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Why I Thought I’d Failed the Counting

If you’re a regular around here, you know that my Multitude Mondays have been a little . . . ummm . . . lacking. I haven’t even been able to put my finger on why, but I just. couldn’t. do. it. I couldn’t formally count. I’ve found little things to be oh, so thankful for over this course of thanking-silence, but I just couldn’t come to this space and actually number them one by one. I thought I had failed the counting.

 

Looking back over the last few weeks, I’ve realized that it wasn’t that I’d failed. But it WAS that I was being ungrateful. While there have been AMAZING blessings in our lives over the last few months (and I’ve been extremely thankful for those), I was silently resentful toward God because of my perception that He’s been holding out on me. You see there’s something I’ve wanted for a long, long time.

 

Our own home. You’ve heard me speak of it before.  This quest to stop renting, to buy our own house, one where we could settle and make our own home . . . life . . . became my greatest want. I lived and breathed it.

 

I could think of hardly anything else. And although, yes, I can’t deny it, I’ve grown weary of our, ahem, vintage bathrooms and linoleum parquet, it hasn’t been so much the house that I’ve been so desperate for. It was the feeling of certainty. The assurance that we were free to plant good, solid, long-reaching family roots. Yes, for me, but even more so for our daughters.

 

And while I knew in my head that a house could never provide true security or certainty, inside my heart was pinned to the floor with the suffocating, relentless, false weight that we had to have this house to make us a truly rooted family.

 

We’ve been working toward it. We’ve looked at enough houses that I feel pretty bad for our realtor. 🙂 I have every zip code in the area memorized. If you showed me a picture of a house anywhere in our hometown (in our price range), I could probably quote you the listing price (Isn’t that pathetic?! I’m thinking maybe I should become a realtor?). But we just weren’t finding the one.

 

Then, Jonathan and I jointly decided to make a large family purchase and much of our savings needed to be put toward it. We decided this together. I watched him write the check.

 

But, I grieved. Because I knew, this was putting our home on hold. Just on hold, mind you. I guess a friend was right in dubbing it the “death of a vision” because for a few days, I was in tears. I had a hard time functioning.

 

But I am so thankful. That God wrestled me to the ground and one by one, released my fingers’ death grip on my self-made idol. He pulled my hip and rescued me from my false footing…. And in pleading with him to “bless me” with what I thought I wanted or needed to provide our security, He blessed me with something else . . .

 

Release from a misplaced passion.

 

A freeing demolition of my self-elevated idol.

 

Because it was an idol. When He didn’t seem to be giving me what I wanted, or thought we needed, I doubted His goodness. Even more than doubting His goodness, I doubted His good work in me. I wondered if I was doing something wrong, or if He wasn’t pleased with me or if I didn’t deserve a home.

 

Writing this even now feels so silly. So American. So often, I’ve reminisced over shacks I’ve touched in Peru. Dirt floors. Children drinking water in which I could see things floating. Women begging on street corners, holding borrowed babies, hoping to make a dollar or two. And here I’ve been in a nice home, in truly the best neighborhood I could ever imagine, and in a beautiful community — all gifts the Lord has freely given me — and I’ve wanted to throw it all away.

 

For something I could call mine.

 

Do I still want that house? You bet. But in the meantime, He’s teaching me to trust Him. To be content, right where He has me. To be used. Right. where. He. has. me. And He gently opens my eyes to the truth that I can’t be truly thankful for the “smaller” gifts He gives . . . the birds chirping in the trees, little pitter-pats down our long hallway, mocha frappuccinnos . . . if I’m also resentful that He hasn’t given me something greater. And neither can I be truly thankful for the greater gifts, if I’m flippant in my gratefulness for the smaller. He says to give thanks in everything. Yes, and now I know why. Because there is no distinction in what He’s given or what He’s not given. He gives good gifts. And what He withholds is also His goodness.

Oh, taste and see that the LORD is good!
Blessed is the man who takes refuge in him!

Psalm 34:8

I have tasted Him. In this refuge.

 

Again . . . taking up the count . . .

#614 His withholdings.

#615 Because He is a good Father and knows how to give good gifts to His children.

#616 What He gives is good.

#617 What He doesn’t give is good.

#618 That He rescues me from myself.

#619 That He loves, even me.

 

Giving thanks in all

The Now Beauty

Earlier this week, I write of letting go and cradling close.

 

The next day, I take a pen in my hand and write out my plans for our future. A list of ideas, of pros and cons. The list is made, I lay down the pen and nod my head in satisfaction. I text my husband and let him know I have things on my mind.

 

I immediately regret it. I feel like a hypocrite.

 

I am hypocrite. My husband hears me talk repeatedly this week of being broken. Of God breaking me. I wrote of it. And already I am back to my not-so-old ways.

 

It’s really not funny . . . but is sort of is. I can’t help but smile ironically at my human ways. That I could so quickly forget that I laid my will to rest.

 

But I leave the list on the dining room table, proud to show it to the man who lives life with me, thinking he might like my thoughts anyway. I go back later to wipe off bread crumbs and gather crayons and little-girl-drawings. It’s then that I laugh . . . sheepish.

