Last week, I took a bit of an unexpected break from Thankful Thursday to grieve in Texas with my family for the loss of my uncle. I wanted to - and had in my head many thankfuls - write a post last week, but I did not have access to internet. so today's edition is a compilation. I hope it's not too lengthy.
Today I'm Thankful for....
I love my family. I love what God gave us in the gift of a household that is not only blood-family but Jesus family too. So not only do we have strong bonds of familial love, but we have stronger ties of agape love, and Christ-ties. There is nothing more rare, and honestly, nothing more shocking to the world around us. People are constantly surprised at the strength of relationship between each member of our family. Beyond that, they are often blessed by the dynamic of our family and how we serve each other and serve others through our family. Never was this more evident in seeing my parents rush to put aside their own grief to minister to my cousins, see my brother come along side my dad and comfort him so he could in turn be different in is mourning to his own family. To watch my big brother, the namesake of my uncle walk among those who mourned with no hope offer words of peace, hope and Christ in the Eulogy was a moment of pride, love and thankfulness that our branch of family, although we were grieved by losing a beloved Uncle, we have hope that is stronger than death. As an aside, I am also thankful that in this beautiful gift of family, we also truly enjoy each other's company (for the most part. ;) - and therefore 4 days of travel with my brother was not tiresome, irritating or wearying. The same with my parents. It was a gift and pleasure to laugh together, cry together, and simply BE together. I am so thankful for my family.
~Virginia, My New Home~
Going to Houston last week was, under the circumstances, far from entertaining. But we did get to imbibe in some delicious foods, and enjoy them together as a family. However, what often came up was how I missed home, the beauty of the Blue Ridge Mountains, the seasons that had begun to arrive before we left for the sauna of South Coastal Texas. I was eager to return to my church family, the hilly roads, the autumn leaves, the view from our back porch, the clean, dry air, the short commute to work and school, the lack of a concrete jungle and overall, just a thankfulness to appreciate where I live. I"m thankful that I fully live here now, and not just exist here.
My world is on a constant GO right now because of work, grad school and ministry things that keep me occupied. I cannot complain, though. It is a gift, this season. I am thankful for the places God is allowing me to be a light, for the opportunities to grow, mature and meet God in new ways through busy, hectic life. More than that though, when I have quiet moments to sit and write, to meditate deeply on God's word, or simply lay in my bed praying for my beloveds, I am so much more thankful for the rest that comes in those snatched moments. I am thankful for the "Be Still" moments. So much of what God has me learning is that amidst the busy, there is stillness and moments of "Stop and Breathe" to be had. Thankful for these deep lessons in strange places.
~People who see you differently than you see yourself~
This week, someone close to me was struggling with believing what I had to say about them. Two days later, the roles were reversed and this person threw my own phrase back at me "I believe in you more than you believe in yourself." And I had this "aha" moment where I realized that God gives us relationships SO THAT we can see ourselves as He sees us. We grow myopic about how much of a failure we are, of how little value we are, and what useless creatures we believe ourselves to be. Yet God, in His ultimate wisdom, grace and mercy gives us people who see with Grace, Love, Mercy and speak THOSE truths to us in their understanding of us. Oh how God loves us to do that! I'm thankful daily that people see me differently than I see myself. It gives me hope that I will be that woman some day, that maybe my sinfulness distorts my vision of myself, and that God really does see me in a lens of grace. Thankful indeed for that.
~Podcasts & Audiobooks~
Let me tell you, I work at a job where I could go in at 630 in the morning and leave at 230 and never speak to anyone. Thankfully, they let us bring our iPods and listen to tunes, or whatever. I've gone to listening to audio books and podcasts. Passes the time quickly. I will be doing more. But I did listen to Jonathan McIntosh a lot this week, and look forward to some QT with Matt Chandler next week. Who knows what I'll pack onto my iPod next, but I'm enjoying hours of deep study of God's word piped into my heart's soil. I've walked away with some perspective altering things, but also some tender alone moments with God that make me want to fall on my face in worship. Thankful for that. Ironically, even listening to Ray Bradbury's book "Something Wicked This Way Comes" was ultimately an end that made me want to worship, because it was a whole book about the nature of evil, the triumph of good, hope, and how LIVING is actually a victory over evil. Whoosh. There was some deep stuff in the end pages of that book for sure. All in all, I am thankful for the technology that allows me t listen like this while I work. It's being good for me.
~"Restless" by Switchfoot~
This week, my friend Alicia sent me the deluxe version of Switchfoot's new album, but one song, she'd sent me a live version of a few weeks ago and it has resonated with me since I heard it. Tonight t seems more and more important and something I am thankful for. The lyrics....I am indeed restless until my soul is anchored deep in Him. And I am anchored firm in this season and it makes so much work so correctly in my life - relationships, school, work, etc. But this song....well I can't articulate enough how I'm thankful for it, but I am. I just want to attach the song tonight so you can listen and let it wash over you in its own unique way.
There is so much more I can speak about being thankful but for the moment, I'm just breathing in deep rest and busyness and letting God have all of me. And this night finds me thankful for all I see in those I love, and in the world around me. So on this Rosh Hashanah Night, I leave you with a traditional Jewish New Year Blessing: Ketiva ve-chatima tovah. (May you be written and sealed for a good year) and if I might add, may it also be a year of gratitude.
God Bless you, reader, from the bottom of my very thankful heart.