Sunday, November 19, 2017

Giving [hard] Thanks

In January of 2016 I started a gratitude journal.  Periodically since starting it, I will find it and read through it and diligently begin adding to it.  I was inspired to do this by Ann Voskamp and her brilliant book, One Thousand Gifts.
If you haven't, I highly suggest you take the time to read it this holiday season.  And again on an ordinary March day.  And then again in the summer heat.  It's brilliant and poignant and perfect in so many ways for the broken hearted and those who just strive for a more extraordinary existence.   
Which is me.  On both accounts.  

Inside my gratitude journal, I just jot down quick moments that I am thankful for among the ordinary every day moments:

6:30 sunrise-so pink
amish candy
school pictures
meeting an expecting mother (down syndrome)
a furnace
pine scented melts
text from Val
house alone; quiet
Braden to Chris "I missed you."

Ordinary moments that are so brilliant.  Moments I might otherwise forget because they are part of the mundane of life.  But gosh mundane is really incredible.  
What I used to take for granted about life; the quiet, non dramatic, easy, gentle pace of our every day- I no longer take that for granted.  Because truly, those moments are few and far between again.  There is this fight or flight response happening inside of me in response to all of the chaos around me. 
With Gus, with grief, for my sister, for myself, for my parents. for my brother, for my kids.

I realize I can't hold it all but sometimes it's hard not to.  My shoulders have grown broad and strong and they tend to accept the weight of the world if I let them.  
So I'm trying to settle back down, grasp my knees and bunker down in the mundane moments that I am lucky enough to experience in between the bigger, scarier, sadder, more fragile moments that sneak up frequently.  
Even with all of this purposeful gratitude, I'm struggling to start this week.  
I miss our baby.  
And if I let myself, I become totally consumed with fear over August.  So I try really hard not to allow myself.  Instead I pray for God's peace to cover me.  His grace to hold our boy.  I ask Him to be with his doctors.  To protect and uphold my sister.  To direct our every step as He promises.  

But I read people's responses to prayer on social media and some of them are so conflicting and deeply painful for me.  Specific verses that people choose to post (that I fully believe, by the way) but that didn't necessarily play out the way that they are written in the life of my child.  That is where fear can seep in, knowing that ultimately God is in control of life and death and every single thing in between. 
The fear of what could happen (to August or anyone I love) is likely never going to get easier.  I just have to be really true to my feelings and honor them and know that despite it all, God's will was complete and perfect in Mabel and is so in August as well.  
And with that peace bubbles up this deep contentment inside of me.  It is THAT feeling that I have to work really hard to maintain every day.  
That feeling that through it all, it is well.  
No matter what.  
Despite it all. 
It is well.

And then I offer up gratitude for all of the many gifts that He gives.  
And I find myself centered once again.  
This time of year brings so much joy and so much pain.  
I think of all the people who were once so tightly knit into my life who are not anymore and it's heartbreaking.  I think of the reasons that they may have walked away and that's even more heartbreaking.  Ultimately I know that those who are meant to be at my side, are, but it doesn't take away the true loss that I feel knowing that others can just choose to not be.  

Sometimes it feels like so much overwhelming loss.
So I go back to gratitude and focus solely on all the gifts that surround me.  
There are so many, after all.  

Today's most spectacular gift?  
My sister being home from the Children's Hospital (for 2 days) and me being able to see her for a few minutes while she made a trip to town.  And to watch my brother hug her for the first time in a really long time.  I watched closely and thought I might die from the extreme amount of love I feel for both of them.  I am so thankful.
This Thanksgiving week as you gather with your family, would you pray for ours?  
There are so many changes happening (as always, it seems) and some of them are really hard and conflicting and devastating.  
And, for August.  He will be having another cath procedure for his heart on Tuesday.  We are praying that not only is it successful but that the Dr's would have wisdom and that God would show Himself in a supernatural way once again.  He has been so present and SO faithful in this little buddy of mine.  
Thank you in advance.  

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