This summer is almost over, and it has been a whirlwind of injuries, sickness, and chaos. We missed more church than we attended due to these things, and then, if I'm being honest, I was almost intentionally late to the services we did attend.
Why? It's not like it's a good reason. It's definitely an excuse, but the short answer is this; being there for worship, without actually being able to worship, simply made me angry. I mean, really angry. I cannot tell you the number of times my husband has gone to church early to practice with the worship team, and I would rush around all four kids to try to get there even close to on-time, only to have to battle my youngest throughout all of worship.
Shhhhh! Don't yell!
Don't stand on the pew!
Get off the floor!
Don't throw the Bible.
Leave you brother alone.
No, you may not have a doughnut right now.
Of all the Sundays this summer that we made it in time for worship, there may only be one where I didn't have to take her out of the service kicking and screaming. So, intentionally late may be inaccurate, but I stopped trying to and stressing over getting there on time.
But I have really missed worshiping. The whole way to church, I was whining, in my head about this. We were running 30 minutes late, which is about enough time to miss most of worship. The kids were talking quietly in the back, and our normal worship music was playing on the CD in the background...and me? I was angry. Angry we were late, angry I felt the need to be late to avoid a toddler battle scene, angry I was missing worship time...again, and angry at all the drivers on the road.
So my 25 minute drive sounded something like this:
(singing) Jesus, can you show me, just how faaaaaar the east is from the...
Use your turn signal!!!
In the arms of your mercy, I find...
The light is GREEN!
You know just how far the east is from the...
Skinny petal. That one makes it go.
One scarred hand to the...
Did you forget how to drive?!
We were hitting nearly every single red light, and about the time God's Not Dead began playing, I felt sort of a metaphorical slap in the face, like being hit with a bucket of cold water to wake up and pay attention.
Why aren't you praising me now?
Here I was, in a quiet vehicle, with safely strapped in, confined children, who were not screaming, and I was singing along blindly, unfocused to the worship music playing in the background, grumbling complaints about the drivers around me under my breath.
He was giving me time. I was hitting every single red light. I was already late. The kids were relatively quiet, and the music was already on. My worship time was handed to me on a silver platter, and it didn't even occur to me until after nearly 20 minutes of our 25 minute drive.
Worship does not have to be (nor should it at all be) confined to one Sunday morning at a designated hour. Ask God for the time, and you will receive it. Make and find the time in your busy schedule, and you will be blessed.
at all times.
This weekend we went to a wedding of an old college teammate and roommate of mine, and it evoked all the emotions. The whole way home I thought about these friendships, these girls that I only really knew for four years; such a short time in the grand scheme! In the literal sense, these were not the girls I grew up with, but in a very real sense, these were exactly the girls I grew up with.
This is four years, just four years. What seems like such a long time as you're approaching it, and maybe even while you're going through it, turns into just a small blurb on your resume one day.
Where did you go to school? What did you study? What do you do now? These questions become the center of adult conversations.
Maybe it is because I don't have a career outside the home. Maybe it's because I studied within a major that never offered me a better professor than the amazing teacher I'd had in high school. Or maybe it's because I'm a sentimental fool, but an education was actually my least valuable take-away from four years in college.
*gasp* How can you say that?!
I am absolutely thankful for my college education! Don't get me wrong. But I learned so many more valuable life and relational skills in my four years in college. I learned about myself. I learned about Christ. I learned about loving others. I learned about priorities, discipline, consideration, and communication. I made plenty of mistakes along the way, but I learned how to move forward from them. I learned about conflict and resolution and how to love people through those, and I learned that I could be loved through my difficult times as well. These girls taught me that I could be accepted and loved, just as I am, even during disagreements.
I grew up.
When you live with, travel with, practice with, even shower with, the same people day in and day out, it really accelerates the relationship process, and you have to learn how to get along. My word, I didn't even spend that much time with my own sister! When you are thrust into a world of unknowns, away from your family, in this big world, it is not the classes you take, the parties you go to, or the sports that you play, which define you. Those things might be a big part of your experiences, but so many of the specifics will fade away as the years go by. The classes you took, the parties you went to, even your professors names, will soon fade from your memories.
But if you're lucky, even if you don't keep in touch perfectly, even if you're separated by hundreds of miles or busy schedules, those people you grew up with will forever feel like home.
As young kids on these grand adventures, often this lesson is easy. Love others. That's pretty simple. Treat others as you want to be treated. Learn how to get along through thick and through thin.
As adults, we tend to walk around with more of a chip on our shoulders; a my way or the highway attitude. We become picky about the people we allow into our lives, and the people we allow to stay. We cut people out easily, with little to no remorse, over disagreements, and we find quotes to help justify our actions, and make us feel validated in turning people away.
I'm not saying that it isn't sometimes necessary to do this. God does tell us to be wise about the company we keep. It just happens with so much more frequency than it did while we were growing up.
You don't always get to choose the people that get placed in your life. Love them like you would if you had no other choice, and they just may become family.
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.
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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