Gratitude bestows reverence, allowing us to encounter everyday epiphanies, those transparent moments of awe that change forever how we experience life and the world. ~ Sara Ban Breathnach

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Rest - Relax - Release - Rejoice

Rest in the deep assurance of My unfailing Love. Let your body, mind, and spirit Relax in My Presence. Release into My care anything that is troubling you, so that you can focus your full attention on Me. Be awed by the vast dimensions of My Love for you: wider, longer, higher, and deeper than anything you know.  Rejoice that this marvelous Love is yours forever...Bring Me the sacrifice of gratitude, and watch to see how much I bless you. ~ Sarah Young, Jesus Calling

Last week my phone lines went in and out, mostly out, leaving me without Internet access.  When the Internet issues began, I felt stressed knowing I could not leave posts during the week of Thanksgiving.


Of all weeks to not journal about gratitude!

All kind of questions and doubts about what others would think if I did not post began to fill my heart until I finally realized the path I was going down was not going to change the fact I did not have Internet and that I had a choice whether to stay on that dark path or step aside and choose another.

Pausing, then choosing another path...felt great! It felt powerful to intentionally choose a healthier path...

But then life decided to send another curve ball my way when I learned a much loved daughter decided she and her family would not be gathering with us for Thanksgiving.

I cried and I focused on what I would not have until my friend reminded me I had a choice.

I could choose to stay focused on what I would not have OR I could change my focus to what I would have.  
"Let your body, mind, and spirit relax in My Presence. Release into My care anything that is troubling you...and watch to see how much I bless you."
1 Peter 5:7 says: "Cast all your anxieties on him because he cares for you." (NIV)

Blessings don't always come as I expect.

I think blessings may some times come as quiet peace.  And, when I am open to that blessing, I am able to receive more blessings.  This past week, I did not have one daughter at the Thanksgiving table, but I had three others/spouses/Grands, both my parents, my brother/sister-in-law, a nephew/wife/baby, and my cousin...and there was much laughter, conversation, listening...and a feeling of love, respect, and gratitude for the relationships that rested between us, among us, and within us.

When I was able to Rest and Relax, my clenched hands Released and I knew Joy (Rejoice).

Still, I spent moments walking back and forth through the dark valley of hurt, doubt, and what-ifs off and on through out the weekend. Ann refers to these dark paths as "hard eucharisteo" and in chapter 5 of her book, she offers her own dark moments.
"I'm still transfixed when the ricochet of words rip up the back. 'Levi's hand went through a fan at the barn!'...I know it, even in running down the lane to the barn, this may be it. The hard eucharisteo. Now I know that I don't want to know it yet...Ever. How to lay the hand open for this moment's bread - when it will hurt." (Ann Voskamp, One Thousand Gifts, p 80)
Yesterday morning, during the Job study, I was struck with Job's thought that he was no longer blessed because he was no longer experiencing the "good life." Life was not going "his" way.  One woman commented that Job had lost hope and was in despair.  Another commented that Job had lost his sense of being in "control", that suffering is being thrust into a situation that one has no control.

When life is good, it is easy to notice God's Gifts...God's Grace, yet all to often I am like Job, when life takes a u-turn and the unexpected happens and my illusion of control is burst in a split second...I silently wonder what of God's Grace then?

Job asks that hard question that I am sometimes afraid to voice aloud.

I realized this past week one reason I had hesitated in beginning my own journal of gratitude was I felt like Pollyanna listing "silly" things as gifts.

I don't want to be a "Pollyanna", still, I believe that my feeble attempts at writing gratitudes the past couple of weeks did make it easier to refocus (again and again) when I felt kicked in the gut regarding who would and would not be gathering around the Thanksgiving table and why.
68. Dad carving the turkey. 
69. Warm scents and taste of freshly roasted turkey. 
70. The moon shining brightly.
Yesterday morning I was greeted by many weary faces at church.  I didn't have the time to ask how Thanksgiving had gone for them but in some ways, their faces reflected a more than deep weariness.

Later I wondered if, like me, some had known disappointment during their time of giving thanks.  As I wondered this I focused back to myself.  I wondered how many of my disappointments come from the Universe not giving to me as I think/believe I should be given (like Job).  I wondered how many of my disappointments come from what I have already created in my imagination as "happening".... not happening. (eg: that Norman Rockwell image of family...of "perfection")  I wondered how many of my disappointments come from my perception that something is wrong with "me" when that image of perception does not happen and I go down that dark path of retributive judgement. (Job : ) )

I want to be saintly, yet I'm just San, doing my best every day to be aware, to continue reading and reflecting, to strive to notice and name God's Gifts even within those dark moments of hurt and uncertainty.
156. A gummy smile. 
157. Daughter #2 back home safe. 
158. Sharing a bowl of blackberries with #3. 
159. Internet! 
Ephesians 3:16-19, Paul says: "I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you [Sandi] with power through his Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your heart through faith.  I pray that you [Sandi], being being rooted and established in love, may have grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ and to know this love surpasses knowledge - that you may be filled to the measure of the fullness of God."

If I could just fully grasp these sacred truths!

Bring me the sacrifice of gratitude and watch to see how much I bless you.

The "sacrifice" of gratitude.

Now, there is another word for me to sit and ponder!
Many Blessings ~ Sandi


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  2. Sandi, although I am not a religious person, I can connect with your thoughts on gratitude very clearly.

    When it comes to holidays (or the internet), I think we sometimes get caught up in what others think we should be doing or feeling, not what we are so fortunate to experience at the moment.

    Life is not perfect. But to be grateful for what we have at any given moment is the way I choose to live.

    Thank you for a very thought-provoking post. :)