The broad brushstroke idea is to keep a box or some kind of container in your house that holds reminders of things God has done. In reminding ourselves and setting up "stones of remembrance" we can hold firm when things get tough. We can look back and see how God has been faithful and remember that He is more than able to carry us through our current storms.
If you want to read more click on the Memorial Box on the right...
This story happened about 7 years ago. I was working at the Union Gospel Mission Women and Family Shelter as a case manager. I loved working there, the women were incredible. I got to see God work in miraculous ways in the hearts and lives of some of the most amazing women that I have ever met. I got to work with mothers who deeply loved their children and would do anything in order to keep them safe, women who literally had walked through hell on earth and were picking up the pieces. The women I got to meet and work with there showed me so much about the tender, beautiful heart of God for all of us when we are weak and when we are strong.
One of my favorite times of year at the shelter was always Christmas. At the shelter we always started early and truly "decked the halls" each year...tinsel and garlands, big red bows, lots of lights, a giant tree in the front window and even a light up manger scene ontop of the metal awning above the front door! There was always something so special about a place filled with so much love and so much pain, so many victories and some heart breaks...all lavishly decorated. Somehow it spoke worth into so many who had felt so worthless, it celebrated Truth in lives that had been shattered by lies.
I usually worked until 11pm and on this partilcular night about ten of the ladies were staying up to drink cocoa and help decorate the tree. This was a giant tree and I loved that. It felt like a tree that a child dreamed of having and we had boxes and boxes of donated ornaments and big red ribbons to make it beautiful. I basked in the child-like delight as we pulled out the ornaments and began to hang them...all of us just chattering away about life in general. Just women being women, making something beautiful and enjoying each other.
The neighborhood where the shelter was at this time was more than a little bit rough and this time of night did not bring out the best in it. We were all swarmed about the tree, some even standing on the wide windowsill to reach up high, not paying any attention to the dealers etc. milling around outside. We talked of Christmases past, good and bad, what would be a dream Christmas. The big joke that night was that it was windy and the plastic, light-up Joseph and Mary had blown over and you could see up their skirts! We were making bets as to who would climb out the 2nd story window to go and fix them....or maybe we should just leave them the way they were to give everyone a good chuckle as they walked by. All of this was happening when, "Bang!" something hit the window...
Ornaments crashed and we all ran into the back hallway...someone had just shot at the window! Someone had shot at our cozy little party decorating the tree. Somehow, in the midst of it...in the midst of ten women reaching up to hang ribbons and ornaments, that bullet had missed us all. God had protected these precious women...not one hair on any of us harmed!
Now, those of you who have been reading this blog for awhile might never want to hang out with me in person...I promise, getting shot at is not a common occurance! Far from it...what the Lord has been speaking to me about in reminding me of this story is how He has every detail of our lives in His competent and compassionate hand. Matthew 10:28-30 says:
"Do not be afraid of those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. Rather, be afraid of the One who can destroy both soul and body in hell. Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? Yet not one of them will fall to the ground apart from the will of your Father. And even the very hairs of your head are all numbered."
It is so easy for me to get stuck in worry...about my kids, about the future, about relationships. I can spin and spin in my own thoughts and worry and yet the Lord gently reminds me than He wants to hold it all, wants to know my every fear and worry, my every thought, wants to hold me close and carry my burdens. Sometimes I can make God so small or assume that He does not care or see...but every hair on my head? He knows it! Every thought before I speak it? He's got that too! and He beckons me...
"Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light."
This week He is whispering to me, "If I could guide that bullet...I can care for the things of your heart". In my Memorial Box? One broken Christmas ornament.