I have been aching to write this post.
Before Olivia’s letter, I left you with a heaviness. It is where I am and have been yes, but it is not ALL of where I have been or where I am.
There is so much more to it.
I feel strongly the importance of facing the hardness of life and the goodness of God and how they work together. I feel strongly the importance of talking about it. Being real and honest. Not pretending that there isn’t, excuse my crudeness, crap to deal with on a daily basis. Such as difficulties in marriage, raising children, disappointments in life, sin ever-invading…
But I also feel strongly the importance of sharing the good that God has brought from it or is bringing. The gifts He gives us in the daily. Where and how He blesses. We are all so different, therefore the blessings look a little different.
We should never live in the past. But what a waste it would be to not learn from it. To appreciate the good, to recognize the blessings. To give thanks for what He has given. And to share with others.
Isn’t that what we work so hard to teach our children? To be honest, to give thanks, to share?
So here is my sharing of some of the gifts God has given me this past year and my choosing to see them…
#1 I must first begin with my husband. Please understand, I am not trying to be predictable. But I must say these words to him and I must share my heart with others, because I believe it’s important.
I was reminded through my mother complimenting Dustin over New Year’s, of how I just don’t say it enough.
I think life gets in the way too often and we focus on the stresses and the not fast enough’s and the not as I would have done it’s… And we miss the heart behind the man. Our men. And instead of complimenting and showing appreciation, WE fall short and nag instead.
I’m not a huge ‘nagger’ (at least I wouldn’t say so), but I do too often stay quiet on the other side of things. I just don’t say thanks enough.
So, I am saying it now.
Thanks, Babe, for all you do for me and for the kids.
I know you say you don’t do much, but you really do. A lot is found in the little. Especially over the last several months when I was down physically or emotionally. You stepped up, you took over and you didn’t make me feel bad for it. You were the support I needed when I didn’t feel like I could stand anymore, or take yet another blow. You stood up for what was right. You prayed with me. You took the kids, you made us dinner, you cleaned up the kitchen and did the laundry and put them to bed, so I could do what needed doing or not do. I don’t think I would have survived well without you.
In the past, the stresses of life had a tendency to tear us apart, to divide, to cause strife and trouble between us. I am so thankful things are different now. Instead, we have come together and acted as a team. I am so thankful. You are one of my biggest blessings, and you shone brightly in the midst of so much darkness. And I thank you.
#2 I have been struck hard by the significance of the church in a believer’s life. ‘Church’ has always been an integral part of my life. I don’t remember a time when I wasn’t involved in a local church. It’s just the way it was. It was never a fight or a drudgery. I loved it. It was important to me, I wanted to be there, even as a young child.
But I don’t think I truly appreciated how vital it is to a believer’s soul.
When our pastor left, we were devastated. I think I mentioned before that I just wanted to close the doors for a while, take some time to mourn, recover in the silence, in the darkness. I was frustrated when the very next Sunday we were there, sitting on the front pew, singing, worshiping, and yes, crying. Can’t I do this alone? On my bathroom floor??
I wondered how our assistant pastor was able to give the sermon he did that day. How the singers were able to lead the congregation without falling apart. How people walked about smiling and chatting, talking together as if nothing had happened. But that wasn’t true. Not a single person in that sanctuary didn’t feel what had happened.
Over the weeks that followed, as my mind continued to process and grieve over our loss, I began to see more and more. I began to understand.
It was something our assistant pastor said early on… “This isn’t our church. These aren’t our ministries. They are all God’s and He doesn’t need us to hold them together. That’s His job.” (or at least something close to that)
While I was laid up on the couch dealing with pregnancy sickness that one verse from Colossians kept coming to my mind.
He is before all things, and in HIM all things hold together. 1:17
And something else that struck me as I later opened my Bible to let that one verse roll over me, was the very next verse.
And HE is the HEAD of the body, the church; HE is the beginning and the firstborn from among the dead, so that in everything HE might have the supremacy. v.18
There it was, all neatly packaged together. For me on those days of sickness and doubt and grief over my church. Christ was still at work and even working through our suffering body. Just as He was working through MY suffering body, knitting together new life inside.
#3 I have also been so encouraged by the true friendship and the sisterhood we have in Christ. Making friends has always been a hard thing for me. But last year I was determined to lay aside my insecurities and give it all I had. To share my life with others and be welcomed into theirs. What a difference it has made.
At my lowest points I was able to pick up the phone or shoot an email, to let someone know I needed prayer. And I knew they were praying. I was able to share in our Play and Pray
group and I was encouraged and refreshed.
Recently my children and I did a short study on the different gifts God has given each of us. Spiritual gifts and what that means. It was fun hearing their thoughts on what kinds of gifts God gives us… We eventually made our way to the Bible to find out what these gifts were really all about. As I was looking through my Bible trying to find that one passage, I came across verses like these…
The body is a unit, though it is made up of many parts; and though all its parts are many, they form one body. So it is with Christ… 1Cor. 12:12
Now the body is not made up of one part but of many. vs. 14
If one part suffers, every part suffers with it; if one part is honored, every part rejoices with it. vs. 26
Now you are the body of Christ, and each one of you is a part of it. vs. 27
Again I was struck. Mostly by the simplicity of the picture of a working body, with arms and legs, head and shoulders, and yes, knees and toes… When a part of the body suffers, the whole of the body suffers, over compensating for the wounded area, protecting it and sheltering it from further damage. The smallest of cuts can evoke a sense of greatest awareness. We tend to it, we are more careful, move at a slower pace.
I was so thankful for the opportunity to see the working body of Christ. To experience those coming along side of me. Picking up where I had to leave off. Tenderly caring for my wounds. You all have my deepest gratitude.
#4 Another true blessing was the gift of family. Like all families we have had our up’s and down’s. There have been times of pain and growth, hurt feelings and grudges, things left unsaid and things that should have been left unsaid… We all have those times (right?). We have not gone without our struggles.
Letting my sister ‘go’ caused a pain I hadn’t before experienced. Oh there has been pain before, but this was different. It wasn’t like a spouse or child or parent pain. It was a sister pain. But thankfully, good is coming from it.
The night before Javier, Cally and Elijah left, we all got together for one of Cally’s favorite meals of mine… Beef Stroganoff and homemade bread. Javier wasn’t quite sure, but I think he ended up liking it!
After the meal Javier started to speak. We were all taken by surprise at the intensity of his voice and the words that were coming from his mouth. They were words directed towards his family… his American family. These words did not come without reaction or response, because these words evoked healing. There were tears shed, understanding took place, forgiveness given and accepted.
Would it have happened if I had not been required to say good-bye to my sister?
The same night we were asked to release a sister, we embraced a brother.
God has a way of doing that doesn’t He. Taking something, but then replacing it with another. So how can we only grieve? How can we not choose to see the good that comes from the deep pain…
#5 The little things.
And there are a million of them. So I will spare you and not list them all here. But they are in my heart and in my book
I am glad I can be thankful for-
Being able to do dishes, or having someone else do them for me when I couldn’t.
Words like “Bu-cept” (except)
Simple meals of macaroni (the gourmet Kraft kind) and carrots for dinner…
…and not having a husband that complains!
A girl who is eager to help and is really a help!
medicine for indigestion
Like I said, there are a million and I could go on for days. All these little things add up to great big things that are so helpful when you are trying to ‘make it through another day’.
I just couldn’t leave you (or myself) hanging on that one post… because it just wasn’t all of the story.
Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword?
No in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us.