He Was Watching Me
"Give thanks to the Lord for He is good. His love endures forever." Psalm 136:1
It was a Saturday, I believe. David was home which is not always the case on Saturdays leading up to Christmas. But he was home. The boys were home. We were all enjoying being together in our pajamas with no plans for the day. Spencer, being six, still enjoys "activities" and had asked to paint.
I gathered up painting supplies, cups of water to rinse our brushes, paper towels, and clear ornaments I had bought from an after Christmas sale a couple of years ago. Spencer set out to painting, and I followed suit. David worked away on an ornament, as well. Isaiah wasn't too interested in the activity, so he observed.
I began painting a Christmas tree with packages underneath, but I couldn't get it to look quite right, so I wiped it off. I started again, still....no go. I changed my painting plans and decided on a manger scene. It felt good to focus on Jesus, the center of the season, as I painted a hay filled manger, Mary on her knees bowing before Jesus, and Joseph standing above, almost as a guard, with staff in hand.
Two things about me when I paint:
1. I'm never 100% satisfied with any of my paintings. Never. I can always find something or many things I think should be changed or didn't turn out right. I constantly critique myself.
2. I don't like to paint the same thing twice. Ever. Hate it. Same with floral arrangements at work. I don't like making matching sets of anything. I don't know why. But it's like nails on a chalkboard when I have to repeat creations.
Back to my story. I finished up the manger scene and made the decision that there was nothing else I could do to it. My gifts and talents are limited, so I was done.
On the back, I began to paint the name, JESUS, in large curly letters. But I messed up.
So I took a paper towel to wipe away the letters so I could begin again.
By this point, David had joined Spencer and was helping him finish up his "Nightmare Before Christmas" piece. ha He loves that cartoon while Isaiah despises it. Anyway....
Suddenly and without warning, my ornament broke into, what seemed like, a hundred pieces on to the floor.
Anger rose up inside of my chest and into my face as it grew hot then hotter.
"Uggghhhhh!!" I growled as I began to pick up the shattered shards of glass out of the carpet.
David came to help, "It's okay."
Spencer said, "Paint it again, Momma."
"Nah, I don't think I want to," I pouted.
After cleaning up the mess, I perched on the couch. I'm sure my lower lip was stuck out, and I looked like a three year old.
I took a few deep breaths. It was only an ornament. It's REALLY not worth being upset about. I resolved not to be angry, but I wasn't repainting the dang thing.
Spencer said, "But Momma, you never give up. You should paint it again."
For as long as I can remember, whenever the boys want to give up, I say, "You're a Holt and a Smith. And Holts and Smiths NEVER give up."
I never knew if they were listening. But they were. Spencer certainly was.
So I got up out of my pity party of one and rejoined David and Spencer at the table to recreate the manger scene.
With each stroke, I thought about God and His love for sending His only son to die for us. I thought about how scared Mary must have been that night. I thought about Joseph and how difficult it must have been for him. I thought about how quitting could have crossed their minds a time or two.
And I thought about my own son who noticed that I am not a quitter.
2016 has been full of opportunities to quit. There were times I wanted to quit on relationships. There were days at work that I wanted to run away and hide. There was even a time when quitting on my marriage ran through my mind.
But I know my children are watching me. They notice when we persevere and when we quit. Others notice, too. They see us suffer through sickness, death of loved ones, marital trials, drama with our children, and they take notes. Our survival stories help give others hope. Some days, it's what comforts us in knowing we will be okay.
There are absolutely times when getting out of a relationship are not only necessary but the best thing you can do for yourself and your family.
But there are times we are called to fight for friendships, for marriage, for ministries, for purposes, and for ourselves.
If you find yourself in a place today where you don't want to "paint" that same picture again. Maybe you find yourself tired and weary, cry out to God and ask Him to download wisdom into your situation. Read His word, a soothing and healing balm, and let it wash over your heart and soul. When he tells you to fight, pick yourself up off the floor and fight with your last breath.
When God reveals His will to you in your situation, you know what you are supposed to do, no matter what, with full confidence. If he says, "Stay," you can STAY even if you don't know why you need to do so. If he says, "Go," you can go with confidence even if you don't know where you're going.
Tell Satan that he has no place in your life or in the life of your family, and that you are not going to allow him to steal from you, lie to you or destroy you. There will be dark days. Days you have to drag yourself through the mucky valleys with only a hope for a glorious mountaintop view. Drag yourself until you can crawl, crawl until you can walk, walk until you can run with what God has for you.
I want to encourage you that God will never leave you nor forsake you. He will fight for you and with you. He loves you beyond comprehension. You are His best idea. You are His grandest creation.
Never give up! Never, ever, ever give up!
Father, thank you for never giving up on me. Thank you for being an awesome God who gives us hope for a better tomorrow. Thank you for fighting for us and with us on every battleground we face. Thank you that your word is a mighty weapon in our hand that we can wield at our enemies and walk away victorious! Thank you for being an awesome God full of mercy and wonder. Thank you for creating us in your image. Thank you for being you! Fill us with your wisdom so that we always know your will. In Jesus's name. Amen.