The Gift of Suffering, Part II
So anyways, I recently mentioned Philippians chapter 1, where it talks about two gifts we’re granted: ‘belief’ in God, and the promise we’ll ‘suffer for His sake’.
I’ve always been really interested in that verse. Geoff the Great and I were talking the other night and we came to some interesting conclusions. Tell me if this rings true for any of you, as well…
As we looked back over our 15 years of marriage, one thing stood out. Trials. Lots and lots of trials. Trials of all sizes and duration. Some were self inflicted (choices we made with finances, prideful (usually mine) reactions in difficulty that led to strife etc), others were swept in by no fault of our own (a flooded home, our home base business entirely stolen, major injuries with our children, a work schedule for Geoff that seemed impossible to hold up under)
We do not have rich parents who have bailed us out of difficulties. We have not been pampered. We’ve not had a life free of difficulty. We’ve had periods of rest, but for the most part our life has been one challenge after the next. Most of you can probably relate. And this does not make us more spiritual (obviously) it just is what our life has been comprised of.
And looking over the last 15 years, I really do understand why ‘suffering’ is considered a gift. Romans chapter 5 sums it up real well.
What have trials done? Lots. We know we’re losers. We see our weakness. We realize our overwhelming need for a Saviour. We understand that human effort or determination can only get us so far. Trials cause us to long for our ‘real home’. Trials keep up from getting too cozy in this alien nation. Trials cause us to call out for His help. Incredibly, He is so kind that He even uses our dumb self inflicted trials to work towards our good when we repent and turn toward Him.
Trials also reveal the glory and love of God. We’ve seen (time and time and time again) God’s people working together in great love to support their brothers and sisters in Christ. We’ve seen and felt the love of God – here on Earth – thru other believers. If we had no needs, we would have not been able to experience that. We’ve caught a glimpse of how heaven will work.
And I’m glad, VERY glad, that our children have not had a life of ease. I’m thankful for the scars on my oldest son’s back and arms from when he was horribly burned as a baby. What an awful thing to say? No – I’ve seen first hand how those scars have helped to keep my very handsome and confident son humble. Those scars are a reminder of his weakness, and a token that ever confirms that ‘flesh’ is temporary and fleeting and subject to abrupt changes. We cannot put our faith in our flesh/looks/strength etc. Would I ever wish for such a thing to happen? Of course not! But after the fact I am able to thank God for the character it’s built in my precious son.
I’m thankful for my second son’s severe lisp. He was cursed with tremendous beauty. He is such a handsome boy. Yet he has something that has kept him from being vain. Does it twist my heart when he’s cruelly teased by others? It doesn’t happen often, but when it does, yes. He will eventually grow out of his lisp, but I hope his sweet spirit of humility stays around for the rest of his existence.
My children have gone without on many occasions. I am glad they have seen at an early age that life was not meant to be easy. They are not expectant, they do not demand imagined ‘rights’, and they are so very thankful for what they receive. They have watched Geoff and I struggle and cry out to God, and they have also pleaded alongside of us that our immediate needs would be met. And they have seen first-hand how our good and gracious Lord answers our prayers and provides for us (and others). I would never wish this away.
Yes. Trials and tribulations ARE a gift. Sometimes it’s almost impossible to see that while in the midst of them – but try and remember. Ask God to strengthen your faith while you wait patiently.
Every Christian I have ever met has always always always said the same thing. Those who have suffered have always been thankful for their trials after the fact. They look back and see the good it’s done. Those were the times they were closest to God. Those were the times they saw Him working first hand – and it strengthened their faith and chipped away at their pride.
I know that’s true in my own life. Our family life has been marked with a series of trials and tribulation. It is also marked with an intense love for one another and a bond of strength, which I hope to never take for granted. We have a lot of areas to work on, and we fall short in many many ways, but I am thankful for the help He’s given us by way of suffering.
So yes. I’m thankful for the trials. All of them. Even the really heinous ones. Those trials were a gift from a good God who loves me and my family. And I’m so thankful for the time of rest we’ve enjoyed this past year.
My family has a ‘prayer board’ in our dining room. I got the idea from my dear friend. How can my family pray for you? Please feel free to let me know. Leave it here if you’d like, so that others may be praying, too, or email me privately. Take out the space, Jeneferig @ gmail. com
Proverbs 15:17 – Better is a dinner of herbs where love is, than a fatted calf with hatred
Watch Your Accent
Written communication can be a real bugger. Especially during a conflict. While the written word is helpful by giving the writer time to sort out ideas and put them down in a well thought-out manner is beneficial, still, you can lose a lot when the words are delivered without the tone and pitch of your voice.
