Onward Christian Soldier

Bindu Adai-MathewBy Bindu Adai-Mathew

Yesterday JMathis paid tribute to our fallen war heroes who sacrificed their lives so we could continue to live in freedom and liberty.

 As we close the month of May with our focus on Motherhood, I now want to pay tribute to another war hero who sacrificed her life so that I can live in freedom—my mother, Rahelamma (“Rachel”) C. Adai.

 Born in the midst of what was probably just another humid, hot monsoon afternoon on May 28, 1948 in the jungle-like setting of Kerala, India, my mother resembles none of the war heroes you would probably imagine.  At 4’10” and just under 100 pounds, she seemed like an unlikely recruit for any military operation some forty-something years ago, but she was chosen…and she enthusiastically accepted her post. My mother did not dress in army fatigues or camouflage. She did not have her face painted in disguise to blend like a chameleon into her circumstances. Nor did she fight in the type of war you are probably imagining.

But like the scriptures recommend, every day, she put on “the whole armor of God, that ye may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. (Ephesians 6: 11) Because she understood a spiritual truth that many of us often forget: For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places. (Ephesians 6:12) She long ago understood that our true battle is not the physical kind but the spiritual battles that continue to wage on whether we choose to acknowledge it or not.

 So every day, like clockwork, for as long as I could remember, she faithfully starts her day with at least a half hour to a full hour of full-on  preparation. Like a disciplined solider, she trains, exerts, and pushes her spiritual muscles as she prepares herself for the day ahead. Wherefore take unto you the whole armor of God, that ye may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand. (Ephesians 6: 13) Stand therefore, having your loins girt about with truth, and having on the breastplate of righteousness; (Ephesians 6:14) And your feet shod with the preparation of the gospel of peace; (Ephesians 6:15) Above all, taking the shield of faith, wherewith ye shall be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked. (Ephesians 6:16) 

 She continues her regimen as she takes the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God: (Ephesians 6: 17) While the shield of faith, the breastplate of righteousness, and the helmet of salvation protect her from attacks from the enemy, it is with the sword of the spirit, which is the word of God, where she wields her weapon of choice. Like a skilled ninja assasin, she is able to stealthily attack and defeat the devil and his foot soldiers. Praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, and watching thereunto with all perseverance and supplication for all saints. (Ephesians 6: 18) Being the mother she is, she always places herself in the front lines, using all of her spiritual strength to protect her children and loved ones from enemy fires.

 Growing up, I’ve always thought of my mother as the epitome of the Proverbs 31 woman: meek, humble, industrious, and wise.  Little did I know back then that in the early hours of the morning, before the sun cracked through the sky, she was also moonlighting as a solider of God.

 So in honor of Memorial Day and our month’s focus on Motherhood, I now honor the woman who taught me, by example, that I have true liberty and freedom in Christ. I honor the woman who, because of her faithfulness, equipped me, so that I, too, may fight the good fight. I honor the amazing mother she has always been and the faithful solider of God she continues to be. I honor you, Rahelamma C. Adai, just as you have always honored Him.



Sin’s Dishonor

By JMathis

On this Memorial Day, my thoughts keep turning to that elite team of American military Special Operations Forces that took down Osama Bin Laden. My mind just cannot fathom the type of man who would be a part of a team like this. “Bravery”, “skill”, and “loyalty” are terms that are often thrown around when referring to these US Navy Seals. My sense is, however, that these words are wholly inadequate in describing heroes of this magnitude. Furthermore, words of gratitude from our lips are also wholly insufficient in describing our debt to them.

King David had a similar team of men who fought for him. The Bible calls them “The Thirty”. More skilled in the art of war than anyone in their day, they sacrificed their lives in fierce devotion to David. These special op guys killed giants, confronted assassins, and overthrew kingdoms in protecting and serving David. They laid down the safety and comfort of their own lives, so that the purposes of God, through King David, would be fulfilled.

David owed all of his successes to these men. David owed them his life.

So, how does he repay them?

