Friday, December 14, 2012

The Muddlers

A Devotional by Margot Cioccio

This month I have been using the old time radio story the Cinnamon Bear as the spring board from which to write my daily devotionals.
Heres the link to today's episode if you would like to follow along. If you are reading this post on the Healing Stream Team Blog where I post on Friday's you can pick up the rest of the story at my daily devotional blog. Here's the link 

"Its seems to me his carelessness does not deserve such loyalty" ~ Crazy Quilt Dragon.
Judy and Jimmy use up their one wish at the wishing well to rescue Cinnamon Bear who was stuck at the bottom of the wishing well. I suppose it reminds me that people are far more important than things.

Now they find them selves at a river of mud. Before they know it they are being pelted with mud, by the mudslinging Muddlers.

"We'll teach you to come around our sacred mud baths" ~The Muddlers
Sometimes we stumble upon people who's lives are so muddy and filled with anger that their mud effects our own lives. We find our selves stuck wallowing in the mud of discouragement, while sinking in dispair.

I'm not sure how Cinnamon Bear and the Gang will get out of this one. They have offered the Muddlers Judy's mirror, and the magic lunch box that Queen Melissa gave them. The Mudders want nothing of it and threaten to tun them into mud statues.

Yesterday my day got a bit crazy. The phone system at the church got all messed up and I spent my day dealing with trying to fix it. I called the repair guy and he said how long are you going to be there today? I told him 3:30 and of course he showed up at 3:25. I always have to pick up my kids by 4 but yesterday I had very little fudge room because we had to be at our piano recital clear across town. I stayed as long as I could but in the end my pastor and his wife took the hit and stayed late to wait on the guy to finish the job. So all this is going on while we have two homeless families that were needing attended to. The dishwasher  wouldn't heat up and our maintenance guy came in and has decided he can only volunteer to help out once in a while. Thursday is the day when semons need to be finished and bulletins written and printed and slides for the service need to be put together into a working program. I did get the bulletin done - not quite sure how. I will have to do the slides today on my own time.

I'm reminded of a quote spoken by Bilbo Baggins in the Fellowship of the Ring by JRR Tolkien
 "Why, I feel all thin, sort of stretched, if
you know what I mean: like butter that has been scraped over too much bread.

So I found myself driving with my kids to piano recital. My oldest is in the front seat and he and I seem to unwind in a similar fashion. So we are driving and singing christmas songs in silly puppet voices while changing the words to blow off steam from our crazy stressed out day. All the while heading into the stress of having to play the piano in front of an audience. I realized about half way there what we were both doing. Its a crazy silly way to un wind. I had to laugh off all the mud from the day, while being thankful that at least this was a recital that I was musically prepared for. I did manage to play well with my guitar student and my youngest son and I did play our duet together perfectly. My oldest son did not do as well and the stress of playing in front of people got the better of him. I have had plenty of recitals where I botched my piece and my fingers and brain refused to cooperate because of the waves of neves and nausea. So we sang more silly songs in puppet voices on the way home. 

I guess some days are muddy and we have to stand together and support one another sometimes in silly ways. My pastor walked by my desk at one point and asked how I felt about things. My answer was I feel like we are tying to hold the ship together using duct tape and bubble gum. To which he replied - "feels more like bubble gum to me".  Some days are crazy and sometimes knowing that you are not alone and others are struggling too but we are struggling together some how makes it better. 
We are not alone in our muddy battle. Sometimes knowing we are not alone is enough. We may not know how we will get out of the present mess but there is something to standing together. 

So in the midst of a muddy day - I am thankful for my family and my close friends. The people who hang with you even when things are crazy and stressful. We celebrate the little victories and encourage each other when we fall short of our own hopes and expectations. We may not have answers but we do have each other and somehow that is enough. 

Isaiah 44:23-25

New International Version 1984 (NIV1984)
23 Sing for joy, O heavens, for the Lord has done this;
    shout aloud, O earth beneath.
Burst into song, you mountains,
    you forests and all your trees,
for the Lord has redeemed Jacob,
    he displays his glory in Israel.
24 “This is what the Lord says—
    your Redeemer, who formed you in the womb:
I am the Lord,
who has made all things,
who alone stretched out the heavens,
who spread out the earth by myself,
25 who foils the signs of false prophets
    and makes fools of diviners,
who overthrows the learning of the wise
    and turns it into nonsense.

Sometimes I just need a bit of nonsense,  jokes about duct tape and bubble gum and silly songs in puppet voices. You may have other ways that you de-compress and un-wind. For me one way is humor. When I can laugh at myself in the middle of the craziness - Some how I know that the story is not over yet. That there will be another episode. I'm thankful that God's mercies are new every morning. 

I seem to have Hobbits on the brain today and I am reminded of a few other quotes that move me. 
I love Sam in this one - he is the picture of a true friend. Every thing looks hopeless yet he chooses to remember the good. “Do you remember the Shire, Mr. Frodo? It'll be spring soon. And the orchards will be in blossom. And the birds will be nesting in the hazel thicket. And they'll be sowing the summer barley in the lower fields... and eating the first of the strawberries with cream. Do you remember the taste of strawberries?”   
― J.R.R. Tolkien

I am thankful for the people around me who like Sam help me to remember the taste of strawberries. 
Especially when we find our selves in places where we should not even be. When we feel we can't take another step and when we feel like giving up. I love this quote because in it Sam remembers the "why". 
There is good in the world and it is worth fighting for - don't give up friend. 
 “Frodo: I can't do this, Sam.
Sam: I know. It's all wrong. By rights we shouldn't even be here. But we are. It's like in the great stories, Mr. Frodo. The ones that really mattered. Full of darkness and danger, they were. And sometimes you didn't want to know the end. Because how could the end be happy? How could the world go back to the way it was when so much bad had happened? But in the end, it's only a passing thing, this shadow. Even darkness must pass. A new day will come. And when the sun shines it will shine out the clearer. Those were the stories that stayed with you. That meant something, even if you were too small to understand why. But I think, Mr. Frodo, I do understand. I know now. Folk in those stories had lots of chances of turning back, only they didn't. They kept going. Because they were holding on to something.
Frodo: What are we holding onto, Sam?
Sam: That there's some good in this world, Mr. Frodo... and it's worth fighting for.”
― J.R.R. Tolkien, The Two Towers

Dear Lord, 
Thank you for friends and the people who stick by us even when the way is hard. When we feel lost, and things look hopeless. Thank you for those people who help us to laugh in the middle of the stress. Who remind us of the taste of strawberries and help us to not give up. Those people who like Sam help us to see that there is some good in this world... and that it is worth fighting for. I lift up each reader to you Lord and ask that you would send them help and people who would stand with them through thick and thin. People who will love them in spite of their failures and flaws. Thank you Lord for those people who stand with us when the way is hard and the journey seems too long. 

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