My dear Grandma is sick.
Grams (as I've affectionately called her since I was very young) has been in and out of hospitals for over a year now. It has been incredibly hard on her body, mind, and soul. Not to mention the strain on my Gramps (now 92 years old!), and the rest of the family.
Last night we visited Grams in yet another new hospital room. This time, she's in a rehab program where we pray she might regain some of her strength, and her will to keep on going.
A sweet nurse bustles into the room wearing pastels and a warm smile. She's got one of those wheel-y things with all the vital-taking machinery. We are all awkward as we try to step out of her way. She doesn't seem to mind us there, although we do pack the (very) small room.
"Hello, Margaret!" she's almost too cheery - you know - for a hospital room.
"I'm your night nurse. Welcome to your new room - I hope you will love it here."
She lingers with a pretty accent on those last few words - love it here.
My uncle and I exchange a smirk. Grams? Love it here? She hates hospitals and she's seen enough of them for a lifetime in just the past few months. We both silently chuckle and shake our heads. We know Grams all too well. We are hopeful. But skeptical that she will ever 'love it here'.
It isn't until much later that I think again about those words. I adore that nurse for her kindness. Her enthusiasm. For the reminder she gave me in that moment.
Isn't there a call on every one of us in every one of our situations to at least try to love it here?
I mean, right where we are, our present dwelling, our individual situation - we all desperately need to find some sacred way to love it here. Right here.
Because right here is where God has placed us and right here and right now is all we know we have. Beyond this - there are no guarantees. Not for Grams, sick in the hospital - and not for me - seemingly healthy in my cozy little house.
I wonder this - if I refuse to 'love it here' in the place God has me, do I refuse His providence over my life?
Because whether you're sick or well or young or old there you are. Here you are. Life is as simple as that - where you are, is here. Or there. I'm not a grammar whiz - but you know what I mean. That's it - you get what you get.
And I know - right here for me is not in a hospital bed. What I 'get' in life right now is certainly far better than what so many are dealing with. I'm beyond blessed and I know it. At least I think I know it. But then I start to doubt myself.
I mean, when I refuse to honor Him by giving thanks for every little 'right here' in my own life, what am I truly saying?
Maybe I'm saying, 'What you give, Lord... I don't want it. I know better and I refuse to even try to find Your glory here...' Oh, how many times have I done this very thing? Too many.
A few days ago, the house was stifling. The kids had spent much of the afternoon bickering about every little thing. I was tired, grouchy, overly sensitive to the noise. I stepped outside, leaving my (amazing) husband playing Monopoly with three (still bickering) children.
I took a deep breath. I grabbed my camera from my apron pocket and I forced myself to start looking. To keep breathing. To start whispering praise to my Creator who gives all things. And hey, when you're grumpy and hot and sick of doing dishes - sometimes, you have to force the first few 'thank yous'. But, you know what happens?
When you are looking - your eyes start seeing:
Yes, in that moment - in that here and now moment - when I open my eyes to see the beauty and gifts around me, my whole soul shifts. My perspective flips. The weight the enemy so desperately wants to force on my shoulders? Christ Jesus - Yeshua - His tender hands grab hold of that weight and lifts it right off me. Then He shows me clearly where I am and who I am in Him and how the endless gifts surround my very existence.
I don't ever need to wish away the 'here' because the 'here' is where He is working and where I am growing.
Yes, the kitchen is a mess, and there is laundry everywhere, and chicken poop on the deck, and compost spilling out on the grass, and heaps of stuff waiting to go to the dump... but those little things amount to nothing compared to the beauty. You have to just open eyes to see the truth. See it, then I choose to record it - to count gifts, and be filled right up with joy and thanksgiving. It's life-altering.
I see the gifts - the reality - I witness the children seeking their own gifts as they watch, wide-eyed for birds in the yard. I long for them to grow up to be seekers of beauty, because if they can master the art of seeking beauty and then praising God who brings all beautiful things into existence - oh, how that will alter their days, their years, their eternity.
To learn the discipline of surrendering in the here. And everyone's HERE is different - but we're all called to the same thing - find joy. Find it. Desperately cling to it. I pray this for Grams. I pray this for you. I pray this for every single one of us who struggles to live surrendered to the moments we are given - embracing the good and the messy with open hands and open hearts. Searching, madly grasping for the joy found in the right here, right now.
Because if we can't find joy here...
we probably won't find it there either.
*update: Sadly, Grams passed away and left this world a month after this post was written. Thank you for your comments and messages of love and concern.*