Day Seven: The List

Two years ago, I was not in great place with this house.  I was feeling the squeeze of 1200 square feet with a toddler on the move and an infant who was only getting bigger and more mobile by the month.  The local housing market was in the depths of declining property values and we were having lots of conversations that sounded like this: "I'm so sorry Mrs. Armstrong, but unfortunately based on the type of loan you have, you fall into a small category of the population for which there are no programs or easy answers.  There just isn't anything we can do at this point to help."  Never what you want to hear from the mortgage people, right?  It seemed we were navigating our way through a season of dead ends and closed doors, ever been there?  

That spring I had picked up Ann Voskamp's book "One Thousand Gifts" and I was working my way through it.  I began really examining the heart of her journey, mostly by going through the scriptures she was referencing and spending a good deal of time reading about the Israelites and their exodus out of Egypt, into the deliverance that God had provided for them.  I was struck by how quickly they went from slavery to freedom, in an unbelievably miraculous escape, and yet on the heals of what the Lord had done for them, they were quickly discontented.  Frustrated.  Obstinate.  Ungrateful.  

It's pretty easy to read that narrative and shake your head, wondering how they could question a God who had just sent 7 plagues to free them and had parted the Red Sea for them to pass through unharmed.  What was wrong with them?  As I read their story, I began to see how clearly their story and my story overlap.  The same God who delivered them, has delivered me.  His grace is evident in my life and I see His fingerprints everywhere, including in my home.  But in a moment of frustration and/or denial, I was wondering where He was and if He'd left me too? I decided then to start looking at my home with different eyes.  Instead of focusing on what we didn't have or what we wished we had, I began looking at all that we really did have.  Everything that had been right under my nose but often out of sight...

So, I decided I'd make a list of my own.  I certainly wasn't going to shoot for 1,000 things to be thankful for in this house, at the time I was thinking maybe I could come up with 10?  But I decided to challenge my thinking and I began looking for 100 gifts in our home.  
In the beginning it was slow going, or just simplistic.  Basic things about the floor plan I liked, perks that that drew us here in the first place, etc.
 I was looking for the things right in front of me for awhile, and then I began to look a little deeper.  I started reconciling what this home meant to me and how that factored in to my relationship with the Lord.  Suddenly I could see a little glimpse of the lessons He'd taught me here, or rather the lessons He was still teaching me.  I felt like He was giving me a dose of perspective that helped me remember, this time here and this season He may feel like a never ending trial, but really?  In the course of my life, this is only part of the story and yet, a significant part nonetheless.
 What He has for me here is exactly what I need.  The gift of His grace isn't only at the cross, it's also in the everyday things of life, the things that are meant to point us back to Him.  What He has allowed for us and ordained, even in the details of the home we live in, are pieces to the puzzle.  In the tapestry He is weaving for me, these are the threads that explain who I am and how I've come to know Him and walk with Him.  While I can only see my home for what it is (or isn't) today, He helps me see that what He has planned for me is so much more than drywall and paint.  He's aiming for godliness in me, not just a new address or more square footage.  His dreams for my life are more than I could possibly imagine, not to bring me happiness or fulfillment, but to make the glory of His salvation evident in my life.
It took me no time at all, a few days maybe, to complete that list.  What once felt so daunting and impossible, suddenly filled my heart and mind with a fresh gratitude and appreciation for the many ways I could see God's hand actively guiding my steps.  Stopping to reflect, to ponder and to give thanks was better for me than I could have known.  It really was a game changer in the way I thought of our condo and our situation here.  Rather than wallowing in what it wasn't, suddenly I was so thankful for all that it is.

And now, two years later?  I can still say that list has impacted my heart and mind in countless ways.  I love the common ground I share with many others in similar situations, the humility this has woven in me about our home.  I'm so far from done in that journey, there are still days I struggle and fight my way through the lies or the cycles of defeat.  But God has worked something good in us through this and I wouldn't trade that for anything.

It blesses my heart today to read that last entry on the list, from two years ago, realizing that it's almost exactly the same as the theme I chose for this 31 day journey.

#100. A home that is God's provision for us, His grace poured out to see and feel and give thanks for.  Today.

Yes, and amen...

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