halfway through the thousand gifts…the exhale

Monday, November 21, 2011

For me, some thoughts are the inhale. The sharp intake of breath. The ones you wrestle with, ponder deeply, struggle over. The ones that just don’t sit well immediately. You work to find the truth. You need to breathe them in. You’re gasping for air.

Then there are the thoughts that just plant in your soul. They settle in as though you had been believing them, thinking over them for years. Even if they aren’t your ‘original’ thoughts, they belong deep in your spirit. These thoughts, you know they’re true, they sit well, they bring peace – the exhale.

That’s what counting the gifts has been for me. The exhale. I realize that I spend a lot of time thinking about what God wants from me. The better question (loosely based on a sermon by Dan Cruver that I did not actually hear) that I should be pondering is the one concerning who God is.

Obviously, God is many things. I grew up in church; I could recite lists of God’s attributes, His names, His works, on and on. It’s always different when you learn it firsthand. The primary lesson I’ve learned of late: God is the Giver.

Your love, Lord, reaches to the heavens, your faithfulness to the skies.
Your righteousness is like the highest mountains,
your justice like the great deep.
You, Lord, preserve both people and animals.
How priceless is your unfailing love, O God!
People take refuge in the shadow of your wings.
They feast on the abundance of your house;
you give them drink from your river of delights.
For with you is the fountain of life; in your light we see light.
Continue your love to those who know you,
your righteousness to the upright in heart.
Psalm 36:5-10

Who is God? According to this Psalm, He is the fountain, the river, abundance, a refuge, full of righteousness and justice. He gives. He gives and gives, and then He gives more. I think this is the essence of the life change that I’ve experienced through counting the gifts. I honestly didn’t expect this discipline to impact my life so profoundly. When I see God as the Giver, then I can give in return. Out of the abundance he’s given me, I have so much more to pour out. So many times these past year, as I’ve been recording the gifts in my little Moleskine, when I lost my step and forgot my focus, God was there. Giving. Ever giving. An eternal fountain of life, filling me with light, spilling forth to others. I never ran dry, never came up completely short, because even on the worst day, when I had the least within me, when I got to the very end, God brought up the slack. Finished it out. I believe He gave me so much more than I could bear, so that when I hit the very limits of my being, He could be there to give me even more.

He’s the Giver.


Here’s where I make it halfway:
481. healthy, beating hearts
482. my sweet father-in-law
483. only minor damage
484. my husband's first 35 years
485. a sister willing to drive quite a ways just to help during my surgery
486. a little lidocaine pre-IV insertion - a small kindness that made a difference in my day
487. quick anesthesia recovery
488. supper from my mama
489. some relief from pain
490. clear breaths of air thanks to my inhaler
491. medical intervention
492. my beautiful and gracious Aunt Marcia
493. bent fingers
494. relief of pain
495. a committed and selfless husband
496. being carried to the table - weak and broken by the fall
497. the certainty that my pain and discomfort will end - a hope not everyone has
498. toddler cousin love
499. the most mature ten year old I know - a gift to our whole family
500. my Moleskine filled with page after page of gifts. A life-changing discipline I did not expect
501. a system-wide legacy
502. meeting my children's sister's mom for the first time
503. my four-year-old who, after a year and a half, finally believes that he's 'dorable
504. opened doors of opportunity
505. the hope of further influence
506. teamwork through disagreement
507. buttoning my own pants
508. a husband to help me dress for an important meeting when I can't manage it all myself
509. the start of my favorite season
510. the 'boys' - who'll stay late, work hard, mow lots to get our tasks done
511. princess hats during church
512. baby love during church
513. the sweet anticipation of my first meeting with my nephew
514. handmade owls and flower arrangements
515. a beautiful woodland baby shower
516. wishes for Truett

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