Monday, December 31, 2012

Monday morning, 12/31/12

2012 is drawing to a close; time to look back and see what God has done for us, what we have done for God, and how we can improve in the new year..........

You know that Christmas song that starts with "And so this is Christmas, and what have you done?"  I've never listened to the rest of the song, just that first line, but I don't like it at all.  It makes me feel worthless just thinking about it---what have I done since this time last year?  Have I really done anything worthwhile?  My preacher spoke last night about making the new year count for Christ by doing more things in line with what the Bible says is important:  faithfulness to church, staying in God's Word, winning souls to Christ, etc.  I know he's right; after all, he's only preaching what God Himself tells us in the Scripture is right to do.  But I really wish that some of the other things I've surrounded myself with were listed more specifically as "God's plan for a successful new year."  Things like pouring myself into the students in my class, trying so very hard to stay within my husband's carefully outlined budget, training my children up to live their lives for God (daily, hourly, same things over and over!), making sure my kids do their chores, making time to listen to friends when they need to talk, reminding Dale how to walk with good posture, even writing this blog.  Oh, I know that most of these things are, in a roundabout way, linked to God's desires and Biblical commands.  I just found myself last night wishing I could hear each piece of my busy life mentioned from the pulpit as a step on the ladder of success in God's eyes.  Our preacher says, "If you're too busy to serve God, you're too busy."  He's right, but what do I change to do better?  Do I cut out going grocery shopping?  Do I stop talking to my friends?  These things aren't wrong to do, but are they right?

And then I realized:  I'm looking at things backwards.  The idea is not to tell God to be pleased with what I choose to do but to make sure I do things that I know are pleasing to God.  If I want God to grant me success in my life, I must do the things He's already said will bring that success.  I shouldn't expect Him to change His ideas of right or important behavior; I should change mine.  Teaching my students, training my children, assisting Dale, doing housework (on occasion!), shopping for groceries---these are all necessary parts of daily life here on Earth. God never intended for us to do nothing all day but go soul winning, read our Bibles, and pray.  To borrow a phrase, we'd be so heavenly-minded that we'd be no earthly good!  Besides, someone has to buy food for the family; someone has to teach school; someone has to walk with Dale up and down the stairs.  It's silly (and detrimental) to think that, by going through daily life with all that it brings, I am in some way failing God.  He gave me this life, after all.

The key, however, is to make sure I keep God at the very center of my busy life.  God should not be simply one of the many things I "do" each week or even each day.  I should not consider going to church as something I have to do in order to check that off my list. I need to change my attitude there; I can decide to develop and maintain an attitude of "I get to go to church today" instead of "Come on, kids; we have to go to church."  I can be sure I read my Bible every day and not just for three minutes.  Really---can I reasonably expect that God will be satisfied with me if I give Him three minutes out of each 24 hour period?  I can pray every day, multiple times, keeping God at the forefront of my thoughts and actions.  I can resolve to not only teach my students and my children the whats of God's desires but the whys as well.  I can take each part of what I already do and make sure I remember it is God Who gives me life; it is God Who is my strength; it is God Who is most important, not me or Chad or my "me time."  It is God.  Only then will I be a success in His eyes.  Only then will I please Him with my life.  Then I will be able to hear Him say, "Well done, thou good and faithful servant; enter thou into the joy of thy Lord."

Dale continues to surprise us!  He hasn't had as much opportunity for exercise while we've been on Christmas break, spending most of his time either on the couch playing video games or at the table doing puzzles.  He has been very unsteady while walking, requiring someone to be nearby constantly and usually holding his hand.  But there have been times he's gotten up and walked on his own just fine, too.  Like last night:  when he was thirsty, instead of asking someone to get him a drink, he stood up, walked to the table, discovered his cup was empty, walked into the kitchen, opened the fridge, took out the juice, and prepared to pour it.  Katie took pity on him because his hand was shaking---and because she would have to clean up any mess he made if his hand shook too badly!---and poured his drink for him.  Dale then took it, walked back to the table, set his cup down after drinking, and walked back to the couch.  Katie came and told us with a little smile of pleasure at Dale's decision to get up on his own.  Of course, all that was thrown out the window two minutes later when Dale, instead of walking around the couch to sit down, simply sat on the back of the couch and allowed himself to fall backwards onto the couch, trusting his ability (!) to right himself once he was on the couch completely.  While this sounds great, it wasn't---he landed in Emily's pizza!  So, any goodwill felt by the sisters toward their brother quickly dissipated.  To my knowledge, the pizza survived intact though a bit squashed, and everyone simmered down after a bit.  Ahhhh, life in the Ostrander household!!!

