What if that November 2nd hadn’t been part of our story ?” I hardly dared ask my Mama when I remembered & sat with her today. 

What if little Aimee hadn’t toddled out across the farmyard after our cat, what if the oblivious truck driver had seen her before he struck her, what if Mama and I hadn’t been standing at the kitchen sink, right there at the window, witnessing, helpless, when her little body fell under the wheel?

I will never forget how Mama screamed that long ago morning, or how Mama whispered it to me this morning: 

“Everything, our whole lives, would have been different… 
But God’s kindness to us, our whole lives, has always been the same.”

Though the fig tree and the birthday candles won’t blossom again, though there are graves and no breathing warm breath back into lifeless bodies we love & long to hold, though there are waiting shoes and places at the table that will always sit empty, yet: 

Our God is more than only good, He is always, always, always kind.

He’s etched the curve of our names into His skin, He’s enfolded around us like the mother-love of a wing, He’s hidden us up in the deep chambers of His heart & our God is literally in it with us.  

“Everything, our whole lives would have been different…But God’s kindness to us, our whole lives, has always been the same..”

Literally: Our God feels with us. 

Though there isn’t one of of us who wouldn’t change our stories, every single one of us is breathed into being by the Word, and we are more than cells and water, we are made of Story and Word, & He is our Author & the Word only writes stories with all kinds of lines for love & hope in the end.  

Though our story don’t seem to make sense, the Word makes all things right, makes all things new, makes all the heartbreaking things untrue

When I ask Mama if, on a day that holds such memories, if I can take her for a cup of coffee, she smiles softly:

“ So kind. So grateful. Just — thank you for remembering.”  

If the Last Supper we are to remember, was eucharistic, a place of thanks for our Lord, can we remember to drink the cup He gives & still somehow taste the kindness of His grace? 

This is hard and holy and the wholest way to be human. Yet, I didn’t know for years, for how many years and grief after Aimee, that if you really want to get to joy, there is only one road that will really get you there: thanksgiving

I also didn’t know: Thanksgiving comes the Hebrew word “yadah” — which is to say YADAH, YADAH, YADAH—  means to give thanks, give thanks, give thanks. Especially through the hard and the heartbreak. 

“Give thanks (yadah) to the Lord for his loving-kindness is everlasting.” (2 Chr 20:21).

It is true: 

We can always give thanks, because our tears won’t last forever, but His love will. 

“If we have truly known God’s heart for us, how can we not raise our hands in thanksgiving to Him?”  

And for how many years did I not know that  yadah literally means:  “to acknowledge, to know what is true” — to know & acknowledge the goodness of God that is always true.

Even when we kneel at graves, when we wipe tears, when remember the days that broke our hearts — and yet: 

“Oh that men would praise (yadah) the Lord for His goodness”  (Ps 107:15)

And yet, in the midst of heartache, to realize that related to the word yadah (thank), is the Hebrew word yada— which means “to know,” but to actually know intimately, like Adam knew (yada) Eve (Genesis 4:1)… like Moses asks to know God:  “Please show me now your ways, that I may know (yada) you in order to find favor in your sight.” (Exodus 33:13)

And both of these related words, YADAH and YADA come from the word YAD — the Hebrew word for hand. 

Which is to say what I keep returning to, especially on the hardest days, what the realest truth is: 

If our hand has stretched out to know God — 
our hands will stretch up to thank God. 

If our hands have ever intimately known the face of God, the kindness of God, we cannot help but ultimately raise our hands in thanksgiving to God. 

UltimatelyTo know God is to thank God. 

“When Christ gives us a cup to drink, how can we do anything less than He did for us, anything less than take it, and drink even our cup of ache down with thanks?”

Which means, even though we lament and weep:

If we aren’t daily thanking God — have we ever really known God? 

If we have truly known God’s heart for us, how can we not raise our hands in thanksgiving to Him? 

If we take time to truly know and notice the grace of God in our days, how can we not acknowledge God with our daily thanksgiving?

At the beginning of November, as I sit with Mama and the memory of Aimee, I wonder: 

What could be a better way to begin the holidays — the holy-days — than daily thanking God, because how could we do anything less when we truly know a kind and holy God?  

So I begin November by offering to pick Mama up for coffee, so neither of us  ache alone — and I dare to pick up a pen and still count gifts, more than a dozen gifts every day through till the end of the year to count 1000 gifts and finish the year strong, to fiercely defy the dark and testify with my thanksgiving: “Give thanks to the LORD, for He is good; For His lovingkindness endures forever…” 

The dark November clouds begin to roll in, heavy with rain. Mama whispers, “Thank you for sitting a bit here with me….” And I nod, smile. 

When Christ gives us a cup to drink, how can we do anything less than He did for us, anything less than take it, and drink even our cup of ache down with thanks?

Drink even our cup of ache down with thanks.

And in this remembering, this remembering to give thanks, our broken hearts are re-membered. 

How do we drink our cup of ache with thanks?
How do we find tender healing & gentle joy in the midst of our deepest heartbreaks?

How do we raise our hands to God in thanks — when our hearts are crushed, ashes in the wind?

What if in these days before the holidays — the holy-days — you found a way to defy the dark and testify to the goodness of a good and holy God?

This is my story, this is my song — thanking my Saviour all the day long has radically changed my life in ways I once thought impossible. Counting all the ways He loved me — showed me who I could ultimately count on….
Dare you to live fully — even, especially, right here…