TGIaF (Thank God It’s almost February)

january

Photo credit to Janet Eastvold (my mom)

It’s been a long gloomy month. I have felt it in my soul. And yes, I know there are reasons. Perfectly rational explanations for this taste of crazy. Depraved of sun. Derailed by hormones. (Is it normal to break into a sweat when it’s double-digits-below-zero?) Seasons aligning in a perfect storm, and it’s no wonder I’ve spent the first month of this year in a weary trance. My pastor describes January as “a fog in a bog” and it’s so very true.

I have an intellectual awareness of a life that’s good. There’s no comparison between this year and last when it come to a family thriving. I should be throwing a party every other day. And yet there have been days this month when negative thoughts have consumed me. These boys I live with are out to destroy me, I’m absolutely sure. Piles of clothes and trails of garbage are secretly hate mail to MOM. And I actually believe it. Poor me.

My spiritual thoughts have likewise been gloomy. Doubts and complaining – and here’s my confession. I’ve even been crabby with God.

And then, a breakthrough. It happened on Tuesday. He came to my rescue. Jesus Himself. In spite of every conceivable reason for Him to ignore me, He showed up and saved me, and just when I needed Him most. There’s no better way to explain it. God had mercy, and He pulled me up out of my despicable funk.

His love is amazing. He used all His best tactics to woo me. Just the right book. A well-written story. A sweet friend and good coffee. A Psalm in the morning. The prayers of His people. Hugs from my family. A whole week being lavished by His grace and His love.

And my soul-sun’s been shining every day since.

Today the sun is ACTUALLY shining, and of course there’s a spring in my step. But I can say this for certain… I’m glad that old sun sat behind clouds until Friday. I’m glad the cheer in my soul was there FIRST from HIM.

I will exalt you, Lord,
for you lifted me out of the depths
and did not let my enemies gloat over me.
Lord my God, I called to you for help,
and you healed me.
You, Lord, brought me up from the realm of the dead;
you spared me from going down to the pit.

Sing the praises of the Lord, you his faithful people;
praise his holy name.
For his anger lasts only a moment,
but his favor lasts a lifetime;
weeping may stay for the night,
but rejoicing comes in the morning.

When I felt secure, I said,
“I will never be shaken.”
Lord, when you favored me,
you made my royal mountain stand firm;
but when you hid your face,
I was dismayed.

To you, Lord, I called;
to the Lord I cried for mercy:
“What is gained if I am silenced,
if I go down to the pit?
Will the dust praise you?
Will it proclaim your faithfulness?
Hear, Lord, and be merciful to me;
Lord, be my help.”

You turned my wailing into dancing;
you removed my sackcloth and clothed me with joy,
that my heart may sing your praises and not be silent.
Lord my God, I will praise you forever.

Psalm 30

Thanks, God, for your rescue.

Rerun

grant-maple

(Archive photo totally unrelated to today’s post.)

I’ve started and stopped at least a half dozen times. Blog posts half written, saved for later, moved to the trash. Occasional moments of inspiration, a few lines hastily written before the flame’s snuffed out. But nothing finished. Nothing worth sharing. It’s a full-fledged case of writer’s block. I blame January.

I now know why Ann Voskamp invites guests to her front porch, and nearly all bloggers post a rerun now and then. So following the example of those wiser than me, I spent a few minutes in the archives this morning, and I found this treasure. Something I’d forgotten all about, and it makes me smile again as I read it today…

 

STOP – from December 10, 2014

I didn’t sleep well last week. I had too much on my mind. Between the adoption and the proposal my brain was spinning day and night, and I couldn’t rest. And then one night, something crazy happened. I had a dream.

I dreamed I received a letter in the mail. It was a certified letter, like the official documents we’ve been receiving for the adoption. The letter was addressed to me, so I opened it, and read. The message was brief:

Sonya L. Anderson has been granted permission to stop thinking.

I am not making this up.

In my dream I knew the letter was a gift from God. He was granting me permission to rest. All night long I savored the message, and I slept. It was glorious.

In the morning I remembered my dream and I laughed out loud. I told Kyle about the dream and he laughed, too. He could use a letter of his own.

God is taking good care of us. He’s got us covered. I know this in my heart, but sometimes my head insists on taking over. I get this desperate urge to have all the answers and to figure everything out. And God says STOP. Permission granted.

My Heavenly Father is so sweet. He knows exactly what I need. He cares about the details. He cares about my rest. I can trust him.

Thanks God, for the letter. I accept.

Resolve

grad-card

I resolve to believe. Four days into this new year and this is where I’ve landed. The one thing that makes sense in this season. Belief.

Let me be clear. This is not the believe of Christmas magic, the leftover word in the clearance aisles of discount stores. The BELIEF I choose anchors a soul and steadies a life when life is chaotic and full of unknowns.

Be still and know that I am God. This, too, has become a pithy saying for wall décor. Without context when context is everything.

God is our refuge and strength,
an ever-present help in trouble.
Therefore we will not fear, though the earth give way
and the mountains fall into the heart of the sea, though its waters roar and foam
and the mountains quake with their surging. Psalm 46:1-3

 And it’s in the midst of all this pandemonium He gives this command. Be still (v.10).

 I resolve to believe.

There are enough unknowns for the Anderson family in 2017 to be outright laughable. Three boys graduating and no real decisions about what comes next. Maybe Nils is closest, having narrowed down his college options to two universities – both Midwest. Both schools big enough to overwhelm a kid moving out of the Christian bubble. And sure, his older brother did just fine, but there’s no guarantee.

I resolve to believe.

Felipe’s only been here in the country for exactly two years. His progress encouraging. And yet this boy is all wild dreams and paralyzing fear, and who can blame him? He could study with the best but most days would rather choose the couch where life is safe and easy. Can I resolve to belief on behalf of another?

Even Luke is uncertain. Already finishing at the university with plans for seminary, but when and where remains to be seen. No idea what the next year holds. And this is the landscape of this family’s new year.

Two days into the new year Kyle and I sat at a Caribou Coffee planning our own journey into the unknown. A book project in the making with no experience and no clue what we’re doing. Later it was Luke asking about our meeting and I said just this. It feels like an Abraham journey. Stepping out blindly into the unknown.

 Do you think maybe He could give us just a little more clarity for the next leg of this journey?

Even so, this remains my resolution. I choose belief.

Looking back and moving forward. This was the text from Luke’s graduation announcement I ran across while organizing photos on New Year’s Eve. My sister added scripture to the photo she’d taken: I will remember the deeds of the LORD…

Yes, remember. It’s what we’ve been doing all season long. The month of December, over and over. Remembering where we’ve been and how far we’ve come. So much progress since our last Christmas, and what a difference a year can make.

He is good and He is faithful. I remember. And I resolve to believe.