Claire brings me pink nail polish and says, “Paint!” I paint her tiny toes and fingernails and she is very pleased.
Lila brings me a handful of animals and we set them up in a parade…all tigers or all puppies. She snuggles in beside me and tells me her thoughts on life, the world, her future plans.
Aubrey sits on the end of my bed and tells me about what she’s been working on in her room. Her eyes are bright and she is excited and she has my full attention.
Julia and Deanna burst in at the very end of the day and they tell me their stories and we laugh and smile and their zeal hangs in the air even after they’re gone.
Friends come and fill my room with their laughter, their voices, their very presence.
John stops in throughout the day and we talk and he brings me food and coffee and tall glasses of ice water. He nurtures so much better than I do.
Even Caroline bounds up the stairs and climbs into bed with me one night.
And when I’m making my gratitude list every day, these are the kinds of things that I am writing down. My pen scratches across the paper, a flurry of ink because there are so many good gifts everyday.
My usual day to day life is busy and I don’t always have time to paint tiny nails or talk endlessly with my big girls or march the animal parade across the bed. I am on the move, living life and doing things and getting the laundry done and cooking and sweeping and scrapbooking and getting groceries and going to appointments.
But right now? My whole job is preserving these two babies, praying for them to grow, and waiting for the bleeding to clear up. I am decidedly NOT busy, I am available to anyone who appears in my doorway. I can sit and talk to a friend for an hour, because I have no other place to be and nothing else to do. I can live that piece of advice I give to every mother of little ones:
If your child brings you a book and it’s at all possible, stop and read it. It won’t take long and the rewards are endless.
I remember the dread I felt upon waking every morning when I was on bed rest five years ago. It was a lonely, sad time and I just got through every day. I didn’t know enough to look for gifts…I didn’t know enough to ask for people to come and see me, to ask for help. This is so different. And I know that the gratitude work, the refining and the peeling away that God has been doing in my heart and in my life these past six months was partly in preparation for this season of rest.
He was training me up for a marathon of rest. He was fortifying me with tools for this hemorrhage and twins journey. He was teaching me to look for His good gifts in even the most boring of days. To look for His hand of goodness in the midst of scary, uncertain things.
I am changed.
And while I have my moments of doubt, of confusion, of frustration…and while yes, sometimes tears and aggravation and restlessness do draw near…mostly I’m able to be right here, right now. Thankful for two tiny beating hearts in little gummy bear bodies, thankful for a husband who cheerfully has taken on all the housewife and mom duties, thankful for my family and friends who show up day after day with food and love and friendship and joy. Thankful for a God who is present with me all day, every day…even when I tell Him I’ve had it with this mess.
Because He’s the same good, gift giving, life sustaining God all day, everyday. He doesn’t change with my moods or with my troubles. He doesn’t leave me, even when I act ridiculous. He doesn’t turn His face when I’m embarrassing. He is there.
And I’m finding that my desire to act ridiculous? To have a tantrum? To say how unfair it is? It’s waning. I don’t want to dwell on the negative or even on the things I can’t change. I don’t want to play “if only” or “what if”. I don’t want to miss the good gifts. I don’t want to miss His presence in my circumstances.
He always promises to turn our mourning into dancing. He doesn’t say sometimes, He says He will. How often are we hindering that with our attitude? Ouch. How often do I remain in mourning when He’s calling me to dancing, just because of my attitude?
“You have turned for me my mourning into dancing;
You have put off my sackcloth and clothed me with gladness.” Psalm 30:11
Lord, let me be a person who Lets You. Who makes room for you to do what You say You will do. Make me a person who sheds that negativity and anger and lets You turn my mourning into dancing. It won’t change what’s happened or what’s going to happen but it will change how it is right now.
And I think maybe that’s the greatest truth I’ve gained from all of this- ALL of it, the Big Life Stuff of the past six months, the collapse of my table, 1000 Gifts and the Joy Dare…that sometimes Hard Things happen, sometimes Awful Things happen, sometimes Stresful Things happen, sometimes Discouragement and Poor Me just can’t stay away…but…here is the bottom line:
God never changes. He is always with me. He is always giving Good Gifts. In the middle of the storm, in the midst of a collapse, when things can’t get any worse…if we seek Him, we will find Him. And even if we don’t look and even if we don’t see, He is still giving Love and He is still giving Good Gifts. We have to become a people who look for them.
I feel so utterly transformed and so free from a lifetime of wondering where His goodness was. It was always there. I had just trained myself to look for the hardship and the negative so that I wouldn’t be surprised by it. Well, guess what? That plan didn’t work. All I did was train myself to dwell in sorrow. And now I dwell in joy and gratitude and the hard things, the bad things, the scary things come and we weather them.