He sleeps with the wife of one of these special op guys, and then orders that this faithful warrior be killed to cover up his own sin of adultery.

Instead of honoring Uriah on a day like Memorial Day, David dishonored him by acting upon his own selfish lust and taking Bathsheba for himself.

Can you imagine? Is this how you express gratitude to someone who took down the Bin Ladens of your day for you?

Sin has consequences.

It dishonors yourself. It dishonors those who sacrifice on your behalf. It dishonors your God.

It puts selfish desires ahead of a heart of thanksgiving.

In the busyness of being mothers, volunteers, girlfriends, wives, friends, daughters and professionals, we forget to fall onto our knees and repent of the sin that robs us of our honor.

If David logically thought things through, do you think he would want to honor the man who daily sacrificed his life for him with such dishonor? The dishonor of adultery, deceit and murder? Of course not.

But, he did, nonetheless.

Sin has consequences.

On this Memorial Day, take time to remember, memorialize and pay respects to the fallen soldiers who died fighting for your freedoms, who died taking out the Bin Ladens of this world, so that you could live in peace and safety.

On this Memorial Day, take time to also honor your God. The same God who daily fights the Bin Ladens of your personal life, so that you can lead a life of fullness, wholeness, healing and purpose.

John 10:10 says that: “The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.”

How are you repaying the God who is battling daily to fight Satan, the thief, the “Bin Laden” who has come to steal from you, to kill you and destroy you?

Through lies, neglect, contention, strife and manipulation? Or, through humility, thankfulness and purity of heart?

Sin has consequences.

Ask for forgiveness and replace your selfish desires with a heart of thanksgiving.

Turn the dishonor of sin into a life of fullness, wholeness, healing and purpose.

Take time to honor the Lord today.

Hearing God’s Voice in the Rain

By JMathis

The whole world feels differently when it rains outside. We hurriedly rush indoors to stay dry and warm, and we often bemoan the fact that it’s so dark and dreary outside.

At the same time, when it rains outside, it’s the only time that I allow myself to really.slow.down on the inside: the inside of my house, the inside of my mind. When it thunders and roars outside, I cancel plans with friends and opt instead for prolonged cuddle sessions with my family, catch up on Academy Award nominated films from six years ago, or make indulgent comfort food from a cookbook that has been collecting dust on my shelf for years.

These storms are the only times in my life that I give myself permission to Eat. Pray. Love. No regrets, no worries, no stress and no counting calories. I fling the front door of my house wide open, stand in the overhang of my porch where I am safe and dry, and just watch in surrender as the rain pours down onto my driveway.

It is in these times that I hear the Lord.

AbbyA hears Him in her car, but I hear Him when it rains.

I hear words of safety, peace, healing, forgiveness and love.

How is it that I hardly ever hear Him at any other time? I don’t hear Him in my commute, I don’t hear Him when the phones are ringing off the hook in my office, and I don’t hear Him at the end of the day, as I attempt to clean up a house that manages to destroy itself daily with toys, laundry, and sticky, gooey fingerprints that pervade every nook and cranny of my domestic existence.

Yet I hear Him when it rains.

Perhaps that is the only time I actually create a space for Him where He can be heard.

After all, He is always speaking. Unfortunately, the pulsating rave beats of my daily life drown out the tender whispers of His presence.

Find your safe, comforting, creative and forgiving space, ladies, wherever it may be: cars, thunderstorms or while getting a massage. Find a space where time is not of the essence, and where keeping up with the Joneses is not a priority.

Go to the quiet and hear the voice of the Lord, even when it is raining fear, pain and worry outside. Hear Him speak healing over your infertility, your impending bankruptcy, your depression, your unemployment, your failing grades, your inability to find your soulmate, your low self-esteem, and the unforgiveness sitting in the deep recesses of your heart—unforgiveness towards yourself, your family, or your cheating spouse.

He is always speaking. Just create a space for Him where He can be heard.

