True Thanks Giving

It snowed last night, and most of the morning. The local schools were cancelled due to the weather, and I find myself sitting here at the kitchen table, staring out the window, enjoying the snowy  weather. Yes, it is not even winter, and yet it looks like the middle of January. There are several inches of snow and a nice stiff breeze to go with it!

Thanksgiving is just around the corner, and to be honest, I can hardly believe it. Do you feel the same? The months seem to rush, while I am left trying to hold tightly to the sands of time. I need time….time to slow down and give thanks, because there is much to be thankful for.

It seems as if Thanksgiving often times get overlooked, as a less important holiday, but nothing could be farther from the truth. Without taking time to give thanks for all that we have, we forget. We forget all the things in this life that God gifts us with, from the small daily joys to the larger life changing miracles. We need to stop. Stop and recall. When we recall all the ways He loves us, we can understand true thanks giving.

Psalm 69:30  I will praise the name of God with song, And shall magnify Him with thanksgiving.

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The Best Way To Really Live

The turquoise Ball mason jar that I have setting on the kitchen window sill, is striking when the sun shines through it. A haze of blue-green illuminates the glass. A simple utilitarian vessel becomes beauty when touched by the light. It is amazing what one can see when her eyes are opened to all that is around her. The simple becomes something to marvel at, to appreciate, realizing that all things are gifts.

Life is so hectic and we often times rush through it, only glancing at the moments as they blur past us. The rushing through everything is a way to have a life, but that is not the best way to really live.

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*muted colors of autumn trees, like a water color painting on the horizon

*cool, brisk breeze that blows hair and gives a chill

*warm, well worn hoodie pulled close

*light through jars setting on the window sill

*rescued kitty purrs deeply, I believe grateful…

*long letters to family–news from across the miles

*family visit and memories made, stored in the heart

*my husband, so glad we found each other, the Lord blesses

*my children, growing up…swallowing hard

*cats on top of fence posts

*the soft muzzle of the horse

*gray blue sky

*wood smoke that smells like Autumn

*geese in a V, marvelous to watch

*eating well, getting strong and healthy

*going out to lunch with friends

*small groups and touching lives

*Jesus who makes all things possible

Grace, So Amazing

The word “grace” has come up several times in conversations, during reading, and in small group study over this past week.

Is God trying to show me something? Reveal a truth? I ponder the word…slowly. Taking it all in. I wrap the word around me, as I contemplate what my Father is trying to tell me.

Grace…..this short and simple word, I quietly utter it. It slides off my tongue. This word that is meant for me.

Grace through salvation. Yes. Jesus, God in human flesh, took my place, unto death. He died for my sins. He pardoned me because He chose to, not because I did anything to deserve it. He bestowed grace. He gave me Himself. But, grace is more than that one moment in time. My relationship with Christ is ongoing. Every day. Daily grace.

Are my days about abiding in His grace towards me? Am I filled with His grace? Do I, could I possibly understand, what it is to live this grace? This gift? Right here. Right now. Not as just a word, but as the very air that I breathe. Am I showing grace to others? Or do I hold back? My fist gripping onto what was so freely given to me? Eyes so easily blinded to what truly matters.

I’m learning. Always learning.

Grace, so amazing.

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**************************************************************************************************************************************************************   2 Corinthians 12:8-9 Three times I pleaded with the Lord about this, that it should leave me. But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me. Acts 4:33 And with great power the apostles were giving their testimony to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus, and great grace was upon them all. Acts 11:22-24 The report of this came to the ears of the church in Jerusalem, and they sent Barnabas to Antioch. When he came and saw the grace of God, he was glad, and he exhorted them all to remain faithful to the Lord with steadfast purpose, for he was a good man, full of the Holy Spirit and of faith. And a great many people were added to the Lord. John 1:15-17 (John bore witness about him, and cried out, “This was he of whom I said, ‘He who comes after me ranks before me, because he was before me.’”) And from his fullness we have all received, grace upon grace. For the law was given through Moses; grace and truth came through Jesus Christ. 1 Peter 5:10 And after you have suffered a little while, the God of all grace, who has called you to his eternal glory in Christ, will himself restore, confirm, strengthen, and establish you. Romans 3:20-24 For by works of the law no human being will be justified in his sight, since through the law comes knowledge of sin. But now the righteousness of God has been manifested apart from the law, although the Law and the Prophets bear witness to it — the righteousness of God through faith in Jesus Christ for all who believe. For there is no distinction: for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and are justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus Ephesians 2:4-9 But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ— by grace you have been saved—and raised us up with him and seated us with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, so that in the coming ages he might show the immeasurable riches of his grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast. Read more: http://www.whatchristianswanttoknow.com/20-inspirational-bible-verses-about-grace/#ixzz3FNk45ZHk

We Need To Get Over Ourselves

I read something recently that left me feeling uneasy. The article contained some controversial material, but what really bothered me was the way Christians were fighting with each other. It grieved my heart. There is a world watching us, and when we fight amongst ourselves, tear each other down, what does that tell the greater population? Now, I’m not saying believers should ever water down the gospel of Jesus Christ. I am not saying to compromise core values and beliefs. What I am saying is that, as Christ followers, in many circumstances we need to get over ourselves. We are not, nor have we ever been, perfect. Sinners…..each of us, deserving of Hell.

