As a part of God transforming my heart this year, He's been blessing me with some amazing books written by amazing authors! I finished reading Crazy Love by Francis Chan and was blown away by how much I learned about God's radical love for us and how He calls us to live our lives completely abandoned to Him - motivated by love and obedience, not obligation. A lot to digest and process - it was a great read!
I started reading One Thousand Gifts by Ann Voskamp (her blog here: http://www.aholyexperience.com/). I've followed this woman's blog for about two years now, and I was so excited to get my hands on her first book. She has a way with words that I wish I had (check out her blog - you'll see what I mean) and she writes in a way that is so beautiful, even when writing about something heartbreaking.
Her book begins with a chapter describing a moment in her childhood that was her very first memory - her sister Aimee being run over by a truck and how the situation affected her family and her view of God. Although we don't all have the same stories in our lives, I'm sure all of us have suffered through a loss - whether it's the loss of a family member, friend, or other kinds of deep hurt.
"Though I can hardly whisper it, I live as though He stole what I consider rightly mine: happiest children, marriage of unending bliss, long, content, death-defying days. I look in the mirror, and if I'm fearlessly blunt - what I have, who I am, where I am, how I am, what I've got - this simply isn't enough. That forked tongue darts and daily I live the doubt, look at my reflection, and ask: Does God really love me? If he truly, deeply loves me, why does He withhold what I believe will fully nourish me? Why do I live in this sense of rejection, of less than, of pain? Does He not want me to be happy?"
It's really easy for me to see things through what will benefit me - I think innately, all of us want what is best for us and our loved ones. Have you often prayed for your loved ones, "God, please just keep everyone safe." I know I have - I even prayed this for Jerry this morning as he left for California. There is nothing wrong with doing so - but when it becomes an obsession, I have to wonder, do I really trust God? What Ann writes, I have also lived in my daily life. When I am hurt or something doesn't go the way I expect it to go, I doubt - "Does God really love me? If He did, why would He allow this to happen?"
It's a constant struggle between my heart and my own needs and wants and the will to surrender to God's plans and purposes. I think it comes down to humility. God is bigger than this world - He is bigger than us, and yet I live as if I rule my world. It's a shift in my worldview and mindset, and I'm still learning to let go. God does not exist to give us happy lives and everything we want and need - He has bigger purposes for each one of us. What that is remains to be seen and in time, we will discover it, but this quote definitely hit home for me.
Embracing the challenge of finding joy in everyday life instead of looking at life through the "Why-hasn't-God-fixed-this" lens, Ann decided to write down 1000 "gifts" that God blessed her with throughout a year.
I started making my list on Thursday. It's challenging because I want to write down 1000 different items. It's been a little hard but I have been having fun doing it. Maybe I'll share the list here sometime next year and we'll see if I made it to 1000!
What are some joys you've found in your life lately?