Have you ever walked into a room and immediately felt joy and excitement? I did in my own kitchen last summer. For my birthday last July, I wanted to host a Saturday Night Live (SNL) themed party. Everyone was encouraged to dress up and I was overwhelmed when people arrived—each person invited came dressed to the nines, in perfect costumes. Over fifty people in full on creative SNL garb. Even the folks I thought would be repulsed by the idea, came in their get-up. We laughed so hard. We took a million pictures. We ate and drank and were very merry.
My husband and I performed a medley of songs to tell our love story in the middle of it all. Prior to the party, we practiced and practiced, with Evie and Finn clapping in approval at their crazy parents. I believe we started with “All Night Long,” by Lionel Richie, then I completely lost my will to function as Erin serenaded the crowd with “I Want to Sex You Up,” by Color Me Badd. I pulled it together so I could perform “Hips Don’t Lie” by Shakira and our finale was “Uptown Funk” by Bruno Mars. It was a glorious fifteen minutes of being on stage together in front of our fireplace, in front of our dear friends. Erin and I used to do ‘Program’ together for Young Life camps where we dressed up in crazy characters and basically made fools of ourselves for the sake of making kids laugh and breaking down walls. Nothing breaks down barriers and engages a room like laughter. ‘Jack and Judy Snapkick’ was one of my favorite routines. Erin and I would do coordinated aerobic and dance routines and then I would just start snapkicking until I just about pulled my hamstring on stage. Most of the time, Erin would go rogue and start improvising with his genius comedic intellect and I’d step out of character and stare at him laughing my head off. It is something we both miss doing together so we seized the moment at my party and sang our hearts out for our friends. We wanted our friends to feel as celebrated as I did on my birthday and we wanted joy to fill the atmosphere of our house to an even higher degree. It did. I will never forget that night.
Have you ever walked into a room and felt overwhelmed with compassionate sorrow and fought to hold back tears? I did last Fall in Ethiopia when our team spent an afternoon in an orphanage. I felt hot tears running down my face as our white van pulled up next to an unfriendly, abrasive cement building. Barbed wire lined the cement walls around the building. I thought to myself, This is the place these children will call home, for many, many years. This scary looking place. Since International adoption has been banned in Ethiopia, many of these orphans will never be adopted. Pulling up to the orphanage I thought I had an idea of how I would feel once I got inside, that I’d be able to hold it together. After all, I’m a nurse and have practiced the art of holding it together in front of my patients, only to lose it when I step out into the hallway. For months leading up to this wonderful trip to Ethiopia, I had a feeling of anticipation about this day, this moment, this experience. I was warned it would be incredibly hard. I wondered if this would be the day that the Lord would speak to me about my questions about adopting a child since I still longed for a third baby at this time.
I got out of the van and stared at the ground, not wanting to make eye contact with my friends. I didn’t want to emotionally break again. Walking inside, the building was bare, lacking color, lacking warmth. Entering the first room, I saw cribs after cribs full of precious babies of varying ages. Some definitely looked to be pre-term, around 33-weeks-old. The nurse in me started to look at what these babies needed and did not have available like the right formula for their tiny 3-4 pound bodies and the oxygen they might be needing for their underdeveloped lungs. Instead, they were nestled 4-5 babies to a crib in dirty clothes with oversized diapers that didn’t adequately fit. Jesus. Help me. Help them. I closed my eyes, feeling the heaviness of the need in front of me. I felt the Lord nudging me, saying, Keep breathing, Adge, and keep your eyes open.
One of the last rooms we got to go in was the special needs room. I took another deep breath, preparing myself for what could be the most difficult room to see. Babies, toddlers, older kids, all in one room together with varying needs. All of them were in the same metal cribs as I’d seen in the other rooms. In my mind, I fought not to think of the cribs as small prisons. Some of these beautiful children were lying in a position facing a wall—because they were unable to move themselves they would see nothing most of the day except a bare wall. One of our team members rotated a child to face the center of the room in hopes that she would see other kids, have some kind of connection, and receive some stimulation within her world. I was completely overwhelmed as I thought through what daily life looked like for the souls in this room. Do they get to come out of their cribs? Do they get to interact with loving faces? Jesus, I don’t know how to handle this.
