“‘A grateful heart is a magnet for miracles”
Oh to live in America for the joy of having a day devoted to Thanksgiving, a holiday to celebrate all things good. More so perhaps to live a life of thanksgiving. When thankfulness dominates our days.
Gratitude fertilizes our hearts for joy to flourish. Contentment in life I am sure is grounded in thankfulness. It is when we focus on what we have and not what we don’t. It is about choosing our perspective. There is so much that we can worry about – our health, our families, our finances. We can choose to just see the lack in our lives. We can worry when our health isn’t good and not celebrate what our body is doing so well at. We can focus on the poor grades of our children and overlook their strength of character. We can worry so much about tomorrow that we miss the beauty of today.
Self pity, envy and fear can’t reside in a heart of thankfulness. Focussing on the good in our lives, seeing what we have instead of what we don’t have is a recipe for success.
“When we choose thankful prayer over wallowing in anxiety and worry, we are demonstrating an unwavering trust in God.” –Priscilla Shirer
Now if only I could find me some pumpkin pie….
I was recently away from home. People often say it’s good for gaining perspective. Time out from the normal day to day to ponder how life is going. An opportunity to refresh and recharge, a chance to breathe. And it certainly delivered on all those counts.
But I found too that being away from my little chap with down syndrome caused my worry to increase. Away from him the reality of down syndrome felt weighty, scary and loomed large in my mind. I felt like I was grappling with the enormity of what it meant for our lives.
Back home again though, my little one chuckling in my arms, and the true reality returned. It was ok, it wasn’t down syndrome I was holding, it was my darling little boy. The down syndrome diagnosis only one aspect of him.
Don’t we do that with God as well? Somehow life and worries can push God into the background. Stress and anxiety take over and loom larger in our life than He does? Then that sweet moment when we declare His name over our circumstances, over our health, our families and we know it is going to be okay because God is in control.
“That at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in Heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue acknowledge that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.’ (Philippians 2:10)
October is World Down Syndrome awareness month. So I wondered if I should write about it. Perhaps share what is medically involved with that extra little chromosome. But that though would just be a list of facts.
And that’s not our story. That’s not a definition of Oscar’s life.
When I was told at Oscar’s birth that he had down syndrome there was a lot that I didn’t know. All I knew were some very limited facts and perceptions, some of them, to be honest, not very encouraging. I jumped straight to all the moments ahead in life where I thought life would be hard for him. I didn’t know what our lives would look like and I was scared.
So yeah, I didn’t know much. I didn’t know about the low muscle tone or that they start walking later than most babies. I didn’t know about the hospital appointments that would be required and therapy he would need.
But I also didn’t know Oscar.
I didn’t know that he would snuggle into you like a koala.
I didn’t know that his smile would light up his whole face and for that matter whatever room he was in.
I didn’t know he would have a great sense of humour.
I didn’t know that he would love books, baths and balls or indeed that bath would be one of his first words.
I didn’t know that he would love the outside and especially having a swing.
I didn’t know that he would love cheese scones.
I didn’t know that he would have sheer grit and determination and would time and time demonstrate that he’s got this.
And I didn’t know that life would continue as normal, as a family enjoying life and having fun, going on adventures and that having Oscar would make the adventures and our lives even more richer.
I didn’t know joy like this.
I didn’t know love like this.
The darker the night,
The brighter the day,
The fiercer the fight,
The stronger the faith,
So I place my hope in You
Sometimes in life we are dealt an unfair hand. We may be treated unjustly, hurt. Or we are facing a situation beyond our control, that we are powerless to impact. We can feel that the night is dark, the fight fierce as Kristene DiMarco puts it so well in her song Redemption.
But we have God. And God can break into our circumstances like the sun breaks into the night.
I faced a situation at work, an unjust one. There was nothing to do but to step aside and to take my hurt and disappointment to God. God is the God of Justice, so I prayed that in this situation justice would be done. Within twelve months, to the very day, night turned to day. Restoration took place.
And I am reminded again that we serve a good, gracious and just God. Whatever you are facing, that seems insurmountable, that seems like a done deal, remember, God is the God of Justice and can break through into any situation.
“He loves righteousness and justice; the earth is full of the goodness of God.’ (Psalm 33:5)
I guess most times when you think of legacy, of inheritance, you think of the financial – the bank account, the house. Certainly the dictionary defines it as that. Perhaps you think of the personal items, the sentimental treasures that help you keep the memories of the person who died.
It is seven years today that my Grandmother died. For me though, I think, her passing is measured more by the two babies I have had since then. Two babies that have missed out on being wrapped in her arms in one of her all embracing hugs.
And to me, her legacy is so much more intangible than what a dictionary confines it to. Her authentic and unwavering faith has left an indelible mark on our family. Who could forget her commitment to praying for the family, kneeling beside her at communion, seeing the worn Bible beside her chair. She had a sincere faith and walked in reality with Christ everyday of which we were privileged to witness.
Paul says in 2 Timothy 1:5, “I have been reminded of your sincere faith, which first lived in your grandmother Lois and in your mother Eunice and, I am persuaded, now lives in you also.”
In this verse is the only time grandmother is mentioned in the Bible and it speaks of her sincere faith. To which I can say yes that’s my grandmother, that is my mother too. And I can only hope that the faith that I saw in my grandmother, that I see in my mother, is seen in me too.
So today, I thank my grandmother for her priceless legacy.
You call me out upon the waters
The great unknown where feet may fail
And there I find You in the mystery
In oceans deep
My faith will stand
And I will call upon Your name
And keep my eyes above the waves
When oceans rise, my soul will rest in Your embrace
For I am Yours and You are mine
I’m at my nephew’s baptism. He speaks with an unfaltering faith. He speaks with conviction and with joy. A boy choosing to keep his eyes above the waves. Choosing to put his hope in God. Making this decision when his feet could have failed, when the waves could have overcome.
And I am challenged. When the glassy sea turns tumultuous, when stress and hard times come, we keep our eyes above the waves, our eyes fixed on Jesus. No matter the storm, no matter the hard times, we can find rest in God.
Your grace abounds in deepest waters
Your sovereign hand
Will be my guide
Where feet may fail and fear surrounds me
You’ve never failed and You won’t start now
My nephew was assured and confident that no matter what God’s got this and He’s got him.
He’s got us too.