School resumes this week on Wednesday, January 2nd.  I had one parent who expressed dismay that we weren't taking at least one more day off.  She said they usually stay up all night (literally) on New Year's Eve and then spend New Year's Day recovering.  She wasn't looking forward to having to wake up early on the day following to get her child to school!  I understand completely; I'm dreading trying to get my five up Wednesday morning early after spending all Christmas break sleeping in.  But really, if we had waited to start school until Thursday, then we'd have parents saying, "Why are we only having two days of school this week?"  Either way, we have to go back to school sometime, so we may as well get it over with!

God bless you richly this year.  May you find His peace in your hearts and joy in your lives.  God loves you more than you realize; hold to that when you feel depressed or when times are tough.  He created you for a purpose, and it wasn't just to be miserable.  He has a very specific plan for your life; only by giving that life to Him will you discover the indescribable joy of living in the center of God's will.  Happy New Year!

Philippians 4: 7  "And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus."

Sunday, December 23, 2012

Sunday evening 12/23/12

Here we are tonight.......very thankful the world didn't end on Friday!  I've been fending off questions and discussions for a few weeks now from family and students alike, wondering why people thought the world would end and if I agreed.  Of course, only God knows the future; He alone knows when He will send His Son back to collect His bride.  Since the world cannot end without Revelation's prophecies being fulfilled---the rapture, marriage supper of the Lamb, etc.---I felt fairly secure in my belief that life would continue as usual after December 21, 2012.

However, I did take pause at the thought that we seem to be living just like the people in Noah's days.......eating, drinking, and making merry without any thought of God or truth and with many completely turning away from what God has established as right (homosexual "marriage", abortion, premarital sex, and so on).  I don't mean to preach---my kids might disagree!---but God is very clear in His Word about certain issues that some even in Christian circles simply ignore.  I don't think Noah was a perfect man, and the Bible never says anything about his wife or sons or their wives living righteous lives; but, obviously, Noah himself found grace in the eyes of the Lord by his actions and his walk.  It cannot be argued that, if we as Christians take a firm stand for God and right, there will be a difference in this country and around the world.  If we stop focusing on what we desire, on what we want to do with our lives, and on what we think is right, and instead focus on our Saviour and His wishes, the world would see a change in our behavior.  I'm guilty of the same thinking---"I don't see what's wrong with _______" or "If Jesus were alive today, He'd change His mind about _________."  It's not what we think that matters; it's what God has said.  And that goes both ways:  some need to stop trying to justify their actions and simply follow God's commands while others need to stop judging fellow Christians based on what they themselves believe.  God is the Judge; He will convict hearts. When we all get to Heaven, we'll probably find that each of us was wrong on some issue.  After all, none of us is perfect as we are, and that's the reason why God sent His Son.  That's the reason we celebrate Christmas.

Christmas is a promise kept.  God fulfilled His promise to us to send a Saviour to save us from our sins.  I'm so thankful God the Father sent His Son Jesus to be born as a babe in Bethlehem that night so long ago, but I'm even more thankful that I don't have to depend on a baby for my salvation.  Jesus grew to be a man and willingly went to the cross to suffer and die so that we might be saved.  He did all the saving work; all we have to do is accept His offer of salvation.  Oh, we can walk away.  We can choose to deny His royal birth, snub His righteous life, spurn His death for us.  But all that does is guarantee an eternity in hell, separated from the very One Who died for us.  Jesus wants so badly for us to be saved, He's even willing to have us turn our backs on Him once we accept His gift.  We don't have to sign up for a lifelong commitment or pledge hundreds of thousands of dollars after our salvation.  We can accept and leave it at that.  But why would we do such a heartless thing to God?  Why would we live the rest of our lives for ourselves instead of for the God of Heaven?  This Christmas, let's choose to give ourselves to God, to renew our commitment to our Saviour.  What a wonderful birthday gift that would be!

Dale has had such a shaky week!  Chad and I are trying to figure out why he's so unsteady, and the only thing we can blame is Dale's interrupted sleep schedule.  He's been getting to bed later than his usual bedtime of 9:00 p.m. for a couple of weeks now, due to Christmas excitement, last-minute stuff, and general laziness (on my part!).  Plus, for several days now, since we're out of school for Christmas break, Dale has been staying up even later and sleeping in each morning.  This also throws off his medication schedule.  So, Chad and I decided to make sure Dale gets to bed each night on time from now on (a decision met with groans by Dale) and his pills on time as well.  Hopefully these measures will help steady Dale's balance and walking.

