Choosing the Engine {Guest Post}

Today I am so pleased to welcome my dear friend, Carrie {Carrie’s Busy Nothings}, here today.  She has wonderful encouragement for us today.  Here she is:

I recently found myself in a discussion with “Lily”, a friend who felt like she was in a dead end marriage. Her husband was always gone, she was no longer sure that having kids was such a good idea, and she was afraid to pray for the Lord to fix it because she honestly just wanted it all to end.

How’s your spiritual life?” I asked, pretty sure I knew what the answer would be.

Non-existent. With handling the kids by myself, I just don’t have time.

Really? No time? Let’s think about that for a second. Every single day we make choices that will either encourage us to be more like Christ, or steer us in the direction of the world. Lest you think I am pointing fingers, let it be known that I am as guilty of this as anyone else.

Five minutes reading and meditating on a Psalmor popping on Facebook? {Guilty}

Two minutes talking to my Heavenly Fatheror checking Twitter to see what’s new? {Guilty}

Half an hour of Bible studyor cruising around Pinterest? {Seriously Guilty}

“Lily” went on to share that she no longer felt love for her husband. In fact, her feelings, she said, were gone. Feelings – they are such an interesting way to run your life. Let me tell you a story about a little girl, a little train, a very wise mama, and a lifelong lesson.

Once upon a time, when I was a very little girl, my mother sat me down in front of a flannel graph board. On it, she had a little flannel train, with an engine, a coal car, and a caboose.

The engine, she said, represented FACTS – GOD’S WORD, which is what should drive the train (representing LIFE) – it is Truth.

The coal car is FAITH, it’s what feeds the engine. Faith in God’s Word (the Truth) keeps you on track.

The final little red caboose represented FEELINGS. “Yes,” Mom would say, “feelings are a natural part of human nature, but they only work if they are kept in check behind the truth of GOD’S  WORD, and your FAITH in it.” Mom would then take the caboose from the back of the flannel train, and attach it to the front of the engine.

“What happens,” she would ask, “when the caboose tries to run the train?”

It runs amuck. It deviates from the track and causes all kinds of chaos. “Do you want to run your life by the caboose, or by the Engine, Carrie?

The Engine, Mama. The Engine.

When I was sixteen, I listened to a tape by a funny little Indian man named Ravi Zacharias. You may have heard of him, he’s a famous apologist and one of my favorite speakers, but at the time, I didn’t have a clue who he was. Ravi shared the story of his brother’s arranged marriage, and of his own disbelief that anyone could marry someone they didn’t love. “Ravi”, said his brother, “don’t you know that love is as much an act of the will as it is an emotion? And if you will to love someone, you can.

Those words set my life on a path that I never expected. Two years later, Joy’s husband was standing next to us as my husband and I pledged our lives to each other. Over the years, there have been times when the feelings ebb and flow, but each day, I have a choice. 

I can choose to trust (and obey) God’s Word, or I can let the caboose carry me away. When I choose to love my husband when he is being unlovable (which doesn’t happen often, but he is still human!), the feelings always follow, just as the caboose will always follow the engine, as long as they are kept in the correct order.

I don’t know what track “Lily” will take. I don’t know what choices you or I will make this week, but I pray that each of us will choose wisely how we spend our time and Who is driving the train.

Thank you so much, Carrie! Thanks, too, for that wonderful pregnant picture of me….ahem. Make sure to visit Carrie at her blog, Carrie’s Busy Nothings!!

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  • Sarah Beals

    This was a wonderful lesson, Carrie. I am going to teach it to my kids in the morning. Thank you.

  • Kendra

    Thank you for the reminder. It is so easy to get carried away and detoured by our feelings, which should be the caboose, but often end up steering us haphazardly in all kinds of crazy directions. Feelings can be rather deceptive! Guilty in regards to choosing media over meditation here as well =/

  • Homeschool on the Croft

    AMEN! I’ve been married for 21 years, and my husband is a wonderful man … but he is still human, and would be the first to admit he’s far from perfect. I am SO thankful for *marriage*, which means this is for life, so the (bad) feelings (when they’re there) HAVE to get pushed away – to the back of the train! …. After all, we’re together for life – we’re as well being together and happy, rather than together and miserable!

  • Lucas Stoelting

    thank you for this post…I am definitely going to teach this is to my girls…and it’s a WONDERFUL reminder to myself. Must go make my train and hang it up to teach and remind! <3 THANK YOU!

  • Carissa

    Thank you for this! My father has a similar story using baseball bases, but he didn’t come up with it until I was much older…I can’t wait to share either one (or both!) with my children while they’re young.

  • Anna Poston

    I adore this analogy of our lives with the train. I can’t wait to share this with our two train-loving little boys!

  • laujones


  • Katie @

    Ok, raise your hand if you plan to teach this to your kiddos very soon. (Me!) What a great way to teach a very important concept. I love it!

  • Laurel Diacogiannis

    GREAT post! Thanks so much for sharing.

    Yes. Love is a decision. 21 months ago, I chose to love and forgive my husband, when I could have walked away from 28 years of marriage. While it has been the most difficult 2 years of my life, I have chosen to stay . . . and God has blessed that decision.

    We celebrated our 30th wedding anniversary last month. It hasn’t been easy, but we are in it for the long haul, and expect to spend at least another 30 years together.

    If I had been lead my emotions . . . I would have been long gone 21 months ago (and many other times throughout those 21 months, when ALL that I wanted to do was to get into my car and drive off into the sunset.) But . . . I stayed . . . and CHOSE to love the man that I had given my life to so many years ago.

    I am TRUSTING in GOD’S WORD that HE will bring complete restoration and newness of life to our marriage . . . and that HE will BLESS the CHOICE that HE told me to make.

    :) :) :)

  • jobeob987

    I absolutely LOVE this message! I’ll be sure to share it with my daughters (and remind myself of it from time to time).

  • Poveglia

    Facts and faith are like comparing apples and oranges. I’m sure that you and your family feel great doing good things to the underpriveledged in Indonesia, and I for one support the humanitarian effort that your “ministry” provides to help better the lives of these people.
    Unfortunately, however, I feel that it is extremely wrong to do these “humanitarian” deeds with a hidden agenda of luring people into a religious belief system that you feel is right. This “feeling” that you have, you may justify it by thinking that it is the inspiration or calling of the holy spirit, but in reality, it is no more factual than any other religious being or mythological figure.
    It is sad that missionionaries couldn’t just go to these areas to help those in need, and that the primary mission is “proclaim the gospel”, which does nothing to better these people’s lives.
    Religions are disgusting business

  • Annemarie Salisbury

    Joy–I’ve got a picture of preggo you on that day, too! Along with preggo Abbie, and I think there was someone else “around”, and I snuck in the picture, because we were waiting until the next day to tell our family (Reini & Abbie and our mom and dad!) about our little one on the way!