It might look like a pile of rocks to the untrained eye. I remember when I was unable to give an audience to the gentle whispers. My ears were attuned to messages of self-doubt and distrust. My thoughts focused on what I could attain, achieve, control. I couldn’t afford to believe in, hope for, and lean into something outside of my ability.
One day, I walked a familiar path from my college campus to the nearby grocery store. In those days as an undergraduate student, I walked everywhere. I had walked this path many times.
Along this trek, my thoughts mulled over the options I could conceive. I would be moving at the end of the semester, and I needed to decide where I would go. Would I move into an apartment with my boyfriend? The thought concerned me. But I wasn’t sure what else could be worked out.
Where would I go?
This internal dialogue and silent prayer were repeated for at least a few months.
One day, I paused as I walked. Something shifted in my ability to perceive.
I became aware of a swarm of tiny, yellow butterflies (named Eurema lisa or Little Yellow) that had greeted me along this trek multiple times. The butterfly had become a significant symbol during my childhood. Mostly, I had been oblivious to the little creatures, engrossed in my weighted and looming decision.
God was speaking to me.
This tender storm of Little Yellow cried out to me of God’s deep, compassionate, and abiding love. The message enveloped me along my journey; its purpose was to lead me in my next step.
Instead of moving into an apartment, I would move into the church dormitory for females. This would be a haven for me for the next three years. I would break ties with my boyfriend. I would develop life-long friendships. I would grow in my relationship with God like no other time in my life.
And that’s the story of how I first learned to see God at work in my life.
The Rocks Will Cry Out
A dozen years after that period, I was reminded of God’s pursuit after my heart through continued love notes in nature. It was my oldest and dear son who brought the message again to my line of sight.
It’s a wonder how dull our senses can become.
I think the first thing my son started to notice was heart-shaped cacti. I told my children about how God spoke to me through the swarm of Little Yellow. For some time, they found joy in discovering hearts in nature. Ultimately though, they outgrew this discovery.
I tucked a few of their nature-found treasures away, and one day, I found a sale on a pack of shadow boxes. Immediately, I purchased a pack and set out to frame the treasures.
As I built Joyful Journeys Counseling, it quickly became evident that a source of income was essential.
A Small Jar of Oil
Joyful Journeys Counseling outreach ministry was created during the second stage of The Great Slowdown. While our global community was restricted from enjoying a traditional Summer, my local community picked up outdoor biking and hiking.
My family soon built a new nightly routine. After clearing the table from dinner and quickly rushing through our evening chores, we would grab a frozen treat and head for a walk through nearby trails.
Eventually, I started to carry a backpack, so I could easily hold onto the many heart rocks I found along the way. One of my sweet children smartly asked, “Why are you collecting rocks?” Later it became, “Mom. Are you still getting rocks?”
I thought of the widow who went to Elisha (please see 2 Kings 4:1-7) and wondered aloud if this wasn’t similar to her mission of gathering jars. As many jars, as she collected, those jars would supernaturally be filled from her “small jar of olive oil,” which would be the provision and sustenance for her and her sons who were able to live off the sale of the oil.
Your Heart, Our Heart, On Mission
Will you partner with our mission to reach those in need of professional counseling services? Clients are offered significantly reduced rate services to meet the needs of a population who would otherwise not be in a financial position to receive ongoing professional counseling. We cannot carry this mission forward alone. Are you in?
All photography in this blog post is original work by the author, Jennifer Lytle. Please link to this post if you use the images.