Thursday, February 21, 2008

Weekly Word for February 22, 2008

Weekly Word - February 22, 2008

Be strong, and let your heart take courage,
All you who hope in the Lord.

(Psalm 31: 24)

I have to admit, these past few months have been nothing like I was hoping for - like I thought they would be. As we made plans for the holidays, I found myself hoping that there would be some time for “us” - some time for just Ted and me. But it didn’t happen. No matter what the plan was, something seemed to get in the way or change it. Whether it was sick grandbabies, my parents needing help, or just Ted working overtime - we found ourselves very busy - day after day. As I struggled with the battle between doing what was “right” and what I “wanted” to do - I couldn’t help but feel selfish. “Lord, is it wrong to want some time, just for us?” I asked. And then we were given just that - time together - as we drove the 10 hours to Pennsylvania. Ted’s grandmother had just passed away, and we were heading out for the funeral. “This isn’t quite what I had meant Lord” - I whispered to myself . . .

For I hope in Thee, O Lord;
Thou wilt answer, O Lord my God.
(Psalm 38:15)

I have to admit, through most of my life, I haven’t always gotten what I “wanted”! Things didn’t always seem to go - - - the way I hoped . . .

I was pregnant, and so excited! When I told my husband though, he wasn’t exactly as thrilled as I was. “You’re going to keep working, aren’t you?” he asked. And I assured him I would, all the while thinking about the new little baby growing inside my belly. For the next few months, my belly grew into a little bump - something to tell the world that a new life was growing there. My husband still continued to ask me about working, and finally I enrolled in a night class. “I’ll learn dictation”, I told him; “and work evenings at the insurance company.” “That way, I can stay home during the day with the baby.” That seemed to pacify him, and soon we were planning our future as a family.

Our small, one bedroom apartment was not big enough for a baby. And so we started looking at houses. In my head, I pictured a pretty little house, with a deck and a nice yard. It was in that little house, that I knew our family belonged. So as we looked at houses, I compared them all to that picture perfect house that I dreamed of. I was about 5 months pregnant when we found my dream house. It was green, and had a porch that came off the kitchen and wrapped around the side. I loved it immediately, and told my husband that I wanted that house. He seemed to like it too, and so we told the realtor that we wanted to buy it. We signed some papers that night, and drove home. I was so excited, as I thought about bringing our baby home to that house. But as we got home, my husband started talking about the house - and the price. “I don’t think we can afford it” he said. And my heart just seemed to drop into my stomach. “Why not?” I asked. And he just looked at me with those eyes that said: “because I said so”! That night, I barely slept - tossing and turning - feeling the baby moving beneath my hands. “Why can’t we have that house” I asked - to no one in particular. But it didn’t seem to matter how I felt. The next day my husband called and withdrew our names from that home. Sadly, I wondered where we would end up living.

I was almost 9 months pregnant, when we finally moved into our new house. It was a 4 room house, with the back yard right on the rail road tracks. The walls were dingy, and the paint was peeling from the ceiling. The price had been just right - for my husband. He promised he would fix it all up and make it as nice as possible. I really wanted to be happy about finally getting our own home, but I wasn’t. The house was in a very bad neighborhood, and I was afraid to be left alone each day. But none of that mattered, as this became my home - for the next year and a half . . .

Rejoicing in hope, persevering in tribulation, devoted to prayer . . .
(Romans 12:12)

Wanting, and hoping - these are the secrets we keep deep within our hearts - these are things that we wait for, and wonder if we will ever get them . . .

Rejoicing in hope, persevering in tribulation, . . .

As the years went by, I have to admit that there were many things that I “wanted” - that never came to pass. The biggest of them, was wanting my family to get better, my marriage to become one of trust and love. But the hurts that happened along the way, left their marks, and finally we were divorced.

I had been living alone, raising my daughter, for almost 3 years - when I found myself telling the Lord about my “wants”. We lived in a sweet, old home that I had rented right after leaving my husband. It was close to Jenny’s school, and the moment I walked inside - I felt as if God was all around me. It was the kind of feeling that made you smile, and happiness seemed to fill the house. I loved living there! But there was one thing that I missed. There was one thing that I found myself wanting. And so finally I talking to the Lord about it. “Can I have two arms to hold me?” I asked Him. As I did, I could picture two strong arms pulling me in, and making me feel so warm, and so loved. I couldn’t get that picture out of my head. So when I heard the word “no” - I have to admit that I didn’t believe it. “Why, why can’t I have someone to love?” But the answer was the same. Dejected, I worked hard to concentrate on my work and the ministry. But every once in a while - that picture would pop back into my head . . .

And hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out within our hearts . . .
(Romans 5:5)

When he closed his eyes, he could see them - his family. He could picture his wife and two children - a boy and a little girl. But the moment he opened his eyes, the reality of his life would come crashing in. He was married to a woman whose interests were very different from his. She hated television - and he loved it! She loved roller coasters and roller skating, things he did with her - but didn’t really love doing them. He loved children, but she made it clear that she really didn’t want any. He tried not to think about it, and yet he knew something was wrong. But he also knew, he loved his wife.

He tried to find ways to talk to her, to share his thoughts and feelings with her. But each night when he got home, the words seemed to vanish, and they would go back to their simple conversations. Each day was the same. They went to work each morning, they came home each night and ate their dinner, and then they went their separate ways. She headed for her books, or her studies, or maybe off to her woman’s group. He headed for the living room, sitting down to watch the television. As he did, he wondered if this was all they would ever have. He found himself praying, hoping for some kind of help. And then - he would close his eyes, and the picture of a different life - a different family - would fill his being again . . .

Our soul waits for the Lord; He is our help and our shield.
Let Thy lovingkindness, O Lord, be upon us,
According as we have hoped in Thee.

(Psalm 33: 20 & 22)

We did our best. We worked hard, prayed, and failed at times. And yet, we wondered about the hopes and wants that seemed impossible. And then, the Lord brought us together. Ted has two wonderful arms to hold me, and I have a family that is now his. We wanted something for so long - - - and God didn’t forget . . .

“For I know the plans that I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans for welfare and not for calamity - to give you a future and a hope.”
(Jeremiah 29: 11)

The past few months have been difficult, and the trip to Pennsylvania was full of sadness and heartache. Gram was an amazing woman, who taught her family about loving each other, as well as loving God. As I stood before the casket, one last time, I couldn’t help but thank God for this woman’s life - and how she helped to form the man who is now my husband.

After the funeral, I watched as Ted and his brothers talked and told stories of times long ago. I laughed as they remembered back to following their oldest brother (Ted) out the 2nd story window, climbing down the drain pipe - only to get caught by their neighbor. They told the story of going to the amusement park with grandpa, only to come home to find Gram had painted the walls in the bathroom. She had wanted to do it, and had finally found time to be alone! I listened to the family talking about their heritage, and how their lives had been formed. I listened to the stories of how my husband had become the person he was, today. And then, it was time to come home . . .

For Thou art my hope; O Lord God, Thou art my confidence from my youth.
By Thee I have been sustained from my birth;

(Psalm 71: 5 & 6)

As we drove home, we talked and talked about all sorts of things. We talked about Ted’s family, and the brothers he hadn’t seen in years. We talked about our own children and grandchildren. And then we started talking about “wants”. We talked about a little house, with a yard and a garden. We talked about the grandbabies, and having room for them to stay. As we talked, I told Ted about a conversation I had a few weeks ago with one of my friends. We had been talking about an email that we had both received - a survey of sorts - about ourselves and our likes and wants. I told her about wanting a house. She then told me that I shouldn’t put that down, that it would sound selfish. She told me that being a mom and a good person - I should “want” my children to be healthy and happy - and I should also want peace in our world. As my friend talked, I wondered if she was right - was I selfish? And so I asked Ted what he thought. As I did, he took my hand in his and squeezed it. “We pray and hope every day for our family - our children and grandchildren - as well as our world.” “But our wants are just that - wants.” he said. And then he said: “They are the hopes and dreams that are buried deep within our souls” “And we never know - - - how or when God will grant them . . . ”

“For I know the plans that I have for you,” declares the Lord, . . . “ to give you a future and a hope.”

Every single one of us - has wants. We want a new car, a better job, or even someone to love us. We hope for so many things. And we don’t always get them - at least not the way we thought we would. I haven’t always gotten what I wanted. But I have learned, that when I give my wants and my hopes to the Lord - He has given me back more than I could ever have imagined!

What do you “want” in your life? It is my hope and prayer - that you will want God - to be a part of everything in your life. When you do - - - miracles happen . . .

Now, may the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, that you may abound in hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.
(Romans 15: 13)

God bless you and keep you - until we meet back here again!

In His Love,
Debbie & Ted Ayers