Monday, May 6, 2013

Before and After Photos

With gratitude and relief -- we have "traded up" in our lifestyle.  Thanks be to God!

Dining Room -- before
Dining Room Table, Oven table and Buffet

Our company provided furniture for us to use before our crate arrived, and we really appreciated it, but our place was still pretty utilitarian/empty.

"Spacious" Living Room -- Before
Living Room -- After

Here Jennifer is working on a school project on the floor, as it was the best place to spread out and work before our kitchen table or her desk arrived!  On the right, Stew is studying on our new couch.  It is awesome to have new, more comfortable places to study and work!

Much more comfy study spaces!

Jenna's "Study Area"

Here is how we slept for the first four months; on futon cushions on the floor.  We were grateful for all our friends provided for us, but we are living and sleeping much more comfortably now!

Bunk Beds now fill the room
Girls' Bedroom - Before

Perfect play space!

And, last but not least, the master bedroom redux. 

Our Master "Bed" -- Before
Rental Dresser for Two

Our new bed and dressers fit quite snugly in our room, but they look awesome! 

A view of our new dressers and bed.

Now that's a bed!

Believe it or not, it took three days or so to get used to sleeping in a real bed again!  Our sore and tired bodies weren't accustomed to the luxury of a real mattress.

Darkest Just Before Dawn

A robust sigh of contentment can be heard at the Roberson house these days.  We are on the "other end" of that long wait.  We have slept on beds for nearly 2 weeks.  At last, our house feels more like home. 

Just the same, I am less than honest if I don't tell the full truth.  Put simply:  The end of this wait was not pretty. 

We'd sent out an email to a few close friends, asking them to pray for us to get through the tail end of the seemingly never-ending wait on our household goods.  One of our friends wrote us back and reminded us that "things seem darkest just before the dawn."  He had no idea how prophetic his words would ring in those final days.

I am going to copy portions of a letter that I wrote to one of our leaders a handful of days after our furniture arrived.  It shows you just how dark the day grew here, before the dawn mercifully broke.

 Today is a 180-degree change from the way I spent last Sunday.  What a difference furniture makes.  We went to church this morning, then came home and I spent the afternoon studying Japanese – in a comfortable living room chair, versus a sterile dinette table and chairs.  With surround-sound smooth jazz in the background, versus silence.  Wearing comfortable clothes that seem like new, because I hadn’t seen them in 5 months.  And on, and on.  Did I mention getting up from bed this morning, only after laying in it for an extra 30 minutes, enjoying the luxurious mattress that was supporting me?  With the warmth of my husband next to me, after 4 months of sleeping on separate futons?  J

By contrast, last Sunday when I woke up, I was overcome by an uncanny sense of depression and discouragement.  I fell into extreme doubt that we’d ever see our household goods, in spite of the fact that our container was in port (Yokohama) awaiting customs inspection and subsequent delivery.  The depression was debilitating and was accompanied by a severe flare-up of a physical affliction that I battle.  I recognized this as a probable attack by the enemy, so I cursed Satan and took a double dose of my medication.  The physical symptoms cleared in time, but I remained weepy and emotionally fragile.

I appreciate you listening to me last week while I shared with you about my spiritual struggle with the evil one.  I can’t remember whether you called me on Sunday night or Monday night – did I tell you about what my Japanese tutor shared with me Monday?  She shared two things:  Number one, she felt led to pray for me all weekend long, not knowing why – she just obeyed, and prayed.  Number two:  She often feels exactly how I felt last Sunday, overwhelmed with a sense of hopelessness and despair.  She knows that it comes from the evil one, who tries to oppress her because she will not compromise her beliefs.  She was getting very teary-eyed as I related to her what happened to me the previous day – and I thought it may have been because I was still emotionally fragile, getting choked up as I told her what had taken place. 

I spent several days last week in focused reflection and prayer, trying to understand what God was wanting to teach me through that scary episode.  After talking with our tutor, I realized that God gave me a peek into the lives of “stoic desperation” that characterizes the lives of ordinary Japanese.  I thought to myself, how am I to minister to these people if I don’t truly understand their pain/their need/their struggles?  I am not a melancholy person by nature and I am quick to tell somebody to “Chin up, you’ll get through this; God specializes in impossible circumstances and He will get you through….”  There was no “chin up” in that valley I was passing through last week.  It was only through desperate prayer (and rebuking Satan) that I began to climb out.

Thank you for praying for us during this extended “wait” that tried us so.  I am grateful that it’s over.  I have enjoyed feeling “spent” at the end of a day when I washed out my new pots and pans….unpacked boxes and found storage places for stuff…..swept up Styrofoam and factory dust from the floor, after assembling a piece of furniture with Stew.  Our house is one glorious tornado right now and nobody’s complaining.

My valley served as a painful conclusion to several months of deprivation -- and yet God was there.  He didn't waste my trial.  The One who brought joy and relief out of despondency, will keep this feeling of despair fresh in my memory.  The Christian life is never promised as a life free from trial, sorrow and despair.  It comes with the sure promise of a Companion who follows alongside in the depth of despair...ready to lift and carry when the burden becomes too great.  My companion has never been more precious to me than now.