Tag Archives: gratitude

A Lot of Faith, part 1 (we’ve been given a lot)

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“Our faith increases when we’re in enough pain, we learn enough, or we’re given enough.” Bishop Chuck Murphy (paraphrased from 20 years ago)

Our lot, the one we closed on today, overlooks a creek, as well as houses, inns, and a church on the oldest part of Pawleys Island (Pawleys for short). We can take a boat from our neighborhood to secluded islands and walk to one of the island’s finest restaurants. The strip of prime property, the one we can see from where we’re building, is in between the marsh and the ocean. Our view is a little sand and a lot of wetland.

There is affluence mixed with old, original architecture that islanders call “shabby.” Sometimes structures get upgraded and sometimes not. No one seems to mind because it’s a given the property is valuable.

Making the island our home has been a hope of my husband’s and mine for more than 20 years. We set up an appointment that many years ago to look at a house for sale in Pawleys. The following day, the owners took it off the market. We did the same with our dream. We figured it was a sign about whether we deserved to live in Pawleys or not.

We didn’t.

Since then, we haven’t thought much about moving unless we’re down that way and riding around. When that happens, one of us mentions the imaginary line in the road, that place that when we drive beyond it, we get quiet and take a deep breath. Past that line, life feels more relaxed and free. Plus, our grandkids are closer, so life is more fun in that direction.

IMG_7953 Not a geographic cure, for sure. Nowhere could fix us. We’ve had to do the hard work right here at home, most of which I’ve blogged about. Even though we know Pawleys isn’t our be all and end all, for us the place is special. It’s symbolic of something we can’t even name yet.

So, when my husband John convinced me a couple of years ago to sign up for a membership at one of the island’s highlights, Brookgreen Gardens, our decision rekindled a longing we’d dismissed – we longed to live in Pawleys.

The same thing happened when I stumbled onto a photo on Facebook of a stunning church on the island that we joined this year – we longed to live in Pawleys.

And then again recently when we made an offer before selling our house and on a lot that wasn’t for sale (a story for another blog post) – a lot with a dock, a view, and a breeze – we longed to live in Pawleys.

We rethought deserving it. Feeling undeserving is a habit, though I don’t think a holy one. Nor a faithful one.

I’m still not convinced I’m worthy. In fact, I’m overwhelmed by the bigness of our decision and overwhelmed by God’s graciousness to let us have it. Overwhelmed by His faithfulness to bring good from a “loss of faith” season. Overwhelmed John and I made it this far and intact, much less together in a place we’ve longed to live.

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But mostly, I’m …

Overwhelmed by gratitude. I’m very grateful. Tears streaming down my face grateful. On my knees grateful. “Why us?”grateful.

Grateful for restored faith.

Grateful.

How much faith does it take to hang onto a dream? To make it happen? A mustard seed or less – I do believe I had less.

What dream are you waiting for? I hope you won’t give up. Ask often and expect a lot.

In This Together,
Kim

Photo #1 is of our view of the creek from the lot.
Photo #2 is our lot.

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A Quiet Miracle (one I almost talked through)

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“A time to tear apart and a time to sew together; A time to be silent and a time to speak.” Ecclesiastes 3:7 #WhileLovingthePeopleInIt

Although I wouldn’t call this a typical Thanksgiving post, today, I’m grateful.

For a few weeks now, our family’s been going through growing pains, which makes me feel crazy because, even when I don’t know what to do, I believe God needs my help.

I can’t get out of the way. I can’t shut up.

When I say, “I can’t,” it’s not that I won’t. I mean I can’t. I’ve made up my mind and tried dozens of times before. Too many frightening images pop up like the time I got out of the way and shut up with Mom and Dad, and we spoke to each other only three or four more times before Dad died.

I can’t shut up.

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I’m terrified of quiet. I mean, I’m an introvert, so I love it when I’m alone and peaceful and there is no noise. But if there’s something that needs fixing, I can’t keep quiet about it.

Last week, while I sat in the wrong parking lot that I accidentally pulled into, I talked to my daughter about feeling crazy, which is even more scary for me right before the holidays. We’ll all be together and I’ll talk, especially in the middle of growing pains.

“I don’t know why I’m telling you this story, but what you’re going through right now reminds me of what you and I went through after Claire was born. It wasn’t until you got quiet that I recognized my part,” she said.

Wait. What? When I got quiet?

Kelly and I hit a rough spot after our first grandchild arrived three and a half years ago. She and my son-in-law asked me to move in for a week to help. I changed diapers, rocked Claire, stayed up late into the nights, cooked meals, made beds, washed clothes, and cleaned, but I couldn’t do anything quite right. Kelly’s conversations with me were edgy and unpredictable. The atmosphere was tense, and it got worse when I talked with her about it.

I told you, I can’t shut up.

I finally said to my husband John, “I’d rather never see Claire again than set an example for her by allowing this kind of disrespect.”

I meant it. Disregard for women, really, people in general, runs rampant in both of our families. I set out, I think from birth, to put an end to our unhealthy generational patterns, even though clueless about how to do it. In fact, many times I did the opposite of what was right, but I did something. My resolve was never stronger than the first time I held Claire.  

Detaching from Kelly and her family ranks among the hardest choices I’ve ever made. I stepped away for about three months from grandparenting. Kelly and I talked seldom and I saw Claire even less.