This morning as we were getting ready for church, we heard a small thump from Dale's room.  Chad looked at me and said, "Is he all right?"  Just then we heard a mournful "OUCH!!!" emanate from Dale's bedroom, which sent us rushing down the hall.  Lo and behold, Dale had fallen off his bed and scraped his nose on the carpet.  He said he wasn't doing any particular thing; his body just gave a tremendous jerk, and he couldn't prevent the resulting fall to the floor.  He tried to break his fall with his hands, but they wouldn't cooperate either.  So his nose wound up taking the brunt of the impact, leaving a painful scrape on the bridge and a smaller scrape towards the tip.  Poor guy just sat there whimpering in pain, fending off well-meaning questions about what had happened and wishing he could rewind the clock and stay in bed!  Then, it dawned on him that he would have to face everyone at church and explain why he was competing with Rudolph for the shiniest nose! Chad told him to tell folks that he cut himself shaving.  Then, when people laughed about his lack of aim, Dale could say, "I don't have much experience!"

I got Dale good this morning.  We were walking down the stairs (him - facing forward, me - facing backward) when Dale said, "I'm sorry you have to look at this ugly face." I responded, "It was ugly before the scraped nose!"  :-D  He laughed, which helped to raise his spirits again.

May your holidays be filled with friends, family, love, and laughter, and may all your wishes come true.  (That sounds so wonderful and hopeful but you know it'll never happen!  LOL!)  I do hope you will let the love of Christ shine richly through your lives this holiday so that those around you will be drawn closer to His light.  God bless you and Merry Christmas!

Matthew 1: 23  "Behold, a virgin shall be with child and shall bring forth a son, and they shall call His name Emmanuel, which being interpreted is, God with us." 

Sunday, December 16, 2012

Sunday morning 12/16/12

Our hearts go out to the families of those who died Friday in Connecticut.  I learned about the tragedy mid-morning while at school, teaching.  I stopped my class in the middle of their math test, and we prayed for those who are left hurting after the violence.  I cannot imagine the pain a mother or father must feel, losing their little child so close to Christmas, or of the families left behind when their teacher, mother, or father dies, especially under such terrible circumstances.  May God continue to comfort their hearts now and throughout the holidays and, indeed, the rest of their lives.

This comes on the heels of the mall shooting in Portland, OR, much closer to home.  One of my close teacher friends has a friend who was in the mall that day, wrapping presents just outside of Macy's for a church fundraiser.  This lady and the people with her had to hide under the table skirting with the shooter walking around within 12 feet of them.  They could hear the shells pinging off the floor as he fired each bullet.  God kept the shooter from discovering where they were hiding, and, once he left the area, they were able to race to safety.

This country needs God.  Period.  Sin has so corrupted this world and the inhabitants therein that tragedy and violence happens every day somewhere.  People need the Lord; they need Him to cleanse their lives of sin, not just so they can go to Heaven someday but so that they stop hurting people here on Earth.  The only cure for sin in Jesus.  It's obviously not church or money or welfare or gun control. It's not politics or environmental protection or national days of prayer or even Christmas.  It's Jesus.  Please don't be shy in telling folks about Him.  Don't assume that they "know" you're a Christian and will want to be saved because of that.  Tell them about a Saviour Who came as a baby, yes, but then grew to be a man and lived a holy life and died to save us from our sins.  And then didn't stay dead!  He arose from the grave to ensure life everlasting for all who wish it.  Tell everyone about a loving God Who made a way that we might be saved.  That is the only way to ease the chokehold Satan and sin has on the human race.

And now, about Dale.........

Dale has had a very shaky week.  It seems like he's fallen every morning during his get-ready time, and I think he's fallen at school just about every day as well.  So he now sports new scrapes and bruises in various locations about his body.  Poor guy!  He just sits there shaking until his limbs settle down, and then he gets up and tries again.  The fear of falling doesn't keep him from trying to walk like it used to, but it does make him more cautious!!!  He tends to jut his head forward like a turtle and bend his knees slightly as if preparing to fall at any moment.  While I understand the thought behind these actions, his stance does not help his confidence or his balance!  We've spent the last week arguing pros and cons of posture, and, to be honest, I don't think I won.  :-)  But Dale is still Dale, still making jokes and being goofy and annoying his sisters.  Thank God for that........I think!

