My trade and joy

I like markers in time. Birthdays. Anniversaries. Holidays. New year celebrations. And, the older I get, the more I feel each night as I lay down to die daily to my failures and successes and wake each morning to new mercies I am celebrating the beginning of a new, important marker in time.

I don’t make new year’s resolutions, but I do take the holiday from the daily grind to stop and think through what has happened in the past year and to prayerfully look ahead to the days of mercy before me.   In fact I keep a little journal which only write in sometime after Christmas or before the new year.

This year I need to look up.  I needed to look up last year too.  So it begins today and again tomorrow and the day after that, that I’m taking Ann’s challenge to exchange being worn for garment of praise.

It’s the way I’ve felt most of the year.  Worn.  In fact, if my 2012 was a song, it was this song:

I stepped away at the end of that last paragraph to put to bed a boy in trouble and it turned out to be a by far the most thankful, joy-filled moment of 2013 so far!

As I was searching, praying for what to do with this one as I put him to bed- how to make this a “in the nurture and admonition of the Lord,” moment?- I looked up at the bookshelf, at the two nearly-blank journals I had purchased last year to keep for my two boys.  One for each of them.  The thought occurred to me that I should have them join me in my quest for joy this year.   I grabbed them, our most-loved Jesus Storybook Bible marked at the page we left off, a couple of pencils, the brother to the erring boy and headed to his brother’s room.

We sat there on the bed and I explained a little and they eagerly agreed to join me in the challenge to come up with 1,000 thanks in the next year… just 3 a day.  The boy with puffy, tear-worn eyes asked, “Can I write more?”  Isn’t that the way it goes with grace?  When we’re in deep in our own mess we see the goodness of His grace and we can think of many reasons to give thanks.

So I gave them their pencils, some cues if they needed them:  Give thanks for a person, place and thing.

We sat quietly writing our thanks to the Giver of all good things.  And then they asked to read them.  The smiling, freckle-faced boy read his with glee.  Thanking God for his new jacket.  His Aunt who just flew back home today.  And for his family.

Then his freshly disciplined and still hurting from the pain of it brother who had been rapidly writing away said, “I want to read mine.”

With sincere child-like faith he said, “Thank you Lord that I didn’t have to die on the cross because you did…”  He went on, giving thanks for the Lord’s salvation,  the Lord’s moving on his dad’s heart to desire to be closer to family… all in precious, genuine 9 year old words.

My smile was about to burst off my tear-wet face.  There is no greater joy than to hear your children give thanks for the work of Christ!

All week I’ve been hurting, not knowing how to connect with this dear son of mine, feeling like I was loosing the parenting battle.  But tonight, as he read vulnerably his list, closed it and closed his eyes, he sang with me what he wrote at the top of his first thanksgiving journal page: 10,000 Reasons.

So, this year, this day, and tomorrow if it comes, I prayerfully set out to:

1.  plant the thanksgiving-seed of joy in my children and the other precious little ones I’ll get to teach this year
2.  trade in my mourning for the oil of joy, and
3.  press forward in my pilgrimage of a Long Obedience in the Same Direction

To give them beauty for ashes, The oil of joy for mourning, The garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness; That they may be called trees of righteousness, The planting of the LORD, that He may be glorified. – Isaiah 61:3

May this be my song in 2013:


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