Psalms 46:10: “Be still, and know that I am God…”

2 Corinthians 3:17: “…where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom.”

Be Last: The Power in Letting the World Pass You By

By AbbyA

Not long after I got my first job, I was driving home on the expressway.  This is the expressway where the speed limit is 75 mph, but if you drive 75, you will get blown off the road.  I spent a lot of time commuting – –  two to three hours a day – – in my little black Corolla.  I had a cool pop off radio that my dad bought me so I would have a CD player in the car.  I listened to Tony Evans and Bob Barns.  I bonded with DJs and even learned to recognize stranger’s cars by their bumper stickers.  I didn’t have a cell phone yet.  So I keep listening to CDs and radio shows to escape from adult reality on my long commute.

These were the single days.  I was in a relationship but on my own most of the time working and commuting.  I lived with my grandma and grandpa to be somewhat close to work and drove home to my mom’s on the weekends.  It was a surreal time.  I was spending a huge amount of time reading the word, evangelising at gas stations and just about anywhere that little car would take me.   Fasting, Wednesday church, Sunday church . . . It was a really special time for me and God.

At the same time, my friends were also working at their new jobs.  Everyone is getting a taste of the fast lane through the lives of partners and clients at their law firms.  It is not long before many of us were signing leases at upcoming condos on Brickell and South Beach.  Lunch at Capital Grille.  (Dinner is still too expensive.)  Moving on from used cars to new cars.  Big engagement rings, fancy wedding plans.  The first review, presumably, with the first raise.

I was in a vacuum at the time – – a good vacuum.  In a way, boxed into where I was at, but in a good way.  At the same time, I looked around me at times.  Not wholly sure what was next or fully sure of where I was going.  But God was filling me and I just kept trucking along in the Corolla.  So, let me bring you back to the expressway on which I was constantly commuting.  Remember, if you are driving less than 85/90, you are getting blown off the road.  I hear God nudging me to slow down – – way down – – 45/50 down.  I do this and what I see are cars all around me flashing by.  It is a really beautiful hour – the sun is down, but it is not dark yet.  I have a slow motion moment where I feel like I can see the cars going by really well almost like I am intended to have the view from last place in a race.  While all of this is happening, God says to me – – Sometimes Christians feel like life is passing them by, but I am just giving them perspective.  I love that evening.  I love those words.  I get last place.  I love that God has a purpose and a plan for those who don’t mind being in last place.

Bindu gets it too.  She said yesterday,  So I get it. I know how it feels when you feel like everyone is passing you by…when you have to deal with the sympathetic, curious looks from not-so-tactful relatives who also have the ability to ask downright obnoxious questions. When you, too, are left with wondering where God is and if He cares, and sometimes in those desperate moments, whether He even really exists.

He does exist and He has this overwhelmingly fruitful, joyful, peaceful life for those who love Him.  In His economy, last is first.  Don’t lose sight of the power of life passing you by.  It is your God, your Lord who has your life in the palm of his hands.  He is playing out His great and mighty plan for your life on His time line.  Be last.  The fruit, joy and peace are spoken into you at the very same time the world is passing you by.  Breathe.  Take in what He has for you.  You will find yourself rejoicing for the good work He has done in you.  You will see that whatever has passed you by holds far less worth than power set in you.  Be last.

Childless Mothers-Part II

By Bindu Adai-Mathew

To read Part I of Childless Mothers, click here.

So yesterday I encouraged you to find your worth, your value as a woman and as an individual in God, and to remember that you were created for Him above all other roles in your life. All that sounds wonderful, but when you’re struggling and deeply hurt, it all sounds like religious psycho-babble, doesn’t it?  I get it. No, really I do. I waited. No, not for kids, but for marriage…and not just for marriage, but for my first relationship. Growing up in America and not having a boyfriend is an aberration…and believe me, I felt like an aberration. By the time I was in my mid-20s, the same parents who had forbidden me to date throughout high school and college were suddenly burdened by my single status. My dad looked at me like I had an expiration date stamped on my forehead.  He made me feel as if I had failed him as a daughter and my only hope to be in his good graces again would be to be married. And ASAP! Soon enough I began to feel tormented at the sight of couples, who were only a reminder of my failure, both as a daughter and as a normal human being. They seemed to be everywhere. In grocery lines. At the movie theater. At the mall. At Starbucks.  And don’t even get me started when I had to attend weddings with my parents. While my parents acted like they were attending a funeral, I would often feel like someone was pouring hydrogen peroxide onto an open wound I had. Over and over again.

