Wednesday, December 15, 2010

2010, The Year of the Terrier

The Year of 2010 in the Engle household
From the perspective of Scruffy, their dog
While I sit outside everyday and peer through the sliding glass doors of my house, I watch my owners and their children go through life, and the following is what I have witnessed over the last year…
They moved me to a new home.  They lost their old one, although, I hear Jolene say, “It is not lost, I know exactly where it is, besides, it was a temporary dwelling place, our permanent home is in Heaven and I know how to get there.” I happen to like my new home, there are lots of squirrels that come into my backyard that I chase every morning but I have yet to catch one!  So, do you know where your eternal home is?  “But we are citizens of heaven, where the Lord Jesus Christ lives. And we are eagerly waiting for him to return as our Savior.”  Philippians 3:20
I know my owners were saddened to move.  They experienced a loss of income because of the real estate market which resulted in the loss of their home which equated to broken dreams, frustration, heartache and worry as to where they would live. “And Jesus said to him, "Foxes have holes and birds of the air have nests, but the Son of Man has nowhere to lay His head."  Matthew 8:20 My owners are thankful that the Lord has provided them with a place to lay their head.  I am thankful too; I even have a doghouse with a big fluffy pillow for my head!  It’s a nice pad; you should come over and see it some time.
Eric has had to sell many items and do what he can to make ends meet right now, but at least he still has enough money to feed me!  Although I have heard him talk about cutting out that expense as well!  I know it has been a real struggle for him to provide for his family, but I always hear Jolene tell him that she loves him and that the Lord is in control of their lives.  I am not sure what that means but they seem happy because after all, they never kick me!  Are you too struggling to make ends meet in your home this year?  "Look at the birds of the air, for they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns; yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they?”  Matthew 6:26
I think Jolene needs to buy some new jeans because her old ones seem to be getting a little tight. I think she has gained about 5 pounds this year, although Eric doesn’t seem to notice.  I guess she should have eaten less of her food and given me her table scraps, if she had, she would have saved some money on my food bill too!  It’s a win-win situation for both of us! Hey, if you happened to gained weight too, remember what the Bible says, For man looks at the outward appearance, but the LORD looks at the heart."  1 Samuel 16:7 I love my owner just the way she is, but I love her even more when she throws my toy!
My owners are still homeschooling the boys.  Seth is now in the 6th grade and Noah is in the 4th grade, although, their grade level is not too important to their parents.  Their desire is for the boys to be pleasing to the Lord and to grow in Godly wisdom.  The boys are so very different from one another.  One’s strengths is the other one’s weaknesses and vice versa.  Yet, I hear Jolene say, “Every child is gifted in their own way because they were made by the Creator of the Universe. “So God created man in His own image; in the image of God He created him.”  Genesis 1:27 “I will praise You, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made; Marvelous are Your works, and that my soul knows very well.”  Psalm 139:14 Although I am not made in the image of God, the Creator of the Universe did make me too and I have some pretty fabulous gifts.  You should see them!  I am lightening fast (although apparently not fast enough to catch one a those stupid squirrels.)
My family takes me on more walks now.  They say it is because Jolene’s health has improved after 10 long years of battling a chronic illness.  She gives credit to the Great Physician.  If you are sick perhaps you need to go see Him, I am sure He can help you feel better too.  But maybe you have gone to see Him and He has not healed you.  Paul the Apostle had a health problem too and he asked the Lord to remove the thorn in his flesh three times and God said, "My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness." Therefore most gladly I will rather boast in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me.  2 Corinthians 12:9 If you are ill, I hope you boast in your infirmities too, just like Paul, and try to remember that God’s grace is sufficient for you!
Jolene told the boys the other day that there may not be many gifts under the tree this year, but there are many more above the tree if you just lift your head up and keep your eyes on the Lord!  She wanted to remind them of what matters most in their lives.  God is seated on the Throne in Heaven.  Many blessings will be poured out on them.  "For I will pour water on the thirsty land, and streams on the dry ground; I will pour out my Spirit on your offspring, and my blessing on your descendants."  Isaiah 44:3
In spite of all the disappointments, hardships, obstacles and headaches that my family has experienced this past year, they are filled with joy and peace, although, they do become tired and weary at times!  I get tired too; it must be because I keep chasing those SQUIRRELS!  However, they have a hope within them because of their relationship with Jesus Christ.  He is the Lord of their lives and they try to live a life pleasing to Him in spite of their sinful nature, shortcomings, imperfections and failures.
So, did you happen to get kicked in your teeth this year?  Maybe you lost your job or your boss cut your hours and you don’t know how you are going to pay the bills?  Or perhaps is someone in your house always sick and the docs don’t know why and they never seem to help them?  Maybe you have a child who is always struggling with school work or worse, they are becoming more and more rebellious?  How about this one…you and your spouse are constantly at each other’s throats.  Depressing isn’t it?  Yes, I know all too well how difficult life can become, after all I am a dog!  We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed. We always carry around in our body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be revealed in our body.”  2 Corinthians 4:8-10.
Jesus Christ came to earth as a babe to offer hope, joy, peace, forgiveness and eternal life to all who accept Christ into their hearts. If you have yet to ask Jesus into your heart, will you do so this Christmas?  You won’t regret making this life-changing decision!  If you know Jesus, we hope you draw closer to Him in the coming year! "For there is born to you this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord.  "And this will be the sign to you: You will find a Babe wrapped in swaddling cloths, lying in a manger."  Luke 2:11-12
Oh, I gotta go! I think I see a squirrel!

