Sunday, December 14, 2014

Finding Emmanuel....Amidst the Garbage....

Continuing with this month's blog prompt: Looking for Emmanuel:

Okay. This is difficult to post. Because I'm putting some really difficult things out here in cyberspace - making them public - for all the world to see. But it needs to be done, because it's cathartic and part of the healing process. So here goes...

Anyone who knows me well, would know that my desire is to have a neat and orderly house. My house was, at one time, very neat and orderly. We hosted weekly church home group meetings in our home. The floors were always swept, the dishes were done, the kitchen counters were clean, the laundry was folded and put away, my desk was clear, my bed was made (well - no, my bed wasn't made - ever - that was my one "sin" as far as housekeeping. I mean, why make the bed when you're just going to crawl back into it in a few hours? Besides, my husband's health issues cause him the need to stretch out on the bed to relieve the pressure on his spine several times throughout the day - therefore - unmade bed - always.)

Over the past three years, my health has deteriorated. I don't move as well as I wish I could. It takes me at least three times as long to accomplish something as it once did. And it's frustrating. As a result - my house has some areas which could be featured in that show about the people who are hoarders. The piles of stuff have gotten completely out of control - and, my perfectionistic personality won't let me clean them because in my mind, if I start something I must finish it - and knowing I would never have the energy to finish what I began in one sitting due to my MS - 90% of the time, I just don't ever start.

Enter: The Volunteers.

We were blessed to have a busload (I kid you not - they arrived in a bus (or so I'm told - I never actually poked my head out the door to see the actual bus, however, I have no reason to doubt the bus did, in fact, exist) of people swarm down upon our home to help organize and clean. Wow. Amazing. How blessed we were. God is good. ....almost.

For I, in the midst of all the chaos (and there was a lot a chaos) of having 12 strangers descend upon our home to sort, organize, and clean, was COMPLETELY OVERWHELMED.

Five hours of moving furniture, sorting through closets and pantries, packing things to be donated to the mission, etc, and after the dust settled there is still so much to be done. That same day, a social worker appeared at my door to meet with me for an hour in order to discuss the possibility of qualifying for someone to come into our home on a weekly basis so hopefully, the hoarder piles don't begin to grow again. She is fairly sure, due do my disability, that I will qualify for some help in this area. I should be thrilled. I am not.

The reason I'm not? Because in the five hours of chaos, my entire world was turned upside down. This morning, I was in a good mood, until my husband brought in a ten pound bag of sugar from the garage - where it was placed after we rescued it from the bags of food which someone thought should be tossed. I was reminded in an instant of the upheaval of this past week. The "cleaning crew" threw away hundreds of dollars of (perfectly good) food. They discarded things I asked them to keep and kept things I asked them to throw away. They moved things and placed them in God only knows where places. I can't find anything. Over a dozen times I've looked for something where it was or where I think they may have put it only to find it's missing in action. I listened to a woman who doesn't even know me whisper to my husband, hoping I wouldn't hear her, that I just need to spend 15 minutes a day and clean this house up when she doesn't HAVE A CLUE about my physical condition or what we go through on a daily basis in this house. A $38 Tupperware brand new container lid was probably pitched - the can lids which I was so excited to finally have a place to use them in an upcoming art show, lids which I've been collecting and saving for two years - pitched. A wooden shelf from the garage - another piece I was thinking would be great in the art show - painted all snazzy and awesome - I also discover is gone - and a palm tree - a gift from my aunt which I have had for over 35 years was stuck outside and left for dead in the cold. I thought they had moved it behind the bookcase and it was simply obstructed from my view (until the bookcase will be moved next week when my son-in-law comes to help my husband move it.) Last night, I learned the palm tree has been outside for five days in the freezing temperatures.

Needless to say - I'm frustrated. Yes- they helped us. But they did a lot of harm. And I guess I just want to have someone validate my feelings of frustration rather than every time I bring it up, I hear my husband say he's trying to look at the positive. Okay. Good. He's a better person than I.

