Thankful Heart: Greece

In the airport. Preparing to leave for Greece. Honestly I have been preparing for this for weeks. Counting down the hours, the minutes. And now that the time is near, I wonder how it is already here. How I am already leaving.

But now. Today, today fear is crippling me. Please, don’t get me wrong. I am still excited. But the fear. The fear grew. Unabated. Free. And this afternoon, when I realized I would have enough time to leave the Athens airport and get a peak at the Acropilis, fear reared its ugly head. I debated not leaving the airport. Because fear. Because if I take a taxi alone, bad things could happen. (Yes, I seriously have not even taken a taxi in Chicago alone!) Because what if 100 (or even 10) things happen and I miss my flight to Crete. But my husband and a dear friend reminded me – even if I miss my flight, I can book a new one and to pray. That I am not being foolish. That I am choosing to trust. That I am choosing adventure. And it will be amazing.

But still. Fear reigned. And as Greg drove me to the airport, fear continued to grow. It tried to overtake my excitement. To steal it from me. Tearing away my adventure. My courage.

And now. Here I sit. Through security. In the international airport I have rarely visited. And even rarer by myself. And I am deliberately, intentionally choosing to trust.

Because I will not fear. I need not fear. With the next step I take, I will choose to embrace adventure. Trust. Courage.

Because this is an amazing experience. This is a wonderful gift. And I will not squander it on fear. So instead, I will remember. I will spend time in thankfulness. Because what better way to combat fear than by remembering God’s provision.

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Joy: A Product of Thankfulness and a Provider of Freedom

I have been thinking a lot about JOY lately.

As I was getting my littles down for naps, the other day, I was struck by their joy. It seems so easy for them to find it and to express it. Just a smile or a tickle from me elicits free and wild laughs. Giggles that never end. They experience extreme and boundless joy when their dad comes home from work. They surprise me with the depths of their joy over simple and small blessings.

I find myself watching them and wondering: When was the last time that I laughed so free. When a simple act made me feel so joyful.

I don’t want to give you the wrong idea – I am a happy person. I find time for myself and I have the honor of being a stay at home mom. I love my life, my family, my home… But am I “tilt my head back with laughter” joyful?

JOY + THANKFULNESS

As I think on joy, I keep coming back to thankful. Shouldn’t a posture of thankfulness produce joy?

If I am truly listing and numbering those gifts, those blessings, the small and big ways that I am thankful – shouldn’t I be experiencing that same boundless joy? If I am thankful each day, shouldn’t I be overly and abundantly JOY-FILLED?

Maybe. And maybe not. I know that I do find and feel joy as I take the time to remember all the things I am thankful for. I know that I find joy in the act of remembering God’s faithfulness.

I think it’s the way joy looks. It can be harder to see joy in this stage of life. Between the constant movement, the interruptions, the watchfulness, the constant noise, the activities and schedules. Joy can seem fleeting. It almost feels like it’s hiding.

REMINDERS OF JOY

Yesterday, a dear friend of mine was at church. They had just had a baby and I was genuinely surprised to see them. And I was JOYFUL. I literally (and perhaps, embarrassingly) ran up the steps to sit near them, to hug them.

Then the sermon was about JOY. About how joy, blessing, comes after obedience. You know how I get message after message until I finally stop to listen. So here it was. Again. Something I had been thinking on myself, mulling over. Joy.

So I thought. I listened. I took notes. And I realized. I AM JOYFUL. God was, and continues to, show me joy. It is there, it is for me. And it is in my life. It is in my thankfulness list, and I am continually reminded of it as I add and continue to number my thankfulness.

JOY + FREEDOM

But what’s more, there is FREEDOM in JOY. There is freedom to lean in, to trust God. And to KNOW His blessing.

