Monday, March 28, 2011

Numbering these gifts: Practicing the Presence

I've been nursing a headache for the last three days. Our roof is falling in, drywall and dust littering two bedrooms so far. Our hybrid hit a curb and we had to replace a recently-replaced tire. I'm tempted - oh I'm tempted - to whine and cry and feel real sorry for myself. We are still waiting for the door to Haiti to open.

Today, I'm slowly
                               choosing thanks.

I'm reading my gift journal, reminding myself "this is the way we practice the presence of God, stay present to His presence, and it is always a practice of the eyes. We don't have to change what we see. Only the way we see" (Ann Voskamp, One Thousand Gifts).

From Thursday:
356. a roof over our heads albeit leaky. Shelter from the storm.
357. Nana and Papa's house so close, warm
358. Meilani who knows when it's time to put on her "armor of God"
359. prayer umbrella held up by friends

From Friday:
362. My husband diving into the dirty work, cleaning up the roof wreckage in the rooms
363. pear cinnamon cider
366. that His mercies are new every morning
367. for my secret weapon: spiral-bound pack of note cards with a year's worth of verses, mantras, promises from my Savior

From Saturday:
368. fresh-hot bagels from just down the hill
369. students lining up to buy books and sample Filipino pancit
370. rainbow arching over the peninsula delighting my baby-girl
371. hospitality extended by friends after our tire is busted/replaced
372. pumpkin-curry drenched rice from a Thai place in San Francisco

From Sunday:
380. Baby Lillian Esther Ford dedicated in church - her life already a redemption song
381. blessing-words of a friend during worship
382. slipping between cool sheets for a Sunday afternoon snooze.

Then right in the middle of reading through the last four days -  full of wonder and light and grace in the midst of struggle - in the door walks another gift.

387. My mother-in-law who stops by after long day at work to take her granddaughters for an hour so headachy mama can rest.

I'm putting pen to fresh journal pages and marking gifts again.

391. the way afternoon sun dances in my window and light glints on strands of red-brown in my little-girl's hair
392. her freckles appearing just like mine
393. lost in her milk chocolate chip eyes
394. a pile of picture books waiting to be read

I have so much to be thankful for. I have so little to complain about...

"Thanksgiving creates abundance; and the miracle of multiplying happens when I give thanks - take the just one loaf, say it is enough, and give thanks - and He miraculously makes it more than enough." (Ann Voskamp, One Thousand Gifts)

Can this be true? The more willing I am to trade in woe-is-me attitude for a list of thanks, the greater blessings I will receive? When I am deliberate with thanksgiving, then the abundance spills.

I am reminding myself of those words by Robert Frost my mom used to recite to me before bed.  When I was wee little girl, just discovering the gifts of this world, she would tuck yellow eyelet spread beneath my chin and smooth my hair, whispering these words:

The woods are lovely, dark, and deep
And I have promises to keep,
And miles to go before I sleep,
And miles to go before I sleep.

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