Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Monday, July 15, 2013

The past few weeks have really been an emotional and spiritual struggle for me....but I have finally come to this realization: 

It may seem like life is coming at us in waves of trials...but all I have to do is read this blog to see how God has not forgotten us at all...ever.  He has always provided all that we need and more...maybe not in the way or the time I wanted the provision...but He has never let me down.

This verse is certainly true in my life: “And God is able to bless you abundantly, so that in all things at all times, having all that you need, you will abound in every good work.” 2 Corinthians 9:8

Amy has been absolutely tireless in her constant encouragement to me....reminding me over and over to not doubt God. She recently bought me this plaque, which I will forever treasure.

After Heather’s diagnosis with diabetes I took a couple weeks off from teaching my church’s Preschool-Kindergarten Sunday School class.  When I came back, the kids were so happy to see me, but I was really struggling to come to grips with Heather’s diagnosis and my concerns about the divorce settlement funds and my finances.  
….but God in His infinite wisdom used lesson after lesson that I was teaching to help re-direct my heart.
The first week the lesson was about Joseph becoming a great ruler in Egypt years after his brothers sold him into slavery.  Joseph was in a position in the king’s household that allowed him to help stockpile food reserves.  God had given Joseph dreams that there would be a famine, so he wisely prepared for it.  By the time the famine struck, his brothers were without food and came to him for help.  They did not recognize him at first.  When they finally did recognize him, they were afraid...but Joseph forgave them and provided them with food and a place to live. (Genesis 42:1-8, 43:16, 45:1-28 and 46:5-7).
At the time of his enslavement, Joseph surely felt despair and likely could not see how God could possibly use his situation for good.  He simply didn’t have the perspective of time to see that the sad and terrifying situation was going to work out.  

God has done the very same thing with cancer in my life and with the divorce...I didn't see what good could come out of it at the time...but the good that has come has been immeasurable!

The next lesson was about Elijah in a time when again no food was growing.  God showed love to Elijah by leading him to a stream of water and sending him birds with food (I Kings 17:1-6).  I showed my students a $1 bill and explained to them how earlier this year God gave me 450 of them just when I needed it the most!  Their amazed faces were a treasure.  

I reminded them through my own personal stories and Elijah’s story that God always provides.
Our next lesson also involved Elijah.  God directed him to a poor widowed woman and her son to ask for flour and oil to make bread.  She told him that she only had enough for herself and her son, and she was afraid that if she shared there would not be enough for her family.
Elijah encouraged her to to make a little bread for him first and assured her that there would be enough flour and oil for the all.  So she made him some bread, emptying her jars of flour and oil.  After she made the bread for Elijah she looked into the containers and miraculously found more flour and oil.  Every day after that there was enough flour and oil.  The jar of flour and the pitcher of oil NEVER became empty. (1 Kings 17:7-16). 

This has truly happened to matter what has happened these past two years, I have NEVER been left wanting or in need...God has ALWAYS come through financially.

I faithfully taught these lessons, but didn’t really let their personal meaning for me to sink in until the past week.

Today while at Cedar Campus on vacation, some friends of ours shared about their short-term missions work.  One of our friends has been involved in medical missions work.

For the first time I realized how fortunate we were to live in a country where we have access to everything Heather needs to stay well and healthy.  Had we lived in a Third World country or under-developed nation, she would be dead.  For the first time, I felt gratitude for her is a good perspective to have.

When we arrived here for vacation, I had the opportunity for some really nice talks with Stephen.  He is working here all summer as a camp counselor.  I told him that I was so weary of being taken to the edge even though God has always provided.  

My precious son lovingly said, “Mom, if the edge is where God is, why wouldn’t you want to be there with Him?”  I was speechless and felt totally schooled by my son and his wisdom!

Amy's encouragement has constantly pointed me to God when my faith has wavered. This led to the unique experience of her asking for a tattoo for her birthday. She designed it, asked Dave for permission and then asked me to get the tattoo as I did. How could I deny my faithful daughter the opportunity to permanently show the world God's wonderful story in our lives? The tattoo artist we went to is also a Christian, and I shared some of our story with him. He was so excited to be a part of it. I told him it is a message that, God willing, will speak to others through Amy's life long after I depart this earth.

On a different note, I would like to thank all of the people who read this blog. It has gone absolutely viral and is being read by people all over the world. I am humbled and honored. Thank you for joining me in this journey.

Blessings to you all!

Thursday, July 11, 2013

Check out these great videos of our favorite place on earth!

The girls and I are soon headed to Cedar Campus for a much needed vacation.  I desperately need time and contemplation to wrap my heart around Heather's recent diabetes diagnosis.  She is so angry with God, and my heart is so full of grief for her.  I need this time to wrestle with God and make my peace with this situation.  I am struggling so much.  I feel like Job.  I feel like there is a target on our backs.  I want to look at God and say, "Really?  Just how much more do you think we can take?"

I know from my cancer experience that God can do some pretty amazing things with an awful health diagnosis.  He has used my cancer battle and survival over and over and over in spite of me!  But I just can't seem to see that with Heather's diabetes...and she, of course, cannot either.  I wonder at times if my inability to deal with it hinders I have to get my act together.

As you all know, the divorce is final but some of the financial details are not resolving themselves as I had hoped.  I was able to replace the van with a used Toyota Hybrid Pruis, which has provided me with a significant gas savings.  However, I still owe Lutheran Hospital almost $3000 and my lawyer almost $4800. 

The divorce settlement money will not cover all of those expenses plus the car, so I am planning to pay off the lawyer and the hospital and then pay as much on the car as I can so I have a very low monthly payment. 

It was my hope to be debt free when the divorce was final, but that is obviously not going to happen.  I am angry that I am paying for a divorce I did not want.   I am very grateful that God is continuing to provide as my recent ambulance bill of over $600 from February was written off by the fire department due to my financial situation.

Fortunately, Heather's recent diagnosis brought Dave and I closer as the children's parents.  We have worked incredibly well together juggling this new normal.  I am very happy about that.  He has moved on into a relationship with a new man, and he is happy.  

I told the kids this spring that Dave has done, is doing and is going to do things that upset me, and I am sure I will do the same to him...but I also explained that my ultimate responsibility when he upsets me is to choose how I am going to respond and to choose forgiveness.  I also told them that I truly care about their dad, and I just want him to be happy.

So the battles are over, hopefully for the most part.  We have put down the swords and have joined hands to move forward the best we can as the kids' parents.  I am really proud of us for doing so.  He really is a great dad, but like us all, has things to work on.  He and Amy are still alienated from each other by her choice.  I have nudged him and coached him to reach out to her, but he doesn't seem to get the idea.  Please pray that in time Amy will make her peace with him.

I am also extremely grateful that I took the plunge and actually went on a few dates this past year.  I recently met a very wonderful man, and we are enjoying getting to know each other.

Please pray for our week at camp....that God would refresh and renew us, give me a better perspective on Heather's situation and would give me peace and wisdom about my finances.