The Notebook

The notebook is worn. The pages wrinkled and stained.

A permanent ink marker featuring a chisel tip....

Eucharisteo is written in black permanent marker across the front of the book.

A book of thanks…for all the moments. All the moments, that truly are gifts.

Little things. Simple things. Big things. Life changing moments.

The first words written…

1. healing 2. family bonds 3. hugs 4. a much needed massage 5. Lonnie 6. warm cookies 7. funny jokes 8. warm blankets 9. quiet evenings 10. walking the dogs 11. reading a good book 12. love 13. my friends 14. a hot drink of coffee 15. crazy quotes 16. laughter 17. cozy socks 18. soft light 19. a warm shower 20. inspiration

The list continued throughout the year…trying to capture the beauty in each day. The climb to one thousand things. The gifts that God gave me. The gifts He continues to give. The more I wrote, the more I saw.

The thanksgiving never ends, because the Giver always gives.

If you, then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask him! Matthew 7:11 NIV

The roar of the wind, the snow globe world, the whistle of a train, phone calls from friends. Early morning sunrises of purple and pink, bright sunshine, and blog comments. Scripture that assures me, having a purpose, clean kitchen counters, and a casserole in the oven that smells so good.

Each moment captured with the pen…so I remember.

I want to be reminded, so on days that are gray and unclear…I will know that the Giver still gives. He has not forgotten me. When times are hard (and those times always come!) I will be reminded of His love for me and it will be (is) with my thanksgiving, that I show Him my love.

That my legacy will stand firm. That future generations will read and know, that God is good. Always good.

And, always the Giver… of life.

Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows. James 1:17  NIV

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The list continues today:

* having a good hair day

* leftovers in the fridge

* dandelions that color the front yard

* a chicken coop almost done

* being able to touch student’s lives

* a favorite, well worn pair of sweat pants

* beautiful, goofy pictures

* Easter morning

* The Resurrection

Keeping The Faith -Part 2

A new notebook and pen

Image by paulcapewell via Flickr

Here’s the topic:

How is God challenging you to keep faith fresh?

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Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable–if anything is excellent or praiseworthy–think about such things. Philippians 4:8  NIV

The everyday is difficult. Chaos reigns. Bad things happen to good people, and good things happen to bad people. It doesn’t make sense. Life is hard for everyone. It is easy to complain about all that isn’t.

I was heading into the hard, dark winter months when I read about a book called One Thousand Gifts by Ann Voskamp. I’ve blogged about her book before and have given it rave reviews. The truth is that book helped change my perspective. I’m not perfect, never was, but this book caused me to look to the One that is…and always has been perfect. I believe God used the words of this humble woman, to draw me back to Himself.

How can I be thankful in the everyday? How can I look at moments in life and appreciate them for what they are? Not needing the excitement of the world, but the calm assurance that I already have all I will ever need, in Him.

I have been on a journey of “eucharisteo” for the past six months. A journey that has encouraged me to look at each day with my eyes wide open, in order to see all the things that God has blessed me with. It has given me a vision for the things that are true, pure, lovely and admirable, and through that, it has given me a clearer vision of God and His Son, Jesus Christ.

Don’t get me wrong, focusing on the good is not easy. I wish it was. I struggle on some days more than others. Why is it easier to keep a mental list of the day’s problems and complaints than it is to choose to focus on the times that give us a glimpse of what Heaven will be like?

In the meantime, I journey on. I thank God for all that is good. All the moments that matter. All the things that He has so richly blessed me with. With each of the “thank you’s” I draw closer to Him.

Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows.  James 1:17  NIV

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FaithBarista_FreshJamBadgeG

When You Can’t See Through The Fog

Foggy morning/Hagley Park

Image by BrendonPG via Flickr

I’ve got a million things to do today…and not enough time to get it all done.

It’s very foggy this morning–like pea soup, foggy. There is sun on the other side of the fog. I see it peeking through in spots.

It reminds me of life.

