23 November 2011

traditions of gratitude.



its officially thanksgiving and I am sitting in the dark in the bathroom in a house in tennessee. nashville to be exact. the furthest south I have ever traveled and full of that wonderful southern accent I have come to love. that accent so charming in a quirky sort of way. that accent I have been trying to perfect all day by drawing out my vowels and drawling in a way I never thought I would be able to do. it's a beautiful thing.

this year marks the third spent away from my family and with one that has adopted me for the holiday. and although it feels unnatural and a bit unsatisfying to be away from my own, it is always such a lovely surprise to be apart of a family on a day like today. one in which happiness of being with one another abounds and food and conversation rule all. it is fun to be a little piece of furniture observing the comings and goings of a family on a day of such high honor. tonight - the day before the big day - was a night of giving thanks in a simple yet significant tradition of gratitude. we sat around the room, sharing couches and overstuffed chairs. legs intertwined. feet touching feet. heads on shoulders. soft light settling around us. and we just talked about what we were thankful for in the past year. for community and health and new life. for help with family projects that seem to be lasting forever but will end with new family traditions and space. for learning how to choose love and positivity and joy. for learning how to let go of expectations. we talked over one another and into one another and with graciousness and love.

and now, maria is asleep in the room we share - hence the dark, cold linoleum floor and my futile attempts to press these keys just a bit softer. I have to wake up in a few hours and would love to get some sleep before overdosing on tryptophan and extroversion tomorrow. but of course, despite all my best efforts, my mind will not settle. I find myself thinking about gratitude and wondering what the next year will bring for me to be thankful for. to find joy in. to find humility in. because when it comes down to it, thankfulness is the best antidote to pride. it reminds me that I am blessed. and it reminds me that I did nothing to earn it.

so here I am, back in my own little tradition of gratitude. of painting a thank-you on my palm.

(context here and here).

pinkie: I am thankful for seasons. this year has been one of distinct seasons. not just as they are marked by the changing of fall leaves or blooming of cherry blossoms. but as they are marked by the placement of people in and out of my life. by the lessons learned and relearned and the moments shared and forgotten and remembered again and again. this year, I have learned how to fully rejoice in the seasons of delight. of true fullness of joy. and in the same way, I have learned how to be content in the seasons of waiting. of uncertainty. of grief. change will always come. few things will remain the same forever. and that is scary. but also kind of great.

ring: I am thankful for laughter. I know. this is sort of a no-brainer. but think about it. how often do you take laughter for granted? I do it all the time, friends. because laughter is so easy. but it's also essential. necessary almost like breathing is necessary. this year has been one for the books when it comes to things for me to be sad and anxious and frustrated about. but laughter reminds me that in the midst of it all, there is so much to find joy in. even if for just a moment. even if it's by watching kristen wiig and amy poehler. even if it's because of something completely ridiculous and nonsensical. laughter really is the best medicine. that and extra-strength excedrin.

middle: I am thankful for teenage girls. this year I am spending my thursday nights with seven girls all in their first year of high school. and let me tell you, I was no where near as self-aware and intelligent as they are. it's actually a little depressing to think how far behind in mental development I was when I was their age. but with all their poise and maturity, they are still 14-year old girls. dealing for the first time with (gasp!) crushes on older boys. with (gasp!) homecoming dances and pep rallies. with (gasp!) drama and gossip and everything else that comes with the joy (or despair, depending on who you are) that is high school. and what fun it has been to work through it all with them. to experience with them, all the fears and excitement and giddy anxiety that comes with being young. it is a great way to be gaining perspective on how fun life can be. not to mention the fact that I am getting pretty darn good at pre-dance makeovers.

pointer: I am thankful for joy. again, seems somewhat obvious. who isn't thankful for joy? but this year has been one of learning to find joy in everything. of learning to see the true, unyielding, unfailing joy of the Lord in the midst of every single situation. this year, God has not just revealed his steadfast goodness (a term I was wrestling to even believe just a year ago) to me in obvious ways. he has also been faithful to remind me of this goodness in small ways every day. his goodness shines through in all the details of life around me (hence this blog) and helps me rest in unceasing joy. I may not always be happy. happiness is a feeling dependent on so many things I cannot always control. but the unending joy of the Lord. a joy that is not dependent on emotion but is a gift from One who pours grace over me to the point of overflowing. that is something I am finally beginning to understand.

thumb: I am thankful for words. let me tell you something, friends: words are just the best. the bees-knees if you ask me. the way they somehow string themselves together to form comprehensive statements that convey my message to the world. the way they fill up a blank pice of paper in a lovely, accomplished sort of way. if all I could ever do was process my life within my own mind, I would go crazy. without a doubt. certifiably insane. but words. they save me.

so while I think of it,
let me paint a thank-you on my palm
for this God, this laughter of the morning,
lest it go unspoken.

the joy that isn't shared, I've heard,
dies young
.

07 November 2011

waiting.



you can be in no circumstance in which the Lord cannot help you, in which he will not help you, if you look simply to him, rest on him, and wait for him. for every condition in which you may be placed, there is a promise; by that promise, the Lord stands, pledged to appear for you and help you; he is ever ready to deliver you; only he will have you believe his word, exercise confidence in him, plead the promise at his throne, and wait for its fulfillment. wait, then on the Lord at all times. times will change, creatures will vary, but the Lord remains always the same. in your youth and health, in manhood and prosperity, in old age and its infirmities, we should wait on the Lord. he will adapt his mercies to us, make all his goodness pass before us, and cause all things to work together for our good. he will never leave us, change his views of us, or withhold his tender mercies from us. he is faithful to his word, true to his character, and full of love to his people.

whatever change there may be in creatures, there is no change in him. health may give way to sickness, plenty to poverty, strength to weakness, and life to death, but he is the same. with him there is no variableness, neither shadow of a turn. therefore, "wait on the Lord; be of good courage, and he shall strengthen your heart; wait, I saw, on the Lord."
- from "wait on the Lord" sermon by rev. james smith of cheltenham, new york, 1869