Archives for posts with tag: Count it all Joy

DSCN5248DSCN5236

DSCN5233

After a quiet Sunday morning of taking my time to drink my coffee, read, pray, even take some photos of a few things on the deck and blog a bit, I went out to the car to leave for nursery duty at church and saw…not one, but TWO flat tires. And I’m not talking questionable or just a little low on air. I’m talking F  L  A  T.

DSCN5250

And I felt a bit deflated for sure. More than just a bit.

And the thought hit me that I better walk around the side to see if the other two were flat as well. Relief. Phew. They were both good. Am guessing I ran over some glass or something on the left side. Anyway, moving on…

So, I asked my husband if I could use his truck, (he said, ‘yes’…and I was proud of him because he didn’t say a lot of the other words I thought I might hear…) and I left, and only showed up a few minutes late for nursery duty. I got to care for some sweet little ones and then went to the worship service, and sang songs and heard lots of words of truth and encouragement.

And I’m home now and I’m trying to focus on the good things to be thankful for. I mean, I  had a truck to drive home right? Or, I could’ve been in the car when we got two flat tires. Or…even worse, Tanner could’ve been driving. And having gratitude for things can be easy to list, but sometimes, sometimes it’s tough to feel.  And honestly, that’s where I am…

I’m still feeling deflated…And it’s so not about the tires.

Flat tires are a teeny-tiny inconvenience…a small thing. But it’s a teeny small thing on top of lots of other small things and a few really big things. One on top of another pushing the air out of yours truly. And I’m just being honest that I just feel like that so very flat tire.  And my husband kept saying, I’ve never seen “two flat tires” like that…and it felt as though he was implying that someone had intended to give me flat tires, like I was on someone’s hit list or something. And that didn’t help me either… Neither did “discussing” some of the other challenges we’re facing. And the deflated part of me started filling up with hot angry fumes that were so not helping.  Then I said words that I wished I could take back and it would’ve been better if I had used the words I thought my husband might say this morning, because mine hurt a lot more than a few cuss words would. Yep.  Deflated is a pretty appropriate word. And two deflated tires were pretty symbolic of two not so encouraged people.

BUT….BUT I love that there’s a place I can go with all of that. One that I can turn to. Yes, Triple A will get a call today (soon), but aside from some short conversations and niceties, all they can do is help me get those tires fixed or drop it off somewhere that can help. But they can’t fill up that void when life kind of sucks the air out of us, or just ‘sucks’ period. We all go through times like that.  No matter what our walk of life, there are times when we just need to be lifted up a bit, filled up a bit.  The irony for me is that often the ‘lifting up’ of my heart, emotions, is determined by what or who I’m ‘lifting up’ in action. Yep. That’s the truth.

Because life does get hard. In waves. And some of the hard is just life and some of the hard is our consequences. And some of the hard is in our control and some of it is  so not, but is in the hands of those we’re doing life with. For the good or the bad, for better or for worse. And so many people say “God won’t give you more than you can handle.”  Well…I can’t find that anywhere in my Bible. I read, “Because he has set his love upon Me, I will deliver him; I will set him on high because he has known my name. He shall call upon me and I will answer him in trouble.” Psalm 92:14,-15  It says “IN TROUBLE.”  I read about how the Lord is our help THROUGH struggles, WITH Him. And I know with certainty that God HAS allowed so much in my life that was WAY more than I could handle. I mean, case in point, we had a 2 year span when we had 6 teenagers in the house at the same time. These six teenagers were not visitors, mind you… they were living there because they are mine 🙂  It was way more than I could handle at times, but was God with us THROUGH it? YES. And another thing. My husband would be the first to say that a lot of his choices have brought a lot of heartache…aches that were way more than I could ‘handle’.  Nope, I’m not a “God-won’t-give-you-more-than-you-can-handle person. I”m a “What-God-allows-He-uses-and-walks-with-us through-it-ALL” kind of gal.

And He does. And He has.

So that. That is what I will focus on. He is who I will lift up…and guess what?  It helped to lift me up for sure to focus on what’s true rather than what I feel. I sat on the deck and read… and was happy to see that the coffee cup that I chose this morning pre-flat tire awareness, was this one.  Hope.  Good thing to focus on.

DSCN5253

And do you know what else is cool? This morning, the verses I read were from James 1.  If you’re familiar with James 1 you might smile a bit right about now.  Yep, I read about ‘counting it ALL joy’… and persevering when things aren’t so great. Funny. I had even taken a photo of the Bible reading this morning.  I loved the way the light was shining on the page and me and my so analogy-driven self was thinking how that Light was shining on the words on the outside, but were so lighting me up on the inside. (Yep. My grandfather called me ‘sappy’ for  a reason.)

DSCN5236

And here’s another PRE-flat tire awareness photo that I took this morning…

DSCN5233

And do you know why I took this one?  Because it’s such a visual of needing supports. The Mandevilla plant my mother-in-law gave me would be flapping and flying in the wind or grounded on the cement if it didn’t have supports to cling to. Kind of like me. Triple A, the Word, friends and family, my church, and my God…boy do I need supports in my life. Maybe that’s a flip side of days like today… I’m so aware of my needs for supports and am not quite as Ms. Independent as I may seem. I need people. I need God. I need Triple A. A lot.

