GIVE THANKS {WELL}

giving thanks in the in between

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giving-thanksIt’s been happening a lot lately. This battle for what’s mine. This battle for what’s most important. And honestly… the battle for what’s He wants for me.

And my heart is weary. Troubled. Broken really. This week I woke up to the cold reality that I’ve lost the will to fight. And that’s a frightening epiphany. It’s not that the battle stopped… it’s that I found myself flat on my back, hands covering my eyes, wanting to lift my arm with a single… lonely.. white flag.

I surrender. I give up. It’s just too much.

These in betweens… The most crowded, yet lonely roads of our earthly travels. These paths are paved by the footsteps of men and women of faith for thousands of years… and even Christ Himself. This step, after step, after step, of walking these roads between what is, and what is promised is an overwhelming one. How do we navigate the to and fro’s of the nows and the not yets? How do we keep our head up when everything that crosses in front of our eyes is a reminder of what we don’t yet have? But what our heart longs for so desperately.
It’s painful. And horrible… and confusing… and yet, I’ve found so many treasures here. Christ has never been so real to me. So close. And maybe that’s because He’s walked this road before. Maybe that’s because He saw the path Our Father carved out for Him and He kept walking too. When people scoffed, and spit, and ridiculed Him and thought He was crazy. He kept walking. When friends abandoned Him and betrayed Him, He kept stepping. Because the prize set before Him was worth it. The will of His Father was worth it.
WE were worth it.

Lately I’ve found myself in a completely un-relatable, but eerily similar, circumstance of choice. This path of what if’s and why not’s. The questions, confusion and defeat can be paralyzing… and honestly. I’ve eaten the fruit of apathy and defeat a time or two.  Because what’s the point right? I’ve seen the promise… He’s given me the dream… But the wait… the wait will wage war on your heart if you let it. And I’m afraid… that for way too long, I have.

I’ve drank the water of resentment from expectations gone awry. I’ve picked up the weight of bitterness, comparison, anger, selfishness, and depression and placed them comfortably upon my shoulders. And it worked for a while. But the thing about taking on weights we can’t bare ourselves is this… We may be able to hold them, for a season, but they stop us in our tracks. They are simply too heavy, too cumbersome, to allow us to pick up our feet and walk. And that is exactly why God tells us to “cast all our cares upon Him.” Because these were burdens we were never created to carry.

Today my heart rests in such thanks that we have such an approachable loving Father. His patience and love for me in this season has been the most unimaginable gift. One this whiney broken heart doesn’t come close to deserving. And yet He gives. Unabashedly. With the most extravagant Love I’ve ever known. And I know He has it for all of us… we just have to say Yes. We have to embrace that Love is hard, and takes commitment. Not only in our earthly relationships, but in our heavenly one as well. The road He’s inviting us down is paved with hard work and prayers and choice, after choice, after choice of choosing Jesus. Always Jesus.

I could go on all day about the depth of this heartbreak and the vast arenas it’s touching my life right now, but I’ll save that for another day. I share more specifics of the stories on my blog, but for here and now I just wanted to share with you how I keep making it through. How I resist raising that white flag and giving up entirely. Because honestly… this season I’m in has me daydreaming of packing up and heading for greener pastures. Every day I lay in bed before putting my feet on the ground and I have to choose. I’m choosing to fight. To stay in this. To keep weathering these storms with Jesus by my side every step. And I’m here to say that it’s worth it. For me.. for my marriage.. for my kids, my dreams, my passions… the women I lead in ministry… They were placed in my life by an all-knowing, all-loving God on purpose. And they’re worth the fight.

And so are yours.

So here’s to keep on keeping on… and to putting one foot in front of the other another day. And for fighting. And for loving. And for trusting. And for making this story of yours one worth telling. Because you always chose love. And you never gave up.

What I’ve clung to in this season…

“Whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable–if anything is excellent or praiseworthy–think about such things” Philippians 4:8

1. Lift up your head-

I’ve realized that so much of my troubled heart was the results of looking all around me instead of looking into the face of my Savior. We are bombarded daily with social media and the minute by minute victories of other’s lives. We are constantly reminded of the amazing things they are doing. Their perfect vacation. Their perfect house… and oh.. that outfit.. if I could even dream of fitting into that. These pictures of perfection can be debilitating as we sit with a drooling baby, in our sweats, in a dark dreary house. I get it. I do. But what if we turned down the noise? What if we stopped scrolling and started seeking. What if we put down our phones and picked up our Bibles? Or turned on a podcast? Or some worship music? What if we started cultivating an atmosphere of praise instead of an atmosphere of pity? I kind of think our worlds would radically change.

PRACTICAL STEPS – Un-follow people that make you feel negative about yourself, limit your scrolling time. I usually view my feed for about 10 minutes twice a day. And if it leaves me feeling bad I get off for a while. Encourage others. If your initial response is negative to a post consider finding the positive and commenting on that.

