Sunday, February 13, 2011

Not if, but when...

For years, Joe and I have been seeking the Lord regarding whether/when our side (aka night) business should become our day job. After much, prayer, petition, fasting, tears and acknowledging fears, we have come to the place where we are feeling called to step out in faith.

Now, our "if" has become "when."

This past week, Joe talked with his boss about an exit plan from working at the University. It appears that the beginning of April will be his last day working there.

While we don't know exactly what our next step will look like, we pray it will involve more time spent together as a family, the maintenance of a more healthy schedule/lifestyle (aka not working until midnight every night and all day each Saturday), as well as more flexibility in being able to connect with people the Lord has placed along our path.

Please pray for us as we step out in faith in this direction. Join us in praying for unity between the two of us, as it seems this is where the main source of spiritual attack is at this point. We do trust the Lord has much in store for us, and though we don't have a clear picture of what that looks like, help us to trust and know that God's yet-to-be-fully-revealed plan is truly better than anything we could conceive for our own selves.

Monday, February 7, 2011

Sometimes God speaks in metaphors...

So, if you've been reading my posts as of late, you'd know we're looking into (or if you're from Texas, "we're fixin' to be") making some adjustments in the lives of the Shipmans as we know it.

My last post was about Joe crossing the iced-over pond successfully. Yesterday we had yet another opportunity to "hear" from God regarding our question at hand.

After church, I mentioned to Joe that it might be a good opportunity to do a little wood-cutting to gather some firewood for the predicted cold weather coming. At first, he dismissed the idea, mentioning that the field is just so mucky from all the snow melting, etc. No problem, I thought. Thankfully we have central heat and air in our house. We'll just run that (and yes, in my mind I'm hearing the "ching, ching, ching" of the electric bill, but I actually did keep my big mouth shut).

After we ate lunch and got the kids down for naps, Joe announced that he thought that this would actually be his only chance to get some firewood before the next storms, and with the nice weather, he would go ahead and gather some.

He went out wood-cutting and got quite a bit gathered up. Then, when he went to drive the truck to another part of the field, he made a few quick decisions right before a little ridge, and ended up getting the truck stuck in the muck.

He called the house phone, and when I saw it was his number, my first thought was that perhaps he had injured himself with the chainsaw (specifically the image of his left leg cut partially off  and gushing blood was what came to mind). Thankfully, he just let me know he was stuck in the muck and needed me to come down and help get the truck out.

I went down to help, and after the first unsuccessful attempt at getting out with me driving and Joe pushing, I asked him if we should just go ahead and call AAA to come get us out. He looked at me as if I were crazy. Calling AAA to come get us out of our OWN field??? I'm just thinking, let's just save our time and energy, go make some snacks for the Super Bowl game while we wait for AAA to arrive, and yes, get us unstuck from our OWN field.

We tried again....and again...and again...and again (you get the point), each time digging and finding more rocks, bricks, sticks, etc. to put under the tires to help them get some traction. As the unsuccessful attempts increased, I found myself questioning Joe's judgement to get into a predicament like this (hadn't he already articulated his concern that the field was too wet to be driving on, was it not obvious to him that this was the swampiest part possible, etc.)? Then I let those thoughts fester and started to question his ability to make sound decisions if we actually do take this leap of faith.

Finally, we got closer and closer to getting out...though honestly, I wasn't sure if we really would get out any time that day. And can you guess what the Lord turned my attention to? He turned my attention to two things.

First of all, He pointed my attention to what an incredible and determined husband I have. One who is hard working, creative, and committed to making things work or correcting not-so-ideal situations. One who isn't quick to throw in the towel, one who isn't quick to blame. One who is a man, a real MAN, accepting responsibility for his actions and patient enough to problem-solve his way out of a predicament.

I know my husband is a treasure, but what a reassurance this was to me from the Lord. It was a metaphor for me. For if we "go" in this direction, most likely we will get "stuck in the muck" here and there. And thankfully, my husband has proven over and over, in small and large things, his collectedness and determination to see us through to "safety" or "unstuckness" (c'mon, pretend with me that is a word).

Do you know what else the Lord showed me in this situation? He showed me that I am the one who is lacking the patience, determination and confidence to see us through when things get rough. He gently showed me that right now, I'm quick to point a finger, get frustrated with what has already occurred and throw in the towel, rather than quick to jump in and problem solve, or at least be very supportive of the person doing so. And He said, "let's work together on this."

So, as I look at the muddy truck today (and believe me, this picture doesn't do it justice), I am humbled by a husband who can be counted on, even when times get tough, and a God who is patient with me as we work together to shake out more of the ugly Emily muck from my heart and let more of Him fill me to overflowing.

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Saturday, February 5, 2011

God's plan doesn't always make "good" sense

So, here is a photo from this morning when Joe decided to test his theory that he could cross our (hopefully) frozen-enough pond on his stomach, you know, so as to disperse the weight and minimize the pressure at any one place.

He told me about this idea he had yesterday when we walked down to the pond, but it was covered in snow and not fully frozen over at the time. I kind-of laughed it off, was thankful the pond was not in a condition in which to try his theory and thought nothing more of it. This morning when we walked to the pond, however, I realized that this "dream" was still with him. What an adventurous spirit he has..and most days I'm thankful for it!

After Joe crossed the pond successfully, I mentioned to him that it is kind-of a metaphor for the questions facing us as a couple right now. If we "go," it is definitely what I would consider "dangerous" and probably not very "wise." At the same time, there is that same spirit of adventure and conquer in my husband that just cannot be bottled up and placed aside much longer. There is much risk and the potential that the "pond" may crack and he/we will fall into some seriously icy water. At the same time, what if it all goes right? What if he gets to successfully test his theories and pursue his dreams? What if we're able to live more all-out for the Lord as a result of such boldness and spirit of adventure?

So, just before Joe got down on that icy pond today to slide across it, we discussed how much good sense the plan lacked. If you think about it, though, not many of the big things God does through people's lives "make sense" in the way we've come to understand things. "For the wisdom of man is the foolishness of God." (1 Cor. 3:19).

Thank you Lord, for your words in Deuteronomy 31:6:
"Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified because of them,
for the LORD your God goes with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you."

Lord, help our boldness and courage to be fueled by your Spirit.
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Thursday, February 3, 2011

What would you do if you were brave?

What would you do if you were brave?

I ran across an article this afternoon that asked this same question. 

And then I ran across these words, "Things may not go our way. But they will go God’s way, that we can be sure of."

So, I sit here today, thinking to myself, "What would I do if I were brave?" What courageous steps might I take if I weren't disabled by my fears of falling/failing/running into some pretty tough obstacles? 

Lord, I pray for a wise and courageous spirit. Lord, be the breath that fills our sails. Be the gentle hand that guides us. Be the voice that comforts us. Be the Light that shines through us. Help me to overcome the fears that lead me to cower in the corner. 

Proverbs 16:3 tells me, "Commit thy works unto the LORD, and thy thoughts (plans) shall be established." 

Father, we submit our efforts to you and pray that you would establish our plans as we step out in faith.