"Sweet Blessings Realized," By Kelli Zaniel

As I aggressively removed my husband’s smelly clothes off the bathroom floor and tossed them (where they should go) down the laundry shoot and pushed aside the debris off of the girls’ beds, I could feel a grumbling in my heart begin to stir. At that moment, I felt God say, “Do not take for granted the gifts I have given you.” As I scraped last nights supper off the hard wood floor, I thought, why can’t I just have my dream, cut it out, with my 4 year old scissors, and make it fit neatly into my life? I prayed, Lord, please help me to trust in you when things do not work out and I have to surrender my dreams. Help me rest in the fact that you see things from a much bigger vantage point then I ever could. Help me to uncover your heavenly perspective for my everyday life. Help me to praise you in advance for what you will do with my dreams in the future.

God spoke to my heart, “How would you feel if the blessings I have given you, a loving husband and children, were suddenly taken away? What if you were alone and had prayed for years to have a family, then one day you woke up blessed with all those precious gifts?” Gasping for my own breath, I reviewed over the past several days and thought, the very people who sometimes, “drain the living life out of me,” are the very ones who supply the oxygen to my soul. Without them, I would be a stranger to good night kisses from the truest of loves, roller coaster rushes, overwhelming happiness, winks and smiles, giggles to go around and spaghetti kisses. These are blessings as sweet as a honeysuckle vine in summertime! “They are more precious than gold, and are sweeter than honey” (Psalms 19:10).

When I was young, the fairy tale image of meeting “prince charming,” and riding off into the sunset while the phrase, “happily ever after,” danced across the sky was burned into my memory. Some days I feel as if my big fuzzy house shoe slipped into the fairy tale, only I became one of the seven dwarfs or worse, the wicked queen, not the beautiful damsel in distress who wins the heart of the handsome prince. Wait, I have already won the heart of the only prince that truly matters, my “Prince of Peace!” By Jesus’ death and resurrection, I have been adopted into His royal family and have received the golden ticket to eternal life.

Sometimes, when we feel our life does not “sparkle and shine,” quite the way Cinderella’s did, we must reach up our hands to Jesus and allow His righteousness and wisdom to sprinkle over us. We are His precious jewels…His unique treasures! We must shake out the cobwebs and allow our godly light to shine and sparkle from the inside out. We must make the conscious decision not to allow ourselves to be swept away by the world’s standards of what our lives should look like from the outside. “Be strong and put on the full armor of God so that you will be able to stand firm against schemes of the devil” (Ephesians 6:10-12). We have to keep our eyes fixed on Him and His perfect will for us, his cherished children. If we do this, all will be well with our soul and we will be satisfied. “Give thanks to the God of heaven; His love will endure forever” (Psalm 136:6).

How do we honor and please God when we feel overwhelmed, dusty and less than sparkly? Psalms 91:15 tells us, “We can honor Him by calling on Him, making communication part of our daily relationship with Him, by reading His Holy Word and obeying what it says (see John 14:23-24). “Blessed are those who hear the word of God and obey it” (Luke 11:28). “Do not merely listen to the Word, but do what it says” (James 1:22); you will be blessed if you do these things (see John 13:17). I believe what honors God most is when we engage in a love relationship with Him, surrender to Him, and allow His sparkling power to shine through us.

We cannot be the wives and mothers God intended without experiencing His presence, seeking His counsel and requesting His portion everyday. We can only catch a brief glimpse of that Proverbs 31 woman when we have a continuous and daily relationship with the lover of our soul, our heavenly father. He desires to be the “Prince of Peace,” in our homes, lives and hearts. When there is a knock at our door, all we have to do, is let Him in (eg, Matthew 7:7-8).

Isn’t it funny how we have to reach that infamous “last straw,” before reaching the end of ourselves? I feel when I reach the end of myself, I find myself. I find the woman, wife and mother that I want to be. The me who puts the needs of other first, the me who steps faithfully out of her comfort zone to serve her heavenly Father and the me who surrenders her overwhelming circumstances to God so that He can turn them into fruitful opportunities.

Even after all of the heart wrenching mistakes that I have made in my life, He not only forgave me and wiped my slate clean but He entrusted this family, his precious treasure to me. God laid this realization on my heart and as a result, He used His heavenly brush to paint a joyful smile back on my face. I answered, “Yes, Lord, this is and will always be my greatest day ever. I am so thankful for all your blessings!” I threw myself at the feet of my creator asking forgiveness for shifting my focus away from His beautiful face and “spotlighting,” my wants, my needs and my selfish desires. Help me to always be mindful of your power that is always at work in my home and in my heart. Lord, please help me to say “no,” to self and pick up the cross just like I pick up the dirty laundry and toys. I know when I do these things with humility those I want to impact the most (my family) will notice. Lord, please pour your gracious living and merciful water into me so that it will rush through me and spill over into my home making it a place where lives are impacted, encouraged and shaped into your perfect and masterful design.

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