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When Life Isn't Pretty

January 23, 2023


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“Mommy! There’s water all over the bathroom floor!” hollered my oldest child, almost in a state of tears. Worried that she was the cause of the flood in the bathroom, she wanted mommy to know right away.


Quickly, I ran from the kitchen to a sight that no homeowner ever wants to see—about a half inch of standing water over most of the bathroom floor and a continuous fountain of water pouring forth from the toilet. Thankfully, I had the presence of mind to shut off the water valve behind the toilet. Immediately, I grabbed the “rag bag” from the hall closet and began mopping up the water which was clean, not sewer (a blessing!).


In time, my husband and I realized that the water had seeped under the bathroom walls and into our bedroom and closets. The water had caused damage beyond what we could deal with ourselves, and now we had to call in the professionals. After multiple calls with insurance agents and restoration specialists, the noisy hum of powerful fans filled our house, and the drying process had begun.


I had planned on sharing a hospitality post with you today entitled, “A Heart for Hospitality”, yet an unwanted weekend guest (aka the water) rearranged our weekend plans and added an undesired layer of stress to our lives. I hope never to host such a guest again, but God was in control of this sneaky intruder.

 

God has been faithfully, patiently working almost daily in my life about my attitude, and the toilet overflow incident was a perfect time for God to continue shaping my often-unthankful heart. Even in the middle of mopping up water, God heard my quick and somewhat desperate prayer for help, and His grace was truly sufficient for me each moment.


Psalm 138:3, “In the day when I cried thou answeredst me, and strengthenedst me with strength in my soul.”


Do you ever feel soul weary? That mind-numbing weariness unrelated to physical or even emotional weariness? God is able to strengthen us in our very souls, our innermost recesses where only He can enter.


Debilitating weariness threatened to enter my mind and heart during my adrenaline propelled thrust to clean up the small disaster, yet God gave me strength in my soul.

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God has been teaching me to give thanks in every thing, and a recent verse from my devotional time came to my mind in the midst of dragging sopping towels to the bathtub.


My brethren, count it all joy when ye fall into divers temptations (James 1:2).


I had an opportunity right before me to consider a trial with joy! While cleaning up water from a toilet overflow and wondering what the future would be with restorations, I had a firsthand opportunity to cry out to God and to sense His presence with me.


With God’s illumination, He helped me see this trial through eyes of joy, not necessarily joy in the difficulty, but joy in God working personally in my life. Quietly, my heart thanked God for this opportunity to walk through a trial WITH Him and learn more about Him. This is joy—that quiet confidence knowing God will care for me in the midst of a trial.


God lovingly prompted me throughout the hard day to look, like a hunter seeking the precious treasure, for His hand of provision. Though choosing gratitude in the midst of struggle was difficult, my heart found peace as I forced myself to thank God in the midst of a trial.


After a full day gone completely askew, so many blessings came to my mind, and I had the opportunity to praise God for these blessings before falling asleep. Some of the blessings were

· Finding the water before it caused even more damage

· God’s Word ministering to my heart

· A sweet neighbor watching my kids while I made phone calls and interacted with the servicemen

· Still getting to go to Culver’s for Friday night supper (our family’s weekly tradition!)


So why am I sharing all the events of my weekend with you and the thoughts and verses in my sometimes-warbled mind? To encourage you. To give hope and strength to your heart.


Am I perfect or trying to present to you that I’m perfect? A thousand times no. I struggle intensely with the flesh and sadly have spent much of my thirty plus years responding wrongly to difficulties. But I have a wonderful God Who is so patient with me and is teaching me and molding me to be more like His Son.


So often life does not go MY way. Yet am I doomed to despair? No. Can I still have joy even though my life is so imperfect? Yes, I can have joy in God and His dealings with me.

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Images of perfection from social media often haunt me and at times even taunt me. The image of a perfectly decorated home and a life well-planned and organized seems ever at my fingertips but always beyond my weak grasp.


Sometimes comparing my life to others has literally stopped me dead in my tracks. God is teaching me that the life of joy comes from looking only at Him and not around at others and certainly not at circumstances. I can rejoice in God’s gracious dealings with others, but only when I focus my mind on His dealings with me can I have gratitude.


Life is not perfect. The sooner I accept the fallen imperfection of my life, the quicker my heart can focus on gratitude to God for His personal, magnanimous dealings with me.


Friend, please be comforted that my life is so far from perfect. I have no beautiful images of a staged life to show you today, and the pictures in this post were just a few snapped on my phone.


Even though so much of our lives is not very pretty, we can see beauty every day when we purposefully look for God. When we see life through God’s eyes, then we can see the beauty around us!


-Ashley


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