God Behind the Scenes

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My life is but a weaving
Between my God and me.
I cannot choose the colors
He weaveth steadily.

Oft’ times He weaveth sorrow;
And I in foolish pride
Forget He sees the upper
And I the underside.

Not ’til the loom is silent
And the shuttles cease to fly
Will God unroll the canvas
And reveal the reason why.

The dark threads are as needful
In the weaver’s skillful hand
As the threads of gold and silver
In the pattern He has planned

He knows, He loves, He cares;
Nothing this truth can dim.
He gives the very best to those
Who leave the choice to Him. – Corrie ten Boom.

Corrie ten Boom is one of my Heroes of the Faith.  I got a copy of her book The Hiding Place when I was in 6th grade, and I think I have read it 50 times in my life so far.  In fact, I am sure I am due to read it again soon!!  By the way, did you know Corrie’s full name was Cornelia??  If you know me, you may know why that strikes a chord with me!!  😉

Corrie traveled and spoke publicly after she was released from concentration camp, and she is often quoted.  One of her illustrations is of a lovely embroidery of a crown (shown above).  However, when one only looked at the back side of the cloth, all you could see were knots and threads and a big mess.

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Oh how I wish I would just leave the choices up to Him like Corrie says at the end of her poem!!  All too often I want to take the reigns of my life and turn things in my own favor – all the while making things even worse!!

I shared recently that last year – 2016 – was a really difficult year for me.   Starting with choosing to leave my job in June after my position was down-sized, things just kind of spiraled out of control.  It was during this time, I was also talking with a Christian financial counselor about what to do about our debt that just wasn’t going away very quickly.  Unfortunately, the news on that front wasn’t very good either, and it isn’t really resolved to this day … but just remembering why and how we ended up with so many financial problems brought back so many memories of the other hard year 2013 when my husband gave up his beloved job; and we went through unemployment, his injury, not being able to sell our house, living apart for 6 months, and eventually moving to another state.   There were several days last summer that I just had to lock myself into my little office or the bathroom and just sob.  I haven’t felt that brokenhearted and hopeless in a long, long time!

Looking back, it probably wasn’t all that horrible as I imagined it to be, but at the time, it rocked my world.  I finally had a job I loved and was looking forward to a summer with more time for my kids … and instead, I plunged myself into a new full-time job that took me away from my kids even more than ever.

I think I knew even before I started working at the home health agency last July that I wasn’t going to like working full-time again.  And I was right.  Granted, my attitude didn’t help … and I entered my new secular, corporate world with a judgmental, negative outlook.

Now, of course, the embroidery is turned over, and I’ve caught a glimpse of what God was doing with the tangled mess of my life.  Granted, I am still a work in progress, but what a time of lesson-learning I’ve had these last 8 months.

Recently, my old pharmacist/boss called me – not to offer me my old job back (although we’d talked previously that he wanted to hire me back but just couldn’t) – but to tell me that the owner of a medical equipment company that he knew of had seen my resume on indeed.com – and called him to ask about me as a medical equipment (DME) biller.  So, my old boss hooked the two of us up … and the most interesting things began to be revealed.

First of all, this man who owned the medical equipment business had an employee who is an alumni of the very same little Christian college that my husband and I graduated from!!  Now that’s a small world because very few people have ever heard of Tennessee Temple University!  Secondly, he himself went to a similar little Christian college in the same denomination for a semester, and he knew of many of the same preachers and other aspects of that circle of colleges that I know well.  So, immediately, we had a connection.  And not just the Christian college connection, but this man is a true believer – a Christian businessman who puts his faith and family before his company.

And then we began to talk about a job offer … He needed a biller – and it just so happens his company uses the same computer software that my old, down-sized position used.  So, I already have the advantage of knowing the computer program.  AND lastly, he was looking for a part-time biller …. and he was offering flexible hours.  AND he was offering a slight pay raise from what I made at the home health agency.

I met with him and his wife one night about 3 weeks ago – and we immediately connected, not just about the job – but about our faith and our families.

Oh, and I got the job …. and I start next Monday, February 20th.  Somewhere between 8 and 9 a.m. … I can start and I can leave somewhere between 3 and 4 p.m. … and I can take off 2 hours or 4 hours or whatever, if I need to run errands or go to my kids’ program or just have my hair done.

And so, at least in the job arena, God has shown me the beautiful picture He was working on while I bided my time in the “wilderness” of a secular job … where I learned a lot about myself – mainly that I can be extremely negative and judgmental and pout-y.  I spent the first 2 months or so at this job just being angry that I had to work full-time and feeling sorry for myself all while judging my non-Christian co-workers for their worldy life styles.

