She calls at just the right time. She always does.
"You're alone?" she asks, surprised to hear a quiet house in the background on this warm Saturday morning.
I bite my lip, trying so hard to sound fine but really not. She knows right away as only a little sister could.
"Tell me Jo, what's going on. How are you today?"
And like a dam, my heart bursts open.
I can't hold it in. The hurt, the anger, the dissapointment, the wondering- all things I have been stuffing down for so long start to peek out of my throat.
She listens. And loves. She knows. She understands my heart and my wounds. Just hours ago, we were holding each other before she pulled away, making that long trek toward her new home, states away from mine.
I miss her already. She was a distraction. I told myself I was doing fine most of the days she was around. But she sensed my wrestling. Good sisters always do.
I tell her, "When I was in the shower this morning I realized, the worst part is, I feel like God has taken my choice away from me but still left a slightly open crack in the window. I don't know what to do with that. Except I feel stuck. Angry. Confused."
I envision her nodding on the other end. She gets it. Her move from Oklahoma to Flordia to follow her husband's conviction has left her feeling the same way. The military deciding for her. Out of control. Helpless. Choiceless.
"Up until now," she reminds me, "We've really had it all haven't we? We've been able to decide the next move, achieve the next dream. Whatever we've needed or wanted WE'VE been able to do. God is growing us now - He's reminding us that ulimately He is in control. He is humbling us."
I pour over the left-over breakfast dishes and I mediate on that. I scrub harder trying to make sense of the changes in my heart. And I remember-on those long hours alone, laid up in that leather chair, my body broken over major surgery-the truths that God whispered into my heart.
The truths that in the midst of great pain, brought such peace to my soul.
How did I forget?
The JOY doesn't come in having the power to MAKE THE CHOICE,
the JOY comes in TRUSTING THE ONE WHO ULTIMATELY DECIDES.
Peace comes in THANKING GOD for HIS SOVERIGN CHOICES AND HIS WILL for my life.
Finding the daily EUCHARISTEO.
Deciding to TRUST.
I forget, and that is why I am down. I forget to thank, to name, to number the gifts HE has bestowed on me. I am angry for the ones that I still want, pining for what I don't see. I feel like He is holding out on me.
And as I write I gasp - isn't this what befell Eve?
The same whisper, "There is more that YOU DESERVE", the serpent lied, and it was enough to make her pause.
She bought in. "If God loved you enough, He would have also given you this tree." It's enough to make her whisper the lie of entitlement we often feel, "I deserve this....I need this....Look at all I've done, this is so unfair..."
Eve forgot to look up and look around. She had her eye on the one thing she didn't have and neglected the thousands of things she did. In obsessing on what she was missing, she forgot to name.
She forgot to give thanks. To look around with wonder at all God had made just for her to enjoy.
Her mistake was catastophic.
Am I making the same one?
I can not change the truth that my body can not carry another child- but I can CHOOSE to be grateful for the three I've grown, carried, delivered and nursed.
I did not have a choice that the surgery would leave my pelvis damaged and my bladder tired and changed forever, but I can CHOOSE to find JOY that I am alive.
I can not CHOOSE the angry, "un-fair" thoughts that circle in my head, but I can CHOOSE to drop to my knees and surrender them at the feet of Christ. Daily. Hourly. Minute by minute until His love and protection changes me from the inside out.
She encourages and inspires me and I share her blogging words with you below:
It’s habits that can imprison you and it’s habits that can free you.
But when thanks to God becomes a habit – so joy in God becomes your life.
And with this habit of keeping a gratitude list? You:
1. Have a relative absence of stress and depression. (Woods et al., 2008)2. Make progress towards important personal goals (Emmons and McCullough, 2003)3. Report higher levels of determination and energy (Emmons and McCullough, 2003)4. Feel closer in their relationships and desire to build stronger relationships (Algoe and Haidt, 2009)5. Increase your happiness by 25% — (Who wouldn’t want a quarter more happiness!) (McCullough et al., 2002) http://www.aholyexperience.com/joy-dares/
My journal sits open on my desk, untouched for the past few days.
It holds scribble and scratching from days of last Spring and then hot summer.
And so I begin to count the gifts again...
#1. A warm, blonde haired girl sitting on my lap while I write, her smell reminding me of the first time I held her little body close over four years ago.
#2. A bright two-year-old who calls for his Mama first thing each morning.
#3. My husband giving me the gift of a quiet morning at home.
#4. A warm, house when so many others are without power across the country. Running water and light switches that work.
#5. The way the fire place smells this morning after a glorious blaze.
#6. Towels and socks and laundry to fold. A reminder how many blessings live in this house.
#7. Old pictures of my skinny hubby and I from years ago, blowing back memories of the sweetness of our first kiss.
#8. An authentic conversation with a sister who loves me.
#9. The sun creeping up into our backyard, warming up the grass after a frigid week.
#10. Jimmy and Christina, newlyweds away in foreign country, basking in each other and their new life.
Lord, may I not forget to count the ways you love me. When I tempted to turn to anger or feeling sorry for myself, encourage my heart to turn to you.
YOURS FOREVER, JODI