What to Do When Your World Stops

This Sunday I am at home, wishing I could be at church.  It’s been another challenging week, bringing more pieces of my health puzzle together (more on that later).  This morning my mom sent me a link to a very encouraging message, which led me to another.

If you, too, are home sick today … or you are presently facing some other trials, these brief messages (less than 10 minutes each) will help lift your heart and give you direction.  Please feel free to share your comments below, including prayer requests.

Pressure Points – In this message, Pastor Kramer gives uplifting truth and hope to remember when (not if) we face trails.

When Your World Stops – This message is about how to keep going when you feel like your world is ripped out from under you.

Joy From the Inside Out

Blessed, I am!  Yet, I know I am not alone in my struggle to enjoy every moment of motherhood.  I love my boys, but sometimes I feel like I’m going to go crazy.   You know what I’m talkin’ about.

A couple of weeks ago my boys were having at it.  After much prayer I read through I Corinthians 13 with them, inserting their name wherever is was written “Love.”  Then they spent an entire day wearing gloves – doing school with gloves, eating with gloves, and learning to consciously think about using their hands for things better than wailing on their brother!  (We all had to admit it was comical when they were trying to eat their lunch with big hands.  And thankfully they haven’t hit each other since).

Then on Sunday morning, one boy was such a grouch.  I reminded him (and me, again) that Satan is extra busy on Sundays, trying to upset people and families.  “We love you!”  Eventually, on the way to church, he decided to put on a smile and treat us with kindness. (I was thankful for the quick resolution.  I realize that this will not always be true here and that presently you might be enduring a long-term rebellion in your home.  Hugs!)

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Then there are times like last night, when one knocked on my door sounding like a barking seal, “Mom!  I can’t breathe!”  I rushed him into the bathroom and turned on the steaming hot shower.  I held him, sang to him, attempting to calm him down.  Of course I was concerned and completely thankful that he woke me up to help him!

In the dark, quiet hours, I got to thinking about how Jesus cares about His children.  About me. Then I began to wonder, what kind of child am I to God?

Basically, what endears us to children is their childlikeness.  The things they do that irritate us, threatening our sanity, is childishness.  (How many times a week do I remind myself to be patient – that they are just 8 and 6 and are in process.  Phil. 1:6!)

Dictionary.com defines them this way (followed by my lists):

Childishnessof, like, or befitting a child: childish games … weak; silly: childish fears.

My short list:

Unrestrained goofiness
Irresponsible, lazy
Doesn’t feel like it – doesn’t do it
Mine!!!
Sullen rebellion
Violent responses of anger
Happy one minute, upset the next
Says things without thinking
Fearful about the silliest things (orange juice pulp?!)
Stubbornness

 

Childlikeness:  like a child, as in innocence, frankness, etc.; befitting a child: childlike trust.

My short list:
Joyful outbursts of laughter
Honest
Trusting
Inquisitive – asks lots of questions
Forgiving
Spontaneous hugs
Excitement about life
Devoted and helpful
Willing to try new things
Natural inclination to believe there is a God and want to know Him better

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Truth: I am extremely prone to childishness, many times every day! And to go even deeper, recently one of my precious children asked me, “Mom, when are you going to be happy?”  GULP.  I am thankful for my children’s insights – so convicting!  With the health challenges I’ve faced the past several months, I have struggled with joy.  Even when I am making myself smile, somehow my children know when it is forced.  God, help me! A verse in Proverbs has been buzzing in my brain this week …

“Strength and dignity are her clothing, and she smiles at the future.” Proverbs 31:25 NASB

I thank God for His patience with me!  He is gracious and slow to anger, always filled with joy.  This past week He has been teaching me about joy and how it is His gift.  When I trust that He is giving me everything I need, including the trials, I don’t need to have a hissy fit like a three-year-old.  I can laugh again!  Today I can smile (from the inside out!), knowing that if He gives me another day, He will be my Rock, my Provider, and my Joy!   Abba, I want to enjoy You and our walk through this life together.  Please make me more child-like in my joy, excitement about life, and in my undoubting reliance on You every day.

 

God’s Living Word …

“At that time the disciples came to Jesus and said, ‘Who then is greatest in the kingdom of heaven?’ And He called a child to Himself and set him before them, and said, “Truly I say to you, unless you are converted and become like children, you will not enter the kingdom of heaven. “Whoever then humbles himself as this child, he is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven. “And whoever receives one such child in My name receives Me; but whoever causes one of these little ones who believe in Me to stumble, it would be better for him to have a heavy millstone hung around his neck, and to be drowned in the depth of the sea.”  Matthew 18:1-6 NASB

“When I was a child, I used to speak like a child, think like a child, reason like a child; when I became a man, I did away with childish things. For now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face; now I know in part, but then I will know fully just as I also have been fully known.  But now faith, hope, love, abide these three; but the greatest of these is love.”  I Corinthians 13:11-13

“For I am confident of this very thing, that He who began a good work in you will perfect it until the day of Christ Jesus.” Philippians 1:6

 

Shovels, Love, and Hot Cocoa

“There is no fear in love; but perfect love casts out fear, because fear involves torment. But he who fears has not been made perfect in love.”
I John 4:18 NKJV

Yesterday I watched my sons, ages 5 and 7, shovel the snow.  They were so excited to get out there, shovel in hand, helping and making the way clear.  As I stood and watched them, I was filled with love and thankfulness for my little men, growing up so big and strong, physically and spiritually. 

