Two funerals, a best friend's medical diagnosis, a former students' attempt to end her life, a lonely single friend, fear of loss, anxiety for the future, exhaustion after a challenging experience, anger over an injustice, heartbreak for the pain of others, a searching for balance...these are the things weighing me down recently. The prayer list is long. But, my God is big.
Now I have a choice. I can wallow. I can cry. I can overeat. Or, I can celebrate. I can find the good. I can see God's fingerprints. I can send positive endorphins to my brain! I choose the latter.
It's Count Your Blessings time! God was glorified in those funerals. My friend is at peace with her diagnosis and is feeling hopeful. The family of my former student has a plan to help her. My single friend is reading and growing and feeling encouraged. My own fear of loss and my anxiety for the future are hurdles I face daily, but scripture is comforting and God's strength is constant. Summer is a time of rest for me and I can feel myself healing from the recent challenges and injustices. I think my heart will always be tender to the pain of my friends and family...I just have to learn to lay each concern at the feet of Jesus. And, does anyone ever truly master balance? I'd love a lesson!
I am healthy. I have the ability to exercise each day. I have resources to help me make healthy meals. I have time to plan and grow during these non-teaching days. I have a wonderful husband who supports me and loves me deeply. I have friends and family who can lift me up in prayer. I have a God with arms of compassion open to me. I have a brain that works, a soul that is creative, and eyes that are open for roses to smell along the way.
So, what helps fill me up? Quality time with my husband, friends, and family fills me up. I'm so thankful for the summer months when I have time to talk on the phone for an hour at a time or have my nieces over for a sleepover or spend the day playing with my grandson or visit a coffee shop with a friend. Relationships will always be my number one priority and joy.
What else fills me up? Organizing spaces in my home or classroom, planning trips to take with my husband, creating scrapbooks from photographs full of great memories, reading my Bible, writing reflections about my life, blocking out all distractions and simply playing piano... ahhhh.
My favorite author right now is Shauna Niequist. The following is a devotional I read recently that really resonated with me. I wrote the above blog post as a reflection after meditating on Shauna's words for a while. I choose Joy. I choose the discipline of celebration. I choose to see God at work.
Come Dance With Me!
"Be glad and rejoice with me." (Philippians 2:18)The discipline of celebration is changing my life, and I invite you into the same practice. Come tap dance with me on the fresh graves of apathy and cynicism, the creeping belief that this is all there is, and that God is no match for the wreckage of the world we live in. What God does in the tiny corners of our day-to-day lives is stunning and gorgeous and headline-making, but we have a bad habit of saving the headlines for the grotesque and scary.
To choose to celebrate right here and right now might seem irresponsible. It might seem frivolous, like cotton candy and charm bracelets. But I believe it is a serious undertaking, one that has the potential to return us to our best selves, to deliver us back to the men and women God created us to be, people who choose to see the best, believe the best, yearn for the best. Through that longing to be our best selves, we are changed and inspired and ennobled, able to see the handwriting of a holy God where another person just sees the same old tired streets and sidewalks.
God is alive, and He is transforming and redeeming His world, even when we can't see it. Where do you see the fingerprints of a loving, holy God in your life today, even in the mess and darkness?
From Savor: Living Abundantly Where You Are, As You Are by Shauna Niequist, page 311.
|These little punkins bring me JOY!|