Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Unmerited Favor

Zech 9:12
Return to the stronghold [of security and prosperity], you prisoners of hope; even today do I declare that I will restore double your former prosperity to you.

Yes, that verse again.

Last night Bobby and I were talking about how far he has come in his career since we got married.  It's no secret (though it may be to some of you reading this) that Bobby was in prison for a while before we met.  He was assured that he wouldn't make more than minimum wage the rest of his life and he didn't anticipate much different when he got out.  But this man of mine has a drive and ambition, coupled with a spirit of excellence and diligence, that has helped bring him to where he is today.  He's working in a position now that most in his field have a college degree for, where he only has his GED.  I have watched him over the last five years work himself from the very bottom up...from not even being able to turn on a computer, to being able to teach himself how to use a brand new software for his field.  From being a pipe welder, to getting his foot in the office, to planning and then scheduling, and now basically managing a whole group of planners for a multi-million dollar job.  He is always attempting to do better and learn he says, he has no ceiling.

I am so proud of him, for the man that he is, and the example he will be for my children.  For making the most of every opportunity he was given and never taking anything for granted or growing apathetic in his work.  He doesn't always enjoy it, but he always does it with 110% of effort.

And as proud of him as I am, I am even more grateful for a faithful God who has opened every one of those doors.  We both know that without the supernatural favor of God, Bobby wouldn't be in the position that he is.  The more I read that verse, the more aspects of it I see.  Reading it right now in this context, all I can think of is how directly to Bobby it speaks.  I can see him walking out of that prison and God looking down and reciting this to him.  Not letting him settle for what man would tell him is his fate, but urging him to grab onto the hope of life in God's amazing grace--His unmerited favor towards us.  

The past five years as I watched Bobby step from one stone to the next, I also watched God come through time and time again.  Every time we were presented with an obstacle, it was removed.  He may never be early, but He has always been right on time.  And every time my faith in His promises has grown.  The journey of Bobby coming out of the shadow of his past has prepared me in every way for the journey we are now on with Joshua.  All of those now seemingly tiny trials have seasoned me in the testing of my faith, leading me up to this one.  So now I can look at it and see it for what it is, an opportunity to persevere in faith and hope, to give room for God's glory to be shown boldly, without question.  I know that if I can persist through this and make it to the other side, then I can persist through anything.

Luke 18:8
 I tell you, He will defend and protect and avenge them speedily. However, when the Son of Man comes, will He find [persistence in] faith on the earth? 

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

I Love...Modern Technology...OR The Power Went Out Yesterday and I Almost Went Crazy

Yesterday after I got home from picking up Joshua, some bad weather blew through and knocked the power out for almost three hours.  Three.  Hours.  Now, I live in the south and am familiar with the aftermath of hurricanes where we have been left without power for weeks.  I also lived in the country for a while before we moved here and the power went out on a regular basis there, most of the time for no apparent reason.  So no electricity is not that big of a deal to me.  However, I've never had the experience with both boys being the ages they are now, or Joshua being so aware of his surroundings that Toy Story being abruptly shut off is an unforgivable offense.  Power outages and Autism do not mix.

On top of the electricity being out, AT&T's service was acting screwy and my phone battery was near death.  Bobby heard that the traffic was backed up for miles and miles so he decided to stay at work so he could be making money while he waited instead of sitting in his car screaming at all the morons.  He ended up staying two and a half hours later than he would have so it was just me and the small children.  There may or may not have been an argument about how long it took him to get home because I may or may not have been about to pull all my hair out.  Speaking of which, I'm realizing that if I actually pulled my hair out all the times that I feel like doing it, I would be crazy-Britney-Spears bald.

So anyway, there we are, in the near dark.  Joshua throwing a tantrum every so often because I still haven't turned his movie back on, Caleb taking the opportunity to get into everything I don't normally let him get into, and me...channeling my Hunger Games persona, going over in my head what furniture might make good fire wood or how long the food in the house might last us before I would have to resort to hunting the birds in the back yard.  I would die almost immediately in The Hunger Games, by the way.  Then, finally, the power beeped back on and it felt a little to me like the end of Lord of the Flies when they're all rescued.  All of a sudden the exaggerated drama dissipates, and life returns to normal, minus a decent dinner and baths because by now it was eight o'clock.

At any rate, this little episode inspired me to bring back the "I Love..." posts.  I know it's not Monday, but really, who cares?  Today I'm thinking of all of life's modern technologies I love and am thankful for.  I know people have survived centuries without them and many still do, but instead of feeling spoiled for enjoying them, I'll just feel blessed and appreciative.

