Saturday, November 30, 2013

Pushing back the darkness with thankfulness.


In the spirit of Ann Voskamp's 1,000 gifts, we are counting the days of November with deliberate, intentional gratitude.

There is a constant, very real struggle with the darkness, in this world and in my heart and in my mind. In my own heart and mind, the battle is often waged against me with words like "If only...." "When ____ happens," "It's not fair that...." I have learned that I can keep all of that at bay by heeding the words of that old hymn, Count Your Many Blessings
When up life's billows you are tempest tossed
When you are discouraged, thinking all is lost,
Count your many blessings, name them one by one
And it will surprise you what the Lord hath done.

Count your blessings, name them one by one
Count your blessings, see what God hath done!
Count your blessings, name them one by one,
And it will surprise you what the Lord hath done.

Are you ever burdened with a load of care?
Does the cross seem heavy you are called to bear?
Count your many blessings, every doubt will fly
And you will keep singing as the days go by.

Count your blessings, name them one by one......

When you look at others with their lands and gold,
Think that Christ has promised you His wealth untold;
Count your blessings.  Wealth can never buy
Your reward in heaven, nor your home on high.

Count your blessings....

So amid the conflict whether great or small,
Do not be disheartened, God is over all;
Count your many blessings, angels will attend,
Help and comfort give you to your journey's end.

Count your blessings...

1.  3 gifts eaten: a bite of Tucker's candy bar, melty from his hand, offered to his mama because "Mama, you like chocolate."  homemade chicken noodle soup from the freezer stash.  meatloaf, cooked for Dan's dinner because we are glad he is home from retreat.

2.  3 gifts worn: pajamas, while watching cartoons with Lana and Tucker.  fuzzy socks on cold feet.  the Mother/Daughter necklace that Lana bought while shopping at a friend's birthday party for she and I to wear.

3.  3 gifts that start with N: neighbors, Tim and Mary.  netflix, for mornings home with feverish children.  nighttime, when all the house is quiet and still.  

4.  a gift gathered, given, good. sushi, dropped off at my front door by mark & valita & josh at just the right moment.  Dan out of town, kids sick....the thought of it meant more than even the sushi.

5.  3 gifts, acorn small: a rock, chosen just for me by my boy.  the clap song, taught to me by my daughter - nothing tangible at all, but it connects us.  a kiss, on the top of my head, for no reason at all from my Dan.

6.  3 gifts government: revealing how desperately we need Jesus.  doing the job the church isn't doing: caring for the poor.  roads to drive on.  (and not in that particular order.)

7.  3 gifts from your window: palm trees.  the cul-de-sac where my kids ride their bikes.  the jeep that my father-in-law generously let us borrow when we were down a vehicle.

8.  a gift sweet, salty, sipped: thieves tea, to ward off the yuckies.

9.  3 gifts harvest: honeycrisp apples, special this time of year.  rows of fluffy white cotton, southern snow.  Young Living oils, from seed to seal.

10.  3 gifts found in Bible reading: 2 Corinthians 1:20.  Colossians 1:17.  Colossians 2:13-15.

11.  3 gifts of remembrance:

12.  3 gifts at noon: a morning spent cleaning house.  a breeze, blowing through open windows and rustling the branches of our palm trees.  a text from Dan, just to say hi.

13.  3 gifts behind a door: students behind my classroom door, my vacuum cleaner behind a closet door, a reliable vehicle behind a garage door.

14.  3 gifts silent: diffuser for my oils.  Dan's hand holding mine in the night.  my new study bible (except that isn't really silent, is it?)

15.  3 gifts golden: wedding rings.  painting from Dan's mom.  "pirate treasure," left on a shelf in my closet for safekeeping.

16.  3 gifts hard Eucharisto: forgiving, even as the hurt continues.

17.  3 gifts of laughter: donut frosting from ear to ear.  mis-pronounced words and phrases.  Tucker scaring me to death underneath the table.

18. a gift made, shared, passed on: Keurig, hand delivered to our door by Jon & Ashley Andrews.

19. 3 gifts autumn: slower schedule, with those dark early nights.  warm drinks.  cozy candles.

20.  3 gifts of tradition: Thanksgiving tree.  Advent house.  nightly family worship.

21.  3 gifts family: all 4 of us at Tucker's Thanksgiving feast.  friends who are like family, who will perhaps be geographically closer to us soon.  "museum kisses."

22.  a gift grateful: taking a half day off teaching to be with my family for Tucker's feast, and having a principal tell me she is proud of me for doing that.  having a boss who prioritizes family is nothing short of grace.

23.  3 gifts only in Christ: forgiveness.  identity.  purpose.

24.  3 gifts humble: Tucker's last bite of oreo.  Lana setting up for night of thanks.  Dan cleaning.

25.  3 gifts ugly-beautiful: for the aftermath of a boy with food poisoning - a washing machine, a bathtub with warm water, lysol and clorox.

26.  3 gifts preparing: jesse tree ornaments.  daily advent scripture readings.  acts of Christmas kindness list.

27.  a gift handmade, held, happy. ornaments from the Jesse Tree exchange.  so thankful for my friend Mindy including me!  we met in Paris, spent just a week and a half together, and she is a sister of my soul.

28.  3 gifts in community: borrowing books and playing with puppies at the Scanlan's.  Dan hunting.  Knowing that they "have our back."

29.  3 gifts red: coca cola, in a can.  Advent house, bought on clearance from Target.  J-O-Y, hung in large letters on my mantle for Christmas.

30.  3 gifts astonishing! how a nap can work wonders.  making room in our budget to be able to give more.  hope.

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