Sunday, November 27, 2011

Real Life

*guest post by Michelle Massaro, Asst. Editor at COTT
Can you believe it's almost December? I love the holidays, but I always struggle this time of year. My heart aches for the Thomas Kinkade 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.

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 pounds--and now feel it's too late to try--the constant pain in my neck, the myriad bills we aren't sure how to pay, a toddler in the throes of the "terrible two's" (to be fair, he's the sweetest boy in the world, just extremely rambunctious), and homeschool pressures...and each day starts to feel overwhelming. Beyond my ability. Sucking me under. Life does not meet my expectations. I'm failing.

And sometimes "failing" at something as simple and earthly as creating the "right" home atmosphere can lead to a depression that slips into spiritual darkness. 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.

A dear friend recently gave me a gift--a daily devotional--and the first day's reading 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. 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 generousity in my kids, and finding ways to trim the grocery budget so that we can get that tail light replaced.  Tomorrow it could be the death of a 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.

And the same goes for you, too. So if there's any chance that one of 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 always a contest going on at COTT, so I hope you'll join us this week for a look at a couple great cover images.)
Have a blessed week!
Michelle Massaro


  1. I think if life were that painting, it wouldn't be so much fun. Challenges - yes, loads of them, especially this summer when I lost most of my belongings to flood. But I saved all my books! And again when I found what I thought was the perfect place for me to live and can't get the owner to respond (I've given up, I don't want to be a stalker). Again yesterday I wondered what God's plan was for me, since he didn't want me to have that beautiful little red schoolhouse place? Good post! Thank you for reminding me what's important.

  2. Beautiful reminder of His goodness and grace in the midst of our worry and weakness. Your descriptions are spot-on, especially tolerating husbands and dust bunnies and the desire for something other than what I have.

    Thank you.

  3. Edie, thank you for having me today.

    Karen, what a mess--lucky for us our God can use it all. Although sometimes I'd rather just have things go smoothly, lol.

    Vonda, I say we have the hubbies tackle those bunnies on our behalf. Whaddaya think? lol.

    Thanks for sharing your thoughts, and may we find that perfect measure of His power today.

  4. Wow. Can I copy this post and paste it in my journal??? Hahaha... true. I'm glad I saw this today. You've lifted my spirits. I needed that! Thank you.

  5. Oh Michelle, you read my mind almost! As I tackle "hell week" with finals, home schooling, a part-time job, my choral performance tomorrow, and my daughter in the Nutcracker this weekend it was nice to have that reminder that it truly is all about him. Thank you for sharing your heart and life with us.

    God will get us through this!!!!

  6. Michelle,
    My sister introduced me to Jesus Calling ... I just haven't picked it up yet. I kept thinking: One more book.
    But maybe it wouldn't be just one more book.
    I appreciated the hope your words provided today. The healthy perspective.

  7. Morgan--sure you can, who's gonna know? lol I'm so glad this lifted your spirits today. =)

    Laurie--A girl just like me! Your schedule sounds a whole lot like mine. I'm so glad you were touched by my post.

    Beth--I thought the same thing actually. A couple friends were talking about this book at our Moms In Touch group and I thought "glad you like it but I'm happy with what I've got.(My Utmost For His Highest)." When it was handed to me as a sweet gift and I read that first passage, I was hooked. There's something very powerful about putting it into first person from Jesus' POV. It brings it so much closer and personal. Like Deep POV for devotions, LOL.

    Thanks for stopping by and sharing your hearts, ladies! What a blessing for me this morning. Have a great day!