Misty Garrison » Gathered Fragments

Since this is my little space on the webosphere, I reserve the right to change the rules midway through a month. After coming to the unfortunate realization that I have already used most of my “thin place” photographs to illustrate the “31 days of conversation” last month, I simply cannot keep that theme going for the remainder of this month of gratitude. So, I’ve decided to spend the final days of November returning to my trusty friend “abundance” and attempting to focus on the goodness of God found in the simple things of everyday life. Or at least until I change my mind again.

Abundance is…

…belly laughs. Or, in Eliza’s case over laughing. Cuz girl does not know how to do something half way.
…the fullness of joy found in the presence of the Almighty.

And wouldn’t you know that God used the first one to remind me of the second.

I’m pretty sure I know where Eliza learned to over laugh. You see, up until a certain birthday in June, this gift of a human being has been the easiest, happiest, most delightful child that I have ever had the pleasure of knowing. And I say that will all humility since I cannot take credit for her genetic disposition. But then came three and with it the tendency toward tyranny and bouts of bi-polarness. All those highs we had enjoyed for the last two years were now being balanced with extreme lows, otherwise known as unpleasant grumpiness usually predicated by not getting her way. You know, the same reason I get in a bad mood.

In order to survive these cantankerous moments, mama decided to employ the classic “redirect” tactic. Or possibly, my own frustration just came exploding out in the form of hysterical laughter. Fine line between genius and madness, don’t you know. At any rate, when I would feel the toddler emotional barometer begin to drop I would try to do something silly and then commence to laugh, the louder and longer – the better. I am happy to report that my efforts were successful most of the time. Perhaps, too successful…

Because now when the aforementioned child has been naughty and senses trouble coming, she immediately loses herself in uncontrollable guffaws. And it would seem the frequency of this cycle has now developed into her new expression of joy. Over laughing. All the live long day. And it is contagious, let me tell ya.

And then just the other day, God brought this gem into my life through an Instagram friend. After one day of reading the Truth about giving thanks, I realized that I have been spending too much time focused on what is missing in my life and the things that are not going my way. In other words, my spirit has been caught up in a fit of toddler moodiness. And like a gentle, adoring Father, God is using this study and this book to redirect my attention to the awe-inspiring wonder of Him. I can feel Him lift my pouting chin so that I can look Him full in the face and see the laughter & love dancing in His eyes as He looks back at me. And we over laugh. Together. And my heart is filled with joy and gratitude. Nothing has changed. Except me. Thanks to being with & focusing on Him.

“You have turned for me my mourning into dancing; you have loosed my sackcloth and clothed me with gladness” (Psalm 30:11, ESV).

“Our fall was, has always been, and always will be, that we aren’t satisfied in God and what He gives. We hunger for something more, something other” (Ann Voskamp, One Thousand Gifts: A Dare to Live Fully Right Where You Are)

“Real pleasure, the only kind that satisfies the human soul and, at the same time, transforms a man into a marvelously decent person, is the sheer pleasure of living for the glory of God. It’s what each of us was designed to do. As the eagle finds pleasure through the heights, so a person finds pleasure in knowing God and doing God’s will. There is no choice to be made between the pursuit of true pleasure and obedience to a holy God. They are one path” (Sam Storms, Pleasures Evermore).

And I was made for belly laughs with the Father. And so were you…

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That time the setting sun kissed the tips of the fallen leaves. And I saw Him in the beauty He has spoken (and continues to speak) into being with His Word. And my heart was moved to praise…

“Hallelujah! Thank God! Pray to him by name! Tell everyone you meet what he has done! Sing him songs, belt out hymns, translate his wonders into music! Honor his holy name with Hallelujahs, you who seek God. Live a happy life! Keep your eyes open for God, watch for his works; be alert for signs of his presence. Remember the world of wonders he has made, his miracles, and the verdicts he’s rendered – O seed of Abraham, his servant, O child of Jacob, his chosen. He’s God, our God, in charge of the whole earth. And he remembers, remembers his Covenant – for a thousand generations he’s been as good as his word” (Psalm 105:1-8, The Message).

“God is a God of galaxies, of storms, of roaring seas and boiling thunder, but He is also the God of bread baking, of a child’s smile, of dust motes in the sun. He is who He is, and always shall be. Look around you now. He is speaking always and everywhere. His personality can be seen and known and leaned upon. The sun is belching flares while mountains scrape our sky while ants are milking aphids on their colonial leaves and dolphins are laughing in the surf and wheat is rippling and wind is whipping and a boy is looking into the eyes of a girl and mortals are dying” (N.D. Wilson, Death by Living: Life Is Meant to Be Spent).

Sing & dance for joy! And praise His holy name!

