Thursday, November 28, 2013

The Immediate Hallelujah

*When thinking about thankfulness, I decided that this post from March 17, 2013 best conveyed my heart right now. I want to be ever-so-thankful for hardship...

Warning: This is a long post. Grab your coffee...
That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong. ~ 2 Corinthians 12:10
This thought has been rumbling around inside of me for weeks. While I since the Spirit giving me some insight here, let me make two things clear: this is just my interpretation and it is still marinating. {Let me state a few of my beliefs here. Scripture is God's very Word and is, thus, God talking to me -- It cuts me, changes me, steadies me, and leads me. It judges me and not vice versa. The Word is unchanging, eternal, unalterable, perfect, enduring, the Rock, powerful, and will never pass away. I also believe that the Holy Spirit can reveal something new to you in a verse that you may have read hundreds of times before. I think He brings things to light in His Word to show you exactly what you need or He wants you to see. In other words, I can read a verse many times in my life and one time this pops out and another time that, then another aspect hits you another time and sometimes nothing stands out to you. I think you never know what's coming when you read the Word -- watch out! -- because that Spirit, He knows your heart and thoughts. Basically, each verse is like a gem with many different facets or faces; while there is one truth, the Spirit might decide to show you a slightly different angle or aspect you never saw before. Anyway, this is one of those.}

This may seem a little theological, but it has an amazing, profound impact. So much so, it scares me a little to think about it. Great, now I'm crying... hold on.

This verse kind of closes out that famous passage about Paul's thorn in the flesh and when God told him, "My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Whenever I had previously read 2 Corinthians 12:10 (at the top), I think my brain would somehow interpret that Paul is saying he delights in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, and in difficulties that are for Christ's sake. In other words, he takes delight in a hardship that you suffer from that was caused because of your faith in Christ. Yes, that articulates what I thought that verse was saying. [Granted, many versions (of the Bible) read that way and that interpretation is also buttressed by many other verses in the Bible -- rejoicing when you suffer things for Christ's sake.]

One: I take delight in hard things that are because of His sake.

Two: For His sake, I take delight in hard things.

I think both are true. But, the second statement is a brand new understanding for me. Probably because of my disease. You see, it is a hard thing, but I fail to see how I suffer from it because of my faith in Christ, for Christ's sake. [Friedreich's Ataxia being just another rare, genetic nerve disease. Scientifically, we know that two recessive genes combined... blahblahblah...] It's not like I lost a limb in a bombing while I was at church -- that being an example of a suffering because of faith in Christ. 

Alright, let me go back to this passage about Paul's thorn in the flesh. There is nothing in this passage that makes you think that Paul's thorn was caused by his faith in Christ. It likely could have been some random difficulty or physical ailment not brought upon him because of his faith. [I think he would have mentioned it if his faith was the cause, as he usually does in his other letters.] So, with this in mind, it looks like Paul probably did mean the second interpretation mentioned above.

Now, here comes the good stuff -- the understanding, the epiphany, the application :)

What does it mean that for Christ's sake, I should take delight in hard things? Why??

Let me rephrase that question: If I take delight in hard things, how is that for Christ's sake? And here's the answer: Not only that, but we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope (Romans 5:3-4)Because taking delight, rejoicing in hard things, in suffering can develop the character of Christ in us! [And that is God's desire -- Romans 8:29.]

I think we all kind of know that (mental assent). Yet, here is where the rubber meets the road. Paul is not just saying persevere through hardship until you overcome and can wipe the sweat off your brow, say whew, and return to a life of ease and comfort. He says to rejoice in suffering and take delight in hardship to gain the character of Christ, become like Him. If you want to be like Him, be glad and take joy in hard things.

I think I had always somewhat understood this with the understanding that eventually you need to come to grip with hard things, with life, and make peace with God, not hold on to bitterness, but trust that God is working it for your good. After you are beyond the hard thing, you can tell others about it and even smile while doing so. But, that is not what I'm saying. That is saying be upset and sad and frustrated and confused for a while, get it out of your system, and then try to be content with your circumstances. Eventual nonresistance. I'm talking about immediate hallelujahs! Hard thing... yes! An opportunity to build His character in me!

Now, I am not saying seek out persecution or go looking for difficulty. They will come your way. I am saying that when it comes, welcome itmaybe even desire it (yikes!), with open arms and give thanks for it! Yay! An opportunity!

No, I never see this done (nor do I do it). Usually when anything bad or negative or hard happens, I see the responses of fear, fret, or frustration -- never delight or praise! I want to be like my Lord, so I want to be ready with praise and thanksgiving for these opportunities to build character. Because, honestly, Jesus tells us that the more hardship you endure, the bigger your crown will be in Heaven. If that's true, then wouldn't more hardship actually be a good thing, eternally-speaking? Wouldn't more hardship be God's way of loving us?

Join me in saying yes -- yes to hard things, yes to God!
That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong. ~ 2 Corinthians 12:10
Praying for strength to rejoice in hard things right away,

Tuesday, November 19, 2013


  • We are preparing to go to my parents' home for 9 days at the end of this week. I will likely take a break from posting; however I may post on Thanksgiving Day.
  • I have been taking particulates for two weeks now. Nothing noticeable yet. It took the Romanian girl two months to start seeing results; so, I don't expect to for a while.
  • Ricky stopped taking Aolani to go potty when we go to bed about a week ago, and she just gets up whenever she needs to. So far so good ;) 

  • Verse to memorize this week: Colossians 3:11 ~ Here there is no Gentile or Jew, circumcised or uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, slave or free, but Christ is all, and is in all.