So I get it. I know how it feels when you feel like everyone is passing you by…when you have to deal with the sympathetic, curious looks from not-so-tactful relatives who also have the ability to ask downright obnoxious questions. When you, too, are left with wondering where God is and if He cares, and sometimes in those desperate moments, whether He even really exists.

You’ve prayed. You’ve waited. Now what?

The answer is simple. Wait. I know, I know. You’ve BEEN waiting. But don’t wait with pessimism and whining. When, Lord, when? Why, Lord, why? Why meeeeeeeee, Lord, why meeeeeeeeeeee?

Wait with excitement! Wait with anticipation! The Bible promises that God will keep His promise to you. I can’t guarantee that God’s plan is for you to have a child. But if that is His will for your life, you can be rest assured that it WILL happen.

How do I know? Because Sarah, wife of Abraham, waited. A long time. 

Abraham and Sarah were both very old by this time, and Sarah was long past the age of having children. 12So she laughed silently to herself and said, “How could a worn-out woman like me enjoy such pleasure, especially when my master—my husband—is also so old?”

13Then the Lord said to Abraham, “Why did Sarah laugh? Why did she say, ‘Can an old woman like me have a baby?’ 14Is anything too hard for the Lord? I will return about this time next year, and Sarah will have a son.” Genesis 18: 11-14

And just as God promised, it did happen:

The Lord kept his word and did for Sarah exactly what he had promised. 2She became pregnant, and she gave birth to a son for Abraham in his old age. This happened at just the time God had said it would. 3And Abraham named their son Isaac. 4Eight days after Isaac was born, Abraham circumcised him as God had commanded. 5Abraham was 100 years old when Isaac was born.

6And Sarah declared, “God has brought me laughter.a All who hear about this will laugh with me. 7Who would have said to Abraham that Sarah would nurse a baby? Yet I have given Abraham a son in his old age!” Genesis 21: 1-7

I think God waited to give Sarah and Abraham a son so there would be no doubt in either one of their minds that their child was nothing less than a fulfillment of God’s promise. He worked OUTSIDE her own biological timetable to make good on His promise to her. I think He did that to strengthen her faith, but now it also strengthens OUR faith. Because the same God who blessed Sarah is the same God who can bless you. Age is not a problem for our God.

While I am not saying you have to wait until you are 90-something years old to be a mom like Sarah did, don’t we all have those “If it doesn’t happen by X date/time, it’s over” deadlines erected in our heads?  I recall turning 29 and thinking if I hadn’t met someone by now, then I would most likely still be single at 30, which was my personal “now or never” deadline. And sure enough, I turned 30 and remained single as ever. And wouldn’t you know it, three months later, I was introduced to the man who would become my husband.

So don’t give God a deadline. It doesn’t work. In fact, more often than not, it backfires. Badly. And when it doesn’t happen according to our timetable, we only get more discouraged and disappointed, thinking God has forsaken us.

As I mentioned yesterday, there were several women, in addition to Sarah, whom God blessed with children, even after they suffered from years of infertility:

