I’m sitting on my swing with my laptop and pretty French coffee cup, looking at the trees and listening to the birds sing. Life is so far from perfect, but I do know that I am very blessed today. Some of my favorite memories from this summer have been going to Dutch Wonderland, a day trip to the ocean, and an afternoon at the lake. As I’m reflecting this Friday morning, here are five reasons for gratitude.
- Being called a “daughter” of Christ. I grew up in church but never heard the phrasing “daughter of Christ” consistently until this summer. It has shown up over and over in my life, like God is trying to tell me, “yes, I mean YOU.” I have struggled with a feeling of belonging for awhile. I grew up in a little country community where everyone knew everyone; people knew me, my parents, and sometimes even stories about my great-great grandparents. Then the housing boom happened. Now I rarely know people when I go places. Some of the roads are semi-scary to drive on because they were never meant to have this kind of population on them, and there is a drug epidemic in a place that used to feel like Mayberry. On top of that, these past ten years have brought changes (and a lot of hurt, to be honest) from some people that I thought would be constants in my life. When I married my husband, he already owned a house in an area where people enjoy a lifestyle, complete with the golf course, that I have trouble connecting with, and I have never really bought into (or lets be honest, ever had the money for) that way of living. I love nature that we can see from the backyard and the beautiful family we have built inside of the house though. Add the job losses that both my husband and I went through during the down economic times, and it is easy to see where things that I had “counted on” and things that I thought brought me worth were very, very temporary. I also found that I disagreed with many Christians around me during the presidential election. Yet, God calls me his daughter. That is a constant. That is unchanging. That is a beautiful thing. Strangely enough, God really started to call this idea to my attention when I decided to sponsor an orphan in another country. Really, he kept telling me he wanted me to do it in his still, quiet voice and was specific about the little girl’s name. After I said “yes” to him for something that he was asking me so clearly to do, He started pointing out how I am a daughter, not an orphan in his eyes too.
- The ancestor who looked so much like me that it’s uncanny. Around the time that I was embracing the phrase of being a “daughter of Christ” this summer, I saw this picture of an ancestor for the first time. I did a double and triple-take because she looked so much like me. I showed the picture to my husband just to make sure I wasn’t exaggerating, and he said it looks like me dressed up in old fashioned clothes. I could see my own eye shape, eyebrows, mouth, hair — my face — in this woman named Margret who was a child during the Civil War. How’s that for connection?
- Finding beauty in the Song of Songs. Also called the Song of Solomon, this book of the Bible was forbidden by the ancients for anyone under 30, according to He Calls You Beautiful by Dee Brestin (p.28). Fortunately, I am past that mark (wink). In the past, I had heard of the Song as a tribute to marriage and the sensuality of that bond, but Brestin’s book illuminates the Song as so much more than that. I opened my Bible and read the entire Song aloud before I started reading Brestin’s book, and what I was first struck by was the sheer beauty of the words. Being a person who loves the written and spoken word, I was in awe. This is beautiful, I thought. I highly encourage you to read Song of Songs aloud if you never have and then pick up a book like He Calls You Beautiful to help bring its message into focus. Brestin writes of the many similarities between the couple in the Song in relation to Christ and his church. The man in the Song is a Shepherd-King, and he pursues, waits, goes away, and returns to his beloved. The Song is not an allegory, where everything is literally a parallel symbol of something else, but it is full of allusions. Brestin writes: “I believe the primary focus of the Song, as with every other book in the Bible, is the relationship between God and his people. But whether you see the primary focus as a husband and wife or as Jesus and His bride, I know you will be blessed by seeing both” (p.28). I received a copy of the book from Blogging for Books in return for my honest review, and I highly recommend it. I plan on reading it more than once.
I believe you will be greatly refreshed to see that you are more cherished than you dared to dream. The Song will help press that truth into your heart, for it is one thing to be told that God rejoices over us as a bridegroom rejoices over his bride, but it is quite another to see it. — Dee Brestin
4. Learning my Happiness Style. I took the Happiness Style Quiz on Jennifer Dukes Lee’s site and learned that I am primarily a thinker, closely followed by being an experiencer. This makes a lot of sense to me because, for me, my “happy place” truly is reading books and thinking about life. Yet, I am also the person who gets lost in the beauty of a sunset, who really likes to experience art, music, travel, nature, and the taste of homemade Amish rootbeer on a summer day. The experiencer looks for happiness in moments rather than in a store. I feel like I have been “explained.” Other happiness styles include the relater, the giver, and the doer. I read The Happiness Dare for some more explanation of each style. I think this gives me an interesting, new way to look at myself and the people around me.
5. The little surprise. I am getting ready to set up my classroom and start another year in the wonderful, wacky world of Language Arts, and I have had one thing on my mind: a little coffee brewer. I could picture myself making coffee and brewing hot tea during my planning period. I could literally taste the hot tea. I don’t really like sharing a communal Keurig because you never know if it’s being descaled and cleaned as well as you’d hope (maybe I’m the only one who thinks about that stuff…). I thought about buying a little one-cup brewer for my room. I thought about it a lot. Then I went to an Alzheimer’s fundraiser concert, and I won the exact brewer I was thinking about in a drawing. Yay for that!
Hope you are having a great month. If you have any thoughts, email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. Please continue to pray for my healing after a leg surgery that did not go as smoothly as I had hoped earlier this summer. If you have made it this far on this long blog post, I really, really appreciate you!