I happened to be at the bookstore with my son when I read chapter 8. I kept stopping every page or two just to let it all sink in. No, to let it squeeze my forehead and pinch my synapses and crush my heart and then put it back together again. This book is breaking me in ways I can't figure out how to describe, and rebuilding me like only God could have planned.
During one stopping time I peered over my laptop screen at Matt and whispered, "You have to read this book."
He smiled wide. "Mama, you want everyone to read this book."
It's true. I want everyone on the planet to read this book. My immediate thought is, do I push the Bible on people like I've pushed--er--promoted this book? Maybe it's just that this book has pointed me toward the Word-God like no other book (save for the Bible) ever has. I am driven to His Word because of this book, because of Ann's narrative, her realness, her sharing of her story and her invitation--no, her plea--for others to taste the beauty and glory and joy of eucharisteo along with her. That is what I want, too.
This entry was posted only partially complete and wasn't finished until I viewed the Ch. 8 video. I had to start writing as soon as I finished reading the chapter because I couldn't not write. This is so hard to word, but this compulsion to try to do just that has me firmly in its grip.
With only three chapters left after this one, I am already dreading the ending of the book. I love the way Ann described the overwhelming let-down when she reached the 1,000 mark in her gratitude journal. But then she realized that not only could she keep counting, it was the very thing the counting of the first thousand had primed her to do. The end of the book is only the beginning of a new life, the abundant life, the life fully lived in gratitude and trust and intimate relationship with my God Whom mere words can't contain.
I am freshly inspired to continue the writing of my memoir, to word snapshots of my life as I have always longed to do, only this time I have a greater purpose for the wording. This time as I describe things I've lived through, there is a reason for the telling. That reason is to paint a portrait of the bridge He built that spans the tiny breadth of a singular life, but it is mine to share and the task rests at my hand. This makes me smile deep.
Ann describes herself at various times in her life, and through this chronicling she builds little bridges from one God-rescue to the next all the way to now while she shares all of this with me, with us, with the world. Her book is a portrait of the provision of the Creator of the universe, of everything, but it is more than that. It is a portrait of the love of One who would lay it all down for those He created.
What kind of love is this?
Would He not also provide for His children?
Yes. Yes, He would. Yes, He does. All is YES in Christ, because in Him all things live and move and have their being.
Once again, there is too much packed into a single chapter. Too much for my mind to fully consider at once without igniting. But then perhaps a mind on fire is not something to flee. That alone bears further thought.
"The full life, the one spilling joy and peace, happens only as I come to trust the caress of the Lover, Lover who never burdens His children with shame or self-condemnation but keeps stroking the fears with gentle grace."
Words such as these drive like tent-pegs into my consciousness, and I know why. My husband, my best friend, my life-mate since I was fifteen, has shown me what it is like to be truly, selflessly loved. When we met, I was a scattered, splintered girl who had known more than her fair share of fear and trauma and grief.
And blame. Told at 12 that I caused my father's death, I accepted responsibility and carried the indictment as truth without flinching for some 18 years before I could bring myself to clarify with my half-sister that it was true. I remember her look of shock as she stared back at me and half-whispered, "What? What? Of course not! Daddy died of congestive heart failure that had nothing to do with you!" I explained how Granny had told me I had broken his heart when I went to live with Mama, and didn't he die of a broken heart? She hugged the girl me, now 30, and spoke the no over and over and we cried and an anvil fell off my chest there in the soft Georgia clay along the edge of Shanna Drive.
Who dries the eyes when a willow cries?Though death is greatWhen will we see that tears aren’t free?The weeper, curled silentWhen pain fades too slow for another to knowHer eyes are barrenThe farthest reach our souls beseechA lonely saharaIn a broken creed with a demon freedWho dares mourn the mournerImpaled through the soul with a spiritual poleRising on the mourning morningGlory turns on the light-switch dawnRain to reignImpaling through the soul leaves a spiritual holeA joy to feignHoly soil to be tilled where a heart should be filledListen! Listen, close thine earsBled dry of sorrow waits tomorrowWho can hear the morning mourning?
Of all the poetry I've read throughout my life, "Willow" stands out as my favorite singular poem, perhaps mostly because of the depth of insight penned by a 15-year-old. I have thought of these words often over the years, their message always somewhere in the back of my mind reminding me that when Glory comes, our sunrises burst forth without sadness or sorrow. Who could know that a child I bore could minister to me in such a way through verse he wrote as a teen and probably hasn't thought about in years, that a song of pure worship written straight out of Isaiah 41 by a 16-year-old could adhere to a mother's very heartbeat, that pictures drawn by tiny hands could soothe and heal and remind a mother that she matters? Just examples of how all is grace, more creative blooms of YES in Christ because He was there then He is here now and the truth shines through that He knew.
Would He not also cast out the demons that vex and haunt and torment His children?
Yes, because it is Him who reigns, Builder of bridges who calls His people to bridge rough waters for one another, Rescuer of hearts and souls entangled behind Enemy lies, Comforter who hems us in behind and before (Ps. 139:5), Creator who inspires His children to create and bless.
Seed: How I respond to the stresses in my life can either be sin or my trust in God lived out loud.
Water: Awareness, always more awareness. I pray for ever-increasing cognizance of how my responses to occurrences and circumstances every day show what I really believe about God's love and power and grace.
Bloom: Christ shining through my life in every circumstance. In every circumstance.
Living eucharisteo every moment of my life shows the world over and over that He can be trusted. The quality of our lives is not determined by how many of the moments show God worthy of our trust. He is always worthy of our trust. It is our eyesight needing adjusting, not His credibility. He is I AM. And that is more than enough to allow us, His children to open our eyes and our hands and our hearts in childlike belief and soul-deep trust.