"Okay, Is everyone ready?" Four happy, excited faces sat before me at the kitchen table. We had spent all morning carefully planning and shopping for our spring garden. Now we were getting ready to start the seeds we would transplant in May. My youngest children were practically jumping out of their seats with anticipation.
"I want to plant the broccoli. I like broccoli. Mandy and Ronnie hate broccoli but I like it." said Christian, my four year old.
"Mom, do you want me to plant your herb seeds for you?" Mandy asked me.
"Oh no, I forgot the herb seeds. The store closes in fifteen minutes. Mandy, have the boys fill the pots with dirt while I'm gone and we'll finish planting when I get back."
I told my carnivorous husband I was leaving. Looking back, I should have known better. I should have seen the disaster coming. When I got back approximately twenty minutes later there were dirt and seeds everywhere. Mandy my twelve year old daughter was in tears, my seven and four year old sons were ripping open every seed packet we had and mixing them up in a bowl. The one year old was eating potting soil while my dearest husband was sitting four feet away on the computer, totally oblivious to the entire scene taking place in the kitchen.
I may not be smart enough to avoid these situations but I am an expert at handling them. Within five minutes I had calmed Mandy down, had both boys in the tub and the baby in the sink. Apparently my husband didn't even know I had left and had thought I was in the kitchen handling whatever commotion was going on. Together we managed to clean up, help the kids complete the planting and get everyone bathed again and in bed.
Later that night I was having some quiet time with my saviour. My thoughts were on my impending fortieth birthday and all of my failures up to that moment. My thirties had started off wonderfully, I had become a christian at age 32 and I was able to experience the peace and joy that had been missing from my life up to that point. I rapidly engulfed myself in ministries and Bible studies, made many new Christian friends, and I was actually happy for the first time since early childhood.
Somewhere along the way I lost that initial joy and life's difficulties had dragged me down into a pit of self-loathing once again. Multiple state-to-state moves, financial crisis', and personal trauma had taken me out of ministries I had previously defined myself by and loved ones were now hundreds of miles away. All of a sudden, the idea of turning forty seemed like a death sentence for all of my hopes and dreams.
Then, I was gently nudged by the Holy Spirit to remember times past when I was unable to handle even the simplest of problems. A scene like the one described earlier would have resulted in a screaming match with my husband, the kids would have been punished, and the garden never would have happened.
Suddenly I experienced a great flash of understanding. Even though my hopes and dreams were unfulfilled, God had granted me what I truly needed to be happy. The ability to weather life's up and downs with grace, understanding and peace. Daily little problems were now no longer major disasters but cute anecdotes to be shared with loved ones. I could only imagine with anxious anticipation what wonderful gifts God had planned for my fortieth birthday and beyond.
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