Tuesday, January 31, 2012

When Life Doesn't Go as Planned.....some thoughts on the life of Joseph.

It's hard to believe that it is the end of January, let alone January 2012! My heart still skips a beat , when I think of  this time last year, I think of life day in and out, plugging away, trying to fit 'it all' in...(whatever it all is!) Most importantly,  having no idea that 10 days from this date a year ago, our lives would be turned upside down in an incredible way that we never would have imagined.

February 10, 2011 is the day marked down in our hearts when Hanna Grace became officially a part of our family.  I wonder whether God let the angels in on what was going on that day.  I remember distinctly that I had two precious friends over,that are like sisters to me, their babies had been busy being loved on by my girls. I think I had even joked with them about how great it was not to be in diaper mode anymore at the Weigner home.   The phone  rang, and I remember checking the caller ID.  It was a familiar number, but I couldn't place it, so I opted to let voice mail get it.  It wasn't until the number flashed again just after 5 PM, that I remembered who it was,  Welcome House. (our adoption agency)  Within a few minutes of Mark answering the phone, I knew without him saying a word, that it was a 'sibling call'.  I knew than, not knowing whose sibling it was, (Narae or Adah), or whether it was a boy or a girl, that I was instantly the mother of 5 children.  All in a few moments.....my life was changed forever.  That phone call started in motion, what is now history for us.  The pages of that chapter are some filled with heartache and uncertainty.  There's some stories about giants faced and the trip to Korea, Hollywood couldn't have written it better if they tried.  But most importantly it is  a history that points to a loving and sovereign God.  There were many gut wrenching late night reads on blogs, and boards....having a horribly sick feeling that truth could come from what I hoped and prayed would be rumors.  It was a CONSTANT battle to take my thoughts captive and cling to the goodness of God's plans for me, despite what was swirling around me, until that moment on September 9th, when I heard the words....Hanna is ready to come HOME!
   I remember many of those days, like yesterday because I wait with much anticipation with so many of the amazing adoptive friends, many that have waited much longer than we did for Hanna.  So many precious people that  I have met on this journey that are desperately waiting to hear those words.  They will simply just like the words that EPs have been submitted, that something is moving, anything.  I've watched as rumors and uncertainties, once again get credit from others and become facts.....such as ....NO EP's moving this month.  I'm waiting with them anticipating the days of January counting down, and now standing on the precipice of February 1st.  It's for these ladies I write today as I think of our journey.  I write for my friends that have lost babies as well.  Babies that they may never see their face this side of heaven.  Oh, my cyber arms have been around you and tears have cried on your behalf, as I pray that you sense God's arms around you, and not give up on His heart.  I write for friends that have seen life take unexpected and unanticipated turns, where it's easy to ask..."God could the timing have been any worse?".....and I write for what ends up being the source of it all...it's ultimately selfish you see, for I  write for my own heart.  Somehow when I write out my heart, my fingers type, my eyes read....somewhere in there my heart and my brain get connected a little bit more. As I go through life, I realize how much in common we all have.  It doesn't matter what continent we live in, whether we are wives or mothers......life can be a struggle but what encouragement we can find when we learn we don't walk alone.
  Today, I was reading in Genesis, all about the life of Joseph.  Funny how God likes to get our attention, because I also started to watch a series online by Max Lucado that is talking all about Joseph as well.  Today, my reading was focusing on when he was in prison. Many of you know the story.  He was the favored child, he had no problems letting his brothers know it as well.  So much so that they couldn't stand him and sold him into slavery.  God never left Joseph though, and once he was sold to Potiphar, we read that God was with Joseph in all he did.  Well, than the story takes another turn, from the 'seemingly favored' Joseph, that is in Potiphar's household to another crisis.  It would be easy to ask if God turned his head.  BUT HE DIDN'T.  Potipher's wife accuses Joseph of trying to attack her and the wholesome guy ends up in prison.  Wrongly Accused.  Why God? Joseph was doing what was right.  He was acting with integrity.   What possibly could be the plan in him being wrongly accused and thrown into another pit....another prison?  I wonder what thoughts Joseph had.  Yes, he had gone through heartbreak unimaginable, he had been betrayed by his own family, he lost everything....yet God had restored so much back to him, above all he could imagine.......AND THAN it's all gone...with one accusation.  I wonder what were Joseph's thoughts in prison?

