This month I'm writing a new post each day about my own version of Jen Hatmaker's 7 experiment. For more posts and an introduction, head here. Today's 7 topic is stress.
This week's gifts...
959. Mum coming down to visit for a day
960. Perfect weather for Brooklyn and I to share our favorite trail with her
961. Pinecones. They're great fun to carry, and if you drop them in the water, the turtles will come to see if you're feeding them
962. Honeybees. Pollination and the necessity of the relationship between pollinators and plants to our food supply is a fascinating thing
963. Going to the State Fair with Brooklyn and getting to say hi to Adam at the booth he was running for work
964. Brooklyn having a conversation with a little special needs boy about (I assume) the fish in a big fishtank - no one else knew how to respond to his excited outburst
965. An empathetic friend who understands the tragedy of gnats drowned in tea, and gnats in general, and was willing to exchange tweets about it
966. Being able to spend the morning with Adam before he had to leave for a recruiting event
967. Adventures to find ingredients for a Christmas gift craft, followed by a long nap for Brooklyn and I
968. Again, a sermon that aligned with my 7 topic for the week
969. Listening prayer, and specific prayer, and just the opportunity for prayer in general
970. A day of rest that was actually restful for all of us
971. Dad being in Little Rock for a military school and coming by for an hour - All The Books were read, and our long evening went by much more quickly as a result
972. Finishing most of my week's to-do list in one day, including some tasks I was dreading
973. That this pregnancy hasn't been nearly as uncomfortable as the last one (so far, at least!)
974. Brooklyn not having a meltdown when I vacuumed (it's usually quite distressing)
975. Her enthusiasm about red pepper powder - apparently, it makes everything taste better
976. A quiet evening at home, all together
977. Walking at the park with Adam and Brooklyn and Dad
978. A day to be still
979. Waking up before Brooklyn and being able to sit on the balcony in the sunshine and knit and pray before breakfast
980. An understanding OB/GYN who thought a stomach bug was a perfectly valid reason for not having gained any weight, but still ordered an ultrasound for Sprout (just to check)
981. Successfully retrieving a friend's things from the Fair - and Brooklyn's patience, since it took an hour (also, that I got both items that I had left - they nearly lost one)
982. A quiet afternoon, and a cookie that I got on our way to the Fairgrounds but forgot about until dinner time
So, this week I've been focusing on stress. I've practiced combating it with Sabbath, pauses for prayer, more prayer, did I mention prayer? We were able to have a semi-Sabbath on Sunday, and then I've been keeping up my lunchtime quiet time still.
I had a to-do list for my week written out, but finished most of the tasks on Monday and Tuesday, leaving me with a few late-week appointments that were already set and an empty Wednesday. I woke up that morning kind of dreading the day, wondering what I would do.
Since I got up before Brooklyn (a rare occurrence), I ended up sitting on the balcony in the sun for half an hour, knitting and praying for grace for my day. She woke up late, we ate breakfast together, and then I sat down with my Quiet*ologie exercise for the day, with frequent pauses to read Brooklyn the books that she brought me, one by one. Emily had written about being still - so with a twinge of conviction over dreading an empty day, I embraced the stillness.
We read. I knitted and caught up on everyone's 31 Days posts. She took her nap and I had my quiet time. I had time to pray on paper (I can focus better in writing, but don't always have the time). When Adam got home, Brooklyn brought him her shoes and stuck out one foot hopefully, so he suggested a walk. We went to our favorite park nearby, and met my Dad, so he carried Brooklyn (who carried pinecones) and he and Adam talked military stuff while I quietly took pictures. It was a beautifully restful day.
Then today I had a doctor's appointment in the morning. My doctor was very understanding about a lack of weight gain (apparently she'd also had the stomach bug) but since Sprout was measuring a few weeks behind, ordered a precautionary ultrasound - but scheduled it for 3 weeks from now to give me time to gain weight and Sprout time to grow (all good). Then Brooklyn and I went to the Fairgrounds to pick up a couple of items that I'd dropped off for a friend. We got the smaller of the two items - the other had vanished. Another piece turned up with her name on it that belonged to someone else (an advantage to knowing all the knitters in Fayetteville is that I was able to identify what belonged to who). After an hour (which I spent fervently praying) the (big, fine-gauge, beautiful, intricate, lace) sweater turned up - hung in a closet, assumed to be something belonging to a volunteer that had accidentally been left.
Ordinarily, that would have left me wholly frazzled and in need of a nap or some chocolate or something. But all I felt was relief that it had been found. My reaction surprised me, so I thought about why I had responded in that way as we drove home, precious knits secure beside me in the front seat. I finally concluded that my day of rest on Wednesday had emotionally prepared me for the potentially stressful ordeal.
My lunchtime quiet time, pausing at regular intervals to pray, a beautiful day of being still, taking the time each evening to write down three gifts in my (almost filled!) red journal... none of those things are big in themselves, but added together they become big enough to hold stress at bay. Moments stand against moments, and if we'll just give the gifts a chance, they can overwhelm the things that threaten to overwhelm us.
"Thanksgiving is the acceptance of whatever He gives. Thanksgiving is the manifestation of our yes! to His grace."
[from One Thousand Gifts by Ann Voskamp]
At some point next week, I'll hit one thousand gifts counted, in just under a year. Because it's a wonderful practice that I plan to continue, and because I share the things I believe in, I'm giving away a copy of Ann Voskamp's book that started it all, a journal, and a pen --- just comment with three things you're grateful for today!
The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases; His mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness! The Lord is my portion, says my soul, therefore I will trust in Him.
Won't you join us in counting (and recounting!) His mercies anew? Just grab a journal or notebook (it doesn't have to be fancy) and a pen and write them down, then join us each week to encourage each other by sharing all of the blessings we've spotted. Catch up on everyone's posts and if you don't have a blog, feel free to participate by commenting, instead!
Check out these #NewEveryMorning hosts, as well, and don't forget to use the hashtag on Twitter so that we can find each other:
Tell me three things you're grateful for today!