Monday, September 17, 2007

Eatting the Elephant

Question:  How do you eat an elephant? 


Answer:  One bite at a time!


For reasons that I will tell you in another blog at another time, it has become drastically necessary that I clean our basement.  We have a large basement, it is the full size of our house.   Although our house is small, the large cinder block and cement basement is sometimes overwhelmingly large.  Again, because our house is small, we lack storage and so many items end up piled in the basement awaiting further action.  Maybe they need repaired, or given away.  Sometimes we are just waiting for a permanent location to arise.  Sometimes, we're just lazy and need to get something out of our sight so that we don't have to think about cleaning, fixing, or putting the item away.  Regardless of the reason, our basement is one of those "pile" locations. 


I often find myself putting off a task because it seems too large to me.  I tell myself that I can't possibly clean the basement because I have to educate the children.  That takes the morning and part of the afternoon.  When am I supposed to clean the basement?!?  You see, I must clear an entire day.  Maybe even a weekend to get this basement in order!!  It's an all-day job!  And so, the basement doesn't get cleaned, because I don't have all-day.  Weekdays are filled with lessons, cooking, trips to the library.  Weekends include a football game on Saturdays and, of course, church on Sundays.  So there isn't a day that is wide-open for me to clean the basement.


It's funny how God will speak to you when you let him.  For me, when I stop listing my excuses and get quiet, He shows me a way to accomplish things.  Concerning the basement, God gave me a mental image of the basement divided into quadrants.  It is very easy to envision because the steps already divide it in half and there are posts that divide the halves into halves.  I have four sections to my basement.  Why is this important?  I can clean a section at a time.  I can clean a section in a little over an hour, if I don't try to tackle the entire basement at once!  This is do-able!!!  Praise God!


And so, last Friday I marched down the basement steps with my two boys, a broom, dust pan, and garbage bag.  We worked until the garbage bag was full and the floor in a quarter of the basement was clean.  This morning, Monday, the boys decided to take a bath after I gave them hair cuts, so off to the second quadrant I marched.  This time, I cleaned the basement and filled the steps with things to be either moved to other parts of the house, or given to charity.  I called the boys and they worked on clearing the steps while I finished up the second quadrant of the basement.


An hour later, half of my basement is beautiful!  The floor is swept there is a place for everything.  There are wide-open-spaces in which to walk.  It is a thing of beauty.  As I walked outside to put something into the van which would be taken to the thrift store I looked at our screened-in porch (the boys call it the "screaming" porch) and said, "You're next!"  And I'll tackle it one 3 foot strip at a time, beginning in the front and working daily until I get to the back.


Why am I telling you all this?  Because each of us has a basement looming in our future.  There is some project that in our minds seems to large to tackle.  Don't let perfectionism paralyze you!  Take your task to the feet of your Father and ask Him to show you how to accomplish it.  Maybe He'll clear your schedule so that you have an open day to accomplish your task.  Or maybe He'll give you a new and creative way to accomplish your task.  He'll show you that to eat your elephant, you just take one bite at a time! 

Sunday, September 9, 2007

God's Favor

A little over a month ago, we lost our dog.  Frisbee had been our dog for almost 9 years.  He was our first pet.  My youngest son was a 18 months old when we got Frisbee.  So, he can't remember a time when Frisbee was not part of our family.  And suddenly, Frisbee was gone and we were heart broken.   It was so difficult to grieve with my two sons.  And the pain my husband and I felt was also very real.  My husband used to pet Frisbee and say, "I'm going to miss you when you're gone."  And now, he really was gone.  We were all so very sad.


Of course, friends and family immediately began looking for a puppy for us.  My mother called with a Brittany (Frisbee's breed) she had found in the paper.  She was ready to go out and buy us a new puppy.  My neice and sister were looking on puppy web sites for us.  I recently learned that one man from church was ready to go to the local shelter and just get us a dog!  When friends and family are grieving, you just want to act to relieve their pain.  That's what our friends and family were doing and we love them for it.


But with each offer and phone call, we said, "No.  God's going to provide a puppy.  We'll know it when it happens."  We just had a feeling that God was going to do something to provide a new dog for our family.  A week after Frisbee died, we emailed a friend who had bred her beagle recently.  She was out of puppies, but that began our conversations that  a beagle pup might be a nice fit for us.


Fast forward to two weeks ago.  My husband was early for a meeting at work.  While he and some co-workers were waiting for the meeting to begin he said, "Oh, if anyone knows of any puppy litters, my family and I are looking for a puppy.  We just lost our family dog about a month ago."  Someone asked, "What breed are you looking for?"  My husband said, "We were talking about a beagle, but we're open to anything."  One of the women who works for my husband said, "You're kidding.  My boyfriend's friend just had a littler of beagle puppies!" 


Later that week, she gave my husband the phone number.  He looked at the three-digit exchange and said, "That's our exchange.  Is this family in Newport?"  This was the first example of seeing God's hand in bringing a puppy to us.  The family lives in the same town we do.  Since my husband works 30 miles from our home and the woman who works for him lives 20 miles away from us, we would not expect this family with the puppies to be from our town. 


When my husband called about the puppies, he spoke with the woman for several minutes.  They made arrangements for us to come and look at the puppies.  Of course, this woman knew right where we live which is  just a few miles from them.  When the day arrived for us to meet the puppies, my husband called the owners of the beagles and spoke with the father.  He said that it would not work for us to meet the puppies that day.  Then he said, "Are you the one who lost a dog and has two boys?  Well, I'm not going to charge you for this dog!  Those boys need a dog."  Evidence #2 that this puppy was God's plan for our family.


We were feeling God's hand guiding us to this puppy.  He began by puttng the idea of a beagle in our hearts.  Then He prompted my husband to speak about a new puppy at the meeting at work.  He timed it perfectly with his co-workers, and the birth of the puppies.  AND he placed the family in the very town in which we live.


Finally, the day arrived that we could meet our puppy and put a collar on him.  We would not be able to take him home yet, but we could call him "ours."  As I was preparing supper for us to eat before we went to meet the puppy, I reflected on how God had brought this puppy into our family.  At the time when Frisbee died, we had endured a series of several trials.  We were weary but trying to remain thankful through our trial.  It amazed me how God was favoring our family in guiding us to this puppy.  And that's when it hit me.  THAT was the name of the puppy..."Favor."   Every time we called him we would remember God's favor to our family.


The time came for us to drive to the home where the beagle puppies were born.  As we arrived, I saw the children playing in the yard and I thought, "Those children look familiar."  We walked into the kitchen and the mother said, "Oh good, someone I know!"  She and I had been on many field trips with our county's homeschool support group.  Although we didn't know each other well, we had been on a few trips and outtings together with our children.  God had used so many situations to say, "Here's your puppy."  Knowing the family was the final line in a long string of evidence that God had orchestrated bringing Favor to our family.   In a month, we will bring him home, but for now, there is a little 3-week-old beagle puppy with a tiny blue collar in another home in our town who is living breathing evidence of God's favor on our little family.