I recently discovered the blog of Ann Voskamp, who authored the book One Thousand Gifts. It’s a very soothing site to go to. The music is peaceful, the writing is poetic and uplifting, and it’s a place to slow down and contemplate. I very much enjoy it. Please make yourself a cup of tea and go visit her there. I hope you’re encouraged by it.
While you’re there, you’ll probably notice the Joy Dare for 2012. This is a determined effort to find joy and to find 1000 gifts to be thankful for this year. It translates to 3 things per day, and she has printables for the month. I’m seriously thinking of taking this challenge, not necessarily for the gift at the end of the year (she’s giving away a camera) but for my own benefit and spiritual walk.
Gratitude is hard sometimes, especially when the day is hard and frustrating and all I want to do is crawl right back into bed. But this Joy Dare proposes there are at least 3 things in your day somewhere that you can be thankful for. I am grateful for many things, but unless I write them down, I find it easy to forget the blessings during a hard season.
I’ve been keeping a gratitude journal, jotting down the provisions God has blessed us with since the end of September. I haven’t said anything here about it before, but now is as good of a time as any. My husband lost his job at the end of September, and it’s been a hard season financially, emotionally, and spiritually. Our marriage has not wavered, though we know it is not immune to attack. Last month, God rescued us from an emotional spiral of self-centeredness and opened our eyes to see how blessed we are by our two little boys, and the one He is quietly knitting together inside me.
God’s timing is not always easy to understand, but we also aren’t required to understand it. As a planner, I struggle with that idea. I want to know why God chooses to do things when I think I know of a far better time it should happen. More than that, I feel as if I need to know why God found fault with my plan. But in reality, I don’t need to understand God completely in order to trust Him. Is that a hard pill to swallow? For a prideful person like myself, yes, it is. But my hope and trust must be rooted in His promises, that He will provide for the new life and family He is weaving together. He gives the birds food and shelter, how much more will He provide what we need?
I won’t lie. It’s been hard. Pride is quite the hurdle to overcome, and it’s easier said than done. I think the ways in which God has provided for us have been specifically to root out the pride and replace it with an utter humility. I’m not 100% there yet, but God is continually working, shaping, and renewing me.
It is embarrassing and guilt-inducing to think of how I was prior to our season of unemployment. I did not attribute our previous income to the Lord, nor did I thank Him for each paycheck or filled grocery cart. I did not thank Him for each paid bill, nor did I muster up any gratitude for the trying days of parenting two children.
I was a truly awful person. A spiritual desert, if you will.
I think there are several reasons for God’s intervention into our life, specifically in the form of unemployment. We MUST depend on Him. We are incapable of having hope without Him. There isn’t any sense of joy apart from Him. How foolish we were before. In a way, the loss of a job has been a swift kick in the pants. It’s been eye-opening, humbling, and I can honestly say, a true blessing.
Gratitude combats pride. I can’t win that fight on my own, and I don’t think I would truly have the desire to fight it in the first place if Christ wasn’t ahead of me, His Light illuminating and purging the darkness.
This was a much more personal and vulnerable post today. It’s been weighing heavily on my heart, and I think it was just time to unmask and be real on all fronts. So there I am.
This is a song called “Blessings” by Laura Story, a Christian artist who also went to my college. I spent my college years hearing her music in chapel, and heard this new song on the radio not long ago. The lyrics are very much where I am and have been for the past while.
Habakkuk 3:18 is inscribed on my gratitude journal.
“I will rejoice in the Lord, I will be joyful in God my Savior.”
Appropriate, isn’t it?