Tuesday, October 8, 2013

"Thorn In the Flesh"

Hello Friends.

I wanted to share something that helps me, more than anything else, to alleviate stress by writing.  Just as write my thoughts down, I can feel the anxious thoughts start to fade.  If I can just get it out of my head onto the paper, the problems just seem to stop suppressing my every thought.
The Bible tells us that every thought can be brought into captivity as we allow the Holy Spirit to bring down every high imagination and every thing that exalts itself above God. (Read 2 Corinthians 10)
Here lately, a lot of my thoughts just seem to be exalting themselves above the authority of God, high above what seems like out of God's hands. By doing this, I have subjected myself to immense stress and strain, worry and depression.  Just when I start to feel a break through, then  a flood of emotions and let down follow.  At the very thought of a relief of stress and anxiety, is shortly followed by a huge slap in the face.
Where would something like this come from?  Why am I going through this?  The questions start to pile high, like the dirty dishes in my sink, all over the counter and even on my floor.  What have I done to deserve this heavy burden.
If it weren't for all of those things weighing me down, then comes a long list of buffeting agents combating me like a daily firing squadron.  Almost as if I am a contender in the Hunger Games, to exxaturate, but emotionally that's how I feel some times.  As I was thinking about all these "little things" that are continually growing each day I began to realize that these are like the scripture that states Paul had a thorn in this flesh, like an angel of satan buffeting him. (2Corinthians 12:7)   Now I'm no scholar, but I do tend to wonder if maybe Paul was so concentrated on his work for God and as he stated the revelations he received, that this thorn was present to keep him from any pride, that maybe these little things were irritations poking at him each day.  Perhaps as he started a journey he maybe lost a strap on his sandal, got delayed and had to repair the shoe and further delayed his goal of getting somewhere.  Maybe while he was repairing his shoe, he realized that he was fresh out of leather. So, now he has to go purchase some leather at the market or maybe he has to go and get his own cow and dry out the hide and further delay his trip by several more days or weeks.  Let me use my imagination further. Could it be that maybe there were people that buffeted him?  Or maybe, some say, that he was single so this might have been a pressing struggle with him or maybe life in general brought difficulty and obstacles.
 I don't know, but I do know this, that this is something I can relate to in dealing with buffeting problems.  When Paul compared it to a thorn in the flesh I think of how irritating a splinter is when it is right under your skin, but you can't get it out.  You try and you try and you poke and pry, still nothing.  It's still there and it's starting to irritate the skin and make it swollen. You think if you don't get it out soon, it could become infected.  It's something you think about all the time and it just won't go away.  In fact, it just starts to consume all you think about and begins to distract from what you really need to be focusing on.
I can imagine that Paul might have not understood why he had this "thorn in the flesh", but he seemed to strive and press on none the less.
So what exactly does my thorn look like and what angel of satan is buffeting me?  Well, here's my list and it's just the small nagging things that are on top of the underlying things going on and tend to pile up heaps and mounds of stress. Maybe you can relate to these somehow?
1. We have a baby monitor in our room and it went defective last year along with the week our microwave went out and then it went out again and was replaced twice.  So now we have a newer monitor and it pops when it gets mixed with other frequencies in the house and it pops at it's own will.  We have to turn it a certain direction or change channels or eventually turn it off, however, still annoying when you're trying to sleep. Right when you think all is peaceful again, poof, another buffeting begins. Can't buy a new monitor now.
2. We have a low wattage limit in our electrical wires and so the lights in our house just aren't bright.  On top of that it's dimly lit in the house on a rainy day or at night and the bulbs tend to burn out more often than I like to worry with and we've removed most of the globes to improve the lighting.  Our ceiling fan light went out and Scott rigged it up to work. I was so excited the 'thorn' was fixed and the next day..... poof, one of the new bulbs burnt out. Ugh. So we're sitting by the window straining our eyes until we can 'figure' it out. Can't replace the light fixture.
3. On top of our vehicle being older, it is paid for and I'm not sad about that, but my son decided to not listen and go ahead and race to it to open the door and get something out before I got there and oops, off went the door handle on the passenger side. Now when we go anywhere as a family or i need to get in that side, another buffeting agent present as I humbly have to wait for the door to be opened from the inside or crawl around myself. Can't replace the door handle or back broken crushed bumper or tail light that goes out when wet either.
4. I recently bought my daughter some new silver sparkly shoes. A must for her, since she grew from a size 3T to a 5-6T shoe in nearly 6 months.  Now I have lost them and I'm thinking i left them on top of the vehicle as i left  the home school co-op.  They were the 'one' pair of shoes I was going to rely on this fall. Poof, another expense piling up on top of a super huge list of things we need.
5.  I have recently started making crafts, paintings, vintage finds to sell for a profit. Things are starting at a great pace, but there have been so many obstacles down this path.  I have quite a few projects, but it seems just as I get one project started I am always lacking just one thing to finish.  I am almost done with one project that I have struggled to juggle around house work, home school, screaming kids and no sleep and I was 'almost' done, but now I have to wait until I can get that 'one' little thing from the store that's not in the budget. Buffeting, again.
6.I have been cooking recently and I have been frugally stretching our food budget beyond recognition.  I consistently need to cook from scratch and around balancing a curious toddler and very hyper 5 year old, I am almost loony & crazy trying to cook and often get things out of order on the recipe.In fact I find that in between changing a poopie diaper and wiping up a thrown sippy cup and bandaging a bicycle boo boo I am almost in hysteria trying to put together a very strained meal that quickly becomes very creatively put together. I have found that when I find a recipe that my family likes and seeing what I have in stock in the pantry I shout, yippee. But the quick rejoicing, I did say quick, becomes a sigh as I realize I don't have that one item on the list that is a necessity for the recipe. Another angel of satan to buffet me.
6. I struggle with my allergies and a chronic case of hives since Livia was born.  It is a case of trial and error to find what is causing these severe hives.  I have discovered essential oils that have weaned me off of a 10 mg Zyrtec down to a 1 mg children's dose every day or two. The oils are amazing and doing great with so many health needs but they are a sacrifice for us on our tight budget and with no health insurance to afford.  I was so proud of being able to get what I needed with some help with my project sales and cleaning a house, however, just the other day as I was loading the vehicle I scolded my son and dropped one of the Lavender bottles.  It was half full and smashed and splattered on the concrete.  I needed that oil. I almost just rolled on the pavement, but I didn't after seeing the broken glass.  $32 is not a lot to most people, but I was on the brink of going nearly 3 days without my zyrtec and was gaining confidence that God was helping me and as you guessed, there went my faith, right out the door.  Another buffeting and another reason to get frustrated and just thinking of 'how' am I going to make it off this medicine if the obstacles keep coming up.  "God I know you said you would heal me of my allergies and I am still trusting you for relief" How God?
7.  With our home school going at a great pace and success there comes this great burden of trying to balance all things.  It seems that the day is based primarily on how Livia's mood is and usually is the opposite of her brother's mood that particular day.  Just when the day is going great and the laundry is going and the dishes are done, poof, one or the other child starts throwing a fit or the toddler has busted the soap jar made of glass or gotten into a whole bag of fig newtons and crushed them on the floor or thrown a milk cup across the room and bathed the carpet in milk.  Or maybe if it's a great emotional day, then something, just something else falls apart or we run out of laundry detergent and i need to make some more or we ran out of wipes and sissy just had a blow out and even Livia constantly destroying anything in her path, including bashing any of our laid out school work or projects.  So again, a buffeting of a constant wrestling match of not being able to relax and organized.  It's a real struggle for me.

