Monday, October 31, 2011

Eucharisteo, Part 2

Lee asked me this evening, "So on a day like today (that should give you an idea of the state of my soul this afternoon), what does a "Thankful" blog post look like?"

My answer..."Today I am thankful that yesterday was a great day."

I was being cheeky.

As I thought on it I realized that good yesterdays are most certainly something to cherish.

This was part of my good yesterday that I am treasuring today.  The rich red of the maple in our front yard.  Every morning, in the midst of my rushing and bullying to get everyone in the car I walk right past it.  It should shock me awake, like a shot of caffeine.  Most days I keep walking, keep barking.

Yesterday...and this afternoon, actually...I stopped.  I looked.  I saw.  And I captured it as a reminder to myself.  Every year this tree, after all the other fall colors have begun to fade from their annual glory, this tree, a late bloomer, shocks to life!  It did it in 2007.  It did it again in 2011.

My autumn is coming.  My shocking to life.  Just wait for it.  It will come in its season.

     "How does one live ready, and always?  Yes, ultimately only Jesus.  Yes, this premature dying to self, birthing into the cross-life, the grace cocoon before emerging in to the life unending.  Without this Jesus, no, no one can be ready.
    "But, someone, please give me - who is born again but still so much in need of being born anew - give me the details of how to live in the waiting cocoon before the forever begins?"  (Chap 2, pg. 29) One Thousand Gifts

Born anew.

"Restore to me the joy of your salvation..."  Psalm 51:12

Mrs. Voskamp goes on to look at the final hours of Jesus' life on earth, how he spent his time.  And interestingly he broke bread with brothers and gave thanks.  The greek word for "gave thanks" is eucharisteo, the root word being charis, or "grace."  He took the bread, knew it to be a gift, and gave thanks.

And then another derivative of the same word, chara, or "joy."  And there it is.  

In Voskamps words, "Deep chara joy is found only at the table of the euCHARisteo - the table of thanksgiving."

And so, my commitment to more chara joy.  The next 30 days, the days leading up to our own national Thanksgiving, will be days of my own personal thanksgiving.  I want to have eyes to see the small wonders around me every day that give life, full life.  The here and now.  And I want to give thanks for those things.  And here I will journal that thanks.  Even it means being thankful for the wonders of yesterday.

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Eucharisteo, Part 1


This post may seem a bit like a knock-off for those of you who have read One Thousand Gifts by Ann Voskamp.

!!Spoiler Alert!!

This post could possibly spoil the fun if you have not yet read One Thousand Gifts by Ann Voskamp.

Proceed with caution.

Let me back up and give some background to what has brought me to here...

We are still in the throes of adjustment.  To moving.  To starting over.  To starting school.  To having to be somewhere (ON TIME...tricky one for me) everyday.  To new friends, accents, climate, and germs.

As mentioned in previous posts, life has been very full of late.  And the fight for joy has been a brutal one in my inner self.

This past week the monkeys and I traveled to Indiana to visit my grandmother and all four of us ended up with a stomach bug.  This all while Daddy recovered from the flu at home, and after what feels like multiple other viruses and ailments that have been ongoing since the summer.  And this all despite an exceptional effort on everyone's part to live a healthy lifestyle.  By healthy, I'm talking NO sugar, processed foods, grains, or dairy.  Ever.  Regular excercise.  Supplements.  Chiropractic care.

Naturally, I found myself asking, "What gives?"

And why am I allowing it all to make me so angry, so bland, such a pill.  Is this really the life God lead us here to live?  Is this really living?

I have plenty of thoughts surrounding it all, more than one blog post could manage.  Those thoughts we will save for another day, another post.  But with Lee I did share.  The resounding sentiment for us both..."Why are we here?  Why are our souls so downcast within us?"

And then the whisper..."Put your hope in God."

But what does that mean?  How do I work that out in my seemingly menial day?  Week?  Month?  How does that truth begin to change my mood?  My heart?  And again...Where is the joy?

In an old life I could probably muster it up.  Will it to be.  Though how long it would remain, who knows?

