Today is a good day, and not just because it's my birthday. My heart is filled to overflowing for so many reasons, so I decided to sit on this, my new deck.
I know it doesn't seem like much, but it's a small picture of the ridiculous unnecessary extravagance of God's love. The deck was a gift from Rodney and Stacy Kennedy who are raising money for their adoption through the Both Hands foundation. An amazing group of contractors came out and donated their time building this deck and several dozen people helped take care of some lawn care needs I had. It's absolutely the craziest idea ever - to raise money for an adoption by doing work on a widow's house. No one understands it when I explain it to them, so you'll just have to read about it for yourself and hopefully be inspired to donate to the Kennedy's adoption because they're going to be amazing parents.
When you're a single mom and you have to remind your child to put on shoes to go on the deck so he doesn't get a splinter the size of a tent stake or put a hole in his foot from the nails sticking up, you sigh and think, "one day I should do something about this." Or when a friend goes to the emergency room for stitches after mowing your lawn while you're out of town and being nearly decapitated by one of your trees, you think, "huh that needs to be fixed." But life is generally too big to wrap your mind around, so these things go un-fixed since feeding your kid and spending time with him are higher priorities.
But I'm not happy just because I got something new or because people were nice to me. Yesterday I read a little book of collected letters and writings of Brother Lawrence, who lived almost four centuries ago, called The Practice of the Presence of God. Whenever he was confronted with such amazing gifts from God, he would often respond:
It is too much, O Lord! it is too much for me. Give, if it please Thee, these kind favors and consolations to sinners and to the people who do not know Thee in order to attract them to Thy service. As for me, who has the happiness of knowing Thee by faith, I think that must be sufficient. But because I ought not to refuse anything from a hand so rich and generous as Thine, I accept, O my God, the favors Thou givest me. Yet grant, if it please Thee, that after having received them, I may return them, just as Thou givest them to me; for Thou knowest well that it is not Thy gifts that I seekst and desire, but Thyself, and I can be content with nothing less.And some may say, sure, it's easy to say that when blessings overflow and people love you in all sorts of tangible ways. But I remember another 4 am a little over six years ago when Emmett and I bowed our heads and sang the doxology after holding our baby girl while she died. Or another 4 am a little over one year ago where I sang the doxology with family and close friends shortly after Emmett died. And I'm confident that I can say with Job that the Lord gives and the Lord takes away, may his name be praised in both circumstances.
Yesterday I was able to sneak away to the gym for a workout, which is too rare a pleasure in the summer months. I put on my sparkly tutu (long story), started a new music running mix I finally got around to making, and determined to have a good long run (although long for me isn't really all that long for most people). Now I have a tendency when I run to music that makes me happy that I grin like a fool (when I don't want to hurl, that is), and I can't help slightly singing along (although not loudly, I promise, especially since I'm usually wheezing). Usually this isn't a problem because people at the gym have a quirky way of avoiding eye contact and remaining plugged into their iPods at all times. But I happened to look over yesterday at the treadmill next to me and the little old man (precious!) didn't have headphones in. If it had been possible to turn a deeper shade of purple (which it wasn't because I turn all sorts of ghastly colors when I exercise) then I would have. So I just kept smiling like an idiot.
For once, though, I didn't really care about being ridiculous. This is a season of life where I have learned to treasure joy when it comes, knowing that struggle and sin and sorrow are always near enough. It's like learning to enjoy your new deck at 2:30 in the morning because if you went out during the day you would fry like a piece of bacon. I need to learn to open my eyes to the unusual timing of the Lord and, like Brother Lawrence writes, to have a heart sensitive to God's presence in all activities and at all times.
Now it's time to go back to bed and sense God's presence in my sleep, hopefully.