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Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Strength For Today

Currier & Ives, "Winter morning in the country," c 1873
Can you believe it's already December? With Thanksgiving coming so late in the month this year, December has descended even faster than usual. My mom has already "Christmasized" her house, complete with a strongly-scented pine which is the first thing you notice when you walk in her door. I'm looking forward to getting up my own garland and lights and wreaths and snowmen to help capture all those warm fuzzy feelings that come with this time of year.

But it's not always easy. Life's busyness can make holiday plans feel more like another item on the to-do list and less like the glorious memory-making time that I aim for.

So as much as I love the holidays, I have to be honest and admit I sometimes struggle this time of year. (click to share)

My heart aches for the Currier & Ives paintings, for smiles and laughter and goodwill toward man (especially between siblings in the house!), for snuggling by the fire, kisses under the mistletoe, all that good stuff.

But real life is not a painting. Or an old black-and-white movie. (That's often why we love escaping into our novels!)

Nope. Real life finds too many dust bunnies when it's time to move furniture to make room for the tree. Real life has pouting kids who don't want to help lug in the decoration box or be pulled away from their video games in order to just sit by the fire with mom. Husbands who tolerate, but don't enjoy, watching White Christmas, and who grimace and sweat--and possibly even swear*--while wrestling with the Christmas lights.

Add to that the fact that I never got around to shedding that extra five  fifteen pounds--and, let's face it, it's too late now--the constant aches and pains in my back, the myriad bills we aren't sure how to pay, a preschooler who tests my patience (he's the absolute sweetest boy in the world, but rambunctious and ever my shadow), and homeschool pressures...and each day can sometimes feel overwhelming.

Beyond my ability. Sucking me under.

Life's not meeting my expectations. I'm failing.

And sometimes "failing" at something as simple and earthly as creating the "right" home atmosphere can lead to a discontent/depression that carries into my spiritual life.

Lies. All lies. But too often, I believe them.

Maybe you can relate. Or maybe your set of challenges lies elsewhere. Regardless, we all have seasons, or areas of our life, where we don't feel up to the task. And we grieve that ineptitude. (click to share)

A few years ago I received a daily devotional and the first passage I read still sticks with me years later. The entry hit its mark in my heart. In essence, it reminded me that the measure of God's strength given to me on a daily basis is determined by two things:

The difficulty of my circumstances, and my willingness to depend on Him for help.


This concept completely changed my thinking when it came to facing challenges, personal demons. I don't need to assess the situation and measure it against my usual ability and strength. I need to depend on Him and believe that He can and will empower me that much more in order to handle the task. And tomorrow, when the challenge is not so great, He will give me just the strength I need for that day.

Today it might be preparing the house, encouraging generosity in my kids, and finding ways to trim the grocery budget so that we can get that busted water pipe fixed.  Tomorrow it could be the death of another loved one, a falling away of a brother or sister, or the loss of a job.

But the degree of His power available to me will match whatever circumstance comes my way.  (click to share)

And the same goes for each of us. So if you share this struggle of mine at this time of year, I pray this truth shines like a beacon in your heart and gives you hope. It did for me.

If you're interested in the devotional I mentioned, it's called Jesus Calling by Sarah Young. The entry I referenced was November 11th. :-)

And if you want some great Christian novels to dive into or pick up as gifts, you always know where to find some winners. (There's a contest going on every month at COTT, so I hope you'll join us for some fun.)

Have a blessed week!

(*my husband doesn't swear, but he does get grumpy at the frustrating lights!)



Janet Sketchley said...

Michelle, I'm reading this just after Christmas, but it's one of those year-round messages. Thank you!

Michelle Massaro said...

Janet, I'm so sorry I am just now seeing this reply! Oy vey. But I am very glad you found something worthwhile in this post that touched you. Thank you for taking time to comment, I truly appreciate it!