Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Perspective is EVERYTHING

Recently someone made the comment to me that health is everything. Though health is VERY important, I really don't think I agree.

Health can easily be taken for granted. I do, often. Unless I am sick or something that normally works a certain way all of a sudden isn't working, I don't really think about being healthy. You could easily say I don't appreciate it. Perspective is what makes me apprecaite my health; perspective that I usually get when I'm not healthy.

Recently, I've had multiple opportunities to get perspective. If I've learned anything, it is how very much perspective impacts attitude. I think it makes all the difference in the world. I've been pregnant 11 times, but I don't have 11 children; I only have six. Five different times the hearts of little blessings I'll never hold stopped beating only weeks after they'd begun. It is a painful thing, and because I believe life begins at conception, I've grieved five times. Recently, though, God gave me a dose of perspective. I've been pregnant 11 times! I have six healthy children. How many women have never been able to get pregnant?! How many women dreamed of having a family, only to have their hopes dashed on the hard rocks of infertility? Though I get tired, there is always month left at the end of the money, and raising six children is a HUGE amount of work, it is good to be reminded just how blessed I am. I have what some women can only dream about.

Sometimes I dream about a bigger house. A house where only two children have to share a room, instead of four; where lines can form outside two (or more) bathrooms and where we actually fit into the dining room even if we have guests. I'd love a house big enough to have a guest room and a place dedicated to homeschooling. Oh, and I'd absolutely love a big gourmet kitchen with enough space for all my daughters to cook with me comfortably. It would be wonderful. But, I've been looking at bigger houses and I've gotten a huge dose of perspective. First, I love where we live. I love the park we have in the back yard, with mature fruit trees and lots of room to run. I love being in a rural area with most of the conveniences of a more urban neighborhood. So we don't have Costco or Wal-Mart. I don't really care! All of a sudden, where I live seems like a castle.

After spending a good deal of time thinking about the conversation with my friend and my experiences of the last several weeks, I've come to a conclusion. Health isn't everything. You can have it and not appreciate it, and it will go away. Money is the same way. Honestly, almost everything in life is fleeting. What is really worthwhile is terribly undervalued. Perspective, on the other hand, is what helps determine value. No, health isn't everything. Perspective is.

Monday, February 11, 2008

A new definition for faith

I have been, for the past several months, learning more about sacrifice than I ever dreamed possible. The lessons have not been, thankfully, terribly painful. More it has been a constant chipping away that over time has stripped away much that I believed to be true. As a child, I had my life planned out; I was going to be a missionary nurse, living my days out in some foreign hospital, tending physical and spiritual wounds of the people whose country I'd adopted. Knowing my call, I gladly committed to go wherever God wanted me to go and to do whatever God wanted me to do.

Unfortunately, it has taken me the better part of two decades to figure out where God was calling me to go and what He was calling me to do. Instead of being called to go to the uttermost, as I expected, and instead of being called to serve as a nurse, as I expected, I've been called to be the homeschooling mother of many. In some ways, it is a much more difficult task. Without question, it is one that showcases my weaknesses.

Being a homeschooling mother of many, and educating four different children in four different grades this year, I see my weaknesses more clearly than ever before. As I've wrestled with accepting God's call to live in the US and be a mother to many, I've been learning all over again what it means to live by faith. The process has been, at times, painful, but mostly God has been gentle and gracious.

Recently I heard someone say that faith is choosing to live as though God's word is true regardless of my circumstances, emotions, or cultural trends. In embracing my new call, I've had many opportunities to put this new definition to the test. Actually, I flat out told God I needed help, and something a little more specific than the whole Bible - it is rather broad. And, God answered my prayer. He has given me specific passages.

Lately, the passages that I'm living out are from 2 Corinthians. The first one is in 2 Corinthians 12:9. It says (in Marchauna's improvised version) that God's grace is sufficient for me, for His strength or power is made perfect in weakness. The apostle Paul, who wrote the verse, said that because Jesus' power was made perfect in his weakness, he'd boast in his weakness, so that God might be more glorified! It is difficult to truthfully embrace such a concept; I don't want to boast in my weaknesses. I want to hide them, even from myself if at all possible! In doing so, I doom myself to repeating the same mistakes I've made in the past. So, I'm choosing to live as though 2 Corinthians 12:9 is true. That is part of the reason for this post.

2 Corinthians 2:14 is another verse I'm choosing to live as though is true. It says (once again in Marchauna's improvised version) that God always leads me in triumphal procession and makes me the fragrance of the knowledge of Him everywhere. Now, many days I feel anything BUT triumphant, and when all I do is stay at home caring for my children all day, I can't imagine how God is making me the fragrance of Himself ANYWHERE. But, by choosing to live as though that verse is true, I'm seeing triumph where failure has always reigned. God Himself has been showing me how He makes me His fragrance in places I never could have imagined. And, though I'd never thought of it before, He is using me to be the fragrance of the knowledge of Himself to my own children.

It is not easy, walking by faith. Choosing to live as though the Bible is true, regardless of anything, can be very difficult. Emotions can seem so real. Circumstances can seem so reasonable. Cultural trends are tough to go against. How thankful I am to not have to walk this road alone. Jesus has been keeping His promise to demonstrate His power through my weaknesses. It is not easy, and I don't have this whole thing figured out, but I really like the new definition for faith that I've learned. By God's grace, I will choose to live as though the Bible is true, regardless!