Thursday, November 27, 2014

I Am (Still) Thankful

"Happy Thanksgiving. Life is good. Even when it is lousy, it is still good, and thank God for it."

Today is Thanksgiving. It has not been like any other Thanksgiving I have ever experienced. It has been a great day. Humor me the spurts of cliche and other chunks of random soon to follow, please...

I am thankful for my friends, the new and the old. I have always been blessed to be able to call some of the most amazing people in the world my friends. No, I'm not exaggerating-- it's minimally 100% true. I've also met some of the greatest and funnest people since coming to college. I did not expect any of these people and I do not know what I would do without any of them.

I am thankful for my my family, for the members of which who live near and far, those that I see often and those that I see occasionally. Like everyone else in my life, they are imperfect, and I am thankful for that too! They're always there for me, no matter what! Sorry to be repetitive, but I literally do not know what I would do without them. My family has done so much for me throughout my life and meant so much to me and I can't even to begin to imagine what my life would be like without any of it-- I wouldn't be the person I am or have had the opportunities I have head. It's immeasurable.

I'm not naming people specifically-- I think it would be long and tacky and ineffective-- but I do hope they know who they are.

I am thankful for my school, for the opportunity to go, for the learning, and for the people there. I am thankful for my church at home, the fellowship, and the word being taught there. Likewise, I am thankful for Intervarsity at school: for the fellowship, the word being taught there, for others at school dedicated to Christ to grow with, learn with, have fun with, and worship with. And I am thankful for more, still...

I am (not least of all!!) thankful for the awesome God who has put all of those people who mean so much to me. I am thankful for His unfailing grace, His unchanging presence, and His unending control over my life. I am thankful for the security, comfort, and peace that I only have in Him and always have in Him no matter what is going on in my life. I am thankful for the fact that there is a reason for everything and that no trial that I've been through has been a waste-- only because of His hand. I am thankful because there is a perfect plan that He crafted. I am thankful that I don't need to be hopeless. I am thankful for the life I have to look forward to: the gift of the life I'm living with the people I know and the gift of eternal life with those people that I miss included. I'm thankful for His forgiveness and second chances, that I don't lose the latter life.

I titled this post "I Am (Still) Thankful" because that's really been on my heart all day. I'm so thankful for this day, it's been great. I had the blessing to be able to be home with my mom and to go to my aunt Sara's house and see my grandma and some of my cousins and my aunts and uncle. The food was awesome (Hey, if you read this, seriously, Sara... so good!!), the company was great (as always), and we had fun playing "a card game" (we are the most horrible, it's delightful). But all that being said, and not diminishing that at all: today was not easy. There was a hole. A hole in the shape of my dad... I left the house today without spending a half hour waiting for him to find his tacky Santa-on-the-beach neck tie. No one, to my knowledge, made the raw turkey dance on the counter before it entered the oven. Today I was not coerced into watching a tacky holiday movie, the Macy's parade, the dog show, or a dark comedy that's completely inappropriate for the holiday. It was foreign. I miss him, so extremely much that I can't begin to put it into words. And this doesn't make it completely okay but: I'm thankful that my dad was a guy that we would miss. I'm not thankful that I miss him, not thankful for his absence. But I'm thankful for the time we spent with him. I'm thankful for his loyalty to a stupid tie that made us late for a special occasion at least once a year, for the crassly dancing turkey, and for watching "Eulogy" and "The Producers" before holiday meals (while normal people probably watched "Charlie Brown Thanksgiving" or something). Honestly, this doesn't begin to cover what's on my mind... but I'm thankful that God has seen my family and I through this. I'm thankful for my family and friends getting me through this, too-- for everything they've said and done. And I'm thankful that I'm able to count on seeing my dad again one day in heaven!

Even through everything that has happened this year, especially the past almost four months, the hard times I've faced (my family is well)... I've experienced a lot of good. Like the quote says, life's still good, even when it's lousy-- thank God for it (Keillor, 1990). Yes, I am (still) thankful.

A snapshot of today: family playing Cards Against Humanity: keeping it a bit raunchy in true family get-together fashion. It was funny, as you can see.

Sunday, November 9, 2014

Paved by grace.

The drive between my school and my home is about an hour each way. To put it simply, college keeps me busy. But the drive offers the time to think and to feel that I don't necessarily allow myself otherwise.

I've been thinking a lot about what I'm doing in life: about the road I'm on, where it's headed, even what it's made of. Today, I'm somewhere on I-94 (figures, I reach a conclusion about my metaphorical road while literally driving on a road) with a Beatles compilation on high volume. I've just changed lanes for the third time to placate the excessive seeming road construction. Yesterday  ("Yesterday/all my troubles seemed so far away...") starts and the past couple of months replay in my head-- a collage of shortcomings, loss, circumstance, and and even triumph-- all painstakingly and still a blur. Yet this is where a realization hits me; somehow, this is where I feel it.

The road I'm on is paved by grace.

At first, that may seem to be an obscure sentiment. Maybe it is. Allow me to explain (and indulge my penchant for lexical definitions). According to Merriam-Webster, "pave" is a transitive verb meaning: "1 :  to lay or cover with material (as asphalt or concrete) that forms a firm level surface for travel" and "2 :  to cover firmly and solidly as if with paving material."  It originates from Latin's "pavire"-- "to strike, to pound." The day I became I Christ-follower, God started a most impressive road construction project (the only one I'm thankful for!). He paved the rough road I was on with His grace. He didn't make it comfortable or easy, simple or straight. However, where I once found road blocks that lacked detours, causing me to make asinine circles as I got so frequently lost? Starting that day, I found navigable road.  

One of Merriam-Websters definitions of "grace" is "unmerited divine assistance" and I couldn't dream of putting it more eloquently. With that grace, the new surface of my path, my journey is no longer controlled by my mistakes-- from the minute cracks to the gaping potholes, if you will. As the Apostle Paul told the Romans, "sin shall no longer be your master, because you are not under the law, but under grace." (Romans 6:14, NIV). I found out that nothing in my life that I'd encountered on my road so far and nothing I would ever traverse was too rough to be not only covered or smoothed but perfected by God's grace. Like Paul explained to the church at Corinth... His grace is sufficient. "But He said to me, 'My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.'" (2 Corinthians 12:9a, NIV). I know it's more than sufficient for me.

I invite (though it requires no invitation) you to check out that grace... It's made for a beautiful drive.