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My life is a bit crazy right now. To explain it all would take pages upon pages, so I’ll keep to: It’s crazy. My emotions are all over the place, as God works healing in my life and heart from these past five years of trial upon trial upon trial. I smile at work, cheerfully (and often not so cheerfully) grumble over the kids’ shenanigans, and then go to my car and cry and talk to God. I break my day into segments. In each segment, something different is required of me. And in my alone time, I work through the challenges in my life.

But today, God filled me with good things (He probably does that more than I know. I think I just don’t notice it all the time).

The first was the beauty of this crisp, autumn day of blue skies and sun. I was out gardening with my little ones–the “twinsies,” and the one I call “Squeaky” (or “Kitty,” depending on the day). I loved showing them how to dig up weeds, get their hands dirty, and use a trowel without flipping dirt everywhere. I loved when they asked, “How deep should I bury this one?” And I could tell them: “That one’s a crocus, so not too deep. But see this one? It’s bigger, so it needs to go down deeper. And Squeaky, can you stop demolishing that pumpkin and come help us plant bulbs?”

I just love those kids. Yes, they drive me crazy, but I love them (though I have moments where I get very frustrated with them). But that moment, with those three, really was soothing and fun for me. I wasn’t trying to get them to focus on a work task. I wasn’t scolding them for this-that-and-the-other (that happens a lot in a classroom full of autistic and behavior kids). We were just having a good time together, doing some of the things we love best. Boys need to get their hands dirty. Who cares if some of them can’t count past fifteen? Who cares if they’re struggling, learning how to read? Who cares if they have the attention span of a goldfish? They love gardening as much as I do, they have sweet hearts, and I believe they are destined for great things.

The next blessing came at my dance class. I was busy as heck, trying on outfits for the girls (and praying they hadn’t outgrown yet another one), checking out new ghillies (dance shoes) to see which one fit best, etc. I was busy, reminding them YET AGAIN about having their FUSTA cards ready, and to not gather up everything for Saturday’s competition on Friday night. Then we had to go through the dances. Sometimes I think “dance coach” is a better term than “dance teacher.” Believe me, there’s a big difference between teaching and coaching. I am a coach. And gosh, do we have fun in class. They crack me up. I needed that today.

After that, came my time helping out with the youth group. I’m starting to make friends there, and more of the kids are getting to know me. I play gutter ball, bemoaning how I’m “all rusty” (darn my competitive spirit!), and how I used to actually be able to beat people at this game. I let one of the boys teach me some brain tricks, which make me laugh. I chat with a girl about homegroup, and apologize (again) for missing it this past Sunday. I told her I’d do my best to be at the next one. She said she wants me to start coming Sundays too (middle school church). Do you know how much that means to me?

I listen to the sermon, feeling myself encouraged. God’s Word is seeping into me. And I know: It was God’s Voice I heard at VBS this past summer when he told me, “Come back to Calvary.”

And afterward, I leave early (promising my friend I actually will stay for the games afterwards soon-ish. I just am usually pretty exhausted by the end of the day, and like the little extra time at home). I walk out, shoes in hand, even though it’s pretty darn cold out. When you’re stuck in sneakers (and dance shoes) all day… Well, it’s a welcome relief to be free of shoes.

As I head out to my truck, I pass by a Sunday school teacher–a middle aged man who has been teaching Calvary kids since I was little. I wonder if he’ll recognize me. He passes me, then turns. “Arielle?”

I laugh. “I wondered if you’d recognize me.”

We chat. I tell him I graduated from WWU, and that I’m teaching dance (he remembered that I used to dance), and writing books, and working in the school district. He says it’s good that I’m still walking with Jesus (even if I’m barefoot). He asks how that came about, and what Calvary did right in training us up in the way we should go. Hmm… I haven’t really thought a ton about that before.

We discuss it.

“Well,” I say, “I guess church was always my ‘happy thought.’ Childhood was always my happy thought too. I always just felt safe and happy there. We got into God’s Word, and the worship songs were about Jesus, and all our pastors and teachers were great. It was just very real, and the testimonies were real. And that gave me what I needed to make it through some really hard times.”

“Email the children’s pastor,” he says. “It will be an encouragement to him.”

“You think so?” I ask. I can see the idea behind it, but it’s not something I would have thought of on my own. I like the idea though.

“Yes,” he says. “We need to know what we’re doing right.”

Huh. Very true. We chat a bit longer, then I head out. I drive home, feeling happy and content with the day. God is good. My God is a good God. He fills the hungry with good things.