My terrible, horrible, very bad week

Rejoice in the Lord always and again I say rejoice.  I will not lie that this week I have found it hard to rejoice God in all things. I have shed more tears than I ever thought possible.  I have been counseled by some to let go and others say be joyful.  Honestly, I go between the two but I must refocus my thoughts on God’s past goodness.  So why the “boat load” of tears and the title ” terrible, horrible, very bad week”?
 
Monday I received the news that my dad’s cancer is quickly spreading and is now located in the liver.  He is in stage 4.  Their hope is that the cancer will not go below T11 in the spine as that is when you loose bladder control.  http://www.caringbridge.org/visit/jamesbienvenu
 
Tuesday we decided that it would be best to drive to La. for Christmas so I can spend some time with my parents. Traveling during the holidays is always stressful for me but add a move on top of that!  Obviously this is not the Christmas I had envisioned.  Where is the peace and joy I desired to rest in?
 
We called the potential buyer for BiM as we had not heard an update and they basically told us they have decided to wait until Jan/Feb to make a decision.  Things could have been so much smoother had they had the integrity to call us when they started down that road.  Thus more WAITING!!! In my mind it is time to move out of our 1300 sq. ft. apt. and reclaim all of of our possessions in storage as five months is long enough. I’m not quite sure what God was desiring for us to learn from this experience.  On the bright side it will be great fun when we go though our 3 storage units and get our winter clothes, pot & pans, etc… I am sure it will be a purging process as if I can do without something for 5 months as chances are I do not need it.  Since Wed. we have been scrabbling to find a house to lease for 6-9 months.  The house I decided on when we contacted the agent had a contract so we had to look again. Thankfully we signed papers today on one in Mueller and hope to hear a yes back today. I feel a little fearful we will not get it given the week.
 
On Wed. I brought our cat Tigger to the vet since we are going out of town and I sensed something was not right.  After lots of tests an x-ray showed a tumor.  Needless to say this now created lots of emotional upset. The girls could not put the cat to sleep unless they knew for sure they had done everything for her.  Thus the vet sent the cat home that evening as surgeries are done on Friday.  Once we entered the house the cat could no longer walk without falling over which created more sadness for all of us.  However, the girls never lost hope that things would be ok.  So when the call came today at noon that Tigger had pancreatic cancer and her life was indeed over incredible sadness overcame us all.  You never realize the love you have for a pet until she’s gone. Cayley is thankfully at a friends and I hope we can all be strong  for her as she is has had trouble sleeping and crying at just the thought of the cat dying.
 
We finally got our van back this week from an accident we had coming back home the weekend before Thanksgiving.  It took 4 weeks to fix the sliding door and passenger door. The driver had been drinking and lost control of his SUV plus had no insurance.  I praise God every time I think about this incident as we were surely spared from far greater tragedy given the speed and drinking being involved.
 
Jon’s hard drive crashed Wed. but thankfully was under warranty and the list of small and usually overlooked irritants all were magnified given the already heavy load on my plate.
 
We leave tomorrow for Louisiana to be with our parents.  It will be nice to get away.  I am thankful for the season to daily redirect my focus from me to He who came as a child to die a sinners death.  Jesus is the reason for the season.  Below is a devotion I recieved earlier this week that has provided much comfort.
Being an Overcomer
TGIF Today God Is First Volume 2, by Os Hillman
12-16-2008

“How long, O LORD? Will you forget me forever? How long will you hide your face from me? How long must I wrestle with my thoughts and every day have sorrow in my heart? How long will my enemy triumph over me?” (Ps 13:1-2).

Have you ever heard someone jokingly say, “It’s not easy being me?” This expression is poking fun at their unique personality or challenges they face in life. Well, it wasn’t easy being King David.

His life was a life of extreme highs and extreme lows. He was a shepherd, a political leader, a builder, a prophet, a businessman, a warrior, a lover, a giver, a murderer and a worshiper. He must have been criticized by others as being hypocritical in his early career. In each of these roles he achieved things for God but he also failed God on many occasions. He had a creative-type personality, which is often very passionate with many mood swings. We see this side of him when he unabashedly danced before the Lord in front of his subjects almost naked (2 Sam 6:14).

When David wrote his psalms he was honest about what he was feeling. When he feared his enemies he expressed it. When he could not understand why God was silent, he expressed it as in the psalm above.

However, David never stayed in the place of despair. He often ended his psalms like this one. “But I trust in your unfailing love; my heart rejoices in your salvation. I will sing to the LORD, for he has been good to me” (Ps 13:5-6).

David chooses to focus on what God has done for him, not what He has not done. If you are waiting for a breakthrough with God, be honest with Him about your hopes and dreams. However, also affirm your faith and trust in Him to accomplish His purposes through your life. Be an overcomer.

Perseverance for Success

 

I subscribe to the below devotion which have been such a source of encouragement for me.  As I looked back on my blogging debut December 2007 I can’t help but notice the themes of this year -WAIT, PERSEVERANCE, CONTENTMENT, WAITING still, ETC…
 
It brings tears to my eyes when I reflect on the many faithful people who have had such godly influence in our lives and those who continually pray for us.  Many thanks to each of you as you have encouraged us and benefited my life. 
 
