I used to be mostly a city girl, a bit awkward in the woods - one foot in and one foot out. But now, I'm mostly a country girl, a bit restless in the burbs, still one foot in and one foot out. Just as comfortable in high heels and an evening dress as I am in camo and hiking boots, I get along just about anywhere. However, I've seen my desires shift from fancy to familiar, from savvy to simple since I've been married to that fisherman of mine. I like a simple life, stripped down of all the excess making it just that much easier to touch God. It seems there's less in between us. Fewer distractions and less stuff, whether by choice or not, make it easier for He and I to breathe together in this space.
I'm rich here in this low-income neighborhood. Hubs and I struggle right along side him as we watch a neighbor get his water cut off, and the teenage boy down the street comes knocking on our door asking for $50 bucks to get his car going again. We live in this space in a city block where no one has much, but neighbors talk over the fence and borrow sugar, yet most don't know Jesus. We're rich, not simply because of what the Lord has given us, but because of what he's done for us. We have something to offer. My dream is that even if the external struggles in our neighborhood don't ever end, that the internal ones will. We're trying to plant seeds here, not just in the rich garden soil next to our house, but in souls because it's not just empty pockets here, it's empty hearts. Oh yes, God's given us rich soil to plant in here - spiritual soil.
I'm ever so thankful for my home and the opportunities we've been given here, but sometimes when I look out my window, I pretend I can see for acres rather than a stone skip to the house across the street. Then God brings my mind back to the aching of the bones inside these siding slapped houses around me. I long for the freedom and hard work of country life, the sentimentality of a home on the river, a tree stand in the woods out back, and a living room large enough for parties, but then God calls me back in to this place, this place I call home, where all around me hearts lie empty without Jesus. Mission fields aren't just over there, or out there somewhere. Sometimes, God calls us to stay right where we are for the time. I wonder how often we dream about moving up and out to better houses without ever considering that God has us where we are for a reason. Sometimes we stay because we have to. Sometimes we stay because we should. He's kept us here for reasons unbeknownst to us, but we know we are needed here. So we live here, and we pray here, we struggle here, and we bring the country here. We don't long for something better. We just long for what God has for us, and sometimes God holds back so that we can give out what we already have. We're suburban farmers with more garden covering our yard than grass. We have little, but we have a lot.
So today, it's not about wishing for something different or more, it's just about being thankful that I have anything at all, that I can do anything at all, that I can give anything at all because God so lavishly and mercifully extended his hand when he gave me Jesus, when he spilled his blood instead of mine, when he held back the wrath that I deserve. In light of this, my little corner of the world seems quite grand.
It's been awhile since I shared bits of my gratitude here. I was on my journey of counting to 2000 when I left off with 1452. I've been jotting them down in a phone app and on scraps of paper, but not here. So, today I continue with the count.
1452. My precious little house where we live and love and talk over the fence
1453. Good neighbors that really can be depended on
1454. A garden and the husband who takes the time to cultivate it
1455. The stretching that depending on God creates
1456. God's miraculous provision in times of need
1457. A cold glass of orange Kool Aid after a long drive in a car with no air-conditioning
1458. Putting lotion on Dad's arms. He winced at the cold, but then relaxed and closed his eyes.
1459. Learning that my Dad used to make Angel Food Cake when he was young, and then having the opportunity to feed him some during our visit to memory care.
1460. A renewed commitment to the Sabbath and all it holds dear. It's more than going to church. It's a day with no work or labor of any kind. We rest, we reflect, we refresh, we read, we pray, we worship, we fellowship, we honor. I'm even skipping social media on that day!
1461. The sound of the harmonica coming from the front porch
1462. Early morning walks with my puppy. Not so much a puppy anymore, the walks seems to wear him out!
1463. Books on theology and time spent digging deep
1465. New friends and fellowship online
1466. A new morning routine and stewardship over those all important morning hours
1467. Lots of new reading material
1468. Chocolate Molten Lava Cake ice cream from Braum's
1469. Evening drives with the windows rolled down - an unusually mild August!
1470. Knowing that as the winds whirl around me and the debris flies, God will speak it to stillness when the time comes.
Today I am linking up with Ann Voskamp and others as we count gifts at A Holy Experience.