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That time we escaped the messy house, left the chores undone, and gave our souls a taste of an afternoon together exploring trails which seemed to come alive with fallen leaves dancing in the wind. And your hair blowing behind you in the breeze you created on your bike was a perfect picture of how my heart felt being there in that place with all my people.

And you seemed a bit unreal to me. And a little wild. Like a dream. And I simply did not want to wake up in case I had to face a world without you. Because I have already suffered through a life where those curls did not exist, and I much prefer the magic of this moment. And the miracle of you. And your curls.

“And above all, watch with glittering eyes the whole world around you because the greatest secrets are always hidden in the most unlikely places. Those who don’t believe in magic will never find it” (Roald Dahl).

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That time when I washed dishes while you danced.

I watch you as you twirl, and I want so desperately to be light & free. But the bubbles in the sink feel more like chains holding me down. And suddenly the weight of the years looming before me in this assignment of motherhood and homemaking seem too heavy for me to bear. I find myself fighting against the future and the minute I am living now. Wanting my life to be more than another load of laundry and episode of Little Bear.

And I know this is just a season. This too shall pass. All too quickly. And, most certainly, we all have our manic moments in the mundane. But I am an older mama, and when I do the math calculating how old I will be when this phase is finished – well, I get panicky. Like an addict in a fretful fit over her next hit. And an urgency to start living something bigger and, dare I say, more important settles into my soul. Robbing me of my joy, my calling, and my precious little time with them.

But God, in His faithful, steadfast, patient love, does not leave me there in the writhing pain of my withdrawals. Albet, withdrawals from unknown, completely imagined, and yet unexperienced highs. No, instead of walking away from my wayward & ungrateful heart, He writes me love notes. Like the one below from Streams in the Desert (my favorite devotional) that I found just when I needed it. To bring me back from the brink of believing the lie that my work in this place and in their hearts is not enough. And to remind me that my spiritual act of worship can simply be my joyful submission to the task at hand. Whether it be defeating the dust bunny uprising or settling yet another squabble between siblings or cuddling a cute 3 year old on the couch. The task is not what brings significance & value to the sacrifice, but instead the state of my heart & the worth of the One who receives it.

“These were the potters, and those that dwelt among plants and hedges: there they dwelt with the king for his work” (1 Chron. 4:23).

“We may dwell ‘with the king for his work’ anywhere and everywhere. We may be called to serve Him in the most unlikely places and under the most adverse conditions. It may be out in the countryside, far away from the King’s many activities in the city. Or it may be ‘among plants and hedges’ of all kinds – hindrances that surround us, blocking our way. Perhaps we will be one of ‘the potters,’ with our hands full of all types of pottery, accomplishing our daily tasks.

It makes no difference! The King who placed us ‘there’ will come and dwell with us. The hedges, or hindrances, are right for us, or He will quickly remove them. And doesn’t it stand to reason that whatever seems to block our way may also provide for our protection? As for the pottery – it is exactly what He has seen fit to place in our hands and is for now ‘his work’ (Frances Ridley Havergal).

Go back to thy garden-plot, sweetheart!
Go back till the evening falls,
And bind thy lilies and train thy vines,
Till for thee the Master calls.
Go make thy garden fair as thou canst,
Thou workest never alone;
Perhaps he whose plot is next to thine
Will see it and mend his own.

Brightly colored sunsets and starry heavens, majestic mountains and shining seas, and fragrant fields and fresh-cut flowers are not even half as beautiful as a soul who is serving Jesus out of love, through the wear and tear of an ordinary, unpoetic life” (Frederick William Faber).

Dancing and dishes “with the king for his work.” May it be so.

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That time we spent the evening in the country blowing cattail fuzz in each other’s faces. Because we could. And it was simple and magical and breathtakingly beautiful. Kinda like life.

“Do not ask your children
to strive for extraordinary lives.
Such striving may seem admirable,
but it is the way of foolishness.
Help them instead to find the wonder
and the marvel of an ordinary life.
Show them the joy of tasting
tomatoes, apples and pears.
Show them how to cry
when pets and people die.
Show them the infinite pleasure
in the touch of a hand.
And make the ordinary come alive for them.
The extraordinary will take care of itself.”
– William Martin

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That time little joined Daddy and Lou for a session of video game playing. Minecraft, I’m sure. Or maybe Disney Infinity. But most likely, Minecraft. Of course, she is holding a Wii controller and is none the wiser that she is not actually playing. And as I moved around the room getting shots of different perspectives, I must not have switched my focal point getting Daddy’s knee in sharp focus instead of the faces. But I love it, nonetheless. Perfect imperfection. And yet another happy accident.

The hint of joy in her face and concentration in his…

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