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."


  1. Hello,

    I have been following Dale's blog on and off since his accident. Suprisingly, today, I logged on to see your December 31 posting about balance in life and serving God. Just wanted to let you know that it really helped me and I was not even looking for help.... I guess that's how God works.

    Your words and suggestions in this article put things into a great prospective for me. I, too, am a teacher and a busy guy to say the I can relate and appreciate all that was said.

    Thank you, Happy Yew Year


  2. Happy New Year to the Ostranders. I hope the pizza was not too hot when Dale sat on it! How would you explain to the doctor pepperoni burns on the buttocks?!!? Hope2013 brings more healing to Dale and comfort to all the Ostranders.

  3. A very Happy New year to the Ostrander family Kirsten, and thanks again for writing just what I needed. I don't know if you have ever thought about writing a book, but the posts that you have written over the past year have been not only inspirational, but also provide a shining example of how faith can overcome anything that may get in the way of a life that God would want us to lead. And yes, the daily humor is a major part of it (I hope the pizza was deep dish, more padding than thin crust). And especially, watching God's work in bringing Dale so far from that frightening day. Like his recovery, life as a Christian is an ongoing learning process. Only God himself knows how things will play out. But hey, we aren't perfect, only saved. As always, your blog is such a blessing to me, and I will always hold your family in my prayers. Thanks again for all that you have shared with us, all my best, Eric