about that pain and how to reduce it.  Personally, my family has been joyfully recuperating from a time of transition.
    Since my last entry in October, we lost our home to foreclosure after trying everything we could to save it.  My husband had lost his job and though he found another one shortly thereafter and received a promotion within months, the raise would not materialize for another six months and by then it was too late.  We prayed and prayed and prayed - but it became clear that the Lord was moving us without delay.  Losing your home can be miserable enough - but MOVING - Sista, don't get me stahhhted.....
    I have two terms I use for the little random thingies you find under cushions, along walls and under beds.  If I'm uh, irritable (rare indeed), I refer to them as "lil' cruddies".  I might use this term while I am whittling an impaled Lego out of the arch of my foot, "No, this room is NOT clean. Pah-leese get the Lil' cruddies OFF OF THE FLOOR!"  There are other times, however, I refer to these tiny mementos with affection.  Then they become "lil' froo froos".  I might use this term when a good child has been working very hard, but I would like that one last detail. "Sweetheart, would you mind vacuuming up the lil' froo froos along the walls of your room?"  Transition often reveals cruddies you never knew you had: big, ugly, mutated cruddies. 
   My husband had to build a new chicken coop for our neighbors so they could adopt our twelve chickens, our other neighbor took two of our dogs, and I was overwhelmed by the accumulated STUFF in our unfinished upstairs.  The cruddies had been secretly breeding..........Ya just wanna cry.  Yes, it was unpleasant.  But strangely enough, it wasn't that bad.
    Our new church family moved us out and into storage within a weekend.  I had packed and cleaned and labeled.  I had vacummed every possible cruddy from under and behind every piece of furniture to prevent further humiliation.  After all the furniture had been moved out, I could see a DIRT RING encircling my livingroom walls where furniture used to rest.  My carpet was outlined with a lighter shade where it had been dutifully protected by couches.  Oh, the horror for a neat freak like me.  Yet, it still wasn't that bad.  Scott and I have a wacky sense of humor, but it was more than that.  We were trusting Him.  That is the secret.  And that is why we saw Him move in quite an amazing way.
    Through noble and faithful brethren, the Lord provided a home for us five minutes from our church in a fabulous neighborhood with an additional 1000 square feet of space and alas, finally, a two car garage.  I now have the hardwood floors I'd always dreamed of and a fireplace.  The den (uh, I call it a familyroom) is gi-normous.  We are in a neighborhood with paved driveways and sidewalks and I can drive to the grocery store without packing a lunch.  WE ARE SO HAPPY HERE. 
    We are still amazed at what the Lord did for us.  We originally resisted and fought through the transition He had ordained.  But once we recognized Him as the mover, we dutifully surrendered.  I state this not to pat ourselves on the back, but to encourage you.  Now we shake our heads and laugh and marvel at His plan.  Wow, it truly WAS to prosper us and not to harm us! Didn't we already know this?  Not always.  In the past, I used to dissect myself when bad things would happen.  "I must be getting JUDGED.  I am such a horrible sinner that God is taking  (fill in the blank) away.  God is PUNISHING me.  But what exactly have I done?"  Ah, the little cruddies that lurked within me and revealed my perception about God!  And so part of my pain was chasing my tail until I'd carved a nice pit for myself.  By assuming my Heavenly Father was always judging me, I, in reality, was actually judging (and greatly underestimating) Him.  I imagined all these cruddies that I must be getting punished for (I am a poor steward because I haven't clipped coupons in two weeks.  This must be because I splurged and bought that frappuccino.....).  Those are the froo froos with God.  The crud is the lack of trust.  I've discovered that is one of the things that really grieves Him.  That discovery occurred because of my experiences with Him during transition.  I rejoice not in my victory - but in HisHe is the Author of my faith.  Thank You, Dear Lord, for Spiritual progress.
     We try to prepare for testing and trusting when it's tough, but it's just like those birthing classes.  You convince yourself, I can do this!  I'm ready!  Bring it on!  And then those birth pains bring you to your knees and you cry, "Get this baby OUT!"  You forget the pride.  You are humbled and in the dust.  You ask for help and meekly accept it knowing that you'll NEVER be able to pay everyone back for being so wonderful.  My advice? Let the Lord have His way.  Our Lord was homeless and broken and suffered utter humiliation and agony.  We are to taste it now and then as well.  He tears down those walls and whistles for His church to put you back together because He wants a FAMILY.  And family is very real. 
    Ah, the sweet moment of miracle.  You hold it in your arms and rest for a little while.  You recuperate and delight in what the Lord has brought forth.  Hang in there, Friend.  Get ready to push and keep your eyes on the joy set before you.  How do you handle transition? Draw very very close to the One Who can truly bring you through it.  The more you trust, the less it hurts.  The more you humble yourself, the faster the rescue.  Our transition sounds bad in writing.  We lost our house.  But the truth is that it really wasn't that bad.  We trusted Him this time.  There is power and favor there. 
    Are you in sin?  Have you been ignoring the Lord?  Do you even KNOW Christ?  Well, then you may very well be getting judged.  On the other hand, if you are abiding in Him and doing your best, then it is very likely that the Lord is redirecting you as a loving Father and seeks to prosper you and not to harm you.
   Transition.  Birth pangs.  Jesus told us the entire WORLD was going to experience them (Matthew 24).  The Mommas know.  The pangs get worse.  They get closer together.  The Lord is birthing a KINGDOM.  That's a big baby.  If you aren't building on the Rock, you won't be "thinking you're gonna die" - you eventually, eternally, will.  As for my dearly loved brethren, keep your suffering in perspective and allow it to equip you for the days to come.  The time is coming when the church will be the midwife and not the patient.  If you're not His, you'd better get right.  If you are - trust Him.