Monday, February 7, 2011

One Thousand Gifts: Book Club Week #1

This is the first week of the Bloom Book Club’s discussion of One Thousand Gifts by Ann Voskamp.

There is a video posted where Ann is being interviewed by the Bloom Book Club’s Angie and Jess and then a reflection on this first chapter written by Angie.

And I think I started to process something as I was watching the video.  I have tears with Ann talking about her sister's death...tears and a lump.  And then she talks about running with her mom across the yard to get her Dad after her sister has been crushed by the unexpected delivery truck and I flashback to something with a very different outcome that has profoundly affected me.

I am four, turning blue, choking and my older siblings run out to our barn to tell my Dad that I am dying.  My mother, a nurse, tried everything until she remembered a new method, the Heimlich maneuver*, that she had only days before learned of through a medical journal, which she tries and then I remember the large lollipop having come off the stick, lodging itself squarely in my airway passage being thrust out.  I will never forget that moment.  I am alive.  And I do remember a sense of 'God wants me to be alive'.  He saved me. and thankfulness.

But, I realized too that I think that's when a root of fear also began.  Like death is close and it could take me at any time and why didn't I die? and why wasn't it me?

Which brings me to something that I loved in this hard-to-read chapter.  Ann talks about how the Israelites for forty wandering years ‘eat the mystery’, the manna, which means in the Hebrew “What is it?”

There have been a ton of hard things in my life since that day, and, in some ways, the hard mysteries have been so much easier to swallow--cancer that took my mom, near homelessness after we lost our farm, a lot of dark years after of financial ruin, chronic illness and depression on all sides--than the grace received most clearly in my young life that moment that He saved me from a literal death at age four. 

Or the grace of being born at all.  My mother had three miscarriages and after the third was told that it was very unlikely that she’d ever have a healthy pregnancy only to be pregnant with twins months later of which I am the firstborn.

No I didn’t go through the trauma of the worst fear realized as Ann and am not trying to compare what it was to nearly die to an actual tragic death that shattered Ann’s and her family’s life.  But, something definitely reveals a root of fear, of profound mistrust, having come to the brink of death at the age of four.

Why isn’t there the sweet grace and trust that God will take care of me as He had that day and continues to do in too many ways over my entire life to count?  Ann goes back to that perfect garden one instant where Adam and Eve see all as good and of the love of God.  Then, the next instant, after the treachery of that first lie believed and the sin that followed, everything is marred.

“We eat. And, in an instant, we are blind. No longer do we see God as one we can trust.  No longer do we perceive Him as wholly good. No longer do we observe all of the remaining paradise.”

And I see in new ways how I have lived this.  I have not received the good in each moment—the grace marred by fear and lack of trust and ultimately a belief that this IS all that there is.  This material world that decays and dies and when tragedy strikes it does have the final word.  But, we know, that there is an infinitely different story born in Christ and and we are redeemed and headed for that Other World that nothing can keep us from…we are all, through faith in Christ, unflinchingly bound for Home. 

I’ll be following the next chapters of Ann’s book on the coming Mondays with the same schedule as the Bloom Book Club. I hope you will join me! 

*I just researched the Heimlich Maneuver and it WAS only FIRST introduced/discussed a month after I was born in May, 1974.  Therefore, it would have only BEGUN to be widely circulated in a medical journal like the one my mom read only a couple of days before I almost choked to death.

Thank You Lord of Grace and Goodness:

that You saw fit to write the story differently in my life:

-my mother DID have another healthy pregnancy that yielded TWO lives

-this same precious mother was able to save my life at four years-old

-that all of these gifts came in the context of a home of faith

-that that faith was never relinquished during many years of severe trial

-that the story that You write is always good

-that I can trust You to write my story

-that I am bound for Home and come what may that will never change, forever and ever

for all of the blessings of this past week of which I re-count a few

-a daughter’s love and wonder of bubbles

-a son’s heart to be restored

-the way the ball popper blows my daughter’s hair like a breeze

-that our happy place remains well used

-a chance to love on kids other than my own in the nursery

-for how each of my children ooze desire for relationship

-for how they each ooze joy

-for the wonder of beholding their child-like joy

-for the wonder of the beauty in my own back yard

for a hilarious thank-filled date night

-for Manny that we met who has come back to You because, ‘there is no other way to live’

-for laughter, so much laughter

-for a walk downtown in the rain WITHOUT an umbrella

-for David who had the courage to ask for help

-for the love and patience of a husband to enter this homeless man’s life

-for the hope that we truly did help him that night

-for a wild goose chase to get money to pay the babysitter

-for a clerk at Wal-Mart whose ‘night we made’ simply by our being joy-filled

-for Kelsey, our babysitter, and how she loves on our kids

-for many more date nights and wonder in the moments to come!

for the BEST remaining YET TO COME!!!!

that I’m in the 700’s of one thousand of the endless list of thanks!

#676-706

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