This year is quickly drawing to a close and, in the quiet solitude of this day set aside for celebrations of gratitude, I find myself turning inward to search for the life gifts–some old and some new–born into my life journey in 2014.
Embracing the gift of family is such a natural thing for many of us to do on this day. We slow down and gather around a table and enjoy the gifts of food and fun and fellowship. This year I soaked in the moments of a young married couple with their dreams and their hopes all wrapped up in the beauty of believing in each other and I whispered a quiet thanks. My eyes fell on a young man as he ate his Thanksgiving meal of yogurt and I saw the gift of independence at his new home and his belief in himself–that he, too, can fulfill his desires–his dreams.
And then my eyes fell on the man at the head of our table–that man who may have a little less hair, a few more wrinkles and tons more wisdom due to the past 36 years of this journey. The lessons learned from watching him live a quiet life loving on his family and believing in the individual uniqueness of this crew residing under this roof affectionately labeled the Hupp Kingdom fills my heart to overflowing.
The new lessons of 2014 have steamrolled into my life with God’s handprints all over them. Earlier this year, a friend of mine contacted me about an opportunity to be a part of Give Her Wings, an agency that provides hope and healing to mothers and children who have removed themselves from abusive relationships. What I didn’t know at the time I accepted this opportunity is that the team members and the mothers that we have the privilege of serving would be teaching me a few things about having that mustard seed faith.
The church full of love that I was raised in and where Larry and I were married is yet another instrument that God used to stretch me. Once a month at the Food Pantry, love and acceptance and smiles are placed into grocery bags–yes, there’s physical sustenance in those bags, but there’s so much more–the emotional sustenance that every human being needs that walks into that church basement.
God wasn’t quite finished with my life assignments just yet. In August, we started walking the final steps of a journey began three years earlier. GHA Autism Supports extended its invitation for Adam to become part of their family and our family grew exponentially! From the Administrative Office personnel to the warm and loving ladies in Adam’s home and the five young men who live in the same home with Adam–we have been reminded that for everything there is a season and a time for every matter under Heaven.
This morning I received a text from a gentleman whom I have the privilege of serving with on the Consumer and Family Advisory Council for Cardinal Innovations, a North Carolina agency that serves the population of those affected by mental illness, substance abuse and intellectual and developmental disabilities. This gentleman is, in fact, a consumer and he is an accomplished poet. “For it’s not the things that we possess that signify our wealth, but the blessings that are priceless like our family, friends and health.” Such a lovely reminder from a gentle spirit.
The laying open of myself, my dreams, my desires, my goals continues to be an ongoing journey that God and I work on together. This year He has allowed me to see His works in my life and in the lives of those I love and cherish. The myriad of gifts brought into my life this year have grown my patience and my faith as I continue to learn to lie empty and open to joys, sorrows, triumphs, failures, suffering, comfort and certainly, always, change.
“Lord, help me now to unclutter my life, to organize myself in the direction of simplicity. Lord, teach me to listen to my heart; teach me to welcome change, instead of fearing it. Lord, I give you these stirrings inside me. I give you my discontent. I give you my restlessness. I give you my doubt. I give you my despair. I give you all the longings I hold inside. Help me to listen to these signs of change, of growth; help me to listen seriously and follow where they lead through the breathtaking empty space of an open door.” (from “Common Prayer: A Liturgy for Ordinary Radicals”)