      Well today, something caught my attention that I never really noticed before.  If  you are familiar with the story, you'll know that a cup bearer ( the man appointed to taste all the drinks to protect Pharaoh from poisoning), and the baker end up in prison because they had made Pharaoh angry.    These men both have disturbing dreams.  Joseph had been appointed to serve these men in prison, and it says they had been there awhile.  One morning Joseph comes in to do what no doubt was his regular job.  ( nothing like being in prison, let alone being a servant IN prison)  Well Joseph NOTICES that they are upset, and he asks them about it.  That just hit me like a brick in the head!  I know when I'm struggling, when I'm discouraged and feeling down or the world is against me, it's so easy to look INWARD!  I very well think I would have been in the corner of the prison having a pity party.  If I had accepted my job to do in that prison, I would have been easily focused on the job and not on what the emotional condition was of the people I had to SERVE.  If  I had gone through what Joseph had, one thing is for sure.  I would have wanted to put walls up around my heart 10 feet tall, and reinforced with CONCRETE.  I would have made them bomb proof.  I would have done my job, but I certainly wouldn't have CARED.   Yet here we see Joseph doing just that.....stepping out of the comfort zone....getting all touchy feely, taking time...investing himself....and caring about OTHER PEOPLE.    Why even bother asking them why they are upset, HELLO.....they were  in prison!  That might have something to do with it.   BUT JOSEPH....doesn't just assume.  He doesn't just get his job done.  He invests in people. He looks past himself, to see if he can help someone else.  If someone had reason to have a hardened heart it was Joseph.    Talk about life not being fair.....Joseph has gotten several short ends of the stick, but clearly when we find him here after much time in prison.....he is still a compassionate person.  He hasn't let life's circumstances harden him.   He could have become bitter, angry and mad, but he chose NOT to.  He invested in the lives of others, and because he was invested in people......God used his compassion to be the very tool that later freed him from  prison.  He showed compassion, and with that compassion he also gave testimony to the God he served.  For though he had no answers in himself to what was troubling those men, he did have access to the God that knew the answer and he wasn't afraid to call on him.  Kind of ironic don't you think.  He's trusting His God to reveal these dreams.....but yet here he is serving in PRISON.  He didn't let his circumstances change his perception of who he knew God was.  That alone blows me away.

     Than another thing that really touched my heart today, and tonight as I think of all my sweet friends waiting, and waiting and waiting.......  All Joseph asked the cup bearer for was that he would remember him when that man experienced freedom.  Not a lot to ask right?  But....the man forgets.  Again, my heart goes to Joseph.  I look at my Bible and under that chapter heading I read....(2 years goes by).  2 YEARS.................  2....... LONG........ Y.....E......A.......R........S.  I picture Joseph day in and day out.  Think of the excitement he must have had when the cup bearer was released.  I wonder if he gathered his belongings....cleaned himself up....all in preparation for his release that was sure to be imminent.  Right! I think of the each and every day.  Those first ones would have seemed like forever.  Every footstep he heard coming down into the prison....."would this be the man coming to bring freedom."  (no)  Another day...."Surely today, God!"    I wonder what other prisoners he saw come and go.  Day after Day after Day......with no one remembering him.  "BUT GOD! Isn't that why you sent that cup bearer down here.  I was faithful!  I gave you the credit! I trusted you... I even spoke truth to the man whose life would end!  SURELY GOD THIS IS YOUR PLAN!"  T...O....D...A....Y!!!!      Yet day after day after day....silence, SILENCE, SILENCE!

