So here we are, Day 30, a whole month’s worth of joy and thankfulness. I am kind of sad to see it end. I am someone who processes through communication, one of the best forms being writing (or blogging) so this is something I will kind of miss. I am so glad I did it, because I have grown in the past month. I started out saying this past year has been challenging and tough, and it only got tougher during this past month of blogging. But God has given me such joy in the midst of some really difficult circumstances. He has given me some perspective, some comfort and a whole lot of grace.
And on Day 30 he “gave” me pizza. My father in law organized a seriously yummy (and messy) pizza making extravaganza with the cousins today. I am thankful for yummy pizza and the busy little hands that helped make it. They even made me gluten free pizza! Yay! So fun, so sweet and so tasty.
I am also thankful for the ability to be thankful, to experience gratitude and to have someone to express that to-whether it be a person or God Himself. It is a huge blessing to be able to be thankful and appreciative, even, especially in the midst of trials. I think that is a major way that God has answered my prayers regarding Matthew 11:28-30, and given me His light load. (“Come to me, all who are weary and burdened and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.”) It is really hard to grumble and feel self-pity when you are trying to notice things to be thankful for, (especially when you have committed to blog about it). God knew my heart needed that. He heard me begging in my weariness for an answer to prayer, for a lighter burden. He didn’t decide to take the difficult things away, but yet my burden is lighter. He laid it on my heart to be thankful, to practice thankfulness when it made no sense to me, when it was hardest. I praise Him for his prompting to praise Him. It has changed my heart and lightened my load.
This year, more than others, I feel that I have so much to be thankful for. I have learned through adversity how to really trust God, be content, be joyful in pain and not worry about my future. If I had not had to face some tough stuff this year I would not have had the opportunity to experience God the way I have and I would not have had the chance to grow in those areas. As a follower of Christ I say my goal is to glorify God and become more like Jesus, yet often when I am given opportunities to do just that, I complain and wallow in self-pity. Honestly though, if these are my main goals-not my own comfort or happiness-then I would have to say that this has been one of my best years yet! How awesome is it that I get the privilege to become more like Christ?! How incredible is it that God counts me worthy enough to help me through my sufferings and have a plan for me?! If every thing was easy and comfortable I would be stuck. I would not be able to grow. I would not be able to experience God the way I have this past year-in very real ways. I cannot help but see His promises in scripture coming to life in front of me. I can share first hand with my kids how I have seen the character of God in my life. And I can say that I actually had the chance to be molded by the Potter this past year. Whoa. God’s hands molded ME. And if He chose to do that through adversity, and if He chooses to do that through adversity in the future, so be it. I trust that God not only knows what is best for me, but He is going to bring it about in my life as He has promised.
Many times this past year I looked at other people who had it “easier” (or who I least perceived weren’t struggling the way our family has this year) and I thought things like “must be nice”. But you know what, I was envying the wrong thing. It has not been easy; it has not been without (lots of) ugly moments. But I can say without a doubt that I am to be envied this year. I would not necessarily wish some of the tough stuff on others, but I would wish upon them the way I have gotten to experience God and view the world. I really think some of the best things God has given me I originally thought we awful and unbearable and “bad gifts”. I see now that what they really are: the best gifts He could ever give, because by His great grace He has chosen me worthy, as undeserved as I may be, to get to grow to be more like Christ this side of Heaven! Awesome. I am not jealous of other people when things go well for them or when things are easy. I am having the ultimate desires of my heart answered-to be more like the person God wants me to be. I am getting to experience the God of the universe in ways other people can’t possibly if things are easy. What a gift. What a year. I am not trying to be preachy of melodramatic. I am just so thankful for the way God has blessed me this past year, in ways completely unexpected and initially unwanted.
I know you may be thinking, “Oh, easy for her to say!”. I know this because I have heard people gives testimonies of hope and joy and peace in trials. I have resented them, resented God for my story not sounding like theirs. I have felt guilty because my story did not sound like theirs. I have felt bewildered and scorned and my hurt has ached worse. I have thought things like “oh it is easy for them to say!” But I assure you, it is not easy. It is not without years of Depression (which I still struggle with), worry, resentment, disillusionment, confusion and anguish that I can say with conviction the things I am saying now. It has not been easy and it is not easy now. Few things have been easy recently. I often feel as if I am walking against water, or that I am in water that is over my head and as the waves crash no one will throw me a life-preserver, or (insert another water metaphor here). Life is a struggle. That is promised. But it comes with another promise from Jesus, one that I hold fast to : “I have told you these things so that you may have peace. In this world you will have troubles, but take heart for I have overcome the world”. John 16:33
I hope that anyone reading this doesn’t think I am high and mighty. I am not. I am a gigantic mess who is upheld by a gracious and righteous God. I have countless moments of weakness and just ugly sin. I don’t think I am better than anyone. I don’t have it all together. Just read a few of my past blog posts and you will be convinced of that. I wish I could share with you the details of everything that has gone on this past year and just stop being vague, maybe some day I can. But for right now I hope that everyone can in some way relate to the difficulties and pain. I hope that whatever pain you are enduring that you can come to God and lay it at His feet with thanks-giving. I hope you can trade it for His lighter burden and be filled to overflowing with the joy of the Lord to strengthen and uphold you.
I have really enjoyed blogging this past month. God knew I needed it more than anyone else did. The month of joy ends today but I plan to carry the “attitude of gratitude” with me as a weapon to defeat the seeds of discontentment that zap my joy. I has been good for my family too. We have really enjoyed doing our thankfulness tree together each day.
Here are a few of my favorite “leaves” on our happiness tree the past 20 days (I did an update on the first 10 previously):
Karsten learning not to pull hair-Braxton
My pacemap (placemat)-Braxton
cow jokes (off their yogurt containers)-Hayleigh
My favorite animals:deer and seeing them at Miss Julie’s-Braxton
pineapple and ham pizza-Hayleigh
Cloudy with a Chance of meatballs-Braxton
My nice drawings and my nice puzzles-Hayleigh
God is powerful-Braxton
Playing on the mountain at school-Hayleigh
Birthdays and birthday parties (which they pretend almost daily)-Hayleigh
God making fruit and God rescuing us-Hayleigh
Tomorrow is December…whaaatt??! Around here we are going to re-reading the “I Spy” advent book for kids about finding Christ in Christmas, as well as doing some sort of family, Christmas related activity every day. I am dubbing it “Let every heart prepare Him room” and have a nice list working with plans for each day. My hope is that my kids will see Jesus in the every day things and also see what a big deal the true meaning of Christmas is. I am excited to celebrate for a whole month what Christmas means to us, as well as to celebrate all the blessings He has given us. Celebrating is pretty great and I need to do more of it, and what better time than right now?! So, maybe I will blog a bit about our month of “preparing room”. Happy (almost) December!
“The Lord has done great things for us and we are filled with joy.” Psalm 176:3