  • Rebekah, the wife of Isaac, the son of Abraham and Sarah. The Scriptures tell us in Genesis 25:21 that Isaac pleaded to the Lord for his wife who was barren. It was 20 years after their marriage that the Lord blessed Isaac and Rebekah with twin sons, Jacob and Esau.
  • Rachel, wife of Jacob. Jacob married sisters Rachel and Leah. Leah had six sons and a daughter, but the the scripture tell us that the Lord had closed Rachel’s womb. Rachel tried everything she could think of to have children. Once in anguish, she cried out to Jacob, “Give me children, or else I die” (Genesis 30:1). Jacob in anger replied, “Am I in God’s stead, who hath withheld from thee the fruit of the womb?” The Lord eventually did open her womb, and she bore two sons, Joseph and Benjamin.
  • Samson’s mother. The Scriptures do not tell us the name of Samson’s mother, but she was childless until an angel appeared to the wife of Manoah promising a male child, a Nazarite, who would judge the children of Israel (Judges 13).
  • Hannah, wife to Elkanah. Elkanah  had two wives. His favorite wife, Hannah, was barren. Peninnah, the other wife, taunted Hannah since she had no children. Hannah pleaded with God to give her a son, promising to give him back to the Lord’s work. God answered her prayer with the birth of Samuel, the last and greatest judge of Israel. (1 Samuel 1).
  • The Shunammite woman. 2 Kings 4:8-17 relates the account of the Shunammite woman, whom the Bible calls the great woman. She was great in faith, wisdom, and silence. She opened her home to the prophet Elisha and made him his own little private chamber, a favorite place of retreat for him. Elisha wanted to repay the woman for her hospitality, but she made it clear that she was not seeking honor, recognition, or favors from him. Gehazi, Elisha’s servant, told Elisha that the woman was barren and her husband was old. Elisha’s promise that she would have a son when spring came around again was fulfilled.
  • Elisabeth, cousin to Mary, mother of Jesus. The Bible also describes Elisabeth as well-stricken in years and barren. She and her husband Zachariah had long already given up hope of ever bearing a child, when an angel appeared to Zachariah promising a son. That son was John the Baptist, the forerunner and greatest prophet who prepared the way for Jesus (Luke 1).

 God opened up all of the wombs of these previously barren woman. In two instances, the women were clearly beyond child bearing years, yet they bore sons of promise. We may not understand the ways of God, but I want to encourage you to continue believing and hoping. The same God who performed those miracles long ago can also perform miracles in your life today. Believe!

Childless Mothers

By Bindu Adai-Mathew

FemmeFuel has devoted May as a special tribute to mothers and motherhood. Yesterday I addressed just one example of the daily storms we as mothers often have to endure. Albeit, the scenario I described yesterday—a rambunctious toddler in an airport— wasn’t anything close to a true life-defining, life-changing storm. But I often find that if we see God and His truth in the daily, seemingly “normal” yet trying events of our life, we are better equipped for the true faith-challenging storms of life that threaten to overwhelm us.

Today I want to address another “storm” that some mothers have to endure. This one is specifically to childless mothers. Childless mothers, I’ve come to realize, are everywhere. They come in all forms: The woman who is struggling with infertility. The woman who is struggling with carrying out a full-term pregnancy. The woman who has lost a child due to illness or accident. And even the woman who is single and still waiting for Mr. Right but is haunted by the deafening sounds of her biological clock ticking away as she waits. Whatever the background, the one thing that all childless mothers have in common is a deep inner soul desire to nurture a child of their own.

If you are a childless mother, you may feel like an aberration and alone in your struggle. However, I want to remind you that you are NOT alone. Childless mothers have a long history in the Bible. Sarah, Rebekah, Rachel, Hannah, the Shunammanite woman, and Elisabeth are all women who struggled with infertility at various stages in their lives. Their struggles have been well documented.

In Bible times and even not too long ago in our own culture, women’s primary purpose and role in life was to marry and reproduce children and raise them. Their identity, their self- worth, their value in society was often based on whether they could produce children…but not just any children…a male child.

Even in today’s modern society, single women and married women without children find that they often feel marginalized because they don’t have the one thing that they have absolutely no control over. Rightly so, our culture celebrates marriage and children…but what about the woman who doesn’t have one…or worse, neither. Where does that leave her?

 While marriage and children are undoubtedly blessings from God, finding your true worth in any role beyond a child of God will lead you to feel incomplete. And why is that? Because He is our true creator. We were created for HIS pleasure. For His glory. He designed us to need Him. Unfortunately, we are often too busy trying to fulfill that emptiness with other things that will never complete us.

