Stacy Voss

See life differently. Live courageously.

Tag: Thanksgiving (page 1 of 3)

Unexpected Joy

untitled-3We’re wrapping up the weekend of thanks (or dare I say the day or hours of thanks before singing the songs of praise over finding good deals?). And while I had plenty to be thankful for on turkey day, my grateful-barometer runs over even more today.

Yes, today. A non-scheduled gratitude day.

A non-everything day, as in nowhere to be other than church (and even then, we had multiple service times to pick from). Non as in the mental list of things to was simply that: mental. Any and all things that I suddenly chose to erase could slip away without anyone knowing. And non as in nothing fancy planned. No outings or big events.

And yet, in the midst of the non, the peace bubbled over, a warm tea type of feeling that penetrated beyond the simple “I’m grateful for a house (which I so very much am!)” or “I love my kids” or any of the other cliche gratitude standbys. Nope, this was the deep kind of gratitude that swells up from the unexpected.

It was unexpected because the challenges I faced yesterday still exist today. So are the uncertainties and the dreams I hope become a reality, yet find myself apprehensive to let my heart hope for them.

In the midst of the routine of life, joy jumped out in full force. Perhaps it was because I got to spend more time with my Girlie today, something I’ve missed as I’ve spent too much time the last few weeks recovering from a minor surgery. Or maybe it was because I finally gave myself permission to non, to unplug in a way that had no deadline or schedules.  Or maybe it’s because that thing called gratitude that I once held so dearly onto but somehow let slip away ounce by ounce came thundering back in and these once-strong muscles of gratefulness are finding their way yet again.

Whatever it is, I wish it for you, too. I know we’re entering the season of hurry, but don’t pack the gratitude away like I accidentally did. Instead, give yourself permission to stop, savor and be filled–filled with joy and peace!

May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.”

Romans 15:13

Stacy Voss

Grateful through the Tears

Grateful through the TearsMany talk about being grateful throughout the years, a buoyancy that helps them when the crazy hard strikes. I get that, but what has been even more apparent in my life this past season of gratitude is of being grateful through the tears.

Yes, let the happy tears flow.

And flow. So much so, in fact, that my Girlie has decided its embarrassing even when its just the two of us and no one but her can see the wet gratitude rolling down my cheeks.

So why the happy tears? The sweetness of today is grounded in the pain of yesterday and the many yesterdays that preceded it. It’s been a rough year.

No, let me say that in a way that isn’t quite so understated:

It’s been a hold on with everything you have, pray like you never have before, stock up on Kleenex, get all of your friends to pray for you (as in everyday at noon. Not kidding, but oh so grateful), hit the ground in prayer again, cry again, curl into a fetal position, pray, take a few baby steps, get knocked down, count some blessings, wipe away tears, and well, you get the idea. It wasn’t all bad, but it without a doubt it was the hardest year I’ve had to face.

Some of the events of this past year caused me to feel lost, not lost as in who I am as a person or even what my purpose is, but lost as to how to make my current realities line up with my priorities and needs. I floundered, a startling thing that is foreign to this driven girl.

Worse yet, there were a few people who spoke ugliness into my life. I’m sure they didn’t mean to, but they bred confusion in my thoughts, making me wonder if I was further off track than I acknowledged. One person in authority condemned me for a physical attribute of mine that couldn’t be changed. Another ridiculed for something else that wasn’t easily changed, nor should it have been.

The list continues, but this post really isn’t about the bad.

It’s about the good. The really, really good.

Life turned a corner recently. Can’t say for sure what brought about the change, but it’s been a welcome friend. And with that change comes another: Things that in the past would have gone unnoticed now have great meaning.  Words of affirmation ring deep, not because I need the external reward, but because there is something beautiful in being acknowledged for doing what you love and being set free to further pursuit it. A paycheck that now comes every other Friday without the guessing and hoping and wishing bring a greater sense of calm than before.

No, the wounds of the past year haven’t vanished, nor will they ever. There are certain things that are irrevocable, events that happen that forever change the future. Many of us know these events all too well, but we also know this:

they are the very things that can cause us to be more grateful than we ever knew possible.

So, my friends, whether this has been a year of great joy and celebrations,

or tragedy, loss and grief,

or a string of ho-hum months with nothing much new to report,

I pray this season of gratitude undoes us to the core,

that we may reflect upon where we’ve been and where we think we might be headed,

that we’ll look the trials square in the face and revel in the unexpected splendor we got to behold,

that our gratitude will flow out in hugs, fist bumps, quiet sighs of relief, proclamations of “Thank you, God”

Or maybe, just maybe,

Gratitude through the Tears

What’s something you’re more grateful for today only because of hurt, aches or pains you’ve had in that area in the past?

Recognized by Gratitude

Recognized by

 

For fear of sounding like I have my seasons mixed up, I want to share part of Luke 24, the account of Jesus walking with two of his disciples after his resurrection. Trust me, I’ll bring it back to Thanksgiving at the end.

 Now that same day two of them were going to a village called Emmaus, about seven miles from Jerusalem. They were talking with each other about everything that had happened. As they talked and discussed these things with each other, Jesus himself came up and walked along with them; but they were kept from recognizing him.

He asked them, “What are you discussing together as you walk along?”

They stood still, their faces downcast. One of them, named Cleopas, asked him, “Are you the only one visiting Jerusalem who does not know the things that have happened there in these days?”

“What things?” he asked.

“About Jesus of Nazareth,” they replied. “He was a prophet, powerful in word and deed before God and all the people. The chief priests and our rulers handed him over to be sentenced to death, and they crucified him; but we had hoped that he was the one who was going to redeem Israel. And what is more, it is the third day since all this took place.In addition, some of our women amazed us. They went to the tomb early this morning but didn’t find his body. They came and told us that they had seen a vision of angels, who said he was alive.  Then some of our companions went to the tomb and found it just as the women had said, but they did not see Jesus.”

He said to them, “How foolish you are, and how slow to believe all that the prophets have spoken! Did not the Messiah have to suffer these things and then enter his glory?” And beginning with Moses and all the Prophets, he explained to them what was said in all the Scriptures concerning himself.

As they approached the village to which they were going, Jesus continued on as if he were going farther. But they urged him strongly, “Stay with us, for it is nearly evening; the day is almost over.” So he went in to stay with them.

When he was at the table with them, he took bread, gave thanks, broke it and began to give it to them. Then their eyes were opened and they recognized him, and he disappeared from their sight.

Luke 24: 13-13

I can’t stop shaking my head at this in complete amazement. Yes, I know Jesus purposefully kept them from recognizing Him and He only permitted them to do so at a specific time, yet this one thought keeps running through my mind:

If Jesus’ gratitude was the thing that made him most recognizable to those who most pursued him, then what does our gratitude do to those who try to hide from the Christ? Does it somehow make the divine recognizable in this land of hurry, self and despair?

 

I can’t say for sure, but if that’s the case, then let’s get this gratitude party started.

Oh, Lord, help us see more of you around us everyday. Help us remember your role and your presence in everything we do. And help us learn to offer praise and thanksgiving more than we ever knew possible. Thank you, Lord. Amen.

 

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