Last month I began the 1000 Gifts Devotional study with a friend. We have made it through the first 2 sessions, and I am looking forward to the next. There are 5 total, with a study guide which we have been doing on our own between sessions.
I find myself grappling with what it means to actually LIVE in a place of gratitude, because to be honest, there are many days and situations that I have a hard time giving thanks for. My default is “it could always have been worse…” “I know God’s grace is covering us.” And I do know his grace, he has shown it to me again and again, yet there are other times in life when I have cried out for his presence, his leading, his healing, his relief, something… and my cries have seemed to come up void. What does this mean for me as a Christian. What does it mean to be “living in thanks.”
I recently came to the realization that my life, this journey, will be long. Yes, there are moments of joy, and so many blessings, but there is also the very true reality that around each corner there is struggle, loss, disappointments, hurts, and shortcomings. I choose joy, but that doesn’t translate into a constant state of happiness. In the moments of loss, hurt, frustration…. I learn thanks. I realize all I have to be thankful for. And so, in turn, there must be a sense of gratitude for the struggle.
Some days my heart becomes tired, and others, I realize there is no place I would rather be. It is a complexity of life, loving it, yet yearning for wholeness all at the same time. What does true wholeness look like for me- as Ashlea, and all of the roles I play. I am me in each, as a wife, as a mom, as a friend, a daughter, a mentor, a disciple. I must resist the urge to be that which I am not, and to find joy in rising with the sun each day. God has giving me another day in this life, though littered with loss, it is also filled with gifts.
I am trying to get into the habit of thanksgiving. To meditate on God’s word. This season has felt so long for me, like a fog. One of little creativity, much emotional and physical exhaustion, and a feeling of not being able to complete what is set out before me. This morning I felt so isolated to wake up to yet another dump of snow. 2 more days until April, and we still have 4 foot piles in our yard. No signs of spring in sight, more snow, and more cold in the forecast. To be honest, it just had me feeling tired, and grumpy. It also seems that every time we have days set aside that Matt can do some work on our house, it snows. His day is derailed, he has to go clear… It’s been a long season.
Matt sent me a text this afternoon to remind me to take some time to read the Bible with the boys. (it is after all Sunday, but, he said the roads were bad and didn’t want us driving in for church) I asked God to just direct me to something, and I heard the word “gratitude” echo in my heart. I read the following 3 times.
Shout with Joy to the Lord, all the earth!
Worship the Lord with gladness. Come before him singing with joy.
Acknowledge that the Lord is God! He made us and we are His.
We are His people, the sheep of his pasture.
Enter His gates with thanksgiving, go into His courts with praise.
Give thanks and praise His name.
For the Lord is good.
His unfailing love continues forever, and his faithfulness continues to each generation.
The boys and I talked about what we are thankful for. It was so sweet to hear from their little hearts. Thankful for friends to play with, thankful for their mamma and daddy who take care of them, thankful for a big brother. Simple things, yet such important things. Community, belonging, companionship, safety. Today I give thanks for these things.
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