Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Joy hiding in gratitude

Today I'm being thankful for the everyday things.

A dog's happy silly laughing grin.

A grandson's chubby pointing finger and demanding grunts.

A tired husband's tight hug when he comes home from work.

Warm tomatoes and green beans from the farmer's market.

As Ann Voscamp says in her book "One Thousand Gifts: A Dare to Live Fully" , counting these mundane blessings chronicles grace in our everyday life. (I am going through this book for the second time and cannot recommend it highly enough. Just quit reading this blog and go get it. Now. Go on. I'll wait.)

It brings joy.

As Ann looks back over her gratitude journal, where she writes down all the things she is thankful for, she says this, "And I can see it in the looking back, how this daily practice of the discipline of gratitude is the way to daily practice the delight of God.... and not only was the numbering leaving traces of our days; this counting the blessings was the unlocking the mystery of joy, joy, 'the gigantic secret of the Christian,' joy hiding in gratitude, and who but the Jesus people are the most thankful?

How about a crisp pear from the fridge on a hot day?

Cool "mountain mineral" water from our drippy kitchen faucet.

(How do I dare consider food and water mundane with what is happening in parts of Africa as I type this? Repenting.)

Thankful for the sound of my running shoes pounding on the dirt trail as I run on my loop. Grateful for no injuries and muscles working to be able to do this today.

Thankful for the berries I see along the trail, tiny membranes each filled with warm sweet juice waiting for a mouth to bite down. The things God made for us are without number and never cease to amaze me.

Why did he create that berry for me, his enemy?

When I think of what I deserve....and I think of what he gives me instead....?

I am astounded. I am blown away. I am humbled.

(Being thankful for the little things makes me think sometimes of the hallucinogenic drugs of the 60's, when they would study their hands from all angles and be fascinated.

Maybe they were on to something....? Not the drug part, but the fascinated part. :-)

I find that only being thankful for surface things,the general things, like the weather, our health, our safety and protection, thank you for today, etc etc etc, leaves me flat.


I hurry through those types of prayers because am I really meaning it? Is my heart focused? Or am I rushing to fulfill a duty?

When I really dive in ,when I dig deep, God is there. I fall in love with him. I delight in him. Isn't this what we are here for?

I can truly be thankful for each facet, each detail, each corner. It helps me know God better and love him more.

It can become easier to be thankful for all these moments in your life. But life is not just made up of PollyAnna days.

What about the really mundane things in my life like dishes in the sink from last night,enough dog fur on the floor to make a whole other dog, stalls that need to be mucked out by someone whose initials start with DIANE?

There are days of sickness and growing old, injury and death, family far away but me still needing a hug, bills not paid, appliances not working, anxiety, fear, people giving up on you and on and on.

I think that practicing the daily discipline of thankfulness helps me grow so that I can learn to trust and be thankful in the hard heavy times.

Because hard heavy times? They will come.

For today, I am going to be thankful for the little/big God things in my life, all the ways he shows himself in a million different details all around me.

What are you thankful for today?

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Broken down horses

I'm kind of feeling like a broken down horse this morning. You'd think I'd be an old hat at this "my son is leaving to Afghanistan" thing, since this is the third time, and it's his choice to take this job.

But I'm just as sad, just as anxious, just as wore down with the leaving.

I find myself spending time with the horses. Just being quiet with them. Well, I'm trying to be quiet but Ruby the ear less goat always has to pipe up ask for more hay, more water, more scratches.

The horses aren't quite themselves, either. We have Drifter, the big sorrel gelding. He likes to remind everyone that he is in charge.

Of everything.

All the time.

But right now he is calmly munching his morning hay, being warmed in the sun and smelling like a horse, which is what I am assuming at least a corner of Heaven must smell like.

We also have Cabela, or Bela, who is a gorgeous dark dappled palomino filly with snow white mane and tail. At least, she was. When she came here in February. Did I ever tell you the story of how she came here? I'll have to do that if I haven't.

Cabela knew she was a stunner Barbie doll horse perfectly designed by a Master Creator.

She has DIVA stamped in her DNA. Don't hate her because she is beautiful. But she gets it, if you do. She'll just toss her flowy white mane, stamp her hooves, flick her tail and dismiss you.

But Drifter didn't seem to realize that Bela was to be adored and served and from the minute she showed up here, he has run her from one end of the property to the other. (Which isn't saying much. But still.) She has ended up with nicks, scabs, bites and kicks all over her sparkly golden body. So we are separating them as they acclimate.

But it's so funny, because when we take her away from Drifter, Bela whinnies and calls and generally throws a little filly fit. She wants us to let her go back to Drifter. Back to her abuser, so to speak. It happens every time.

A. Maz.Ing.

I don't get it. Rod and I laugh as we watch her try bust through her stall door to get back to him.

It makes no sense whatsoever why she would continue to go back over and over and over, to the horse that continues to hurt her so much. Why does she think maybe THIS time it will be different and maybe he won't hurt her?

So, of course, God has to remind me of the things that I go back to, over and over and over, that continue to hurt me so much.

I am such a horse-head.

It doesn't matter if it is unhealthy food choices, poor financial habits(hello Nordstrom's sale!), television that should not be watched anywhere, for any reason,avoiding church or spending time with Jesus in prayer and reading the bible, or anything else that draws me away from real JOY.

Are you a horse-head, too?