Friday, June 15, 2012

Journaling Thanks

"God is at work in the midst of our suffering.  One purpose of this is in how we respond - we have the choice to radiate our confidence in Christ - in how we go through our suffering." - Alan Ahlgrim

I am trying to choose joy, and share my confidence in Christ.  Every day.  I don't always succeed, but at least I have it as a goal in my suffering instead of hopelessness. I am choosing to trust God with everything. That brings joy.

The last 18 months have been very hard on our family as our 13 year old son has been chronically ill.  He has missed over 80% of the past year and a half of school.  He has had to drop all sports, social activities and any idea of a normal life for a middle school kid. It has impacted our younger son, who feels that he has lost his brother and it has been really stressful on our marriage and family life.

About 7-8 months into this illness, still undiagnosed at the time, my mom gave me the book, One Thousand Gifts, by Ann Voskamp.  It was during a time of great struggle for me and I was in a place where I was feeling like life was really unfair.  We had started our non-profit (E4 Project) to serve in Gabon, Africa, and within a month of that, our lives fell apart.  Our son's illness has been the hardest part, but there have also been some consistent health issues for my husband and me, and extreme job difficulty for my husband, struggles for our younger son and much more. I was struggling with God and how we were trying to serve Him with our whole lives, yet they were falling apart.  I was losing hope.

I am sure many of you have read this book - if you haven't, I suggest you do.  It  changed my perspective and it has completely turned around the way that I am dealing with life.  While I clearly still have bad days, unhappiness, struggles, questions, etc., I have learned to be thankful.  I started journaling in November of 2011. It is my list of things that I am thankful for, just as Ann did and wrote about in her book.  She accomplished over 1,000 items in her list in a year. My list is not going so quickly. I am at #379.  I hope to get 1,000 by the end of 2012, but it may take a little longer.  

The best part for me is that I started to take photos of everything in life that I am thankful for.  Things I always took for granted. Things that I did not notice.  Blessings that God was showing me, that I was missing.  I keep my list in a journal, but I also paste in a lot of photos of things from my list.  It is actually turning into a brief album, a glimpse into my life for a year.  It is encouraging to read through it when I am struggling.  

It is changing my outlook daily and I am trying to share the joy of Christ in my life through struggles.  Those of you who know me well, know that this is not always the case.  But I can choose it - this gift from God, and I am working towards choosing it each day.

#379 Our backyard deck - favorite place at home

#380 Journal Pages

#381 A clean table

# 382 Orchids
#383 Our insane Bengal kitten

Ryan is still not well, in fact, he has not improved at all yet. He was diagnosed about 6 months ago with Chronic Lyme Disease after a year of searching for answers from many doctors.  While he continues to struggle, we are thankful for a new doctor and aggressive treatment plan and also summer - for more time to start the healing process.

I linked to Ann's book above, this link will take you to her blog as well. I highly recommend it.


  1. Having a goal in one's suffering is so much better than hopelessness - yes! Being thankful has helped me with our situation enormously (hubby was out of work for 18 months) and being thankful for His blessings literally kept me sane. Strength to you and your family.

  2. Oh my goodness! I just saw your comment on the One Thousand Gifts facebook page and clicked on your link. One of my son's had Lyme Disease. Now I have one more thing to be thankful for. His was caught early by his amazing pediatrician and the treatment worked. It's been 10 years and he's doing just fine. No complications. I had been told we were lucky, but at the time, I didn't FEEL so lucky. It was complicated and the medicine was awful. But he recovered quickly and is fine. Reading your blog makes me feel so blessed.
    And my heart goes out to you. My prayers are with you and your son and I hope his condition changes for the better SOON! May God heal every last cell in his body.

  3. I tried to reply to this earlier, but it did not seem to post. Thanks for your comments. Wendy, I am so glad that you too have found blessing in being thankful. It is so hard sometimes, but makes such a difference. Patty, thanks for your note. I am so glad that your son recovered quickly. It is a lot more complicated when doctors don't catch it - our son went undiagnosed for a year. Thank you for prayers - I love your comment "May God heal every last cell in his body" - that is what he needs and I will be praying that sentence - I love that. Thanks for reading! I hope to write about once a week. Summer has been a little crazy.