  • Electricity.  And everything that is powered by it.  Lights, refrigerators, ovens, central A/C, etc.
  • Indoor plumbing.  We take it for granted, but how many of us could handle going outside in an outhouse, or worse, a hole in the ground?
  • DVR.  It's one of those things most of us lived without most of our life, but now I would never be able to watch TV without it.  Which actually probably wouldn't be the worst thing ever.
  • Internet.  It is a huge time-waster, but it has become invaluable to me in the past year or so.  Especially since we've moved, it's one of the main ways I keep in touch with people and it would be really hard to be without it for too long.  Not to mention I've got at least one really good friend I wouldn't even know was it not for the ability to connect over Facebook and blogs.  Plus, you can literally type in a word or question in a search engine and find everything you ever wanted to know about it.  That's pretty ridiculous and awesome.
  • Smart phones.  I hated them for so long and now I'm one of those people that drives me nuts.  Mostly though, I love text messaging.  Another way I keep in touch with everyone.  What would I do with myself if I couldn't text song lyrics or random thoughts to Joy all day long?
  • Digital music.  Seriously, so convenient.
  • Modern appliances.  The dishwasher, washer and dryer, coffee pot, vacuum cleaner, slow cooker, etc.  I would say microwave...which I use...but I think they probably are horrible machines.  To quote Ellen, "I blame the microwave for most of our problems.  Anything that gets that hot without fire...that's from the devil."
  • NFL Sunday Ticket.  Directv makes me so mad, but they've got us attached to the Sunday Ticket.  I mean, EVERY football game EVERY week??  How do you turn that down?
  • The iPad.  Another thing I hated in the beginning but now love.  I never would have bought one if not for Joshua and it has been the best investment for him.  Not to mention, it helped save my sanity for a while yesterday when the power was out.

What are some of the modern technologies you love?

Monday, June 11, 2012

Prisoner of Hope

Lately, we have had some awesome progress with Joshua.  If we are Facebook friends, then you probably saw my posts about him saying 'drink' and 'sit down' last week.  This was preceded by more than a week of perfect bowel movements, which you may or may not know, is miraculous in itself for him.  We have been working hard on getting his gut healed with bio medical intervention probably more than we have anything else and it seems like it's finally happening.  Also, the weeks before that I had asked everyone who intercedes for him to begin targeting his gut and eating issues specifically when they pray.  So now here we are, he has been eating things that are not SCD legal, but mostly GF/CF, and his poop has been great.  That's when I really started taking extra notice of his behavior and lo and behold, that's when he said those words.  

Just to reiterate for those of you who aren't as familiar with all of this...When I say Joshua is non-verbal, I mean NON-VERBAL.  Zero words.  Zero attempts at words.  So for him to say not one but actually three words that were discernible to his therapist is HUGE progress.  I am so grateful and eagerly awaiting the next thing he says and praying I get to hear it.  I actually think he told me to 'go' the other day at the back door but I'm not 100%.  If you go long enough not hearing anything, you second guess everything you do hear, because you assume you're just being hopeful.  I guess now I will start paying more attention to the sounds he is making.

"Return to the stronghold [of security and prosperity] you prisoners of hope; even today do I declare that I will restore double your former prosperity."  
Zechariah 9:12 AMP

I have been marinating in this verse for a couple weeks now.  The phrase 'prisoners of hope' struck me in my heart.  I've asked myself a hundred times, what does it mean to be a prisoner of hope? 

It's no longer being captive to worry and anxiety, but being so tied to that anchor (Hebrews 6:19) that we cannot escape it.  Not just being held firmly stable by it, but guarded by it also.  Taking refuge in the stronghold instead of being oppressed by it.

It's an odd choice of words, actually.  When you think of being a prisoner, you don't think of it being something positive.  While thinking about all of this I remembered this story I'd heard about a family of slaves.  There was a law passed freeing some slaves, but then another that if you did not return to the state you came from then your freedom was revoked.  So part of the family would be forced to be separated again if they wanted to maintain their freedom.  So the one family member legally bought the others, so that he technically owned them, but only so they could stay and live out the rest of their lives with family.  So by the law they were still slaves, but in reality were treated as free because their owner was family.

There is so much symbolism in that I can't even go into all of it right now.  But it's much like being a prisoner of hope.  I am shackled to the hope of abundant life because I believe wholeheartedly in the promise of salvation in Jesus.  Hope owns my thoughts and my speech.  I don't do anything unless hope dictates it.

It is hope that has led me this far on Joshua's journey, and it is hope that will see it through.  

Friday, June 1, 2012

Just a Few Pics

I realize I haven't posted anything about our trip since we've been back so here are a few pictures for your viewing pleasure.  I'll have something with a little more substance coming soon.

He is basically against smiling in pictures.

This was on the ride out and it's probably my favorite picture of the trip.

Fish.  We didn't catch as many as we had hoped but we did leave with some.  Janeil laughed at how I kept saying that Bobby and I caught more fish than everyone else, but it's true.  I mean, it's not a competition or anything but...if it was, we won.  These are about half of what the group caught over our whole trip.  We ate most of mine before this picture was taken, I think.

 I realize most of my pictures were taken at sunset, but I could never get over how pretty it is coming straight down into the water.  No land on the horizon is exciting and daunting all at the same time.
Notice how I'm the only one not holding up the fish.  And I actually wasn't the only female on the trip, the other is taking the picture.

 I'm such a girl in my pink fishing stuff.
And that, my friends, is a good-looking man right there.