Wednesday, January 11, 2012

all IS grace {Remembering December: Part 1}

I crossed the finish line on New Year’s Eve, wrote down my one thousandth gift from the last 31 days of the year.  {And for every gift-moment I numbered, so many more slid by unsung; God is truly gracious and generous.}
But the counting-challenge was a fight.  Like pounding new nails on top of old ones, making a new habit is hard work.  And the joy trickled in slowly for me, if it came at all.  I struggled to keep it a real-time, real-connection-with-Jesus exercise, not just one more task to finish each day, filling up the numbers to 1000.  Where is the praise, the glory, the joy? I kept thinking.  In writing gifts, shouldn’t the very act of moving my pen across the page uplift me to the Giver?  
I am so sinful.  Painfully, acutely aware of my own imperfection pressing down on me, bursting out of me.  Counting gifts was like struggling to breathe heavy, gasping from under the weight.  
But - at least I’m breathing.  At least my gratitude-lungs drew breath after breath, all day, every day of December, and at least I tried to remember to pound a gratitude nail instead of a critical, wounding word.  And now I have my December 2011 preserved in long white pages of lists, the positive recorded, the negative forgotten, or transformed into praise.  
I flip pages and remember…

5. Starting our Advent Calendar: little voices repeating the story.

6. Hot eggs for breakfast
7. A faithful husband faithfully tending our old furnace.
8. The promise of a new furnace!

14. Dishes to wash
15. Time to pray and worship

22. American deoderant

35. Kids coming to a birthday party!
47. Kids too full from potato salad to eat any pizza!
49. The loving care of a mother who came over just to make sure I gave her son
hot drinks - nothing cold.
65. William turning FOUR!

81. Day 3 on our Advent Calendar: Bethlehem, a town like this one
82. The fresh whiteness and Christmassy-ness of new fallen snow
83. Clipping greenery for an Advent wreath

84. Delivering birthday goody bags to happy kids
85. How easy it is to make kids here happy...because they don’t have much.

86. Grace - for lost tempers, perfectionism, self-criticism
96. Boys collecting potatoes on the veranda
97. The deep sparkling laughter on Will’s face when he really gets tickled
98. Michael Buble’s Christmas album
100. A lazy night by the fire with crocheting and Discovery Channel

116. God’s Word staying powerful regardless of who’s listening or not

127. These pages, and how they ground me firmly in God’s love and presence.
128. How my pen can coax my heart and spirit into synch with the Spirit129. Pen & hand, ink & blood, thanks & heart

151. Handel’s Messiah making the house majestic and holy
152. Being invited to a party
153. An invitation to do a whole concert!
154. Feeling included, wanted, appreciated, valued, loved!

157. Mickey Mouse’s “mousekitools” as a metaphor for the Holy Spirit: when you’re in need, just call, and choose the tool you need from the ever-ready, ever-wise supply!

158. Seeing my wonderful friend V, even just for 15 minutes
159. Bumping into my friend Mercy on the street, big smiles
160. Having real friends in this place

Now, having crossed the threshold of a new year, I’m finding it coming easier.  Without the pressure (self-imposed) of racing to 1000, continuing on into a second millennium of gifts with no time crunch, the joy is starting to come steady

I breathe slow, and remember: all is grace.


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