Saturday, December 31, 2016

My Word for 2017

I just re-read my post on my word for 2014.  I had words for 2015 and 2016 also, but I didn't write about them.  Both years were hard.  They were just hard and to be honest, I can't recall what words I settled on.  This year I am going to put my word where I can see it.  Where I can remember.  Where I can focus.  

I still strive to live minimally (as in 2014), but it doesn't usually work.  I forget or find something we cannot live without or just can't get rid of that because, well, it's a memory, even if I haven't looked at it in 5 years.  

2015 and 2016 - I'm ready to break up with them.  We saw loss, those two years and I - loss of close friendships, of family, of faith.  Loss of self-confidence, of patience, and of grace - mine for others, not God's for me.  Don't get me wrong - we had some good times (Cookie Monster A) and honestly I can't really complain.  My home is intact, my family is healthy (enough), I have freedom to come and go as I choose.  I cannot legitimately complain.  I'm not living in a war-torn country, wondering if today is the day that my children die.  I'm not hoping to find enough food to feed my family.  We are so blessed.  I became so cynical anyway.

So my word for 2017 is restore.  So many things need restored in my life.  First and foremost, I have to work on restoring my faith.  Don't get me wrong.  I still believe in God.  I still believe and hope on Jesus.  But my commitment to my faith and to my church is lacking.  I have held grudges and not given grace.  I have allowed my faith life to be rocked to the core and not fought back to hold on.  Thank God for His grace, that will allow me to run back to his mercy seat where grace will find me.  

I need to restore my attitude, starting first with gratitude - restoring thankfulness in my heart will spin my world on its axis and will ensure that no matter what comes my way, 2017 will be okay.  I don't know what my future holds, but God does.  He has already seen it so is ready to carry me through.  How can I be anything but thankful for that?

My health and the health of my family is of utmost priority this year.  We have gotten a little lazy with our food choices and our lack of exercise in this joint.  You can surely tell when you look at a couple of us.  My health has tanked since I tore that first meniscus, then another, then the hubs broke his leg.  I got lazy on cooking and lazy on doing any type of exercise, since my knees just can't hang.  That is what I kept telling myself anyway.  There are other ways to exercise, besides walking and running (which my doctor has instructed me to absolutely no do) and I have access to those.  I have the head knowledge and the means to make sure that my family eats healthy.  If I don't teach my kids now to eat healthy and love it, why could I possibly think that they would suddenly learn it in their 20s?  So this is the year that we restore our health.

Friendships.  There is so much to say about friendships, but I'm gonna just lay it out there like this: I have a few friendships that have cooled tremendously.  I know I am to blame as the others are too.  I let *feelings* get in the way of keeping those friendships thriving.  My feelings get hurt and I just shut down.  There isn't anything I can do about that now.  But for 2017, I can start fresh and restore relationships that are salvageable.

There are so many other areas I can restore - my career (the annual question - do I go back to the state to finish or start something new), peace, furniture, to name a few - and I intend to do that.  To focus on restoring what can be restored and let go of what cannot (living minimally).  

Restore is my word for 2017.  What's yours?

Sunday, June 5, 2016

I'm Glad She Lost Her Money

Tonight Sister thought she should ignore my instructions and my warnings about taking her money out of the house and keeping it in her pocket.  That $70 was her birthday money she received over the last 3 days.  She took it to church in a yellow plastic bag with her name on it.  That makes it safe, right?  Unfortunately it fell out of her pocket and it is gone.

I'm glad she lost her money.

No, I'm not being vindictive.  I'm not wishing her heartache or sadness.  I'm not trying to be punitive or harsh.

Because she lost her money, I saw a side of my child I had not seen before.  If she hadn't lost her money I wouldn't have seen this in her.

For starters she didn't freak out like I expected that she would.  She calmly (or at least when I saw her) alerted the adults around her that the plastic bag with money was gone.  She walked around looking for it everywhere for about a half hour.  Sister didn't cry obnoxiously.  She didn't blame anyone.  She simply accepted that most likely it was gone and it was a result of a choice she had made.  When I asked her if we learned a lesson, she said, "I already learned this lesson, I just forgot." 

Sure, she cried a few tears, but I never saw them.  She didn't pout, she didn't whine, and she didn't throw a fit.  The Hubs and I were so impressed with how well she behaved, how mature she acted, and the way she accepted full responsibility that the anger (or maybe frustration) we had at her at church quickly melted away.  When we got home we decided that while she needed to feel the sting of consequences of not listening to me about taking her money out like that, we wanted to reward her for her mature choices and actions.  And hey, it IS her birthday money.  We told her that we would give her half the money she lost.  Again she accepted full responsibility and told me that it was her fault, we didn't need to give her money. 

How my heart melted at what happened next.

I told Sister that we should pray about it.  That sweet soul bowed her head and said, "Dear God, thank you for this day.  Even though I lost my money, it was still a good day.  If the person who has my money needs it more than me, I ask that you bless that money for them.  If they don't need it more than me, please let them return it. Amen."

I can't even.

Do I wish she hadn't lost her birthday money?  Yes.  Am I glad I got to witness this test?  Absolutely.  She already is a precious, sweet girl; full of compassion and mercy.

