Wednesday, February 13, 2013

All becomes Gift

A combination of disappointment, frustration and discouragement has made it difficult for my heart to embrace the new year. "Soul weary" is the perfect description for this season of life. The core of my being has been shaken, overcast by shadows of failings.

The words from 2 Corinthians, chapter 3, verses 16-18 are timely and restore Truth I've already known. "Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal." I must shift my vision from the world and all its flaws to my God who will not disappoint.

The Lenten season is upon us and I've been contemplating if I participate in the tradition of old. Growing up, this was never a practice I was encouraged to take part in. Justified by the idea that every day should leave us reflecting on our lives in relation to Christ's sacrifice for us, I didn't think twice about it. With age, however, comes perspective and a broadening of the world. Explanations from friends who value the ritual leave me contemplating what I myself should abstain from for a season.

Coming off of a year where the fulfillment of my personal vow leaves me questioning the purpose of the journey, I struggle with the benefit of another season of self-denial. While eliminating desserts from my life in an effort to seek God more fully appeared valuable enough, the revelations upon release of such a vow are bewildering. Since I am the only one privy to the information in the depths of my soul, it is only I that can see how far God remains from being my first choice for comfort. My problem is far from decadent chocolate and rich desserts. Clarity confirms that comfort is my idol.

Now what do I do in the face of that truth? While I am still working to unravel the mess of this past year's journey, I hesitate to sacrifice something for the sake of sacrifice. Could that possibly have been the only reason to fulfill my journey as the end came into view?

I've heard it suggested that rather than abstain throughout this season, one should consider adding a practice instead. In an effort to keep my eyes on Christ, I am choosing to count gifts this season. As Ann Voskamp states in her book, One Thousand Gifts, "When I realize that it is not God who is in my debt but I who am in His great debt, then doesn't all become gift?" I've already begun counting and experiencing joy at the work of His hand.

1. Days off school
2. No reason to get out of PJ's
3. Kids who love to craft
4. Children learning
5. Redemptive moments
6. Grace extended from husband
7. Crescent moons shaped like smiles
8. Worship songs speaking my heart
9. The Body of Christ
10. Authentic conversations
11. Friends reaching out
12. Pain that brings positive results
13. Opportunity
14. Notebook paper
15. Ink
16. Cursive handwriting
17. The post office
18. Thank you notes
19. Truths that lead to change
20. Hope
21. The written word
22. Traditions
23. Sleeping children
24. Husband's snoring
25. Limping dog
26. Expectant welcomes home
27. Lips that meet mine alone
28. Laughter of little girls
29. Valentines
30. Friends who share
31. 10-year-old creative minds
32. Chatty 7-year-olds
33. Books read aloud by first graders
34. Preschool fingers cutting
35. Awkward teeth peering through huge smiles
36. Bible verses that establish Truth
37. Minds are capable of memorizing
38. Mentoring relationships
39. Prayer
40. Quiet
41. Barbies at play directed by little girls
42. Sofa forts
43. Lego creations
44. Moments of obedience
45. Kissable foreheads
46. Color
47. Books
48. Water
49. Shared recipes
50. Dark nights
51. Warm blankets
52. Soft pillows
53. Warm shelter
54. Arms around me
55. "Pick me ups" from 4-year-olds
56. Being a stay-at-home mom
57. Classroom parties
58. Partnering with other moms
59. Legs able to run
60. Music
61. Freedom in Christ (Ephesians)
62. God's pleasure in bringing me into His family (Ephesians)
63. Without fault in Christ (Ephesians)
64. Showers of Kindness (Ephesians)
65. God's grace (Ephesians)
66. Holy Spirit (Ephesians)
67. God's guarantee (Ephesians)
68. Blankets raggedy from too much love
69. Teddy bears hugged tightly
70. Brown eyes
71. Blue eyes
72. Pop Tarts
73. Cough medicine
74. School bus drivers
75. Children little enough to carry
76. Kids big enough to walk
77. Multiple bathrooms
78. Peanut Butter & Jelly
79. Nutella
80. Smell of fresh brewed coffee
81. My husband's contagious laugh
82. Coats, hats and gloves
83. Singing girls
84. Balloon play
85. Slipper socks and the smile it brings to a 7-year-old
86. Little legs that jump up and down
87. Glistening frost
88. Soft Kleenex
89. Anticipation
90. Blonde dogs bathing in the sunlight
91. A furry face to greet me each morning
92. Puppy spirit in a geriatric dog
93. Morning sunlight through windows
94. Abundance
95. Those who don't grow weary of doing good
96. Lives worth celebrating
97. Season of Winter
98. Laid back spouse
99. Man who provides for our family
100. Goodbye kisses
101. Little ones waving through windows goodbye
102. Caring Daddy who watches and waves in return
103. To be needed
104. To be wanted
105. Blonde godsons
106. Little girls who melt my heart
107. Hindsight
108. Seasons of life
109. Friends who seek God
110. Friends for my husband
And the list goes on... What gifts do you have to count today?
"It really is a dare to name all the ways that God loves me." - Ann Voskamp

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