Peace and Quiet

Zephaniah 3:17 (ESV) The LORD your God is in your midst, a mighty one who will save; he will rejoice over you with gladness; he will quiet you by his love; he will exult over you with loud singing.

He will quiet you by His love.  He rejoices over me with joy and with singing.  These words have resonated in my heart this past week as I read them in a devotion.  As usual, God presents me with truth from His Word then shows me what it means as I apply it in my life.

I had a moment recently with my youngest child where she came to me upset and crying.  She leaned into my shoulder where she knew she could find support.  I hugged her and spoke encouragement and hope into her life.  She knew to come and share her concern with me and would find comfort.  As I listened to her, I felt like I should pray right then for God to quiet her with His love.  I don’t have the words to say that will make every load seem lighter, but God knows how to calm, to carry, to comfort and create peace.

After our prayer, I redirected her to another topic and she was able to move on.  I am so glad that we can release our concerns to God who will always give peace.  I am learning that He likes for me to come to Him, lean in and share.  As I lay my burdens down, He quiets me.  Life brings occurrences which are often unexpected to me,  but are totally and completely allowed by God so that I  will have the choice to slow down, cry out to Him and feel His peace.  Just a few hours before I helped to comfort my child, God had done the same for me.

You see, my driver’s side van window decided to drop into the door just after a sideways kind of rainstorm ended.   I had just arrived home from doing errands on a Saturday.  When I opened my van door, I heard a big pop sound which startled and unsettled me.  I realized that the window had dropped a third of the way down.  I decided that I would press the automatic window button, but pressed “down” not “up” which proved to be a huge mistake.  The window raced downward only to disappear into the door and was unwilling to return up.  This situation had happened about three years ago in this same door.  I felt frustrated because I could not fix it.  My husband stopped what he was doing, assessed the issue and temporarily fixed it.

In the interim between the time when the window broke to the time he let me know it would be okay, I felt irritated and anything but quiet in my heart.  In addition, when I walked through my door, I knew that I would be preparing dinner for my extended family.  They were already at our house which I expected, however, when I walked in knowing that I had a window issue that needed immediate attention, I was feeling out of sorts.  I marinated the salmon and prepared the grill.  As I did what needed to be done, I felt calmer.  Once I set the table and brought in each dish, which my mothr-in-law had helped to prepare, I realized that God had quieted me.  

I hadn’t prayed, but God knew I needed help.  The Help that He gave was when He helped me have the strength to go through the necessary motions to clean out the dishwasher, prepare the food and set the table.  As I grilled the salmon, a few tiny pieces broke off which I sampled.  I noticed the sun sparkling through the rain drops that were still dripping from the trees after the heavy rain.  I think that His creation was singing to me and prompting me to take my eyes and attention off of the window issue and on to peace.  My heart was quieted as the smoke swirled around and above the gril.

The window needs a permanent repair, but it will happen this week.  Our van may need to retire soon, but my husband will be able to fix the window once some parts arrive.  I refuse to tense up and feel irritated about it.  Instead I am thankful for my van and that it has accepted the temporary fix.  God knew that I would have to choose my response to the window falling into the door.  This situation is similar to many other moments in life where I have to choose to accept His peace and quiet or not.

I know that God is rejoicing over me with singing and He is quieting me with His love.  I can just picture Him singing a song over me that went like this:

She is my child who didn’t lean to her own understanding.  She leaned on Me.  I gave her peace and quieted her heart.  I used the sparkling sun to shine through the remaining raindrops to remind her that I Am her Provider.  I made the rain, the wind and the clearing skies.  She will have peace as she looks to Me and trusts me with her van and in all things.

I know that God could create rhyming lyrics, but the words that I imagined Him singing don’t rhyme.  That’s okay.  I just had to picture Him singing over me as He has continued to quiet me with His love.  I have been contemplating the various translations of Zephaniah 3:17 here and hope you will also see how God will quiet you too:

Encouraging Words

I recently opened an email and discovered encouragement.  This encouragement came from a colleague.  In a nutshell, my fellow teacher told me that he appreciated me and my work with our 1,156 students.  I appreciated the words so much because they encouraged me.  It truly brightened my day to see these words in the email:  “I wanted to say that each week when I get to pick up my children from you, it makes me smile inside to see the joy you take in your job!  I can see how important it is for you to make sure that our children are well prepared for their future…”  He will never fully know the impact that these words had on me, but I will say that they encouraged me so much.

I work in a school where my colleagues provide amazing learning opportunities for our elementary students.  I get to see all 50 teachers every eight school days when their students arrive in the Technology Lab.  I love to connect with them and have a quick conversation as they drop off or pick up their students.  Some days at school, somebody, whether a teacher, administrator, student or teacher assistant, needs to see a smile, hear an encouraging word and feel appreciated.  Each us plays a part in encouraging each other. In my school, you see a culture of caring for students and for staff.  When one hurts, we all hurt.  Many babies have been born to our staff this year causing joy while surgery and car accidents have caused our staff to rally behind those affected.  I am blessed to be a part of this incredible learning community.

Our words can truly build up or tear down.  Last night, my oldest child gave me a bookmark which she had colored.  She enjoys coloring Scripture on coloring pages and this one happened to be in bookmark form.  Taking the time to color is quite relaxing and therapeutic to help release stress so I like when she does this.  When I looked again at the words on this bookmark today, I was struck with their simplicity.  They come from Proverbs 3:5 and say, “Trust in the LORD.”  These words are ones that I cling to but to see them colored in green with flowers in blue and gold, they jumped off the bookmark and headed to my heart.

You see, words from people build us up, but so do words from the Bible.  The reminder to trust in the LORD is powerful.  I don’t know what the future holds, but I can trust God to be there.  If my responsibilities as a wife, mom and teacher seem insurmountable some days, I have two options:  trust in the LORD or not.  I don’t trust Him when I don’t consult Him.  He is my ever present help and gives wisdom, however, I must trust HIM.  I trust Him to help me as I do things that matter.

I know that I need daily encouragement and have clung to another Scripture this past week for myself and my family which has helped me trust Him more:

Timothy  4:17  (NASB) “But the Lord stood with me and strengthened me. so that through me the proclamation might be fully accomplished, and that all the Gentiles might hear; and I was rescued out of the lion’s mouth.

I have prayed over my children this week that the Lord would stand with them and strengthen them as they navigated life.  I prayed the words that God would stand with me and strengthen my husband and me.  The words “Stood with me and strengthened me” resonated deep in my soul this week.  God helped Apostle Paul and Paul told us what He did.  I believe that through the Holy Spirit of God, my family will be strengthened and helped.

I have also prayed these words over a family who lost a father this week.  I taught two of the children in this family who will always hold a special place in my heart.  They need God to stand with them and strengthen them in the coming days now more than ever.

I wanted to share today that words from a colleague lifted my heart and words from God stood out to me this week.  I am blessed that God has provided a job, a family and a hope that He will never leave me.  I trust Him.

I love the words of the old hymn “Tis So Sweet To Trust in Jesus” and hope you will be encouraged as you listen to the words and song.  “Oh for Grace, to trust Him more.”