There Is Much To Be Thankful For

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I’m sitting on the couch, watching House episodes on Netflix with my husband. I’m wrapped up in my oversized Christmas sweater, and am enjoying sipping a coffee, as I contemplate. Itty Bitty, one of the long haired cats, is napping behind me, on the sofa table, as warm light pools on the living room floor. I can see the boxes that are filled with the decorations I took down this afternoon. The dishwasher is humming, the clothes dryer is going, and the dogs toys are scattered all over the floor. This is life at my house.

Today is also my anniversary. My husband and I will go out for a special dinner, leaving our adult children to forage for themselves on this night.  My husband and I have been married ten years already. That is hard to believe. Both of us had been widowed in our thirties, losing our first spouses at a young age. It was ten years ago on this very day, that I was reminded that God loves me….and that He is the extravagant Giver of second chances.

As the New Year approached in 2000, I didn’t know what the future would hold. Now, here I am 15 years later. A new life. A new purpose. A brand new year that I get to experience. I am blessed, and one of the greatest joys for me, and the most humbling, is understanding how blessed I am….not taking anything for granted. Things could be different for me. I know that. I try to remember to say thank you to God…..every single day. There really is so much to be thankful for.

1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 “Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.”

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A Cold, Wet, Blustery Day

Here I am, caught in the middle….. In those days between the excitement of Christmas and the anticipation of New Years. The end of one year and the beginning of something new. For me, this is a contemplative time. Today’s weather certainly has me wanting to stay inside, stay warm, and snuggle up with my thoughts.

IMG_1692The year 2015, has brought me much to be thankful for and 2016 gives me much to be excited about!

As the year winds down, and I look back, I see so much to be thankful for!

*Friends*Family that I love and loves me right back*A church family that feels like home*Trips to see family*Warm hugs*Good books *Quiet nights at home with my husband on the couch, watching our favorite shows* A new vehicle*Glorious mornings in the country* Beautiful sunsets*Star-filled nights*Back country roads *Flea Markets*Animals, my pets, that give moments of happiness with their licks, neighs, and wags* A comfortable house*Teaching and making a real difference in young lives*New relationships with people God has had cross my path*Witness to daily miracles*My husband, who is my love and my friend*Adult children that I love and am proud of* A new website* New opportunities *Lending a helping hand*Jesus who knows me and loves me and I love Him *Living with eyes wide open*Giving thanks, and counting blessings…..over and over and over again.

In the year ahead I am looking forward to many exciting things, and also the beauty in the every day. I don’t want to take a moment for granted because true thankfulness pours from a heart that understands each day is valuable.

*Meeting new people* Making friends * Starting my Masters classes *Learning new things *Dates with my husband who makes me feel safe no matter where we go* Lots to laugh about *Even when the rough times come (and they always do) that I will consider it a learning experience, a chance to rely on God, who isn’t surprised by anything* Days….blessed days that continue to create the tapestry of my life.

O Night Divine

 How often do we take the time to listen to the lyrics of the beloved Christmas carols? When do we stop singing from rote memorization and start singing with the realization of what the words truly mean?
O Holy Night 
O holy night the stars are brightly shining
It is the night of our dear Savior’s birth
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Long lay the world in sin and error pining
Till He appeared and the soul felt its worth
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A thrill of hope the weary world rejoices
For yonder breaks a new glorious morn
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Fall on your knees
O hear the angels’ voices
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O night divine
O night when Christ was born
O night divine o night
O night divine

 The Birth of Jesus

In those days Caesar Augustus issued a decree that a census should be taken of the entire Roman world. (This was the first census that took place while[a] Quirinius was governor of Syria.) And everyone went to their own town to register.

So Joseph also went up from the town of Nazareth in Galilee to Judea, to Bethlehem the town of David, because he belonged to the house and line of David. He went there to register with Mary, who was pledged to be married to him and was expecting a child.While they were there, the time came for the baby to be born, and she gave birth to her firstborn, a son. She wrapped him in cloths and placed him in a manger, because there was no guest room available for them.

And there were shepherds living out in the fields nearby, keeping watch over their flocks at night. An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. 10 But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people. 11 Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is the Messiah, the Lord. 12 This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.”

13 Suddenly a great company of the heavenly host appeared with the angel, praising God and saying,

14 “Glory to God in the highest heaven,
    and on earth peace to those on whom his favor rests.”

15 When the angels had left them and gone into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, “Let’s go to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has told us about.”

16 So they hurried off and found Mary and Joseph, and the baby, who was lying in the manger. 17 When they had seen him, they spread the word concerning what had been told them about this child, 18 and all who heard it were amazed at what the shepherds said to them. 19 But Mary treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart. 20 The shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all the things they had heard and seen, which were just as they had been told.  Luke 2:1-20 NIV

 

The Words Are Still Relevant

This is a post that I like to share each year at this time. The words are just as relevant today, as when I first posted it.

THE GREATEST GIFT OF ALL

Even though I love Christmas….I am aware it is a difficult time of the year for many. So many who have suffered a loss, struggle through Christmas. Trying to smile. Wanting to celebrate, but are in too much pain to enjoy it. I want to help them….just like I was helped so many years ago.

