There was a season in my life that required diversion. I had been sick for four months with pneumonia and had eight weeks of pregnancy to go. I was too weak for anything that required stamina, and I was stir crazy and restless to get my pregnancy over with.
And then I decided to scrapbook.
It was exactly what I needed at that moment. By the time my fourth child arrived I had neatly chronicled the lives of my other three.
It wasn't long till scrapbooking became a curse. (All former scrappers say "Amen.") It was one more thing to do. I was always behind. My camera card was full of pictures waiting to be made into prints. When the prints were made they sat in stacks awaiting my attention. Pages I'd managed to finish piled up on my scrapbooking table waiting to be placed in scrapbooks.
About twice a year I cleared my schedule, put the extra leaves in the dining room table and half of it became my mess while the family huddled around the other end. After a few weeks, I packed everything up and life would return to normal.
Except each time I did this I got less and less done, because my growing children were involved in sports and band and catechism and ...
At the beginning of 2016 the finished scrapbooks remained in 2013. I was a cumulative ten years behind (two and a half years for four children). It hardly seemed worth going on... except for the piles. If I stopped scrapbooking what would become of the piles of pages in different stages of production?
My friend, Christian musician Mike Westendorf, has a song "Climb the Mountain." The first line says: "A journey of a thousand miles begins with the first step."
At the beginning of March I resolutely brought up the card table, declared the living room off limits and started sorting piles. Piles beget more piles. The sofa, love seat and both chairs held their limit as did a majority of the floor. Every waking hour that wasn't spent cooking, cleaning, working or running children to an event was spent in the living room.
By the end of March most of the piles were gone. One month produced fourteen finished scrapbooks. Two children arrived in 2016.
As I looked at the row of completed scrapbooks I felt defeat, not elation. Two children were still stranded in 2013, and two shelves in the cabinet were smashed full of piles. I didn't have another month to dedicate to scrapbooking and it would take at least another month to get caught up.
Not only that, but as I was busily climbing one mountain, other mountains were coming into view:
chores screaming for my attention,
house projects awaiting my time,
a family member who was waiting on an afternoon of my help.
Jesus said, "Truly I tell you,
Nothing will be impossible for you" (Matthew 17:20).
My-less-than-patient sinful nature reads that and thinks moving mountains should be easy. I should be able to bob my head in "I dream of Jeannie" fashion and things should just go away. But Jesus didn't say that. In fact, this verse comes after the account of the healing of a boy with an evil spirit; the evil spirit the disciples couldn't drive out. Jesus responded that this kind of demon "can come out only by prayer" (Mark 9:29). In other words, it's not impossible, but it's going to take time and perseverance.
That's sort of the way it goes with mountains. Some disappear immediately, but it seems the majority we have to climb, slowly, one step at a time.
Faith, not in ourselves, but in an all-powerful God, makes the mountains climbable.
In this season I see many mountains, but I try to remain undaunted. Mountains, like piles, aren't meant to stop us. They're meant to be dealt with, sometimes little by little, one pile at a time, until they become a beautiful chapter in our life that testifies to the faithfulness of a great God.
Amber Albee Swenson is a forgiven child of God, and that's what she writes and speaks about. She has written four books. "Bible Moms: Life Lessons from Mothers in the Bible" and "The Whisper Theory" have been in print. "The Bread of Angels" and "Ladies of Legacy" are new releases.