Our break ended with Kelly apologizing. It didn’t happen overnight, but it still seemed she grew up right in front of me. On the phone and crying, and still in the wrong parking lot, I said, “I wondered what I said that helped you recognize your bad attitude and your resentments.”

Nothing.

I took a deep breath on the phone. I’m taking another one now. I cried then. I’m crying now while writing this.

It wasn’t anything I said. It was all the things I stopped saying.

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and she tells me the thing that worked was being quiet.

I couldn’t hear “be quiet” until this moment because of my fear of losing the people I’ve loved most. I still know there are plenty of times I need to speak up, but there have been many more times I’ve needed to shut up, but I could not. I’d shake until I talked.

This week’s been different. I’ve been quiet, which is called a miracle. It’s my Thanksgiving miracle, and I believe God will extend the Grace of it onto my family while I quietly watch.

If you’re in the middle of a mess, please believe with me that a miracle is on its way. God loves surprising us when we least expect it.

Happy Thanksgiving, everyone. I love y’all dearly.

In This Together,
Kim

Here’s a funny side note about when I told Claire, aka Amelia Bedelia, “I love you dearly.” She said, “Mammy, who’s dearly?”

Thanks for the images, Pixabay.com. Wow, I’m even feeling more grateful for your site today. ‘Tis the season for gratefulness …

 

The Gift of Darkness (the bright side of depression)

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“When it is dark enough, you can see the stars.” Ralph Waldo Emerson (Photo by Jeff Watkins Photography)

“When it is dark enough, you can see the stars.” Ralph Waldo Emerson (Photo by Jeff Watkins Photography)

I recently (in the last four years or so) went through the darkest and most painful depression I’ve experienced. I knew a lot about why, but not much about how to stop it. Since very little of the advice helped from friends or from articles and books they suggested, the best I could do was ride the lows until they passed.

I hoped the experience would somehow prove worth it, that I would learn and change and grow, and I did. What I didn’t expect, though, was to feel gratitude except that I was through the worst of it. It wasn’t until I said it out loud to a friend last week that I realized how thankful I am for those dark moments.

My friend talked about her family’s circumstances. She said, “I broke my number one rule. I talked with a family member about a problem that wasn’t mine to discuss.”

Next thing I knew, I was admitting my thankfulness, “That’s one of the reasons I’m grateful for the depression I went through. For the most part, it kept me out of others’ lives and out of their business.”

Since I said “… one of the reasons,” I’m guessing I have more, but, for now, I’m happy to identify one. Who knew darkness would be a backdrop for gratitude?

My third grade teacher may have known a thing or two about it when she showed us how to melt crayon shavings in between wax paper. The most memorable artwork for me was when we melted black crayons on top of the colored ones and then etched scenes with our pencils – memorable because we made sense out of what had been abstract and dark. I etched a sidewalk up to a bright house and a colorful tree.

Have you found gratitude, or at least a bit of brightness, in your darkest moments? I’d like to hear your stories.

WRite wHere I’m supposed to be – Dear God, I’m sure it saddens you when we live in dark and painful places, even though darkness and pain serve a purpose. Help us etch paths toward gratitude and brightness.

On the side: During this season of family, holiday meals and a gift buying frenzy or two, I’m practicing renewed faith, the faith stated in I Thessalonians 5:18, “In everything give thanks …”

Click here for more photography by Jeff Watkins.

Wrapped in Gratitude, memories of an imperfect dad

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“Gratitude is when memory is stored in the heart and not in the mind.” Lionel Hampton

I stook over a bed strewn with ribbon, tape and wrapping paper when I felt overcome with gratitude for knowing how to wrap gifts.

Dad used to stand for hours during Christmastime over the bed in an extra room upstairs. He’d meticulously wrap every gift, adding matching ribbon and bow. He also wrapped at our family’s dress shop during the holiday season.

I watched him tape the gift so it wouldn’t shift about, fold the edges of paper to align both sides exactly (there are two ways to do this), tie a ribbon around the package, and make many of the bows by hand even though we had a bow-making machine.

It’s not the first time I’ve felt this sort of gratitude for my father.

However, it may be the first time I’ve felt appreciation alongside opposing thoughts … too many holidays filled with anger and pain.

For years, unpleasant feelings tangled up our lives sort of like a string of Christmas lights just retrieved from the attic. Do you ever wonder how they get in such a mess just lying there throughout the year?

Today’s post is about assessments and awakenings, about this year’s Christmas and Christmases past.

Today’s post, wrapped neatly in Christmas paper and a matching bow just like Dad’s, is about gratitude in the midst of imperfection.

This day I’m entertained by all Dad gave, like the cartoonish boat captain figurine that looks happy in our living room and baseball-sized earrings he spray painted gold as a gift when I pierced my ears – instead of being bothered by what I think I missed in our relationship.

This day I’m enthusiastic about the creativity he passed down to me and to his grandkids, our inherited love of home improvement stores, and the renovation tips my husband and I learned from him – instead of low-spirited about his bad habits I made my own.

This day I’m indebted that not only can I wrap an attractive gift, but I can tuck the top bed sheet tight enough for military inspection, mow and edge a yard like a landscaper and, if I want to, scrub a bathroom with Comet till it’s sparkling clean. Just like Dad.

I’d love to hear your season’s gratitude list.

WRite wHere I’m supposed to be – This Christmas, my memories are wrapped in gratitude. I hope yours are also.