Gratitude = Great Attitude

Kind of a cheesy title.  Sorry about that!  But it struck me once again as I sit here and love on my four-legged, furry baby!  I’m grateful for Kingsley Rose!

 

 

Gratitude  is  the  one  guaranteed  life  changer ….. or  at  least  change  how you  view  it!

This gal’s sole purpose is to love and be loved.  She is nothing but a lover!  We affectionately refer to her as our PTSD dog.  For years, I was set against getting a dog.  I certainly didn’t understand the super dog lovers.  They were dirty, smelly animals that chewed up things and got into trouble and would probably meet an untimely end like all my childhood dogs.  Nope! Not gonna do it.  I didn’t get it.

When we were going through our crisis, somehow the stars aligned and my heart was softened.  I remember it very clearly.  The door of my heart cracked open and my Honey pounced on it like LIFE depended on it!  Money was exchanged and before I knew it we were the humans to a very cute, very spunky, very fluffy, very loving, little white dog.  I laugh, because God knew what we needed.  And sometimes it is the smallest of things that blesses you the most.  In her small little package comes more healing and laughter and peace than you might imagine of a little, fluffy dog.

It is from the unlikeliest of places that God brings the greatest of joys.  Sometimes the greatest gifts come wrapped in unusual packaging.  During that time, I was learning I had to get my eyes off our crisis and refocus my attention on the many things to be thankful for.  I wasn’t called to be thankful FOR the pain that rocked my family.  But, I was called to be thankful IN the pain.

I took the challenge to keep a running list of gratitude. Whether big or small, it went into my gratitude journal.  If you start intentionally looking for the gifts you’ve been given, you will be surprised how many there really are.

Even in the seemingly starkest and most desolate circumstances you might be facing, God reveals his grace.  journal

In the early days of my journaling of the gifts, it was hard.  Some days were easier.  Some days the page laid blank because I could’t find one single, solitary thing to be thankful for.  As I looked back over my list and neared 1,000 reasons to be thankful, the one thing that popped up over and over was…you guessed it!  Our sweet, loving, lovable four-legged friend. She soothed our souls and made us belly laugh.  She knew when there were tears and she nuzzled up to check on us.  And so many times, she just knew WE needed to play with her.

So, you see, it is quite comical.

When we do what seems to be the most impossible thing to do

—like being grateful in the really ugly times—

God has a way of surprising us with the greatest joy!

In order to get the biggest pay off, you have to find the gratitude in the hardest hard.  It literally saved my life.  It got my attention off of the loss and pain and onto the gifts God had already given in the every day.

I  soon  realized  that  the  simple-magnificent  was  right  before  me.  

 

You too might just save your life, or maybe just your mind, but nonetheless, you can’t lose if you focus on the graces you are given each day.  I challenge you to start a running gratitude list for each and every day.  I think you will be surprised at what you find. I dare you!

I’d love to hear your gratitude!  Please share with me and we can smile together!

 

PS.  If you need further inspiration, I highly recommend this resource.  It challenged me and changed my life. http://www.aholyexperience.com/one-thousand-gifts-book/

Forgiveness…..It Makes Me Sweat

Forgiveness.  The word makes me sweat.  

I am an emotional person.  I feel things deeply. I take things to heart.  My heart gets bruised.  And, it’s not just about me.  I am madly in love with my husband and children.  They are my world.  When they hurt, I hurt. When bad things happen to them, it might as well be me!  I am very emotive….so much estrogen.  Just ask my family.  (Think mother bear!)

The biggest lesson of my life came in October 2011.  Desperate to end his nightmare, our child spilled his hurt and pain to my husband.  We knew this person.  We thought she was safe—she wanted to be a youth pastor and we were mentoring her towards that end.  We thought we knew and understood her well.

Apparently, we didn’t.

The days that followed were full of rage, pain and complete shock.  We navigated the legal system, detectives, and victim advocates in a haze of unbelief.  Not unbelief of our child’s story.  We never doubted him.  Sitting in the detective’s office, trying to answer endless questions, we just couldn’t figure out how we had gotten to this point.

How could someone do this to one of our own and to our family?

I never dreamed, in all my days, I would be sitting

in a courtroom listening to all the graphic details of the abuse.

Who does?

Betrayal of any kind is painful. 

At this level, it was hard to breathe.  We had done so much to better the life and future of this caregiver; providing opportunities for a future that would not have come anywhere else.

We did receive justice in the legal system. We are grateful.  It started the healing process for our boy and for us. We felt heard and understood.  Unfortunately, in today’s culture, male victims of female perpetrators many times don’t receive equal justice.   But, we did. And that is nothing short of a miracle.

But, see, this is where it gets gritty.

As Christ Followers, we are taught to forgive.

  For the longest time I wasn’t in any place to forgive.  I needed  time and space to process and heal.

And I honestly think God was okay with that.  I learned something important.