Oh, how my heart thinks to happier times for him.  Times when he was cuddled around his father's lap, listening to the stories of their Great Jehovah God.  Hearing about the God that had called their great grandfather from everything he knew to a new land.  Hmmmmm...just thinking about that now as I type, and  I wonder how many times Joseph recalled those stories, about going to a new land,  as he took step after step in chains away from everything he knew.  Those times with his father would have been priceless.  Think of the life of Jacob, and the mistakes he had made.  The greatest tool I've seen in my girls education is learning from mistakes.  I don't expect perfection.....I don't expect them to grasp all the concepts thrown at them.  I like mistakes, because it allows LEARNING to take place.  So I think of my heart with my girls, and I picture all the long talks that Jacob and Joseph must have had, and how important those times would have been to Joseph in those dark times. I wonder how much more determined Jacob would have been, if he knew the time he had with Joseph would be so short.  However, it was enough time to clearly teach Joseph something about his identity, about the God that Jacob served, and who loved Joseph, having an amazing plan for His life.  He clearly had taught Joseph a thing or two about trusting God's heart even when things 'felt' differently. Joseph knew a thing or two about dreams.  Remember he had a couple as a young man that were the very things that pushed his brothers to despise him so much.  One things certain though, Joseph knew who the author and the interpreter of dreams was. I wonder what conversations he may have had with God about his early dreams and the fact that Joseph was having a hard time seeing how a prison term fit into that plan.  I don't know if he questioned things.  I'd like to think so because I guess it would make me feel better in  my questions.  Another certainty though, Joseph knew His God, and Joseph was faithful.  He was a man of integrity.  He knew how to manage a household, and we also see that he ends up managing a prison.  He was faithful wherever he was placed.  So though, day after day came, without release, he had a choice to continue being faithful and trusting God's heart.    We see the clue where his heart was when we continue to read....2 YEARS LATER.......
    Pharaoh has his dream that none of his wisemen are able to interpret, he needs someone to interpret the dream.  2 LONG years later is when the cup bearer REMEMBERS Joseph. Talk about being a little late than never..... Do you think God had forgotten?.  ABSOLUTELY NOT.  He was in control the entire time. He had a plan.  He was teaching Joseph.  Much like his father would have taught him, God was using  life experiences to mold his heart.  You see, God had a plan.  He knew that he was going to use Joseph to save the current world at that time, and he needed someone that wasn't going to be full of himself when things went well, or someone that would forget where everything came from. He had to change the heart of that proud youngster that was thrown into the pit, into a man that could be entrusted with thousands and thousands of lives.   I'm sure those years in prison were foundational in preparing him to be the leader God had called him to be.  We know Joseph's heart is close to God when he gets out of prison because some of the first words out of his mouth give us a picture into what he had been taught.


