Thursday, January 27, 2011

Divine Graces

"Shew me wherefore thou contendest with me." Job 10:2
"Perhaps, O tried soul, the Lord is doing this to develop thy graces.
There are some of they graces which would never be discovered if it were not for they trials. Dost thou not know that thy faith never looks so grand in summer weather as it does in winter? Love is too often like a glow-worm, showing but little light
except it be in the midst of surrounding darkness.
Hope itself is like a star - not to be seen in the sunshine of prosperity,
and only to be discovered in the night of adversity.
Afflictions are often the black foils in which God doth set
the jewels of his children's graces, to make them shine the better...
Depend upon it, God often sends us trials that our graces may be discovered,
and that we may be certified of their existence.
Besides, it is not merely discovery, real growth in grace is the result of sanctified trials.
God takes away our comforts and our privileges in order to make us better Christians.
Well, Christian, may not this account for the troubles through which thou art passing?
Is not the Lord bringing out your graces, and making them grow?
Is not this the reason why he is contending with you?"
Charles Spurgeon

Trials in our lives are an expression of God's grace toward us, a means of developing grace in our own lives, an opportunity for God's light to shine through us in a greater way. As much as I want all of the previously mentioned characteristics to be true of me, I'm not sure I really want to experience trials in order to get there. The culture I am surrounded by says that suffering is bad and must be avoided at all costs. It says that life should be about being happy because we deserve it!?! Even the language from one of our country's founding documents gives us the idea that life is all about pursuing happiness. I would contend this is not a Biblical perspective at all. But frankly it sounds a lot more appealing than the call we find in scripture to die to self and daily take up our cross and follow Christ.

As I face challenges in my life I'm not looking for the grace of God toward me or developing grace in my own life. I whine and moan. I ask "why me?" I pray for God to change my circumstances (usually in this order - I could at least pray first even if this may not be the right direction in which to pray). But as I look at the challenges our family has faced over the past 10 years I do see these graces emerging in our life. I see the grace God has shown to carry us through and ask more of us than we ever imagined possible and then equip us to follow His leading. I see two amazing kids who have grown up in the midst of these challenges and as a result have a spiritual maturity that often blows me away. I am so proud of the people they are becoming and I don't believe they would be the same people without the trials in our life.

I still struggle with my daily responses to the challenges before me. I am so quick to complain and question instead of looking for God's hand at work. So I am pressing on to know my Lord more - to truly experience His heart, to know that I know that I know the abiding love He has for me. It amazes, and honestly sometime discourages me that even after 20 + years of walking with the Lord, I still have so much further to grow. The depths of God's Word and His character will take all of eternity to grasp - would we really want to serve a god that we could fully understand? What a truly awesome God we serve!

Sunday, January 23, 2011

It has been a busy week at our house with a fun opportunity for Bella & Luke. Monday they auditioned, alongside 109 other children for a part in the production of Pinocchio with Missoula Children's Theater. About half of the children who auditioned got roles. Missoula is an organization that sends actor/director teams around the country to put on children's theater productions in just 1 week. 65,000 children act in a Missoula production each year - pretty amazing.

We were so excited when the kids both got parts. Bella was cast as Jiminy Cricket, Luke as a Pleasure Isle Kid. Rehearsals went from 4-8:30 pm Monday through Friday so there were many late night homework sessions and a little more urging than usual needed to get up in the mornings for school. Saturday the kids had to be at the theater at 11am for dress rehearsal before the two productions at 3 and 7 pm. We were so excited to have Mike's Mom & Dad join us for the weekend to see the show!

Luke as a Pleasure Isle Kid - his line - "Smoke a cigar - we can't do that!"

Jiminy, Jiminy

Bella, as Jiminy along with Pinocchio as Mr. Geppetto work on his creation.

Enjoying the cast party with Grandma & Grandpa!

Such a great time!!

