The kids dirtied fingernails digging for the perfect skippers. They unearthed the flat ones buried deep beneath the grainy ground.
They flung rocks by the dozens and squinted in the sun as they watched their tosses soar above the murky waves.
They threw overhand and underhand, side-armed and straight-on; experimented with strategies that might make those rocks skip and spin across the lake.
But more often than not, their best efforts just sunk with a watery plop.
Only their Daddy could make those stones dance.
Drab rocks sparkled silver when Dad released them from his hand.
With a flick of his wrist, he sent those old river rocks soaring, shimmying over that wet blanket of blue until the lake swallowed them whole.
We watched with whoops and hollers, delighted by the show.
Eventually my little ones surrendered their trying and just carried all of their rocks to Daddy.
They dumped their muddy treasures in a pile at his feet and settled onto the sand to witness the waltz upon water.
My husband smiled at me and reached for a rock.
The kids clapped in anticipation.
And I thought about those Israelites I'd read about this morning, God's children lingering long in the barren desert.
And of those rocks they'd hauled out of the muddy river bottom when they were finally allowed to enter the Promised Land.
After the whole nation had gone across the Jordan River, the Lord spoke to Joshua. He said, "Choose 12 men from among the people. Choose one from each tribe. Tell them to get 12 stones from the middle of the river. They must pick them up from right where the priests stood. They must carry the stones over with all of you. And they must put them down at the place where you will stay tonight."
So Joshua called together the 12 men he had appointed from among the people of Israel. There was one man from each tribe. He said to them, "Go back to the middle of the Jordan River. Go to where the ark of the Lord your God is. Each one of you must pick up a stone. You must carry it on your shoulder... The stones will serve as a reminder to you. In days to come, your children will ask you, 'What do these stones mean?' Tell them that the Lord cut off the flow of water in the Jordan River. Tell them its water stopped flowing when the ark of the covenant of the Lord went across. The stones will always remind the Israelites of what happened there. (Joshua 4:1-7)
I've been stuck on the wrong side of the river because I didn't believe there was anything better on the other side.
And like those children of God before me, it was my own ingratitude that dimmed my eyes of faith and left me stumbling in the sand.
"Joshua set up the 12 stones at Gilgal. Then he spoke to the people of Israel. He said, 'In days to come, your children after you will ask their parents, 'What do these stones mean?' Their parents must tell them, 'Israel went across the Jordan River on dry ground.' The Lord your God dried up the Jordan for you until you had gone across it. He did to the Jordan River the same thing he had done to the Red Sea. He dried up the Red Sea ahead of us until we had gone across it. He did it so that all of the nations on earth would know that he is powerful. He did it so that you would always have respect for the Lord your God." (Joshua 4:21-24)
I might have stayed in that desert forever if it weren't for this little book and one woman's challenge to pick up some stones and remember.
I might have wilted there in the scorching heat of my own grumbly heart if I hadn't finally bent low and began to unearth the gifts that had been there all along.
I don't remember the exact day I first picked up my pencil and began to count, the moment I turned my pen into a trowel and started to dig for grace.
But I do remember this, how the digging changed my eyes.
Giving thanks improved my vision. The more I counted, the more I saw Him.
Not far out on the waters of tomorrow, but right here in the grit and grains of today. Immanuel. God with us.
Gratitude lifted my eyes from the gifts to the Giver.
Shifted my vision from the mud to the Majesty.
Giving thanks is how I began to build my own Gilgal, one stone of grace at a time.
The sun is beating hot, the breeze jumping off the water to kiss our sweaty cheeks.
My husband flings another rock, his green eyes shimmering.
The stone catches the sun, sparkles, pirhouettes upon the waves and disappears.
But those smiles--they stay plastered on my children's faces.
Ten dirty hands clap in giddy glee.
And I stand at the water's edge, counting these moments as grace and offering them back to my Father, the only One who can take my stones of thanks and make them dance!
The Overflow: Lord, I will remember what you did. Yes, I will remember your miracles of long ago.
Counting these stones as grace...
1094. 3 little ones chasing chipmunks at the park- the glories of the first day of summer!
1095. Saturday morning sleep-in and coffee from the Perk
1096. Picnic by the lake with shade keeping us cool.
1097. Maggie jumping the waves and laughing with delight
1098. Five kids digging for skipping stones- summer's simple pleasures.
1099. Rob making those stones soar across the water. Applause and dances on the sand.
1100. A late night date while the kids sleep.
1101. The smell of supper cooking on the grill- all seven of us gathered around the picnic table as the sun sets.
Linking again with Ann and these lovely grace seekers: l.l. for on, in, and around mondays, laura for playdates with god, ruth at the better mom, and jen for soli deo gloria