Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Blessings Beyond Measure

We are in the pit. We've lost everything except our lifelong friends and family. Home, friends, job, church, car, health, support. We're starting completely over again from scratch.

Angry? Yes. Rightly so. Hurt? Absolutely. Reeling? You bet. Sad? Grief-stricken. Disappointed? Devastated.

I tell you this for one reason: to show, by contrast, how amazing are God's blessings in the midst of this.

I am angry, but God has promised to stay with me as I work it through.

I am hurt, but the God of all comfort is clothing me with grace and peace as He covers me with the shelter of His wings, enabling me, miraculously, to sing for joy.

I am reeling, but each time I begin to totter over, the great God of the universe is there to catch me and swoop me up into His loving arms, resting my head against His chest, where I am totally secure.

I am sad, but this sorrow has not, by God's grace alone, robbed me of my joy in the Lord. These circumstances do not change who God is, nor do they change who I am in Christ, and from the rising of the sun to the place where it sets, no matter what loss I'm experiencing, the name of the Lord is to be praised.

I am disappointed, but I am not in despair. God has given me iron-clad, indomitable hope. Hope in His love, hope in His grace, hope in His plans for our future. And this hope does not disappoint.

In light of that, here is part two (part one is here) of some of the evidence of the truth of God's promise that when we walk through the fire, we will not be burned.

9) We've moved back to our favorite town. The best thing about that is we already know town-related stuff like what lane to be in to get to which grocery store, how many minutes it takes to get from point A to point B, which back road to take to get around traffic, etc. Very, very comforting to be here. Feels like coming home.

10) Stairs. I'm hiking a tall mountain this summer (are you coming?), and I will have to go a lot of vertical feet in a short amount of time. Well, God continues to prepare me for that, not only by arranging our home so that we will walk our dogs several times a day, but also by uniquely designing our apartment to be at the top of an extra long flight of stairs. I am already getting in stair shape. So happy.

11) Shelving. I made a list of all the various storage containers we have in our new home, and I came up with 28 sets of shelves, dressers, plastic drawers, bookshelves and desks. That's a lot! I feel shelving-rich! But more than that, looking at my list is a tangible reminder of God's goodness. He cares about everything and gives attention to every detail. Even storage space.

12) A few months ago, a sweet gal who lives just up the road from our old house struck up a friendship with me, and one of the first things I had to tell her is that I was very excited to be her friend, but we would be moving soon. We decided to hang out as long as we could, and then keep in touch online after that. But where did we move to? Her parents' house! Where she frequently visits and drops in. This is amazingly super cool.

13) We are renting from my friend's parents, and our landlady (I'm sure she doesn't want to be called that) doesn't work outside her home at a 9-5 job. Same as me. And she has fibromyalgia. Same as me. And she is forthright. Same as me. And she has a red dirt devil vacuum cleaner. Same as me. The possibilities for conversation are endless, and I can't speak for her, but it seems to me we are super comfortable around each other. Like friends.

14) You have got to see the windows in our apartment. This house, built in 1904, is chock full of character. Very cute and beautiful. Or as my brother-in-law would say, "cute-iful." The room we've chosen to be the living room has four amazing windows, each with eight panes of glass, that let in tons of daylight. And our bedroom used to be a porch? And then an enclosed porch? Or something. Anyway, the room is a wrap-around of windows. Really beautiful and picturesque and calming.

15) Puppies. Our landlords (ummm... new friends? my friend's parents? the nice people who live downstairs?) have a mama miniature schnauzer who just had four puppies. And you know that one component of small boys is puppy dog tails. God timed it so the mama's babies would come just in time for our boys to have a magical entrance into this home.

16) There are forty-something churches in this town of 22,000 people. As we are currently looking for a place to attend, we feel a church buffet has been set before us. Helps to alleviate the fear that we won't find a place to belong.

17) Being forced offline was like having my car stolen. I spent a lot of time online. A lot. Without internet access, I couldn't write, blog, keep in touch with friends and family, pay my bills, do my banking, keep track of my schedule, check the weather, find a phone number, remember what day it was, get new internet access, research summer sports for my kids, etc. I'm already fairly homebound, but being offline brought new meaning to the term. My online community was my greatest comfort in fibro land. Having it yanked away really put me in a bind. But it also did something else. It cured me, I think, of my internet addiction. I no longer *need* to check my email. It's a miracle!

18) The funniest forced blessing, in my opinion, is that because I'm so shy of phone conversations and could not communicate in writing, I actually learned, at long last, how to text. Not just the slow way, where you punch each key until it shows the letter you want. The fast way, where you punch each key once and the phone guesses which word you are typing. This opens up a whole new world. Whole. new. world.

19) Did I mention the apartment came partially furnished? Actually, it was fully furnished, but they offered to remove any furniture we didn't want (bless them, their living room is currently unnavigable while they plan to sell all the extra furniture). One of the things we did want was something I'd been praying for. A couch. They had a couch. (Well, three. But we only kept one.) The couch we chose was a blue and cream checked sleeper sofa. It's perfect. I've already napped on it. But I didn't think it matched our other living room furniture, which is all solid tan. Then when Jeff brought our furniture over, I noticed, for the first time, that my tan chair has blue flecks all over in it! The same blue as the couch. So we've got a blue/cream couch, a cream/blue-flecked chair, and a cream love seat. They all match! My chair ties the whole business together. This falls not only into the category of God's provision, but also solidly into the category of Abba's love for His children and His desire to lavish good gifts on us.

He's awesome like that.