Merry Christmas,
From the Engle Family (Eric, Jolene, Seth, Noah and Scruffy)

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Does God Know What He is Doing?

In the midst of homeschooling your children, tending to the responsibilities of the household, being a helper to your husband and dealing with relationships, when things go awry in your life do you ever wonder what is God doing?  Honestly, I know I have, many times in fact!
I often wonder where God is when I am teaching my child the same concept for what seems like the 100th time.  I wonder where God is when I am faced with persecution from family and friends as I choose to stand for my Christian beliefs as I live them out by teaching my children at home.  Then there are times I find my mind drifting to the place of its flesh when I think perhaps the Lord has forsaken me when the financial winds blow through my life like a hurricane that never seems to end.   Does God hear his daughter cry out to Him in the midst of my brokenness and pain?  Have you ever had those thoughts; times when you have thought, what is God doing in your life?
Years ago when I was a new believer in Christ, I came across the following verse in my Bible and I will have to admit that in my lack of biblical and spiritual understanding, I honestly thought this was the most ridiculous verse I ever read:  “My brethren, count it all joy when you fall into various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience. But let patience have its perfect work, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking nothing.  If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all liberally and without reproach, and it will be given to him.”  James 1:2-5 How in the world do you count a trial all joy, I wondered?  Not only did I wonder, but I scoffed at the verse.  Little did I know that 14 years later I would fully appreciate the depths of this verse and the wonderful wisdom that comes from it.  However, it has been a long process of grumbling and complaining on my part along the way!  In fact, here is another one of my not so favorite verses, “Do all things without complaining and disputing, that you may become blameless and harmless, children of God without fault in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation, among whom you shine as lights in the world, holding fast the word of life, so that I may rejoice in the day of Christ that I have not run in vain or labored in vain. Philippians 2:14-16 Ouch!  Oh, how I fall so short.  But once again in God’s divine plan, He has a purpose for this verse in our lives as well.  If you read past the command, it says the reason why we should not complain and dispute; it is so we can be a beautiful example of a living testimony pointing others to Christ even in the midst of a trial.  In a nutshell, our lights are shining for Jesus when we do not complain.  This is a basic principle that we should teach our children as well.
Raising our children to be godly men and women and providing them with the tools they will need to function in society is a very difficult task.  It requires us to be the godly example first.  Now, it is much easier for me to be a godly example to my children when life is smooth sailing, but when tough times come, then that’s a different story altogether.  That is when my true character comes out!
When we are faced with trials, be it a struggling learner, character issues, tensions in relationships, financial difficulties, ongoing illnesses, persecutions, etc. we often see the trial in our lives as a negative thing rather than a positive one.  Human nature of course!  We don’t like pain, we want the offending issue to be removed from our lives as soon as possible so we will no longer be hindered to do what we want to do. I know in my mind I often think the ’trial’ that I am experiencing is causing me to lack something.  For example, for years it was my ongoing illnesses, I felt if I was healthy I could be more productive with my family and also in ministry.  I thought being more productive would be a good thing, yet I was lacking in the ability to do so, therefore, I saw my trial as something that was a deficit in my life rather than a benefit to my character.
Yet, God’s Word is clear, the trial was producing in me something that would make me perfect and complete, lacking nothing!   James 1:4 I could not see that at the time.  I could not see that the Lord was desiring of me to be God-reliant rather than self-sufficient.  God desires that of you as well.  He knows what struggles we will need to go through so we will be perfect and complete, lacking nothing. He knows what our children need to see us go through so their faith can be strengthened and so their Christian walk can start to develop or deepen depending on their age because at some point in their lives they will face trials too.  Will they consider it all joy when they face them?
So, do you feel forsaken because of what you are experiencing in life?  Do you feel ‘behind’ in homeschooling because of some recent life struggles?  Difficult times in parenting and shaping your children’s character?  Frustrations with teaching your children?  Are you cut out for this thing called, ‘homeschooling’?  The list can go on and on about what you may be dealing with right now but hold fast to the Truth of our Great Redeemer’s words, "I will never leave you nor forsake you."  Hebrews 13:5
So, does God know what He is doing?  Absolutely!  He is sovereign and He reigns on high!  He is making sure you are perfect and complete, lacking nothing! Be filled with joy today and teach your children to do the same!