 I know several women who looked to marriage to complete them…but we (yes, that includes me) quickly learned that real life is nothing like the movies where lines like “You complete me” lead us to hope and believe that there is someone out there who can do only what God can only do. Once the blissful haze of the “honeymoon” season is over, the warts, freckles, and character flaws emerge like the morning sun piercing the sky. 

If you are struggling with trying to have a baby, I encourage you not to deny your feelings of hopelessness, frustration, and disappointment. They are natural, so if you feel them, you should not feel guilty for them. It’s not a reflection of your lack of faith. But what I encourage you to do is work through them. Fight through the lies of worthlessness , depression, and defeat and press onto victory.

Again, I remind you that before you were a wife…before you were a mother…you were a child of God.  And as a child of God, you are made beautiful and COMPLETE.

If being a mother is your heart’s desire, do not stop believing that God is able to fulfill that dream. It may seem over…you’re too old…you’re still single…the doctors just say that your body just can’t carry a full-term pregnancy. But if God wants to open the doors of motherhood to you, no one can shut it. Can’t He who created you also enable you to bear a child?

 Psalm 113:9 “He maketh the barren woman to keep house and to be a joyful mother of children. Praise ye the LORD.”

The Storm

Steadfast in the Storm

By Bindu Adai-Mathew

As I approached the airport gate with my daughter, I was well aware of the admiring looks and grins I received from my fellow travellers who were staring intently at my daughter. She was perched on my hip with her arms wrapped around my torso, hugging me like a koala bear and looking as cute as a koala bear. Awww, isn’t she adorable! Look at the full head of black hair!

Moments later they laughed as she wiggled out of my arms and began dashing around the waiting area. Awww, look at that ball of energy! Isn’t she so much fun! 

But very soon those looks of admiration turned to sympathy as I chased after my daughter as she darted to and fro through the waiting area, maneuvering quickly and expertly around the feet of other passengers.  Aww, poor Mom…wouldn’t want to be her…

And just twenty minutes later, those admiring/sympathetic glances turned to looks of trepidation and fear as I and my little ball of energy walked down the aisle of the plane, making our way towards our seats. Eyes averted as soon as they saw me, almost afraid to make eye contact. Every time I paused to readjust my purse, diaper bag, or my daughter, I could visibly see passengers stiffen or cringe as they feared I would be taking the empty seat next to them. Seconds later, their shoulders relaxed and they smiled in relief as I continued making my way down the aisle.

I smiled as I noted their reactions. I couldn’t blame them. After all, they had just watched my daughter exert energy that could dumbfound and amaze the most skilled of scientists. But they didn’t know what I knew…that my mom, my mother-in-law, my sister, and I had all prayed…we had prayed fervently in the weeks before my trip.  Praying for a safe journey, but equally, that my 1 ½ year old would be calm and well-behaved as we travelled alone, just her and me. But I wasn’t naïve. I knew the only way she’d be calm and well behaved would be if she were asleep. Fast asleep.

As I took my seat, I smiled as reassuredly as I could to the unlucky passengers who were seated next to us who were doing their best not to look as if they had just been served a death sentence.   

Even as our flight departed, I prayed, hands folded ever so reverently, that my sweet daughter would get sleepy…very, very sleepy…and very, very quickly… My prayer had been answered on my departing flight of this trip, but then again,  I had booked the flight to be at 6am, so that had obviously helped.  But this flight, this returning flight home, was the one I had really been worried about it since it neither coincided with her nap time or her sleep schedule. As I completed my prayer, I glanced down at my daughter, whose face was turned towards mine as she observed me ever so quietly and curiously as I had prayed. She then smiled at me ever so sweetly.  I smiled back. Yes, my prayer was already being answered. She was calm and docile and seemed ready to fall asleep once we had taken off and the cabin lights had been dimmed. Little did I know she was actually giving me a look of sympathy for what she was about to do. It wasn’t the calm I had been hoping for…but rather, it was the calm before the storm.

The first thirty minutes was challenging. As soon as we had taken off, she started. Started what you ask? Started. Everything.

