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The Connection between Humbleness and Joy

The chapter I read this week in Ann Voskamp's One Thousand Gifts  was called Go Lower.  She started the chapter with a story of seeing the world the way a small child does. Everything is fresh and fun and kids get excited about things we adults take for granted.  But to see things as a child, we need to get down to their humble ourselves.  She goes on to talk about how our peace and our joy can be shattered like glass in a matter of seconds when we lay aside humility and revert to pride.  "And my knees are stiff and it's jarring, how peace can shatter faster than glass, the breakneck speeds at which I can fall -- and refuse to bend the knees at all."

Monday -- John planted an herb garden for me and waters and tends to it every night.  I love going out to pick basil, oregano, dill, parsley, cilantro, or mint.  I use the herbs in so many dishes and love the smell of them freshly picked.

Tuesday -- I usually do all the laundry, but I often come home in the evening to find this....John has taken the laundry off the line and folded it neatly in the basket.  Wow! I'm thankful for a husband who sees something he can do for me and does it in spite of his own long to-do list.

So, when life's hard and broken and we want to cry out to God, is that ok?  Ann Voskamp shows the difference before lamenting to God and complaining.  "Lament is a cry of belief in a good God, a God who has His ear to our hearts, a God who transfigures the ugly into beauty. Complaint is the bitter howl of unbelief in any benevolent God in this moment, a distrust in the love-beat of the Father's heart.  God's anger kindles hot when the essence of the complaint implies doubt in His love.... the more I learn eucharisteo, the more I learn His love, the less likely I am to Israelite complain and the more I genuinely lament, complaint that trusts His heart." --Ann Voskamp
So yes, I can cry out to God with an open heart, but trust Him to be there.  I can be honest with my feelings while waiting for Him to work.  But I shouldn't complain which shows ingratitude, lack of humbleness, and a desire for control.  And guess which is the most natural and easiest for me to do? Complaining, of course!

"True lament is the bold faith that trusts Perfect Love enough to feel and cry authentic." --Ann Voskamp

Wednesday -- Our Director asked me to run an errand for him.  I was happy to do it, but on the way back the traffic was crazy and it was a long ride home.  I'm so thankful for a CD player and great music that helps me focus on God instead of on the lunatics on the road.  I mean....I stay focused on my driving, but it helps keep me from losing my temper at the crazies.  And I'm thankful that I could help out our Director in this small way.

Thursday -- Thursday mornings I stay home and help John with his doctoral work.  I was working at the dining room table when he came out of his office with a "the-world-is-ending" look on his face.  He told me that the chapter he's been working on for months, the hardest one he's done so far, had completely disappeared from his computer.  No trace of it anywhere.  The link to it said, "This document has been removed."  He KNEW he had saved it the night before.  He always saves it in DropBox so that it's saved even if there's a computer crash, but it wasn't even in DropBox.  By this time we're both in pretty much of a stunned panic.  I knew he had it saved in DropBox and backed up on Mozy, so we had to be able to retrieve it.  I googled "Lost a document in DropBox" and it told us what to do to get it back.  Of course, it required an internet connection.  We technically had a connection, but it wasn't loading anything, so John went to the office to try on my computer as the office usually has a better connection.  Last week the office internet was really bad, though, and after over an hour, he gave up and came back home.  He tried my computer here and finally got on and retrieved the document. (This literally took all morning.)  He found out that his doctoral supervisor was the one who had deleted it.  Woops.  (He was mortified when John told him what happened!)  Unfortunately, it got deleted on Monday, but it took until Wednesday night to sync with John's computer.  That, my friends, is how slow our internet is here.  Imagine....John has his computer on every day, all day, and it took over two days to sync one average size document!  So, in the meantime John was working on a document that didn't really exist.  He lost two days' of work, which is huge, but not as bad as four months of work which is what we feared!  We were both hugely thankful to get that document back!

"I may feel disappointment and the despair may flood high, but to give thanks is an action and rejoice is a verb and these are not mere pulsing emotions.  While I may not always feel joy, God asks me to give thanks in all things because He knows that the feeling of joy begins in the action of thanksgiving.
"True saints know that the place where all joy comes from is far deeper than that of feelings:  joy comes from the place of the very presence of God.  Joy is God and God is joy and joy doesn't negate all other emotions -- joy transcends all other emotions." --Ann Voskamp
Our floor isn't really brown.

You can see the places where things had been on the table.  The lighter color is dust.

Our terrace.  The house pretty much looked the same minus the leaves!

Friday -- In the night I was vaguely aware of wind, but the wind blows a lot in March, so I slept on.  We had our bedroom windows closed with the air conditioner running and the fan on helicopter speed, so I really didn't hear much.  The windows in the rest of the house were open.  I woke up in the morning to discover that it had been a full-fledged dust storm and our house looked like the Sahara Desert had swept through.  I am VERY thankful that Friday was the day for our house helper to come!  It was so nice to come home Friday afternoon and find the house clean again.  Otherwise I am not sure when I would have had time to clean up the mess.

Saturday -- I got my hair cut.  Yeah!  I feel a little lighter and a whole lot cooler.  (I hate putting up selfies, but, this is what I'm thankful for.)

"Only self can kill joy.
"I'm the one doing this to me."

"Joy is a flame that glimmers only in the open and humble hand.  In an open and humble palm, released and surrendered to receive, light dances, flickers happy. The moment the hand is clenched tight, fingers all pointing toward self and rights and demands, joy is snuffed out.  Anger is the lid that suffocates joy until she lies limp and lifeless....  The demanding of my own will is the singular force that smothers out joy -- nothing else."

Sunday -- John preached on missions in the Old Testament today.  He did a great job and I had several people tell me how good it was to hear a positive and encouraging message on missions.  It's amazing how motivating a positive approach can be!

Ann Voskamp quotes from Henry Ward Beecher:  "Pride slays thanksgiving...A proud man is seldom a grateful man, for he never thinks he gets as much as he deserves."  
Then she writes:  "Dare I ask what I think I deserve? ... Are there times that a sense of entitlement -- expectations -- is what inflates self, detonates anger, offends God, extinguishes joy?

"And what do I really deserve?  Thankfully God never gives what is deserved, but instead, God graciously, passionately offers gifts, our bodies, our time, our very lives.  God does not give rights but imparts responsibilities -- response-abilities -- inviting us to respond to His love gifts."

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