Lesson 3: Money isn’t everything. (People are thirsty.)

Last year, we worked on some projects around the house. The most expensive project was to get our home painted. After getting several estimates, we picked the company and scheduled the job. 

We’ve had our house painted twice before, and usually they finish completely in 1-2 days. So, I made sure to take a before picture because I expected it to be done quickly. 

Only, it wasn’t going as planned.

They started late, and instead of having an entire crew show up, we had two people show up. It was a husband and wife team, and I will call them Jake and Joanna (not their real names). On the first day, they power-washed the house, and on the next day, they started replacing the boards and painting. 

Day after day, they backed into our driveway, emptied their van of supplies, and started working while his radio blasted music from the ’70s and ’80s. After an entire week, we were concerned and a bit frustrated, mostly because we had no idea it would take this long. One day they didn’t get to come because of car trouble and some of the other days it rained. 

Have you experienced similar frustrations regarding a big project or expense?

After a few days, I came home around lunchtime, and they were sitting in their van to escape the heat. I lifted my hand to wave and headed to the front door. Right before I went in, I sensed that still small voice saying, “Bring water to them.” 

WHAT? 

Instead of getting water and bringing it to them, I turned around and went to the van, and asked if they wanted any cold water. He said, “No, ma’am, that’s ok.” 

So, I asked again, “Are you sure?  I have plenty of cold drinks inside.”  She shyly mentioned if I could bring some water, that would be great. I went inside and grabbed cold water bottles, orangeades, tea and got as much as I could carry out to them. 

He smiled big and said thank you.

My husband heard from the paint company owner, and he explained why it was taking so long. They were expecting a crew, but it didn’t work out. They should finish soon. His explanation seemed to satisfy us.   

Later that evening, as the painters cleaned up, my husband and I went outside to look around at the progress.  

Jake looked up at my husband and said, “Your wife saved us today!”

We both looked puzzled as he went on to explain, “Today was the hottest day, and at lunch, we realized we forgot our cooler with all of our drinks in it, and we were really thirsty. But, your wife brought us cold drinks. We loved that tea!” 

Thirst.

Do you know that moment when you feel tiny? If I could have fallen to my knees right then, I would’ve.  But instead, I went inside and grabbed more cold drinks for them to hydrate on the way home. 

God, forgive me. I was so worried about money and getting the job done quickly. I lost sight that there may be a purpose in the inconvenience.  

God whispered, “Bring water to them.” 

What if I missed it? What If my frustrations got the best of me?

God forgive me. It is just money, and people are thirsty. I honestly don’t care how the house looks. Please help me love them and love them well. 

The next morning, the wife knocked on the door and said, “Jake brought something for you – it is on the porch.” 

I went to look, and it was a beautiful plant in a watering can that he had painted. He told my husband that his mom had passed away last year, and this plant was a piece of hers.

I was so moved by it. I loved it, and it was such a sweet gesture.   

For the next several days, I waited to hear their van back into our driveway. I made them a casserole for breakfast and picked up cold sweet teas for them. I brought them drinks and made them brownies. 

On their last day here, we wrote them a Thank You card with a tip inside along with this verse: 

“The Lord bless you
and keep you;
the Lord make his face shine on you
and be gracious to you;
the Lord turn his face toward you
and give you peace.”
Numbers 6:24-26 NIV
 

The Blessing

I miss the sound of their truck backing into our driveway. I miss that music blasting into my window, and I love my freshly painted home. I miss Jake and Joanna, and I’ve even tried to google them.  

Thankfully, I have their beautiful plant to remind me of one of my favorite lessons from 2020:  Money isn’t everything (People are thirsty).

For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in. Matthew 25:35 NIV

Have you experienced a time where that still small voice whispered and you moved? What did you learn? I’d love to hear your story!

I am sharing the lessons I learned from 2020 that I am bringing into 2021. You can click on the links below to read:
Lesson 1: The sky is not falling. (Don’t be afraid.)
Lesson 2: Go for it! (You have nothing to lose.)

Lesson 2: Go for it! (You have nothing to lose.)

Hi, my name is Michelle, and I am a control freak. 

When I think of the little girl in me, I understand why control is so paramount. Even now, being in control feels like survival, and losing control triggers me into a slow spiral of complete helplessness. I equate control with safety, and when I am not in control, it can be terrifying.

But, what if it’s not? 

If I could sum up 2020 in a sentence, I am not in control of anything.

I had my future planned. And suddenly, everything changed.

It triggered me and brought back my old friends: panic, anxiety, and fear. They unpacked their bags, and for a while, they were my constant companions, especially at night when they whispered, “What are you going to do?” It was just like old times. I started planning my next move while anticipating all that could go wrong.

One night, as I browsed the internet searching for my next opportunity, I landed on information about a graduate degree in Pastoral Counseling – Crisis Response and Trauma. I filled out the form to request more information, and when I submitted it, my phone rang. 

The man who called offered to answer my questions about graduate school, so I asked, “When do classes start?”

“May 11. 

Hello? Are you still there?”

Dates are a big deal to me, and May 11 is a significant date for me. I held my breath as I listened to him list the requirements, but honestly, graduate school was not my plan. He ended with, “The deadline to apply is April 15th.”  

I put that away in my mind and continued to convince myself that it did not make sense to go back to school at my age. The control freak in me continued to look for my next career/opportunity. When the thoughts of going back to school came into my mind, I pushed them away. There had to be a better plan for me, but I went ahead and ordered my transcript to see if I would even qualify. I called a few friends hoping they would talk me out of it. 

On April 14th, I opened the refrigerator and stared at the expiration date on the milk. 

