When Your Thankful is Broken

DSC_0792Almost three years ago I glimpsed this little sign in a bookstore while my husband and I were visiting our college town (without kids, hallelujah!!!!!!). We had returned to the States from Turkey mere days earlier, so I was jet-lagging and reverse culture shocking (it’s real, folks), and I ran my fingers absentmindedly across its textured surface. It was only $10, but I was feeling overwhelmed with all of the STUFF in America, and refrained from buying it.

Days later, I found myself thinking of the little sign and wishing I had forked over the ten bucks. I remembered my brother-in-law’s mom worked at the bookstore, and asked my sister to ask if she would get the sign for me.

Months later, we were back in Turkey and I unpacked the sweet little reminder to Be Thankful, and sat it on top of our monstrosity of a television (it was bulky and took up tons of space, but I loved I could set stuff on top of it!).  I thought that way we could see it constantly, and be reminded to approach life’s circumstances with thankfulness.

Weeks after returning home, some heating pipes needed to be redone in our apartment and it turned into a stressful day for me since I was kicked out of my house with very little warning while the workmen tore apart each room in our apartment systematically to redo the piping. While the workers were moving the television stand, my Be Thankful sign toppled and broke. My husband knew I would be upset about my precious sign, so he hid away the pieces and tried to glue them back together, hoping I wouldn’t even be able to tell. He was able to recover most of the parts, but although he searched all over, he never found the top of the ‘n’.

I found a new home for my little reminder, and it has stayed constant through life’s ups and downs these past two years. When we faced grief over failed adoption attempts and hard culture stress, it faithfully perched on top of a bookshelf in the living room. When we played rounds of UNO and laughed ourselves silly over dance parties, Be Thankful twinkled over those moments. When we had puking kids, and raised voices, and homesick hearts, our reminder prevailed. When we hosted guests, served meals and tea, when we just held each other in sadness on the couch. When friends moved away, and kids learned to read, and blanket forts covered the whole room. When we giggled, and snuggled, and rested, and watched, and enjoyed, and talked, and argued, and sang. When we hid and waited to be sought out in play, when we had pizza and movie nights, when we first saw the photos and videos of our little girl– Be Thankful was the anthem over all these moments and more.

Recently, my beloved sign found a new home. (I have this crazy nest-maker tendency to tweak and move and rearrange our home which absolutely endears me to my sweet husband, as I’m sure you can imagine.) Less than a week in its new home, my Be Thankful reminder had another collision with the floor. Bits of letters were again broken off.

I wanted to be sad because I love this little sign that has been a part of our home for years now. Hubby worked his glue magic and restored broken pieces again. But you can see the cracks. Which kind of bothered me, and I thought about how I could maybe find another sign when we are in the States this fall. But then I really looked. And really thought about what it means to Be Thankful. As believers, we aren’t thankful only when life is going our way. Our joy is not dictated by circumstances dipping in our favor every time. In fact, the Bible is full of examples of exactly the opposite– Paul exhorting us to rejoice from a prison, David singing about sacrifices of thanksgiving, Habakkuk determining to be joyful in the Lord no matter what. If we’re honest, it’s the tragedies, hard things, and the sufferings that pull us closer to the Father and make us more like Jesus.

Our thankful is more beautiful when it’s broken. When we bear the scars of trials and grief and yet our hearts are joyful in the Lord, we bring glory to Him.

It’s not easy to Be Thankful when life is cracked and hard. But a broken Thankful is precious in the eyes of Jesus, who is our greatest example of giving thanks for hard things,

And he took bread, and when he had given thanks, he broke it and gave it to them, saying, “This is my body, which is given for you. Do this in remembrance of me.” (Luke 22:19)

My Be Thankful will be missing a piece of a letter forever. And it has some cracks where glue is holding the broken parts together. But I don’t think I’m gonna replace it. It’s an even better reminder now, that a beat-up, stressed out, fallen down, and aching Thankful is the way we are supposed to live out our time here on earth.