So now you know just a tip of the things that I've been wrestling with.  I realize so many people have things that aggravate them or pester them and it's not very often or maybe there are a lot of people with this issue.  I know things could be worse, but this IS my worse for me, this is my struggle that heightens my emotions, drains me of sanity and pushes me to the edge of a nervous break down.

Who would think that a Housewife that home schools would rarely have aggravations or problems and more over a christian Mom and wife who should run her house with peace and dignity and keep her stride is simply falling apart some days.  Well, I am that lady here lately.  It seems as though I am under attack by the enemy in these small but trivial things.
  Is it the kids I birthed or my financial situation or the mate I was given or the hardships we've endured as a family or the struggles in this life or the horrible teen years being rejected because of my christian standards or the step family I feared or the lonely high school times and college years or the loneliness in the ministry that I could blame God with?
No.  In all reality it is none of these to blame.  I could find one of these to take all my anger out on and after questioning each of these things in life, it only lead to more pain. 
 The solution is very simple, yet very difficult to do.  It is a gentle reminder when we study his word, particularly the old testament.  In fact, as I gave the lessons on Adam & Eve, Noah, Abraham, Isaac and Jacob to my son the past few months I would just sit and teach with tears streaming down my cheeks. My son would say, "Mom, are you crying...again?"  I would say, "I'm not sad but I am happy to hear this as a reminder that we must trust him."  God may take us through some really rough things.  Sometimes those things might be for our entire lives and we may never have relief from the burden of this life. However, God is only asking us to Trust and Obey.  Two words, yet so profoundly difficult when we look at our circumstances instead of focus on HIM and realize we need to stop looking at that tiny little splinter.
So my thoughts today encircle the spiritual reality that God has set our family apart.  Not any better or higher than anyone else, but  equal to each Christian seeking to do God's will and willing to do it will, as a result, experience a 'setting apart' in their life.  Is it the easy way? No. Is it always more fun? No.  But does it cause us to seek him more and need him more? Maybe in ways that others have not learned to trust God yet. 
So many times we seek security and comfort instead of being willing and open to give up that part of our lives.Just the thought of leaving and moving from family might frighten some or resigning from a secure job position to becoming unemployed and not knowing where the next job will be provided.  The fear of not knowing the future becomes a very real obstacle for us. Every day and every time we encounter these attacks they are simply to nudge us back to digging in deeper to our faith and trust in God.  Satan wants to use these attacks to cause these little aggravations to steadily drift us away, to conquer and divide the family and to cause us to doubt God in every way imaginable. Maybe it is easier to have faith in the bigger things because we 'know' they are out of our control, but trusting God with these little pestering splinters, not that might not be as easy.

 For some, temptations come through various things, and in my case it is the temptation to be frustrated and loose my focus and to stir up angry feelings that I might have had toward God in certain situations put upon me in life.  Not understanding how those who threw their lives away, living how they wanted, partying, working with unethical values and those who live apart from God could appear to live unscathed from problems and stress.  But being reminded that in the story of the Prodigal Son that after all that the son had done, the father took him back, waiting with open arms and celebrated with him.  The oldest brother couldn't understand the father's love and rebuked it by questioning him of the father's approval of him.  The father replied so clearly, All I have is yours. If there is something you wanted or needed I would not have withheld it from you.  So I know that from this, all i need to do is ask God to provide and he will not withhold it from me.  I just need to seek him more often and more diligently and keep in close relationship with him every day.
So, today, I write this as a memorial stone for me to look back and remember that God is for me and not against me and I will press on as I leave my burden here, my anxieties and cares I cast upon him for he cares FOR me. (1 Peter 5:7)
thanks for reading, hope you have been encouraged today.

Please feel free to write your thoughts here, I'd love to read them!