Yeh, some Christian example I was!!  Then I heard this sermon at a church we were visiting, and the speaker mentioned how some people just hated the job they were in … but instead of wanting to escape, they saw it as a mission field.  And while I didn’t become super employee of the month, I did repent and started seeing my co-workers as people who needed Jesus.  People who didn’t know what it was like to live godly or to know the blessing and hope of having a Father to trust in.  And I hope that in my last few months at my job, I was a little bit more salt and light than the little black rain cloud I had come in as.

I am leaving my old job with (I hope) a few new friends … people who did not grow up like me, who don’t live like I do, who don’t even believe like I do … but people for whom Jesus died.  People who are trying to find purpose and work hard and deal with all the things life throws at them.  Maybe I showed them just a little glimpse of what it is like when you let go … and let God take control.

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Posted in every day life, Family, provision | 5 Comments

#Blessed ?! in 2017

After an up-and-down 2016 which I was glad to see come to an end, 2017 has started out a little easier for us … and little more hopeful …

For New Year’s/Christmas, I unexpectedly got a new (to me) car.  On December 30, we drove home a gently used Nissan Altima that is only a couple of years old.  It wasn’t the car I had wanted when I first walked into a dealership that 2 of my friends had recently used and found to be very reasonable … We intended to get a 6 to 8-year-old used SUV or perhaps even a compact car…. Something we could pay off quickly and would get us around for a few years at least.   Until our son bought his Honda Civic, we’ve always had “American made” vehicles as well.  It what our dads always recommended and drove … and so we’ve had Pontiacs, Fords and Chevys and Buicks and Saturns, all made in the USA.

It’s a long story … but in the end, I really think this is the car God wanted me to have.  After my husband “negotiated” (ie. basically said “no” to every offer the salesman made until he came down to our terms/budget) the price, suddenly, we could afford it!  While we haven’t had a car payment in probably 10 years, we now have one we can pay fairly comfortably.  And now we actually have a car that will not only accommodate our family size-wise but might just not need repairs every couple of months!  God willing … And the fact that the driver side window actually rolls down and the CD player works are bonuses after driving a van that had neither feature.  The Bluetooth phone thing is a really unexpected bonus … and now I can drive around looking like I am talking to myself when I’m really talking on my phone!

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Do you ever associate your material blessings to how much God loves you?  It is a sad fact that I found out about myself.  In 2016, I was feeling somewhat neglected by God … kind of like he was some non-affectionate spouse or neglectful father because my life was HARD sometimes, and He wasn’t making it easier for me.

This whole #blessed thing has been written about by people far more insightful than me … but it bothered me, for example, on Facebook when a Christian friend got a new house and posted “We are so blessed!” … and I questioned, “Are they really MORE blessed then me – me, who is actually losing a house soon??”

And then, I get this new car, and I want to say, “I AM SO BLESSED!” … Am I more blessed now than I was last year when I was driving a broken-down, old Chevy mini-van?!  Not really … in a sense.  It is more like “I am blessed beyond what I deserve!” or is that even true??  I mean, my husband and I have worked our tails off the last few years trying to get out of debt, pay our bills, and keep our finances out of hot water.  So I deserve this??  Do you deserve a new house if you’ve worked hard to save money for down payments??  Maybe you do!  Hard works pays off, right??!!

I don’t even know why I get so worked about this issue because compared to Christians, say, in Mosul, Iraq, we are incredibly protected and “blessed” … or are they NOT blessed?!?!!  You might ask them and I wonder what they’d say??  They might say that every day they get to live un-persecuted, they are “blessed”??

Anyway … let’s just say I am GRATEFUL!  Life in America is not to be taken for granted.  It should make us more eager to help those in TRUE need.  Yes, our days might be “hard” … the inconveniences of life make things seem difficult sometimes … but in the end, GRATITUDE is something the Bible seems to emphasize far more than “blessings”.  In fact, “blessed” in the Bible means “happy”, I think?? Like in the Beatitudes of Matthew chapter 5 or Psalm 1:1, “blessed is the man who walked not in the counsel of the ungodly …”.

There are blessings everywhere – every day: in the midst of a hard morning, we see the sunshine; in the hospital, we get a kind word from a nurse; in the night with a sick child, we feel calm …

This is the lesson I have learned in 2016 … God is good.  All the time.  God loves me.  All the time.  God doesn’t punish me or test me unless He has a purpose.  God gives and takes away.  Blessed be HIS name! (Job 1:21)

Posted in provision, thankfulness | 4 Comments

Reflections – 2016

I don’t mean to sound ungrateful – but honestly, 2016 was a hard year.  For the first time in 23 years, I didn’t send out Christmas cards or write an annual family letter.  I just didn’t have much to say … but I will process it now by saying some of it here – just to document life and to also reflect God’s continued provision because despite my whining, it is always there!