As I pondered our current state of affairs, and as I have been preparing myself, both mentally and thoughtfully for the upcoming holidays, I had the thought of starting a "Thankful Tree" with the kids.  And then the connection between joy and thanksgiving starting clicking a bit in my head.  And I thought, "Why not start my own "Thankful Blog". " Tis the season, right?

I started reading One Thousand Gifts a couple weeks ago, slowly working my way through the first chapter.  Between sick kids and sick Mommas and Daddies, reading has been a slow and tedious task.  But the timing, as always, has been impeccable.  Later the same evening as my conversation with Lee I read this...

(Background:  The author is writing after waking from a nightmare in which she was told she is consumed with cancer and has little time to live.  She wakes panting for breath and life.  And then asks herself, "What life?")

     "For years of mornings, I have woken wanting to die.  Life itself twists into nightmare.  For years, I have pulled the covers up over my head, dreading to begin another day I'd be bound to just wreck.  Years, I lie listening to the taunt of names ringing off my interior walls, ones from the past that never drifted far and away:  Loser.  Mess.  Failure.  They are signs nailed overhead, nailed through me, naming me.  The stars are blinking out.
     "Funny, this.   Yesterday morning, the morning before, all these mornings, I wake to the discontent of life in my skin.  I wake to self-hatred.  To the wrestle to get it all done, the relentless anxiety that I am failing.  Always, the failing.  I yell at children, fester with bitterness, forget doctor appointments, lose library books, live selfishly, skip prayer, complain, go to bed too late, neglect cleaning the toilets.  I live tired.  Afraid.  Anxious.  Weary.  Years, I feel it in the veins, the pulsing of ruptured hopes.  Would I ever be enough, find enough, do enough?  But this morning, I wake wildly wanting to live.  Physically feeling it in the veins trembling, the hard pant of the lungs, the seeing it in the steady stars, how much I really want really live.  How I don't want to die.  Is that the message of nightmares and dreams?  To live either fully alive...or in empty nothingness?
     "It's the in between that drives us mad.
     "It's the life in between the days of walking lifeless, the years calloused and simply going through the hollow motions, the self-protecting by self-distracting, the body never waking that's lost all capacity to fully feel - this is the life in between, that makes us the wild walking dead."  (Chap 2, pg. 26-27)

It's the in between that drives us mad.

Drives me mad.

No more in between.  This is my first line of attack in my fight for joy.  I will be thankful.  Hopefully thankful.  For 30 days I will be hoping in faith that as I learn the discipline of gratitude, the Spirit will bless me with eyes to see.  Eyes to see beauty.  Eyes to see life.  And I will journal this journey to joy.

So for Day 1, I am so grateful for Sabbath.  True sabbath that, unfortunately, I have not given myself in a long time.  Thanks to a Dad and a zoo, I was afforded a good hour of quiet and solitude, except for the Civil Wars serenading in the background, to prayerfully think and blog.  The gift of rest.  The gift of life.

More thoughts on thanksgiving tomorrow.

Friday, October 14, 2011

She's Baaaaack!

I am proceeding a bit sheepishly.  Not sure why I allow a computer, a nebulous online journal, to make me feel guilt.  It's like that friend that you know you should call (not naming any names) but soooo much time has elapsed that you justify why it's not a good time, and then sooo much time elapses that you become a chronic non-communicative bad friend.  I am a chronic non-communicative bad friend.

It has been over a month!

I could list the excuses...

  • sick kids for 2 weeks
  • sick Momma for 2 weeks (at one point I was wondering whether or not my next blog post would be announcing the conception of monkey #4)
  • busted camera (uh-gin)...good news...its still under warranty
  • high maintenance toddler (took me three tries to get one of those)
  • LIFE!
The last one would be the all encompassing excuse.  Actually, its a pretty darn good reason, if you ask me.  I think I have been waiting for our pace of life to slow down and to easily and smoothly settle into it.  I have now accepted the fact that it will not be slowing any time soon.  It simply is what it is.  I will embrace it, pray for more capacity, and move on with life.

Now that that is over, we can all look forward to upcoming posts complete with eye candy and musings.  And since it's Friday, and since my camera is broken (along with the SD card that held all of my pictures dating back to September), here is a little Happy Friday randomness.  Just because I like it.  And just because it's Friday.