Thursday, April 26, 2012

Joy is always on the other side of suffering

In my Bible study these days this idea of suffering and having unjust things in your life and how we respond, is a current theme. But more importantly, the joy and glory on the other side of suffering is so very amazing.... it truly reflects the heart of God.

Well, I know God cares about even the little things in our to pass a bit of time during our wait, a “little” post on what God's up to with our family.

Joshua is on a church league soccer team. He LOVES soccer - and well, he's pretty good at defense :) - offense, not so much…. he has played for 5 (I think) seasons ... about 2-3 years. It started when he was very little ... he cried and was scared so we said, no big deal, you don't have to play... but of course he loved practice, loved his coach, and was determined himself to we let him continue (he originally didn't play in the games…but his coach was so patient and amazing and continued to love on him)...eventually opened up, came out of his shell and by the end of the first season, he and his coach were great friends and he loved it...even got a goal or two....along with chasing a few butterflies and watching and occasional train pass by .... he LOVED trains more than anything at that time.

Well, seasons have passed and his beloved coach decided to move down to coach his own younger son...back to the real little kids. So this season for the first time Joshua has a new coach. We like the coach...he's just not Coach he's a bit more aggressive in his style.... and rarely ruffles the hair of these little kids in encouragement and sometimes forgets the “good job”… even when the “job” was actually so-so :) More than anything it has occurred to me, our children do really have to live in this dark, sinful world….a world of competitive sports, yelling parents, and a measurement that says, “you are only good if you win or are the star”…… My heart is breaking... I don’t want Joshua to live in this world….but I know we are all called to make a difference in this darkness too….I just wasn’t quite ready for this reality. Anyway, Joshua has had a few tough practices and remains committed to playing soccer because he loves it so much....but meanwhile, the competition is growing.

Brad and I have been praying him through this... and last weekend, at his second game... he was great at defending and they won 5-0. We took that opportunity to let Joshua know how proud we were at his defense, but most of all how he treated his friends on and off the field. He even gave team members a high-five for their success. All the prayer and talk seems to be making a difference…..More prayer, more Jesus talk, more character building. .... just pouring ourselves into his identity that we want him to find in Christ and Christ-alone. Honestly, we are not a big sports family (of course other than watching our KY Wildcats)….so really hoping he picks up an instrument or some other hobby :)  Meanwhile, we continue to pray…. For his competitive spirit – and for the day he experiences great failure…standing by, ready to wipe the knees and tears.

So last Wednesday, going to school he decided to keep his library book, because it was a chapter book about a dog “Mudge” and he wasn't he said, "I'll renew it"... well, when he got to library time at school... seemed to be a new rule, if you don't have your book, you don't get candy.... oh no.... later that evening he exploded with sadness about not getting candy.. this little guy kept it in all day... and just stewed over it. We were shocked to hear of his days events…but happy he shared……More prayer... more pouring in Jesus....

He finished his library book Thursday night and returned it Friday of last week. So yesterday in library... new line for candy... "no candy for you, Joshua, you have a “Where's Waldo?” book outstanding"... apparently Joshua replied, “I don’t have a Where’s Waldo library book at home”…. Response “well you have one checked out”… or something like that. So right there in the middle of library …. Tears grew and grew and poured out…one of his friends a sweet little girl Joselyn handed him a Kleenex and his other friend Phillip game him HIS candy. ……. These are the details I got late Wednesday night…. Sort of by accident when Joshua let it slip he cried at school. Earlier in the evening he just mentioned needing to look for this “Waldo” book, that I knew we returned weeks ago.

Well, now he doesn’t want to take library books home… this situation has provided such negative incentives… and on the candy as a reward… don’t like it, and that’s about all I’m gonna say about that :)

P.S. on another note – I ordered on Amazon a new Waldo book today to give to the school – it’s coming Saturday and I can’t wait for the teaching moment to let Joshua know, we may not always bail him out for his wrong decisions (and we know this wasn’t a wrong decision on his part this time), but we will always support him when he has a problem and he can always come and tell us. I don’t want him to hold this stuff in…. especially if he’s feeling that something happened that is unjust.

If you’ve stuck with me this far…. Here is the good part of the story, friends….. so it’s night time…and our routine is either Brad or I lay with Joshua in his bed for a minute and tell him a made up story….about his pretend pet, “Toothless the Dragon”. Tonight was my turn, so I hopped in, but instead of a made up story, I told Joshua how I LOVED that HIS friends illustrated the Heart of God today… he and I dissected the story and agreed that Joselyn illustrated “caring” and Phillip illustrated “sacrifice”… Joshua informed me that he’s “not sure if these are on their “attributes of God door” at school”… he’d have to look because the writing is cursive and he’s not real good at reading cursive writing just yet….but he’s going to check. I assured him that I’m certain these are attributes of God.

So then it gets better…. I asked if he wanted to pray to Jesus, so He would help us find this book IF we have it… he agreed… so we started off, “Jesus, Where’s Waldo?”… he giggled and we continued to ask for the Lord’s help… then we moved on to thanking Jesus for his great friends and their caring and sacrifice today… and asked Jesus to give us the same hearts of God. I closed with Amen, …. Then Joshua picked up with the following in his quiet sweet voice, “and now we will pray the prayer that our Father has taught us to pray when he said, Our Father, who art in heaven……” and he proceeded to pray the entire Lord’s Prayer…I didn’t know that he knew the entire Lord’s Prayer!!!

Now I know these are small victories in the hard work of parenting and there will be many more ups and downs….but, if I could only tell you the joy in my heart…as I listened to his Lord’s Prayer with funny sounding “R’s” …so sweet, so sincere …….so God taught me too once again, that after the suffering, after the unjust… there is sure to be great JOY for his children who follow him in obedience, in love, and in faithfulness.

Lord Jesus – you are and will always be…. Amazing


  1. The candy part really bothers me Renae! I know it's just the teacher in me, but is that really something you should use to get kids to bring their books back? The "reward" just doesn't seem to fit the task at hand. Doesn't your heart just break when your kid's hearts are breaking?!
    Prayers to you and little Joshua! LOVE the ending of your story!!!

    1. I totally agree too.... I don't like candy as a reward and don't like candy mid-afternoon sitting on those teeth! .... I think I have the teacher's support on the to get the librarian convinced :)

  2. Oh, I cannot tell you how many times our library has "said" we haven't returned a library book, when indeed we have. Usually what happens is that the book really is on the shelf...but they just didn't get it logged into the computer system. Maybe that is what happened with, "Where is Waldo?" I have found EVERY SINGLE book our library has said was "missing" right on the shelf where it belonged.


    I love Joshua's commitment, even when it is hard. What an incredible boy you have!