Sunday, April 13, 2008

Blogging Prayer: On being a vessel of grace

Rebecca's blog theme for the month of April is Petitionary Prayer. In keeping with that theme I wanted to share some things that have happened over the past week, and how it falls right in line with one of the things I consistantly pray about, for myself.

Every spring when the snow melts, and every fall when the heavy rains start, our basement floods. I suppose it's been this way for many years (maybe always, for all I know), since the previous owner elevated the basement floor in some places to be just high enough to stay dry. In the areas it's not elevated the water level is usually about 3-6 inches deep, and stays this way for a day or two, before it drains into the ground under the house. It's just one of those things we've come to live with, living in this old farmhouse.

The part of the floor that isn't elevated is the area just at the bottom of the stairs, right over to the door of the wood burning furnace. So, when it floods there are two options. 1. Avoid going down and wading through the water to build a fire and heat the house, or 2. Go wade through the water to build a fire and get your boots soaked all the way through. (I know, we really ought to invest in a couple of pairs of rubber boots, and that would eliminate the inconvenience of option #2).

Due to the fact that it hasn't really been too cold over the last week, we've opted to go with option #1, and not have a fire fire for a few days (off and on). The house was cool, but not so cold we couldn't stand it, and the water finally went down late last Wednesday afternoon. Before the water receded however, another issue came up that forced me down to the basement anyway, and that was the hot water heater no longer working. So there we were, no heat in the main house and no hot water for dishes, showers or laundry. Hoping against hope I went down with the goal of finding a magic reset button or something, but my hopes were dashed when I realized there was no such button. Slogging through the water I came back upstairs without building a fire.

Add into this, the fact that for the umpteenth time we've had plans to visit with the Shays and something has happened to cause us to postpone (usually someone getting sick, this time it was me) the visit. It happens so much, that I've actually come to expect something to happen to cause the plans to go south.

Coming along for the ride on this exciting week, has been my internet connection - or more accurately, my internet NOT connection. For whatever reason, when it rains a lot we get days on end of being either unable to connect (and get every error message you can think of) off and on all day, or once we do get connected, we get dropped after 30 seconds, or 5 minutes, or maybe even get to be online for a whole hour. The last three days I've been more disconnected than anything else. Most of the time that's fine, unless I'm trying to work on something at the store, then it's just a real pain in the neck.

In years past, these things would truly be enough for me to really lose my temper. All are a genuine inconvenience, and with each of them someone (usually a kid) is bound to complain to me about them - as if I'm supposed to be able to wave my magic wand and fix these things - and at times that makes it even more tempting to lose my temper. It's hard enough to respond to inconveniences all by yourself, but when you add to the mix having to listen to others grumbling about things, it makes it all the more difficult to keep your cool.

How this falls into Rebecca's theme this month, is that being salt and light to my own kids, is one of the things I pray about each and every day. My kids are my mission field, and being the kind of example to them, that I want them to be (that Scripture calls all believers to be) is one of my top priorities. Some days it's pretty easy, and I'm monumentally thankful for that. Other days it's not so easy and I fail miserably all day long, it seems. Those are the days I feel like a complete failure as a parent and throw myself a little mental pity party. They never last long, because no one ever comes, and no one likes being the only one at a party. Pfft.

Someone once said that how you act when no one's looking, is a good gauge of your Christianity. I believe that's true - since most of us are generally on our very best behavior when we're in front of other people. It's when you go home and the dog ate your best jeans (yes, it happened), the cat pooped on the unfolded laundry sitting on the couch, then sprayed your other coat that was slung over the kitchen chair (that happened too), you get the phone bill that was 100 bucks more than you expected, and due NOW, someone drops your last glass tumbler and breaks it, then denies it and blames someone else, you're out of bread - again (and no one ate it, because you asked and the answer you got from everyone was "it wasn't me"), the freezer is leaking water into the fridge, the baby is crying, the teenager is moping, and someone needs to build a fire and you don't hear anyone volunteering... well, that's when the rubber really hits the road. Life is just overflowing with circumstances like this all the time, presenting ample opportunity to either respond with grace, or blow your stack and send everyone to their rooms and make popcorn for dinner. Assuming no one ate the last bag of it, that is.

Losing it is the easy way. Maintaining your composure, your temper, and responding with calm and with assurance that yes indeed, God is most definitely in control of all these circumstances too - well, that takes work. It takes deliberate work, and intentional application of what you know to be true. It doesn't happen over night, and it certainly doesn't happen without a lot of failure, but it's the goal that I aim for because I know it's the right way.

At school this week, we had a unit review in Bible, and one of the questions was "what does it mean for Christians to be salt and light?" We had a good discussion about it, and all the kids got the correct answer. I was glad they did, because in a small way they're actually helping to keep me accountable on those days when popcorn for dinner sounds like a really good idea.