Sunday, September 16, 2012

Ugly Beautiful

It seems to me that one of the greatest challenges in life is to remain content in all circumstances.   If you can get to that place of contentment, you have found the holy grail.

In the Bible, Paul says he "learned in whatever state I am, to be content.  I know how to be abased, and I know how to abound.  Everywhere and in all things I have learned both to be full and to be hungry, both to abound abound and to suffer need."  Phil. 4:11-12

It has been a challenge to remain content and joyful for our family since Oct. 25, 2011.  There have been a few peaks of hope, but mainly just week after week of discontent and discomfort with the lack of movement in our case to bring our boy home.  

I have been reading Ann Voskamp's One Thousand Gifts.  She proposes that it is not only possible to be content in all circumstances, but even joyful.  She is not Mary Poppins.  She is a normal human who has suffered tragic loss and has daily challenges just like you and me.

Her book is about writing down the gifts in your life, literally count the blessings, from one to one thousand.  It's a good practice for everyone, especially those who are having trouble finding their place of contentment and joy.  My family started our list about a month or two ago, and we are on gift #250.  It doesn't take long until you start noticing all the gifts in your life that He has strategically placed around you.

Our gifts are lists of people, things, sights, smells, funny moments, and now we even have an "Ugly Beautiful" list.  Voskamp reveals a few of her "ugly beautiful" gifts in the book and it really stirred me up.  When you start listing those things in your life that drive you crazy or get on your last nerve, and instead praise the Maker for them-----your heart changes.  Instead of complaining about them or feeling guilty that you can't make these ugly beautiful gifts perfect, try being thankful.  I am not Mary Poppins, although I would rather see the cup half full than half empty.  I am a real human with real challenges and flaws and fits of rage from time-to-time, and I'm telling you:  if this changed my perspective, it can change your's.

Here are some of my "ugly beautiful" gifts:

~piles of books on the girls' beds
~laundry 3 inches away from the basket
~hardened toothpaste on the sink and rug and tile
~lights left on in the basement
~crumbs under the table
~full dishwasher
~depleted school lunch accounts
~remnants of petrified food in the van
~noisy mealtime
~stains on shirts
~holes in jeans
~dirt under fingernails
~empty mustard bottle (gotta know Sophie)
~wrinkles around the eyes

The thing I've realized is that these are all signs of life.  If not for life in my house, there would be none of these things.

My girlfriends and I have always said we were going to take a "dirty home" tour of our homes, just so we can all see that none of us lives perfect, tidy lives all the time.  We have to learn that so many of the things we feel guilty about or pressured to change in our lives are the ugly beautiful gifts we have been given.

Our wait for Jude has been an ugly beautiful gift.  To be honest, it has been more ugly than beautiful in our hearts, but I believe there will be beauty in the end.  I don't want the wait to be in vain.  It is not easy to do, but I want to praise God for the wait.  I can't wait until we get to the end of the adoption journey and look back and count the gifts we were given during the wait.  The gifts that wouldn't have been given if we could've just brought him home Day 1.  I pray that he is given gifts he would have otherwise gone without---for his wait.

And, just so you are all aware, only 29 days until the judge looks at his paperwork again.  That's less than one month.  His day is coming.  We are filled up and overflowing with hope.

Looking forward to the gifts I can count once he is home~

And now my life verse:  Habakkuk 3:17-18

Though the fig tree may not blossom,
Nor fruit be on the vines;
Though the labor of the olive may fail,
And the fields yield no food;
Though the flock may be cut off from the fold
And there be no herd in the stalls---
Yet I will rejoice in the Lord,
I will joy in the God of my salvation.