Sunday, February 6, 2011

The Sweet Life: One Thousand Gifts Chapter One

If you have already completed the first chapter, go on over to Bloom and check out the discussion video with Ann, the author:

Where to start...where to start? This chapter far exceeded my expectations for this book. I was definitely reading the first chapter in a Taco Bell parking lot, spicy chicken taco in hand, sobbing over the things I was mentally confronting. I am sure the other patrons were freaked out by the "crazy" in the white SUV. The Lord definitely knew what he was doing when he placed this book in my path. There are many situations in my past and present life in which I have warred over the Lord's work in them and through them.

Ann opened the chapter telling the story of witnessing the tragic death of her young sister. I appreciated her using the story not for glorified drama but used its simplicity and sorrow to confront our questions we may ask of God. What are the events and tragedies in your life that have jolted you awake? When we have been complacent in our faith and/or going with the flow, what has happened in our life that has snapped us to question/think about the reality of our faith? They bring us to our knees and allow us to search our depths for His existence within us. On page 12, Ann asks:
"How do I wake up to joy and grace and beauty and all that is the fullest life when I must stay numb to losses and crushed dreams and all that empties me out?" 
It made me really think about all the times that I cannot see beyond my hurts, pains and broken-heartedness to what the Lord has placed before me. Sometimes I get so wrapped up in my own disappointment that I cannot even bear to look at what God may have provided through that sorrow.

The discussion on page 15 of:
          "In the beginning our eyes were already open. Our sight was perfect. Our vision let us see a world   spilling with goodness. Our eyes fell on nothing but the glory of God. We saw God as He truly is: good. But we were lured by the deception that there was more to see: the ugliness we hadn't beheld, the sinfulness we hadn't witnessed, the loss we hadn't known."
was very challenging for me. Maybe I interpreted this differently than others, but I was really thrown by the idea that in the beginning, God was enough for me. He nourished me. He was my rock. I turned to Him in the valleys. Have I been deceived into thinking that God and His plans may not be good enough for me? Have I allowed worldly ways to worm their way into my thoughts that I would think that when God doesn't provide for my specifications I feel rejected. Instead, I am to use my disappointments, failures and losses in this world to commune with Him and have relationship. To turn to Him when I am struck by the losses in life rather than cast blame within the losses. This weeks video gave me a quote to stick with:
"You can only see light when you have dark"
I cannot look with hope to my salvation and eternity with Him when everything here in the world is perfect and peachy keen. The hope in Him is enriched through our valley journeys. We allow that hope and communion with Him to be "birthed out of woundedness."
"Maybe you don't want to change the story, because you don't know what a different ending holds."
This alone was gut wrenching for me. I can't think of the times I have uttered "if this could just be different". I need to stop placing limits on the capabilities of God when He tells me time and time again that He knows the full story. When I deeply desire and attempt to write my own life story I am limiting His ability to shine in glory through me and display His power and magnificence fully. The explanation of the "manna" that the Israelites ate for forty years in the desert, reminds us that sometimes we take what God gives whether it be understandable or simply a mystery. We allow him to provide whether in clarity or mystery. Can we use the holes in our heart, as Ann asks, to see beyond the hurts that put them there and see Him? As Angie states in the video,
"In the midst of our situation, whether we like it or not, we have to acknowledge WHO God is."
I want to finish with a line from the video:
"Reading this book is a chance to see life differently - will we default to resentment or gratitude."
Now you tell me. What impacted your faith life specifically? What challenged you? I really do desire to hear your words and thoughts whether you agree or disagree. Whether in private or in comments, what is your response to some of the questions throughout the chapter and discussion? I look forward to hearing from you and encourage you to even link up on your own blog. We will discuss Chapter 2 this coming Wednesday and I cannot wait to sit down and together grow in God.

with Belles and Beauxs

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