Fanning the Flames of Thankfulness

Jar_Candles_Kelly _Sikkema_@creationswap


““Perhaps it takes a purer faith to praise God for unrealized blessings than for those we once enjoyed or those we enjoy now.””  –
A.W. Tozer

I was first diagnosed with Depression toward the end of 2005.  It was a devastating diagnosis to me.  Not because I was ashamed to be touched by the word “depression”, but because I was shocked to find out that these were words that could possibly ever describe me! Natural born sunny disposition aside, I usually choose to look at things through rose-colored glasses, find the silver lining in every possible situation, and see the best in people.

However, I also consider myself practical, and more of a realist than a dreamer.

So, back in the fall of 2005, when Sweetman and I first received Sweetboy’s Autism diagnosis, I wasn’t completely taken by surprise.

But, you can bet your bippy that I was surprised to hear The Counselor utter the word “Depression”. To describe me! And this, just months after receiving Sweetboy’s diagnosis.

God and I? We were tight at the time.  I wasn’t asking Him “Why?”.  I was begging him to show me how to parent this child He’d decided Sweetman and I could handle.  Because, clearly, I didn’t feel like I could handle this kind of parenting.

As evidenced by my, you know, sitting in the chair facing The Counselor.

Thanks to the encouragement and Godly wisdom that this Christian Counselor poured into me that year, I learned some important things.  Things that carried me through then, and continue to carry me through, even now.

1) “I can do all things through Christ Jesus, who strengthens me.” (Philippians 4:13) Oh, indeed I can.  Maybe not immediately; but, if I am faithful to pray and commit my way, my plans, my hopes to Him, I most certainly can. I am blessed to be called Mama, and some days, I just needed to start the day by crying out in thankfulness for that one thing.  Anything else that I am to take on for the day, I needed (and still need) to remember will be accomplished through Christ. Amen?

2) Take note of the kindling.  Oh, how I must take note of any kindling that’s going on. Kindling is a metaphorical term used to describe those little tiny embers of suffering that can can be fanned into a full-on Five Alarm Fire, if not tended to. In Psychology, it is often used to describe one who is going through nothing big and everything small.  That seemingly endless pile of Everything Small grows until, finally, your body decides it’s had enough and begins to show symptoms of deep stress.

I feel some kindling going on, lately, my friends.  And it could become an arsonists dream, if I don’t get on my knees about it. I need to focus on God. Here. Right here, in the midst of all of this potential kindling.

The LORD himself goes before you and will be with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged.”

(Deuteronomy 31:8)

I can fan the flames of thankfulness by remembering that God is not a Firestarter, but The Fire Quencher. 

“For I will pour out water to quench your thirst
and to irrigate your parched fields.”

(Isaiah 44:3)

I’m resting in the Hope that I have.  Hope that springs to life at the thought of unrealized blessings.  I choose not to fan the flames of death by a thousand cuts, but to fan the flames of a thankful heart, catching fire at the thought of all that there can be or even could be, to be thankful for.

“What am I doing in the meantime, Lord?
Hoping, that’s what I’m doing—hoping”

(Psalm 39:7)

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Serenity Now and Then

Have you ever tried to stuff a sleeping bag back into its original shape and wind those stretchy cords around it, just so?  Does it work out that well for you?  Because it never does for me. And I can tell you one word that most certainly would not describe me at the end of that effort? Serene.

Sometimes, I feel like our life with Sweetboy, this child that has Autism, is just like that.  I know what the “shape” of a typical boy should be.  The rough and tumble, boisterous, full of gusto world that is so often spoken of by parent after parent.  And I just can’t seem to fit those blasted stretchy cords over his atypical person.

And so…

One of the ways that I’m able to get my “Let. It. Go” on is in relation to parenting our Sweetboy. There are these kinds of days:

tumultuous_waves_missindeedy

And then, there are these kinds of days:

Calm_Sea_Missindeedy

And guess what?  I don’t get to choose.  I’m 101% certain that most parents will agree, typical child or special needs child, it doesn’t matter.  There will be moments where that parenting thing? It just will not roll your way, simply because your child is an entirely separate human being from you.  And he or she is going to feel, think, and say things completely other than you would.

Much like we think differently from our Father, who art in heaven. He leaves no room for uncertainty here.  And I am so grateful.

“My thoughts are nothing like your thoughts,” says the LORD. “And my ways are far beyond anything you could imagine.

Isaiah 55:8

And my child, with an Autism Spectrum Disorder?  He teaches me, daily, about reliance.  On God.  And His timing.

“But I trusted in, relied on, and was confident in You, O Lord; I said, You are my God. My times are in Your hands;”

Psalm 31:14-15

I, quite simply, must rely on, and rest in, His ability to control the outcome.  Serenity is so much easier said than done, though.

Because, some days?  Some days when I stumble down the stairs to see All The Hopping, I also see that it’s going to be a day filled to the brim with this:

cardboard_drawer

And I think to myself, “Alrighty then. If that’s how we’re going to roll today, Lord, I’m gonna need some help.  And serenity. Because that wouldn’t hurt either.”

As Karen Ehman so eloquently put it in her book, Let.It.Go.,

“Instead of longing for God to change the trajectory of your life’s story line, look for his face as you practice your faith at each twist and turn along the way.”

Amen to that!  Now, bring on the cardboard. And the serenity, please. Oh, yes indeedy.