Jan 8, 2020

Making a list...


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Quite honestly, I am not sure when it started. Probably last winter. Though I cannot put my finger on the day or the month.

I just know something changed.

My heart darkened.

Walls started forming.

Flesh started creeping in and taking over the parts of my heart that had been long surrendered.

Just like any kind of sin, it was subtle.

Little thoughts here and there.

Little words here and there.

My passions and desires were fading.

Complacency was setting in. As well as bitterness.

I did not like who I was becoming, but it almost felt good? Not in a good way, but more in a rebellious way.

Sin is like that, isn't it?

I began to swell with pride and simultaneously self loathing. How can the two co-exist?

Because they both are SELF-ish.

This was all partly due to the fact that change was sweeping over our little family. I could not stop the torrent of change.

The oldest was preparing for college, and the youngest for high school.

Thoughts swirled in my head. 

I have not done enough. I am not prepared for this. Who am I kidding, I am not at all what I write about or claim to be. I am a failure. 

On the outside everything looked well...on the inside, I was a well of emptiness.

Doctor visit after doctor visit...all concluded I was "fine".

But, how can I be fine? My heart feels like it's been replaced by something else. Replaced by a ticking clock...haunting me with every tick and tock.

I was hardly praying.

I was reading God's Word, due to habit, but my heart was far removed.

The darkness was real.

I had no hope anymore. My always glass half-full heart was now bone dry.

The teenager that I mentor began to spiral....

I took that as a sign that I was once again....not doing enough. 

Not cut out for this role as mother, wife, friend, sister, daughter, mentor....

Three family members quickly taken off the face of the Earth did not help my heart.

Or at least that is what I thought.

It could have sealed the bitterness...sealed the envelope that I had been holding-- God is not that good.

Yet, something just the opposite happened.

Gratitude started to set in.

When I thought of their faces and their family members...

I became thankful.

When I sat at the funeral, staring at the light coming through the stained glass...I felt it start to settle in.

Bizzare as it seems, death can do that to a heart.

God can bring beauty from ashes.

When you lose something or someone, you begin to realize all you have.

Slowly, each morning as I began to wake nearing the end of November, I began to say thank you. 

It began as a whisper in a tired voice.

It has become my daily song. 

I have clenched the steering wheel hard, turned up my palms to heaven, and said thank you more times than I can count in the past months.

I have watched the boy drive off in his small silver Honda headed back to school, and looked up Heaven and said, thank you.

Bitterness will rot your soul.

I can attest to that.

It will make you think things, and say things, and do things....that wreck holy ground. Wreck relationships.Wreck a heart.

Just like anything else in my life, I need written words to make it stick.

I began to once again devour God's Word like water trickling in a desert of parch. Not out of habit this time, but out of pure thirst.

I began to grab pen and paper and write down beauty around me...the steam from my hot tea, the crumpled sheets on my daughter's bed, the red bird looking square at me out the window right this very moment...

This was taught to me years ago by my favorite writer and mentor, Ann Voskamp. I had just....forgotten.


Paul tells us to give thanks in all circumstances. This is God's Will for us in Christ Jesus. 1 Thessalonians 5:18

He was not wrong.

How else are we to enter the Holiest of Holies without giving thanks?

Enter his gates with thanksgiving and his courts with praise; give thanks to him and praise his name. Psalm 100:4

The gates of pride, of bitterness, of self loathing, of anger, of discontent...

They remained walled around us until we walk through the gate of Thanksgiving.

Could it be that thankfulness is the cure to our ailments?

Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. Philippians 4:6-7


I am on a journey.

A journey of thanksgiving.

Every morning, every mid day, every afternoon, every evening before my eyes close...

I will give thanks.

Do you need a heart transplant as well?

I challenge you to join me on this journey.

Grab a notebook and start penning down what you see. Your eyes will stay open to Him when you begin to notice. Eyes open, heart open.

Always giving thanks. Over and over.

It is impossible to feel two emotions at the same time. They come, one by one.

Fill the worry, the anger, the pride, the whatever the sin--with thanksgiving. 

Let it take root. The tiniest seed will sprout into a fuller heart--a fuller life.

“The greatest thing is to give thanks for everything. He who has learned this knows what it means to live…. He has penetrated the whole mystery of life: giving thanks for everything.” Ann Voskamp



keeping my notebook of thanks in hand, 


jill

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A heart at home...

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