In all things …

I have been on a journey of gratitude and it creates a deep and very real and abiding joy. As I’m scrubbing down the kitchen, ironing Matt’s shirt for church, or sipping a cup of coffee, I’ve begun to give thanks in short, breath prayers. As I breathe out thanks, out goes the worry and the cares for the day and in enters more of His Spirit, and the joy overflows.

But how quick I am to forget that in all things He is good, whether that means all is peace and patience or I have come to the end of myself and just can’t make it on my own.

I turned 32 last week. I am no longer thirty, nor one year past. I am, I feel, in my thirties and that seems daunting, because isn’t a person in their thirties truly an adult? So often, I look around my home at scattered toys, folded or unfolded laundry, and three sets of eyes and smiles looking up at me and I wonder how I got here.

Was it really eleven years ago that Matt and I started dating? Time sure flies. I started out last week wanting to write thirty-two thanks for graces, but life happens and it didn’t.

Right before we walked out the door for my birthday date on Tuesday, Bethany threw up all over the kitchen floor. I cleaned it up and mopped and was assured that I shouldn’t worry about going out anyhow.

Wednesday morning, Lucas said his milk tasted funny and we discovered that the refrigerator (only a year and a half old) was no longer cooling. We later found out that the repair man couldn’t come until Thursday. Of course the one part not covered in the warranty was the computer and what else would our fridge need repaired? Nothing. It just needs a new computer. Because the part wasn’t covered in the warranty, the nearly four-hundred dollars worth of food loss would not be covered either.

The part had to be ordered and was not put in until this afternoon.

Friday afternoon Lucas was picked up from school, limping. Just by lifting his pant leg and seeing an ankle three times its normal size, we knew we had to go to the hospital. Three hours and a temporary cast later, we left to wait for Monday to arrive with more appointments and hopefully some answers.

I am thinking about bills and injuries and a huge grocery shopping trip to replace food and I want to panic, but worry and joy have no relationship and I must choose joy.

In times like these I understand that praise can be a sacrifice, and here I am and all I want to do is give thanks. So nearly a week late, thirty-two thanks.

51. summer squash growing in the garden
52. Nikki’s beautiful smile and sweet spirit
53. the use of Robin’s freezer to preserve some of our frozen meat
54. Nicholas’ sweaty head when he’s sound asleep
55. coupons!
56. Grace’s yummy bbq and baked beans
57. hanging plants
58. the smell of jasmine
59. a house that has been clean for a week and a half (that is huge for me with these tiny little mess makers)
60. my black and pink flannel pajamas
61. two yummy meals from Robin when I couldn’t cook
62. the way it seems our money was multiplied when we had to eat out several times over the past six days
63. watching Matt enjoy a documentary about Cajun women and the way they iron
64. listening to Matt’s impersonation of said Cajun women
65. clean sheets
66. pedicures
67. answered prayers
68. friendships birthed in prayer
69. Starbucks gift cards
70. differentiation and growing up
71. kissing Bethany’s cushy cheeks
72. Nicholas’ BIG blue eyes
73. Lucas’ tiny top lip
74. the way my nose fits perfectly in Matt’s ear
75. Allison’s cinnamon chocolate chip coffee cake
76. raspberries
77. my kids’ wonderful pediatrician
78. Jessica and how much my kids’ (and we) love her
79. tiny Japanese eggplants hanging all over my plant
80. anticipating a big rhubarb harvest next year
81. bread rising
82. God’s graces never ending

Blessed

If you spend much time with a baby in the midst of your soul awakening to God’s mercies everlasting, ever present, always renewing, you realize that gratitude is a natural human instinct.

Eyes wide with wonder, mouth full-open, bursting smile, hands outstretched, squeals of glee … he cannot speak the thanks, but his face expresses it all. Whether it’s the newness of a game of give and take, peek-a-boo, a sibling walking into the room, Daddy coming home from work, eyes rolling back and blinking thanks while nursing and then sleeping, smiling, settling back in mama’s arms all milk drunk in love; a baby’s whole being says thanks and he is eager to keep the “game” going.

Somewhere along the way he will lose this innate gratefulness. Please and thank you will need to be taught, but seeing the natural giddiness of a thankful heart — what better gift to give your children at a young age than the practice of gratitude; for the lapse of instinctual thanks to be brief, that they would not come of age before realizing the overwhelming joy that comes in recognizing His face in the world around them.

Life has a way of snatching this most basic instinct from us. I live in a world that since the fall, is inundated with sin … that which has grabbed the joy and replaced it with suffering, pain, loss, fear.

And we are in the world, but must we be of it?

In the last month, I have been searching, and it is not difficult, to find Christ’s face, His Breath, goodness, blessings all around me. As I’ve done so, I’ve noticed myself grow in joy, laughing to the point of tears, relishing the simple things and quiet moments.

In the word’s of that Christmas movie “Love actually, is all around” and the giver of love is our Creator and He, actually, is all around.

But what of the moments when I cannot see Him? Is He also there?

Was He there when I started in my fourteenth school?

Was He there when we lived with my grandparents one summer waiting for the doors to open at another church, with another position for my Dad?

Was He there when I had to start at a new school, across the country in my senior year?

Was He there when I was told I may never have children?

Was He there as my grandfather’s mind dimmed to this world, as he became trapped in a body yearning to join his Maker?

Was He there when doctor’s tried to tell me I was experiencing a threatened miscarriage, when I knew I would never hold that baby in this life?

Is He there when doctor’s diagnoses are grim or incomplete, causing angst and wonder?

Is He there every time a baby loses its life to a woman’s choice?

Is He there when war rages?

Is He there when work is impossible to find?

Is He there when we give way to our addictive nature?

Is He there when the good suffer?

He was and He is …

And He is always the Redeemer.

And I am called to find Him in all things, and sometimes it is difficult and I am not the soul owner of all the hurt in the world to offer reasons or reassurance of His presence, but when He conquered death and the curtain that separated our wandering hearts from Him was torn in two, the pain was not taken away, but I, we were invited to find Him in all things beautiful, peaceful and glorious filled with hurt, pain, and causing fear. He is in all things.

I hold my Nicholas and realize that all these things are gifts. That he is not mine, but His and I, through pain, suffering, loss, more pain, but greater still rejoicing have been invited to take part in this grace. That were I to hold my third baby, I would have never held His Nicholas. And that, and this faith, is paradoxical.

If we look for it, we will find His glory, but it is weighty, and it is difficult and it is far above our capabilities to understand, but it is there and in all things I am blessed.

24. the birds singing outside my window
25. zenias everywhere
26. daughter’s heart to hold and mold
27. husband’s strong arms around me
28. the anticipation of brother-in-law visiting
29. other moms to learn from
30. coffee percolating
31. Bethany wanting to wear dresses all the time
32. the sound of His people desperately seeking Him
33. blueberry batter cake
34. candles
35. how cute Nicholas looks in his gdiapers
36. the very kissable indentation just beneath and to the side of Matt’s left eye
37. the little mole on Lucas’ neck
38. opportunity to comfort kids in the night
39. Robin’s brisket … mmmm
40. moments of prayer while walking with Allison
41. reading my friends’ blogs
42. a clean house
43. kids all dirty with sidewalk chalk
44. baby with skinned toes and dirty from playing outside
45. finding Matt’s wedding ring after it was missing for 3 months
46. my kids, whether six years old or newborns, and how beautiful they are
47. Johanna Geesey — how I will miss her.
48. Praise Baby dvds calming kids and baby
49. the stillness of the house before the kids wake
50. puffy clouds in a blue sky