|tyler brushing off his sister's car this morning.|
but guess what? i'm leaving. yep, speaking of songs..."i'm leaving on a jet plane..." wednesday, to celebrate that first day of spring, i'm heading to atlanta. okay, here's what that really feels like: I'M HEADING TO ATLANTA!!! it is my first trip home since we moved to minnesota last summer...and i really don't even know how to process it all. if you happen to be on delta flight 2013 wednesday afternoon, i'll be the slightly translucent woman potentially weeping in seat 7A. i mean, i'll try not to be quite so demonstrative in my madness, but i am pretty sure it will be a little uncontrollable at that point.
i am heading back south, not really as a spring celebration, but to attend the perimeter women's retreat. there are so many things about that which just seem to add fuel to the fire of my emotions. i'll be there with a large group of some of my very dearest friends. keep in mind i haven't seen them since our good-bye party last july. that alone is ridiculously emotional for me. plus, we'll all be away together -- no children or husbands or household chores to distract us. no carpools to pick up or laundry to sort or meals to prepare. i'm telling you, this just may be too much for one woman--this woman-- to handle all at once.
in addition, the retreat will have over 650 women in attendance. many, many of these gals are friends. i was emcee of the last retreat, so, because i was up front so much, i have a connection with a lot of these women. serving in that position allowed me to meet so many new, great ladies. and because i am a relational person who likes to connect and communicate, you can just imagine what i'll be walking into -- a nonstop girl talk fest.
and then to add to all the madness, there's my job. i am going back to attend the retreat, but i've also been assigned a little role while i am there. that's what happens when your best friends chair the event. i get to "take care of" our main speaker. and would you like to know who that just happens to be: ann voskamp. yep, best selling author, amazing writer, homeschooling-mother to six, wife to a farmer... THAT ann voskamp. many of you have heard of her or have read her book, one thousand gifts. i have mentioned it a time or two in my own blog because it truly had an incredible impact on my life at a critical time. you see, it was her book i was reading the month before my cancer diagnosis in 2011. i was reading her words and making my daily list of blessings when the doctor called and whispered the word cancer across the phone line. what does a cancer diagnosis do to the counting of blessings? when you feel like you can't count clearly or see easily or even breath...how can you go on carefully listing the blessings in life? well, that was a big part of my story two springs ago. i wrote a blog post called breathing. seeing. counting. it tells a little bit about how i was able to begin listing again. you can click on the link or read this small excerpt from that post:
i started my list on march 22. i have to say, it was going quite well for me. i was kind of proud of my ambitious hunting. even kind of proud of myself. i took great delight in the way it was coming along, all the while enjoying the challenge and encouraging others. i was writing easily. deliberately. vehemently. and then on april 19th i heard the word cancer. cancer brought quite a bit in my household to a halt. i mean we all kind of Just Stopped. we couldn't progress any further in anything, it seemed. not in our laundry or lunch dates or laughter or even in our lists. we were stuck. i was stuck. stuck right there under the frightening and forceful thumb of cancer and no wiggling or will was allowing us breath or escape. at least not for while. that is how it felt. i had stacks of things on my desk...piles of things in my life to address. a long list of items carefully written under the title To Do. but there was nothing To Do and nothing got done. and when i looked at my pretty blue journal sitting neglected on my counter, it made me want to weep. i finally placed it in a drawer. i could stand it not one minute more. i had fallen under the crush of cancer and there seemed to be no possibility for the recording of blessing.
and two years later, cancer under control and now living in minnesota, i can say that the daily listing of blessings is still a powerful practice. i don't want to compare minnesota to cancer (lol), but i am still in constant need of finding the treasures God gives each day --the simple things to say thanks over. this is graceful living. this is living in gratitude. and is there any other kind of living?
even today, even in the midst of this snowy monday, there is so much for which to give thanks. yes, it is true i did have to walk out of the nail salon and through deep snow this morning in flip flops, but even in that there is rejoicing: my winterized feet have a spring pedicure...and I AM HEADING TO ATLANTA in two days. come on! you know what i'm talking about. i could go on and on (and sometimes i do) about the fact that in this first week of spring we are buried in snow, but if i look, if i really look, if i really train my heart and my eyes to truly see, i can find the blessings. the snow may be unwelcome on march 18th, but it is still beautiful to see. and i know underneath it all there will be a gorgeous summer up here in minnesota. i can look at the picture of emily's car in the snow this morning, and i can choose to see a march snowstorm, or i can choose to see her brother kindly brushing off his sister's buried vehicle. it's a choice, after all. it's always a choice. yes, i had a brutal, snowy flip flop walk earlier today, but, i had a warm car to climb into, i had a home to go back to, i have children who need me and a husband who loves me. i have a starbucks drive-thru not too far away. i have journeyed through some cancer, yet can still claim good health. i have a loving God who forgives me my grumbling and loves me through the ungraceful moments of my living.
if you don't have a blue or brown or yellow journal, go get one. whether you live in the madness of snowy minnesota or the sometimes sunny-ness of the south, start listing. start counting. begin breathing the blessings.
“The practice of giving thanks...eucharisteo...this is the way we practice the presence of God, stay present to His presence, and it is always a practice of the eyes. We don't have to change what we see. Only the way we see.”
― Ann Voskamp