seeing God in the good.

So I drank some coffee and took Excedrine to fight off my second migraine this week so I’m still pretty awake at the moment. Thought I’d use some of this time to post some of my gratitude list, in the spirit of November’s Thanksgiving. Ever since I read Ann Voskamp‘s One Thousand Gifts I’ve started the year off listing things I’m grateful for. I am currently on #708 and know I will reach at least 1,000 by the end of the year! Life isn’t without pain and this isn’t about ignoring pain. My last couple weeks have been far from easy. There have been goodbyes, annoying headaches, and overwhelming amount of work to do, frustrating roadblocks,  a friend is currently distancing from me, I haven’t slept or exercised enough or eaten super well. Etc. But here’s what focusing on the crappy stuff does. It just creates a spirit of complaining. Worst of all, it causes you to miss the good and it trains your eyes to see the bad. It’s amazing what listing the good things can do for your soul and for the way you look at life.

Some of my highlights from the past couple of weeks…

642. Father Fred asking me to share thoughts on prayer with teenagers in his Catholic religious education class.

650. People pointing out my spiritual gifts at Bible study.

659. Phil Stacey & Trevor Hager leading worship at staff conference.

662. My staff goodbye and all the words of affirmation given to me.

668. Rapping some old school DC Talk around the bonfire with Phil and Trevor.

669. A random and meaningful bear hug from a friend.

672. Making my first-ever work-related phone call to a longtime friend who will soon be a coworker.

676. A student reading me her poem about bullying and having self-worth rooted in what God thinks about you.

685. The Shack.

690. Dancing at the military ball.

691. Snuggle time with the bestie talking about how cool God is.

699. The awesome Eagles game against the Raiders.

703. A volunteer leader saying that being around all of us leaders is uplifting.

704. Drew Holcomb’s music.

In her club talk the other night, one of my leaders spoke about how we always ask if God is good, why is there so much evil in the world? when we should also, and maybe instead, be asking, Why is there so much good in the world? Everything good comes from God. I’m so bad at looking for the good. I’m an expert at looking for the bad, inside and outside myself. But when we look for the good, we see God Himself. I want to see more of Him and less of the crap in the world and in myself. There is so much joy in gratitude. Sometimes I look at what I’ve written and feel incredibly selfish and self-involved, and I miss all the things God is trying to show me with each of those things on the list. I feel like with each tiny thing on my list He is saying, “I know the bad stuff is hard. But I want to show you some good things to encourage you, to redeem the bad, to let You know that I am here and that I love you through the hard things. Don’t give up.” He does that throughout the entire Bible, too. He is always telling the Israelites to build altars and stuff to remind themselves of how He delivered them in the past, so that when they run up against something else that’s difficult and painful they can look bad and remember their deliverance and God’s goodness. God knew we’d easily forget, easily focus on the hard stuff. Practicing gratitude is like the modern-day version of building an altar. I don’t write things down to check a box. I write them down so that my negatively-focused soul will remember my God and know He is with me in the present just as He was with me in the past.

You are good, You are good
When there’s nothing good in me
You are love, You are love
On display for all to see
You are light, You are light
When the darkness closes in
You are hope, You are hope
You have covered all my sin

You are peace, You are peace
When my fear is crippling
You are true, You are true
Even in my wandering
You are joy, You are joy
You’re the reason that I sing
You are life, You are life,
In You death has lost its sting

Oh, I’m running to Your arms,
I’m running to Your arms
The riches of Your love
Will always be enough
Nothing compares to Your embrace
Light of the world forever reign

My heart will sing no other name
Jesus, Jesus

Forever Reign by Hillsong

jj heller – when you come back

I don’t know how to follow you without losing my way
Jesus come and take me by the hand
I don’t know how to trust that you will do the things you say
Spirit teach me how to understand

That your love can heal the wreckage of my soul
The beauty of your light shining in me

I don’t know when you’ll take me home to paradise with you
The day when I will finally be free
Oh the day when you come back for me

stirred up grief.

If there was ever a blessing behind the curse of grief, the sneaky kind that stalks and pounces on you at the last minute, it’s that you can know you’re one step closer to really learning something, and can understand the suffering of Christ on a more real and deeper level than ever before.

“Suffering is redemptive, beautiful, meaningful and very important to the Christian life. It shouldn’t be avoided, but instead consecrated to Christ.”
-Audrey Assad

This song she wrote is beautiful.

You could plant me like a tree beside a river
You could tangle me in soil and let my roots run wild
And I would blossom like a flower in the desert
But for now just let me cry

You could raise me like a banner in a battle
Put victory like a fire behind my shining eyes
And I would drift like falling snow over the embers
But for now just let me lie

Bind up these broken bones
Mercy bend and breathe me back to life
But not before You show me how to die

Set me like a star before the morning
Like a song that steals the darkness from a world asleep
And I’ll illuminate the path You’ve laid before me
But for now just let me be

Bind up these broken bones
Mercy bend and breathe me back to life
But not before You show me how to die
Oh, not before You show me how to die

So let me go like a leaf upon the water
Let me brave the wild currents flowing to the sea
And I will disappear into a deeper beauty
But for now just stay with me
God, for now just stay with me

-Audrey Assad – Show Me

good song for my hurting kids. (throwback!)

“He” by Jars of Clay

Don’t try to reach me, I’m already dead
The pain when it grips me, for things that I’ve done

Well I try to make you proud, but for crying out loud
Just give me a chance to hide away
Exhaustion takes over, will this someday be over?

Fearful tears are running down
The pain you’ve laid don’t speak a sound
Don’t take my heart away from me
And they think that I fell down, again

Daddy, don’t you love me?
Then why do you hit me?
And Momma don’t you love me
Then why do you hurt me?
Well I try to make you proud, but for crying out loud
Just give me a chance to hide away
Exhaustion takes over, will this someday be over?

A teardrop falls from up in the heavens
Drowning the sorrow of angels on high
For the least of the helpless, the hopeless, the loveless
My Jesus, His children, He holds in His eyes

He loves you, He sees you, He knows you,
Protects you, He needs you, He holds you…

mess of me (by switchfoot)

I am my own affliction
I am my own disease
There ain´t no cure they could sell
Ah, there ain´t no drug to make me well
There ain´t no drug

There ain´t no drug
There ain´t no drug
It´s not enough
The sickness is myself

I made a mess of me I wanna get back the rest of me
I made a mess of me I wanna spend the rest of my life alive
I made a mess of me I wanna reverse this tragedy
I made a mess of me I wanna spend the rest of my life alive
The rest of my life alive!

We lock our souls in cages
We hide inside our shells
It´s hard to free the ones you love
Oh when you can´t forgive yourself
Yeah forgive yourself!

There ain´t no drug
No, There ain´t no drug
There ain´t no drug
The sickness is myself

I made a mess of me I wanna get back the rest of me
I´ve made a mess of me I wanna spend the rest of my life alive
I´ve made a mess of me I wanna reverse this tragedy
I´ve made a mess of me I wanna spend the rest of my life alive
The rest of my life alive!

AHHHHHHOOOOO!

There ain´t no drug
There ain´t no drug
There ain´t no drug
No drug to make me well
There ain´t no drug
It´s not enough
I´m breaking up
The sickness is myself
The sickness is myself

I made a mess of me I wanna get back the rest of me
I´ve made a mess of me I wanna spend the rest of my life alive
I´ve made a mess of me I wanna reverse this tragedy
I´ve made a mess of me I wanna spend the rest of my life alive
The rest of my life alive!!