Transitions, Gratitude and Christmas

We faced a difficult and dark fall season that culminated in our resigning from our church. Someday in a novella I will write the details with perspective and objectivity that time provides but suffice it to say we have lived a Frank Peretti Novel.

I want to give you a gift this Christmas and it isn’t in the details about what happened, the scripture is clear in this life we will have dark days filled with bewildering circumstances that often do not make sense in real time but it is the gift in the darkness that reminds us of who He is and who I am in Him. We are in the middle of the story and it is in the miracle of the day-to-day provision that I see God’s hand toward me in this place and the increments of peace He provides.

In July a friend gave me a book “One thousand Gifts” by Ann Voskamp and I read the first chapter and enjoyed it but I was reading a dozen other things at the time and put it down for later. In October at the end of the events culminating in our resignation, my husband was going to go to Van Nuys to take a class and I was flying up to Vancouver to be with my sister. I was looking forward to shopping, eating and being in a very safe place and on a whim put the book in my bag.

A day or two before we left some sad details come to light that revealed someone had told a lie about us that had affected the outcome of our situation this was hard because it was a lie and because of the source. Betrayal is always the hardest thing to process in times like these and I was stewing about it and trying to reconcile it in my head as I was getting on the plane…after I took my seat I opened this little book.

I had a very challenging encounter because the author with lyrical beauty and simple honesty was challenging me to give thanks in what she refers to as the beautiful ugly. I have walked through enough of this life to know that every experience that I have faced, good and bad has had it’s spiritual purpose and I have learned to be grateful for it but in this case her words were challenging everything in me and I quite simply did not want to hear it!

But I kept reading and underlining and listening to the whispers of the Holy Spirit to come closer to draw nearer.

I had a layover in Sacramento for about an hour and I was looking forward to one of my favorite terminals and a La Bou Raspberry Scone and White Chocolate Mocha however when I landed I was in a new terminal and there was no La Bou!  And you know when you are already in a mood little things like that can make you crazy…I wanted to stand in the terminal and demand that someone take me to the old one!

But I did not feel like going to jail that day so I made my way to a new food place and got something healthy and good for me and found a place to sit.

And I opened that little book up and was challenged again to find gratitude in the beautiful ugly and so I took out my journal turned to the back giving myself one page and in my heart with full sarcastic intent said to the Lord…”shall I start with the lie…be grateful for the lies that are being said about me??????” Take that God!

And then it happened…that still small voice …”it’s not true…and just because someone says it is doesn’t make it so… And I know the truth”

Have you ever had a Pentecostal life changing moment in a busy airport?

It is kind of hard to hold it together when you really want to weep and worship at the same time.

So instead I started writing…making a list of moments and provision I had seen in this Beautiful Ugly and in 30 minutes I had written 39 things!

I started to see How God has been with me in this and never once did I walk alone.

Here is a very small sample:

  • Jennifer and Jonathon were here with us when we got the first initial indication of what was to come.
  • That I was scheduled to speak at a retreat with my heart friend Michelle Fortik surrounded by affirmation for my gifts, abilities and calling.
  • The support of those who know us and love us…I will never forget the words of Lisa Mets.
  • The depth of maturity and words of encouragement from our sons, our own teaching coming back to us through them.
  • Kathy H reminding me of who I really am in a moment I needed to remember.
  • The one who took a stand for righteousness at his own peril…you know who you are.
  • The sweetness of this journey with Tim and how we grow closer, deeper and more intimate in relationship as we face this together.

I am currently at 109 things…the love, words of affirmation and support of people from every time in our ministry life and our family are listed over and over.

The dolphin sentinels He sends to swim alongside me as I walk and pray every morning and so many other little winks from heaven have been recorded there also.

And here in this moment during this Christmas season when the outcome has not yet been completed… I am saying to you He can be trusted and I can be grateful.

He did not ask us to be grateful because He has ego needs but because of the faith and hope it releases in us…How it turns dark to light…fear to hope…sorrow to joy and the lies of the enemy to eternal truth.

I don’t have physical gifts to give you during this holiday season but what I can give is tangible in ways that matter more…we are surrounded by a God who never leaves us alone regardless of how we feel.

He is near…always achingly near.