Monday, June 11, 2012

1000 Gifts & Counting

Last year about this time I read 1000 Gifts by Ann Voskamp.    In this book, she gives the challenge to record 1000 reasons to be thankful.  Last Friday, I recorded my 1000th gift.

As I reviewed my list, I found physical gifts, spiritual gifts, momentary gifts & long lasting gifts.  Some gifts - like coffee & my husband are repeated.   Some gifts, I would NEVER want repeated. My son surviving a bad car wreck would be one of them.  Being at my father in law's side as he went to the Father would be another.   And yet, all of these things - even the hard ones, were & are gifts from my loving Father.

Something else happened as I reviewed my list.  I was aware that I am indeed living an abundant life.  Perhaps not in the realm of physical abundance - but a life full of God's blessings.  This - an abundant life - even though I know that my meager list of 1000 gifts is but a sampling of all the Good Lord has given me.  This is reason enough to keep looking, keep counting, keep recording, keep naming the gifts.  Perhaps it is in this naming that we truly receive the gifts that of dear Father gives.  

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

True Confessions

I have a confession to make.  I struggle with depression.  There - I said it.

In my mind - I know the truth.  I understand about grace, but in everyday practice, I get so turned inward and it is a struggle to look out.  In the worst of it, I only see my failures, my insecurities.  I feel condemnation for all of those things - even tho' I know that scripture says there is no condemnation in the Lord.  On good days, I can see the sun.  I feel compassion for others, I want to reach out.  I have gone through times when the sunny days far out numbered the cloudy ones.  But recently, the clouds are overtaking the sun.  Think of the gloom over Mordor.

Being out & about, I try to shake it off.  To smile.  To do the jobs that I am called to do.  It is a struggle.  I come home exhausted with the effort.  It would be easier to just stay home in my bed.

I've been down this road before.  I think I lived the first 30 years of my life in the thick of it.  Then with the help of counseling and medications, I was able to break through the gloom.  I have been off & on medication since then.  Currently, I am on - & I still struggle.  Not that life is particularly hard right now.  That is the frustrating part.  Maybe it is that dreaded change of life issue?  Something else?

I get frustrated with being so weak that I can't just pray myself out of this pit.  You know, read some scripture, sing "We Have Overcome", and be good with it all.  But - it doesn't  work.  And those closest to me see the gathering storm clouds.  They urge me to see about changing my meds.

Our emotions are such strange things.  How much is dictated by our spiritual life - our relationship with Christ, our obedience in taking each thought captive?  And how much is dictated by the physical realm - chemical imbalances in the brain?  Serotonin levels that, after years of dealing with (stuffing) childhood issues, never come back to a healthy level?

The desire for relief - not so much for relief's sake, but so that I can be an effective Christ-follower & mother to my children, and the other things I am called to do is strong.  I suppose I could just pull myself up by my bootstraps and stomp my way through it - although whose toes and other body parts would get in the way, I can only imagine.  I wonder if medication is the chicken way out?  Is it the dulling of the thorn that the Lord meant for my ultimate good?

So many questions - and so many strong opinions about this issue.  In my case, two of my closest friends are urging me to increase my medication.  And while considering this I have read a couple of places about Christian women whom I admire taking anti-depressants.  Since I am not thinking as clearly as I might in this fog, I am taking their advice.

I have to admit - I am hitting the publish button with fear and trembling - but I could not get it out of my head that I needed to post this.  If you know someone this would encourage, would you please share it?  And perhaps let me know that the sharing of my weaknesses & struggles have been an encouragement?

Monday, March 26, 2012

1000 Gifts - I'm Getting Closer...

Giving thanks for the small things in life...
695.  Tire swing with squealing girls on it
695.  Oh How He Loves You and Me sung at church as a prayer
697.  Your WORD
698.  Beautiful Paintings around our home created by Grandma Irma
699.  Teen boys growing up
700.  My little girl doing "big girl math" all too soon....

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Mission Possible?

I've been reading a book that has me looking at life, looking at our home and our family as if under a microscope.  You know - all of those fine details & getting rid of the clutter.  The book:

Organized Simplicity

If you have not read it, I highly recommend it. 

I am a fairly organized person, and you would think that since we moved into our house less than 2 years ago, there would not be much clutter.  But something about homeschooling, four children, and living out of 2 houses for over a year caused things to be a bit disorganized.  And so, when the opportunity arose to get this book for an awesome deal, I went for it.

What I did not expect was the direction this book would take me.  Yes, there is a lot about organizing and decluttering in the book, but also about life purpose, using your time and finances wisely.  The book starts by encouraging you to have a mission statement.  You know - that guiding principle that guides you in all of your decisions about how to use the space in your home, your time, your energy, your money.  Wow!  I got a lot more than I bargained for.  

As my hubby & I discussed the relative merits of a mission statement, we were also aware of how useless a mission statement can be if not meaningful.  We have both worked in corporations that adopted mission statements that were to be the guiding principles for the business, but were in actuality little more than a plaque on a wall.  We did not want to go through the exercise if it was not going to actually affect how our family operated.

After being married for 26 years, we obviously have a family identity and things that have been important to us.  But we felt as though maybe we were going adrift of those things - and since we have two younger kids felt it was important to keep our focus.  We found our inspiration in a plaque that was given to us as a wedding present all those 26 years ago. 

We also have the advantage of having adult (or near adult) children.  When we asked them about our mission statement, they were able to give us valuable input.  As we all studied & thought about this bible verse,  we were gratified to find this wasn't something new.  We were just putting it in writing & fine tuning what our family is all about. 

So - for what it is worth, here is our family mission statement.  We have already found that it is helping to direct the things that we say 'yes' to, and the things we say 'no' to.  It is affecting our choices of activities for our younger children to be involved in.  It is our hope & prayer that it will also be a directing principle for our older sons. 

But as for me and my house,
we will serve the LORD.
Joshua 24:15

  • by regular study of His word
  • with consistent prayer
  • by training children to be godly adults
  • with all sincerity
  • as the hands & feet of Christ wherever we are
  • as good stewards of all He as entrusted to us
  • honoring & enjoying His creation
  • in the local body of Christ
  • in the small things