I want to see the forest in the trees.
I want to be present, to live in the moment. To experience every breath of this ebbing time as vast and full and wonderful.
I want to marvel at the steam, rising from a cup; I want to exclaim as the mountains push closer, silvery white, silken mantle clinging to their crevasses; I want to watch emotion creep so very slowly over my children’s faces, delighting as only children can, in the breath of each passing minute. I want the weight of the Officer’s hands to be engraved into my skin-memory forever. I want each new discovery, novel theory, to capsize me and roll me back up, gulping for air, changed and legs-pumping towards the goal.
How, when the laundry makes even opening the door all but impossible? When the reading alone requires a dedicated fifty-four hour week? When the baseboards still need adhesive, the curtains require trimming, the piano needs selling, and the pantry (alright, every closet we own) needs a professional organizer, and food needs fixing, groceries need buying, and spring cleaning needed doing three years ago? When the little homework and practices consume our evenings and then tiredness devours even simple kindness? When our family table is a once-a-week place? When all I want to do is plunge, head-first, into the water and pace the back-and-forth until weightlessness is all I can remember; but I can’t because there isn’t the time. And even pouring words out faster than my fingers can form them feels too decadent and wasteful.
How does Joy find its way into this busy-ness? How does it surround and overtake this hither and yon tempo?
An exercise I started a few months ago, one that has been of the when-I-remember-to-do-it regularity, crept back into my conscious recently and has kept Joy present in my thoughts. It only takes a moment, every day; and can even be done in the shower, while cooking, or as I’m drifting off, the book in my hand assaulting my face as I find sleep. I cannot claim credit for this exercise. That belongs (so far as I became aware of it) to Mrs. Ann Voskamp at a holy experience. And while Mrs. Voskamp’s undertaking is a bit grander than mine, I know that even my small attempts plant seeds of Joy in sometimes dry but still fertile soil. I purpose find at least one thing a day for which I am thankful. And I offer the Giver, the LORD God, thanks for this gift. As I can, I go back and record these gifts, to help me remember His goodness and faithfulness; and to renew my spirit in Him. Thankfulness, even when there appears nothing for which I can offer thanks, is the quickest tonic for joylessness. My countenance is always lifted, my spirited renewed, and my heart lighter. I encourage you to visit Mrs. Voskamp’s blog and see if her challenge is right for you right now. If it’s not try a simple list of one thing a day, scratched out when you can. Find a journal, start a blog, grab a scratch piece of paper and start your own. Enlist your spouse, create one for your kids, put a weekly family list on the bathroom mirror with dry-erase marker.
Let Joy surround you, as you find the gifts already encircling you, conveying you to days of bright sun and tender warmth.
Here are my most recent additions:
1. Redemption, a LOVE that rescues and restores, rebuilds, and reclaims what was always there.
2. The Officer’s phone calls in the middle of the day. Just to say, “hi.”
3. The question that just won’t settle: “then why do you go there?”
4. The welcome we found at a church we visited. God’s people, open to receiving one another.
5. A two months gone Christmas present that sits by the door, reminding me to pray for whom it is intended.
6. A daughter who wants to butter me up with a pie date. I can’t wait!
7. Pink Champagne; because when you love someone that much, her accomplishments feel like mine, too.
8. Wasted Thursdays.
9. Praying together, and being filled with the lightness that only comes from oneness.
10. A video game, 2 minutes of side-by-side time that opens up the rest of our Mom/son date for finding out who the other really is.
11. The Officer, doing everything he can to make me happy.
12. The jump, a little too close to the stream, at the bottom of the sledding hill ~ and the hilarity that followed.
13. The out-of-the-blue-left-field-never-woulda-thought answer that I know is the result of little girls’ prayers.
14. Her theology trumps mine. Always.
15. He wants to be a missionary. He knows what that means.
16. Dreaming. Together. Alone. As a family.
17. Un-expected Sabbaths, in deep snow, blankets, hot chocolate, movies, cuddles.
18. And getting to do it over again, the very next day.
19. A note, the very thought making me laugh; hoping my laughter springs out at her over the miles.
20. The Officer, who can see that I’m buried, and he wants to pull me out again.
21. A Blind Lab, playing fetch.
22. Fish tacos, for the first time, with a vibrant, old-new friend.
23. “I. Am. Praying. For. You.”
24. Immanuel: evidence that I will never know the trajectory of the story; I can merely await God’s personal, miraculous intervention.
25. Shoulder-shaking encouragement, of the don’t-you-dare-give-up variety.
26. Whispering, “you’re the only one I can say this to,” and knowing what follows will not be judged, but the heart behind it searched out.
27. One person checking, every day. And letting me know they see.
28. “Rock star pajamas” ~ thank You, Father, for their fitting!
29. Wonders, miracles, small and great, wound in words to remind me who You are.
30. Karios time, to carpe the chronos pace of many days.
31. An entire day lost in bumps, jelly-legs, and following my younger brother in his world.
32. The Officer who offers those days as gifts.
33. The time-strapped hand that held the book to screen, an ezer to propel studies.
34. Every morning. New mercies, every morning.
35. It’s not in there. The wide-eyed opening of my spirit to Your truth, not man’s traditions.
36. Hand-hewn floors.
37. A face-lift for windows, polka-dot pillows to throw, fresh blowing of color to make things new.
38. Face-lighting, springing steps of my father to pass family traditions to another generation. And them not wanting to leave.
39. Excitement, shy and humble, in my Mother’s voice. Because writers often are.
40. Hurts, greatly stricken, acknowledged, then let go because our friendship is too deep.
41. Chinese strategy with my beloved God-family.
42. My Dad’s inability to leave dirty dishes sitting in the sink, or the cooler unfilled.
43. Actually buying the hardwood, and knowing my Mom will make everything just right.
44. Driving up a snowy mountain road, glowing with love.
45. Rivers of encouragement from my Mother’s tongue. And sensible shoes.
46. A house too-full, bursting with memories, laughter, and love. Like holidays should.
47. “I’ll be home for Christmas,” an apropos brotherly anthem.
48. Watching S’s carved out of powder and hops dared on ice, a Koala and Firefly learning.
49. Two strips of plastic, waxed, edged, and bound to my feet, letting me fly.
50. Geeky snowflakes, harbingers of laughter, remaining in spite of summer’s breath.
51. The most perfect batch of fudge. Ever. Because we all made it together.
52. The words, Spirit launched, that soothe and refract truth into weary hearts.
53. Advent, a season of remembering to anticipate hope in hopeless times.
54. Three, scripturally inaccurate but thematically complete, crèches.
55. The histories behind each bough-dancing bauble
56. the Pentatonic scale, culturally boundless and neuronically intrinsic
57. Humility ~ pride’s antithesis, the pathway to joy and peace.
58. Glitter glue, to make ordinary prose sparkle.
59. Ornaments from my father’s childhood tree, now twirling at the ends of my branches.
60. A motley Christmas tree, very un-magazine-ish in its perfection.
61. A down comforter, weighted warmth for solitary studies.
62. Flannel sheets.
63. the Word ~ always available, always training, always alive
If you’re curious, the full list is here.
Why not today? Take just a breath, pull thankfulness into your immediate sights, and let yourself be swallowed up by Joy.