It wasn't about him, but it was all about God. It wasn't about his plan, but God's plan and HIS timing.   Oh, do you think Joseph would have had a reason to give up on God after all he had been through.  Sure he would.  Especially in our worlds standards, of name it and claim it.  If you don't get it, well it's God's fault than.  We never see Joseph blaming God.  We see simply a faithful and humble man.  He knows who is still Sovereign and in Control, and who is the source of all things.  It is His God.  That's My God, that's Your GOD.  A God who was just as much on His throne when Joseph was thrown into the pit by his brothers, when he was  put in charge of Potiphar's palace. God was still at work when Josheph was wrongly accused and thrown back into another pit, another prison.   God knew he needed a man that would follow HIS voice once He put him in charge of Pharoah's palace and second in command of  Egypt.  God had a plan.  Did it involve pain.  Yes it did. Ouch....we don't like to read that.  It doesn't feel good.  God is supposed to be loving and kind.  AND OH HE IS!   But just like I have to take Hanna to go and get some more nasty shots tomorrow, she won't understand the pain, but I know it's because I love her, and it's to protect her for her future.  She's only going to feel that pain, but than she'll also get to feel my arms around her to comfort her and soothe her.  She can push me away....but you all know what I'll do....  I'll CHASE that screaming munchkin down and hold her with all my might and whisper in her ear how much I love her.  Her screams are going to deafen us both for awhile no doubt and all in the room, but I know she'll calm down and hear my voice and accept my love.  As she gets older, I'll be able to teach her, to talk to her, to help her understand more the WHY, as she matures, but most importantly I pray that all the good times we have, day in and out will remind her that she can trust my heart.
    Oh how I wish my heart didn't grow weary so easily. I hated shots as a kid.  My mother couldn't tell me when I got them, because I would have run away.  I know now she loved me.  Oh, how quick I am to question God's plan. My knee jerk reaction is still to want to run from pain. I'm learning though to trust HIS heart.  I'm SO VERY FAR from perfect, and perhaps maybe I'm not running so far....for  I've got 5 miracles that tell an incredible  story of an amazing, faithful God, that remind me of His love....even when it doesn't feel good.
  Oh the WAITING ROOM.....it's not Pharaoh's palace that's for sure.  It's filled with uncertainty, yet expectation.  My  heart is  with those in the waiting room.  Tomorrow is going to bring many expectations....and I don't know what tomorrow or the next day will hold.  I DO know that we serve a God who is Sovereign and in Control and has a special plan for each of you.  He sees you, He hears you, He knows you and He is counting down the days with you when your days of waiting come to an end. ANd OH....my heart just get's thumpin' when I think of all those posts that will pour over the web.  That will be such an exciting time, yet that too, won't be the end of the story.  It will be the next part of your journey. Like I said to Adah tonight, just because we know have Hanna, she still has to make her bed!  To which Adah replies..."yah...and Hanna keeps messing it up too! "  Life keeps going.   For though Joseph got out of prison and had incredible years of abundance...they were followed by the years of famine.  BUT, because of what Joseph had learned about God's heart, his timing, that what God said He would do He would do....God used him to save the world.   My sweet friends, embrace what He wants to teach you now. If you have children waiting on the journey with you, don't be afraid to cry with them.  They'll learn a lot about CRAZY Love through those times.  At least I know if something ever happened to me, I would have 4 daughters that would be able to tell an amazing story to Hanna about how much she was loved.  I still look into that chunky cheeky face and try to figure out what God saw in me to entrust yet another life to my care.  Today, I was reading the 'infamous' Proverbs 31 with the girls, and the lists of things I'm not doing far outweighed the things I should be striving for.  Than I look at Hanna, and I'm reminded that God's not done with me, He's not done with any of us, and He wastes NOTHING.  Her story is one of such hope, but it's also one of great pain, and many uncertainties. I could say that about my life, about each of my girls lives, any of the lives of those of  you reading....we all have different stories.  I pray though, that like Joseph, I have no doubt he was a different man in the prison, than he was in that first pit he was thrown into..... I pray that I may be a different woman as I look at the different chapters in my life.  I pray that I would learn to be more compassionate, and reach out to others in pain instead of building walls because of it.  I pray I never waste a moment, to also tell my girls how much they are cherished , loved and designed with a heavenly purpose in mind.    I'm trying to learn to ask more 'WHAT God', instead of "Why."
    Whatever you face.....I pray that you may hear something in these heart ramblings.....may you be reminded  when you don't understand, when there seems no purpose in the pain.... think of Joseph when the days seem so long.  When you are afraid to hope, when you want to distance yourself from life.....trust God's heart.  Love deeply, love richly.    Keep faithful with what is simply right in front of you, and trust God's  heart is Good, and there is an incredible plan that is unfolding.....one day at a time.  Perhaps God is preparing you to 'save the world!'.


Angie said...

Wow, Karen! I got a few things out of your Joseph "sermon" that I had never seen before! Thank you so much! XO, Ang

Lydia said...

Oh Karen, I wish I could hug you right now! I learned so much through this post and was so greatly encouraged. I feel like the greatest healing God has been giving me is through the words of my friends. You are such a blessing to me, and I'm so incredibly thankful that we can "experience" each other's lives, even though we're states apart. I love you and am extremely blessed to call you friend! You have such a big heart for your daughters. I hope to be even half the mother you are.