This summer for the 4th of July, my family and I watched the fireworks in the heart of our city. We laid out a blanket near the riverbank of the downtown area, surrounded by tall buildings and sparkling streetlights. As darkness settled over the horizon, we saw spectators in fishing boats and excited passersby in brightly colored glow sticks. In front of our view was a large bridge filled with people waiting with eager anticipation for the fireworks show we all were gathered to view. Then suddenly…BOOM!
I recently learned a valuable lesson in the power of prayer from a toad. Have you ever discovered that God sometimes speaks to us in the most unlikely ways? If we look around, He uses our everyday experiences to reveal His profound truths. I was reading the book Frog and Toad Together with my kids, I had one of those spiritual “aha!” moments.
Last summer my kids and I planted a small garden for the very first time. We planted small lettuce and tomato plants, and were very excited when a couple of weeks later the lettuce plants began flourishing. The lettuce grew so quickly that we were eating salads from our new home-grown lettuce in a few short weeks. But after about a month or so, we noticed something strange.
I didn’t know what to expect when I walked through the doors of the Great Hall. I grasped my conference binder in one hand and lugged a heavy tote bag in the other. The large conference room was filled with round tables and smiling faces. A friend warmly greeted me and invited me to her table. I breathed a sigh of relief and began to relax. “This is going to be good.” I thought to myself.
I remember singing the song “I’ve got the joy down in my heart” as a child. Singing about joy is one thing. But how do we truly live lives filled with a deep, unshakable joy in the midst of difficult trials? Join me on Alisa’s blog Flourishing Today for a guest post I had the privilege to write for her ministry!
Do you remember playing the game “telephone” in elementary school? Everyone sits in a circle and a special “secret” is whispered into a child’s ear. The secret is passed around the circle, one whisper at a time, until everyone has heard the message. By the time the message has made it around the circle, usually the secret has been so distorted that it is hardly recognized by the one who began the game.
“I’m so sorry, Mrs. Baker, but we can’t allow you to withdraw from your account today.”
I stared at the bank teller in utter confusion as she handed me back my driver’s license. All I need is twenty bucks–I can’t have twenty dollars from my own account? I wondered in astonishment. I started to develop a sinking feeling in my stomach. Trying to retain my composure, (and grateful that no one was in line behind me), I asked her what the problem was.
When I was about three years old, my parents threw me the biggest birthday party of all time. Though the only part I actually remember from my party was a large, bearded magician standing in front of me as his “magic” dove pooped on our living room floor! The pictures of this birthday bash revealed dozens of friends and family, party hats, festive decorations, and loads of food. I’m sure it was every toddler’s dream, but it was definitely the last party my parents attempted on such a large scale!
“Christin, you are pretty, but it’s too bad that you’re black.”
Her words pierced my soul like a razor-sharp dagger. I was in Central America, thousands of miles from my home on a college study abroad program. The beauty of the tropical trees, vibrant flowers and sights of the city were so inviting. But at that moment I felt unwelcome. Unwanted. Utterly despised and rejected.
It was a bleak fall day, just weeks before Thanksgiving. I was in the first trimester of my fourth pregnancy, when I realized I was bleeding.
“Oh God, please.” I whispered.
A subsequent call to my OB landed me in the office that very afternoon. Hoping for the best and praying against the worst, I swallowed the huge lump in my throat and waited.