Through God’s strength, I kept my eyes open and I’m so thankful I did or I would have missed something huge. Feven, one of our interpreters, had her cell phone with her. A sweet girl with cerebral palsy who looked to be around 10-years-old reached out for Feven. You could look in this little girl’s eyes and see she was completely intact mentally and was trying so damn hard to communicate with us, but her precious body would not cooperate with what she wanted it to do. Feven reached for her and pulled her up to a sitting position. The girl motioned towards Feven’s phone. Tearing up, Feven asked, “Would you like to hear some music?” Feven chose a worship song and I watched as the entire room’s atmosphere changed. Instantly. God, you’re doing it!!! You’re changing the atmosphere right in front of me. The kids in the room quickly started responding to the song, creating their very own special chorus. Some started giggling, some started making noises and moaning, some started moving what limbs they could, and some couldn’t move at all but you could see their eyes searching the room for where that miraculous noise was coming from.
I watched as the presence of the Lord came into the room and breathed joy into each crib, into each child, and into each one of my team members. It was like when Aslan breathes on his people who were turned to stone and they become alive again in the stories of Narnia. Holding what kids we could in their cribs, we sang along with the song, tears running down our faces. My friend Megan started dancing with one of the kids who was lying motionless in bed with eyes that looked vacant. I watched her hold that kid, cradled him in her arms, as she sang along with the song about the love of God. I watched her lock eyes with that child and breathe the breath of God into that child with her genuine love. I was wrecked. Love does that. I will never forget that afternoon.
There is a spontaneous worship song that Brian Johnson and Lindsay Strand sing together called “Colors” and I love the imagery it provides. They sing:
You make all things new. You make all things new when you walk in the room. You make all things new when you walk in the room. Would you walk into the room? … Bring your color in my life. Bring your color in my life. Wipe away the dullness, bring your color in my life. Bring your color in my life, would you walk into the room? You make all things new. Bring your color in my life. Wipe away the dullness, bring your color in my life. Your vibrancy. Bring your color in my life.
Isn’t that what Jesus does every time He walks into a room? He brings life, full of vibrancy, full of all the colors that the Kingdom embodies. Colors that bring faith, joy, hope, peace, kindness, acceptance, belonging, healing, love, and adoption into His family. I saw it that day in the orphanage. Despair in my own heart for these kids turned to hope because I knew Jesus saw each and every heart in that room and that His love for them is greater than the reality I see in front of me. His presence shifts the atmosphere, allowing Heaven to sometimes gently (and sometimes fiercely) invade any circumstance.
I’ve realized how powerful prayer and playing worship music can be in shifting atmospheres. Driving around town, I watch as my emotions range from peace and happiness about my life to stress and worry about our finances or my kids’ future. Ever notice that? You start out feeling good and then all of a sudden, BAM For no reason, your outlook shifts and you feel down! I think some of it is just life, but some of it is undoubtedly the atmosphere around us—that which we can’t see with our eyes. Ephesians 6:12 says, For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.
One night last week, about fifteen minutes after I put the kids to bed, Evie came running out of her room and was crying. “What’s going on Evie?” “Mom, I keep hearing a voice telling me that my family is going to be killed and I will be left all alone. I feel afraid.”“What???!!!” (Really, I was saying WTF in my head). Evie, like a lot of kids, has nightmares from time to time, but this time it was obvious what was going on and I knew what to do. I played a worship song on my phone while I held her and we sang it together and then I prayed for her. Fear left the room, along with whatever else it was that was trying to keep her from sleeping peacefully. I tucked her in and she fell asleep. As a mom, I go straight-up mama bear when I feel like the Enemy is going after my kids. He has no right to come near my kids! For some, this sounds creepy and a little far-fetched, like something out of a Netflix series. But it’s not, it’s real!
The point isn’t to look for the negatives in the atmosphere but to know that God is excited to be invited into every circumstance and experience and He can shift the entire feeling in a room if you ask Him to. It’s part of the adventure of knowing God—you have a role to play and the authority to bring Heaven into any part of your day. Right now, is there a place God is nudging you to invite His presence into? Is it your office where you feel overwhelmed with bills and your finances? Get on your knees and pray for His peaceful presence to come into this room of your life. Is it the room of your child who has been struggling in school with friends or grades? Get on your knees, on their little bed and ask for God’s wisdom. Ask Him to speak to you about your child and play a worship song of hope in the room. Whatever room you need to be in, go for it! Be someone who walks in confidence knowing that God is so willing—He is so sweetly willing—to change the atmosphere of our lives, wherever we are. And please, tell me all about it when you see Him do it. Share your testimony in the comments below.
Colorado Springs, CO
Adge is an adventurer by heart, climbing 14ers (mountains over 14,000 ft high) and simply being in the wilderness refills her cup. She married a man who shares that passion with her, Erin, and together they have three children, Everleigh, Finnley, and Bodie. Adge has a huge heart for women. She works as a labor & delivery nurse, loves one-on-one conversations, and lattes with intricate foam designs!