Sometimes you’re feeling down, maybe really down… and your eyes light on something out of the blue… something that makes you smile. Today it’s one of my daughter’s simple deer drawings. The notepad is lying open, because she’s working on her book, in my room, on the floor… because she never likes to be alone. They are all over the house, the books she creates… millions of them! She’s already the author and illustrator of many animal books about puppy dogs, deer, and lions! If you’re struggling today, I hope this brightens your day; I find that children’s art always makes me smile. I love the innocence and cute charm of their simple pictures, don’t you?
Today I can choose to look for the silver lining… the many gifts God gives me in spite of my struggles. There’s a mockingbird chirping outside of my window. Her mate has been feeding her yellow flowers all week long. It’s been so much fun to discover the male sitting atop our shed, being the lookout, then sailing into the woods, only to return and dash in to please her feeding her the delicious food he has found just for her. She’s chirped for him to come when she’s hungry. We’ve watched in awe at how he’s taken care of her. We laughed as I tried to capture the beautiful moment, only to see her “poop” on the deck. My daughter and I laughed until we almost cried! It was the silver lining in a moment that was not perfect.
I had perfection in mind for this weekend, with everything laid out exactly how it should go. But I forgot, as I still sometimes do, that my God doesn’t work like that. Everybody has free will, and because of that free will, there will be interruptions and problems which may interfere with my plans coming to fruition. But God’s plans always come to fruition, and His plans are the best, no matter what it looks like on the outside. I know this is how God works, but I forgot this weekend. I became extremely discouraged when a family argument prevented us from getting something completed that I felt was extremely important.
And now as I write, God is at this moment revealing to me that He allowed it; not only because our family needed prayer time more than project time, but that He wanted me to see that this is often the struggle my husband has. My husband wants to “check things off the list.” He is learning that his list often does not coincide with what God wants him to do first. Well… in experiencing this frustration for myself this weekend, I realize now that God allowed it, so I could experience all the emotions my husband experiences when he doesn’t get to “check off that important item.” This helps me to better understand my husband, so I can keep praying for him. It also provides my husband an opportunity to empathize with me, because he knows exactly how it feels when something doesn’t get done.
God has a different checklist in mind than ours. His checklist is less about things getting done, and more about people’s hearts being changed to be more like Jesus. It’s a guarantee that if it comes down to a project getting done, or prayer time for hearts to be changed, God is going with the heart. Maybe we need to be less about getting things done, and more about spending time with God so he can change us. Yes, God cares about our projects too; but He cares more about our individual walk with Jesus. He cares so much, that when He knows a stormy argument is going to cause an upset, He provides the silver linings along the way; to give us hope, and to encourage us so we won’t give up!
During the weekend which did not go as planned, God planned His gifts ahead of time, because He knew I’d need them to keep my spirit afloat when I felt myself sinking. Because of my abusive childhood, I tend to get extremely discouraged when there’s a family argument. I begin to listen to lies that tell me no one cares and that I’m not loved. As a child scapegoat living in a completely dysfunctional home, I was blamed for everything; neglected and ignored, told I should feel guilty, and that I ruined everything. The problems were not even about me. But when circumstances come along that feel familiar, so comes a spiritual attack, and I will feel myself drowning in discouragement. Though I’ve learned to battle the lies with the truth, sometimes I forget to use my power and authority in Jesus Christ and tell the devil to sit on a tack!
The only way to chase away those lies is through prayer. Why? Because we can’t count on our emotions. Evil spirits lie to us, and strive to cause strife, division, and isolation in our families. But as my husband reminded my whole family last night; because our kids are fed and clothed and live in a nice clean house, some people may think from the outside that our family has it all together; just as people might have thought my family had it all together when I was a child. However, the truth is that all families struggle, but there is a vast difference when Jesus is in the middle of a family, as opposed to when he is not. My husband remarked that though Jesus was not at the center of my family when I was growing up, Jesus is at the center of OUR family now! All five of us have received Jesus into our hearts, and we all desire to have a relationship with him.
Therefore, Jesus has always been with our family, even when we’ve been on different walks in our pursuit of him, and even when we haven’t understood how a healthy family functions. For, neither of us experienced God’s truths taught in our families; the truth that we are completely forgiven for all of our sins, the truth that we can battle lies with prayer, the truth that we are loved and cherished by God unconditionally, and so much more! We are creating a whole new generation for our children and children’s children; as we all pursue God and learn together, and find that we are loved beyond measure! Because our family pursues Jesus, and because our family prays together, we can have hope, and be encouraged that God is taking care of us through it all!
And God knows we need tangible proof of His love for us. After all, we are only human. A huge silver lining that carried us through this weekend was an on-the-spot invitation from our dear family friends, as we left church. It came when George said, ” Hey! Do you guys wanna come over later for a barbecue?” My daughter couldn’t wait. She was watching the time, and asked if our friends still had their cats. They did.
It was the most delightful evening we’ve had in a long time: laughter with friends, delicious grilled chicken, and another unexpected guest to add to the fun. My precious friend, Kim, even served homemade strawberry shortcake in honor of my boys’ belated birthday. She also served my husband’s favorite; rhubarb sauce. We even had the heavy whipping cream at home, which we were gratefully able to contribute, because my husband had bought some the day just the day before. We don’t normally have this item in hand, but we bought some to use with our new ice cream maker. God even cares about the tiny details! The night ended with everyone hanging out near the chicken coop. The chickens’ silly antics made us laugh. Their individual personalities came out, and many of them enjoyed being carried or sitting on laps! It was just a really special night, when another family made our family feel important and loved. God orchestrated that!
I know that it’s these silver linings on which God wants me to focus; not the hardships, even though it’s difficult when you feel those strong emotions, and the lies feel so true. Though yesterday was tough, there was an absolutely glorious sunset last night, reminding me that God is Lord above us all; watching over everything and everyone. And right before I went to bed, a text message came from my pretty, cheerful friend, asking if she could take my daughter today for a play date. It couldn’t have come at a better time, and with a girlfriend my daughter absolutely adores! Now I will have some time to write, clean, and be creative; which I’ve been trying to do, but just have not been able to find a slice of time that works for me. Even though things are far from perfect, the silver lining which shines brightest, is knowing my family is pursuing Jesus through it all… every single day… together.
I pray for you to find the sweet silver linings today, which God has already gifted to you in advance, because he wants to bring a smile to your face. When things don’t go as planned, don’t be dismayed. Remember this: “For I know the plans I have for you,’ declares the LORD, ‘plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. Then you will call on me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you” (Jer. 29:11-12 New International Version).
I’m going to meet with God today, and ask Him to brighten my day, and the day of anyone who reads this message of hope, truth, and encouragement. Today, I pray God reveals many of the silver linings He has prepared just for you, in Jesus’ name. May God continue to brighten my day… and yours!