And here’s another photo I took PRE-Flat Tire. DSCN5248

This cute little chickadee actually was still for a bit which is not a small thing. Because these little birds usually flit about like crazy. Birds have been a constant reminder to me lately of how there’s provision for today…this moment. (Matthew 6:26). And I’ve needed that reminder.

So, I guess I’ve needed a lot of reminders today. And that’s the cool thing…they were right in front of me even before I realized I needed them.

And I sat on the deck and got my eyes of me and my little pity-party and saw some cool things…DSCN5255

Some vincas from a sweet neighbor…

DSCN5259DSCN5249

DSCN5256…and here’s my absolute favorite tea cup bird feeder. The wind had gotten a hold of our umbrella and actually turned over the table with the pot that held this. But it’s a reminder that even our favorite material things don’t last. Tires. Cars. Tea Cups. They are the stuff, the temporal stuff. They don’t last. Gotta focus on what does. Yep, another good reminder for me.

So, I sooo hope that you could not relate to any of this…that your life is going awesome with very few blips in the road and that you’re thinking that my flat-tire-catalyst for a confession of deep need is totally foreign to you. But for those of you who may feel a bit ‘deflated’ today…am hoping that me reminding myself of some things might encourage you a bit as well.  Remember the mandevilla (we need supports, like each other), Remember the chickadee (there’s provision for today), and remember the broken tea cup and flat tires (the temporal is just that- short-lived…let’s hold on to the eternal, let go of the stuff…)  And, when we feel ‘deflated’, there’s one we can go to to fill us up. Remember the God of all hope. Paul said it bestin Romans 15:13…”May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.”    Yes.  That. That is like air in the tires…like breath to my lungs, like hope to my heart.

Keep Pressing On ~

Heather

p.s. Will probably be blogging about the analogy of keys and locksmiths tomorrow because guess who (me) forgot to tell the Triple A guy that we can’t lock the car… cause the key doesn’t work externally…and so I’ll probably be getting a call from the tire place at around 8 a.m. or so saying they can’t get in the car.  Yep. There are lots of analogies for a blog on keys and locksmiths. Stay tuned 🙂

DSCN5243

“Unless the Lord had been my help, my soul would have settled in silence. If I say, “My foot slips”, Your mercy O’ Lord, will hold me up. In the multitude of my anxieties within me, Your comforts delight my soul.”

photo 2

“All”  is a great word throughout Scripture.

  “I can do ALL things through Christ who strengthens me.” (Philippians  4:13)

ALL things work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to His purpose.”

“Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than ALL we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, 21 to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout ALL generations, for ever and ever!” (Ephesians 3:20, 21)

“Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of ALL comfort who comforts us in ALL our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves receive from God.: 2 Corinthians 1:3-4
 
“But we have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this ALL-surpassing power is from God and not from us.”
2 Corinthians 4:7
 
This list goes on and on and encourages us to trust a God who is all-knowing, all-powerful, always present, and cares for us all. It is so incredible to search the scriptures and try to fathom the depth of how big and how small, how great and how involved in the details, God truly is.
 
But there are other verses about “All”.  Many other verses.  The one I’m thinking on today is in James.  The “Count it ALL joy” verse. It doesn’t say, ‘Count it all joy when you are blessed beyond belief”, or “count it all joy when things go your way”.   This verse says, “Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds…”  So you’re telling me that I’m supposed to enJOY trials?   To find the silver lining in ALL things?
 
That verse is one I memorized as a young teenager.  But honestly, it wasn’t until recently that I really began to delve into what that truly means.  I had started studying the book of James in early February.  This verse is in the first chapter, so I had been thinking about it a lot.  I can say, like most of  us, that in life, I’ve had my share of trials and rough patches for sure. But I always focused on the ending part of the verse that emphasized the growth in  our trials. 
 
I’d skip past the “Count it all joy” part to the “for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.  If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives generously to all without reproach, and it will be given him..”  James 1: 2-5   I missed the joy part and focused on the growth piece.  The end result rather than the process. 
 
But as I started studying James, I found myself thinking on the “Count it ALL joy” part.  The duty of Joy.  And ofcourse, when you study verses, it seems that God will give ample opportunity to practice them!  Thus, the phone call from my husband… 
 
“Heather, Josh is in the hospital.  It’s serious.  We’re not sure what’s wrong, but I’ll call you back as soon as I know something.”  I was in North Carolina and they were 4 hours away in another state.  Turns out that Josh had a serious condition, pancreatitis, and would be in the hospital for at least a week. (What brought him to this condition was one of my deep heartaches in itself, but that’s another story for another time.)  So, we decided that I’d finish out the week caring for our family here, and then stay with Josh at the hospital on the weekend.
 
