Balls & Beds

Catching my eye as I passed our Tree of Gratitude, a leaf etched with B A L L S. Balls. I giggle and ask the youngest about that one.

By far the most prolific appreciator of our Tree, she responds, “You know, play balls, soccer balls, footballs.”

Expressing thankfulnesses in construction paper leaves. So easy and neat and clean and Pinterest worthy.

But as I sit down to fill out my own leaves, uncertainty sinks in.

Am I truly grateful? If gratitude is more than a feeling, then something more is required.

Gratitude and ungratefulness coexisting. Oil and water, seemingly at odds, sloshing about and filling in the cracks.

What am I thankful for? Intrinsically, everything. Breath inhaled, life, warmth. Family, love, encircling. Shelter, home, sustenance. My daily bread. Jesus, grace, mercy. Breath exhaled, rest.

What am I not thankful for? Conversely, everything else. Am I less grateful when I cannot feel joy? When I crave something more? Does my uncertainty negate all I have been given?

 

The hubs talked to the Christmas family we’re sponsoring with his work team. He told me the dad asked him if they were going to be able to get a bed. A bed. These parents have been sleeping on their apartment floor in sleeping bags. Their children, on an old couch.

And suddenly, even little things seem too much. My gratitude for a working dishwasher, a hot cup of coffee, seem trivial. I don’t deserve any of it.

We love to argue just how deserving we are. We worked hard for the things we have. We are. We have. We deserve each and every one. Gold stars awarded, pats on the back given. Leaves on our Tree of Gratitude.

 

Walking down the street, Jesus saw a man blind from birth. His disciples asked, “Rabbi, who sinned: this man or his parents, causing him to be born blind?”

Jesus said, “You’re asking the wrong question. You’re looking for someone to blame. There is no such cause-effect here. Look instead for what God can do. We need to be energetically at work for the One who sent me here, working while the sun shines. When night falls, the workday is over. For as long as I am in the world, there is plenty of light. I am the world’s Light.” John 9:1-5

While the sun shines, the leaves may wither, but the One who sent me is at work.

And so instead of looking within for thankfulness, I look gratefully to what God can do through me.

There is no reason my neighbors should sleep on the floor, and if you agree, I humbly ask for your help. Partner with us on giving this family some beds. A place to rest their weary heads and hold their bodies up off the floor.

We’ve set up a GoFundMe if you’d like to donate.

And in doing so, may they feel the love and light of the One who sends us.

Thankful for the Fleas

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Disclaimer: After reading this you might never want to come over. I hope that’s not the case, but guests, you have been warned.

As someone who has extremely sensitive skin and is randomly allergic to everything, it’s not rare for me to have hives or some other general malaise as a result of something I ate or a new beauty product I’ve tried. (By now, I should just know better.)

So, when I woke up with a few itchy bumps, I think, no big deal. A few more show up, and I’m wondering about that new body wash. (At this point, I should tell you that I am also a recovering hypochondriac (well, mostly recovered).) So, perfectly in-character, my next reaction is to jump to the worst possible conclusion. We MUST have either bed bugs (the horror) or fleas (egads, no)!

So, instead of waiting a few days, nixing the body wash, and continuing with my day like a normal human, what happens? Full scale eradication. Mind you, we have still not spotted a single bed bug or flea, (but methinks they are really, REALLY good at the whole undercover thing). Entire house on lockdown. Laundry hot washed and sealed. Every surface vacuumed. Dog medicated, bathed, and thoroughly combed. Google, my new best friend/worst enemy, assures me that the (still sight unseen) pestilence are busy working their way into the baseboards where they are multiplying at a rate that would make bunnies blush.

Y’all. The struggle is real.

And in the midst of comparing my little itchy bumps to the horrifically graphic images on the inter webs, I remember the story of Corrie Ten Boom, her sister Betsie, and the fleas. In her book, The Hiding Place, Corrie recounts their family’s role in hiding Jews during WWII and their subsequent imprisonment in a Nazi Concentration Camp. Their barracks, overrun by fleas was a constant source of aggravation, but Betsie urges Corrie to remember the instructions in 1 Thessalonians, “Rejoice always, pray constantly, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus” (5:16-18).

Corrie, at first, refuses to be thankful for fleas. But later, it becomes apparent that the guards never enter their barracks because of the fleas. This allows the sisters unprecedented freedom in holding church services and sharing the gospel with over 400 other inmates.

So as we begin this month of thankfulness, the girls and I spent our morning meeting by reading the excerpt from The Hiding Place. I urged the girls to think of the fleas in their own lives: Where have you faced frustration or pain; where did you struggle? How did God use that in the end? 

In my life, real or simply perceived, I must thank God for the fleas, for they draw me closer to Him. And as we created our Tree of Gratitude, the leaf containing one word, FLEAS, was placed at the top.