Saturday, May 21, 2011

God Is Good

God is Good.  He just is...when He talked about being "I AM," one of the things he could finish that title with is "GOOD.  I AM GOOD."  When I don't know anything else, I can hold onto the fact that He is good.  Always.  Without fail...He is good.

2011 hasn't been an easy year.  You know, some years, months, weeks, days are just easy.  They're good...everyone is healthy and happy, bills are paid, work is successful...things just seem to be working.  2011 hasn't been one of those years.  The last 2 months haven't been easy months.  This has not been a good week.  But God is still good, that never changes.  He is the constant even when my season isn't.

This has been one of those seasons that it takes everything in me not to feel defeated...that it takes all of the will power I have to keep the white flag put away so I don't just throw up my hands and say, "that's it...I give up."  One step forward, two steps back.  Every time I have a small victory, I have a bigger battle arise.  Just one of those seasons.  But God is still good.  Some of the battles have been huge, life-changing, heartbreaking, frustrating.  Others have been small and insignificant.  During the big battles, God has been SO GOOD.  His goodness has been tangible.  The peace has been only something He can offer, and it has been easy to profess His goodness because it is so real.  But sometimes it's the small battles that make us tired...that make it harder to have victory in the big battles.  It's often in the small battles that it's hard to remember that God is good.

This has been a week of small battles.  By yesterday, I was just tired, exhausted.  Russ took the girls to the park so I could "have some alone time" as Hailee puts it.  I sat down in the living room with my Bible, unsure where to even turn.  I opened it up and the page automatically turned to Psalm 119.  I had certain parts highlighted...I don't even remember when I highlighted them.  I looked down and this is what I saw:

"You are good, the source of good; train me in your goodness.  My troubles turned out all for the best; they forced me to learn from your textbook.  Truth from your mouth means more to me than striking it rich in a gold mine.  With your very own hands you formed me; now breathe your wisdom over me so I can understand you.  When they see me waiting, expecting your Word, those who fear you will take heart and be glad.  I can see now, God, that your decisions are right; your testing has taught me what's true and right.  Oh, love me and right now!  Hold me tight!  Just the way you promised.  Now comfort me so I can live, really live; your revelation is the tune I dance to."  Psalm 119:68,71-77 (The Message)

I had to laugh.  In all the little, everyday battles, all the tedious challenges that had begun to defeat me, I had forgotten the thing that has gotten me through the big battles.  God is good.  I have been repeating it to myself for the last 24 hours.  God is good, God is good, God is good.  It helped me today as I did my dance...two steps forward, one step back.  It helped me in my small victory this morning only to be followed immediately by a new, bigger battle.  It helped me when a lady yelled at me out of her car window this afternoon at the helped me walk away and not say anything even though I wanted to turn around and say a few, choice words.  What would Jesus do?  I'm convinced that sometimes Jesus just walked away, sometimes I think He remained sinless by just keeping his mouth shut!  Granted, He probably didn't think the things I thought, so He still got the sinless title, while I definitely don't come close!

You know sometimes we just need that small reminder that He cares.  Maybe it's because I'm a very forgetful person.  Regardless, I think He knew I needed a little "hug" this afternoon.  So as I pulled into a very busy HEB parking lot (after being yelled at in the previous parking lot), I just said, "Lord, could you please help me find a parking spot close to the front?  I need to get balloons and I don't want them to blow away on a long walk back to the car."  And this is the terrible part.  I actually thought, Why would He help me find a parking spot.  He's got bigger things going on than my little need.  And then I looked up.  The spot right by the door...not in a aisle, but by the curb 15 feet from the door, opened up, just for me.  I sat in the car and thought, Thanks, God.  I really needed that hug.

It was just a small reminder that He knows....that He cares...that He sees all the battles big and small.  It was just a small reminder that HE IS GOOD! 

Friday, May 13, 2011

It's Wise to Call First!

