Wednesday, November 14

Patience, attitude, the half-brother to Jesus, and Woods coffee

A few trials have come my way.  Such is life, right? 

Every single person reading this has been faced with trials.  Some big, some small, some life changing and life ending, some with new beginnings....each invoking their own pain, their own joy and a certain attitude that over comes us as humans. 

I'm here to tell you, I'm a wife.  A mother.  A sister, a daughter, a friend.  I'm an employee.  A farmer.  A Jesus loving believer.  And with all of those roles, comes a few issues of late.

Our pastor, who we have enjoyed for 10 years, who has preached at our church for approximately 28 years, was dismissed because the membership of our church wanted a new pastor to grow the church and take in a new direction (as I understand the issue).  I was confused, angry at the decision, sad for my own loss in a great teacher and anxious for what this change means to my faith.

My daughter, a freshman in college and a recovering alcoholic, continues to work a great program in recovery but her mental health struggles are now larger and more evident without the self medication of alcohol.  I am sad that she has such a struggle with co-occuring disorders, and worried for her future.  Beyond anything, I want the best for each of my four kids and strive everyday to be the mother they need, and at times I feel an absolute without a doubt failure at that task. 

My son, a kindergartener with symptoms and habits and behaviors from multiple developmental delays, struggles to be a kindergartener, struggles to be ready to learn and how the teachers plan for his access to an education continues to seem noncoordinated.  I am frustrated at what seems to be an unordinate amount of time, not just from me but also all the teaching staff, in coordinating services and people and care within systems that I thought and had dreamt were suppose to be coordinated already.  I'm disappointed that systems are just as imperfect as me as a human being.  It's really confusing and non sensical at times.

My oldest son is preparing college applications to University of California schools.  I cannot even adequately share how much his absence in my daily life will change my positive and fun loving attitude, he and I share a very mellow outlook on the human experience, often keeping each other in check, I sincerely enjoy parenting him and all that we talk about and learn from each other. 

The farm has taken much time this year to prepare for winter.  New drainage systems in the pastures to allow for standing water to drain quicker has taken much efforts by my sweet husband to dig, and redig, to design and redesign... and redig, ugh.  Lots of money thrown toward drains. 

Our marriage has taken a back burner to the struggles of late, and that is never what I or my husband intend to have occur.  We celebrated our 10 year anniversary and we both feel.... "we need a redo on that celebration".   We love to talk and dream and conspire but let's face it with life it's harder to fit in the "planning" portion of a marriage.

A friend died.  A dear sweet beautiful and wonderful mom of a four year old boy.  A colleague, a coworker, a friend to drink coffee and catch up with.  Someone that is still a follower of our family blog even though she is following from heaven now.

My parents are getting older.  Funny concept huh?  And my mom is scheduled for knee surgery which is much needed after many years of pain.  But the thought of my parents, who gave me such an ideal and sheltered childhood, aging... getting older... is pressing on me lately.  It makes me more concerned.  Makes me ask them if they need help preparing the house for winter. 

Somehow, I allowed the recent trials to consume me.  To have all of my thoughts channeled just to issues at hand.  I lost my view, myperspective.... and for a sheet moment I lost the belief in my faith. 

So, I checked myself into Woods coffee on a Sunday evening.  Kicked the miscellaneous teenagers that were lounging on the couch near the fireplace off after I overheard they had been there since 3pm (it was after 6pm).  I curled up on the giant couch with a carmel machiotto coffee and my bible.  Turned to the chapter of James (which was written by Jesus' half brother, and may have been one of the first books of the new testament.  Interesting facts!)  It was the last sermon that I listened to my pastor preach.  It was one of those profound experiences that you sit in your church and feel, this is all for me!  So much so, that I wanted to read the book of James in full (which is only five chapters), and thinking about the application to my life was where a cup of coffee always helps!

"..count it all joy when you fall into various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience. But let patience have its perfect work, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking nothing."  James 1:2-4

I thought I knew patience before our twins were born.  I thought I knew patience before collaborating with education.  I *think* I know patience now.  Well, the fact is, by testing my faith, it continually teaches me patience.

"But be doers of the word, and not hearers only deceiving yourselves. For if anyone is a hearer of the word and not a doer, he is like a man observing his natural face in a mirror;  for he observes himself, goes away, and immediately forgets what kind of man he was. But he who looks into the perfect law of liberty and continues in it, and is not a forgetful hearer but a doer of the work, this one will be blessed in what he does."  James 1:22-25

I am always concerned that I don't share my belief systems with other people ("hey look I'm a Christian"), but rather that I try to be Christ like, as C.S. Lewis in "The Great Divorce" "There have been some who were so occupied in spreading Christianity, they never gave a thought to Christ".  Maybe, by showing others compassion and grace they will feel loved.  Calling yourself a Christian does nothing without the actions.

Recently I read an article on Taoists philosopher, Yun Xiang Tseng, theory "Game of Life". In this "game", there are several players, "the victim", "the persecutor", "the hero".  According to Tseng, each of us plays each of these roles throughout our daily life.  He warns however, that sometimes these roles are not what they appear. When you are a hero, you are sometimes a victim. When you are a victim are you seeking to prosecute? When you are a prosecutor do you believe you are a hero?  The secret he says, is to enjoy the position you are playing, but when the day is done, remove your mask, and separate yourself from your role. This he says, is the key to happiness. To the Taoist philosophers, emotions are like decorations in the living room. It is important to notice and explore them; but when you are done it is more important to place them back upon the shelf where they belong.

My attitude had gotten in the way of me processing thru the recent trials.
"Do not grumble against one an example of suffering and patience...we count them blessed who endure. You have heard of the perseverance of Job and seen the end intended by the Lord—that the Lord is very compassionate and merciful."

Over the past year I have learned that grace can be found in the moments of the day that I allow others the dignity of working thru their own decisions, on their own path of struggles, and not being the solution but a resource to their success. Grace is sometimes a verb which is defined by a characteristic of honoring someone else with respect and allowing them their achievements thru being their own hero.  Solving their own problems.  And in that my attitude has changed. 

I reread "The Pastoral Practicality of Law-Gospel Theology" Tullian Tchividjian (who is Billy Graham's grandson, long story) who says "If we really love people and want to see them truly set free, we have to get out of God's way and let the crushing work happen so that the gospel can do it's curing work".  I've seen far too many people 'rescued'  by parents and family members which has actually ruined their lives because their fall has been cushioned by people that "love" them- robbing that person from ever experiencing true deliverance because they never experienced true desperation.  "God's office is at the END of our rope" because grace always runs downhill-meeting us at the bottom and not the top.

I have a vision for this next month.  To set my sights on a goal of being humble, loving and patient, wise, intelligent, genuine and sincere and celebrating opportunities to be a resource to people, but to keep my perspective that it's God's plan and He is control and I'm thankful that these are all trials to count as joys to my life, even in death... I can celebrate her friendship.  The human experience is profound.

Tommy Adventures