This morning peace and joy have finally returned to our home.  “Mommy, Swirly has gone back into her shell!”  Our 8 year old daughter grins with tears in her eyes at the foot of my bed while my head is wrapped in my favorite pillow, I slowly awaken at the sound of her voice and allow myself to be drawn back into reality.Kathleen’s beaming face shines upon me like the sunrise this morning.  I rationalize my quiet celebration of the event with a nod, cheery smile, and crackling morning voice.  I then ask my daughter to close the door on her way out so that I can flip over and resume the dream I have just left all too suddenly.  Realizing I should have checked the clock before plunging into the downy cloud under my head, I attempt to sit up.  I am all too confident that the clock should read 6 a.m. and am filled with heartache that it actually reads 8 a.m.  A dim morning shadow falls over my plans to sleep any longer. 

     Over this last week I have observed our family pull together over an urgent issue that arose quite suddenly.  None of us were prepared for the matter.  It’s as if we were in slow motion trying to problem solve our life or death issue.  “Swirly” our longest living hermit crab decided to crawl out of her humble shell and traipse around her cage naked.  I honestly couldn’t bring myself to look at the creature.  Her parading around without her shell reminded me too much of a creeping spider.  Day after day, our entire family waited for the news of her sudden death.  On the morning of the discovery, my husband tenderheartedly misted Swirly often before he left for work and I rushed off with a few children to the pet shop seeking a larger shell.

     Every day, Kathleen would burst into tears at some point, grieving the appearance of doom for the crustacean.  At those moments,  I couldn’t help but draw near to her helplessly.  I know nothing of these pets and after our poor history in keeping few alive, I was sure that my words of experience would be of little consolation.  One thing I did understand pretty well though was that God created the creature and if He wanted her to go back into the shell- He could make it happen.  You might wonder like I did for a moment though- why would God care if Swirly got back into that shell?  Would it really be worth praying about?  What I realized were two things- God cares about His creation and He cares about our belief  in His answers to prayer in the “little” things of life.  To Kathleen though, the hermit crab that she has faithfully tended to for months was her responsibility and a large part of her world.  This tragedy was a test of her faith in God and a test of mine to lead her to Him over this issue.  We did pray together and for 2 days, there was no change.  So, we prayed again.  On the 3rd day  I awoke out of sound sleep, with great relief to joyous news of Swirly’s return to shell life.  I also knew that I couldn’t let the opportunity pass us by to thank God together for what He did for us and especially Jostlin’s faith.   I guided my daughter up close by my side and encouraged her, “Would you thank God for us?”  Her prayers were so sweet and so genuine.  Oh to be like my daughter again, when the days of seeing God’s love for me was so much easier and with so many fewer distractions…   Oh to be like Swirly to come out of my shell, get out of my comfort zone, and be used to encourage someone to pray…  I think it’s time to get my head out of the pillow and into the reality that God is at work when I’m awake and when I’m asleep… No more excuses, it’s time to make the most of learning life’s lessons, even when the opportunities to learn arise from unusual situations-  like a hermit crab escaping her shell.
    “If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you.  But when you ask, you must believe and not doubt, because the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea, blown and tossed by the wind.   That person should not expect
to receive anything from the Lord.  Such a person is double-minded and unstable in all they do.” 
James 1:5-7