A Psalm of David, when he was in the wilderness of Judah.1 O God, you are my God; earnestly I seek you; my soul thirsts for you; my flesh faints for you, as in a dry and weary land where there is no water.2 So I have looked upon you in the sanctuary, beholding your power and glory.3Because your steadfast love is better than life, my lips will praise you.4 So I will bless you as long as I live; in yourname I will lift up my hands.5 My soul will be satisfied as with fat and rich food, and my mouth will praise you with joyful lips,6 when I remember you upon my bed, and meditate on you in the watches of the night;7 for you have been my help, and in the shadow of your wings I will sing for joy.8 My soul clings to you; your right hand upholds me.
I have a confession to make. I have not always been a huge fan of Psalm 42:5. “Why, my soul, are you downcast? Why so disturbed within me? Put your hope in God, for I will yet praise him, my Savior and my God.” This is in part because it has always felt a little like an accidental weapon people use when someone is hurting. It’s kind of like saying, “Be well, be happy, put your hope in God.” Not particularly helpful. The other reason is due to the happy worship song of the same words. When my soul is downcast, happy little worship songs are (again) seriously not helpful.
The Word of God never changes, but I do. Each new season of life brings a new perspective and a different understanding to the Bible. In this light, I have had occasion to revisit this Psalm, spend some time considering these verses, and gain a new appreciation for them. This morning, I wrote them out in my own words and John thought I should share them here. They are not a translation or even a paraphrase but more like C.S. Lewis’ “supposal” of what these words might look like played out in my life. It is our hope that they may be of encouragement to someone.
Psalm 42:1-6 (Revisited)
I remember when it was not like this; when I delighted in the Lord and in the fellowship of His people. I remember the deep satisfaction and joy in using my gifts to serve Him and the holy moments when it was not me, but Him working through me to touch the life of another person. I remember those times and I long to return to them. I am so thirsty for joy. But instead of joy, I drink my own salty tears that were not invited or welcome and only make me thirst more for the joy I had in Him. They sap me of my strength when I long to be filled with His power. but even now, this I know to be true. I will yet again praise Him. This too, shall pass. This season of grief is not welcome but it is just a season and it will in time come to an end. While I am waiting, I will remember God’s faithfulness and put my hope in Him.
As the sparkling white of icy winter gives way to the gray-brown snows of approaching spring, my arms start to ache to work in my gardens again. I have been dreaming all winter of plans for my kitchen garden and the herbs and teas I want to plant this year (BTW, if anyone knows where I can purchase a chammomile plant, please let me know!)
I think this is why I’ve been struggling with a touch of homesickness lately. When I visit the farm and see windows boarded up and the lawn littered with demolition debris or see strange men with dirty boots tramping through my house, it crushes my spirit a little bit every time.
I can give in to these feelings and keep my eyes on my circumstances or I can turn my eyes to God and allow Him to give me a fresh perspective. As the saying goes, “While you are waiting for God to open another door, praise Him in the hallway.”
The following are pictures from our temporary home:
641. The company which provided the furnishings did not want me to put plants on any of their tables, but this bay window is just perfect. And really, if one has to do dishes, this view is a blessing. My soap dispenser was broken in the move, so on one of our (seemingly) daily trips to Wal-Mart I picked up this blue one. I don’t care if it’s a cheap plastic soap pump, I love that it matches my blue Mason jars! (642.)
643. My dad sent me these lovely roses for Lions Rose Day. Being the daughter of a Lion and the wife of a Lion, I am doubly blessed ❤ They were especially meaningful to me this year and made the place feel a little more like home. (Aren’t they gorgeous?)
644. I could not find my napkin holder after the move. I walked into Goodwill for something totally unrelated and someone had just dropped off several Longeberger baskets. Perfect!
645. This is a little reading nook the housing company set up for me. It is right next to sliding glass doors with lots of natural light to do my quiet times in the morning.Or at least it will be the perfect place to do my quiet times if I can beat John to it some morning; he is also quite fond of my reading nook.
