Praise in the storm: Our day of thanks

When Meg at Homeschoolin’ Mama asked me to be part of the “30 Days of Thanksgiving” series, where a different blogger shares daily what she’s thankful for, I was so in.

I had big ideas. I’m the person who does “30 days of what I’m thankful for” on Facebook every day in November. I give a lot of lip service to the things I’m so happy about. I’ve participated in daily gratitude practice as part of the 29 Gifts movement. I liked to think of myself as some sort of big deal in the thankfulness game.

But.

It turns out I’m big into talking when things are good. But pride, in my case, doesn’t just go before a fall, it takes a big, ugly, klutzy roll off a cliff.

See, I’ve been awfully proud of how “grateful” I am. And in the two weeks after I agreed to take part with Meg in her series, I had some SERIOUS foundation-shaking.

Stormy days

Washer overflowed and flooded basement

Our (only) car’s transmission died.

Washer overflowed and flooded basement

Our washer malfunctioned in a grand way, flooding our basement…
… so our finished basement needed to be remediated and remodeled…
… and we needed to buy a new washer (since ours was kaput)…
… but then two days later, Hurricane Sandy hit.

Meanwhile, one of our cats, in a stunningly rare move, peed on our daughter’s bed…
… and we COULD NOT get the smell out of her mattress…
… so we thought we’d need to buy a new mattress too…
… but before we could do so, we discovered the incident was caused by the cat having a serious bladder blockage that required him to be hospitalized for several days.

Boy, God has a sense of humor.

Unfortunately, sometimes, I do not. And I was getting petulant. Pouty. Ungrateful.

What a wake-up call

In the midst of all of this, as I sat in our new-to-us church one week, the pastor, during prayer, shared that he had a Word from the Lord for someone named Joanne or Joan.

Um.

If you don’t know me personally, I have pretty much been a lifelong Methodist.

We’re generally the reserved type. You don’t get called out. And you CERTAINLY don’t get called out by a man you’ve literally never been introduced to, let alone conversed with, claiming to have a message for you direct from God.

Um.

I’ll probably never forget the pastor’s exact words. There were a good many of them – and all what I needed to hear. The short version? “God is using you. You WILL find your direction and your purpose. And BIG THINGS are coming your way.

Um.

My husband – who is what I’d probably describe as a “warm agnostic” – unsure but generally leaning toward God – was actually the one to take the setup and totally knock it out of the park.

He rubbed my back, then leaned over to me and whispered softly, “See? Big things. Bigger than the basement. Bigger than the car. Bigger than your work. Bigger than any of that.”

Talk. About. Shattering.

All my “Why me?” and “It figures!” talk went out the window. Nothing changed that afternoon – and yet everything did.

Came home, and the washer was still broken. Industrial dryers were still running in my basement. I still had the paperwork on my desk from financing our new transmission.

But my eyes were opened.

I’d been blessed BEYOND MEASURE just with that Word of encouragement and hope, and to be part of both a church family and a marriage that stretch me beyond my comfort zone and change my world!

I started to recognize all the little things I was taking for granted, too.

  • I won a $10 gift certificate to our local pretzel shop. 
  • I was able to participate in – and win medals at – a tae kwon do tournament. 
  • A far-away family member who’s like a sister to me came to visit unexpectedly, bringing her daughters, who have fast become friends of Sarah’s. 
  • We were able to go yesterday and see a friend “ring the bell” at a local hospital following his final radiation treatment for throat cancer. 
  • I was able to attend another friend’s graduation from paramedic school. 
  • Hurricane Sandy did NO damage to our property or to our loved ones, despite wreaking havoc on many places we’d recently visited.

I can’t even describe all the good I was overlooking because it wasn’t “standard gratitude fare” of monetary prosperity and happy times.

I could talk about this all day. But I think I’ll leave you with thoughts from two amazing blogger friends who are much more eloquent. Karen sums it up well when she says “Blessings. Everywhere I turn are blessings,” and Jessica reminds me that of all these gifts, “they’ve been given by people, but God has done the blessing.”

I needed both those reminders – and I am so grateful to have had the opportunity today to be forced outside my “Oh, I’m so glad I have a house and food and blah blah blah” comfort zone of pat answers and lip service.

I’m not perfect – and even at my most grateful, I can stand a reminder that life doesn’t have to be all rainbows and flowers for me to be at peace.

And thank God for that!!

14 thoughts on “Praise in the storm: Our day of thanks

  1. I know how you feel…it is the everyday blessings that get hard to count if you are not careful. I know that I have been blessed by you, in just the short time I have blog-met you. {hugs}

  2. Amazing story. Thank you for sharing it. It is easy to get caught up in the overwhelming feelings that life can bring and then God has a way of stepping in and letting us know it is all part of his plan.

    • I am so struggling with the idea that HIS plan and my plan are not the same – and it has been really eye-opening (and soul-opening) for me to try to let go of that lately. I so appreciate your encouragement! 🙂

  3. “Praise in the storm”: what a perfect title. He is faithful and provides even when it doesn’t seem like it. I told my wife, Diana, recently that even when bad things are happening, God is definitely at work in our lives; maybe He is protecting us from things that are even worse. I obviously didn’t mean to comfort her with that thought, but it does put things in perspective. “Where God guides, He provides.” You can always lean on Him, and He will (eventually) show you the way. Sometimes you really have to be listening because He may come to you in a still, small voice. And other times, as you’ve recently experienced, He chooses to catch you off-guard and speak clearly and plainly through someone, almost as if you are literally hearing His voice. I am glad you are choosing to remain thankful through it all, and I know He is, too. May God continue to bless you and your family.

  4. Joan I love this. I LOVE this. I, of course, was reading along nodding my head. Then when I read what happened in church I almost couldn’t believe it. WOW!! and WOW!! I try to be so upbeat but there are times that I want to just stay in bed with the covers over my head. Of course we don’t do that..we are Mothers. Thank you for sharing this story on a night when I needed to read it. And I am truly honored that you mentioned my blog. What a wonderful, from the heart post. Hugs to you friend.

  5. Joan this is just fantastic for so many reasons! I am sorry for all of the struggles you’ve been through lately…it is so incredibly hard to focus on the blessings when things are moving along from one bad situation to the next. The reason I force myself to focus on the positive is because if I don’t, I tend to sink into a puddle at the slightest negative thing.

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