Psalm 97:1 (Yes, this is the Psalm I read today. If you haven’t read the Psalms before, I would love if you would join me in reading a Psalm, or 2, each day!) says this:

“The Lord REIGNS, let the earth REJOICE…”

It is so simple. Just 7 words. The Lord reigns… So rejoice! That’s it. There aren’t any constraints on joy, true joy. It doesn’t say – If the Lord reigns AND your life is easy and happy, THEN rejoice. No, I can find joy because God is in control. Period. That’s it.

I can be joyful because God is sovereign. I can find rest in His power, knowing that He is in control. And because God is in control, I can rejoice. And again, because He is in control, I have freedom.

My friend, Lori of the Boutelle Family, told me this week, after our feedback appointment for my sweet Boy Child (more about that appointment this week. You can read more about our journey, here), that it is okay to embrace the joy. To find freedom in it. I don’t know why, but sometimes, freedom can be a hard thing to embrace. It recognizes that you do not have the control you thought you did. Freedom can be hard. It can look different that you expected. But it feels…oh it feels JOYFUL. This week has been a roller coaster, but through it all, I have been challenged to be obedient. To find my joy. And to let it free me. And to rest in the God of All.

CHILDLIKE JOY

Now does my joy look different than my children’s joy? Sometimes. And that’s okay. I don’t find joy from climbing onto a chair. And the most difficult part of my day is not getting back down from said chair. We are different. Our goals, our knowledge, our tasks are different. Why wouldn’t we experience and express joy differently as well? And when I do feel that joy like a child, the joy I felt when I ran to my friend, it is equally beautiful and freeing. It reminds me of the joy I  felt when I was a little, myself. And in this instance, it reminded me of the beauty in community, the treasure of a friend, and the joy found in relationship.

Today, as I dug in the dirt, pulling weeds, preparing the gardens, my joy looked different. (And no, the irony that I was cleaning out the garden and removing the weeds, while thinking on my own heart and clearing away the lies, is not lost on me.) My joy rested. It was thankful. Thankful for this land to care for and for a job well done.

Though my joy may look differently than it did when I was little, it is still JOY. It is beautifully perfect because my joy can rest. It rests in obedience to my God. My joy is whole and unshakable because it KNOWS the God of the universe. Because He cares for me and loves me.

So I will continue to obey. To walk in faith. I will follow Him. I will continue to number my thankfulness. And I will continue to find and experience joy. Simple and pure JOY.

I hope you join me, as I choose joy. 

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Next week, I will again be hosting a link up with my friend Lori from The Boutelle Family. It will be about finding our quiet time, our me time. This is something I have really been embracing lately, and would love for you to join us! For more information about how the link up works, please visit our first link up

A Thankful Heart

THE BALL

This past weekend, my husband and I were invited to attend a ball! Yes, that’s right, a ball. We were excited to attend an event that was outside our “normal.” Really, just getting to go out was great. This is my husband’s busy time at work, so a night out (and a FREE one at that!) was exactly what we needed.

But as we drove around to find a parking spot, we drove past people living in homelessness. I realized that something had changed within me – I was heart broken that people had paid thousands of dollars to attend this function tonight. Yet, right here were people – left forgotten, broken, and alone. Walking into the ball, I was struck with the extravagance of it all. It was beautiful, but it was too much.

Please know, I am not against beautiful events or parties. I am not against having a nice home or nice things. I enjoy all of those things, and I think that is okay. I am, however, struck by the extreme differences and saddened that if some of this money was given to organizations focused on helping people, the world could be a different, better place. And really, it should be.

ONE THOUSAND GIFTS 

Earlier that day, I had been reading from Ann Voskamp’s, One Thousand Gifts, about thankfulness. She recounted how living in thankfulness had begun to cultivate a life of trust. A life without constant worry and fear; because we spend time remembering, recounting God’s prior faithfulness.

I had realized that this was also true in me. I have found freedom from my fears, my parental worries. And when I forget, I return to the feet of Jesus and ask Him to help me leave these bags at His feet. I return to my list of thankfulness, and I try again. I have also found contentment. Happiness with what I have, and truly seeing the fullness of it all.

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