She tried to do anything and everything her little body could do in the few inches of space she could work with. She began by climbing…climbing what you ask? Me. She climbed on me, around me, like I were Mount Everest. She poked, prodded, pummeled me…she jabbed, jostled, and jutted me. You name it, she did it.

 I took those first thirty minutes as a necessary evil. She’s just tiring herself out, I assured myself. She’ll fall asleep…any second. After all, I had prayed, I reminded myself and look upward at God for another quick reminder.  I plastered a smile on my face as I awaited the sleep I had so fervently prayed for to overtake her.

An hour later, she was still wide awake, and if possible, even more energetic. Being confined to such a small area seemed to be the equivalent of harnessing nuclear power. I glanced upwards and said another quick but sincere prayer: Ahem, Lord…sorry to bother you, Lord.  But it’s been 1½ hours now. You see, um, my flight is half-way over now, and Ava is still awake. Wide awake. Please help. Please.

So I waited. And I waited. And while I waited, I felt like dynamite had exploded in my lap. 

She wanted her  bottle. She didn’t want her bottle, she wanted to throw her bottle. At the passenger seated next  to us. At the passenger seated in front of us. At the window. At me.

She wanted to stand. She wanted to sit. She wanted to bounce. She wanted to do all three. At the same time.  Soon enough my arms felt like the uneven bars and my legs felt like a trampoline at a gymnastics competition while she hung, swung, twirled, and twisted.

She wanted the window shade up. Down. Up. Down. Up. Down. Followed by a fascination with the tray table…which she, too, wanted down. Then up. Then down. Up. Down. Then further down.

She wanted her book. She wanted her doll. She wanted her ball. She wanted to throw her ball. At me. At the passenger seated in front of me.

Through it all, I juggled her expertly with my two hands, somehow keeping her entertained while preventing her from injuring herself or anyone seated next to us. The woman seated in front of us, I’m proud to report, left with all of her hair intact despite Ava’s multiple attempts to grab it.

Another 1 ½ hours later, as the plane began to make its initial descent, I was able to distract and entrance Ava with the millions of twinkling lights that shone from houses and light fixtures from miles below. For the first time, she was quiet and calm. She gripped my arm as she looked through the window and then back at me, smiled, and then returned to staring.  I, too, joined, her, enjoying the sweet calmness of the moment while staring mindlessly at the night sky.

Twenty minutes later, after the plane landed with a gentle thud on the landing strip, I noted Ava was still unusually very quiet. I wondered what she was staring at now that we had landed, knowing she was no longer transfixed by the sight of those millions of lights in the night sky. When I finally glanced down, her head was cocked to the side, nestling gently against my chest.  Her thick eyelashes resting like tiny feathers against her cheeks as she slept the sleep of the innocent .

Now??? I thought to myself. She falls asleep now?! I glanced up to see the smiling face of the passenger seated next to me as she looked at Ava and then at me. “Now that wasn’t too bad!”

I threw her an incredulous look and then turned my gaze upwardly as I asked, “What happened God? Didn’t we have a deal?”  But as I did, He immediately reminded me of the inexplicable, uncharacteristic amount of patience I displayed as I handled her like an expert juggler the last few hours. The last few hours, which, honestly, went by much faster than any three hours I had ever spent on a plane. I was tired but not exhausted. I felt expended but not overwhelmed. I smiled. I got it, God. Sometimes I realized, He calms the storm…but more often, I realized, He calms me.

He Calms Me by The McKameys

Troubled waters came my way; the angry storm grew near
I prayed for God to speak the words to make it disappear
It seemed the waves would not obey the master’s call for peace
But then the Lord spoke to my soul; reminded me He had control
And said this time His words were meant for me

Sometimes He calms the storm; sometimes He calms me
Sometimes the storm still rages on but I feel the sweetest peace
It’s such a joy to know that my Lord knows just what I need
Sometimes He calms the storm; sometimes He calms me

Circumstance may overtake and bring me to my knees
But when I feel I cannot cope with this life’s troubled seas
I call on him whose voice can still much greater storms than these
His words bring peace into my soul when He says child I’m in control
And with one touch He calms the storm in me