Wednesday, February 23, 2011
I can't recommend it enough. Next to the Bible it is definitely one of the top 5 life-changing books I have ever read. Every chapter captivates and teaches. There is so much to unpack that I could read this book every year for the rest of my life and still learn from it. Even if you don't have a lot of money, I'd encourage you to eat some Ramen and rice and beans a couple of extra times this week and use your grocery money to buy it. You won't regret it. Hundreds of women around the world are reading it right now and finding their lives transformed by it.
In the book, Ann talks about "hard eucharisteo." Eucharisteo is thanksgiving. As we learn to see God in everything, we give thanks. But what about the hard eucharisteo? Giving thanks in trials, big and small?
Sometimes I think I don't have a right to think my life is hard. After all, some folks have far greater trials looming. A child with cancer. A baby who died of SIDS. A shattered marriage and life. Poverty in the third world. An adult child's rejection of God. Memories of horrific abuse. The pain of infertility. A frightening diagnosis.
But as my cousin reminded me, the fact that other people have harder problems doesn't negate the fact that I hurt and struggle. My life may not be as hard as it possibly can be, but that doesn't mean I don't cry out for grace in the moments that stretch me and fill me with frustration.
The past year has been unbelievably hard for me. Wondering where we would live, going through 4 months of constant nausea, losing my Grandma, seeing our town flood, buying our first home and fixing it up and the endless work and lack of family time involved in that, moving while caring for 3 children and carrying a baby, having placenta previa, going through chicken pox, 3 stomach flus, my longest labor yet, a newborn, and the busy holidays, having tons of company, and dealing with the continual exhaustion of having many small children.
The past two months have been especially hard. Just when I think that next week will be easier and soon I will be able to breathe again, we get hit again. And again. And again. And again. A newborn baby's demands, sickness, holiday events, in-laws coming, Christmas activity, sorrow over friends with dying marriages, excruciating neck pain, the false accusation of a loved one, fueding in the church, working through disappointments and disagreements in our marriage, watching my parents' struggle to help keep her job and ministry (the Christian school) alive as some would seek to close it, misunderstandings, job insecurities, weeks of multiple night-wakings with baby, fighting amongst believers, a car accident where my husband wrecked the front of my mom's car (every Son-in-Law's nightmare, right?), illness and a trip to the ER with our baby.
As I've been reading about hard eucharisteo I'm struggling to put it into practice. It's easy to fill my list and count my blessings when the sun is shining and there is a chocolate dessert in front of me, but what about when I've begged God in desperation for sleep only to hear garbled wails for the tenth time in a few hours? What about in the little annoyances that make you want to scream, like getting poop all over your hand as you change a toddler's diaper when you are a germ fanatic, and finding out your daughter stole a bunch of computer paper only to spill a whole bottle of Elmer's glue all over it and waste it all and create a huge mess? What about when four kids are crying, a friend writes a nasty facebook status about you for no good reason, and the fighting seems to never stop and sleep seems like it will never come and you have too much to do, and the house feels like a disaster zone when you've spent hours trying to make it clean day after day after day?
It's in the slowing down to try to see, it's in the humbling of myself and the opening of my hand to receive His grace when I begin to see eucharisteo in the hard places. He's working. He's teaching me. He's showing me His love.
Medical treatment for my baby.
A baby who's living and breathing.
Wet wipes and soap to clean the filth.
A stronger bond than ever before when we've worked it through.
A gracious Mom.
A Dave Ramsey-inspired emergency fund to cover the repairs.
A child's creativity.
A husband's un-asked-for neck massages.
Healing from neck pain, even without a chiropractic visit.
Dad, whose compliments were rare growing up, calling me brilliant in front of tons of people.
A friends' apology.
Building character from the bricks of criticism.
A renewed belief in the sacredness of marriage.
Knowing I need God's grace to make it through the day.
A greater desire to meet with Him each morning.
New starts in relationships that have been strained.
The miracle of making it through a weekend on just a few hours of sleep.
The opportunity to train my children in godliness.
Needing to step out in faith.
Seeing God provide.
Learning to trust.
Empathy for friends going through trials.
Vitamins, coffee, hot chocolate and orange juice for the extra energy they give on a lagging day.
Chubby baby thighs, cheeks, and elbows.
Baby's wildly kicking her doctor in exuberance.
Dear friends asking if they can come stay with us when they visit.
A belated baby gift: dinner from Dominos!
Seeing her become a Daddy's girl.
The last moments I'll have to nurse a 3 month old.
A tiny girl sucking her thumb and grabbing her nose with the other fingers.
Hearing her little voice try to coo in spite of her rasping, mucus-lined throat.
The warm, hours-long hug of a strong husband when you are spent and just need someone to hold you through the night.
Having a home to share with traveling missionaries.
The kind words of a sweet mother-in-law.
An answering machine message from our little girl who called from AWANA on my friends' cell phone to tell me she lost her first tooth.
The days ticking down until we see our tiny nephew's new face. (He's due in April and even if he lives half-way across the world we can't wait to see pics!)
Knowing He has been and will continue to be with us through it all.