I am a sinner…saved only by the unmerited grace of a living and loving God. I never deserved Christ’s forgiveness and I sure couldn’t earn it. In fact scripture reminds me that, “All of us have become like one who is unclean, and all our righteous acts are like filthy rags; we all shrivel up like a leaf, and like the wind our sins sweep us away.” Isaiah 64:6  NIV   In other words, none of us are perfect and even when we try to do “the right thing”, we can never meet the standards of a Holy and Just God. That is the whole reason Christ came to this broken, sin cursed world. He came to save us. We needed Him to stand in the gap between us and God. When God looks at me, He no longer sees Dawn covered in her sin, but He instead looks at me in the shadow of His perfect and righteous Son. Jesus has me covered.

Instead of arguing and condemning, maybe we need not be so scared to extend grace to others. The more we, as individuals, realize how lost we were before Christ found us, the more likely we will be to give a hand to others who are desperately in need of Him.

 

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Being Willing

Come write brave with me today – the Five Minute Friday prompt today is WILLING.

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What am I willing to do? How far am I willing to go? Am I willing to let God lead?

I tell the Lord that I’m willing to go where He calls, will help where ever I’m needed.

But, let me be honest….

Do I always mean it? Or do those words just sound good? How many times do I say “yes” to God, but turn around and live the “maybe”?

Maybe if it works out in my favor. Maybe if I have the time. Maybe if I’m helping someone that I agree with. Maybe if I’m not too tired.

Maybe can strangle the willingness.

God doesn’t call me to maybe love Him…or maybe serve Him. There is no maybe in His vocabulary. I stand humbled before He, who never said maybe…all the way to Calvary.

“Father forgive me when I wander from being willing. When the road is rough and rocky, and in my weakness I want to bail. Help me in the murkiness of my maybe.”

I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do.  Romans 7:15  NIV  (How often do I feel like Paul?)

 

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Uncovering The Mystery

I love to get gifts. Don’t most of us? Gift giving is one of the few times that I actually enjoy surprises. I slowly unwrap the paper, prolonging the anticipation of what might be inside the box, uncovering the mystery. Gifts need not be expensive, actually some of the best gifts I’ve ever received have not been held by a box.

And isn’t it all a gift, if we know Jesus Christ? The mysteries of this life wrapped in His love for us. He gave us Himself…if we never received another thing that single gift, alone, would have been enough. Enough to last for all of eternity, but He still chooses to gift us lavishly, each day.

You understand, none of this ….none of these gifts ….would have been without Him.

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The pretty smile, the love of your spouse, your newborn, strong friendships, laughter, the winter sky pregnant with snow, a kiss, a held hand, a good book, a refrigerator with food in it, a cold drink on a hot day, lush green grass, meadows of wild flowers, wet soil on a rainy day, dog licks from your furry friend, safe travel back and forth, strong and healthy teens, chores completed, rumpled sheets and a soft pillow, college acceptance letters, a card from a loved one, Christmas memories, birthday cake, new nail polish, a car that is reliable, a good run, and each breath we take.

Gifts, each and every one.

Because He was full of grace and truth- from Him we all received one gift after another. John 1:16 

Celebrating The Birth Of The King

I’m sitting at the kitchen table right now. All is quiet in the house, it is just me and the dog. Even he has fallen back asleep on his pillow. I have turned on the Christmas tree lights. Their white sparkle illuminates an otherwise dark living room. I’m quietly listening to Christmas music on the local radio station. I love the early morning, the feeling  of being the only one awake and moving.

For me, the hours and days that lead up to Christmas are the most exciting. The anticipation of it all,  makes me happy. Gifts wrapped and under the tree, Christmas movies on, lots of treats to eat, and the knowledge that over 2000 years ago, a baby entered the world. God in the flesh. The prophesied One. The Messiah in newborn wrinkled skin. Celebrating the birth of the King.

Isaiah 9:6 For to us a child is born, to us a son is given; and the government shall be upon his shoulder, and his name shall be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.

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“You’ve Kissed The Face Of God”

I love the song, Mary Did You Know by Mark Lowry. 102_3847

I’m always left with a sense of awe after the words……

And when you kiss your little baby
You’ve kissed the face of God.

Being a mother of a son, I often ponder those particular words.

I remember after having my son, how mesmerized I was by his sweet little face. I stared at him for hours, amazed at the gift I had been blessed with. As mothers (and fathers) don’t we all feel that way?

