Two years ago today, we laid our son to rest. We witnessed the love and support of many – our loving family, friends we hadn’t seen in years, and friends who traveled over mountain passes to say goodbye to our boy. A bouquet of flowers sits on my kitchen table – an array of orange roses along with white, orange and purple flowers I cannot name. When I awoke and walked into the dining room, the scent of the flowers made a picture of Christian’s room filled with flowers after the funeral flash into my mind. I felt the hollowness and the ache of my boy being away from this earth.
I took on a challenge of sorts and decided to begin this last Thursday – the day our boy passed away. I am writing down at least 10 things a day that I am thankful for along with reading and reflecting on a devotional by Ann Voskamp called One Thousand Gifts. After 3 days, I have learned more than I have in months, maybe even years.
I learned why my mind darkened and my heart closed to God’s grace.
My husband and I went through some old photographs – pictures of my sons when they could walk and stand. Swimming, vacations to Disneyworld and Las Vegas, horseback riding and spending time doing so many fun, simple things in Lewistown with my parents, sisters, brother-in-law and cousins. Those were the days when my heart was full of light. I felt, witnessed and lived God’s grace.
Christian at the petting zoo at the Lewistown Fair.
As the boys lost the ability to walk, brush their teeth or even feed themselves, my heart slowing darkened. When I needed God’s grace the most I closed myself off from it. I didn’t realize at the time why it became harder for me to notice the miracles I always noticed before Christian’s health really started to decline.
Yesterday, I read these verses:
“For that which is known about God is evident to them and made plain to their inner consciousness…For ever since the creation of the world His invisible nature and attributes, that is, His eternal power and divinity, have been made intelligible and clearly discernible in and through the things that have been made. So men are without excuse…they did not honor and glorify Him as God or give Him thanks…and their senseless minds were darkened.” -Romans 1:19-21
My heart began to hollow out when I stopped expressing my thankfulness to God for His gifts big and small. He gave us so much to praise Him for and continues to each and every day. When we notice and confess the goodness He so readily gives to us, our eyes open to His divinity which surrounds us all of the time. I know now why I began to see an extra layer to life after Christian passed away. I began to notice things that made my heart want to burst – colors in the sky I hadn’t noticed before, sunlight on a sparrow’s face as he enjoyed seeds from my feeder, the sounds of the wind blowing autumn leaves still attached to a cottonwood.
I went on a walk yesterday and noticed things I had not noticed weeks ago. I am sure I looked funny because I stared in amazement at the Missouri River and the way the moving lines in the water reminded me of an orchestra, the golden leaves gently fluttering on the trees, and dogs with happy faces running in the dog park.
The more thankful I become, the more I see, feel and live God’s grace.