2. Start a Prayer Journal –

It’s amazing that with over 20 years as a believer I’ve never heard of this concept let alone embrace it. In September, by a friends recommendation, I started the book “Draw the Circle” A 40 day prayer journey. For some reason, on day one, I picked up a journal and started writing out my prayers like a letter. Somehow those pages became sources of life for me. I have never experienced God’s nearness like I did during those weeks I was journaling my prayers so I decided not to stop. And I think you should give it a go too.

3. Write down what you’re Thankful for –
This habit actually started when I was at my wits end with my children. All I kept hearing was everything they didn’t have, and how unfair life was, and numerous other excessive whinings from the back seat. I was DONE. And then out of my mouth blurted… Now.. 3 things you’re thankful for! Both of you! We sat there silently until they could both mumble at least 3 things that they were thankful for. Genuinely. Something sparked in me that day and I realized I could do a lot more of this gratitude thing. So I started a thanksgiving journal. In fact, I even designed my own Intentional Home Daily journal with spots for what I was thankful for at the top so I would make it part of my routine. Just like it says in Philippians… focusing your mind on what is good, and worthy of praise will do amazing things for our hearts.

4. Post Bible Verses around your house –
This was a HUGE game changer for me. I’ve been a believer for most of my life but I’ve never really been one to post Bible verses around my house. And if I were being completely honest, the former me judged houses like those. I used to think that homes with Bible references on display were trying to prove something, or trying to lay claim to Christianity even though their lives reflected something different entirely. And that might still be the case with some people. But what I’ve learned for my own home is this. I NEED those verses around. I needed the reminders everyday that God is good, ALL the time. That He was present and near and loving. I found some amazing Print shops that have allowed me to stylishly display truth on my walls and I’m SO thankful! We even started a collaborative print shop called Artists For Adoption to raise money for our Adoption. Here are some links to my favorite print shops.

Ashlee Proffitt | Naptime Diaries | Lindsay Letters | Graceline | Artists for Adoption

5. Get outside –
This is self explanatory but so necessary. Get outside. Take a walk. We all live in a unique miraculous creation of our Father. Whether it’s our favorite place or not, it’s HIS handiwork. And there is so much beauty there. And so much to praise Him for. Sometimes it just takes a little scenery change or a new perspective. So open that door and step out.. and ask God to talk to you about what’s on His heart.

6. Turn the tables –
Reaching out is quite possibly one of the most important things I did to fight the funk. We are innately selfish. It’s in our cores. We have no problem thinking about all of the ways others have wronged us, how left out we are, how lonely, how unloved, how unpopular, how unimportant… how…… you fill in the blank. Everyone who has any sort of life becomes the popular enemy that deserves our viscous thoughts.. and no friends. Right? NO! Not at all right! Those people you are envying have lives and friends because someone reached out. And because they were conducting their lives in a way where people actually wanted to be their friend. There’s no magic there. But there’s no room for self pity either. People want to be around life GIVERS… not life suckers. Which one are you? I can say with full honesty that I used to be a sucker. I used to be the nobody likes me, everybody hates me, I guess I’ll go eat worms type. And then one day I woke up and realized.. no… I’m super fun… and there are people out there who need friends just like I need friends! I’m going to start being the friend that I keep complaining I don’t have. I turned the tables. For accountability I put a spot for this in our Intentional Home Daily journals too…. I started calling people. And texting. And inviting people over for coffee… or to sign up for a class together. I reached out. Because instead of crying another day that no one was reaching out to me, I decided that someone needed to take the first step. And maybe, maybe that someone was me.

7. Laugh –
One of my favorite quotes ever is one I saw on pinterest a while back… “Be thankful, what you are complaining about someone else is praying for.” Somehow those words stuck to my bones and I’ve never been able to shake them. Which is probably a good thing. WE. ARE. BLESSED friends. So, SO blessed. I don’t think we really have any idea unless you’re an individual who has spent any time over seas. We have so much to be thankful for. So much to laugh about. This life of ours is beautiful. And laughter really is the best medicine. So if you need to… you can adopt one of our family traditions and have an evening dance party…. Some T Swift Shake it off seems to be especially appropriate.

HOW DO YOU THANK GOD IN THE “IN BETWEEN”?

2 Comments on giving thanks in the in between

  1. Erica
    December 28, 2014 at 10:40 am (3 years ago)

    I came across this post at the exact right time. These past few weeks I have been struggling with throwing up that white flag every single day. It is so much easier to dwell in despair, to focus on the negative, and see the bad in today’s world. Don’t even get me started on comparison! I probably need to “turn down the noise” from social media more than anyone I know-thank you for that reminder! I am so tired of trying to keep up with the modern day jones’s on social media. I am so glad I came across your blog! You are such a blessing and encouragement 🙂

    Reply
  2. Ashley
    November 30, 2014 at 12:29 pm (3 years ago)

    Your words are so comforting to me. I got in my car yesterday afternoon to head back home after spending the last couple of days with family. As soon as I pulled onto the road tears filled my eyes and I uttered the words, “I have nothing left in me.. Nothing to give or strength to fight.. I’m waving the white flag.” I needed to read these words today. Thank you for putting them out there and giving me perspective.

    Reply

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