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Posts Tagged ‘despair’

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Whether hubby is sipping his morning brew with me, or not, I have not had my morning coffee alone in weeks.

We moved the chairs where each morning, we sit, so as to make room for the Christmas tree. This furniture rearrangement has allowed me new morning companions.

As I sit, sipping my brew, awakening to the day, my attention will be pulled to the deck outside the front patio doors. As the sky just starts to lighten, the tiniest of birds will begin their dance of the dawn. They flutter around, stopping to sip water from the deck floor.

As they dance lightly through their morning ritual, I participate in my own. I read the news, and feel the heaviness from around the world.

But, my attention has been constantly pulled from my heaviness, by the delight of my feathered friends, who are unaware, and unconsumed by the lack of peace in this world.

Just days before Christmas, I finally ‘heard’ the message in my petit little visitors daily dance, as I was listening to the Henry Wadsworth Longfellow carol, “I Heard the Bells on Christmas Day.”

“And in despair I bowed my head:
There is no peace on earth,” I said,
“For hate is strong and mocks the song
Of peace on earth, good will to men.”

Then pealed the bells more loud and deep:
God is not dead, nor doth he sleep;
The wrong shall fail, the right prevail,
With peace on earth, good will to men

These little birds awaken each day, with not one meal saved for the day to come. They rely on their instincts and on provision every day of their lives. Like our own lives, some days are ones of plenty, and some are days of want.

But, they dance and sing through it all, as though they know the words of John 16:33,

“I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.”

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ca8b8761a65cf7485827a2b0c79e036bThe book “Something from Nothing,” by Phoebe Gilman is a delightful tale of the childhood of a boy named Joesph, and his grandfather. Joseph’s grandfather makes him a blanket, and from that a jacket, then a vest, a tie, then a handkerchief, and finally all that is left is a button. At the same time, a parallel story is enfolding under the floorboards, where the mice family live, and they too make use of each and every scrap that falls (literally) into their … hands.

Not long ago, this book came to my mind as I was repeating over and over (as I have done since a young child when I was first read “The Little Train that Could”) I think I can, I think I can.

The idea of making something from nothing became very clear in my head as I was driving to the grocery store. The budget was tight … really tight, and the amount I had to spend on groceries was almost half of what I had originally planned to spend.

I think I can, I think I can …

Although I left the house with the confidence that I could make something from nothing, my knees were knocking as I entered the grocery store, and my doubts were rising, that I could pull this off.

I think I can, I think I can …

As is often the case when I am out shopping, I whispered a familiar prayer as I was choosing my cart, “God, surprise me with what might be on sale that we might need this week.” Many times I have prayed that prayer, and wanted to giggle out loud at a sale on turkey, or a bottle of shampoo on clearance. Imagine the looks I would get, standing among the turkeys, hands and head lifted up and giggling like a fool!

I think I can, I think I can …

And through the aisles, the coolers, I went, pushing my cart, and pushing through my thoughts of how make something from nothing.

I think I can, I think I can …

At the cash, my goods were rung in, and placed back into a cart. The total … twenty dollars less than I had to spend …

I smiled broadly, paid my bill, and pushed my cart back through the parking lot to load my vehicle with all that was needed for our family.

As I started the car, the following song was playing on the radio, and the words that kept echoing in my head were:

“Whatever tomorrow brings,
Together we’ll rise and sing
That we won’t be shaken,
No, we won’t be shaken.”

And this song, and it’s message, brought me back to the story of Joseph in Something from Nothing. Both Joseph’s family, and that of the mice, were ones of struggle to have life, but …

they worked hard,
they loved their families extravagantly
they gave thanks for what they had

In our lives, it is so easy to drop our heads in despair when things get hard, when it seems we need to make something from nothing. But, what we have been given is of greater value than what is out of our reach, and for that we need to keep bowing our heads, but not in despair, but thanks and gratitude for all that has been lavished on us.

“Whatever will come my way …”

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As a parent who believes in prayer, praying for my kids has been a regular thing since even before they were conceived.

One of the realities of prayer is that it is really more about me, than the one who I am praying for, as I do agree with C.S. Lewis who said, “prayer changes me” in this clip from his Shadowlands story.

But this is not something that I was fully aware of when I was a young mom. In the early days of motherhood I prayed, anticipating that God would grant my every request. Much like Santa with my gift list at Christmas time, I think that I subconsciously believed that if I was obedient to Him (kind of the equivalent to “being a good little girl”) then God would reward me by meeting my every wish and desire that was expressed in my prayers to Him. I may have even believed that I deserved to have my prayers answered.

When my children were young I prayed that they would grow up healthy, would make wise choices, and that they would be opened to God’s leading in their future decisions, especially surrounding their choice of friends, career and their choice of future spouse. These are all good, and I am not saying that I do not wish those things for them, but that I now wish even more for them.

The reality is that character rarely is developed without the exposure to temptation, life is not fully appreciated without the threat of or reality of loss, some of the best choices in life are made on the heels of the stupidest mistakes in our lives, love is rarely long lasting without enduring the struggles, and dependence on God rarely comes without a season of questioning His ways.

Really, the best things in our lives have often been born out of disaster, death and despair. Failures, mistakes and heartbreaks have a way of opening our eyes to what really matters to us, they have a way of drawing us to cling to God like nothing else.

I don’t pray for disaster for our kids, but I also have lived long enough to know that the greatest growth in life can come from the greatest difficulties. I also have lived long enough to know that life is hard, mistakes get made and difficulties will come to everyone in time.

Now I pray that they might have strength, grace and courage when the rough stuff of life happens, and that they might grow closer to their Heavenly Father through it all.

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