A Dare to Name all the Ways that God Loves Me

For He is always speaking, if only I could hear Him, see Him, receive Him.

I’ve been reading One Thousand Gifts by Ann Voskamp. To honor the intent of the book, I’ve begun my own list I titled a Dare to Name all the Ways that God Loves Me.   

I had to rename this list because even if I lost every single thing listed here I know that God still loves me.

I’m Thankful For:

  1. Health insurance.
  2. A husband’s love.
  3. A home.
  4. The truth of scriptures.
  5. That Daniel gave thanks.
  6. For children’s laughter.
  7. For children’s questions.
  8. For childlike faith.
  9. Imaginations of children.
  10. The sound of LEGOs pieced together, clicks and clinks as the youngest boy digs.
  11. The click of computer keyboard, as ideas fall onto the screen.
  12. The tinkling of guitar chords, rising from the basement.
  13. Skinny boy legs.
  14. Coffee, warm and soothing.
  15. Enthusiasm of children.
  16. Emma’s laughter.
  17. A loyal pup.
  18. Ginger tea’s reminder of  many things shared with Tom.
  19. A warm, heated home.
  20. A trusty car.
  21. The prayers of friends, new and old.
  22. The hope of Cross Stitch.
  23. Full tummies.
  24. Silly belly laughing at dinner.
  25. Frost on the fall morning’s grass.
  26. The stories of Ho-Chunk people “People of the Big Voice” which I heard about on the radio.
  27. Public radio.
  28. Public teachers and leaders, truly humble people.
  29. The New Yorker magazine.
  30. Books. Books piled up in corners.
  31. Used book store smell.
  32. The sounds of the heater kerchunking in the winter.  (It still works!)
  33. A husband who does laundry.
  34. Drinking Jasmine tea with a friend.
  35. Feeling understood.
  36. the Bible plain and simple, that anyone can open, read and try to understand.
  37. that the Bible doesn’t have to make complete and total “sense.”
  38. my depression.
  39. my alcoholism.   Being sober three years and four months.
  40. Handel‘s Messiah!
  41. Tears, being able to cry again.
  42. Tom.
  43. Tom’s job.
  44. God’s abundant provision!
  45. Good health (so far) for our children.
  46. Molly living at home.
  47. The CIVA project to work on.
  48. The illogic of faith.
  49. My sisters, strong resilient women each one.
  50. That I was able to travel twice to Russia and Ukraine.
  51. The hope that I will one day travel overseas again.
  52. So many talented, creative friends who make music and art!
  53. For pecan pie. 11/28/2011
  54. For the ability to express myself in writing.
  55. A child who tells me when she’s afraid.
  56. A grown up daughter that still listens and grows.
  57. And her big, open heart!
  58. the smell of rice cooking.
  59. the dog growling at baby Jesus and the reindeer in my neighbor’s yard.
  60. Turkey curry with coconut milk.
  61. Vietnamese Noodles with a good friend.
  62. Home made hot cocoa for a sick girl.
  63. sunlight in the window.
  64. Chai warm and sweet goodness.
  65. Mosaics.
  66. Clouds in the blue sky.
  67. Ice on early morning windows.
  68. boy drinking broth with a straw.
  69. the agility and ability of children to sleep in any place or position.
  70. home-made corn bread cooking sweet in the oven.
  71. the grass sparkling with frost. 11/30/2011
  72. Learning humility from a dear friend who is constantly insulted by others’ insensitivity to her beautiful Japanese culture & heritage.
  73. Vanilla Ice Cream!
  74. A night out with Tom and no kids.
  75. Dinner with friends.
  76. Fires in the fireplace.12/5
  77. Classical music.
  78. Jacob’s “graduating” from help at school after eight years of speech and language help!
  79. Sunsets, the color and majesty.
  80. Heat, as in sand and palm trees and sun!
  81. That Junia was a woman and that I know it.
  82. The honor of serving on the board of Lilada’s Livingroom.
  83. Historians, like Doris Kearns Goodwin.
  84. Blackhawk church downtown!
  85. That “public servants” is not a misnomer.
  86. For the teachers, aids, doctors, speech therapists, tutors and interns that have worked with J for the last eight years, giving him language, and speech and the discovery of his own intelligence.
  87. Men who aren’t sexist.

Giving Thanks for What Is

At first light I wake.

My temples pounding and piercing me with pain, I am angry with the fierce illogic of it all.  I try to understand.  I wake resentful.  Am I thirsty?  Did I wake too late my body screaming for caffeine?  Or is this another manifestation of the depression, the black fog that has clouded my days for – I count them – fourteen long days.  And fourteen hostile, dreamless nights.   I wake wondering if I slept at all?  This morning with a headache, I question it.  Headaches hold messages, ciphers of secret coded understanding; though today’s meaning I am too foolish to fathom.  I stumble downstairs, the dog at my heels.  Coffee.  Migraine medication. Water. Toilet. In that order.  I can only focus on these four whispered words.  Each step, my head aches as I blink and blink again.  My right foot’s bones twinge, piercing through the fog.  Again, foot pain.  Why?  It is always worrying me these days, why all the pain?

