Saturday, March 22, 2014

Take the Joy Dare 8&9

I missed last week. We were in the midst of doctoral exams and the stress level was audible. This weekend, as you'll read, we are free! These joys are varied. Some of them are very simple -- food, a book. Some of them are very exciting -- completed tests and exams. Some of them are hard -- finding God, receiving truth. I think it's very much a picture of true life: simple, exciting, hard. From the past two weeks...

1) Audiologist = qualify for cochlear

Baby girl had her hearing aid evaluation. We sat in a sound proof box while her audiologist talked through a microphone and sent noises our way. With her hearing aids in, my daughter responded (or didn't) to the sounds. Her audiologist kept note of what she seemed to hear and what she didn't. Based on the evaluation, she receives some benefit from her aids, but not enough to achieve spoken language. This is precisely the result we expected! It also means that from an audiological standpoint, she qualifies for cochlear implants. This is a big step, and we are so thankful for this result!

2) Pot pies cooked

I've tried freezer cooking a few times, and usually, I either don't like the recipe or I forget I have the stuff in there and it goes past its prime. One recipe that defies this trend? Chicken pot pies! I whipped up three and tucked them away in our freezer for future dinners. Nothing like only having to pull something out of the freezer and dinner is done. You could probably use any ol' pot pie recipe; just wrap them up and freeze after cooking the insides but before baking the crust. I first tried them while prepping these recipes (The Test Kitchen of Melissa Fallis) and it's the pot pie recipe I continue to use. All the moms are cheering with me when I say, dinner's ready!

3) Looking for God

As I drove my daughter to her appointment two hours away, I got pretty bored. I noticed a group of vultures riding on the wind ahead of me on the road and I thought, I wonder if I ever would have thought to make birds if I were God. That led me to consider which of His qualities He meant for those birds to display. Their seeming weightlessness and freedom. Their otherworldliness. The intricacy of their feathers and the power of flight they allow for. Then I started to think of other elements of God's creation -- trees, mountains, rivers -- anything I passed. All of these creations speak of Him. I was so uplifted to think of all the ways God reveals Himself to us and what volumes they speak about Him. It's now my new favorite past time, finding God in His world. It pulls me out of myself and says, "Look! He is all around you."

4) Biography of Bonhoeffer

I have been reading Eric Metaxas' biography of Dietrich Bonhoeffer. It's pretty much right up my alley: theologian, WWII, moral dilemmas. He was a pastor who took part in a plot to assassinate Hitler. It tells the story of his upbringing, schooling, theology, and outworking of his faith. It has been so encouraging and interesting! I think about the things that fill my life (my husband's schooling, taking care of the kids and our home, our church life), and I can't imagine our world being totally upended like Bonhoeffer's was in Germany under Hitler's rule. He responds with such faith and consistency that it is truly inspiring. Highly recommend!

5) Exams done! 

My husband is pursuing his PhD in English literature. He has finished with his classes and this year, he spent his time prepping for his doctoral exams. For the English PhD student, the exams are the highest hurdle. Asking an English major to write a dissertation is like asking a toddler to write on the wall with crayons. Bring it on! But asking him to read vast wealths of literature and criticism and then sit in a room and answer two or three out of a possible four or five questions on those broad eras with no books or research of any kind to reference? That's a recipe for much stress. But, praise God, he finished his exams this week! I am so thankful to have my joyful, stress-free husband back.

6) Honesty. A hard truth.

An old friend dosed me with a bit of truth this week that hurt. It hurt because it was honest and true and ugly. A lot of truths are. Ugly. And up until probably six months ago, maybe a year, I would have been horrified at what this person said. But these last few months have unearthed a lot of truth, ugly ones, and I'm not so easily scandalized. This honesty... it was refreshing.

I peel back layers of myself on here, examine myself publicly (though from the safe distance of my computer screen and with time to edit my words carefully... for this slow-to-process mind and unbridled-in-real-time tongue, things tend to go better this way). I didn't start writing for that purpose, but rather to display the glories of God through our trials. What I found, though, is that so many of those glories came through struggle and so many of the struggles were with me. I'm not beating up on myself; all of us struggle. But by putting mine out there, I get to point to Jesus. By revealing my struggles and broken bits and dark parts, you can see that we are not so far apart. You are as broken as I am and you need Jesus as desperately as I do. We likely have different broken places; this is part of what caused the pain between my friend and me. I was broken in a way that this friend is very much not, and in some ways, my very personality caused this person pain. But the story doesn't end in brokenness because there is sweet humility and sweet apology and sweet forgiveness. (Thankfully, at least, in our case. Though the sting of a broken relationship still stands.) So many of those parts of me that caused pain I have laid at the feet of Jesus and spent time washing my mind in the water of His word. Changing, growing, more Christ-liking. And my hope, my prayer, is that by tracing my steps from the depths to the Cross, that you will have hope and join me in the journey.

This friend's honesty, ugly and painful as it was, marked a point of reflection for me, a moment for me to stop and look around. I can't change the past. I can't unsay or undo. I have already walked the path behind me and it is done. But I do have control over what comes next. I can apologize. I can change. And by the grace of God, I will do just that.

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