I have problems with mosquitoes. I can be the only person in a room that’s bit by one, and I’ll end up with five bites. They swell up like blimps and itch like crazy.
Last night, I went out to my backyard to pull weeds around my roses and lilies. (There’s only 2 of each. Don’t get carried away thinking I have some enormous flowerbed!) I have a large citronella plant in close proximity to me; it doesn’t help. The first problem was as I cleared weeds away from a tomato plant, I found a snake skin. Now, this is actually worse than finding a snake. Why? Because it’s not a snake, just a sign that there is one nearby. So what did I do? I bribed my ten-year-old son into protecting me from snakes. He stood guard with a large shovel and kept a lookout while I pulled weeds. He did his job. As I was clearing away weeds (quickly!) from a rosebush, he yelled and sure enough, there was a tiny snake behind it, up against the house. I still have no idea where he went. Luckily, it was just a garden snake. I wonder why the Snake Away pellets I bought and dumped liberally around my house last month are not working with this little guy. I finished pulling weeds without ever seeing the snake again, but not without incident. You see, I wore some short shorts outside to pull weeds because it was really hot. I was in my backyard where no one could see me. The problem? A mosquito bit me three times on my behind. It is uncomfortable to say the least.
What does this have to do with anything? First of all, take a lesson from me. Don’t wear shorts if there’s mosquitos around, and have a brave boy to guard you from snakes. Next, find humor in ordinary circumstances. A mosquito bite on your bottom is humbling and annoying, but I have to admit, it’s also funny. Life is hard. It’s exhausting, and it’s difficult, and it’s hard to know what to do sometimes. Don’t forget to find joy and humor in the throes of ordinary, everyday life. Sometimes you have to laugh when your toddler comes in with eyeliner drawings all over himself. I laid my two littles down with me for an opportune Sunday nap and had to smile at them playing and giggling together before they fell asleep. It is easy to get frustrated or worn down by the struggles of single motherhood. Don’t forget to see the joys in it too.
There are so many joys around us, if we just take the time to recognize them. The sound of birds early in the morning. A hug. The smell of fresh bread baking in the oven. Someone saying “I love you.” All the kids staying in bed and no one getting up for an extra cup of water. These are the things that sustain us. Relish them. Nehemiah 8:10 says that “The joy of the Lord is your strength.” He was talking to people whose life was difficult. They were rebuilding the walls around Jerusalem amidst great opposition. In fact, danger was so imminent that they worked with swords in their hands, just in case they were suddenly attacked by the enemy.
Life is hard, but gratitude and praise can be our greatest weapons against our enemy. Sweet friend, use them. They will be your strength, and they will keep you sane.