I am so blessed and lemme tell you why. There was a time when I couldn’t imagine being married. Now, not only am I married, but I’m married to a Godly, praying man who not only recognizes when I need prayer, but follows through with it. I think all of us know how difficult that can be. So, I am happily spoiled in a way that I never thought I could or would appreciate. And I could almost write it off as being a not-so-blessed, but-more-of-a-typical happening, but as soon as I begin to take it for granted, I feel another hand. A smaller, 5-year-old hand gently touches my back. There are no words spoken because I know she is listening to her daddy pray. She not only hears the power that those words hold, but sees them as I miraculously (yes, I said miraculously) regain strength and energy into my body. Maybe to some it wouldn’t mean much. Maybe you picture Benny Hinn yelling and people dropping to the floor. I don’t know what you think about miracles. And I’ll be really honest, I don’t care. (Yup, said that too.) I know that I literally go from being too weary to walk or lift my head because my muscles give out to being able to continue on, whether that continuation leads to putting breakfast on the table (ok, it’s the coffee table—the kids eat in front of the TV sometimes. Ok, a lot. I’m letting it go.) or heading to work to do what I love. That’s real. That’s true. That’s what I choose to think on today. And that’s why I’m blessed beyond measure.
The holiday season has me all nostalgic and lethargic at the same time. I’m exhausted. I try to slow down, but when everyone else is running at full speed, if I break pace, then I might as well drop out of the race. I’ve done that before. I’m not a fan. I was out of the game for longer than I want to think about, unable to work or do too much of anything for myself. I’m thankful for each day, but it’s very difficult to learn the speed at which I can go versus still staying in the race.
What race is it? I sit here and wonder. Am I in a competition? With who? The Joneses? I don’t even know them. Family? They typically want what’s best for me. Co-workers? Eh, I think they have their own issues. So who’s the instigator? A collective whole? Maybe. The enemy who wants to see us discouraged and feeling like failures at everything we do? Most likely. After all, there is an enemy and he doesn’t exactly want to see us happy, content, and successful. (that’s not what enemies do.)
So I find myself very reflective on what makes the holidays amazingly successful. I think back to the music, live nativity scenes, the caroling, the cheer and chill in the air, visiting relatives and laughing, running with cousins, playing games only we knew the rules to, being a part of something special, and then the gifts. Not necessarily in that order, but the gifts, who remembers the gifts? I don’t. Sure, there are a few. But if it were all about stuff, wouldn’t we recall more than a few? That feeling of contentment that went deeper than a full belly after a meal shared with family was a much better gift than any truck or stereo or teddy bear.
Are the traditions that began so long ago still traditions if not carried on through us? What is important this season? Hot chocolate and time spent comes to mind. Not mowing people down and throwing elbows to get to the latest toy craze. (No, I don’t know where you can find a Hatchimal.) I say JOY instead of fatigue this year! Cheers (it’s coffee) to getting your rest and focusing on what’s truly important this year—let’s not run ourselves ragged so that our kids only remember how grouchy the holidays made us.
Leave me alone, I grumble under my breath. Get out of my way, I say in the most polite way possible. STOP talking to me, I think to myself, as I reach for my first cup of coffee. I just want some time, no, NEED some time to myself. To think, to wake up, to scratch. Instead, I have 2 toddlers, 1 much like me (cuddling in the lazy recliner grunting to any passersby) and the other, much like her father (awake, alert, ready to take on the day joyously). “Mom, do cheetahs lay eggs? What’s your favorite color? Can I have a cereal bar? One time, at school, my cookie was melted and I had to wash my hands. Can I have another cereal bar? Mom? Mom? MOM!?!”
I have always been one to enjoy my quiet time. I don’t feel the need to fill up every moment with words. I like to reflect, ponder, and pause. I have found that if I don’t, I am a grump. Unfortunately, I have not had the time. And yes, my facial expression resembles that of Oscar from Sesame Street. I am in no way ready for my day if I don’t make time to check in with myself and God.
