Mr. Rogers once said that when he was a boy, and he would see scary things on the news, his father would always point out the positive, "Look for the helpers. You will always find people who are helping."
Life is scary sometimes. Life is painful sometimes, and if we get caught up in focusing on the pain and the fear, it can be really overwhelming.
This summer, I've told you in some of my Monday Messages, that I have not been in a great place, emotionally. A lot of little things have gone wrong, and piled onto other things, and allowed even older things to resurface in my head space. I have really been feeling beat up.
And it is easy to dwell on those things. It is easy to over-analyze, overthink, and play on repeat, all the things that have gone wrong. They are frustrating, sometimes infuriating, and happen with little to no reasoning behind them. But that is life.
How often do we stop and think about all of the needs that have been met? My word, if during all of my mess, I had stopped in that moment to recognize how God was caring for me through it, my stress levels would have been very different!
Just as He proved Himself to be there with the sweet singing voice of my toddler last week, He showed up throughout every stress and every curve ball. I just wasn't paying attention!
Last Monday was my birthday, and instead of celebrating, I was dealing with a broken toilet, and a sick child. Instead of eating my favorite things. I was nauseated after holding a garbage bag in front of my child to vomit in, because of the strep test at the doctors. If you don't know me, any symptoms related to the stomach bug are my greatest fears!
Also, instead of noticing God's presence, I was angry with Him. Instead of focusing on the good, I became distracted with the bad. But...
What if, instead of Look at all these horrible things happening to me, our attitude reflected one of gratefulness with, Look at all the ways God helped me.
As a writer, I deeply questioned intentionally misspelling a word in my title. But I realized, after a lot of back and forth, that I absolutely had to.
You may remember my post from two weeks ago, A Weary Spirit. We've been hit with a lot of little things this summer, and the list of things has continued (though I will spare you the list because it seems so whiny to talk about). I have been exhausted and completely overwhelmed. My heart has felt heavy, carrying the weight of a lot of different prayer requests, both spoken and unspoken; prayer requests much more urgent and heart-wrenching than my daily struggles.
I have felt a deep sadness overwhelm me, and honestly, continuing with my Monday Messages sometimes feels impossible.
But I have told you before of the unconventional ways God will show up and speak, and this week was no exception.
Feeling all of this heaviness last night, I was changing the umpteenth diaper of the week, and my 2 year old who typically makes bedtime a chaotic disaster of screams and flailing, and who had happened to miss her nap yesterday, smiled at me and began to sing.
I paused and just looked at her, and listened. We typically listen to this song on a CD of mine during car rides, if we happen to catch that particular song during quick trips. Due to her daddy's bad back, we haven't gone anywhere, and we haven't listened to that CD in weeks. And even through her toddler pronunciations, lyrics that she's never expressed knowing, came through loud and clear.
When you don't move da mountains
I need you to move,
when you don't pawt the waters
I wish I could walk thwough,
when you don't give da answoos
as I cwy out to youuuuu,
I will twust, I will twust, I will twust in youuuu!
When you feel the hopeless darkness creeping in on you, remember that God can speak to you through the thickest of fog and darkest of night. It is not a small thing. It is not a coincidence. It is not random. Don't allow the world to tell you it doesn't mean anything. Don't allow anyone to tell you He's not there.
Twust in Him, with the uninhibited faith of a child.
Hold your tongue.
Watch your mouth.
If you don't have anything nice to say, don't say anything at all.
These are things we heard all the time as children, and likely, if you are a parent as I am, you are now saying them every day yourself.
We often hear a lot about what not to do, and what not to say, not just in church, but in the world, as a whole. As a mom of 4, I say No...a lot.
Don't hit your brother. Don't point. Don't laugh when someone falls down. Don't wipe your boogers on your brothers bed.
I'd say that the majority of my day is spent telling my children what not to do. Honestly, there isn't a whole lot of time left over for instructing them in the things that they should be doing, so how will they learn?
My hope and my prayer in this, is that our actions will teach them more than our words ever could.
When I think back on the people, thus far, who have had the greatest, most positive impact on my life, and even my salvation, it has nothing to do with what they said. We tend to put a lot of weight on words, and I don't want to completely disregard that. There is truth to that. However, most people will quickly forget words. Most people cannot perfectly recall conversations. But they can almost always tell you exactly how someone made them feel.
Love is an active choice. It is taking action. It is not felt through the word, though it might be nice to hear.
