Saturday, June 25, 2011


My sister lent me a book on gratitude last week:  One Thousand Gifts by Ann Voskamp.  Wonderful reading.  She speaks of slowing time down by seeing the glory right before our eyes and being grateful.  Practicing presentness.  My sister gave me this book to read because it reminded her of how I live (what a compliment!) and it is true that I notice small glories on a daily basis.  I take the time to marvel in the iridescence of insects, how sunlight falls on my daughter's hair, and I worship God when I chop an array of colorful vegetables.  When I wake in the middle of the night and Andy's as warm as a brick oven, I listen to his steady breathing and I'm thankful.  I know I won't always have those moments; all things are taken away.

But now I am getting to the hard part of gratitude: being thankful in ALL things.  That is where peace dwells and it is a hard discipline to learn.  Two summers ago, I was very ill.  I could do nothing for about a week.  Time crawled.  I cried.  Utterly miserable.  I still want to cry now when I think about that long week and how sick I felt in my soul.  But the oddest thing happened.  As I lay there unable to hardly be, I started praying with the most sincere gratitude I had ever experienced.  I was so thankful for air-conditioning!  Toilets!  Water that ran from a faucet!  What a marvel that machines had plucked fluffs of Egyptian cotton, worked it into strands and their softness and smoothness was soothing me now.  And it went on from there:  I was overcome by all my days of health and wealth, the love in my life, the goodness all around. 

My mother and I have the best talks.  I shared this experience with her and how odd it all seemed to me.  She said it was the Spirit of God in me helping me get through that week.  Could it be?  If He wanted to help me, why didn't He just help me feel better?  Of course, I know the answer to that - God is not up there working to keep me happy every second.  He has deeper plans in mind.  He knew that in time I would treasure that memory.  He helped me in a way that still soothes the broken places in my soul.

I have one of those sensitive constitutions that become nauseous and ill fairly easily.  Stress, noise, headaches - for some reason this causes my insides to melt.  Last month, I was feeling overcome by my body at Walmart and I remembered: gratitude.  I took deep breaths and thanked God for the abundance on those supermarket shelves.  And it helped.  He was near and He was present and I was grateful.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Last month in New York City, a woman died at 104 years of age.  She was a recluse and in fact had cloistered herself in a small hospital room for 20+ years despite being in good health.  She lived under an anonymous name and no one from outside the hospital were allowed in to see her.  Even her lawyer had to speak with her through the door.  She had isolated herself decades before - the last known photograph of her is from 1930, and she lived in her apartment playing with dolls, strumming on the harp, and watching the Flintstones.

Huguette Clark was an heiress.  Her wealth was speculated to be at around 500 million dollars.  She owned the largest apartment on 5th avenue and several mansions that have been kept immaculate for decades and she never visited them. 

When I heard her story (or rather, lack of one), I was bewildered.  How could someone choose to waste all that wealth?  She could have been like the Gates and started foundations.  She could have traveled!!!  At the very least, she could have had lavish parties and enjoyed her wealth.  Did she not understand that it wasn't healthy or normal to be so isolated?  Didn't she want her life to matter to someone?

This summer, I am doing a Beth Moore Bible study entitled Breaking Free.  We are tasked with understanding that "a christian is held captive by anything that hinders the abundant and effective Spirit-filled life God planned for her."

Each of us in Christ is promised the Spirit of wisdom and revelation, a hope, the riches of his glorious inheritance and His incomparably great power.  We are created for good works, we are promised a spiritual gift, we have the mind of Christ.  We are adopted as His sons, we have redemption through his blood, and forgiveness of sins.  We are more than conquerors; we've been given the armor of God and we can call Him "Abba, Father." 

When I reflect on  these "treasures" available to me, I hunger to live up to them.  I don't want "wasted" years of captivity.  I wonder if the angels in heaven are envious of us, of our endless riches through Christ, and then they shake their heads in dismay when we ignore these gifts bought at such a great cost. 

Friday, June 10, 2011

I've been vaguely uneasy since school let out.  We have been busy. Everyone has been happy and well, but there's been an undercurrent of something amiss and today I think I know what it is.

My children are restless.

Gone are the routines that give structure to their day.  Our workload is drastically less and so is the "running around town getting things done."  I've been looking forward to it all year.  "Finally," I thought, "time to do all my projects, dig into the books I want to read, clear my head..."

Instead, I find myself appeasing them all day long.  Play dates, movies, ice cream, computer.  It is all fun and games and if there is any lag in the entertainment, well, they don't know what to do with themselves.  They crave but they don't know for what.

This has got to be a common problem today.  In the past, children worked.  They helped their family survive.  They had purpose.

Obviously, I know my children have purpose.  But do they know it?  Surely there is more to parenting than keeping them safe and entertained until 18, 21, 25? 

I think I've done a decent job parenting thus far.  I can pretty much guarantee that my children will grow up to be moral, law-abiding, productive citizens.  But I need to make a shift and go deeper.  It is time for them to start owning their faith and thinking about more important things than the Disney channel.

Those of you who have walked before me - I would love your ideas and insights.  Most parenting books address a child's behavior, but rarely address their heart.  I really want to look back on this summer as a time of sifting out some of the distractions.  Thank you!