She is going to be an AMAZING woman of God. 

Wednesday, September 9, 2015

Thanks in Advance

We have had a couple of rough days, God. We got some unexpected news that will change the course of our lives for a while.  You know this because not only did You know it was coming, it passed through Your hands.  Not only did it pass through Your hands, but you decided it was our next season.  I just want to thank You in advance.  

I want to thank you in advance because not only did You know it was coming, it passed through Your hands, and You decided it was for us, but YOU ARE WALKING IT WITH US.  From the moment Michael started going down, You held him together enough to call for help.  And to keep his head out of the pool.  You had our neighbors on their back deck and they heard him yell for the kids.  The ambulance staff were where we needed them; thank You for putting them there.  Thank You for that big stupid disgusting revolting spider you put on my door that made me too chicken to get out that I drove all the way to McGirk to get him off, instead of going straight to the store where I couldn't have heard my phone.  Thank you for the doctor You had on call.  

But more importantly than all that, thank You in advance for the trial that is going to refine us.  Thank You for being near to us during this trial and holding our hands or holding us up.  Thank You in advance for the good work You will do in us.  

I need to say thank You now, God, because there are going to be days when I am going to be too tired to do it.  There are going to be days that I am angry or hurt or mad or sad.  There are going to be days when I feel You have abandoned us.  Thank You for the grace You will extend to me during these times when I am complaining or feeling sorry for myself or lashing out.  

I know we will be stronger and closer to You and to each other when this season passes.  I look forward to that day when I can look back and see every step of the journey that You were with us.  But until then, thank You in advance for the promise that You work all things for the good of those who love You.  And we do love You.

Thank you for holding us, now and in the future.  

Thursday, January 1, 2015

It is done!

Wow.  That title made it sound like a chore.  Like I am excited to be done with it.  Like it is a horrific thing I am finishing and moving on.  It wasn't anything like that.  It was so far from that I can't even explain it.  What we did wasn't extraordinary.  It wasn't remarkable or amazing.  But in 2014 we did something in our family that I honestly did not believe we could do.

We read the Bible all the way through as a family.  

Was the first paragraph some un-fancy build-up then you thought "THAT is what she is excited about?"  We didn't go deep sea diving.  We didn't climb the tallest mountain (or with my knee, even the smallest of hills).  We didn't go zip lining through a rain forest. We didn't go on a mission trip to help save orphans or feed families. But...

we read the Bible all the way through as a family.

I am not tooting our own horns.  I'm really not.  Other families have done far more amazing things for humanity and the planet.  This really shouldn't be that big of a deal, but it is to me.  

This is what I learned.

1) We can do it!  I had no doubt that the hubs or I could do it.  We have both read through the Bible before a couple of times.  We just never have together.

2) If we put our minds to it and it is important enough to us, we can do something long-term.  Sometimes we have these brilliant ideas and they last two weeks. Sometimes we say we will do it but it never gets farther than the discussion.  Like organization.  Or Bible study together.  Or cleaning and organization.  

3) It is important.  Not only did it carve a few minutes of time every night to family only time, we were focusing on God's word during that time.  It wasn't a selfish time, or a time to just spend together because we have to.  It was time well spent.  A quiet time with family and God.

4) My kids heard the Word.  Sure, they hear it often throughout the week, at Sunday School and church or in books we read at home.  They also heard it every single night. This ensured it.  (Disclaimer: it wasn't every single night for 365 nights, but it was probably at LEAST 350+ of those nights.  If we missed a night we made it up next day, except the week of Hayley's wedding - we might have missed 3-4 nights then, but we made it up.)

5) My kids not only heard the Word, they WANTED to hear the Word.  I thought we would have to practically pull teeth to get them to sit through it every night.  NO.  Not even the 18/19 year old complained.  He may not have always wanted to sit there, but not one complaint came from his mouth.  Even the littles waited for that time.  They looked forward to that time to sit down and cuddle with mama and dad and big bro before going to bed.  If I ever said "time for bed" and we hadn't read yet, they were quick to say "after the Bible, right?".  

6) Reading this Book all the way through from start to finish gave us a broader picture.  In Sunday School, you hear the "important" stories.  Adam and Eve; Moses; Samson; Kings Saul, David, & Solomon; Jesus; Paul.  They are all important stories, don't get me wrong.  But they don't give you the big picture.  They don't help you see that since the fall of man, we have a God who is lovingly and painstakingly trying to woo us back to Him.  You don't see that throughout history, He has been building up, story by story and brick by brick, to our redemption and restoration.  Reading it page by page, story by story, my kids have a better understanding of what the Word is, who God is, and who they are in His story.  

7) Hearing the Word of God out of your children's mouths is amazing.  A was a good reader.  She has been since the moment the reading light bulb came on.  However, reading from the Bible, I honestly believe, has helped her become an even better reader. What is more precious than hearing your 7/8 year old read Scripture?  Or how about that 5 year old who can't read yet, or is barely reading now, but wants so badly to "read it" that you take the extra time to read a half sentence and have him say it back? P.R.E.C.I.O.U.S.