"Do not waste your time bothering whether you 'love' your neighbor; act as if you did. As soon as we do this we find one of the great secrets. When you are behaving as if you loved someone, you will presently come to love him." ~C.S. Lewis, Mere Christianity
Act in love. Your actions are capable of not only positively impacting someone else's life, but your own as well.
Can I have an honest moment with you?
Have you ever felt so overwhelmed, so burnt out, that even the ice cream isle taunts you with stressful decisions?
That was me last week. Friday, I paced the ice cream isle for almost 10 minutes. I nearly burst into tears because I couldn't decide just how I wanted to eat my feelings. There were suddenly too many brands, too many choices, too many flavors that were just one or two ingredients different than my norms, and too many prices to compare.
Ice cream, guys! Ice cream almost made me cry.
...and I'm not even pregnant.
My life isn't so bad, not really, and when I talk about all the daily stresses I've been dealing with, I feel really silly.
*Dog's emergency surgery...right before vacation
*and the bill that came with it
*the dining room floor needing to be pulled apart because of asbestos tile beneath
*the leaking pipe behind the washing machine
*a kid needs braces
*a kid with a sinus infection
*up late every night trying to grow my business
*a husband, who suddenly went out with a back injury in the midst of all this chaos
*a giant cup of orange juice spilled on the brand new carpet
*passing out all the McGriddles after a long morning at the doctors, only to discover I've given out the wrong one, and I'm left with the icky breakfast sausage instead of bacon. blech
*exploding clay hot pack in the microwave
*and last, but in no way least, the 2 year old I fight with daily, who tests me daily; hourly even, who sent two elbows and a knee to my throat during tantrums last week (during church no less) preventing me, once again, from partaking in worship. She is exhausting, but fearfully and wonderfully made!
The list sounds whiny. They are not real problems...at least not without solutions. But sometimes, when all those little problems add up and begin to take their toll, a real heaviness lands on me; an overwhelming darkness that I know is not from God, and I find myself crying because I can't decide on ice cream, and I can't afford them all.
But then, the kids go to bed, the hubby rests his back, and God gives me the spirit of peace. Y'all, this blog is designed to be encouraging for you, my readers, and to speak to those in need of a message, but God also shows me every single week, how He uses it for me.
Having to sit down, and write this; having to search my Bible in the quiet of my storm, God speaks to me, and lets me know that He knows the way.
He will lift the darkness and light your path, or even carry you, if you let Him.
Picture this, if you will; a large field of dry brush, in a drought. It is lacking nutrients, attention, and care. It is hurting and dying, ripe for a forest fire.
Now imagine this is our world. These are our people.
You don't actually have to imagine it. There are people all around us suffering, hurting, in need of attention and care.
I heard this line in a song recently, and it ignited something within me, spread love like fire. When I began to search for a Bible verse relevant to this concept, I typed "Bible verses about...," into Google, and then paused. I felt the need to write in "fire," which seemed silly. The idea is love, and speaking life. I felt I should be searching for verses about those things, but God had other plans for this message. Isn't it amazing how God can use Google to speak with us?!
I continued with my search, "Bible verses about fire," thinking it wouldn't lead to what was so obviously placed on my heart, but I was wrong. There are many verses speaking of fire, and I noticed a theme. When we read about fire in the Bible, it is typically of two very different concepts. Most notably, fire is used in reference to destruction or anger. But then, there are a handful of times where we see that an angel of the Lord appeared as fire.
In Exodus 3:2 (NIV) we read, "There the angel of the Lord appeared to him in flames of fire from within a bush. Moses saw that though the bush was on fire, it did not burn up." When I looked into this verse further, I noticed that almost every other translation says, "but was not consumed" at the end.
What I have taken from that is this; this fire is not consuming, not destructive, but enlightening.
We can look at those dry, forlorn fields with two options; the choice between two different fires. Hate or Love.
Hate is an easier fire to ignite. It's like pouring gasoline on burning embers. It doesn't take a whole lot of effort, or even thought.
Love is not as easy. It takes patience. It takes some work, diligence, and persistence, but the sparks that fly will ignite a flame that breathes life into the forlorn; a flame that brings light to the darkness! It is not destructively all-consuming, but it can spread like wildfire.
Which spark are you going to choose to be?
As a wife, mom of 4, and business owner, finding time to spend in the Word, can be difficult, so I get it! Come join me each Monday for a simple message of hope, faith, and encouragement amidst some honest mommy moments.
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