May 11. 

I applied the next morning and was accepted. The last paper I wrote in college was on a word processor. I had to learn what APA meant. It has been incredibly challenging and exhilarating. 

It feels like I am walking blindfolded with Jesus, learning to trust and depend on him for every step

It’s been challenging to juggle school with family and a new job. I usually wake up early and go to bed late to work on school work. On weekends, I take breaks to make meals, but mostly I am writing papers. I thought I would never get through my first few classes, but God has been faithful to help me. I’ve had to rely on him entirely because I am way beyond my comfort zone.

Why am I telling you this? Maybe you struggle with control issues too? 

In Matthew 14:25, Jesus walked on water towards the disciple’s boat, and they were afraid. He told them, “Take courage! It is I. Don’t be afraid.” 

My need to be in control makes me choose security, stability, and safety. It makes it hard for me to step out onto the water. 

Not Peter. He said, “Lord if it’s you, tell me to come to you on the water.” 

Peter got out of the boat, and he walked on water towards Jesus. 

It is hard to be like Peter. I don’t enjoy stepping out of my comfort zone, and I don’t want to fall. While this season of not being in control has triggered deep places in me that require further healing, it has also opened my eyes to an amazing and profound truth: 

Losing control helped me to realize I never had control in the first place. 

I still have to remind myself (and the little girl inside of me) daily: “Go for it! You have nothing to lose. His plan is better than anything you can imagine. God is your helper, and you are not alone. Keep your eyes on Him, and walk. If you fall, get up and try again. It is going to be okay.”

Maybe He has laid something on your heart that seems impossible. 
Is He calling you to get out of the boat? What is holding you back? 

I’d love to hear from you! Go for it! You have nothing to lose.

I am sharing the lessons I learned from 2020 that I am bringing into 2021. You can click on the link below to read Lesson 1.

Lesson 1: The Sky is Not Falling. (Don’t Be Afraid.)

The Sky is Not Falling. (Don’t be afraid.)

I am sharing the lessons I learned from 2020 that I am bringing into 2021.

Lesson 1: The Sky is Not Falling. (Don’t be afraid.)

Before I went into therapy, one of the things that I struggled with was this feeling that the rug would get pulled from beneath me at any moment. I never felt like I could feel too peaceful or too content with life because there was always this impending doom around the corner. I never knew when, what, how, or where it was going to hit. Maybe the most potent fear that I had was that I was going to die. I never thought I would make it to my 18th birthday, and then I made it to my 18th birthday. It was hard for me to believe I would get married. I never thought I would have children. I always had this thought that I, or someone close to me, was going to die.

When I started counseling, she explained that it was “doomsday thinking.” She said those patterns of thinking are stemming from the abuse I endured because it was unpredictable, repetitive, and constant. So, even when the abuse ended, I was still anticipating the next bad thing.

So, we did a lot of work together, and over time my doomsday thinking improved.

But 2020 was traumatic. It is hard for me to write or even talk about it. I am still processing it. My one word for 2020 was “Stand,” and by the end of the year, the ground felt unsteady. I felt unsteady. I realized I was having those long ago thoughts of doomsday thinking.

New trauma brings up old trauma.

I was worried about what was going to happen tomorrow.
I was afraid to think it couldn’t get any worse, because it kept getting worse.
Suddenly, I was right back to thinking that the rug was going to get pulled beneath me at any moment.

I never said, “I feel like God is going to pull the rug beneath me.” I never said it, and I am not even sure I thought it but, who else was pulling the rug?

I knew He was sovereign. I believed He was in charge of my life, but the little girl in me went back to holding my breath while thinking those old thoughts, “God is going to pull the rug at any minute!”

I never knew what the next day would bring, but thinking it could always get worse felt like protection. If I anticipate the worst thing that could happen, then maybe when it happens, it won’t be as bad.

Is it just me?

What a horrible way to live and think! There’s a lot that I could say about how that affects us, but the truth is that is not how He created us to live. (John 10:10)

Finally, in December 2020, as my thoughts unraveled, I realized, “Woah! I am thinking as if God is going to pull the rug up under me! This is doomsday thinking again.”

Shortly after that, I received a text from my friend and mentor, Tope (find her at www.hiddentreasuresandriches.com – she is fantastic). She was out shopping and texted me a picture of a painting. There were no words or explanation, just the photo of a painted lion (plus pink).

As soon as I saw the photo, I started looking through my pictures. That photo reminded me of a picture I took of a lion at the Riverbanks Zoo in July of 2015. Once I found it, I sent it to her and said, “You have no idea!”

When I took that picture, I was still in counseling and making progress. I remembered walking into the zoo gate and seeing that lion sitting there, unafraid. That lion was the King of the Zoo. I snapped the photo as I thought of my King, Jesus – The King of the World. I felt like He was saying, “I am your King, and I am fiercely protective of you. I am not going to hurt you. I watch over you always, and I will pounce to protect you. You don’t have to be afraid anymore. You are my daughter, my princess.”

Back then, I was scared and desperately needed to realize He was my protector.

He knew I was scared again, and He came to my rescue. He prompted my friend to take the picture and send it to me. He knew I needed that gentle reminder, “You don’t have to be afraid anymore, princess. I am your King, your protector, your shield, and your Father.”

She ended up buying it for me, and it is the first thing I see when I wake up in the morning to remind me that no matter what happens, I do not have to live in fear.

So do not fear, for I am with you
do not be dismayed, for I am your God.
I will strengthen you and help you;
I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.
Isaiah 41:10 NIV

What lessons from 2020 are you bringing into 2021?