This brings me to what I believe God asked me to do: Get out of bed AND get out of it EARLIER. (To which I said, “Whaaaaa? I don’t think I heard You correctly.” I then proceeded to give a list of excuses, including, I have 2 toddlers. (I’m pretty sure He already knew this, being Creator and all.) I go to bed late. (Simple fix, I heard.) I’m exhausted already. (Because you’re not doing what I asked.) Um…uh…Ok, OK. Begrudingly, which is far from cheerfully if you know what I mean, I agreed. So, tom morning, I will be waking at 5. I tried for 6 and even 5:30, but God isn’t the typical negotiator. Grr. Ok, 5 it is. The absolute hilarious side of this enthralling story is I’ve done this before. I woke at 5, every morning because God told me to. Know what happened? I got TONS accomplished. I had more energy than I knew what to do with. I talked with God, laying all my fears and worries out in the open. Then I listened to Him reassuring me of Scripture like Phillipians 4:13 and that I could do anything as long as He was with me. I learned things I couldn’t possibly have learned from any other book than His Holy Word. Why, you may wonder, did you stop? Exactly. All I can figure is it involves what the Bible calls “flesh.” I had to kill it then, meaning I don’t always do what I want to, I do what HE wants me to. I would much rather lounge in bed, contemplating how I can procrastinate cleaning out the fridge yet again, but God wants us to give Him the firsts. First fruits, first of the day, first 10%. (That’s another day’s article.) So, tomorrow begins a new journey. One that God’s leading the way, with His dear disheveled daughter padding behind Him in holey house slippers, searching for His will and caffeine.
My 2-year-old threw himself down on the floor. He wanted a sucker and there was nothing that would stop him today. I admired his persistence. The only hitch in this story that truly baffled me was that he already had one. The red, heart-shaped sucker he had chosen was in his mouth. On this particular occasion, he was upset because he…hmmmm…I try to remember his age and do my best not to rationalize or analyze or any of the other “i/yze’s” but “pathologist/therapist” is in my job title. It’s difficult to separate sometimes between others’ situations requiring diagnosis and treatment and my own 2-year old throwing a “typical” fit. (Even as I type “typical” I have to put it in quotes and wonder how typical it really is, as I make a note to research the latest findings on typical childhood development.)
Nonetheless, this event, this stressful, enraging, and blood-pressure-elevating-event (for both me and him, mainly me) got me to thinking if we do the same with God. We sit on our hypothetical kitchen floor, crying out to God that what we have is not what we want or what we ordered. It’s not how we pictured it; it’s not the same as the brochure or the commercial! I picture God with the same look of bewilderment I had and then laugh to myself at the thought of our Heavenly Father bewildered.
God saved me from a dead-end life. My life is certainly not what I thought it would be, but I think that’s a good thing. The enemy tried to kill off any dreams I had of prosperity and success. God saved me from that pit of despair. Now, even though I should know better, I sometimes sit wondering why I don’t have this already or what’s taking so long on that front? I don’t say the actual words, as that may be considered disrespectful, but God, what are you doing right now that you can’t just send down a hefty check that will pull me out of this mess? What are you doing in regards to my health? Have you thought about what we talked about last week God? I chuckle as I type this because God is so incredibly patient with us isn’t He? Even when we’re on the floor frantically screaming that we don’t want that anymore, we want something different, surrounded by tears and blessings. Today I’m going to do my best to not overlook all God has already done in my life and trust that my future is still His too.
My son burns my arms with fever, almost silently gasping for breath, and dark, yellowish rings form under his eyes right before mine. No one does anything. The crowded restaurant we’re in continues its constant motion. I see a friend with her son who was healed not long ago and shout her name. Again, I shout, holding my son, stripping his shirt off to alleviate some heat. She doesn’t hear me. She continues to talk cheerfully with friends and I lose her in the crowd as we leave the chaotic eatery. We’re headed to the ER but I fear not fast enough. I wake up, unable to catch my breath. This night’s sleep has been exhausting. I truly wonder if I had stayed up if I’d be more rested. Images flash through my mind, as I sit up panting. Visuals of my family distraught and distressed beyond repair. Shaken. Jolted to our very core. It’s been a long time since I’ve had a nightmare. I don’t know what you believe, but I believe it to be part of my own personal spiritual battle. I’m in a battle as I type. A battle where I learn to trust God with everything. Even my son. In Ephesians, we read that the battle is not physical and some days I’m glad. Glad because I feel very weak under this attack. God knows I need Him more than ever on those days. To make a long, prayerful story a little shorter, we decided yesterday to cancel our son’s appointment with the doctor. It seems he’s been sick since he was born. In fact, he was born sick. The enemy reminds me of this often. “It’s just the way it is,” I hear, and “What could possibly change your son’s condition? You’ve done everything.” It’s true. We have tried everything from oils to vitamins to supplements, even prayer. *wink It’s exhausting to have little ones ill as you struggle to fix it. I believe that’s why God is calling us out on it. We prayed about taking our son to the doctor…again…for the fourth time just within the past 3 months. The meds they gave us didn’t work and the meds they were going to give us most likely would have the same effect. This time, we felt more peace about trusting God to work it out. I wish I could say that about every situation and I’m getting there, but trusting someone else with your kids is HUGE. Turns out He loves ‘em more than I do. Whaaaaaa?