They weren’t perfect in their shoveling.  But, they would try to improve their methods if a lift or push didn’t do what they wanted it to do.  Of course the bigger boy got more done, but the younger did his best.  I love them the same and didn’t compare them.

It was a moment of love, not fear.  And it made me think of God’s love for us.  He looks at us in love.  He is not wagging His finger in disgust, micromanaging our lives.  He allows us to make mistakes.  He forgives.  He doesn’t compare us with each other.  He gives us the “thumbs up” as we walk along the path of life with Him.

When the boys saw me watching, smiling from the window (between stretches, lunges, and squats – gotta get exercise in sometime!), they worked harder, happier, and pretty much “went to town,” clearing the entire driveway, sidewalk, and steps.

Knowing that God is watching me with love removes my fear.  He is with me.  He is cheering me on.  He is providing everything I need to accomplish His will.  He appreciates it when I do the laundry and dishes for His glory.  And He has a reward waiting for me …

Aches, pains, cold.  After putting in several minutes of hard work, my boys came into our warm home, happy to find hot cocoa and a loving, thankful Mama.  Someday, I am going to go home, too.  And I want to hear my Father say, “Well done, good and faithful servant.”  Maybe He will even have hot cocoa for us to share together.

Sparkles of Joy

Two and a half years ago:

It’s a cloudy Saturday.  The dishes and laundry scream “clean me!”  My to-do list is so long it could be used as ribbon to bedeck several beautifully wrapped packages.  I try to remember why I ever wanted to have children (who make messes, yucky smells, and lots of noise), the imperfect carpet and linoleum grind at me, I can’t remember what the word vacation means, my husband and I are in a rut in our relationship, my jeans are too tight, and I am too busy to make a dentist appointment much less squeeze in a coveted hair cut. 

Then it happened. “MOM!!!”  Four-year-old screaming bloody murder.  My husband and I run into the other room to find our son’s forearm hanging gruesomely crooked as terror fills his beautiful blue eyes.  I try to keep from throwing up, reminding myself to breathe as I wonder what to do next.  Between sobs he tells us he jumped off the couch and hit a desk chair (which he knows is a no-no).  Tim gathers a few things as I throw together a sack of hopefully edible items to send with my two men.  Baby and I remain at home, and I ask God to keep my son and our family safe.

They are off to the hospital, and I dissolve in a tirade of tears.  I call my pastor.  He remembers. Same song, different verse.  Two and a half years earlier, when my adorable boysie was learning to walk, he fractured his leg.  It was minor, but because we weren’t sure how it happened (we figured out when it must have happened after the intimidating doctor visit), our doctor informed us that she had to submit our name to the Department of Child Services to be investigated for child endangerment.  I struggled with shock and anger while our betraying doctor assured me, “I know you would never do anything to hurt your child.”  We went through the worst trial we had ever experienced, only to be waved through at the end of a grueling month as “probably not dangerous.”  Violated. Hurt. Labeled. (Reminds me of Someone I know.)  I heard my pastor at the other end of the line saying, “Sara, you need to trust God.”

I calm down as I cry out to God.  While fearing the worst, I know my God . . . I can trust the Creator of the universe.  A couple hours later they come home.  My boy’s arm is safe and secure in a new shell.  Tim looks tired, but he says it went pretty smoothly.  He didn’t feel that anyone doubted what happened.  It helps when the child is old enough to explain this time.  I start to breathe again.

Suddenly, even though I am completely drained, I look around and notice that my home is not hum-drum anymore.  I am so thankful to be here. The linoleum is looking shinier, and the carpet spots are hardly noticeable.  My husband and I kiss and hold each other a little longer.  After a nap I have an urge to clean my family’s clothes and cook them a delicious meal. I don’t mind having toys all over the floor, and wall smudges have become my art gallery. As I glance in the bathroom mirror, I think perhaps I am looking prettier than I have in days.  And at supper the whole family seems happy simply being together.  In coming weeks my heart warms at the sight of my boy with his orange cast and matching Tigger overalls.  I can’t help but giggle, while in the same breath praising and thanking God.  God got us through and did what He does best – turning ugly things into His beautiful artwork. He used a terrible day to sprinkle sparkles of joy on my heart.

What happened?  Did a broken arm suddenly and miraculously change everything?  No . . . the carpet was still blotched, the laundry piled high, and my hair seriously in need of reshaping . . . and, yes . . .  God adjusted my heart and healed my blindness.  If only it wouldn’t take hospital trips to make me truly appreciate God’s blessings.  By God’s grace, I’m getting there. 

God’s joy is always there for the taking.  In fact, it has your name and mine written on it by God’s hand with the most expensive and the most powerful permanent ink imaginable: Jesus’ precious blood.

This Christmas will you join me in taking time to open up, admire, put on, and gratefully enjoy His gift of joy?  Let’s close our eyes, take a couple of deep breaths, and accept this lavish gift.  With thankfulness we receive Your gift of joy, Father.  We know this gift is ours because of Jesus.  For He has come . . . and will come again. 

“Then the angel said to them, ‘Do not be afraid, for behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy which will be to all people. For there is born to you this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord.  And this will be the sign to you: You will find a Babe wrapped in swaddling cloths, lying in a manger.’ And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying: ‘Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, goodwill toward men!”
Luke 2:10-14 
 
Update: Today my oldest son is a happy and healthy almost seven-year-old.  And I am getting more used to dusting off my priceless gift of joy.

Special thanks to http://poppiesatplay.blogspot.com/2011/11/joy-to-world.html for the above image.