I’ve been living my life in fast forward. Today I hit the pause button.
Waiting for Phoebe for the past 2 ½ years has enabled me to put my present in the past sooner than intended. Instead of being able to enjoy each moment, each day for today… some days I just get through my day so it can be over. Then maybe tomorrow we will hear good news? Tomorrow comes and we hear nothing. So maybe the next day we will hear good news? And I wait. I keep waiting. My life keeps moving forward and I do not stop to savor the little things about today because I am stuck in anxious anticipation.
Today, I pause to reflect. What have I missed? My mind is so busy hoping for, waiting for and planning for the “some-day” when Phoebe is home that I often forget to live in the present. I feel like something is missing from our family- someone is missing. And until she is here, normal things don’t seem normal. We go on a family vacation and we all think “What would this be like if she were here?” We sit down to eat dinner or lunch and we wonder “Will she like this kind of food?” The girls are tucked into bed and we pray every night that Phoebe is kept safe, she sleeps well and we bring her home soon. We wonder “What is she dreaming about right now? Is she safe?” When we are bored we wonder “What is Phoebe doing right now?” The present is a hard place to be when your whole heart yearns for the future days when our family is whole.
I have been trying to work on living in the present since January 2013. My new year’s resolution was to “be present.” I was aware that I was carrying around a large amount of overwhelming anxiety over the future that will spill out of my heart into the lives of those closest to me. I wanted that to change. I had just finished reading Ann Voskamps “A Thousand Gifts.” Taking on a dare, Ann creates a list of 1,000 blessings that chronicle her days. From the tiny bubbles in her kitchen sink to thankfulness for her family, she takes you on a journey to discover that our relationship with Christ is all about Eucharisteo. Give Thanks.
“While I may not always feel joy, God asks me to give thanks in all things, because He knows that the feeling of joy begins in the action of thanksgiving. True saints know that the place where all the joy comes from is far deeper than that of feelings; joy comes from the place of the very presence of God. Joy is God and God is joy and joy doesn’t negate all other emotions- joy transcends all other emotions.”
“I accept the gift of now as it is- accept God- for I can’t be receptive to God unless I receive what He gives. Joy’s light flickers, breathes, fueled by the will of God- fueled by Him.”
Ann Voskamp; One Thousand Gifts
Thanks is the key to now. It has taken me quite awhile to learn this. When I daily anticipate the future, wondering when our daughter will be home and the wait is over, I am missing all the blessings the Lord has given me for today. The Lord has given me enough for TODAY. I am trying to take the piece of manna from heaven for today and make it stretch all the way into the future by worrying about things that are days, months and years from now. The Lord didn’t create us to live this way. He gave the Israelites enough manna for 1 day and if they kept more for the next day it would spoil. There are days when I think I can stretch my bread from 1 day to the next, just like the Israelites, and my day spoils. The Strength and presence of God comes when we daily seek his face and It all starts with acknowledging the blessings of today.
Stopping to see.
I created a piece of art for our living room. I would consider it a functional piece of art. It’s 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 is not opening. Does this mean we are 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. Everyone in our family participates 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 stay put on our dining room table. Whenever I feel like the door is too full with post its or we need a fresh start, I take down the post its and tape them in a special book to keep and look back on. This is mainly a huge reminder for me (I need visual reminders!), but it is also a way to train our girls to give thanks in the midst of discouragement and waiting.
We need to train ourselves to give thanks in the midst of Struggle. Giving thanks turns into HOPE that we think we may of lost along the way as we see the way our God provides.
Here is a small snapshot of some of the things we have written on our door:
“God made the earth”- Sophie (age 6)
“You God”- Sophie
“Phoebe” – Ruby (age 5)
“Funny sisters”- Addie (age 8)
“ A loving church family” Dad
“Molly can see!” Ruby
“God made the earth” Ruby
“For the Love in our house” Ruby
“A husband who is willing to do anything to bring his daughter HOME!” Mom
“Funny bunnies”- Addie
“The color purple”- Mom
“Helpful Daughters”- Dad
As I am reading these off my door, I am realizing that my daughters have my husband and I beat on how many notes of thankfulness we have posted on our door. I think it’s time to take the notes down and start fresh! This door stands to remind all of us that the Lord deserves to be praised.