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If you read “Changing my questions” [http://wp.me/p1Vsn8-59], then you know that God is doing a work of gratitude in my heart. Perhaps you decided to join me in this venture, this quest for holy praise. Perhaps you too need a breath of free air, released from the confines of unanswered questions. Fixation on the “why” has emptied me of joy for far too long. Will I still have days of struggle, blinded by what is not? Yes. Maybe more often than not. But, challenged by Voskamp’s One Thousand Gifts, I have purposed to give thanks for grace.  

The first snowflakes. A grieving friend’s shaky embrace. Butterfly kisses. Butterfly wings. Chocolate peanut butter. Steaming cappuccino.

Naivety does not fill me with unfounded expectations. I’m not pretending that thanksgiving will magically eradicate all pain. I do believe, however, that recognizing what is beautiful will usher in the miraculous.

I could use some miraculous.

For this afternoon, allow me to plunge right into my list with gift #1.

In the grasp of small brown fingers.

A student’s trust.

She sat there forlorn and faltering, tears outlining her beautiful dark eyes. When I met her three years ago, disrespect and isolation characterized her. But, now, she is one of my favorites. Prayers for her have sculpted a special place in my heart. Although still cantankerous, she has reached out. While she used to stiffen at any and all physical touch, she now greets me with arms wide open. While she used to scoff at classroom rules, she now at least tolerates them. She is just now becoming a woman – childhood defiance and adulthood maturity at war today in her slumped profile.

Walking in the school office, her pain captured me. Setting aside my papers to copy, my arms soon gripped her sobbing form in a strong embrace.

“It’s okay,” I croon. “I believe in you.”

Taking a seat beside her, I held her hand. Just held it. Gripped her small brown fingers. Engulfed her stubbornness. Waiting for the principal to usher her into the office to face her classmate’s accusations. Heart beating with hers in anxiousness and dread of what is to come. Heart beating with far too much knowledge of what might be in store. Heart beating with the understanding that this sweet child is awakening in a harsh world.

Heart beating with gratitude that I had earned her trust.

She stuttered out broken pieces of the sordid story. I listened. Held on. Believed in her. Told her so. Affirmed her worth. Affirmed her beauty. Affirmed her tears.

Our tears. Our trust. My gift.

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