When I saw Josh, I was so thankful.  Thankful for the time, the ability to see him face to face. The days together were a gift for me as I was able to spend time, pray, talk and care for him.  But as Sunday afternoon approached, a sense of dread and fear was just rising up in  me.  I didn’t want to leave.  It’s that feeling that I’ve often felt as a mom…that feeling of knowing that you can’t care for everyone in the way that you want to. I felt stretched knowing that whatever I did, just didn’t feel like it was enough.  For anyone. 
 
I left with tears in my eyes and a pit in my stomach, trying to hold on to hope but feeling so torn.  His having a hard day of feeling “trapped” in the hospital didn’t make it any easier to leave. My youngest son and I began the trek home.  The sun was out and it helped to soften the bitter cold of the February day.  As we drove, my son listened to his headphones and I had a bit of quiet and solace of praying through and singing and trying to gather my thoughts of what was behind us and what would come in the week ahead. 

It was a peaceful trip until….all of a sudden, we heard a loud rumbling sound and the car started shaking. “What the Heck?!!”Tanner yelled at the top of his lungs as I looked back into the rearview mirror and saw our front tire bouncing down the highway. I was traveling 75 miles per hour in the left lane, and our tire had totally detached from the wheel. I quickly diverted oncoming cars and pulled over to the side. We made it to the roadside and it seemed incredibly quiet after the noises from the car and shouts from Tanner.

Long story short, help would be on it’s way “within an hour”. So we had some time to sit in the car. I got out my pen and little notebook, and as I talked with Tanner about how thankful I was that we were okay, I started thinking about that verse again. “Count. It. ALL. JOY.”

And I started writing. “count”….one to one correspondence…each… “All…every single solitary thing.” Here’s a photo of my little list…

countitalljoy

I work with young students who can struggle with counting. One to one correspondence is a crucial skill for students to learn to accurately and truly count, for so many times, they will lump counters together and miss the “each” part. It’s imperative to count each item. So, I decided, I’d really try to count “EACH” bit of the “ALL” in this situation. I’d separate it and acknowledge it…joyfully? Well, I’d at least try.

I was doing real well, at first at least. The mechanic came and said he could help us and was really impressed that we were okay after he saw where the tire was on the highway and where we were. He started working and I thought, “Yep, I can count this as joy. I can have a good attitude…”
And then, “Ma’am?”
Uh-oh.
“Ma’am, I can’t loosen this lugnut. It’s just not going to budge.” I might just need to tow you to the nearest garage to have it worked on. Well, my wheels were turning then as I realized it was Sunday night and just before 6:00, and that there were probably very few places open. Frustration was rising for sure. But my son was watching and listening, and I was very aware that how I responded really mattered. We had prayed in the car not just for us but for the mechanic and the situation, and I knew that it was time to truly count it ALL joy.

Right about that time, as I was standing on the side of a busy interstate with a mechanic, we saw a large blue work truck riding down the road, beeping it’s horn loudly as the driver waved his arms. “Well, I think they’re coming for us”, the mechanic smiled. Long story short, they were. It was a new state program that helped stranded travelers (a.k.a. me and Tanner) with their vehicles. And guess what? They had a machine, you know, like the one NASCAR uses, to loosen the lug nut. JOY. Pure Joy.

As the mechanic and I waited for the newest ‘crew’ to fix the tire, I showed him my “Count. It. All. Joy.” list. As I pointed to the word “ALL”, I said, “I think lugnut goes right about here…” And as I remember his smile I can’t help but think we all felt Joy. Pure Joy.

So, “ALL”? It’s a word that is ALL-encompassing. The “Counting it ALL joy” includes immovable lugnuts and pancreatitis and diversions in our days. It includes heart-aches and sickness, and bills and broken things. It includes ALL the nitty gritty details of our lives. And what gives us the JOY? The inviting God to be in ALL of it with us. WITH us. And He takes the brokenness, and the diversions, and the struggles…and fills the void with HIMSELF. He fills the voids as we invite Him in and carries us in ways that we couldn’t imagine, and that truly brings joy. Surprising, beautiful joy! ALL joy…

Oh, and an addendum to the story? Remember the pancreatitis? Well, its onset was the catalyst for some very really changes in my son’s life. For the cause, the very thing which brought on the pancreatitis in my son’s life…is now gone. Gone. And I am so counting it all joy. I’m thanking God even for pancreatitis and how He can use ANYthing, ALL things, to deliver and free up and fill. Every, single, solitary thing.

“Now to Him who is able to do immeasurably more than ALL we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, to Him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen.” Ephesians 3:20-21

Amen.

With Joy~
Heather

2011-02-11 11.10.52

Amarelo, Amarillo, Yellow…

Yellow lemons add a bit of sunshine to my kitchen

and brighten up my day.  When life gives me lemons…

am thinking I’ll  just throw them in a bowl and….

blog about them!  Literally and figuratively…

 

“Count it all Joy….”

James 1: 2

http://wheresmybackpack.com/2014/02/07/travel-theme-yellow/