Tuesday, July 26, 2011

My New Book (and My New Revelation)


The brown cardboard package encapsulating a book that I was sure to treasure was hand delivered to my bedroom by one of the kids yesterday.  I tore it open, wondering for a second if it was actually a book that my husband had ordered, but it was indeed what I hoped for.

Ann Voskamp's "One Thousand Gifts" looked up at me, with crisp pages and a pretty nest of robin's eggs on the cover, and "a dare to LIVE FULLY right where you are".

Isn't that what I struggle with, day after day?  It's no secret, and I'm sure my writing has occasionally hinted to this empty ache, this haunting desperation that I struggle with from time to time.  Sometimes I wonder if I'm simply battling depression, like I did when I was a hormonal, off-balance teenager.  Sometimes I just wonder if I'm crazy... having loaded myself up with a life that is so busy, so demanding and weighty with responsibility.

Yet, within the struggle, I know that my path has been God-ordained despite the many ups and downs; the tumultuous emotions, the mountainous treks that leave my feet sore and bleeding and my lungs gasping for another breath.  And there are times where I actually SEE... I look across the vast landscape from a temporary high place, and I am amazed at the journey and I relish the glory of God that has been revealed in my simple, complicated life: babies born, a passionate but deeply rooted man for my husband, the gift of many companions, and the list goes on.

But most days, I admit, it's dry.  I don't leap out of bed with joyous expectation for the treasures that the day will hold.  I don't rejoice and declare "This is the day that the Lord has made" - in fact, I hardly acknowledge that the day even belongs to HIM.

So I've been eagerly waiting for this book - for someone with a kindred heart to speak to me, minister to me, nurse my wounds and lead me into a better viewpoint.  The author is much like me:  a blogger, and a homeschooling mother of six.  Somehow she has grasped onto enough hope and learned to convey, with wisdom, the story of her journey to a joyful life.

I hungrily gobbled up the first couple of chapters last night, once the children were quietly tucked into bed.  As her poetry and the gently rolling rhythm of her words washed over my soul, conviction pricked at the dark places in my heart.

I'm no dummy.  Very quickly I saw the theme and the crux of her message as she painstakingly shared bits and pieces of her life-story, and the revelation that the Holy Spirit weaved into her searching heart.

This isn't actually a true book review, as I've only read the first three chapters, but I will touch on the lessons I've learned thus far.

The longing, searching and quest for "more" is as timeless as the Garden of Eden.  By ingratitude, Eve forsook God's rule and reached for something "more".  Turning her back on all the blessing, all the fellowship, she just HAD TO TASTE; had to question God's goodness and reach beyond her already abundant living.  The cycle continues.  We test limits, reaching out beyond our normal lives, perceiving that if we could just have MORE, we will be truly happy.

My life nods in agreement to this idea.  I have so much, and yet everyday I catch myself whining and pining over what my life is not, and what I feel I lack.  I think: "if only my house was bigger...", "if I had a nanny", "if we had more money", "if we lived in Hawai'i", "if only... if only..."  And even when I receive unexpected blessings in my current existence, I still wonder what life would be like on the other side of the fence - and maybe we should be missionaries in a far away country, or better yet, we should just be rich and live somewhere foreign and beautiful; then... THEN I would be content.  Then I would be happy.

And I know it's not true.

By Chapters 2 and 3, the answers are outlined and I regretfully must agree to the clear truths supported by scripture; supported by Jesus' life here on earth.  I know I want joy.  The truth is,  joy goes hand in hand with GRATITUDE.  You can't have one without the other.

I want a happy pill.  I want everything to seem bright and shiny and wonderful - but I don't want to put the effort into my own behavior to become that joyful person.  Sometimes I excuse myself, saying that it's merely a personality issue - some people are bubbly, and some are... flat... mellow... blah...  That's who I am - I can't be responsible for my God-given personality, can I?

Still, the truth rings clear as Ann Voskamp weaves deliciously, exquisite prose that beckons the reader without condemnation, inviting you to embrace the truth in your heart.  With a bird's eye view, I watch the transformation taking place in her life as she speaks of thanksgiving (eucharisteo) and explains it's necessity in our day to day living.  Daily practice of thankfulness, expressed by the author in writing a list of one thousand gifts, develops the practice of praise; revealing and replenishing joy in one's heart.

If I was more thankful; if I could see the good in things and count my blessings instead of the "curses" - I'm certain my life would change.

Have you ever seen a happy person who complains all the time?  A bitter person with an easy smile and bubbling laughter?  It just doesn't exist.  Yet I envy my joyous friends, thinking that they've been granted an attribute or perhaps a personality trait which I do not have.

I can't live there anymore.  I'm packing up my camp, and ready to move on.  It isn't likely that this will be an easy task, but the pursuit of grateful living beckons me with a promise of sunnier skies, rainbows after the rain and joy in the journey.

That, in essence is my response to the first 3 chapters of my newest book.
So, to get the ball rolling, I'll begin to practice (and chronicle) thankfulness right now:

Gift #1.  Revelation of my need to be thankful.

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