I opened my dryer the other night, and this is what I found:
It wasn't quite what I was expecting. No, we didn't dry an owl. That's what is left of my daughter's feather pillow. I spent the next 45 minutes cleaning my dryer. Do you have any idea how hard it is to get feathers out of your dryer? They stick to everything.
To say I was surprised when I opened the dryer would be a gross understatement. For a minute, I wasn't sure what had even been in my dryer to cause such a mess.
Life is like that sometimes. We turn a corner or make a decision that we think is going to lead us one place, and instead we're suddenly staring at a dryer full of feathers, trying to figure out what to do. A kid gets sick, a job change doesn't work out as planned, a house won't sell or a marriage hits a trouble spot.
Those aren't the most fun times in our lives, but they are often the most character building. They also often bring us to a place where we have no place to go but up. We find ourselves on our knees crying out our hearts to God, pleading with Him for peace and deliverance.
And, if you're anything like me, those are the times you may look back on and find you were closest to God -- because you had no place to run but to Him.
As difficult as those times are for adults, they are even more difficult and confusing for our kids. As adults, when we're confronted with a dryer full of feathers, we have past experience with God's faithfulness to fall back on. We can remember other times when God has seen us through.
When kids run into the equivalent of a dryer full of feathers, they may not have the experience or the perspective to remember times when God has been faithful to them. Kids live mostly in the now. They need help remembering other experiences. They need to be reminded that God is faithful, and He keeps His promises.
Help remind your kids of God's faithfulness by keeping a family prayer journal. Write down the date, the prayer request and the answer. When your kids are having a hard time remembering that God is faithful, pull out the prayer journal and look at all the answers God has given your family.
Pull out a map of the world. Ask your kids to find a place far away from where you live and point to it. Remind your children that even though that place is far, far away from you, they can never go anywhere that God won't go with them. Matthew 28:20 says "And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age."
When your child is faced with a tough situation, when they are wondering where God is, point out the physical reminders of God's love and faithfulness. He gave them parents who love them and want to help them through the tough situation. He gave them friends who offer love and kindness. When kids can see God providing for them in the situation, God's presence becomes more tangible for them.
I have returned my laundry room to its non-feathered state, but every now and then I still find a feather floating around, a reminder of the mess that was in my dryer. Even after our lives return to "normal," the tough situations God leads us through leave feathers behind. And the next time we're faced with an unexpected situation, those "feathers" will remind us of God's faithfulness in every situation.