EXCERPT from post #1: "Part of me wishes I could say life got easier after that, and that I eventually drew another picture of Jesus and I hand in hand, walking chummily through life. But, alas, no: Jesus is still carrying me. I'm still unclear on the future as far as permanent ministry is concerned; I watched another birth mother pass us over for adoption of her baby in July; I heard a few weeks ago that our book publisher—the one we worked so long and hard to get our book published through—is closing their doors on December 1, just 9 months after our book was finally published. (The process took us 4 1/2 years total.)
So I think it's fair to say I'm no longer the girl in search of "clarity" on her spiritual journey, whatever that means. I am searching for sustenance and the words of God that declare me his Beloved and for the next open door, but I have realized that God hasn't promised us clarity. I am seeking, instead, what it might look like for him to be present in all of this."
- And now, to practice the discipline of the giving of thanks:
#1: Autumn heals. It is not just the beauty of the leaves or the chilled air, the apple cider or the apple brown betty my husband bakes inside a pie pumpkin. It is the transition of it all. Something will be born of transition, I feel God saying, something good will be birthed here, don't be in such a hurry to move on to the new season.
#2: Friendships grow. People come and go from our lives, but there are a few that stick around, too. And those friends have carried some burdens over a dinner table these last few months, their cards have made for a pleasant sight when the mailbox opens, their understanding leads me to see and taste that the Lord is good. I believe as psychologists Cloud and Townsend have written, "God uses people as his uniforms."
#3: Scripture enriches. Psalm 27:13 says, "I am still confident of this: I will see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living." Did you know that the times when you can't trace God's hand are the times he begins to prove his goodness? Not the shallow, Jesus-please-give-me-a-nice-life goodness, but the goodness of sharing in his heart so that your heart is broken right alongside his, that you might share his compassion with the world. And his Word becomes manna, daily bread: click on this post from from friend Leslie Leyland Fields as she digests Ephesians 2, and scroll down to watch her reciting it on video in the Alaskan wilderness.
#4: Music soothes. I am that girl that plays the same album and same songs over and over again ad nauseum, the Brokenness Aside album from All Sons & Daughters sliding into the cracks in my heart, renewing, reviving, recreating. "This is a word to all the ones that feel forgotten, that you are not…", "Alive," Brokenness Aside EP.
#5: Food nourishes. The aforementioned pie pumpkin is sitting on the counter, and it will be scooped out and filled with apples and cinnamon and bread, and baked, coming out of the oven with steam rising and ice cream sliding on the top, melting almost as soon as it hits the pumpkin goodness. It will nourish our tongues and our stomachs, and somehow in doing so, it will touch our souls. Much like the experience where the Brazilian university students gathered around our table several weeks ago and all of us ate Brazilian fish stew, my husband and I for the first time, and we all said what God did when he created: "This is very good." And somehow all of this reminds me that I can literally taste and see of the Lord's goodness; his presence is right here, around the table, delighting when we are delighted.
#6: Jesus loves. Sometimes I sit with the heartbroken, those in recovery from addiction or loss, and I pray for them. I pray the words for them and for myself and for all of those who Jesus loves. I say, Jesus, help her to know this: You are God's Beloved, you are the one that Jesus loves, and he delights in you. And oh how the broken cry when they hear words of unconditional love that come from a heavenly Father who loves, the One whose Son showed us we are loved. One woman said "I will write this on a mirror. I will write this many places so I cannot forget." The God of the last and the least pursues the broken, and somehow, mysteriously, in his upside-down Kingdom, the very last will be the very first (Matthew 20:16).
#7: Creativity beckons. I am at the beginning of another project, one that requires research and creativity, and it is a slow start. But the joy of piecing together this zany story pushes me on, inviting me, asking me to bear witness to the story of God unfolding through history, and to say, winsomely, "Pay attention to this. Look at the beauty here. These people were fallible but in love with a God who redeems and renews." My creativity is marinating, taking shape, and finally I will sit down and write and pull together and refine, and it will be a spiritual act, tinged with a touch of the holy.
I still believe that gratitude makes room for the gift of his presence, and that it reminds us we are all needy, every one. And that being carried by a generous and gentle Shepherd might actually make our brokenness a gateway to the next gift. Will you join me?
Come back next Monday for #s 8-14 on the gratitude list, and please know you are invited to add your own giving of thanks.
Your turn: For what are you most grateful on this day?