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April 20, 2012

Tables Turned

Everyday it seems like I am constantly challenging and encouraging our children in their faith. So many lessons to be taught.

But today the tables were turned. Today our son taught me a life lesson and challenged me in my faith.

He was generous to a neighbor when I would have held back. He told me that God blesses us when we give. On the outside I smiled, for I didn't want to discourage his sweet faith. But on the inside I knew the facts, plain and simple. So and so many chickens which laid so and so many eggs a day....times the people that needed eggs by the weekend.....equaled not enough!!! Plain and simple.

But I was about to be put to shame...for I had just limited God. A God Who wanted to show himself real to His child...a God Who cared about the little things in this young man's life.

What happened? More eggs than we have ever gotten in a single day...almost too many eggs for what seems possible.

And what did my son say to me...in a matter of fact way??? See Mom... I told you.....God blesses us when we are generous and give.

And I smiled again. But this time it was a different smile....a smile for a son who believed and was shown in a tangible way that God cares about the little things...a smile for a Mama who was reminded that God cared enough about her to teach her something through the faith of a child.

I will probably never look at an egg again without being reminded of our lesson in generosity today....the day the tables were turned!

April 7, 2012

Easter Memories

Easter was always a big deal in my family while growing up. Sadly though, because my parents were not believers, it was all about bunnies and easter eggs in those early years.

But one of my most vivid memories of Easter was the one when I was around 10 yrs. old. It is a day I  will never forget.

First a little history of my family. I am the 2nd oldest in a family of 5 children. But because my older sister was born mentally handicapped and was sent to live in a home when she was 1,  I was the oldest living at home, and for 8 years I felt like an only child. My brother was born 8 years after me, my sister 12 years, and my brother 16 years, So with the exception of my older sister and I, we were very spread out.

I never really knew my oldest sister. She had left our home before I was born and because of distance, we rarrly went to visit her. And when we did go visit her our conversations were very one sided as she couldn't walk, talk or eat. About all she could do was make grunting and moaning noises...but still I hoped she recognized me and tried to talk with her.

Because it was 8 years before I had a sibling at home, I often felt very lonely as a child. My mom did a great job at spending time with me and including me in her daily activities, but still there was that void of not having a sibling. And what made this void even worse in my heart was knowing that I had a sister that was just 19 months older than me and yet we couldn't be together. I spent many hours dreaming of what life would be like if she were around....oh the fun we would have together! How I longed for this.

It was around the time my brother was born that my mom became a believer. This changed a lot if things in our home. Mom did a lot of talking about God and praying to Him. There were many times I remember coming in the house and hearing her crying out to God for things....especially the salvation of my dad (which was answered a few years later!). One thing I learned from my mom during this time was that God was real and He cared about our everyday lives. Her faith and trust in God definitely rubbed off on me and I grew in my love and devotion to Him as well.

Even though I was absolutely thrilled that I had a baby brother, my heart still longed for my older sister. It just didn't seem fair to me that we couldn't be together sharing our everyday lives.

And this brings me to my most memorable Easter. I am not sure when it all started or even how I got to this point, but it was a very real experience in my life. Like I said before, my mom's zeal for the things of God was affecting me in the same way. I remember spending hours and hours in my little "prayer closet" praying and many hours reading my picture Bible. I was hungry for God and it seemed like I could never get enough. One of the things I prayed regularly for in my prayer times was healing for my big sister. Because I read the Bible  and I knew that God was the same today as He was back then, I knew that He could still heal. In fact my mom and I saw many prayers being answered and so in my heart I had the faith of a spiritual giant. I knew that there was NOTHING that my God could not do. So I would pray day after day, time and time again for the healing of my sister.

