I am currently reading One Thousand Gifts: a Dare to Live Fully Right Where You Are by Ann Voskamp. When I chose the books, I liked the idea of the title, but I completely missed the subtitle. “A dare to live fully right where you are ….”
A dare? To live fully? Do I not live fully? Is it something I really need to be challenged to do? My life certainly feels full: full of activity, full of noise, full of living … and full of dares.
I live in a house full of dares. With three boys all vying to claim the rights to be king of the moment, dares are etched into every comment, every declaration. Every word said, every action done, every choice made is done with at least some attention to what the brothers see and think. It used to drive me crazy … OK, more crazy … but I’ve since realized that it is wired in the nature of men to live life on a dare.
The word “dare” means to have the necessary courage or boldness for something. Does it really take courage to live fully? How else does one live?
Something in my spirit stirs. Is that what is missing?
I must confess, I have been asking myself this question for a number of years now, I just didn’t realize it was the question I was asking. Year after year I have fought against feelings of brokenness and failure, waking every morning to fend off the sense that I was drowning in my own life. I’ve been haunted by childhood dreams of what life should be like for me, nightmares echoed in my observations of the lives of so many women around me.
Shouldn’t I be the one driving the newest car? Shouldn’t I kiss my charming husband goodbye each day, and greet him with dinner on the table as he comes home? Wasn’t I supposed to have the typical middle class life that my mother modeled for me? Why did God impress on me so early how important a job it is to be a husband helper, child builder, and home maker … if … if He was just going to make that … impossible?
I’m not happy here … in my life. And yet, as I watch so many women who have the life I planned … the life I wanted … they aren’t happy either. How do I live this life—the life God has given me fully? How do I live it at all?
Most days, I feel like life is happening to me. It sweeps me along like a current and I can’t manage it. I barely keep my head above it. I try to school the kids, try to wash clothes and prepare meals, try to pay the bills. I’m trying to please the kids, trying to please my employer, trying to please the homeowners’ association … and I just feel like … like I never can.
I can’t even please myself. “Alone! You’re all alone!” “No one will ever love you like this!” “If so-and-so really knew how you are doing this, they’d take your kids away!.” The serpent’s lies hissssss in my head! I grumble and cry and again and again doubt God’s love for me and His plans for my life.
There. I said it. The source of my fear, my ache, my sorrow is my discontentment and the root of my discontentment is my lack of trust in God. How do you reverse distrust? How do you eliminate discontentment?
Is it really simple? As simple as the opposite? As simple as saying thank you? I start a list. A simple, childlike list of things I’m grateful for. I call them gifts, because they are gifts … from the One who loves me more than I can imagine. Can a full life really be found from simply opening your eyes to the fullness of life you've already been given? Is that really all I have to do - to see and say thank you?
I’m still writing them down, gaining momentum as I train my eyes to see more and more of the gifts around me. I didn’t even know they were there. And as I write them, I feel … blessed. Blessed to have my life. To have my gifts. Blessed to be me.
More gifts to mention:
#68 scones ready to go in the oven in the morning
#69 words to write … coming again after being dry
#70 no real desire to watch TV or play games tonight
#71 actually looking ahead to the next day before going to bed
#72 insomnia transformed into breakfast, lunch, the start of a grocery list, and 1/4 of the surface of the table
#73 unanimous agreement to open our home to someone in need
#74 a few hours of sleep in the early morning that got me through the day
#75 opportunity to encourage a friend
#76 adventure at the surplus/thrift/junk store
#77 the sun playing peek-a-boo through the clouds
#78 time to work on Saturday presentation
#79 sheets and pillows that smell like the sweet outdoors
#80 cooling air outside
#81 waking up in the way-too-early AM and being aware of the call to enter the suffering and loss of dear friends through prayer
#82 two human-children bed warmers snuggling next to me on a very cold night
#83 kitty therapy – our gray kitty babies in the regular kitten room where we can freely play with them
#84 new books in the mail
#85 the opportunity to encourage new homeschooling families
#86 the overwhelmed single mama who needed my counsel on homeschooling
#87 Robyn’s joint custody ruling
#88 Carrie, and her love and encouragement
#89 reminders again and again that when I feel hopeless there is always YOU. YOU are right there. YOU are enough!
#90 conversation about a job
#91 the way my covenant family and worship encouraged my heart today
#92 ease and speed in preparing my Journey lesson
#93 a glimpse of how Jesus is transforming me into a peacemaker
#94 being with Journey girls after more than a month long break!
#95 really yummy spaghetti that was easy to make
#96 the influence of boys like Neal and Reed on my little boys
#97 kitchen is cleaned and caught up!!!
#98 breakfast in the crockpot this morning
#99 finding fleas instead of worrying about mites
#100 getting to revisit memories from Beauty and the Beast (with Helen)
#101 catching up on Bible reading with FREE Internet audio Bible
#102 letting Josh spend a whole day with his girl
#103 better information and motivation at the sleep doctor today
#104 a great, productive family meeting
#105 a unique awareness of my dependence upon God because I’m single
#106 remembering that He who owns the cattle on a thousand hills secure my debts
#107 early to bed
#108 Bible time with the boys – talking about scripture and praying together
#109 wrestling through the awkwardness of being different … and realizing how different Jesus really makes me.
#110 being loved enough to be treated like a Princess for a night
#111 the feast of the senses that is musical theater: lights, color, music, dance, story, song….
#112 soft fur and rumbly purrs
#113 real world learning because we took time to be in the real world
#114 red-brown hair, a freckled nose, and socks in bed
#115 a clean, quiet closet to pray and study
#116 a second mama whom I love as much as the first one
#117 acoustic strumming of lovely tunes
#118 Alex … at Robyn’s house … for a whole weekend
#119 unexpected drive time that compels me to talk to Beloved
#120 Andrew learning lessons the hard way
#121 something ugly-beautiful: rows of stark, naked trees along the river
#122 bright sun, no clouds, on a canoe trip day for boys
#123 sounds of two very large boys wrestling on my bed
#124 memories of three little boys wrestling on the same bed (but it was bigger then) and snuggling up—all four of us—for the night
#125 reminders of the incredible men of God whose teaching I have been privileged to sit under during my lifetime
#126 something wrinkled: the sweet faces of my mama, grandmas, and great-grandma, who all remind me to embrace my trials and keep pressing on
#127 one grace smoothed: my path (Luke 3:5)
#128 one grace unfolded: the over-abundance of clothing we are blessed to have
three gifts found in Christ:
#129 Romans 3:24 freedom from the penalty of my sins
#130 Phillipians 4:6-7 peace that comes through prayer and prais
#131 1 Corinthians 12 unity with one covenant-secured body of believers
#132 a grace in the weather: enjoying 70 degree temperatures in January
#133 one gift that made me laugh: my very silly Stephen
#134 one thing I shared: a favorite book by a favorite author with Andrew
#135 a growing up conversation with a bashful son, who answers honestly anyway
#136 breaking cry of our red-shouldered hawk that we’ve been missing for a couple months
#137 watching Gracie enjoy her freedom after convalescing with a hurt paw for two days
#138 Oatmeal-orange-chocolate-strawberry-banana-crunchy sugar-all warm from the oven and ready to eat
#140 online audio Bible to help me catch up on my backlogged Bible reading … again
#141 sweet friends’ gifts of a blender, a computer monitor, citrus fruit, and a ride for a stranded kid
#142 the still-wonderful laptop my teenager is learning Spanish with
#143 the warming love of my sister who wanted us to have a new computer
… and more gifts to count and to come!