A day late

This post was supposed to go up on Monday. But on Sunday evening both boys went to bed with coughs and slight fevers. Monday morning saw us heading to the doctor after Jeremiah’s science class. But the count continues…

This counting gifts thing seems so hokey. At first glance it seems like some kind of self-help exercise. It seems like an attempt to will yourself into positive thinking, “Just think happy thoughts!”

But it’s not that at all.

This counting of gifts is a specific choice to fix my thoughts and focus on Christ. As I have been reading in John as well as the book Because He Loves Me by Elyse M. Fitzpatrick I am seeing more and more how understanding my identity as being in Christ is key to how I view my relationship with God.

“How can our faith grow if all we see before us in our record of failure?” – Because He Loves Me by Elyse M. Fitzpatrick

Corrie ten Boom wrote in a devotional once (that I can’t find the exact source of so I am just paraphrasing here) that a follower of Christ is to be like a mirror – always reflecting the image of Christ. As soon as the mirror is moved in any way the reflection changes. As soon as we take our eyes off of the reflection then we no longer remember what we are to be reflecting. If my eyes are focused on Christ and who I am in Him then I don’t have to feel failure or shame – I am complete, redeemed, loved, perfected!

This counting of gifts is a physical reminder of how loved I am in Him. Every gift I scribble down is God saying to me, “See how much I love you? You didn’t deserve this love, but in Christ I have lavished my love on you and called you my daughter.” Every gift I count is a reminder of who I am.

So I keep counting…

19. a friends listening ear and encouraging words…  20. Aaron taking over bath & bed routine at the end of a long day…21. an encouraging email…22. Jeremiah’s kindness toward a younger child

23. soft lamplight early in the morning snuggling warm in bed reading my Bible and praying…24. deep conversations with the boys today about things of faith, beautiful reflections of the Holy Spirit at work in their hearts…25. Nathaniel trying to sneak up behind me in the park, his shadow giving him away, me surprising him and twirling him around

26. hot cup of coffee, fresh and waiting for me when I wake, by Aaron…27. the boys coloring together, right in the middle of the floor, in my way, but having so much fun…28. all 3 of us around the school table learning together, watching Nathaniel get better at reading

29. morning grapefruit…30. Jeremiah reading his Bible snuggled up next to me in bed…31. afternoon tea

32. scrambled eggs, made by Jeremiah, his helpful attitude has been encouraging…33. a new magazine in the mail box, glossy and bright yellow! fun cheer on a gray, wet day…34. Jeremiah’s tousled blonde hair, us reading together on the couch during rest time

35. rain on the roof, always relaxing at the end of the day…36. pink striped rain boots…37.holding hands

38. being moved to tears during corporate worship…39. compassion…40. generosity

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The count starts again

A few years ago I started a list. Inspired by Ann Voskamp at A Holy Experience I started writing down my thousand gifts. This simple habit caused quite a change in my usual Eeyore-like demeanor. It is safe to say that I am not usually a “glass half full” type of person. Starting the list seemed self indulgent to me. It seemed like a modern “feel good” exercise and I was skeptical as to just what the outcome of it would be. As I scratched out my list in a notebook, everything from the seemingly mundane to the miraculous, I began to notice things. I began to see beauty all around.  I began to see how much I was loved. My focus changed and I saw that even on the most difficult of days my heart could see God’s goodness to me.

But at some point I stopped counting. The list stopped abruptly somewhere in the 700’s for reasons I don’t remember. Maybe I thought I got the point? Maybe I got lazy? Maybe I turned a joyful exercise into a requirement? Count on me to turn a joyful experience into a task and rob it of its joy. At the fresh start of this year, in which I am on a quest to discover more of grace, I decided to take up the Joy Dare again. I picked up my pen and a crisp new notebook and started to number the gifts again, starting back at #1 because there is grace to begin again. It feels comfortable and seven days into the new year I feel the joy in the counting return. I take a moment to notice the sky, the blossoms, the twinkle of lights against the rainy day, the sparkle in my son’s eye, the steady arms of my husband. In this renewed habit I begin again to see the everyday beauty of God’s love for me. Each gift scratched in pen a testament to love. Not just a general, all-encompassing love but specific love. For me. It’s mind boggling really.

 

Taking the dare to see joy and count God’s gifts

1. Aaron’s “I love you” 2. Nathaniel’s giggle 3. Jeremiah playing with Lego’s

4. camilla blooms 5. our cozy school room 6. left over tacos for lunch

7. quiet in the sunroom while I shower, which means the boys are getting along 8. Nathaniel singing praise songs in the aisle at Costco 9. Aaron & boys doing devotions

10. well loved Christmas decorations 11. big stack of new library books 12. bright blue sky after days of rain!

13. the book “Because He Loves Me” by Elyse Fitzpatrick, life giving! 14. a clean house 15. Aaron & Nathaniel on the couch watching football together

16. gifts for friends – just because 17. lots of fresh fruits and veggies 18. a growing awareness of what it means to be loved unconditionally by God

My word for 2013 – Grace

It has been quiet around here. We went out of town for Christmas. I was sick the whole time and am while I am feeling better am still not up to 100%. I have been doing a lot of thinking. And praying. Feeling distant from God and His love but desperately searching for it all the same. Suddenly a new year looms and I feel that I am a completely different person than I was a year ago in the most unexpected of ways. I am still trying to figure out who this person is.

Before Christmas I went through a few days of deep guilt and despair. A kind and wise friend told me that one day as she was praying for me it occurred to her that this process – the aftermath of our decision- was intended for me to come to understand God’s unconditional love in a very real way. She was praying for me to feel God’s love, to know who I am as His daughter, regardless of what I did or didn’t do.

At this time of year many bloggers I read choose a word for the year. They choose it to put some vision on the year to come. I have never picked a word. But in the past few days as I have thought and prayed the word “Grace” has kept coming into my head. I am truly on a quest to discover what God’s grace is for me. I want to learn to rest secure in His grace and love no matter what my circumstance. I want to pursue this. I want to feel this.

– favor or goodwill. Synonyms: kindness, kindliness, love, benignity; condescension.

– a manifestation of favor, especially by a superior.  Synonyms: forgiveness, charity, mercifulness.

– mercy; clemency; pardon.  Synonyms: lenity, leniency, reprieve.

This morning I was thinking through some kind of Bible reading/devotional time that a friend and I had agreed to do together. We haven’t decided on anything because I am wary of reading something that will turn into legalism for me. I don’t need to read right now about how to give more, or be more radical, or how to be better, or how I should do more. I need to bathe in grace. It was suggested that we read the book of John. That sounded like a good place to start.

So for now I am going to read the book of John in the ESV and the Message. I am going to try and apply what I read through three simple steps: 1. I confess…repentance
2. I count…blessings
3. I claim…verse from the reading

I am also going to jump back into The Joy Dare with Ann Voskamp at A Holy Experience. I used to keep my list of gifts but kind of let it slide lately. How better to see God’s love for me than to take up the practice of listing my gifts again?

So I am stumbling into the new year. Not sure who I am. Aching to find out more of who God is. Longing to experience grace. Waiting still and quiet.