December 18th, 2011

Overwhelmed with Gratitude


Overwhelmed with Gratitude

Hello Friends, Family, People Who Stumbled onto Our Blog while Google Searching,

Today is Sunday, the third day of our Christmas Break. I’m already wondering what to do with my time. I’ve grown unaccustomed to having free time. We’ve had one, maybe two, free weekends this semester. I’ve come home exhausted and emotionally spent nearly every day. We’ve coached volleyball (not me—ha!), subbed at dorms, attended school trips, had meetings, filmed stuff, had many a conversation, spoken in dorms, spoken in chapel, taught sex ed, made meals, served cider, and much, much more. We’re very tired, and very in need of this break.

Yet despite our exhaustion, I can only think of how very blessed I am. I am so very blessed.

God was gracious to us this semester—it was normal! There were no major life crises! We’ve been able to focus on our jobs without being weighed down with fresh grief, though there has been some less-than-fresh grief thrown in there.

My semester has been filled with God. God in me, God through me, God in other people. I’ve been daily amazed that I get to do what I do. I get to talk to girls all day—about boys, about home, about family, about heartache, about what it means to follow Jesus, about truth. This semester, I’ve been continually overwhelmed by the students I get to know and the conversations I get to have with them.

These students are amazing. They live all over the world. They speak multiple languages. They live between cultures. Their experiences have made them unique. They view the world through wide, open eyes. I love their uniqueness. I love their hearts more.

This has been a semester filled with serious issues. You name it, I’ve probably had a conversation about it—death, addiction, abuse, fear, loneliness, self-hatred. I’ve been privileged to be part of conversations about sin and suffering, brokenness and redemption, grief and healing. I’m honestly amazed that these girls talk to me (me!), that I get to speak into their lives, that they trust me. I’ve asked myself many times, why me? Why are you using me, God? Why are you blessing me with all of this goodness? Whatever the answers are to those questions, I’m grateful.

Two years ago, in this post, I said that I wanted to learn to love people better. In the past two years, God has taught me to love people better. Much of my learning has come through my own heartbreak, grief, brokenness and despair. Many of those lessons have also come through realizing what false love tends to look like in my life—a perverse desire to play Jesus to people, to save them myself rather than wanting him to do it. But I’ve also seen truer reflections of my Father’s love in my heart. I see greater hope and faith on other people’s behalf. I see greater patience. I see greater compassion. I see a greater willingness to put myself out there at the risk of being rejected or hurt. Praise God for his continued redemption!

I want to tell you all about these girls, who I love so very much. I want to tell you their stories and what God’s doing in their lives, but they’re not my stories to tell. I can’t tell you their stories without doing some serious permission-asking beforehand. Just know, dear friends, that these girls are precious. I get to weep and rejoice with them. I get to be frustrated when it seems like I’m pounding my head on a brick wall, and stand amazed when a kernel of truth takes root in their hearts. I get to share in their precious heartaches and stand witness to the slow, but steady, healing work of Jesus in those heartaches. I get to give coffee, and hugs, and makeovers, and conversation, and truth, and tears, and love. I get to know more about my Father’s love for me as I grow in love for these girls.

Jesus has been kind to me. I am utterly amazed. I wish I could sit down with you, a stack of photos, and a cup of coffee and tell you all about the girls I get to know and love. I wish you could meet them and share in the knowledge of their utter awesomeness, but until we’re on the other side of eternity, that probably won’t happen. So take my meager thanks instead.

Thank you, dear friends. Thank you for allowing us to be here. This has been the hardest, bestest place for us. This has been one of the most worthwhile things we’ve ever done. These kids are worth it. Jesus is at work here, in us, in these students, in the world. It feels inadequate every time I say this, but you really do allow us to be here. Your prayers, your giving, and your support are what keep us here. I feel overwhelmed with gratitude.

I really don’t care about Christmas gifts this year, and I think it’s because my heart is so full of precious gifts already. What more could I want?

3 Responses to “Overwhelmed with Gratitude”


  • Grandpa Bill says:

    Dani, I wept as I read this. I wept for joy, joy for you, joy in the way God is using you, joy in how God is making you into the image of Jesus, joy in how God is answering our prayer long before you were born!!!
    Grandma and I are so proud of you.

    • Dani says:

      Thank you Grandpa. I’m proud to be your granddaughter and come from your heritage of faith. You two have had a huge role in who I am today.

  • DeMo says:

    Thanks for sharing, Dani. It’s really encouraging to see that you can see God’s hand in your life. I’m going to be on the lookout in my own life too. Merry Christmas, and I hope that you have a great time!