When my husband went on an extended business trip for nearly three months, I found out what challenges single parents face. It was a big adjustment to have to keep up with the house and care for the children on my own, in addition to my job. Other circumstances also took a toll on my emotions, and I found it increasingly difficult to cope. Each day’s outlook seemed bleaker than the last. The struggle exhausted me physically and mentally. Then came the last straw.
One morning when I was at wits’ end, I checked my email and saw that a friend had sent me a video clip. It turned out to be a collection of relaxing beach scenes, with soft instrumental music playing in the background. The waves washing on the shore reminded me of the peaceful beauty of God’s creation, and the gentle, repetitive sight and sound of the surf rolling onto the sand soothed my spirit.
I remember, as a very little girl, looking out across the field behind our home at what appeared to be the perfect tree. I could hardly contain my excitement as I ran to inspect it up close. But as I reached out to gather some perfect leaves from the perfect tree, I had one of my first big disappointments. On closer inspection, each leaf was marred somehow—a scrape, a brown splotch, an insect bite. There wasn’t one that I could take home and hang in my room as a symbol of perfection.
Having been born “BI” (Before Internet), I see people frantically texting away and sometimes wonder how they would have survived “back in the day,” when “texting” involved a 30-pound typewriter, messy correction fluid or an eraser, a trip to the post office, standing in line to buy a stamp, waiting a week or two for the letter to get to its destination, and waiting another week or two for a reply.
I woke up feeling exhausted, even though I’d just slept for over an hour in the middle of the day—something I rarely do.
What’s wrong with me? I wondered. Am I getting sick? I checked my temperature. That wasn’t it.
I had work to do, but couldn’t focus. Then it came to me, “Do a diet recall.”
It was easy to remember what I’d eaten that day—half a piece of toast and a cup of tea in the morning. I glanced at my watch. It was 4 pm.
My friend Rose has been going through a difficult time. Her knees and toes are swollen and inflamed, and sharp pains in her legs keep her awake at night. She has had these problems off and on since she was a teenager, but it was only recently that a series of tests at a rheumatology clinic revealed that she suffers from a particularly debilitating type of inflammatory arthritis. Rose is normally an energetic person, living a busy and full life. Naturally she wondered why she was afflicted with this incurable disease, so she did some research.
The due date for my writing assignment was fast approaching, and I was barely half done. I’d been working fast and furiously, but my mind was now too stressed to think clearly, my eyes were too strained to focus, and my shoulders were stiff from sitting hunched over my computer keyboard for so long.
I finally pulled myself away from my desk piled high with books and papers, and retreated to a nearby window for a break. As I raised my eyes to a beautiful blue, sunny sky above neighboring apartment buildings, I caught sight of a bird in graceful flight. My spirit soared with it.
Bright sunlight streamed through my window as I pulled back the bed covers, not suspecting that an unforgettable day was about to unfold. I whispered a prayer, asking Jesus’ blessing on the abdominal CT scan I was scheduled to have that morning. I also asked Him if there was anything He wanted to tell me about the day ahead, and I heard His familiar voice in my mind. “I will fight for you. I will face each challenge with you.”
If you visit the tropics, you’ll want to try an invigorating glass of juice made from a small, red, natural marvel: the acerola fruit. Relatively unknown in the rest of the world, it has 32 times as much vitamin C as citrus fruit, as well as powerful antioxidant properties.
We once had an acerola tree in our yard—just one, but that one small tree gave so much fruit that there was almost always a pitcher of juice on the dinner table. I remember lazy afternoon moments spent plucking and eating the fruit straight off the tree, warmed and sweetened by the sun.
My mind raced. Two o’clock. I had just finished my appointments and suddenly realized how little cash I had on me. At the mall with only a few cents and no ATM card in my pocket, I needed to attend a workshop at the voice academy later that afternoon. Without bus fare, I wasn’t going to make it. I didn’t even have enough money to get home.
I paced through the mall, frantic, desperate, frustrated. How did I get myself into this mess?