Here’s a good example, and you’ll see that the perspective and implication of the sentence changes when the accent is put on different individual words.
I didn’t kill my dog.
Ok, that should be straight forward enough, right? When it’s written you really only have one perspective. But if we were sitting across from one another at a table it could mean a few different things. You’ll get the best effect if you read the following sentences out loud:
*I* didn’t kill my dog. …Ok.. you didn’t, but apparently somebody did because the implication is that the dog is definitely dead)
I *didn’t* kill my dog…. Ok, this is pretty straight forward. You didn’t kill the dog. Maybe the dog is missing, but one thing is sure, whatever happened to it you certainly didn’t kill it
I didn’t *kill* my dog … Yikes. Well what did you do to it? Just harassed it? Maimed it? Tortured it? Sick-o.
I didn’t kill *my* dog. … Whose dog DID you kill?
I didn’t kill my *dog* …. Oh really? Who or what did you kill then? Psycho.
Yep. Language is tricky. And it’s really easy to mistake what somebody meant, or to even take somebody’s words and make them mean what you want them to mean. That also happens with God’s Word. A lot. It’s important to be careful and take words in the whole context of the circumstance before making an absolute judgment. What somebody said might not be what they meant. So ask them face-to-face with an open mind and give the benefit of the doubt before jumping to conclusions. Words – and implied meanings– are easy to twist. I know I’ve been guilty of judging others wrongly. That’s gross.
In other news, HERE’S something real neat-o and interesting.
Lastly, I’m excited. You know how we had been making a three hour round trip on Sundays to get to our most excellent church in Maryville? Well one of the elders from our church is in the process of moving to Morristown and planting a church right here. Our whole family is so excited to be a part of this. So if you are in East TN and looking for a Body of Believers where the whole counsel of the word is being taught, you should come and visit. By the way, the term ‘whole counsel of the Word’ is code for ‘Reformed’ and ‘Calvinistic’. Just a little bible lingo trivia for you. HERE’S the website for our new church.
Lastly last, I found a cool site that any lover of words and phrases will flip over. It’s a list of idioms, their meanings, an example of how they’re used and an explanation of how they originated. The one they didn’t have, which I REALLY want to know the origin of, is the idiom “pushing the envelope” — how did that become a phrase meaning something that is risky or borderline unacceptable?
Non Homeschool Related Testing
I don’t know if everybody who reads this boring sub-standard blog is saved, so this may not make sense to everybody, but coming across as senseless has never stopped me before, right? So here it goes…
Have you gone thru periods in your life where you feel like you’re sleeping? Christians do this. Generally it happens under a couple of different circumstances. Sometimes it’s because life is too easy; the world is comfortable – or the world is a downright lovely and precious place and we hope nothing happens to come in and mess up our plans.
Or… there are times when severe trials hit, maybe relationships are torn asunder and the foundation of your existence suddenly feels like you’re trying to cross an ocean of Jello. (I would wish my Jello Ocean to be cherry, because honestly, all other flavors are pointless) Or perhaps war has broken out or the economy has flattened you, or your children have become unrecognizable or somebody you love dearly has died.
There are times in a Christian’s life when existence boils down to mere survival. And during these times you will either feel an overwhelming presence of God’s love and peace, or you will feel entirely alone. Drowning. Groping. Blind. Lost.
Are you a better Christian if you feel ‘peace and love’ during the times of trial? No. Not at all. How do I know this? Just take a look at some of the Psalms that David wrote begging God to refresh and renew and to save him. Look also to Job. Talk about feeling empty and clueless. God was still ever present and knew exactly what was going on.
And it’s during these times you may start questioning your salvation, or even questioning the existence of God. I mean, let’s face it; there really are circumstances that happen which seem so random, so destructive, so pointlessly harmful…
But here’s the good news. If you claim Christ – or more accurately stated, if Christ has called you, then He absolutely *has* you. You are tethered directly to Him. He’s got you in a harness and if you start skipping towards a cliff and begin playing at the edge of the precipice, He is going to yank you right back from the brink of ‘death’. He will. If you are saved then you belong to Him. He is the author and perfector of our Faith. That means he created (authored) your faith and He will perfect your faith. He who began a good work in you will be faithful to complete it. Don’t believe me? Check Philippians 1:6.