I had a surprise knock on the door this week.  Jehovah's witnesses.  Two lovely ladies who have been here before and strangely remembered my name, the ages of my kids and the dog's name from the last time they stopped by.  They know my husband is a "preacher" but they still want to convert me, I suppose.  I have wondered why these two have been more persistent than others that have come over the years.  Usually when we tell them that we're ministers for the Assemblies of God, they quickly stop their sermon and bid us adieu.  We've even had one tell us that it was "ok that we were pastors"...he was just going to keep right on going until his partner tapped him on the arm and motioned that he could stop.  Poor guy...they just don't seem to know how to take people that are just as committed to a belief as they are to theirs.  But these I said, they are so nice...and persistent  I was pondering this persistence after they left this week and started to think about what it is they see when they randomly knock on my door in the middle of the day.  And it became all too clear why they keep coming back...if I happened upon a house as crazy as mine, I think I may try to come back and "save" that family as well!  Upon ringing my doorbell, they are welcomed with the following:

A barking dog...who does he think is at the door?  Surely it is an army of hooligans here to kidnap the children or so it would seem by the crazy, wild-eyed carrying on of our 11 pound killer Yorkie! 
The wiggling of the doorknob as my two year old does her best to open it on her own.
They can also probably hear me "whisper-yelling" to leave the door alone until I can see who it is.  By this time it is pointless to pretend that we aren't here...Rhylee has locked and unlocked the door so many times in 15 seconds that she may qualify for a place in the Olympics.  Hailee is running after her screaming to "let Mommy open the door!  We don't know who it is!"  (She has obviously been lectured enough about the dangers of opening the door to strangers!)  So after I realign my face from the not-so-friendly smirk and stop the rather large eye-roll that began after looking through the peep-hole, I open the door and try to have the most "I'm really busy, but may I help you?" look I can muster.  At this point, the dog and the baby are my best friends as it looks perfectly understandable why I am not a very gracious host.  I am standing on one leg while my other leg holds Rhylee on my side of the doorframe.  I now realize that at some point in the morning, she has gotten ahold of markers, the only thing she is now wearing is underwear and she is colored blue and black from head to toe...amazing how you only notice this kind of artwork when guests randomly appear!  The dog is in my arms wiggling like crazy...he apparently has determined that the hooligans are actually angels from the dog-treat factory here to deliver $1,000 worth of anything worth licking!  Hailee is peering around my body still trying to determine if these are safe strangers or the kind mommy has scared her about.  My hair is plopped up on top of my head in a very messy 6 AM-get-Ethnee-out-the-door-before-she-is-late-for-school kind of way.  I am in workout clothes, no make-up and the look on my face is now saying, "Talk fast ladies, you have 3.2 seconds to tell me what you want or this craziness is going to get past my legs and you're going to have to take it all home with you!"  I am sure this is the message that was coming across because the only thing they said was, "Is this a bad time?"  Ha!  What was surprising was the calm, cool, collected voice that came out of my mouth (it was a very different voice than the one in my head!)  "Well, we were just getting ready to leave for the store" (which was the truth...I just had to clean up the marker-kid and redo my hair).  The Jehovah's Witness kindly handed me her paraphernalia, told me something about end-time prophesy and said they would let me go.  What?  You don't want to see what other kinds of craziness you could find if you actually stepped through door #1?  Oh that's right, you can't get through my leg-barricade! 

After I shut the door, I began to think about the fact that I'm a pastor's wife...and they know that.  I'm supposed to be dressed in my best casual/trendy/conservative clothes to answer the door.  My children are supposed to be sitting around a spotless kitchen table having a Bible study while I prepare cookies in the kitchen...that way I could invite them in to share those cookies with the girls while I put on some tea.  We could then pursue a hearty debate about the beliefs of Pentecostal Christians vs. Jehovah's Witnesses.  None of us would probably convert to the others' beliefs, but we would all know at the end of the day that we had done the best we could. 

And then my imaginary bubble popped...

I took Rhylee upstairs, did my best to rub the marker off of her arms and neck but left it on her belly and legs because her clothes would cover most of that.  I grabbed a brush and dealt with the mess on top of my head, finished my grocery list, threw on some flip-flops and headed to the store.

What was the point of this whole, ridiculous story, you might ask?  Well, it's to remind you that it would be wise to call me before you come over.  I would love to be dressed fashionably (but not too fashionably) when I open the door.  My hair can be neatly pulled back to show that I've been cleaning like a good housewife (but not too much because I keep a very clean house by habit). We can sit at the kitchen table and have a lively debate, and I'd be happy to make some cookies and put on some tea...but those things would require that I go to the grocery store first.  Our children can play and we can have a lovely afternoon.

Ok, now your bubble can pop.

It's wise to call me before you come over because it's just plain courteous.  My house will probably be a mess, although I will try my best to pick up a few toys and move the dishes into the sink.  I may still be in my workout clothes and my kids may or may not be dressed.  I probably won't have homemade cookies and tea but you're welcome to an Oreo and a sippy-cup of milk.  That's my real house, my real life.  I'd love to share it with you if you can handle the craziness!  If you want the "bubble picture" above, you'll need to give me at least a week's notice!