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A happier event of 2016, my son graduated high school successfully and started his freshmen year of college with scholarships that almost paid for his entire first year … and my teen daughter turned a corner emotionally and spiritually this summer with the help of lots of counseling and prayers, and she began her Junior year of high school more confident of her place in Jesus Christ than ever … and my now-7 year old made it through the summer and the beginning of 1st grade fairly unscathed even though I felt so much like an absent mother.  My husband and I still love each other … and our family still lives under one roof harmoniously (most of the time!).

But 2016 was hard.  School was hard for the older kids – not so much academically, but socially, they just never quite felt the belonging they knew at the previous school they had attended “all their lives”. My daughter is now finally feeling accepted there, but much of that is just that she has learned to accept herself (not in a psychological-mumbo-jumbo kind of way, but in a I AM A LOVED AND ACCEPTED CHILD OF GOD way).  My son had a harder road as he had to work his way through the last 2 years of high school, which was the only way he was going to be able to buy a car and pay for books and college expenses due to our inability to help him financially.  He had a lot more responsibility on his shoulders than most of the kids in his class.  Not that it is less honorable or character-building to be able to play sports or have your parents pay for your schooling, but it hasn’t been our lot.

Financially it was a hard year.  We lost 2 vehicles … our old Saturn Vue that Andrew drove at first died in March, and my trusty Chug-A-Bug van gave up the ghost and its head gaskets shortly before Christmas.  The logistics of “only” 2 cars for 5 people going in 10 directions isn’t an easy one to schedule!!  And then we own this supposed “rental property,” our previous home, that does not provide income when the renters move out, which they did in October; God hasn’t sent us any buyers or renters since despite prayers to that end.  Loss and loss and more loss….

My dad had prostate cancer treatments for the second time this past summer, and my brother lost 10% of a kidney due to a cancerous tumor this Fall.  Yes, we are thankful they are both considered “cancer free” right now, but it was hard being far away from them while they went through serious treatments and surgery.  It was hard not being there with my mom through this.

Personally, while I am thankful to not have any “major” health issues, I have developed, starting in September/October – for the first time in my life – some weird allergies.  Most every morning – many times starting around 4 a.m. – my nose clogs up and then runs simultaneously.  I randomly break out in these lateral rashes – sort of under the skin – on my arms and on my neck and chin plus hives on my torso and thighs.  Claritan and Benadryl are my best friends … and a wonderful side effect of that is it cures my insomnia!  Plus I am now pre-hypertensive and have hypothyroidism again … no doubt it is all stress related.  My mind says, “I am trusting Jesus,” but my body says, “you are in over your head, lady!!”.

A big part of that is that in May and June, my wonderful, flexible, most favorite job was down-sized, which was a huge blow.  Irrationally, I decided to find a new job, and thought that my “open door” was a full-time job at a regional hospital.  While the office work itself was fine, being confined by office hours after the freedom I had at my previous job, felt smothering.  And not only that, but being at work by 8 a.m. after trying to get 2 non-morning girls up and ready for school was not always an easy task!!  Every morning is hard.  And not being able to take care of family errands during office hours was hard, too.  And lastly, sadly, I did not handle moving to a more secular, corporate world very gracefully; my judgmental tendencies toward my non-Christian co-workers was pretty ugly, looking back.

Dan’s work wasn’t easy in 2016 either.  His department is extremely short-staffed, and the wheels of a government agency move extremely slowly.  Politics play a big part in the whole human resources process as well … and sometimes we question if a “retirement” is worth all of this?!  We have survived financially thanks to him being able to work many, many overtime hours … often times overnight shifts sitting with a volatile patient or mindlessly watching cameras on a psych ward.  But God provides for us through hard work, it seems.  We have always said we don’t want hand-outs … and lately, we sure haven’t been offered any!

And then there is our “church” situation … we still haven’t found a place to call a “church family” since leaving our previous church this past summer.  We’ve visited 9 or 10 churches (one in particular for many months) – and there is no lack of churches in our denomination here!! … And while the Gospel is preached and God is worshiped at each church we’ve been to, we haven’t felt that sense of THIS is where we belong …

I have always said in the last 4 or 5 years that God has provided for us with DAILY Bread.  Any time we had any windfall, it was almost always followed by some crisis that took up all our resources again.  I’m not really complaining … I’m just stating the facts that we aren’t getting ahead very quickly.  We sure didn’t move to Arkansas to “get rich”!  We don’t work secular jobs because we want to move up corporate ladders … We’d just like to provide for our family and be able to be generous givers to others.  So far, Dave Ramsey®’s plan hasn’t worked out so well for us … but maybe in another 5 years we can reap some benefits … Thankfully, my husband keeps an eternal perspective, so it doesn’t weigh as heavily on him!

So,that’s 2016.  Not that there hasn’t been many joys and blessings in between … because there has been!  Family and friends have been there for us when we needed them!!  We’ve seen many a need taken care of, and we are all still alive, safe, and together!

