I am sitting on my blue couch, even now, and watching little bits of snow fly.
And I am praying, dear God, help me not to complain about snow. Not to put too fine a point on it, but as you can tell, we survived the polar vortex from last year, we had enough food and more to eat all winter, we had clothing and shelter, we were neither in danger nor surrounded by those in danger. Dear God, raise my vision higher, take my focus off of me and put it on the things that matter to you.
The souls that matter to you.
The hurting and hungry and broken that matter to you.
The injustice that matters to you.
O, Abba, please, let me be a bearer of your light.
- And now, to practice the discipline of the giving of thanks:
#15: Repurposing. Remember this from last week? The repurposed door that was sitting on sawhorses in our garage, covered in two coats of chalk paint, just waiting for us to distress and wax it. We have been waiting for a rebirth, too; and the door reminded us that seasons of casting off, of pain and challenge and dying, make way for re-creation, for resurrection, for a fresh start. And voila, this week the door was made new, but with the distressed look, reminding us that our scars can be beautiful, that we are being repurposed with greater depth and character. I feel the repurposing happen, see it even, and joy is breaking through.
#16: Women are being healed. One of the hardest things I've ever done is see the book #ReclaimingEve through the publishing process, along with my coauthors. It took 4 1/2 years, went through many delays and reschedules and times when I thought it would never happen. I do believe there were spiritual forces at work that made it such a trial to bring this news of freedom and wholeness for the world's women. But now I have eyes to see and ears to hear: I hear women share stories of feelings of deep inferiority and inadequacy who are being set free and strengthened to stand up as the ezers or strong powers (Genesis 2:18) God created them to be.
I walk into safe spaces and I hear these women tell their stories or I read their emails, and I think God is raising up a new generation of women, restoring one heart at a time. The lies of "I am easily deceived, dangerous, and inferior" are being replaced with the powerful truth that "I bear God's image and am his representative, I have the agency to share his love with the world, and I am equipped for his good work." And women are Reclaiming Eve by passing this redeemed narrative on to their daughters and their sisters, their mothers and their friends. I believe that every story matters, and that as we are set free to live out our calling we will set other men and women, boys and girls, free as well. For this I thank God, over and over again.
#17: Church. Do you remember my post awhile back about struggling with traditional church? Oh, the pain that coursed through the comments and the emails I received. Well, God is doing a new thing with us and church, my friends. The last few Sundays we've been at a church that is gloriously messy. They are not big, they are not a "production," they are showing up with a new pastor and seeking to find ways to go out into the community to serve. They are as friendly and warm as the day is long, and amidst the chaos we feel the Holy Spirit moving in their midst, we feel love and gratitude hanging out, we feel seen and valued and appreciated in all of two Sundays. I can't wait to go back!
#18: Health. This past week, a family member had a health scare, and I found myself at the hospital, looking for answers, hoping for the best. I am thankful for good medical care and for healing and for hope. I am thankful that no matter what comes, Jesus will shepherd us through it, our Great Physician, our always-present Friend.
#19: The Divine Hours. Each morning my heart needs a reorientation, a resetting, a recalibration. And so I pray from the Divine Hours, like I did just this morning, "…you have brought me in safety to this new day: Preserve me with your mighty power, that I may not fall into sin, nor be overcome by adversity; and in all I do direct me to the fulfilling of your purpose; through Jesus Christ my Lord. Amen." And the anchor holds.
#20: Good neighbors. We have some really wonderful neighbors, the kind who will give you food out of their garden and put your stuff in their garage sale and help you move something with their truck and bring you something they thought you'd like to try. It makes me want to be a good neighbor, too, so I invited a couple over to celebrate his upcoming retirement. He doesn't do celebrations, so he asked if we could just call it "Friday," and this just makes me smile every time I think about it.
#21: Book Club. We have a menagerie of friends who coalesced around reading challenging books together and now just get together to hang out and share life, so I suppose we should call it the "Life Club." The wonderful thing about them is that they are safe people, unique and welcoming souls, and though it's hard to get all of us together, we never give up. That is how I ended up sitting at one of their tables last Saturday drinking ginger beer and eating Chicken Enchiladas and African Ground Nut Stew. And the conversations, oh, they are the best of all. From ice cream to immigration reform, social justice to church mission, book discussions to relationship sharing and advice.
*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 22-28 on the gratitude list—a list of some great book quotations, and please know you are invited to add your own giving of thanks.
Your turn: For what are you most grateful on this day?