This thanksgiving day, I want gratitude. 

I am so blessed.  I know this, it is almost appallingly clear – I have nothing to be depressed about.  But my depression is something deeper, old, even ancient pain that has nothing to do with today’s abundance.

I sit and drink in the silence.  The oldest son is awake, the early bird, tap — tap –tapping keys of his fingers on the keyboard.  Otherwise silence.  It sounds so good.   Even as my stomach lurches, and my head continues to pound, I sit in the wonder of silence and ask God to open my ears.

For He is always speaking, if only I could hear Him, see Him, receive Him.

I’ve been reading One Thousand Gifts and I pick it up, again – for what could be better on this day of thanksgiving than a book about learned gratitude?  It hurts to read.  Eyes blurry from sleep, head still piercing I feel a flood of the Tears That Never Come, flood the walls of my heart, full.  Bursting. Pain.  To honor the intent of the book, I’ve begun my own list.  I’ve only cobbled together – I count them — Twelve things this week. I titled it:

A Dare to Name all the Ways that God Loves Me:

  1. Health insurance.
  2. A husband’s love.
  3. A home.
  4. The truth of scriptures.
  5. Daniel gave thanks.
  6. For children’s laughter.
  7. For children’s questions.
  8. For childlike faith.
  9. Imaginations of children.
  10. The sound of LEGOs pieced together, clicks and clinks as the youngest boy digs.
  11. The click of computer keyboard, as ideas fall onto the screen.
  12. The tinkling of guitar chords, rising from the basement.

I add to the list, even through my headache…

  1. Skinny boy legs.
  2. Coffee, warm and soothing.
  3. Enthusiasm of children.

 “For God speaks again and again, though people do not recognize it.”  Job 33:14

Yes, I hear Him speaking.   And the promise I hear from him today:

“See now that I, I am He, and there is no god besides Me;

It is I who put to death and give life.

I have wounded and it is I who heals.”  — Deuteronomy 32:39  NASB

I am tempted to focus on  his words I have wounded, but I “should” remain, even linger with these words — It is I who heals.

Thankful.

Thanksgiving is not my favorite holiday, because of times in the past that were hard, but perhaps this year it can be redeemed.  Since no one is making me perhaps I will talk about gratitude.

“The continuum of words related to gratitude go from greed and jealousy; through taking things for granted and feeling entitled; to appreciation, acceptance, and satisfaction. The practice of gratitude would be an appropriate prescription whichever one of the above describes your attitudes.  The rules of the grammar of gratitude are not as simple as they seem at first glance, however. For example, often instead of rejoicing in what we have, we greedily want something more, better, or different. We can’t be grateful because we are making comparisons and coveting other possibilities.  When this happens on a personal level, when it’s our ego that is dissatisfied, then we are ungrateful. But when we want something more, better, or different for the glory of God or for the benefit of the community, this greed may be a manifestation of our devotion, our love, or our yearning for justice. And then we are grateful for these commitments.”  — Spirituality & Practice.

I read this yesterday:

If God hasn’t changed your circumstances then perhaps he wants to change you.

This has been a long time coming for me. I have asked God to change my circumstances for years.  And seemingly he is either silent or I am not listening well.

I thought I wanted a job that pays money.  I still do want that and a job where I am making a difference in the world, a contribution to my community or to helping others through exposing the injustice with pictures and words.  If I am honest, I also still want position and power for my glory and ego, so perhaps this is why God doesn’t give me back those opportunities just yet.

Instead I am learning to lean in to being a mother, for it is an honorable, risky and challenging job (though the pay is low and the retirement plan stinks!)  In all seriousness, God has given me the four children I have for a reason, they are an extravagant gift. And you never know whose mother you are, who your children will become.

I am learning that I am valuable even though I don’t make money. And learning that my contribution to world just may be through something else — through insight, or creativity, or dare I say a prophetic word (small p definitely) from time to time?  Okay perhaps not.  I don’t know much, but I am learning.  There is so much that I don’t know.  I too quickly go from insecure to proud and satisfied; from cock sure to fearful and hesitant; from mute to long-winded and rambling; from loving my own thoughts to wondering at my idiocy.  But I am learning to be comfortable with my voice and in my skin.

And I am unlearning many things.  Sorting and sifting through what has been taught to me. I am encountering and learning from beautiful people along the way.

Though my house collects dust bunnies — even as my house collects them — I see

all that is growing

in and around me. 

The dust bunnies can wait.

I am being transformed and I am grateful.

October 26th, 2011

Consider your own call, brothers and sisters: not many of you were wise by human standards, not many were powerful, not many were of noble birth. But God chose what is foolish in the world to shame the wise; God chose what is weak in the world to shame the strong; God chose what is low and despised in the world, things that are not, to reduce to nothing things that are, so that no one might boast in the presence of God. He is the source of your life in Christ Jesus, who became for us wisdom from God, and righteousness and sanctification and redemption, in order that, as it is written, ‘Let the one who boasts, boast in the Lord.’ 1 Corinthians 1:26-31 NRSV