The bathtub is full and I am alone. Words full of grace and hope rest gently between my hands, the cover stretched from holding my place — continuing this life-giving whisper I’m struggling to receive. And it’s very likely I might never get it right in this lifetime.

The day has been full and long and the evening, lonely. HH gone since eight this morning, me forgetting to truly look my Mom in the eyes to say thank-you for so much help through the day, juggling boys full of life, energy, promise, me feeling a little dead on the inside.

If this week wanted to whisper anything, it wanted to whisper this: Give Thanks.

{Would you believe Tiger Tank wore this exact outfit today? And then I remembered this picture of the Bear from this post? The Tiger is nearly the exact same age. Wow.}

A friend called to ask for a moment to unload. Difficult circumstances at her husband’s work. Some bad news about an old friend made the evening news. Heavy. I talked, too, about letting my stresses get the better of me, this worried heart of mine forgetting to breathe the free air of trusting God. By the end of the conversation we’d encouraged one another, lifted prayers to the Father, laughed and remembered: Hope, there is always hope.

I want to take a risk and just trust.

Another friend called, a brave whisper at the other end of the line on the way home from the doctors: It looks like we lost this one, too. I weep. She weeps. She somehow speaks thankfulness, and commenting on how crazy it seems, speaks certainty in the goodness of God. Right there on the phone on the way home from the news that was read on an ultrasound screen.

I don’t understand all this. I go back to hiding. Forcing smiles with clenched teeth, me, feeling the quickening of new life just getting started — me, undeserving of this gift, 18 weeks along and sometimes thankful, sometimes fearful.

How will I make it? How will I do this?

And a faint whisper I’m afraid to ask in the back of my mind: why not her, now?

If my heart is a desert, worry is a well-worn path through the sand. Fear and worry, the enemies of peace and joy.

Laying in that bath, I worried. These are moments I’ll look back on and see differently, aren’t they? The blessing of these long summer days, little boys who haven’t even started school — I might call the end of a year of preschool a curse, me feeling heavy laden with a long to-do list and the concern of how to juggle, but rightly seen, this too is a blessing.

I worry that I’ll be sad when this changes. I’ve already thought about waving goodbye to this third child who hasn’t even been born yet. Watching these children grow up, leave home, fulfill dreams — how will this old soul cope?

But aren’t His mercies new every morning?

Does His compassion ever fail?

And isn’t that what this book has been saying — what I heard in my own heart a long time ago, and what Ann has been whispering all along?

Start counting the gifts. Start counting the blessings. See.

See because of what has gone before, how you can trust for what is to come: somehow God has always been good. And if a precious friend of mine can brave those words on the way home from the doctors, can’t I shout them from the mountaintop?

What kind of sinner am I, not to see the gifts, remember them, hold them steady in my heart, count and count and say thanks and say thanks?

There are things about now that I don’t like — but this is my schizophrenia, the simultaneous disdain for, and worry that I am not savoring the moments that I ought to be savoring. I am trying to hold them tight and wish them away at the same time.

But here is something true: whether we feel we are dwelling on mountain tops or trudging valleys low, we can be certain that we haven’t gotten to the best part of the story yet.

And God’s blessings never end because His love never ends.

Profound, simple truth leaps off the page at me.

As I begin to let the water drain, I remember lying in a bathtub in Gordon’s Bay, nearly sixteen months ago. Simultaneously wishing away the temporary pains of recovering from nine pounds delivered in nine minutes, and wishing we could somehow set the clock to still for a little while, the precious moments of life’s beginning going too fast. Feeling the ache that a singer etched out in notes while I pushed a cart through the grocery store this morning:

Cause you can’t jump the track, we’re like cars on a cable,
Life’s like an hour glass glued to the table…
No one can find the rewind button now,
Sing it if you understand.
And breathe. Just breathe.

And I let that water drain, hoping my heart can settle to sleep, remembering the words of the God-whisper as I let out the water sixteen months ago: The Good Water is the Water that Flows.

I’m sure of it, that I won’t have all the answers until we see Him face to face, but this certainty fills my heart, reminds me to breathe in the meantime: Thankfulness prepares the way for God.

Thankfulness will carry me through these long days, these worrisome moments — when I rightly see that this, too, is the good water flowing by — all of it will flow until He is here and we see as we are seen, know as we are known.

I am sorry for letting stress steal the joy. I am painfully aware I’m contradicting His command:

Do not let your hearts be troubled. Trust in God, trust also in Me. {John 14:1} 

Strange how trust can feel so dangerous. On the playground this morning with the boys, my Mom told me a man walked a tightrope across the Niagara falls last night, continuously praying, putting one foot in front of the other.

I hold on to worry and stress, with the illusion of control, trust feels so risky. But isn’t He trustworthy?

Back to Grace — the account I can never over-withdraw, even though I’m so greatly indebted. His mercies are new every morning — and tomorrow is a fresh chance to give thanks, look to heaven, count blessings, and prepare the way.

Manna-mercy is already falling as I think that out — hope whispers to my soul. Breathe. Trust. Keep seeking and you will find, with hope and thanks, life in abundance.