646. I didn’t have a really good place for the kids to practice tumbling at our farm; but the large, unfinished basement is just the thing!
647. We had a toy room at the farm, affectionately known as “The Toy Shop”. It was a converted porch that was very hot in the summer and very cold in the winter, so it was mainly used for toy storage. In the basement of this house, there is one finished room (that is quite toasty) that we have set aside for the kids’ toy room. Sam and Emma hosted a few friends over yesterday and I can tell you I was quite happy to have all the happy screaming noises downstairs.
648. This is the back deck (complete with bunny tracks from last night’s snow), but do you know what I see? I see a perfect place for planters filled with herbs and teas to plant in my kitchen garden when I move back home.
We moved into temporary housing on Tuesday. The housing company delivered most of the furniture. On Wednesday, the rental company delivered the washer and dryer. On Thursday, the plumber hooked them up. On Friday, the housing company delivered the rest of the furniture. Saturday we left for a five day family vacation. Boxes are piled high, waiting to be unpacked, our internet was still not yet hooked up, and our homeschool books are waiting patiently for me to find my stride again so we can catch up. Suffice to say, this was not a convenient time to take a family vacation. In fact, it was a very inconvenient time to take a family vacation. Turns out, it was a great time to take a family vacation.
The five days we spent on the road were filled with all the hallmarks of a great family vacation (or at least our family vacations)…audiobooks read by Jim Weiss, picnic lunches, small treats and activities to help distract children from long hours on the road. John spent many hours planning our route, finding interesting places to stop,and making hotel reservations, and yet we found once again that some of the most delightful stops were completely unplanned.
To quote Dr. Suess, “It’s fun to have fun, but you have to know how.” I am such a structured person, wanting to plan every detail ahead of time, and the planned stops were fun but the most delightful ones were spontaneous. Even the picnic lunches were delightful (and as all my children know, Momma is not fond of cold meat sandwiches).
It was a really, really inconvenient time to take a family vacation…John & I both have so much work to do at home, but for those five days on the road we were completely powerless to do anything about it. I do not like being powerless. I like being in control, but the time spent on the road was a gentle reminder to trust God because He is in control. Long hours on the road gave me time to examine how much I really do trust Him. Do I trust God so long as I get to retain control over all the details? Or do I trust Him even when I am completely powerless?
I don’t think I will ever be a go-with-the-flow kind of girl this side of heaven, but as we return home to our not-quite-home and face a lot of uncertainties I would rather not face, I think I am a little better prepared to relax and trust God and trust His timing. He is in complete control and all His gifts are good. After all, if he can make cold meat lunches enjoyable, He can do anything.
I blew it. I really, really blew it. I can give you a thousand reasons why…I could try and make my defense…but in the end they are just excuses; the facts remain that I was guilty as charged. My sweet little girl had brought me a beautiful turquoise necklace she had made and asked for my approval. My words were harsh, critical…Why hadn’t she asked my permission before using my things?…It would be better if the beads were arranged in a more balanced arrangement…I didn’t even notice her face before rushing on to accomplish the tasks I thought were so important for the day. The day was a demanding one. I gave my full attention to the deadlines that were loudly demanding it, I gave very little to the sweet, sensitive spirit that asked very little of me. As the day drew to a close, the Holy Spirit whispered words that were a slam-dunk conviction: “Those were her beads.” In that instant, my vision was cleared. Yes, my deadlines were important, but nothing was as important as finding my girl and making things right. As we found a quiet corner, her face was full of concern. “Is everything OK, Mommy?” “Did I do something wrong, Mommy?” Her words pricked my heart. How often had I crushed her before this day? I told her how wrong I was, how sorry I was, how I appreciated the artistic gifts God had given her; I praised her for taking the initiative to create something and be creative without anyone telling her to do it. She snuggled in closer to me. “It’s OK, Mommy. I forgive you.” Grace. Priceless words offered to me. As we begin our school year, let this grace be before all others. If we learn math, writing, & science, but miss grace we walk away empty handed. But this day holds another lesson for me. Sin can be forgiven, but it always has a consequence. She may have forgiven me and our relationship was restored, but as I climbed the stairs to attend to the next thing I noticed out of the corner of my eye that she picked up her necklace to work on it again, the way I had told her it should be.