And when this particular  Easter was approaching, I just knew that the time was soon coming that my sister would be healed and whole. I shared this with my mom and I told her that I believed that her healing would come on Easter day, which was just a few weeks away. I don't really remember how I got to this point, why I thought she would be healed on Easter, but I do remember that my mom never doubted or discouraged me from believing this. She prayed right along with me. A few days later on one of our shopping trips I asked my mom if she could buy my sister and I matching dresses so that when she was healed on Easter, we would be matching. I can very clearly remember exactly what those dresses looked like. Mine was blue and white  and hers was burgundy and white. I was so excited and so full of faith just knowing that on Easter day my sister and I would be reunited and together like we always should have been.

Easter morning came. I put on my dress with a smile on my face....I was so excited!!! We went to church and then to my Uncle and Aunt's place for a family gathering. I had a really hard time concentrating on anything that day besides waiting for the phone to ring. You see I had made sure my mom had called the home where my sister lived and had given them the phone number where we would be for the day. That way when my sister was healed, they would know how to get hold of us and we could go pick her up. The day turned into evening and still no phone call. Still I did not loose hope. I was so sure that today would be the day!!! Eventually it was time to go home and in my little heart I started to wonder if I had heard God wrong. Was it just my wishful thinking that got me to this point? Then there was the embarrassment of being wrong. How could I have been so silly. I don't remember much more of that evening. My mom was very good about it all. I remember apologizing for making her get another dress because I knew that we didn't have extra money for such things. She didn't make me feel silly....she just loved me. I know she would have been disappointed too.

I don't remember ever questioning God....probably more myself for not hearing right. I was sad....my hopes had been raised too high. I was sure that I would be playing with my sister after that day.

My sister did end up being healed a few years later.....in heaven. When she was 14 years old she went home to be with the Lord. It was a time of rejoicing for us knowing that she was finally whole. Those last couple of years of her life were so sad. She just lay there and she was so brittle that even moving her would break her bones.  I could just imagine her now running around in heaven picking and smelling the flowers (that's what I had planned we would do together). Who could be sad about that? The day after the funeral I returned to school and one of my non-Christian friends said to me, "How can you come back to school the day after your sisters funeral...aren't you sad?" I then explained to her that my sister was in a much better place and was healed and whole. How could I be sad about that?

I think of this time in my life a lot. When I hear people talk about healing and the belief out there that some people don't get healed because they dodn't have enough faith...... this makes my upset. Because I know that I know that I know that as a child that Easter Sunday I had the faith that my sister was going to be healed. I was so, so, so sure and there was not a doubt in my mind....not one.  This proves to me that it is not always a matter of lack of faith. It's a matter of a God Who is in control and Who knows what is best for all mankind.

Do I believe that God heals today? I sure do. I have been blessed to witness a few physical healings in me and my family. But I also believe that God does not always answer our prayers that way that we think He should. I thought my sister should be healed and we should be together...obviously God had other plans. I don't know why.....but I don't need to. I just need to trust in His perfect will and plan. I will not always understand why He chooses what He does....but I don't need to...I just need to trust. As a young girl that Easter Sunday I didn't understand why God choose not to heal my sister....but that didn't stop me from praying to Him and trusting in Him. I knew in my heart that He loved me and knew what was best for me. I still spent hours in my prayer closet and reading my Bible. I never once even thought of being mad at God....it wasn't an option in my mind....I loved Him and I trusted Him.

And I still do today. There are still times when I pray for something and I have complete and total faith that it will come to pass....but it turns out differently than what I prayed for. But that doesn't stop me from praying. It makes me realize that I see such a little picture of my life and the life of others but God sees the BIG picture. He knew what my sister's life would have been like if she was healed....and obviously He thought it was best not to heal her. And I love Him for that....I love that He does what is best for me and others rather than what I think is best.

So this Easter season, as that Easter season so long ago I choose to trust. To trust in a God who sent His only Son to be crucified and to bear the sin of the world. So much of the Easter story doesn't make sense to the natural mind....but to God it made perfect sense. It was His plan all along that His Son would rise again! His plan was perfect then and it still is today. He knows what's best for me....He knows that plans that He has for me....and they are for my good!!!