Walking barefoot on my rooftop, in the windy and cold December air, I am drawn to the deceptively dead plants in my garden boxes.
My feet begin to get a little numb, but first I need to look closer.
All I see are brown, dry stalks and the guilt I have for not having cleaned out the spent summertime blooms. I release the negative tape playing in my head and that is when I see it.
I looked closer and I found the beauty. There is a second chance in this dried flower head. More than a second chance.
There is an ongoing bounty of chances for the unforeseeable future.
Each flower pod or head has protected its seeds. Life protected. Chances given. God giving generously.
Each dry brown flower head holds at least twenty seeds to save and replant in the spring. Seeds that will once again bloom for HIS glory and then in it’s season, give OVER it’s seeds in PLENTY.
Even in death, there is life.
Grabbing handfuls of dried seeds, thanking God He is generous in providing continual blossoms with these handfuls of seeds and generous in chances. Second, third, fourth chances…
Even the flowers of the field.
“Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow; they neither toil nor spin, yet I tell you, even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these.”Luke 12:27
We can trust in God’s abundance.
He showers us with seeds of Peace, Love, Joy…
Generous gifts of Love from family, friends, community…
He leads us to the fertile soil and gives rest.
His burden is light.
“Thanksgiving is possible not because everything goes perfectly but because God is present. The spirit of God within us- nearer to us than our own breath. It is a discipline to choose to stitch our days together with the thread of gratitude. But the decision to do so is guaranteed to stitch us closer to God. Attend to the truth that ‘bidden or unbidden God is present.’”Adele Calhoun, The Spiritual Disciplines Handbook
There was a time when in my life when I really struggled with gratitude. We were in the process of adopting and it was taking years longer than intended. We didn’t know if she would ever make it home. In order to protect our hearts and minds, I knew we needed to focus on gratitude.
I created a piece of art for our living room. I would consider it a functional piece of art. It was a large 100 year old door that was left in our basement. When you are waiting for so long on a journey that you are not sure is going to turn out the way you want it to you will hear the phrase OFTEN… “We are praying that the door will open.” I pray this, I’m sure you pray this… up until now it never seemed too “cliche.” Our door was not opening. Did this mean we were not doing the right thing?
Nope. Sometimes what God asks of us is not easy, it takes time, struggle, faith, hope, perseverance… Sound familiar?
The door we want to open may never open, but we trust and live in hope that what the Lord has to offer his kingdom through our struggles is worthy of praise.
So once seeing these doors in my basement, I came up with a plan to “Kick down the door” as Bob Goff would say. We would praise God while we were waiting for the many doors to open. We would write our praises down on post-it notes and stick them on the door.
Our doors may remain closed, but we will STILL praise God in the waiting. We will live a life of gratitude and thankfulness even if our doors remain closed forever. Because it is not the opening of doors that warrants praise and celebration from our lips…
We must be present, however to see what he is doing. Gratitude requires cultivating an awareness of God’s generosity. Seeing. Pausing. Paying attention.
Everyone in our family participated in this door project. I painted the old door a fun turquoise color and leaned it up against our dining room wall. The post its and pen stayed put on our dining room table. Whenever I felt like the door was too full with post its or we needed a fresh start, I took down the post its and taped them in a special book to keep and look back on.
This was mainly a huge reminder for me (I need visual reminders!), but it was also a way to train our three girls to give thanks in the midst of discouragement and waiting.
We need practice giving thanks in the midst of plenty and of want. Giving thanks turns into HOPE that we think we may of lost along the way as we see the way our God provides.
Spiritual Discipline Invitation: Gratitude
This week you are invited to practice the spiritual discipline of gratitude. There are so many ways that you can weave this practice into your everyday life, so be creative! Here are just a few examples of how I ways I have woven this discipline into my life. Remember, there is not “one perfect way.” I do not do ALL of these things all of the time. In fact, some of these were just short season.
- Visually- Find a door or wall that you can stick post it notes of gratitude on whenever you get the chance. This is a great way to involve the whole family!
- Personally- Keep a small journal by your bedside table and every night when you go to sleep, jot down at least three things you are thankful for from your day today.
- Make it an attitude of gratitude! Make it a point to personally thank others things week for the little and seemingly “ordinary” things they do for you or others.
- Looking back at the past year, reflect and write a prayer of thanks to God for all the ways he has provided for you generously. Remember, these things don’t have to be physical gifts.
- Take a walk in nature or in your neighborhood. As you walk, prayerfully ask God to show you all the generous ways He gives.