From Ephesians Ch. 4:
1 Therefore I, the prisoner of the Lord, implore you to walk in a manner worthy of the calling with which you have been called
Ah, yes, this is my great desire…to walk in a manner worthy of my calling…but what does that look like? How is that done?
Humility, gentleness, patience, love..all evidences of the Spirit at work, doing His good work in my life; but there is something here which especially catches this farm girl’s eye: Continue reading
There is something about being pregnant that seems to give other people permission to touch your body. Usually I am a touch-only-when-invited kind of person, and even more so when I’m feeling all hormonal and crazy and generally uncomfortable; make that really uncomfortable. But I have found that the people who are reaching out to touch my belly uninvited, although a tad bid annoying don’t really bother me all that much because they are demonstrating how happy they are for me and how excited they are about my baby. Consider on the other hand a recent exchange with a professional at the doctor’s office: C: “So, you’re getting close, huh?” Michelle: “Yes, another 3 weeks or so.” C: “So how many does this make for you?” Michelle: “This will be our fifth.” C: “What are you, nuts?!” I can’t tell you how common this exchange is and at this point in the conversation I usually smile and say “No, just surprised…” but during this particular exchange I was wondering how many people get that if they don’t know me well enough to know how many children I have, they probably don’t know me well enough to know if what they just said was really hurtful or offensive to me. Oh, and another note to people who feel the freedom to make uninvited comments, I’ve always taught my children it’s not kind or polite to make comments about a person’s physical appearance unless they are complimentary. That doesn’t cease to be true when a person is pregnant, so comments like “you’re huge” or “you look like you’re ready to pop” aren’t really very helpful either. Thanks.
On a more cheerful note, ever since Holly convinced me to try cloth diapers this time around and her musings on being “crunchy“, I’ve been thinking about other ways to incorporate this philosophy. Although I detest the attempt to mindwash me into the Green religion, (not by you Holly! I meant the popular culture in general!!) I couldn’t help but be drawn to an article on “green” housecleaning in our local paper the other day. For me, being crunchy is all about good stewardship…of our time, of our money , and yes, of our environment. So if “green” housecleaning saves me money and is helpful to the environment and doesn’t take up more of my time, why not give it a try? I found the following housecleaning recipes at about.com:
Homemade Glass Cleaner
Ingredients 1 cup rubbing alcohol ,1 cup water ,1 tablespoon vinegar. Using isopropyl alcohol and white vinegar together makes a quickly evaporating spray glass and mirror cleaner that competes with national brands. This can also be used to give a nice shine to hard tiles, chrome, and other surfaces.
Recipe For Homemade Furniture Polish
From Sarah Aguirre,
Your Guide to Housekeeping.
FREE Newsletter. Sign Up Now! Ingredients 1 cup olive oil , 1/2 cup lemon juice. Mix together in a clean new spray bottle. To use, remember to shake before each application. Apply a small portion to your cleaning cloth. Spread the polish over the furniture, trying to polish evenly. Use another clean cloth to polish the surface dry.
Recipe for Homemade Surface Cleaner
From Sarah Aguirre,
Your Guide to Housekeeping.
FREE Newsletter. Sign Up Now! Homemade Surface Cleaner Ingredients 1 cup white vinegar , 1 cup water. Mix together in a spray bottle, and you’ll have your own multi-purpose cleaner. Most useful in the bathroom and kitchen on surfaces.I can tell you I’ve tried the furniture polish recipe once before on our entertainment center and the results were beautiful. That reminds me, it’s due for another polishing…
edit 4/5/08: Here’s another super-cheap, good stewardship housekeeping tip I got from my Dad–Instead of using expensive, caustic drain cleaners, try boiling water! Obviously, one need to use caution around littles, but the boiling water eats through just about anything that is hanging around in your pipes. We tried it in our bathroom sink which regularly runs at slow or stop and it worked like a charm.