Sunday, January 16, 2011

The Constancy of Change

As we begin a new year I've been reminded of the old adage that the only constant that in our lives is change. Earlier this week I was struck by the amazing changes we've seen with technology in the past 20 years as I loaded 20 albums onto my cellphone in about 15 minutes - something that would have taken hours back in the days of tapes - the medium of my high school era. I was also thinking about how amazing it is that a device the size of a fat credit card can make calls, surf the web, text message, record video, take pictures, play games and music. Who would have thought that would be possible 20 years ago when the first cell phones came out? I've thought of the amazing changes in video game technology as our family has loved the gift of the wii we received from Nana & Papa for Christmas. It's a far cry from the old Atari 4200 I played on as a kid.

2010 was a year of big changes in our family. Going through foster care training and receiving our first placement was a change we would never have imagined just a couple years ago and yet we see God's hand in this change in our lives and feel we are in the center of His will for our lives at this time. Our precious daughter Bella has told us that she had been feeling like she wasn't doing much for God before we became a foster family, but now she feels she is serving the Lord through this ministry in our very home. What a tremendous insight from a 12 year old.

That brings me to change which will take place in our home this year. In March we will enter a new season of parenting as we celebrate Bella's birthday. You hear so many terrible stories about parenting teens, but I am excited about this new phase in our life. I am so proud of the people I see my kids becoming and am excited to enter this new season where my role in their life changes. I already see that role changing from one of what seemed like constant correction in the early years to a role of guiding and encouraging. As I led worship this morning a line from the song "Hosanna" choked me up a bit. In the second verse it says "I see a generation rising up to take their place with selfless faith, with selfless faith." I see that selfless faith in my kids at times and am inspired by their love for the Lord and their desire to selflessly serve.

We are in the midst of a big change in our household as our first placement gradually comes to an end. If all goes well our first placement will be over in the middle of February. My mom asked me yesterday how I was feeling about that. I asked her if it was bad to say I'm okay with it? Overall it has been a good first experience, but I welcome a quieter home and a less crazy schedule for a time. We will probably hold off on taking another placement until May, just to have a little break. But I think by then I'll be ready to dive in again. More change!!

Changes, changes, changes. Just when I think I've adjusted to life and feel like I have things under control a bit - things change. I'm learning to live in that place of constant change and trust the Lord to be the source of constancy I need when everything around me keeps changing.

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Update from a Bad Blogger

It's been a busy few months in our house. Family life with 5 children is a perpetual circus act. Keeping all the balls in the air is a skill I have not yet mastered. There's always someone who needs something and fortunately usually several people who can help. Usually someone is fighting with someone else and I feel the need for a striped shirt and a whistle. I am thankful for a big house with numerous play areas to provide for much needed separation at times.

Here's a snapshot of fall at the Pedersens
  • End of August - first placement - whirlwind adjustment to family of 7
  • 4 family birthdays in 3 months - whew!!
  • Luke plays his 3rd season of soccer and Grandma & Grandpa come for a visit and get to see a game
  • Jenn gets away to Mom's Conference early Nov. for a bit of rejuvenating
  • Whole fam travels to NE for Thanksgiving to visit extended family
  • Stay home for Christmas, then take a trip to WI the week after for a little ski fun - complete with lodging in a little log cabin - so cute and cozy
As I enter the new year I resist the widespread trend of making resolutions and yet I find myself feeling the need for renewal and positive change. After purchasing a wii fit balance board I did my first workout in I don't know how long yesterday and today am really feeling it. I'm contemplating changing my eating patterns, but just not really sure what direction to go with that. Beyond the focus on addressing my physical health I am feeling the need for spiritual renewal. Motherhood reveals the depth of my character flaws on a daily basis. I am battling to not feel like a complete failure in life in general as I daily see my selfishness, impatience, and anger. But I must remind myself of the grace of God, for which I am so thankful.

On the autism front autism is in the news today. But really what is being reported is old news - over a year old. And what is being reported is less than truthful. Without getting into all of it I am feeling very disappointed and hopeless that truth will ever be exposed about the causes of autism. I am disheartened that my son struggles so greatly on a daily basis and that more and more children are diagnosed daily with this devastating disorder. As seems to be the trend the fall was tough for Seth and consequently for me. We are considering new treatment options after taking a break from the biomedical over the past year.

Well there's a bit of an update on life at the Pedersens. Perhaps I should make a resolution to be a better, more regular blogger, but we'll see !?!