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Learning to Praise Again

I learned it while watching my mother’s personality, mental stability, and  physical body be eaten by cancer.

I learned it in the grief and disappointment of my prayers for her healing not having been answered.

I learned it while struggling with an eating disorder, with no sign of “recovery”.

I learned it in Newark while homeless people bombarded our home, we were continually robbed, and the vast needs outweighed the resources we had to give.

I learned it when we lost a child before we got to meet him or her.

I’ve learned this lesson already, haven’t I? …This lesson of praising the Lord in all things…to give thanks in all circumstances…to be content with what I have (Ps.113:1, I Thess.5:18, Heb.13:5)

Here I was, with a wonderful, loving husband, four beautiful, healthy children, a nice home in a safe neighborhood, a smooth pregnancy, but yet sinking into an utterly miserable outlook on my daily life.

As I look back, I see how little thoughts, little lies started to creep in and take root, thus puncturing holes in my once-joyful heart in the Lord.

The hole of comparison…it will drain any contentment to the last drop.

The hole of wanting the product (of perfect, smart, self-sufficient children) without the process (of pouring into their lives and being patient with their growth rate)…it will drain the joy of the moments.

The hole of setting my sights on the to-do list rather than the Doer, thus making the mountains seem far larger than the Mountain-mover…it will drain any trust and rest in my God.

The hole of self-sufficiency and “its all up to me” mentality to get anything done around here…it will drain any dependence upon the Spirit to be at work.

And holes create a vicious cycle…the Lord keeps pouring blessing after blessing into my days, which end up running out the bottom, tainted and unreceived due to discontentment, a complaining spirit, and a begrudging heart. Not to mention angry outburst from Mommy.

My cup does not runneth over, but runneth OUT.

But just as the paralyzed man had to be lowered before Jesus by his friends, I had sweet friend and family, lower this paralyzed-by-a-depressed-spirit-pregnant-mama-of-four  before a gracious Savior.  And He has started his healing work over me. Even though my own sin got me there in the first place. Even though I’d been through this “learning to praise” school on several occasions. already.

The healing work has come through spiritual means… the feeling that this (probably demonic) fog had cleared from my head.

physical means… a five day visit from a faithful friend who washed dishes, read to kids, and babysat so mamma could get out of the house (or take a nap) a few times BY HERSELF, thus restoring some needed physical and emotional vigor.

and mentality means…the reading of the book A Thousand Gifts by Ann Voskamp, which challenged me to start keeping a list of gifts the Lord gives me each day. So now, instead of getting caught in the landslide of chaos which periodically (or every half hour) erupts in our home, I’m clinging to the gifts God gives in the midst of it all, which ultimately leads to clinging to the Hand that gives the gifts.

So here I am, in the school of praise again, not through the life-shattering of Mamma dying when I’m 15, or the seemingly endless abyss of an eating disorder, or in my wedding rings getting stolen, my husband missing bullets in Newark, or unborn babies dying, but I’m here, in the midst of the mundane, those jobs and that work that seems so quickly to be undone, unnoticed, and unappreciated. I’m learning to praise again.  Because His gifts are constant.  He’s the Giver of all gifts good. (James 1:17) And if anything was “broke” in this paralyzed person, it was my eyesight, to SEE His Light all around me.

Some recent gifts: