It’s been a hard couple of days. A struggle for joy in dark places. I finally realized this morning that the weight of seemingly inconsequential circumstances has been suffocating my joy and blinding me to the gifts... because for a brief moment, I stopped counting them. For a brief moment, I forgot how much I have, how little I truly deserve and how Jesus is more than enough. And I know it is only because of the battle just behind the veil that rages on – daily, hourly, every single minute.
“For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.” (Ephesians 6:12)
Yes, how quickly I forget. And how easy it is to believe it is my responsibility to fight circumstances instead of my great privilege to stand behind Him who fights the real battle for me – and reigns victorious!
Yes, I must not put the cart before the horse. Fight. Stand firm. But first, suit up.
“Put on the full armor of God so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes.” (Ephesians 6:11)
Today, nearly halfway through my Quiet Thanksgiving, I choose joy and an impenetrable suit of armor designed for a battle I cannot see but an enemy I am certain is on the attack – looking for my exposed areas of doubt and discontent. And by counting the gifts, by taking notice of all the good things God has done, is doing and has promised to do, my discontent becomes a vapor and the enemy has nothing to attack, no foothold at all.
So the count picks up, carries on, crushing doubt and discontent on the way to joy. Here are just a few of the gifts I’ve counted these first 14 days on this quest for joy.
An anchor that holds within the veil.
The Chef and his mad soup making skills who uses them on his day off.
Our first Spanish lesson.
Park playdates – good for kids and moms.
Coffee by the fire with a warm friend.
A worn Bible.
A tattered, well-loved book: Woman’s Complete Guide to Running. Evidence of many miles logged.
Running with an 8 year old who beholds everything as wondrous – and who collects treasures too big for running gear pockets.
Evening family story time learning about those who have sacrificed much for the sake of the Gospel and how it captivates us all.
Encouraging words from unexpected places.
Encouraging words from any place.
The right to vote.
Voting with the Chef at the kitchen table over morning coffee.
The freedom to homeschool.
My freedom from sin through the blood of Christ.
The sound of make believe from two boisterous, healthy, imaginative children.
A family fieldtrip and everyone anxious to learn about the people of Pompeii, A.D. 79.
Sparkly, 8 year-old girl birthday presents.
A little girl and her camera – seeing what she sees, what she finds beautiful and curious, what she doesn’t want to forget.
The Rocky Mountains a thousand different ways: the colors of each season, sunrises & sunsets contrasting against the highest peaks, the view just after a huge storm – crystal clear, the adventure they offer, the ecosystems… just to name a few.
Family fieldtrip to the election polls.
The children clothed in wild abandon the minute they step outside into the fields, the minute they step outside at all… the walls hold something in us all and somehow we exhale deeper, breathe more free in the fresh, open air.
Sharing a seat with my favorite 6 year-old playing a friendly game of Jenga.
The crashing sound of game over. And all the laughter and chatter that follows.
Mud pie makers.
My church family, the pastoral team, the worship team, the choir, the congregation, the servants in the places seen and unseen.
How holding someone can make them melt right back into reality. The gift of human touch.
Faith like a child dreaming God-sized dreams – translating the Bible for all the people groups who don’t currently have one.
Homeschool lessons that resonate with one little girl whose capacity for knowledge is unquenchable and whose heart is a well of compassion.
Math our way.
Unlocking the treasures – reading!
A visit from a hairy woodpecker in our backyard during a snowfall.
Exploring this craft of writing in a grace-filled space.
So many gifts hidden in God's word. This one recently speaking to me in a new way: "With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible." (Matthew 19:26)
A season of isolation full of intimacy with God who is showing me His strength, His power, His sufficiency all while offering me a greater appreciation for my beautiful sisters in Christ and the true gift and purpose in fellowship.
How he looks at me and whispers the words because really the heart always needs to hear the words... even when we know.
The hundreds of gifts I left out of this post, counted in just 14 days... and the hundreds I counted before this month. And the hundreds that are waiting to be counted as joy.