I noticed her immediately.
She was on the way to the bathroom. Her husband cradled her. She seemed frail.
I looked over at Richard.
“She must be ill,” I said. I wanted to go and check on her, but her husband hovered just outside the bathroom. It appeared that she was in good hands.
Just a few minutes later I met her in person. She was Katherine Wolf, author of the book, Hope Heals. She is a speaker. Mama. Wife. Stroke survivor.
At the age of 26, she had a massive brainstem stroke. Her 6-month-old son was in the next room. She nearly died, and had to relearn how to swallow, how to walk, and how to redefine her new normal. If you read her story, you will see pictures before the stroke. She was stunning. As we chatted, I couldn’t help but see the beauty and strength in her today.
She’s still stunning.
In her own words, Katherine describes the stroke as a “detour.” She says:
“Perhaps some detours aren’t detours at all. Perhaps they are actually the picture. And perhaps they can be perfect.”
She doesn’t say that lightly. She doesn’t brush off the magnitude of her suffering. Before I met her, the first thing I noticed about her was the aftermath of her stroke. That’s not easy, to be defined by something you didn’t ask for. Yet as I spoke with her, I don’t know if I’ve ever had a more visual demonstration of the power of gratitude.
That was the picture that was perfect.
Splendor and majesty are before him; strength and joy are in his dwelling place. 1st Chronicles 16:27 (NIV)
I saw Jesus in her because he lives in the strength and joy she exhibits. It makes no sense in the natural, but Katherine is living a life of thank you.Splendor and majesty are before him; strength and joy are in his dwelling place. 1st Chronicles 16:27 (NIV) #ComeWithMe #livefreeThursday Click To Tweet
What does that look like?
It’s not pretending that it’s not hard.
It’s seeking God, and God, moments within that hard place.
It’s holding open hands to receive unexpected joy.
It’s yielding our emotions to a God that is bigger than circumstances, and who fills the gaps that we cannot on our own.
We stop comparing our path to someone else.
We are open to discovering what God can do right where we are.
We become joy seekers, and thank you givers, at every stage of our journey.
Why is this important?
Katherine’s two young children (she had a miracle baby a few months ago) will never look back and remember the pre-stroke woman that is their mom. But they will remember a woman who demonstrated:
Joy in suffering.
Strength in faith.
Hope, hope, and more hope.
I’ve often heard people say, “I don’t see Jesus.” I saw Jesus in Katherine.
I pray that people see Jesus in me, rather than discontent.
Can we be real about the fact that we are tempted by discontent? We come against that temptation with this truth.
Discontent is a thief.
It robs us of the ability to laugh. It steals joy. It puts blinders on, as our focus becomes our circumstances or another person, or what we want or what we don’t have. We lose the ability to appreciate what we do have.
If a thief was trying to come into my home, I would bar the door. I would call for help! I would take all my treasures and hold them close. I wouldn’t let throw open the door and let him in, and feed him while he stole from me.Our greatest heart work takes place where we are the least thankful. #ComeWithMe #livefree Click To Tweet
Let’s stop giving the thief of discontent access to our heart. Our life is more than things. It’s more than hardships. It’s more than what someone else has, or what we wish we had.
Intentional gratitude has the power to take us off the road to discontent. Strength and joy becomes his dwelling place in us. It allows us not to miss the beauty of our own life, living fully right where we are.
I realize this is a hard ask, but our greatest heart work takes place when we look at those areas where are the least thankful. Will you invite the Lord into that particular place today?
Ask for his help to find a “thank you” in the heart of it. I’d love to hear what you discovered.
I’m not going to place a burden of guilt on you, or on me. That’s not who I am, and that doesn’t work anyway. This won’t be a list of “should’s”.
It’s coming together to discover the power of intentional gratitude, to walk away from discontent to discover a life of thank you.
I’ll reference Chapter 7 of Come With Me: Discovering the Beauty of Following Where He Leads. Buy the book to take this topic even deeper. ♥
- Please check out the beautiful story of Katherine and Jay Wolf in their book, Hope Heals.