Everybody moves at their own pace and the journey is cyclical—just like in the grieving process.

FORGIVENESS   IS   NOT   EASY   NOR   CHEAP.

I have to say, there are some days I don’t feel as if I have forgiven very well.  Most days, three years isn’t long enough to pay for the level of trauma, fear and pain he endured.  And, if I am really honest (please allow me),

I can’t understand how God could forgive this, much less me.

 

I know this: If I surrender my deep betrayal and pain to God, and follow His lead, He will walk me through this difficult journey of forgiveness.

I am learning that forgiveness is a journey.

This past week was a perfect example of how much work I have left to do, but how far I have come!  It was a milestone in our journey.  He knows we are human.  We are not perfect in this earthly skin.

I think forgiveness isn’t a one and done type of thing either.

It is a process—a lifelong journey that brings great peace.  I imagine I will work the rest of my life to forgive fully and completely as I know Christ does.  I know God knows my humanity.

He gives me strength and power to do what I can’t seem to do on my own.

As you can see, it makes the top 10 of the hardest lessons I will learn in life.  And I’m still trying to figure it all out.  It is a team effort with God leading the way.  I’ll follow in His footsteps and I know all will be alright.

What about you?  Do you have something that screams for forgiveness but you just don’t know how?  Can you give yourself grace knowing God does when you are walking hand in hand….moving in His unhurried rhythms of grace?

 

My friend, I know it is hard.  I hate the cliches.

But, God is jealous for you and is aware of your pain.

Sit and listen for His rhythm of grace.

The Shadowlands

Life has a way of taking you on unexpected journeys.

Sometimes your way is smooth, flowing from one moment full of gratitude to another.  All you see are blue skies and silver linings. Other times the way gets bumpy as you encounter gray skies and thunder.  You are stopped in your tracks…BUT you quickly regain clarity and keep moving.

And yet, there are other times, where the sky is so dark and the terrain so rugged that you feel the darkness surrounding you.  The journey feels overwhelming and unfair. You question how you got to this place. You check your rearview mirror, trying to find what led to this place.  You might even do an inventory of your life choices.  It’s dark. It’s scary and you can’t seem to find any light through the clouds.

I’ve been there, and I’m willing to bet some chocolate you have, too. Maybe you are right smack dab in the middle of it even now.

A year after learning of our child’s abuse, I sat down and thought through some of the lessons I learned while traveling through these Shadowlands.  I certainly don’t have all the answers, but I want to share with you what I learned, in the hopes that my pain will help you in whatever you are going through.  So, each week (at least for a while) I will post a blog focusing on these lessons I learned.

My child still faces  emotional repercussions of what was done to him….the abuse, isolation, and fear the abuser used to control him has very real moments of rearing its ugly head.  But he is learning to deal in healthy ways and is not allowing it to control his life. Everyone’s pain looks different.  It comes in all shapes and forms. But, it’s there.  Waiting in the shadows to control and devour.

One thing I learned is not all things can be fixed.  Nope.  Wouldn’t that be great? A simple, easy and quick “how do ya do” and it’s all better.  I have learned that ALL things can be redeemed, however.  The beautiful part is you don’t know how the ragged and torn pieces are all going to fit back together, much less with any beauty and grace.  I know this to be true; time does not heal all wounds. The only healer of wounds is God.  I marvel at how He has chosen to put our jagged pieces back together.

The beauty that comes from pain can be exquisite.  I’m not sure how it works.  Give Him the shredded and broken.  Give Him the messy and stinky.  Give Him the confused and lost pieces. And He takes them, heals them, reshapes them and gives them back to you in the form of something absolutely amazing.

I remember sitting on the counselor’s couch.  My head in my hands.  Life and ministry had been incredibly difficult, unlike anything I had ever experienced up to that point.  Then this was thrown on top of the pile.  We had followed God.  We had given our lives to follow Him.  We were raising our kids to be Jesus followers.  And yet.  I could hardly grasp the depth of our pain and the dark we were entering.  I could only cry.

If I had to go through it then something good was going to come of it!

On our journey through this very ugly and dark place, I decided if I was going to go through this terrible, horrible, no good, hard season then I was going to do something with it.  I was going to be better for it!  I knew someone needed to hear my story and know they are not alone.  It may not even look like my pain.  Pain is pain.

The Shadowlands can be a scary, lonely place. 

But, there is much peace and gratitude to be found if we only look beyond the Shadowlands. 

We may not know what life will look like on the other side of the dark, but we know who will walk with us through the dark.  And He never leaves.

I’ve learned He can take ANYTHING and redeem it.  Not everything can be fixed.  But EVERYTHING can be redeemed.

Where are you? Are you in the middle of the Shadowlands? Are you coming out the other side and all that is left is a broken heart and shattered dreams?  What do you need redeemed?  He will.  I know it….as well as I know anything.  He just needs you to let Him….stop trying to piece it all back together by yourself.  And what beauty He will create!