He has strong hands – strong enough to hold even you and your weird problems. If you are tempted to doubt Him, I understand that. But don’t stop there. Plead with Him to reveal himself; truly humble yourself and resign yourself to wait patiently. Americans don’t know how to be patient. We think a few days of suffering, or a few weeks, several months or even years ‘prove’ God’s unconcern for us. No. You have let your American upbringing cloud reality.
I’m going to leave you with two more hard things to hear. First of all, if you are going through trying times, do not be amazed. No seriously. Don’t be surprised. In Philippians chapter one (again) God says the believer is granted two things. We’re actually granted a lot of things, but in Philippians chapter 1 we’re specifically reminded of TWO things that he’s given us as a gift. Know what they are? The first gift he granted us is “belief in Him”. We didn’t fumble around and dig that up on our own. He gave us the very BELIEF we needed in order to receive salvation. Yes, mind blowing, I know. But you know what else the believer is granted? I’ll just write it out so you can see for yourself:
Philippians 1:26 For it has been granted to you that for the sake of Christ you should not only believe in him, but also suffer for his sake
How’dya like them apples?
So, my friends, don’t be amazed if your life is hard. Be amazed if it’s not. Be a little nervous if it’s not.
Secondly, consider the possibility that you may not be saved. You believe in Christ? Good for you. Even the demons believe in the existence of God and they shudder (James chapter 1), what makes your ‘belief’ different?
In 2nd Corinthians 13:5 it says, Examine yourselves as to whether you are in the faith. Test yourselves. Do you not know yourselves, that Jesus Christ is in you?—unless you are disqualified.
Yikes times two.
Again, the good news is that if you have been called by God, you will persevere because He will make you persevere. Stop being afraid. Stop getting distracted. Examine your life. Stop rushing into sin that you know you have no business being involved with. Repent and fully give your life to Him.
Turn to Him even if it doesn’t “feel” like He’s there. How do you know if you’re saved? Look at the fruit in your life. Do you love Him? Are you willing to forsake the world for Him? If you feel like you’re coming up short then cry out to Him in your weakness. He knows you’re pathetic. He made you, remember? He is strong in your weakness because that’s when you realize how much you can’t fiddle around and make things work by your own efforts. That’s actually good news.
Lord, sometimes it’s so easy to ‘fall asleep at the wheel’. These are hard times for so many. God help us to see you. Help us to understand your glory and our own insignificance. Flatten our pride, Lord. Forgive us for trying to find the answers on our own. Help us to be patient in affliction. Give us a love – a true love – for our brothers and sisters in the Lord. Give us a passion to reach out and minister to others whether or not we’re suffering or prospering. Thank you for loving us; thank you for your kindness. Help us to live a life that’s worthy of your calling.
James 1:12 Blessed is the man who remains steadfast under trial, for when he has stood the test he will receive the crown of life, which God has promised to those who love Him
And for those of us who are not suffering thru a trial at the moment. Thank God for this time of rest and strengthening. Minister to those who feel crushed and overwhelmed or who have real needs. Do not grow weary in doing good. Don’t waste times of strength. Use it to serve the body of Christ.
What’s In A Name?
My friend, Susan, got me thinking about names. I’ve always loved names – I think most girls do. We dream about what we’re going to call our kids one day. And we dream about what we *wish* our name was. And, along those lines, I think most kids slap a new name on themselves and ask people to start calling them by their self appointed title for a time.
When I was little I did not like my name at all. I had the two most plainest, common, boring names in the whole country. You don’t get much more common than Jennifer – and then when you stick a boring ordinary name like Wright after it… yawn.
I especially didn’t like the way my name was spelled – Jenefer. I thought it looked sort of ugly. My dad spelled it with all e’s because he said in the Spanish language e’s were considered feminine. And naturally that was important to him since he was German and all. I don’t know what letter German considers feminine, but I’m guessing it sounds like somebody hacking something up. HHRRRCCCCKT! Yet I digress. I didn’t like the spelling, plus, you couldn’t ever find shoelaces or bookmarks or coffee mugs with “Jenefer”.
Growing up I wanted my name to be Sandy or Jackie. Mostly I was called Jenny (gag). As a teenager I wanted my name to be Coie. As a young adult I went by Jenna for a while.
When I met Geoff, I thought his last name was terribly unfortunate. It just sounded funny to me. But it didn’t take long for me to love it. I *was* born in Japan, after all. And it means Fifty Storms. That’s just neato. But it wasn’t until I hit my thirties that I really realized how much I like my name. The fact that it is spelled the way it is, and the fact my last name is now so uncommon makes it truly unique – I think there is only one Jenefer Igarashi in the whole big world. I like that.
