Friday, July 22, 2011

Grateful for John...and Other Things

Tonight, it was late when the boys went to bed. Rarely a good thing as certain people get a little loopy or a teensy bit teary eyed. Some teasing between the two older boys went awry and John became teary and upset because....his big brother will always be his big brother and it will be YEARS, which is the same as FOREVER, before he (John) will ever be as strong/smart/cool/ as Big Brother. And John always comes in second. He NEVER wins (well hardly ever).

It was after ten o'clock at night. I wasn't very excited about this conversation, but I girded myself and waded in.

The soothing words of comfort I patiently poured over him did not soothe. The heartening words of 'things will change, you'll see" did not seem to hearten. He was decidedly down in the dumps and ready to bring every body else down with him. His sadness broadened into other areas in his life where he felt weak or untalented. Again the soothing and heartening did not work. I tried the spiritual angle a few times, reminding him that God promised that as we came to Him, he would "make weak things become strong". And John began arguing semantics: how can we really come to him. It doesn't make sense. Does God even really answer our prayers. Will he answer MY prayers. How soon? Will he do it the way I want?

Wow. He was really putting me through my paces. I felt like I was in the parenting marathon. I don't think I would have handled it very well, except that Mark and I had just spent nearly two hours at a church fireside tonight about families and righteous parenting.

Doesn't God have an ironic sense of humor...or is it sense of timing.

His teary tirade ended with "Do you know, I have never seen a miracle. Never. Not in!"

HooBoy! Did I mention that he is not even ten years old yet?

I was frantically thinking, trying to figure out how to help buoy up my sons testimony that was sinking in the mire of sadness and self-doubt. But I remembered a miracle. A series of miracles that saved our family financially and emotionally over the last year when we went through months of un/under-employment.

I told of the boxes of leftover frozen hotdogs and hamburgers (and buns) brought over after the Ward Pool party when we had little (I mean VERY little) in the cupboard and four more days before we would be receiving other forms of food assistance. I asked the sister who brought over the food, how she knew to bring it to our family. She said the bishop had told her to pray and ask the Lord who needed it the most. She said our family and another's came to her mind. It was a miracle.

I told him that at the beginning of each month, we wouldn't have enough to pay our mortgage on the house. But before the last week of each month, between our scanty earnings and surprise checks or cash given to us, we would have enough to pay the mortgage. I told him that we could have had a very sad ending to our home ownership, but we were never even a month late on our mortgage. It was a miracle.

I asked him if he remembered Christmas last year. We had received some money from family so there were a few presents under the tree. But on Christmas eve night, our doorbell started ringing. First one box was left, full of treats and presents. Then another one, overflowing with similar goodies. Then a third set of boxes with wrapped presents. Then, finally a fourth time, we found a gigantic red 'Santa sack' left on our porch stuffed full of Christmas gifts and food. I was later told by a friend in private that some of the gifts we received were from her children. As a family, they had reviewed their Christmas budget, and the kids had said that they wanted to do something for the Lokens. (No prompting from parents or anything.) Those kids went out and used the money their parents had allotted for their gifts to purchase toys for my children. Do you know how that made me feel? So proud of those kids and so humbled by their enormous love for our family.

 The next morning a stranger stopped by with an insane amount of food. A twenty pound bag of potatoes, a turkey, a case of canned green beans and another of corn. Pies, and all the other fixings. All purchased from the bulk food store in town. After each one, overwhelmed by the generosity of each set of givers, we knelt down as a family and thanked our Heavenly Father. I had a hard time speaking, because my emotions were so strong.

My husband and I were dazed at the amount of gifts, food, and love that we had received. Truly, the windows of heaven had been opened to us and poured out blessings until there was not room enough to receive it. I felt as if God was giving me a personal hug, through friends and strangers alike, saying, "See! I will always love you. I will always care for you. There is no need to doubt. There is no need to fear. I will take care of all your needs. Keep trusting in me. It will all be fine in the end."

Just over a month later, Mark was offered a job without interview. After hundreds...hundreds of resumes and job applications. The job landed in his lap.

We are here in Arkansas now, because God wanted us here. He has guided, protected, and shepherded us here.

 Is everything perfect? No. Not really. I could make a list including the bats in the attic of our house and the leaky plumbing we have discovered and that steep driveway that I really don't like. But when I look on the other side, I remember that we are literally only a three minute walk from the church, a five minute walk to the park, a seven minute walk to the elementary school, a one minute drive to the post-office and library and Little Ceasar's Pizza. My longest commute of the week is the ten-minute drive to Wal-Mart.

And I could go on and on with all the blessings He has showered us with.

I guess what I wanted to share was this. Sometimes, I am just like my son John. I can see only the difficulties and frustrations of my life and wonder where God is and why he isn't helping me. But when I actually start thinking ... remembering...I see so clearly all that He had blessed me with. I have been blessed, so very abundantly blessed.

Thanks John, for helping me count my blessings and God's miracles in my life.

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