If you have followed my blog for very long, you have learned that my life, probably a lot like yours, has a lot of ups and downs.
This has been an extremely busy week at our house, as well as a week full of a lot of different kinds of emotions. On top of the normal school/work/after-school activities, I’ve been helping Olivia and a little friend with a HUGE literature project, Todd has had some extra after school things which have kept us running here and there, and I’ve had some emotional decisions regarding Nick’s foundation. My laundry has piled up knee-deep, things throughout the house have become cluttered, and the upstairs is simply a place I haven’t ventured much at all. Last night, it all caught up with me and after helping Tim lead the marriage class at church on “conflict,” I ended up being the source of conflict in our house. Forgive me, Lord.
Well, at 11 p.m. when things finally quieted down and Todd was back home from playing with the band at regionals and Erich had gone back to the dorm after stopping by the house for something to eat after a 12-hour shift at the hospital, I opened up the book Choosing Gratitude: Your Journey to Joy, not so much because I was in the mood to read but more because I remembered that when you got on my blog today you would be looking for the weekly journey through Nancy’s powerful book. I wanted to have some thoughts for you this morning that would help your day and share her message from God, but as I read the chapter for this week conviction flooded my heart and soul.
The chapter was all about saying “thank you,” something which just a few days ago I had shared the importance of RIGHT HERE on my blog…..
Yet this very spirit of “thankfulness” was something I was struggling to have in my personal life on this particular night.
I read about her challenge to not say anything negative to your spouse for 30 days in a row and to actually say something you admire about them and someone else in your life on each of these 30 days.
Does God ever stop calling me to grow up?????
Here I sat. A mom who gets frustrated at the maturity level of my 16 1/2 year-old son almost daily feeling so immature herself. Honestly. Feeling convicted seems to be the norm for me lately.
I read about “Where ingratitude dies,” and guess where the author’s story took place in this little section of the chapter? On the streets of New Delhi, India, where a man by the name of Paul David Tripp witnessed a scene that changed his life forever. A hollow-eyed three-year old boy with flies infesting his face was standing by a cot on which his ailing mom was near death. As Paul recalled this scene, he remembered how tears came flowing down his face at the realization that this little boy had had no choice in his lot in life……….and at the same time, neither had he. Paul was immediately struck with a feeling of both sadness for this boy and gratitude for the life he had been blessed to live.
Later, when Paul was back in America, he had the chance to talk with a man who was visiting from India and he asked the man about his opinion of Americans. The man explained to him that the biggest thing he noticed about Americans was that “they had so much yet seemed to always complain.”
Here I sat in my living room, surrounded by blessing after blessing; and I was stressed because laundry filled my floor, washer, and dryer, and little piles of clutter through the house were getting on my nerves. Forgive me, Lord.
I tried to write, but I had no words.
Once again, I had somehow been sucked back into my selfish mentality- forgetting all I had seen just less than a year ago as I traveled those very roads of New Delhi, seeing moms bathing kids on sidewalks, men crossing the road using their hands to walk because they had no legs, children begging for a morsel of food. Forgive me, Lord, once again.
But this morning.
That’s when God called.
He woke me up with a start. Literally.
At 6 a.m. our house phone rang very loudly, and I jumped out of bed wondering who in the world would be calling this early. As I said “Hello,” I heard a woman’s voice say, “It’s time to get up.”
“What?” I thought to myself.
Out loud I simply said, “Thank you, but I think you have the wrong number.” She began apologizing and explaining that she always calls her sister-in-law in the morning to wake her up, and as she talked, I realized that I recognized the voice as someone I use to work with several years ago but whom I never talk to on the phone.
I said, “Is this Joy?”
She answered, “Yes,” and I began to laugh.
I said, “This is Tammy Nischan!”
She couldn’t believe it and kept apologizing even more. I told her, “You know you live in a small town when you answer a wrong number and you know who they are!”
And then I told her, “God wanted me to have Joy this morning.”
We said good-bye and I started getting ready for the day.
The more I thought about that call, the more I realized that God was seriously trying to get my attention once again and say, “Tammy, you have got to choose joy…..every morning, every day.”
And then all the pieces of my week came together into a beautiful puzzle.
The book that Olivia and her friend had done their book report, display board, and art project on was a book by Nicholas Sparks called, of all things, The Choice. (I took pictures of their project last night, and I will add them later when I get the photos downloaded.)
Anyway, here I stood in the early hours of my morning, realizing that today is “Thankful Thursday” and I haven’t been a thankful person and even more than that, knowing that God calls me to give thanks in all things (which definitely includes mounds of laundry, busy schedules, lack of sleep, and grief that ebbs and flows in ways I sometimes feel guilty talking about because so many others are experiencing their own level of pain)……………
And God had used my telephone to “call” me through the voice of Joy.
He had also, I believe, led the librarian at our new public library to encourage Olivia and Sarah to choose a book called The Choice as their chapter book for their project.
And He had led their teacher to choose today for the assignment due date, so that my dining room table was covered TODAY, of all days, in reminders of “the choice” that was before me.
Yes, it is thankful Thursday.
Another day that the Lord has made.
I have a shelter over my head.
I have the hope of Heaven.
Who am I to complain or get stressed about a messy house?
Again I say, “Forgive me, Lord.”
And to all of you, I say, “I love you,” and I pray that today you are able to “choose joy,”