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