12 So teach us to number our days
    that we may get a heart of wisdom.
13 Return, O Lord! How long?
    Have pity on your servants!
14 Satisfy us in the morning with your steadfast love,
    that we may rejoice and be glad all our days.
15 Make us glad for as many days as you have afflicted us,
    and for as many years as we have seen evil.
16 Let your work be shown to your servants,
    and your glorious power to their children.
17 Let the favor of the Lord our God be upon us,
    and establish the work of our hands upon us;
    yes, establish the work of our hands! (Psalm 90)

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{Love.}

7Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God, and whoever loves has been born of God and knows God. 8 Anyone who does not love does not know God, because God is love. 9In this the love of God was made manifest among us, that God sent his only Son into the world, so that we might live through him. 10In this is love, not that we have loved God but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins. 11Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. 12 No one has ever seen God; if we love one another, God abides in us and his love is perfected in us.

1 John 4

Easter?

Now after the Sabbath, as it began to dawn toward the first day of the week, Mary Magdalene and the other Mary came to look at the grave.
And behold, a severe earthquake had occurred, for an angel of the Lord descended from heaven and came and rolled away the stone and sat upon it.
And his appearance was like lightning, and his clothing as white as snow.
The guards shook for fear of him and became like dead men.
The angel said to the women, “Do not be afraid; for I know that you are looking for Jesus who has been crucified.
“He is not here, for He has risen, just as He said. Come, see the place where He was lying.
“Go quickly and tell His disciples that He has risen from the dead; and behold, He is going ahead of you into Galilee, there you will see Him; behold, I have told you.”
And they left the tomb quickly with fear and great joy and ran to report it to His disciples.
And behold, Jesus met them and greeted them. And they came up and took hold of His feet and worshiped Him.

I wanted to write a spectacularly well-thought-out post about the significance of this weekend… I just feel inadequate to describe the importance and the awesomeness of it all.

I can’t imagine being in one of those women’s sandals. To have watched Him die and to see Him alive just three days later! Wow!

What an amazing moment in history. More than any other day, I am thankful for Easter Sunday… if Christ had died on the cross, but stayed in the tomb, I would be lost.

Green Day

Happy Saint Patrick’s Day!

I haven’t struggled out of my jammies yet, so I have not donned my green wear to avoid the pinches! In honor of the greenest day of the year, I thought I would share a little with you about our family’s green choices.

I haven’t ever really lived in a conscious way about how my lifestyle was affecting the earth. I am not really sure why. I actually think it’s pretty sad that most evangelical Christians don’t really think about the way their life affects others and the planet. And we certainly aren’t teaching our children to be good stewards with the earth.

God created the earth and gave it to Adam and Eve. He wanted them to flourish and take care of it– I wonder why that’s not our priority anymore?

Anyhow… after the Bug was born our first taste of green came in the form of cloth diapers. We were bothered that we were producing so much trash that was going to take so long to decompose in landfills. We did our research and ordered some Fuzzi Bunz. We have enjoyed using cloth. We use disposables still when Bug goes to church nursery or stays with a sitter. We also have used disposables when she was fighting a major diaper rash and when she had the runs really bad. I guess overall we would be part-time cloth diaperers, and we feel good about the waste we’ve cut down on!

Our second dip into the green pool came when Bug started solids. We decided (OK, mostly me, but Hubby usually succumbs to my evil plots!) to make our own baby food! That sounded a little crunchy to us newbies, but we actually really enjoyed the experience. I found a great website that helped me get started and it was really easy to make the purees! I just steamed or cooked the fruits and veggies and then used my blender or food processor to grind them down. We froze them in ice cubes trays so each cube was about one ounce. It felt good to know exactly what our baby was eating since we bought frozen fruits and veggies with no additives or used fresh.

I think becoming slightly green also helped us see small changes we could make around the house. We collect recyclables to turn in locally, turn off the water when brushing our teeth, unplug and turn off things to conserve energy, using reusable water bottles and filling up at home, keeping the thermostat set a little lower this winter to save gas… really the little things start adding up!

