So, today, as I walked out of work, I looked up. What I saw when I looked up made me breathe a deep sigh and smile a bit, for there in the sky was actually a bit of blue. Haven’t seen blue in the sky for quite awhile it feels like, and this was “Carolina blue”, no less. And for some reason, it just gave me a lot of hope, because that little bit of blue? It was a gentle visual reminder to me that there IS hope.
The past few weeks, well, they have been challenging to say the least. Seems like it’s been raining and pouring in more ways than the weather, that’s for sure. Car troubles, relational issues, financial stretches to the max, sickness, fear, fatigue, work overload, and decisions pending, health concerns, and well, they have all hit at once. I know these are the ordinary challenges we face…I mean, that’s just life. But when they hit at once? Well, it makes you feel like the cloud that surrounds is just never going to lift. So, when I saw that little bit of blue? Boy, was that a sight for sore eyes.
So, I got in the car (my son’s car, for my car broke down in the mountains last week and we were waiting on the estimate of how much the repair would be), and I was actually thankful for a lot of things. One of them was the ‘extra’ car to drive. We’re trying to sell my son’s car as he’s out of the country for a year and won’t be needing it in Sweden! Anyway, I was really making a conscious effort to be thankful, (so why were the tears starting to roll?) Before I made it to the first errand, my husband called and gave me the news about the car. Repair? Well, more like an overhaul. Verdict: the car repair will probably cost more than the value of the car. Heavy sigh. But do you know what was really cool? My husband was steady. He was encouraging. “i know it’s tough now, Heath, just hang in there.” And the tears that were a drizzle turned to a pour because honestly? Honestly the tears weren’t about the car or the struggles or the being stretched to the limit feeling. The tears were falling because I was allowed to let down. I was given the grace to be, to be loved in the midst of the crap, and to be assured, that no matter what, we’ll get through. It’s going to be okay. Blue skies ahead. (Maybe teeny tiny bits of blue sky far far ahead, but blue skies ahead, nonetheless.)
And it is. Going to be okay, that is.
Because I know, that life is full of the crazy roller coaster ups and downs and with our large family and some of the residual effects of destructive patterns that take a toll, well, there’s always going to be a lot of “stuff” to deal with. But the cool thing is, in the midst of it all, there are so very many things to be incredibly thankful for. So on this “Thankful Thursday”, here are a few from the past week:
I’m thankful for the beauty these eyes had seen as I drove up to the mountains (when the car was actually drivable, pre-breakdown!) There’s nothing like being in the mountains in the Fall with the brilliant colors. I’m also thankful for the truth that even though it seems like it’s been ages since we’ve seen blue sky…it hasn’t been as long as it feels. In fact, I have absolute proof that there were very blue skies exactly 7 days ago when I went to get my daughter in Boone. This photo was pre-breakdown. Would you just look at that blue sky? Now, that’s a blue sky! Beautiful, and only a short week ago. Sometimes my perception is so off. Waiting for blue sky is a lot easier when we choose to keep perspective, knowing that feelings aren’t necessary reality.
Birthdays of my 4th and 5th children, Chase and Hope, and time to celebrate them as a family. Thankfulness that on their birthdays, these college students wanted to be with family on the weekend, and when they were home that they said the “it’s so good to be home, mom” words. They didn’t just think it. They said it. And my heart was so encouraged. Yep, it was so good to have them home. Yes, am so thankful for family, for memories of the precious kids they were and the young adults they are.
For memories. I’m thankful for parents who came when the car broke down and we really needed a lift for an hour leg of the journey from where the car broke down to home. And I’m thankful for the time spent in the car. I’m thankful for the second leg of the journey driven by my son who had just driven 6 hours from the coast and then didn’t hesitate to go an hour more. “No problem, mom,” he says. Yeah. Lots to be thankful for. And then, to hear the loud laughter in the car as we shared stories in the car of when they were little. It was the kind of laughter that makes your stomach hurt and your eyes water. Yeah, the beauty of the time together just laughing and listening to music,…you can’t beat that. I’m thankful for more memories that came as I looked through photos. I’m so incredibly thankful for the joys and aches of being a mom. It’s made me cling to my bit of blue more than just about anything else in my life. Here’s one of the frames of photos I found. These are the first four of our six gifts… Precious, precious gifts…
I’m thankful for phone calls from abroad and for struggles and honesty and solutions sought. I’m thankful for growing pains and for impact, incredible impact that comes with vulnerability. But sometimes it just feels vulnerable. I’m thankful for prayer and that we can cast our cares on Jesus for he cares for us. I”m thankful He is present with my children when I am not. He leads. I know He knows what He’s doing. I’m trusting Him with the ones I love the most.
I’m thankful for lasagne prepared by precious hands of a mother who knows about all the details of caring for a family. I’m thankful that my mom’s lasagne is the best ever, and that she shared it with our family on this birthday weekend. I’m thankful that we could eat and enjoy and that her time spent preparing gave me time to spend with my family instead of preparing dinner.
I’m thankful for memories of friendships shared, encouraging words of friends, laughter, and scripture that shouts to the mountaintops of hope. I’m thankful for creative outlets and song and words that come out and somehow bring clarity of heart and mind and healing at the same time. I’m thankful for that moment in the car tonight when I was allowed to be vulnerable and loved and given grace, and I’m so thankful that God so calls us to be his children—reliant, dependent, and LOVED. You know, when my kids came home and wanted to be home, well, it just felt so good…to them and to me. I think that’s such a visual of who God is to us. He wants to be our Home, our safe place, our respite, in the here and now. And the eternal Heaven that we speak of? It’s so not about clouds and harps and angels’ wings. It’s about being in His Presence, the Lord of all. It’s about being accepted as we are because of who He is. Yes, He wants to be our Home every day. It’s not about a place, it’s about His Presence. Yes, that’s an amazing thing to be thankful for.
I”m thankful for truth and the word of God, and hope, hope that looks like a bit of blue in a sea of gray. I’m thankful that there always is hope no matter what, not because of me, but because of who God is. I’m thankful that God gives us gentle reminders of His presence, and opportunities to allow us to press in to Him, to know our need, to let down when we’re always having to gear up. I’m thankful for the “out of the blue” text from a cousin and the precious reminder to “keep chopping”, a phrase that our grandfather always used to say that I probably hadn’t heard in 15 years. Keep chopping. Keep pressing on. Keep your eyes on that bit of blue. That bit of blue? That hope in the distance? In Christ, it is a reality. The blue is the end of the story, the clouds are the here and now. The blue is the eternal glory, the light at the end of the tunnel, the finish line to the race. So endurance and perseverance and tenacious holding on to hope is sometimes necessary. But, that bit of blue is worth it. It is so incredibly worth it.
Keeping my eyes on the bit of blue. Hope you are, too, friend.
P. S. It’s not an exaggeration to say I’ve listened to this song at least 30 times today. If you have a few minutes to listen, it’s worth it. (Natalie Grant, King of the World)
“So we do not lose heart. Though our outer self is wasting away, our inner self is being renewed day by day. For this light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison, as we look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen. For the things that are seen are transient, but the things that are unseen are eternal.”
2 Corinthians 4:16-18