How must Mary have felt?

I’m sure she was amazed at the birth of her child and stared at His sweet face for hours. When her lips lightly brushed His forehead,  or the tip of His little baby nose, she could not have possibly fully understood the implications of this birth, this life….she knew, but not really….it would have been too overwhelming for the heart of a young girl.

God came that night. He came for a world that was in desperate need of Him.

Pure. Innocent. Sinless and Perfect. A Holy Gift, straight from Heaven.

The One that would save us all.

This same world that Christ came to save,  attempts to remove Him from Christmas. Yet, it is impossible, because without Christ there is no Christmas.

The great Emmanuel, God with us.

 “The virgin will conceive and give birth to a son, and they will call him Immanuel” (which means “God with us”). Matthew 1:23 NIV

He First Forgave Me

A post from my archives that I needed to read again…and again. Maybe, you too?

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The Beauty Of Forgiveness

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He doesn’t deserve my forgiveness! She did a terrible thing to me. Why should I forgive her? He hurt my feelings. She said horrible things.IMG_0247

 

Most of us in this life have had things happen to us that we feel we really don’t deserve. People have treated us poorly.  They didn’t do what they should.  They shouldn’t have done what they did.

 

I’ve heard myself say the words, “I will never forgive her for that”. She hurt me. She doesn’t “deserve” my forgiveness. I hate her.

 

With those words, the bitterness started to grow, like a vine around my heart. It was slowly choking out the ability to forgive. It was always there with me…like poison that I kept drinking–even though it hurt me.

 

The truth is that the “unforgiven” rarely suffer like the ones holding onto the bitterness. The one who demands payment for whatever sin was committed against them, suffers much more.

 

I can’t tell you the exact moment that, that changed for me. The moment I forgave her for the awful things she said about me. Things that weren’t true. My forgiveness wasn’t showy. As a matter of fact, she never even asked me for my forgiveness. She never begged me to forgive her. It was never like that. I don’t know that she even remembers what she said to begin with…….but, I did. So, I was the one to make the move. To forgive her. In my heart.

 

You know, when you forgive someone it is does not always mean that you “forget” what happened. Our minds don’t work that way. Forgiveness isn’t about forgetting, forgiveness is about “letting it go” and moving on. Bitterness only hurts the one harboring it.

 

You might be thinking to yourself, “Dawn, does not get it. My hurt is too great. The offense too horrible. I cannot forgive. Ever.”

 

And you would be wrong. I do get it. I know. Believe me, I know. And you can forgive. It is a choice. Not easy, but  definitely not impossible.

 

Like I said, forgiveness is not about giving something to the other person. (unless he/she asks) Forgiveness is about YOU being able to rid yourself of bitterness.

 

Most of you know me (especially those of you that have been reading my blog for a long time). If you were to meet me you’d see that I am a wife and mom. Teenagers can drive me nutty.  I look sort of average. I like wearing tennis shoes. I shop at Walmart. I enjoy reading. I have a soft spot for dogs. I love my family. If I don’t get enough sleep I’m a bear. Sometimes I yell. Sometimes my sense of humor shines. Above all else I am a Christian.

 

The reason that I am able to forgive is NOT because I am special…because I am not. I am no different than you.  The reason that I am able to forgive is because, you see, I am one of the forgiven. When Christ took my place and hung on that cross, He cried out, “Father, forgive them!” Christ knew that one day I would exist. That my heart would be dark with the feelings that it harbored. That even if I tried to be good, I couldn’t do it. I didn’t have it in me. And yet, He forgave me. He didn’t have to. I surely didn’t deserve it. I didn’t even appreciate it.

 

But, I am grateful for a loving, compassionate, just, and holy God. God tells me in Psalms 103:12,

 

New International Version (©1984)
as far as the east is from the west, so far has he removed our transgressions from us.

 

Because God first forgave me, I am now able to show forgiveness to others.

 

 

It’s A Choice

Being thankful is a choice.

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Country Farm (Photo credit: Nature Pictures by ForestWander)

In choosing to be thankful for all things, a person can experience joy.

Not because life is always simple and easy, as anyone that has lived for any amount of time can attest.

But, because God has provided the greatest gift of all, in His son Jesus, and He alone is enough…

And yet, God chooses to gift us with so much more, abundantly, lavishly.

Live life with your eyes wide open. Open to all His great and wonderful gifts.

And God is able to bless you abundantly, so that in all things at all
times, having all that you need, you will abound in every good work. 2 Corinthians 9:8 NIV

Today I am thankful for:

* getting ready for the trip

* anticipation for what is ahead

* making memories with my husband

* healthy children

* hugs and I love you

* playing with the dogs

* early morning, feeding the animals

* rainy Monday

* shopping

* a clean house

* sunflowers

* a beautifully mowed lawn

* the back property fenced in

* taking beautiful pictures of the country

* sleeping in late