 

 

The Abundant-Life-Giver sends a gentle message so obvious, that I simply have to stop and fully take it in. I bought that pen on a whim just last week. I had picked up birthday cards on the way to a party and grabbed a pen in the checkout, just to have something to write with in the car. I had never even read its words.

 

He keeps me on path. And I see, ah yes. The daily dying. The daily letting go. The daily opening of my clenched hands that He may fill them with whatever He so desires. That I may abundantly live in the present. It is not a simple, one-time sort of thing.

 

When we don’t receive what we pray for or desire, it doesn’t mean that God isn’t acting on our behalf. Rather, he’s weaving his story. Paul tells us to ‘continue steadfastly in prayer, being watchful in it with thanksgiving’ (Colossians 4:2). Thanksgiving helps us to be grace-centered, seeing all of life as a gift. It looks at how God’s past blessings impact our lives. Watchfulness alerts us to the unfolding drama in the present. It looks for God’s present working as it unfolds into future grace.”

~Taken from A Praying Life, by Paul Miller. “Future Grace” is John Piper’s language.

 

I am learning to be watchful. To look for what He is doing in the seeming everyday moments.

 

 

I look for Him in the beauty of now.

 

 

This Present Grace.

 

 

Beckoning

He calls me and beckons me to come.

 

Come nestle under His wings.

 

For He will cover you with His feathers, and under his wings you will find refuge. Psalm 91:4a

 

Like a young toddler wrestles sleep, I struggle against His rest.

 

My husband would rather I let the dishes crust, let the laundry wrinkle, and let the crumbs sit awhile, if it would simply mean that I would have more of me to give him. And I wonder if in all my meager attempts to live for Jesus – to seek Him and find Him and do for Him – if He would rather that I simply rest in Him.

 

 

I wonder if in all my supposed doing for Him, if I’m actually running from Him.

 

How do you simply BE with Him in the midst of all the tedium and glory of every day life? I certainly don’t know, but I long to find out.

 

Maybe the rest is found in the stopping the perpetual-raising-two-kids-craziness . . . just to sing.

 

Maybe it’s in the continual everyday reminders of what is truly important….

 

Because it’s really easy for this heart of mine to get so caught up in the commotion of this life. The attempts to raise two kids, the striving to be a loving wife, the hoping and dreaming and wrestling the what-ifs.

 

I just want to rest in Him. I just want to see His fingerprints on my life. I just want to tangibly feel His loving arms around me.

 

Because He is our Beloved.

 

Jesus, I am resting, resting in the joy of what thou art;

I am finding out the greatness of thy loving heart.

Thou has bid me gaze upon thee,

as thy beauty fills my soul,

for by thy transforming power, thou hast made me whole.

 

O how great thy lovingkindness, vaster, broader than the sea!

O how marvelous thy goodness lavished all on me!

Yes, I rest in thee, Beloved, know what wealth of grace is thine,

know thy certainty of promise and have made it mine.

 

Simply trusting thee, Lord Jesus, I behold thee as thou art,

and thy love, so pure, so changeless, satisfies my heart;

satisfies its deepest longings, meets, supplies its ev’ry need,

compasseth me round with blessings:

thine is love indeed.

 

Ever lift thy face upon me as I work and wait for thee;

resting ‘neath they smile, Lord Jesus earth’s dark shadows flee.

Brightness of my Father’s glory, sunshine of my Father’s face,

keep me ever trusting, resting, fill me with thy grace.

 

Jesus, I am resting, resting in the joy of what thou art;

I am finding out the greatness of thy loving heart.

~Jean Sophia Pigott

For me, for you

In an attempt to still my heart. . . .

Maybe yours needs stilled too?

Hush

Plop on comfy, red, oversized chair in corner of living room. Mug of second cup of coffee (I am being sooooo bad this holiday weekend!). Girls down for naps, although I hear my oldest, the one I’ll call Firefly, I hear her voice giving the walls a voice. “ABC’s” and her little talkings to herself as she imagines much these days. I think the wee one is dreaming now after a long wrestling against sleep.

 

The tree is up. Not quite finished yet, but it’s standing straight with garlands and ornaments gracing its boughs. The star is glittering at the top . . . a little wobbly and lop-sided, but holding on so far. Other than the almost-finished tree, I am surrounded by Christmas chaos.  There are boxes and tissue paper and those little packing peanuts and stockings and pine needles everywhere as Firefly was so intensely excited and “helped” unpack the cold, attic boxes (Oh, but I’m so glad she did!). In the midst of all the excitement of beautifying and decorating, the rest of the house has been completely neglected. How does it fall apart so fast?! There is laundry piled high, I’m not sure that I made my bed, and I can feel the suffocating threat of the stress of Christmas rising up my torso, approaching my throat. What am I doing, sitting here in this big, comfy corner while the chaos is encroaching on every other nook and cranny of my house and heart?

 

I am taking a breath. I am refocusing.

 

Because in a grace-filled moment, I realized that if I don’t stop now, the sales, gift wrapping, parties, cooking, sweets, dazzling lights, and frenzied mall traffic will drown out the stillness and peace of all we’re attempting to celebrate.

 

Peace.

 

Joy.

 

Cleansing.

 

Life.

 

A child king.

 

Don’t leave us to our distracted, frenetic selves this Christmas season.

 

Come, oh come, our Emmanuel. Fill us full.