Sunday, November 17, 2013

Thankfulness Overflowing 2013

 We are celebrating Thanksgiving in two ways this year, as far as heart preparation goes.

One, we printed these leaves out on cardstock. On one side is a Bible verse concerning thankfulness, and we collaborate as a family to think of something we are thankful for to write on the other side (our list is here). We just staple the leaves on twine :)

Two, we are reading through this Thanksgiving book together as a family each night.

Also, we enjoy a certain Thanksgiving CD (Amazon has many choices) and make some fall crafts -- leaf rubbings, paper turkeys, etc.

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Shooting Turkeys and Hiding

  • We had a nice visit from Ricky's parents over the long weekend. Ricky and his dad went to a friend's house to practice shooting different kinds of guns; Ricky must have had a great time because he is still talking about it five days later! Also, Ricky's parents took the kiddos for a carriage ride at Biltmore and to a park. Ricky got to practice cooking Symptometry-style this weekend for his family, since my mom got a reprieve to go home for several days ;)
  • Well, Aolani had her first accident in her bed the other night and managed to wet her pillow, bedspread, and sheets. I was a little perplexed at how she managed that!
Aolani holding her Thanksgiving turkey that we made
Some dear friends gave us this blanket to honor Avalynn; those two portraits of the kids when they were 3 mos of age were gifts painted by a friend.
  • Verse to memorize this week: Colossians 3:10 ~ and have put on the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge in the image of its Creator.

Sunday, November 10, 2013

The Whys Without Answers

Specific answers that is. The answer is sure.

These are some of the specific questions Ricky and I have voiced (to each other) over the years:

Why --
  • did God promise to heal me on earth and not so-and-so? We believe that any sickness can be a gift if we become more dependent on Him and grow in Christ's character.
  • does God clearly speak to me and not to Ricky? Doesn't that mean that Ricky gets the benefit of trusting God more and having greater faith?
  • does God give us enough money to live on so that we are not struggling to meet our basic needs but not some of our persecuted brethren who are unable to find dinner for their children? While money is a neutral object, it is hard not to see it as a curse because we usually end up spending it on ourselves and less on others in need. It becomes our need and our answer -- versus our real Need and the Answer to it. We think it most always distracts us from our true Source and Provider. [I.e., We get a $150 doctor's bill in the mail and automatically think we need $150. While this is the common scenario, it will throw you slightly off course. This is a money-centered view, not God-centered. Truth is, we should get the bill and pray (with thanksgiving) for God to take care of the bill somehow. And wait, with all openness. He likely could supply the money or... God is limitless in His ways of creatively meeting our needs! This way, you are not confining or restricting Him but letting Him loose to do what He wants :) You are demonstrating that God is your Need-Meeter, not money.]
  • do we not get the privilege of facing as much physical danger and persecution as our Colombian or Nigerian brethren? I feel like they have a much more real opportunity to trust Christ, rely on the Spirit in them, store up more eternal treasure, gain the crown of life (Rev. 2:10), grow in unity with (know) Christ, etc.
  • do we not suffer more? Romans 8:17; if suffering can be a blessing, should we not want more?
  • does God relate to me one way and to Ricky another? God relates to every person how He deems fit. All I know is that He is doing what is best for that individual.
  • Basically, you can put in any of your own why me and not him or why him and not me question.
The answer (as I understand it now): In two words -- be content. I think it all boils down to trusting that God is looking out for your best (eternal) interest and what brings Him the most glory

For instance, God's promise to heal me on earth -- we see my disease as a gift and wondered why God would take that gift away. I am sure He used and is still using it in many ways for His glory and my own good, but maybe He will be getting glory in a different way once my healing is manifest... If I were to continue on with my disease, I trust that to be what would be for His glory and my good. In either situation, my job is not to question His ways but trust Him. His plans are good and trustworthy.

Be thankful. Be faithful. Be content.

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Making It Through

  • I started particulates on Monday, which is exciting but regimented.
  • Podiatrist: I have a pre-ulcer on the bottom of my right foot. We are keeping it well-padded while we figure out the next step in treating the cause (a peroneal nerve spasm in my calf that is keeping my foot out-turned and putting pressure on abnormal spots on my foot).
  • Miscarriage: I got another ultrasound yesterday, which showed that I still have a long way to go and a lot more bleeding to do -- all of the placenta is still in there, along with some baby-body pieces. But, I feel fine (just tired from losing so much blood). Anyway, I ordered some more particulates to help induce miscarriage and dissolve all remaining biological formations. My OB/Gyn is fine with that; he is very kind and patient with me. So, we'll see...
  • After dinner most nights, Ricky and the kids play "hide 'n' seat" ;) 

  • At a ropes' course park:

Picnic with a gorgeous mountain view
  • Verse to memorize this week: Colossians 3:9 ~ Do not lie to each other, since you have taken off your old self with its practices

Sunday, November 3, 2013

Transforming an Adversity into an Advantage

"I write this with all reverence: God Himself cannot deliver a person who is not in trouble. Therefore, it is to some advantage to be in distress, because God can then deliver you. Even Jesus Christ, the Healer of men, cannot heal a person who is not sick. Therefore, sickness is not an adversity for us, but rather an advantageous opportunity for Christ to heal us. The point is, my reader, your adversity may prove your advantage by offering occasion for the display of divine grace."  ~ Charles Spurgeon