So, after seeing the bag of sugar, and allowing all these frustrating thoughts about the missing things and dead palm tree all flood my mind again this morning...I snapped at my husband about something stupid. Why? Because he's here - and he gets to be the recipient of all my frustration, anger, and hurt.I snapped at him...and he retreated to his man cave while I sat at my desk in tears, crying out to God as I tried to sort out all the feelings in my head.

I prayed, "God, where are you in all of this? Why can't I just be content that I had a bus full of friendly strangers come in to help me? Why am I so full of animosity? Why am I so overwhelmed?"

Then I thought about the friends who came to visit last night. We shared an evening of conversation about the Lord. We prayed for each other. We enjoyed a meal together; none of which would have happened had the busload of strangers hadn't helped me unearth my kitchen counters.

With tears streaming down my face, I began to praise God for the cleaning crew. Randy emerged from his man cave and we went to a quiet place in the house and talked. We held hands as we prayed together. He asked the Lord to soften our hearts in order that we would not make a big deal over ridiculous things. Through all the mess and confusion, and chaos and misunderstanding; through the sharp words and the tears, God was using it for His glory.

Randy then retreated to his man cave to continue studying for his class as I sat down at my desk to check my email. I opened the email account only to read this verse - the "encouraging verse of the day" from my favorite Christian radio station, KLove:

"Yes, everything else is worthless when compared with the infinite value of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have discarded everything else, counting it all as garbage, so that I could gain Christ." Philippians 3:8

Sigh....there He the midst of the garbage - in the midst of the chaos - in the midst of the pain - I finally see Him; Emmanuel.

Friday, December 05, 2014

Blog Prompt: "Looking for Emmanuel"

Looking for Emmanuel. How appropriate - as I am often reminding friends to take the time to recognize God's presence in their lives. We know He is always present - for He promises that He will never leave us or forsake us. And He is God, who cannot lie.

As often as I tell others to take time to recognize Him at work in their lives, is how often I forget to take the time to seek Him in my own life. I go through the days - at times with my mind in a blur, and my heart held captive by a myriad of emotions and situations too personal to reveal --so much so that I stuff inside and stuff inside until inevitably, I explode in a puddle of tears. All the hard stuff, all the things of life - they sometimes add up to a whole lot of chaos and doubt, fear and frustration, uncertainty, and a thirst for peace and rest which many times I think are impossible to attain, even for our Great God.

The other evening, I was blessed to attend a Christmas concert with my daughter. Sitting and basking in the glow of worship, the Lord spoke so quietly to me and said, "Daughter of mine, I have not forgotten you. I have not forsaken you. I know every tear you cry. I see the hurt. I see the pain - both emotional, and physical which you carry. I promise if you will lay it all at my feet - all the hurt - all the fear - all the frustration - all the junk - all the pain...I will take it and transform it. And I have not given you more than you can bear. The cross you carry, the burdens which at times seem overwhelming, I chose you to carry them for I knew you were able. For I have a great plan for your life. A plan which exceeds your highest expectations. The pain - it will return to you as a blessing, and you, in turn, will bless others as many will benefit from all you are experiencing. Let me take your pain and I will give it back to you - re-purposed."

You may imagine, after that conversation, I was in tears.

A few moments later, there was an intermission during the concert and one of the band members took some time to talk about an opportunity to sponsor a child in another country. My husband and I sponsor several children already - therefore, I knew that I wasn't going to volunteer to sponsor another. But God

I said, "God, You know we already sponsor four children." God said, "And now there will be five." And I said, "But it may cause pain in my finances..." And He said, "...and I will take the pain and turn it into a blessing..."

Okay. God wins.

He always does.

Imagine my surprise when I raised my hand to accept a sponsorship packet and was handed a photo of a beautiful seven-year-old girl. My heart melted. I thought about all the blessings this life affords me and my family, and how can I possibly be fearful and frustrated that helping this precious child with this sweet face would ever burden me and cause pain in my finances? I knew immediately God would provide. And then I saw her name: PAIN

There He was. Emmanuel. God with me. Turning my pain into purpose already....

The end.