Our country seems to be showing more awareness for our planet and how to live more gently with less impact on the environment, which makes it easier for the average family to be a darker shade of green. One way we’ve seen this is the explosion of reusable bags available in stores! The Whole Foods in the next town has offered reusable bags for awhile, but our small-town Wal-mart now sells reusable bags for $1.00! We were so shocked, and excited to be able to get some there and begin using them! My biggest hurdle with the bags is remembering to take them in the store with me! I read this week about a mom who keeps them next to her child’s car seat so she sees them when she’s going in the store. I’ve implemented that!

We also don’t buy new clothes for Bug (OK, honestly we haven’t bought her anything thanks to all our generous baby showers!) but when we need something for her we plan to look at yard sales and consignment shops. We would like to switch our light bulbs to more efficient energy saving ones, but we’ll probably wait until we’ve run out of regular bulbs!

I don’t feel like our lives are drastically different with any of these changes, but I do feel better about the way we’re living and the choices we’re making! If we’re still around in 2042 playing with our grand kids, we’ll be glad we tried to keep the place nice!

How green are you today?

Sanctity of Human Life Week

When I was big, fat, and pregnant I saw a display at my church that has somewhat changed me.

I have always been pro-life, meaning that I believe abortion is murder, and that life begins at conception. When I saw the display for our local Pregnancy Support Center, it moved me extra-deeply because I could not imagine facing my pregnancy without having my husband and without knowing the Lord! My heart ached for girls who face crisis pregnancies– currently there are fourteen(ish) girls who are pregnant at the high school where my husband teaches! FOURTEEN! Fourteen lives that have been turned upside down because sex before marriage is now “OK” in America. Because we teach our children that abstinence is the best form of birth control, but here are your other options… Since when has abstinence simply been a form of birth control anyway? In my high school there was one pregnant girl. ONE!

Getting off my soapbox… anyway, when I saw the display it stirred a desire to help inside me. I signed up to volunteer at our PSC. I went through volunteer training in July (with two-week old Buggy along for most of it!) and started coming in for two hours each Monday.

Volunteering for a Pregnancy Support Center has been rewarding in many ways. I used to wonder if abortion was OK in certain circumstances (rape, mother life in danger, etc), but I have come to the realization that in my heart of hearts, I do not think abortion is ever “OK”. I think God would always choose life, and I need to be an advocate for always choosing life. (If you still have questions about abortion in these cases, I encourage you to check out The Atonement Child by Francine Rivers, and this real life story!)

I also find myself to be a judgemental person (even though I wish so badly I were not), and talking with some of these girls, and getting to know them and share with them has changed my quick first impressions of people. I want to always remember that everyone has a story I don’t know, and seek to love and be compassionate towards them.

Volunteering has also given me regular opportunities to share the Gospel. I appreciate the fact that working there makes me want to initiate conversations, and feel more motivated to do so, because that’s what the Pregnancy Support Center is all about. I have not seen anyone make a decision for Christ yet, but I want to be faithful to keep sharing and keep praying for these girls.

Sanctity of Human Life Week is the anniversary of the Roe v. Wade decision to legalize abortion. I don’t think abortion is simply a political issue, and I know it won’t be ended by protests and bombing abortion clinics.

Take some time this week to educate yourself on abortion procedures and legislation, your local Pregnancy Support Center, and other similar issues. Wikipedia estimates that 46 million abortions are performed worldwide each year. 46 million. My heart aches over that statistic.

For You formed my inward parts;
You wove me in my mother’s womb.
I will give thanks to You,
for I am fearfully and wonderfully made;
Wonderful are Your works,
And my soul knows it very well.
My frame was not hidden from You,
When I was made in secret,
And skillfully wrought in the depths of the earth;
Your eyes have seen my unformed substance;
And in Your book were all written
The days that were ordained for me,
When as yet there was not one of them.
How precious also are Your thoughts to me, O God!
How vast is the sum of them!
If I should count them,
they would outnumber the sand
When I awake, I am still with You.
Psalm 139:13-18