As far as life on this earth goes … we are hoping 2017 will be our year!   As far as eternity goes, we know that life on this earth is just a vapor, and a far greater joy awaits.  The joys God provides us on this earth, it seems, are often not material but personal, spiritual or relational.  And I continue to believe God is working for our good and His glory (Romans 8:28).

Tomorrow I will share more about what God has done already in 2017 …

Posted in every day life, Family, provision | 2 Comments

What’s Cooking?

Hello Friends,

Instead of focusing on how exhausting my life is right now, I’ve found something that energizes me!  Sadly, my new hobby doesn’t help me get my house cleaned, but it has put me into the kitchen a little more often – or at least dreaming about cooking and baking!

My new German blog isn’t all about cooking – it is so much more!  But I do share a recipe at least weekly.  So far, I’ve share my favorite Apfelkuchen (which I made just last weekend for my in-laws), a simple chicken schnitzel (which I tried last night), and now I am looking forward to doing some holiday baking.  The first Christmas cookie recipe I shared is Vanillekipferl, which are crescent-shaped almond/vanilla cookies.  Those will be made this weekend with my girls (if I can find some vanilla sugar at the grocery store.  You can make your own vanilla sugar, but it takes about 2 weeks for it to really get flavorful).

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All my German recipes can be found under the label “Leckerbissen” which is featured on the side bar under Favorite Topics.  There’s also a recipe right now for an Old World Dinner that features sauerkraut, sausage, potatoes, and bacon.  It is made in the crockpot and can feed a crowd.

So, even if you aren’t interested in Germany, speaking German, or my German articles, check out the FOOD.  We all like food, right?  No matter what nationality!

C.

 

Posted in blogging, christmas, Germany, holiday, recipes

Over There

There are some fun articles over on the German blog:

Something for a laugh – Seriously?

and anticipation of the holidays and baking with some info about German/church holidays happening now:  Holiday Inspiration

See you over there ….

Posted in blogging, Germany, holiday

Another Easy Recipe:

Over on the new blog:

Panko-Coated Chicken – 15 minutes – and eat.

chicken-schnitzel

 

 

Posted in recipes | 1 Comment

Fall Back:

In honor of TIME CHANGE tonight … some thoughts about TIME on the German blog:

http://kleinbisschengerman.blogspot.com/2016/11/are-you-afraid-of-zeitgeist.html

 

Posted in Uncategorized

For Your Reformation Day (10/31):

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On the New Blog:

a post about Reformation Day

and The Word for Sunday (from 10/30/2016)

 

 

Posted in Uncategorized

A Weekend Treat:

Boy, do I have a treat for you … literally!

On the “new” blog, I am sharing a recipe for German Apfelkuchen.

Click this link:   Ein Klein Bisschen German.

Have a good weekend!

Posted in recipes, Uncategorized

A Happy Project

I guess I am pretty good at having big ideas but never really following through on them …

Lately, I’ve been thinking about my life, my attitude, even my blog …  just contemplating my purpose in combination with God’s will – and what in the world I am doing with the few talents I have been given.

If I could live my life as I wanted, I think I’d go back to home-schooling my girls, stay at home, cook, clean, craft, putter around, be part of some co-op, tutor German students… and write.  But as I have to live life as it is, I have to work full-time right now.  Which really gets me down and overwhelms me because it conflicts so much with what I’d rather be doing with my time.

HOWEVER, I’ve decided since this is my lot in life for now … and GOD WILLING, it is temporary?!! … I need to find some outlet that gives me JOY!  I need to do something with my desire to write that isn’t negative and doesn’t just dwell on the mundane-ness that is my life right now – work, eat, sleep, repeat.

Granted, my girls are on “Fall Break” today, and I took the day off work (best idea EVER – although it makes me long for the days when I could just BE HOME …) and not only spent some time with my kids but started working on an idea I’ve had for a while … something that makes me happy and gives me a POSITIVE thing to share.

My idea was inspired – in part (though the idea has rattled around my head for a while now) – by the fact that my son is considering a double major in college:  international business and German.  He will be taking his first German class next semester and has a plan to continue over the next few years.  While I had no real influence on his decision, I am so incredibly pleased that he’d share an interest in our German heritage.

And so, I have started a blog in an attempt to give myself an outlet to share some of my best memories (my childhood and Army-life days that I spent living in Germany) as well as some of the vocabulary, culture, and grammar lessons that I used as a German teacher.  This blog will combine my love of Germany, my happiest of memories, and my German language skills and give me a positive “project” to work on.

If you’d like a peek at what I’ve begun, check out my link here:  Ein Klein Bisschen German .

And here’s hoping I am able to follow through this time …

 

Posted in blogging, every day life, Family, Germany, Joy, travel | 1 Comment