Our God definitely answers prayers.  He loves to answer big ones, and He loves to answer small prayers that nobody even knows you're praying about.  On Wednesday, I began feeling strange.  On Thursday, the feeling intensified; by Thursday night, it was apparent that I had developed a UTI.  For those of you who have experienced this, all the ordinary symptoms were present, making me very uncomfortable.  I began drinking cranberry juice straight (which I happen to like) and praying and praying and PRAYING!  All day Friday, no change.  I kept telling God, "You know we have no insurance until mid-February, and we can't afford any doctor bills.  You know this.  Please take this away; just heal it outright.  But (like the three Hebrew children) if You don't, I trust Your judgment and Your decision."  Friday night when I went to bed, no change.  Saturday morning when I woke up.........there was nothing wrong!!!  The burning, the pressure, the uncomfortable feeling---all gone!!!  God answered my prayer with a definite "YES!"  Thank You, Lord, for Your healing and for listening to my prayers.  You are WONDERFUL!

School gets out this week for us.  Two weeks off for Christmas holidays---yea!!!  I still have some stocking stuffer shopping to do, and I need to get one present for Chad---other than that, I think we're done!  I hope none of you waited until the last minute to get gifts because it's a madhouse out there.  If you did, well, you have my sympathy!  Merry Christmas, everyone!!!

John 3:16  "For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life."

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Thursday afternoon 12/6/12

Praise the Lord for good days as well as bad !  It'd be nice if I could plan which days come when, but that doesn't seem likely!

We received a letter on Saturday stating that our insurance would be terminated effective Saturday, December 1st.  This was a surprise as we had just been told earlier that week that we would be covered through mid-December.  However, God's way is always best, and we are thankful for the coverage even through the end of November.  I had already picked up Dale's three-month supply of medication and gotten all immunizations possible, so we are as prepared as possible for the no-insurance phase we are now going through.

I called today to cancel Dale's EEG that we had rescheduled for Monday, December 10th.  I still need to cancel the time off I asked for in order to get him to that appointment.  I also had to cancel our dentist appointments slated for the third week of December for the kids and I; too bad---we really like our dentist.  Hopefully, none of us will need major medical care in the next two-and-a-half months, or we will be paying through the nose for it!  <:-{

It's taken Dale some time to get back to the casual rhythm of walking he had developed before Thanksgiving.  While we were home for Thanksgiving break, Dale didn't do a lot of walking.  This inactivity sapped his confidence and caused him to start taking two steps and stopping again.  Just Tuesday did Dale start going out of my classroom and walking around while the girls were practicing volleyball.  He was doing really well......until he tried to come back in my room and lost his balance.  He toppled over and knocked his head on the floor, leaving a small abrasion.  Dale took this to mean he had done enough walking for one day and sat down to recuperate!

Then, this morning, he was getting a shirt from his closet when his legs gave out.  This time when he fell, his back scraped down the edge of closet sliding door.  He has an eight-inch-long scraped section with some skin pulled up in the middle.  Dont' feel sorry for him---he felt sorry enough for himself.  He was boo-hooing and upset to the point of being angry at everyone and everything around him, as if blame should be assigned somewhere for his fall.  He was so busy yelling at the dog that he didn't notice how badly his arms were still shaking.  When he tried to brace himself to push up onto his knees, his arms gave way and he fell onto his face, adding to the abrasion already present.  I scolded him roundly for allowing his sin of anger to override his thankfulness to God for giving him life again.  Dale has been spewing a lot of anger and bad attitude toward everyone---Dad, Mom, sisters, God---at his shaky condition.  He doesn't like shaking and jerking; he doesn't like falling; he doesn't like not being able to run outside and play like he used to.  I reminded him that God didn't make a mistake when he saved Dale's life.  God didn't heal Dale half-way and expect him to make the best of it.  God is still using Dale today and will continue to do so in the future if Dale will align his attitude and desires with God's plan.  I told Dale he needs to talk to God about his anger, his fear, and his desires and be willing to listen to God's answers in return.  Dale listened to me and calmed down enough to admit I was right and his anger was wrong.  Please pray for him as he daily adjusts to God's new plan for his life.

Again, praise the Lord for good days and bad.  We have a wonderful, almighty God Who loves each of us infinitely.  We have not an high priest which cannot be touched with the feelings of our infirmities; we have a Heavenly Father Who cares deeply about us and only wants the absolute best for us.  He designs our lives explicitly to give Himself the optimum glory.  We experience happiness and true joy when we accept His plans and work with Him toward making them real in our lives.

Jeremiah 42: 6  "Whether it be good, or whether it be evil, we will obey the voice of the LORD our God, to whom we send thee; that it may be well with us, when we obey the voice of the LORD our God."