We are still waiting for a yes or no answer which was suppose to happen before Thanksgiving. The October financial crisis and the presidential election occurred causing companies to reevaluate business opportunities and expenditures.  So we are still in the waiting mode of life in regards to BiM and housing. Whenever anyone asks what we are doing for Christmas I reply, “we are taking life moment by moment and day by day.”  I truly don’t know what tomorrow holds but I hold onto the promises of my Provider and Protector as He is faithful.
 
We will let you know once we hear something.  Many I know are struggling in various ways (financial, health, illness, relationships, finals, etc.) so I hope you will find as much encouragement in the below devotion as Jon and I did.

Today’s Prayer
Dear God, You know my heart and my heartaches. You have showered me with blessings and carried me through the valley of pain and sadness. Thank you for the godly influence of special people in my life. Thank you for those who pray for and encourage me. I even thank you for the hard times and trials I have been through, for they have strengthened my faith. I praise you for giving me a spirit of hope, love, and acceptance, rather than allowing me to become angry, bitter, and downcast. I praise you God, from whom all blessings flow. May I, in return, be a blessing to you. In Jesus’ name, amen.


Perseverance for Success
TGIF Today God Is First Volume 2, by Os Hillman
12-07-2008
“And we rejoice in the hope of the glory of God. Not only so, but we also rejoice in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope” (Rom. 5:2-4).Perseverance is the key to every great accomplishment because nothing of lasting value has ever been achieved without it. Industrialist Henry Ford is one of the great success stories of American history, but he failed in business five times before he succeeded. A Ford Motor Company employee once asked his boss the secret of success, and Henry Ford replied, “When you start a thing, don’t quit until you finish it.”

The path ahead of you is strewn with obstacles. People will oppose you. There will be financial setbacks, time pressures, illnesses and misfortunes. Some of the biggest obstacles will be inside of you: self-doubt, insecurity, procrastination, and worry. You must give yourself permission to succeed.

When we persevere through adversity, we win the approval of our Lord Jesus Christ, who told the suffering church at Ephesus, “I know your deeds, your hard work and your perseverance. . . . You have persevered and have endured hardships for my name, and have not grown weary” (Rev. 2:2-3). That, I’m sure, is the same commendation Joseph received from God when he passed the perseverance test.

Perseverance is a refusal to quit. It’s falling down 100 times and getting back up 101 times. We need to remember that perseverance is not a matter of forcing doors to open; it’s standing in front of the doors as long as it takes before God chooses to open them.

Life is a marathon, not a sprint. The race doesn’t go to the swiftest, but to those who don’t give up. We need endurance in order to deal with the stress of adversity. We must maintain a balanced diet, exercise regularly, and get plenty of rest. People give up or give out when they feel depleted?when they physically, emotionally and spiritually run out of gas.

When going through adversity, watch out for pessimists, blamers and toxic personalities. Beware of people who try to talk you out of your dreams and goals. Spend time with optimists and encouragers. Seek out people of faith.

Persevere to the end.

 

ADVENT a Season of Expectantly Waiting

 
Advent Colors
 

One of our family traditions during December is reading Advent devotions together as a family.  I enjoy Advent as it is a time to slow the holiday busyness and refocus our attention on the meaning of the holiday season.  The four weeks of Advent, beginning the Sunday nearest Nov. though midnight Christmas Eve, represent the four great “comings” of Christ.  The first is His coming in the flesh, His birth, which we celebrate on Christmas Day.  The second is His coming into the hearts of all who believe in Him.  The third is His coming at the hour of death to the faithful, and the fourth is His coming at the final judgment.  I find myself enjoying this family tradition more each year as I reflect on the rich symbolism, the fulfilled prophecies, the names of the Messiah, and the focus on the Child.  It doesn’t matter what you use as this year we purchased the following since our books are in storage.
  • The Experience of Christmas by Lee Warren
  • A Family Advent Keeping the Savior in the Season
  • Ornaments of Christmas Joy by Mary Grace Birkhead
Great Devotion to do with kids 4+
  •  
    • Jotham’s Journey by Arnold Ytreeide
    • Bartholomew’s Passage by Arnold Ytreeide
 
Purple has traditionally been the primary color of Advent,  symbolizing repentance and fasting. Purple (a purple candle is used 1-3 Sunday’s) is also the color of royalty, demonstrating the anticipation and reception of the coming King celebrated during Advent.  Pink or rose is also one of the colors of Advent used during the third Sunday. It represents joy or rejoicing and reveals a shift in the season away from repentance and toward celebration.   White is the color at the center, representing purity. Christ is the sinless, spotless, pure Savior. Also, those who receive Christ as Savior are washed of their sins and made whiter than snow.

 
Advent means “coming.” It’s a time to prepare to celebrate the birth of Jesus, while at the same time looking forward to His coming return.
  • Advent’s 1st Sunday symbolizes HOPE and is known as the PROPHET candle.
  • Advent’s 2nd Sunday symbolizes FAITH and is known as the BETHLEHEM candle.
  • Advent’s 3rd Sunday symbolizes JOY and is known as the SHEPHERD’s candle.  
  • Advent’s 4th Sunday (pink candle) symbolizes PEACE and is known as the ANGEL candle. 
All four candles are lit each night that week to symbolize the growing brightness of Jesus’ coming.
Christmas Eve/day we light a white CHRIST candle.
 
This season I hope you will draw closer to Jesus as He has so much love for you.  He is your Provider and Protector.  He can restore what seems broken and bring back new life. For unto us a child is born!