Jess has been doing a lot of research on names and origins and such. Jenefer means “fair” and is derived from the old English name Genevieve. Genevieve is a cool name. I don’t know what definition “fair” covers tho. It could mean White (which I am very), or Just (which I think I am) or “lovely” … um, ok, so maybe I’m just the first two definitions.
My kids’ names seem to suit them. Geoffrey (Dippy) = peacemaker, Aaron (Bo) = strong mountain, Emmiko = happy child, Ryann = little ruler, James = supplanter “Coie” doesn’t mean anything so I’ve decided to dub it = content and calm (actually.. kait the great gave her a definition once but I can’t remember what it was). James definition scares me… supplanter? hmmm
So what’s the story behind your name? What does it mean? Does it describe you? Do you like it?
I Scream, You Scream, We All Scream For Chicken McNuggets
I’ve been doing a swell job of blogging less. And I’m pretty surprised about that because generally, eight times out of ten, when I decide to do something different, I don’t follow thru.
Anyhow, I’m blogging today because I have things to be excited about. Unfortunately I’m not allowed to go into reason number one. But, eight times out of ten I will go ahead and go into things I’m not supposed to. Therefore, I’ll go ahead and say it: I’m looking forward to Wednesday thru Sunday. There. I said it. For those of you who know what’s going on this week (which, granted, aren’t many because Coie goes beet red and cringes when I start alluding to it) you can snicker and wink wink along with me. But I shan’t name any names, nor shall I post any pictures, nor shall I say anything more about it. Except this… I am glad that there are godly families raising up godly children who grow into very neat-o adults for our adult children to get to know better. Isn’t that right, MammyPie?
Ok, the second thing I’m excited about is that I won a contest – yes, me! And I actually won something that I want. Now how’s that for good news? Thanks, Chickadee for hosting such a nifty contest, and thanks, Katrina, for such a great gift!
I’m also excited because three of our goats have had little babies. Poor Daisy, after being forced to take a kid that wasn’t hers, she had her own little sweetie a day later. And then on Sunday Willow had two more. All four babies are pure white. Emmiko also discovered a mama-hen who hatched nine of her own little fluffy yellow chickies. It is spring at the Ig Farm.
Reason #3 to be excited… Emmiko got her tonsils out and I have about six months worth of ice cream treats to share with her. She’s a weird kid. All she has wanted to eat is chocolate malt shakes and Chicken McNuggets.
#4 Me and Coie are leaving for OH in a month. I am so excited about all the friends we’re going to be able to meet up with. Our pals from Home School Enrichment are planning to be there and we’re looking forward to hanging out with them again. We’re also all set to party with Julie Park, Spunkarella, Marshie-mellow, the Heart of the Matter girls, Maggie the Magnificent and Kim Wolf just to name a few. And even my profound friend is making plans to drive up. I cannot WAIT! And it all happens on my birthday weekend. How’s that for marvy?
#5 My entirely excellent son, Bo, is turning 12 in a week. This boy is so marvelous that he defies description. I am one lucky momsie.
Lastly, here’s a video that made me laugh. You have to admit, even if you’re a Dem… this is funny:
Just look at this cute little fellow:
…and I didn’t think any of the goats were pregnant. Silly me. Either that, or the goat we “borrowed’ from Maria earlier this week is one potent Billy.
The sad thing is that the mama, Daisy, can’t stand her new little baby. He keeps trying to approach her and snuggle and the mean old thing just head-butts him. Emmiko had a clever idea of putting Daisy on the milk stand and then putting the little guy up there to nurse – but when they are not on the milk stand Mean Mama doesn’t want anything to do with her little boy. So Emmi has become his mommy. He follows her everywhere and rubs his little floppy eared head against her ankles. Sad but sweet.
In other news, there’s new life everywhere I turn
I love this time of year, I really do.
This little fellow is sort of new, too. He’s six months new.
He’s my very favorite little bunny in the whole world and I just love him and his siblings and his mommy.
ok, i’m going to cut this short — we have all sorts of fun and exciting things happening around the Ig Farm. I’ll try to update again semi-soon.
Praise God from whom all blessings flow
**** Edit and Update!
Ok… *now* I know why Daisy refused to be a good mama to little Milo. It’s because Daisy was NOT his mama. Coie’s goat, Gee, is the mama. Once all of us dummies figured out there was a mix up at the hospital we were able to put baby and the real mama together. He is nursing and getting along just fine. Boy are we incompetent farmers. I hope there’s not a law suit…