So just like I was jolted out of that horrific, stomach-turning nightmare, I think God is jolting us out of this lull of worldliness. This life is not our own. We are not to love this world. We are called to love the people He created and put in it. Stop doing what the world does. Stop trusting what your eyes see. Let God open the eyes of your heart like He yearns to do. Have some faith and start walking the path He puts before you instead of the one you paved on your own. Give God each day and He’ll jolt you out of this shoulder-shrugging apathy that we’re so accustomed to. Infuse your life with His will and watch as your situation changes for the best.
My son was happier than we’d seen him in a long time after we canceled that appointment. His symptoms came to a screeching halt. Sure, it doesn’t always work like this, but when’s the last time you trusted enough to see how long God’s timing would take? Don’t let the enemy of your soul steal your faith or the faith-building “exercises” God Himself designs.
As I was driving the other day, I thought about how God gives us power to do great things. Huh. Great things. What kind of great things are we doing? The other day I congratulated myself for putting something green on my kids’ plate (and they ate it!). By comparison and contrast to, oh say, Mother Theresa, that is not such a great thing. I wonder if she ever had those days when she felt like throwing in the towel, screaming “FORGET IT!” and putting her feet up, demanding they be rubbed.
Our world views great things differently than I do. But what if we looked into the eyes of the individual on the hypothetical street and prayed? Is that a great thing? Not to the world as we know it, but do you think it is in the eyes of the One Who created that individual? What if we took that step, you know the one out of that comfy zone, and said, I am not gonna be bullied by anyone, not even the thoughts in my own head? Could we do it? Could we make a difference in the way we see others and their problems? God promises us throughout the Bible to hear and answer us. Why would we be afraid to pray?
Are we afraid that the person we pray for won’t feel anything? That their situation won’t change? Has your situation ever stayed the same after a man or woman of faith prayed for you? I know mine hasn’t. It might not have been immediate, but it changed. Drastically. God, the Holy Spirit, and Jesus can do that.
So what are we afraid of? What they’ll think? God’s judgment and disappointment in me has to be more detrimental than anything Jennifer or Sally or Bob or Justin think. (You’ve always got to include a “Sally”…I don’t know why.)
Are we afraid for our safety? That a weapon may be involved if we stop and pray for a stranger? Wouldn’t that be the way to go? God has established protective custody.
Are we scared of looking the demon right in the eye? (Yeah, I said it. There are demons in people. Look it up if you don’t believe me. Have you ever seen the eyes of criminals on the news? If that isn’t pure evil, I don’t know what is.)
I think these fears could be squashed with better-developed trust and faith. If God asks you to get out of your comfy air-conditioned vehicle to pray for the dirty, sad-eyed veteran who may or may not have PTSD, will He protect you? That’s trust.
If you are called to share your testimony with a coworker, can you do it without stressing that your job will be there for you tomorrow? That’s faith.
Can you love the man in the department store who is…shhhh…gay? YES! You can! God does.
God can’t leave us stranded. He doesn’t change. Did Jonah get digested by the whale? Did Moses get bit by his staff and die? Was Daniel a main course? Was Ruth killed for her boldness? No! God doesn’t change. He had their backs and He has ours. Go do something great today!
The scene: Me, diligently and ever-so-patiently, trying to do my Bible study this morning. (Keep in mind had I gotten up early like I’d told God I was going to start doing this week, I would have had peace and brilliant silence.)
I had succeeded in diverting the attention of one toddler with VeggieTales Celery Night Fever (great music with catchy music that I never need to listen to again) and the other was coloring a picture of a butterfly floating above the letter “B” (educational and crafty=Parent Success!) I tried my best to focus after the dreaded FaceBook battle, you know the one. “I need to get off here. I’m supposed to be ___________.” Fill in the blank with any number of chores, quality-time tasks, or spiritual activities.
So I finally got a couple devotional books and my trusty Bible open just before my daughter “interrupted” with incessant questions regarding which colors to use.
“Mommy, what color do you like? What color should I use on the wings? I already used that one. What color now?”
It got me to thinking that we get to check in with God to see what color our world is, for one. He reminds us that our lives are to be filled with the color of pure joy. So much depends on our outlook, our moods, and our motivations. The great news today is that we get to pick all 3 of these! We get to choose the colors we use in our day! It’s our picture; we make it what we want after checking in with our Creator to see what color He likes!
What a bright, sunshiney-yellow-kinda day!