Sure, there was a LOT they didn't understand.  Shoot, there is a LOT I don't understand. But they have heard it.  They craved it.  They have hidden it in their hearts.  I pray that this first reading was the first tiny seed of many seeds in years to come that fall on good soil and produce a great crop (Others, like seed sown on good soil, hear the word, accept it, and produce a crop - some thirty, some sixty, some a hundred times what was sown." Mark 4:20).  I pray that it was a foundation for their daily reading of the Word in many days and years to come.

Sure, reading the Bible all the way through in a year isn't something that people are amazed by and that some would even call foolish.  However, it honestly was the best thing we have ever done.  I didn't write this post so people would think "YAY Traver fam!" I didn't writ it so people can be amazed at our feat (and for us it was a feat!!).  I wrote it so you can know that with small children it IS possible if you really want to do it AND So I can remember in years to come why I felt so blessed at the end of this year.

A truth quote has been floating around Facebook.  I believe this wholeheartedly so I am going to end this post with this anonymous thought:

"If we don't teach our children to follow Christ, the world will teach them not to."

Thursday, July 31, 2014

Wilderness Complaints

Israel was saved from their abusive relationship with Egypt when God sent Moses and Aaron to lead them out of Egypt.  He could have led them on a shorter journey to the Promised Land - 250 miles taking about two weeks - but He did not want to send them through the land of the Philistines because He didn't want them to fight with them.  He wanted to protect them.  So He took them another route which ended up taking two years.  He gave them food.  Their clothes and shoes did not wear out.  They had what they needed.  The people grumbled in the wilderness.  They complained against God.  They looked to the past and looked upon that abusive relationship as BETTER than what God was providing.  They remembered the excess meat they had eaten, then looked at the manna God had provided.  They remembered the homes in which they had lived, then looked at the tents the carried around with them.  What they chose to ignore was that they were now free.  Free from the Egyptians that had enslaved them and abused them.  God provided for them every step of their journey.  He didn't give them excess - they couldn't have handled excess on their journey - but He gave them exactly what they needed.

"It seemed like no matter how many times God provided for the Israelites, they still found something about which they could complain."1

Doesn't this sound like us?  Like you?  Most definitely like me?

There are times in our lives that God leads us away from something that is no good for us.  Sometimes we go through the wilderness because God is protecting us from something worse.  Sometimes we go through it because there is a lesson we need to learn or we need to grow before He can lead us to the Promised Land.  "In the wilderness, character is built."2  

Regardless of why we are in the desert, regardless of how we ended up in the wilderness, He always provides.  He doesn't take us there and leave us to manage on our own.  He provides.  For the Israelites it was manna, protection, clothing and shoes, etc.  They didn't live extravagant lives.  He didn't give them excess because excess is not what they needed.  They were travelers.  They were wanderers.  Excess would have made it more difficult to get to the promised land.

How I am like the Israelites of that day!  God has taken me out of abusive relationships.  Some with people, some with material items such as food, or from greed.  Every step of the way He has provided.  Maybe it wasn't always the way I had hoped or expected.  Maybe at the time I couldn't or chose not to see the provision, but in hindsight I can see His hand and his providence.  Sometimes I was grateful for the provision, then the next day was already thinking about what else I "needed."

I have the proof from my own life that He always provides.  He doesn't provide me with excess.  He provides me with something so much better.  He provides me with what I need.  No more.  More is excess and excess leads to sin.  Excess leads to bondage.  Excess makes me believe I can do all things through me, not through Christ.  

And just like the Israelites, if it isn't what I want or if I remember the "good ole days" with fondness instead of sadness, I grumble against the Lord and his provision.

I know for a fact I have been through the wilderness the last couple of years.  Don't get me wrong, it has been a great wilderness.  I have had the time to spend with my children.  A time to really grow, while paring down my life.  Removing the excess I didn't need.  God knew I needed to remove excess.  The last several months have been really hard.  Yet, when I look back over them, He always provided for us.  Every single time.  No one in my house went hungry.  No one in my home lacked clothing.  No one in my family spent a night homeless.  I am still removing excess.  I imagine this will be a lifelong journey.  But I have come so far from where I was, where we were filling a house full to overflowing.  Where money was being spent wherever we wanted for things that have no eternal impact, other than to keep us in bondage.  

I thank God for this wilderness.  I thank Him for providing for my family during this journey.  I thank Him for the lessons, the character building, the removal of excess which enslaved me.  

I don't want to be like the Israelites of Moses' day and grumble about God's provision, or be thankful one day and forget the next.  This day I choose to remember His provisions and His love, rather than to complain that I had it better or easier in the former days.  This day I choose to be grateful.  And I pray that I never look back at and pine away for the "good ole days", but that I always remember that God provides for His people, even in the midst of the wilderness.  

"Your grace abounds in deepest waters, Your sovereign hand will be my guide, Where feet may fail and fear surrounds me, You've never failed and You won't start now."3

1-2.  Hovind, Chad. Fast Track: Genesis to Revelation. Nashville, TN: Lifeway Press, 2013. Print. 39. 

3 Oceans. Hillsong United. 2013. Music/song.