My head is all over the place. One minute I'm in world-beating mode, full of I-can-do-this! and nothing's-going-to-stop-me! and the next I'm full of it's-not-happening and why-bother? Tigger to Eeyore in a matter of moments. And all this takes place while sitting in front of my computer with my fingers on the keys. To a casual observer, nothing is taking place at all, other than I'm intermittently chewing the skin down the side of my right ring finger and I keep shooting glances towards the kettle.
Isn't it strange that my brain does this to me? I have conversations with myself without ever saying a word. The voices in my head are not always my friend; sometimes I wonder if they're me at all. I need to sweep them all out and fill the vacuum quickly with you.
That's what I shall do. Where to start? Well, since you are who you are; since you are God, Lord of my life and you've given me so much, saying thankyou might be a good place. It's not really so bad, being me, you know. Yes, really.
Right now, right here, things for which I'm thankful.
Thankyou, my ever-generous Friend, for:
- ...being here right now. Right here.
- ...toast. Nice thick seedy bread with butter.
- ...the last few bright yellow leaves on the apple trees as we slide into Winter
- ...fluffy slippers.
- ...my kitchen table. Right now it has on it: a small pile of coins (Katy emptied her moneybox to see how wealthy she was), a stuffed monkey (Elizabeth's) and a stuffed dachshund (Kate's), spelling sheets from school, a mugful of pens, a basket of colouring books, notebooks and craft items, a small bag of marbles, a pair of swimming goggles, and a small glass heart.
This tells me so much. The first thing it says is that the place needs tidying, and that, sadly, is the voice that often shouts loudest. Not loudly enough for me to do much about it, granted, but I don't like mess. The sort of disarray caused by children often grates on my nerves, and I know this is not good. But if I stop and look properly while I drink my coffee there's more to see.
Katy has a moneybox with coins in it. She is five years old. A five year old has enough money to buy a paperback book, or a big bagful of sweets, or enough food to feed a family of six in a place like Chad for two months. That needs some thinking about.
Lizzie and Katy have roomfuls of stuffed toys. They cuddle them and play games with them, give them names and personalities and take them on adventures. My two girls are warm and loving and imaginative and energetic and full of ideas.
The spelling sheets (one filled in, one not so filled in) tell me that they go to school, that they're making progress and they have good brains and they enjoy learning.
Colouring books and pens and notebooks remind me that we are all made to create. There's a half-coloured picture in the book that's mine; I like to sit with the girls and colour things in. The only problem is that I come over all perfectionist about it and when Katy decides that she wants to help me on my picture rather than persevere with hers I become a bit too protective... oh dear...
Both girls love to write. They like to write little messages to each other and to me and Daddy and they are the most precious things to me. They both have little bags on the door handles outside their rooms with signs that say, 'Letters for Lizzie/Katy' and an arrow. I put notes and little special things in the bags last thing at night. In the morning they check their mail and reply with their own little bit of love (usually delivered by a small girl landing on my chest at the crack of dawn).
We communicate. Thankyou for that.
Last night Elizabeth arrived in my room after bedtime with a poem that she'd written. It was an acrostic. Down the side it had four letters: L O V E.
Love you Mummy
Over the hills the sun rises
Very bright the sky is!
East, west, north and south it shines and I think of you MUMMY!
I will keep that little note all my life.
Marbles. Kids don't change, do they? Children have always given their teddies names and they still do. They still play imagination games, and I'm so glad they do. Who says they need all the computer games and electronic toys? They're nice, but I am so, so happy that my girls can play with a bag of marbles. Even if they do quite often play with them on the stairs. Hmm.
They both love swimming, and now that Katy can sort of swim underwater a bit, if the wind is in the right direction, with much encouragement, she's graduated to a pair of goggles. This has caused much excitement. They're bright pink and new and she's so proud that she wears them much of the time, especially in the bath. Thankyou God that they're healthy enough to swim, that we are in a position to take them to a pool and that they can learn in a safe and encouraging environment. We take so much for granted.
A small glass heart. Oh, Father God. I love my daughters and they love me. I am blessed beyond measure, even when they're loud and squabbling and doing all those nerve-shredding things that children do. What more can I say?
So, pushing on... thankyou for:
- ...my two beautiful girls who trotted off to school happy this morning
- ...lunch out with Mum - going in a bit. Bit of shopping and a bit of cafe-time.
- ...my husband and technical advisor who talked me through setting up the wifi again after a powercut in the night.
- ...absolute quiet. Right now even the fridge isn't humming. (Why isn't the fridge humming?)
- ...waking up with the words from the song, 'Blessing and honour, glory and power be unto the Ancient of Days' in my head.
- ...waking up at all. I get another new day. No guarantees.
- ...nice coffee in a nice mug
- ...a pheasant in a field in the Derbyshire countryside even on a murky day like today.
- ...your Word. This morning I found this:
Thankyou for the reminder. You do so much for me and so much goes unnoticed. So often the things I do notice I don't thank you for.'Bless the Lord, O my soul and all that is within me,bless his holy name.Bless the Lord, O my soul, and do not forget his benefits.Who forgives all your iniquity,who heals your diseases,who redeems your life from the pit,who crowns you with steadfast love and mercy,who satisfies you with good as long as you liveso that your youth is renewed like the eagle's.'Psalm 103:1-5
Bless you, Lord.
I'm just getting into Dietrich Bonhoeffer. Today I read this on the subject of thanksgiving and it shot straight to whichever bit of my early morning brain that can process Things Of Note.
'We pray for the big things and forget to give thanks for the small (and yet not really so small) gifts we receive daily. How can God entrust great things to those who will not gratefully receive the little things from God's hand?'*
Yes. I am so often asking for the big. The dramatic. The breakthrough/turnaround moments, aren't I? I am always champing at the bit, wanting to move, to go somewhere. I say I want to be in your will but then I tell you what I think that will should be.
Can I do it? Nope. But you can. If you want to.
So I'm leaving it with you. Maybe when I petition you over and over to know the next thing, to find out where I'm going and maybe get there a bit quicker you're telling me not to worry about the next thing, why not focus on this one? This moment right now.
Now, where were we?
- ...for pinecones.
- ...for a beautiful bunch of green grapes in a green bowl looking all tempting.
- ...for technology like smartphones and texting and mobile internet and social networking and also for OFF buttons and good old fashioned turn-the-pages books.
- ...for the way that you are Almighty God but you bend down tenderly to speak to those who listen.
Lord, I don't want to miss a single thing. I want to see you, and I want to know that what I'm seeing is you. Open my eyes and my ears, Lord.
Give me a heart of thanks that swells with gratitude when I see all that you have done for me, and all that you give to me. Don't let me walk around blind and deaf and missing all this glory.
In the words of Dietrich B, once again:
'Lord, open my eyes so that I might see the giftedness of my life and let my life be a hymn of praise and thanksgiving.'*
Oh yes, Lord God. Yes please.
Thankyou for your L O V E.
(* 40-Day Journey with Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Copyright 2007 Augsburg books, imprint of Augsburg Fortress)