Scurrying into work, feeling scattered with all I needed to accomplish before the end of school, I glanced down. There, on the sidewalk, I saw a heart—right in the middle of a mess.
I often notice hearts in unexpected places and sense Jesus’ whisper that he loves me. But this heart, courtesy of a passing bird, seemed to hold an added message—Jesus is with me even in the middle of a mess.
I teach kindergarten, where days are full of messes. They’re mostly the happy sort, made of things like crayons and cookie crumbs. And sometimes they result from my own inspired, otherwise known as wacky, ideas.
An example of the latter occurred soon after the morning of my bird-poop-heart sighting.
Actually, it all started in March, when I read aloud to my class the manuscript of a book I wrote about a little girl named Macy Joy. The story includes a character with a fidget toy called Mr. Stretchy.
Mr. Stretchy is a blue blob that is fun to squish and stretch. It can also fly.
In May, my students were still talking about Mr. Stretchy. This led to my decision on a Friday, three days before kindergarten graduation, to make such a toy for each child in my class as an end-of-year gift. Only, I had no idea how.
A google search for DIY fidget toys led me to view a YouTube tutorial on how to make a stress-relief ball. I thought, with a little modification, it would work just fine for my purposes. The process involved filling a balloon with cornstarch and water. This would make it fun to squish, and I figured the stretchiness of the balloon would enable it to fly at least a little.
If you’re looking for a way to spend hours making a mess, to create a toy that will make an even bigger mess on unsuspecting children, and also will not fly, look no further. I gave my students their gift on Monday morning. By Monday afternoon, Mr. Stretchies were popping open all over town.
Although I didn’t hear any reports of it, I like to think some of the toy’s spilled innards, which likely resembled bird poop, landed in the shape of a heart.
The Bible is full of stories of folks, from slaves (Genesis 16) to kings (2 Samuel 11-12), who found themselves in messes. Jesus told us this world would be that way (John 16:33). But he also said he would never leave us (Deuteronomy 31:8).
So while we can’t count on life always being neat and tidy, we can count on one thing. Whatever mess we find ourselves in, God’s heart is there (Romans 8:38-39). His unfailing love redeems messes. Even the wacky variety.
Eventually, an idea came to me for a way to make a flying, non-messy Mr. Stretchy. I posted the directions on YouTube. One can only imagine the vast numbers of people who will surely be saved from a shower of wet cornstarch, as a result.
And my students, who are undoubtedly anxious to practice writing over the summer, ended up with an interesting experience to write about. So did I.
God’s heart is with us in the middle of a mess. A little bird told me.
The LORD your God is in your
mess midst . . . Zephaniah 3:17