FLASHBACK to Christmas 2000.….my husband had died the month before. My 5 year old son and I would be spending Christmas in a different way that year. I tried to keep things as normal as possible. Unknown to me at the time, when I got up on that  Christmas morning, I would have a surprise.

A mysterious phone call. Caller unknown was on my phone’s ID. “Check your front porch”, the voice said.  I peered out my front door at 7 am in the morning. My front porch was filled with presents addressed to my son and me. He and I had so much fun opening the gifts that were so lovingly left on our front porch, early that Christmas morning. I later found out that my church’s Sunday School class had collected gifts and wrapped all of them…just for us. Then one of my dear friends and her husband secretly, and quietly delivered the gifts to my house at daybreak. I should have known. These were the same people that prayed for my husband throughout his illness. Held my hand at the hospital. Girlfriends that slept on the couch at my house, my first night alone…they stayed so I wouldn’t wake up to an empty house. Brought me meals. Bought me a dress for the funeral. Stood by me at the services.  Men that changed the oil in my vehicle. Ordered pizza to my house and visited with me while we all ate. I had people willing to babysit if I needed it, and fix food when I didn’t feel like it. I had a dear friend mow my yard during my husband’s illness and afterward. They showed HIS love through their numerous actions.They were real. Their love was practical. They were Jesus hands and feet to me.

What might have been one of the worst days for me, turned out to be a wonderful memory. A memory that still warms me all these years later. That special Christmas morning was a gift to me. I loved all the thoughtful presents, but even more was my love for my friends who had not forgotten me as they all celebrated on that Christmas morning. That is what warms my heart, over a decade later.

Flashback over 2000 years ago… A dark night. A man and a woman who needed a place to stay. No one could help them out. The city was busy and there was not one room available. They were bone tired. The young woman was not feeling so well, she knew that this child that she had been carrying for the past 9 months, was ready to be born. But where?  The man managed to talk an inn keeper into allowing them to sleep in his stable, which was really not much more than a cave.  A literal hole in the wall.

In the stench of barnyard animals, the greatest gift to mankind was born that night. A night where people were running to and fro, busy with their lives. A night where no one was really paying much attention. A night not so unlike what we have now. God came into the world. Jesus left Heaven to come to this earth in human flesh. AND THE WORLD HAS NEVER BEEN THE SAME SINCE. A divine gift. A gift of love to humankind. A light to the world. Light that split the enveloping darkness of that night, as well as all the days and nights to come.

For all those people that I mentioned earlier…those in pain, those that are hurting for whatever reason…my desire is that they would know the greatest gift of all. Because He lives you CAN face tomorrow. This life we all live, is never easy. Most days it is hard. Some days life downright hurts. This is nothing new. Knowing Jesus doesn’t mean that life will be perfect, or problem free. Anyone that says that is a liar. We live in a fallen world, and that alone brings sadness. But the good news is this:  Jesus didn’t stay a baby in manger. He grew up. He touched lives. People were changed. He explained the scripture. He attended weddings, and family get togethers. He hung out with his friends…and he hung out with the outcasts of society. He gave sight to the blind both literally and figuratively. He was every bit human, as He was every bit God.  Decades after His humble birth in that cave, on a bed of straw He walked a road to the cross. Where His gift to you (Yes, YOU!) was given. Your name was on his mind. He knew that one day you would be born and live a life on this earth. He knew. He laid down his own life–in your place. He took the punishment for your sin (the bad things we all do). He did it because He loves you. Really loves you. And He knew that we weren’t capable of ever paying that price on our own. Impossible. The gap was too wide. We’d never make it. So, He did it for us. The gift of salvation just needs to be acknowledged and  accepted. (John 3:16)

I realize I have a lot of people that read my blog…people from all over the world, actually.  Some people  know me personally and some only know me through my blog. I will be the first one to tell you that I am not perfect. I have good days and bad days just like everyone else. I tend towards selfishness. I like my own way. I’m too stubborn for my own good. Yep. That’s me. Sure, I like to think I have my good points too. But, some days are better than others. On a beautiful spring day in May of 1979 I accepted the gift. Life didn’t suddenly change for me. I didn’t start skipping through meadows of daisies with a perpetual smile on my face. Life can still be gritty at times. I’ve gone through great joys and intense tragedies. Even in the midst of all these things, Jesus has never left me. He promised me he’d never leave me, nor forsake me. Not ever. And He hasn’t. I want to share that gift with you. I want you to know, what I know.

I want you to have the greatest gift of all. IMG_1236

So Much To Do!

Some days are better than others. That is just a fact, isn’t it?

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It’s cold, cloudy, and damp

The chicken run, full of muck

When I went to turn

My boot got stuck!

My back is hurting

I can’t stand or sit.

This is bumming my day

I don’t like it one bit!

My to do list

is as long as my arm

So much to do

on our little farm.

I need to decorate

the Christmas tree

untangling lights

this is not for me!

I’ll take a deep breath

and do what I can

the rest can wait …

at least that’s the plan.

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Hoping your week will be a great one, even if it is busy and it makes you feel a little crazy! 102_4787