Today we finished our 5 week Leadership Training School and I can honestly say that I can never be the same as before we started. I am in awe of how Great our God is and how deeply He works in the lives of His children. I know that this course is leading me onto the next leg of my journey in knowing Him more. It is fascinating to know that He has planned my life right down to the minor details and nothing is ever "by chance" or "by coincidence".
Earlier this year I received an awesome gift from a blog friend from Canada. Joanne have been writing a lot of posts about the book "One Thousand Gifts" by Ann Voskamp and decided to bless me with a copy of the book.
“I want to see beauty. In the ugly, in the sink, in the suffering, in the daily, in all the days before I die, the moments before I sleep.”
“Being in a hurry. Getting to the next thing without fully entering the thing in front of me. I cannot think of a single advantage I've ever gained from being in a hurry. But a thousand broken and missed things, tens of thousands, lie in the wake of all the rushing.... Through all that haste I thought I was making up time. It turns out I was throwing it away.”
“Eucharisteo—thanksgiving—always precedes the miracle.”
“...the secret to joy is to keep seeking God where we doubt He is.”
“Humbly let go. Let go of trying to do, let go of trying to control, let go of my own way, let go of my own fears. Let God blow His wind, His trials, oxygen for joy's fire. Leave the hand open and be. Be at peace. Bend the knee and be small and let God give what God chooses to give because He only gives love and whisper a surprised thanks. This is the fuel for joy's flame. Fullness of joy is discovered only in the emptying of will. And I can empty. I can empty because counting His graces has awakened me to how He cherishes me, holds me, passionately values me. I can empty because I am full of His love. I can trust.”
“It is in the dark that God is passing by. The bridge and our lives shake not because God has abandoned, but the exact opposite: God is passing by. God is in the tremors. Dark is the holiest ground, the glory passing by. In the blackest, God is closest, at work, forging His perfect and right will. Though it is black and we can't see and our world seems to be free-falling and we feel utterly alone, Christ is most present to us...”
“When we lay the soil of our hard lives open to the rain of grace and let joy penetrate our cracked and dry places, let joy soak into our broken skin and deep crevices, life grows. How can this not be the best thing for the world? For us?”
“I know there is poor and hideous suffering, and I've seen the hungry and the guns that go to war. I have lived pain, and my life can tell: I only deepen the wound of the world when I neglect to give thanks for early light dappled through leaves and the heavy perfume of wild roses in early July and the song of crickets on humid nights and the rivers that run and the stars that rise and the rain that falls and all the good things that a good God gives.”
I look back on the past 5 weeks and I know why I had to read this book before starting the course.
I needed to cultivate an attitude of gratitude.
I needed to know that I have to live this life to the full.
To embrace the happy AND the sad.
To see God when I am in the storm.
To learn to give Him thanks for Who He is even when my life falls apart.
So I walk out of the course earlier this week with a heart that is tender and eyes that are leaky. I am challenged! I am challenged not to lose my joy when the attack comes...and it comes. I am unfairly accused and I feel joy seeping away. A joyful heart becoming heavy as it goes and sits in my stomach. Sucker punched! Why now? How quickly we can swing from way up on the mountain top to deep down into the pit. How do I respond? My nature wants to lash out and defend. I have no words so I just say " I can't deal with this right now. I need to think (pray?)" I turn around and walk away.
Life has it's challenges and I go home and I read this blog post of Ann Voskamp. http://www.aholyexperience.com/2013/11/ending-the-stealing-of-thanksgiving-a-parable/
I bow my head, open my hands and give thanks...and He gives me joy.