Sometimes things can look “foggy”.  I wonder how in the world everything is going to work out? It’s difficult to see into the future. But, then the SON peeks through the fog…and things start to take shape. This is not to say that everything works out perfectly, at least not by my standards. At least not by what I know. I don’t (can’t) always see the big picture. I can only see what is right in front of my face.

That is where trust comes in.

Sometimes, that is all I have to give.

Trust.

And really, that is all I need.

Trust in the LORD with all your heart
   and lean not on your own understanding;
 in all your ways submit to him,
   and he will direct your paths.  Proverbs 3:5-6  NIV

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*beautiful sun through the fog

*another fresh, new week

*quiet, early morning

*reading the Father’s Day cards that the kids gave

*a happy heart

*a cold glass of iced tea

*anticipation

*opportunity

*freshly cut hair, doesn’t it always feel and look better?

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How are you blessed?

Growth Can’t Always Be Measured With A Ruler

Stress

Image by alancleaver_2000 via Flickr

I still have a long way to go.

Growing. Stretching. Absorbing. Changing.

Some days I think I’ve got it all together. Whatever “it” is. I’ve got it all figured out. I’m on top of things.

Other days I know I don’t. I wonder if I ever did.

I look at other people. I think maybe their lives are right. And good.

Even if they aren’t.

I measure myself.

I come up short.

I want more.

More of what is good. More of what makes me happy. More of things going my way.

More. More. More.

Ungrateful.

The dark emotion washes over me like the cold waves of a surly ocean. I am overcome.

I breathe deeply. I don’t really like this place.

I snip at my kids, ignore my husband, don’t even want to pet the dog.

Who am I?

I breathe again.

Ann Voskamp reminds me in chapter 8. I know this woman’s words are a gift to me from God Himself. There is no other explanation. God speaks in many ways–and sometimes it is through a Canadian woman, a farmer’s wife, a home schooling mom of six. I am humbled.

On page 143, her words sear through me. Cutting me. Straight to the place that oozes with the ungrateful. The worry. The stress. The parts of myself that I don’t like to show.

“Anxiety has been my natural posture, my default stiffness.  How I angle my jaw, braced, chisel, the brow with the lines of distrust. How I don’t fold my hands in prayer…weld them into tight fists of control…… Do I hold worry close as this ruse of control, this pretense that I’m the one who will determine the course of events as I stir and churn and ruminate? Worry is the facade of taking action when prayer really is. And stressed, this pitched word that punctuates every conversation, is it really my attempt to prove how indispensable I am? Or is it more? Maybe disguising my deep fears as stress seems braver somehow.”

And on page 146, ” Stress isn’t only a joy stealer. The way we respond to it can be sin.” ……”I’ve got to get this thing, what it means to trust, to gut-believe in the good touch of God toward me, because it’s true: I can’t fill with joy until I learn how to trust: ‘May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow.” (Romans 15:13)

I breathe again.

And I work on giving thanks. I need to give thanks. I must give thanks.

In order to see.

#155  Rainy days

#156 Warm light spilling through the kitchen

#157  Green showing through melted snow

# 158  Children laughing

 

 

 

 

When Life Is Hard

Smelling the roses 1/365 days

Image by Liam Wilde via Flickr

I’m finished with chapter five of One Thousand Gifts.

It was a difficult chapter.

Painful, even.

It hurts, when faced with the reality that life will never be easy. Not for me. Not for you. No one will get out of this life without struggle. Will I be thankful for what my life holds for me? Even when things aren’t going as I planned? As I had hoped?  Even when I sit at the bedside of a loved one who is dying? Even when I hear the doctor’s voice explain the diagnosis? When my child is sick? Or run away? Will I be thankful for all that God has done for me when I get the bad news? When my husband loses his job? When people hurt me with their words? When I feel robbed of happiness? Will..I…be…thankful….then?

I realize that some of you reading this might be thinking, “Well, she is a real bummer. Where are her funny blogs? I like her sense of humor. This stuff is depressing.” To those of you I reply with this….I do love to laugh. I enjoy telling a funny story.  Life is a joy. There are some times when the deeper things of life need precedence. When I need to think deeply. This is one of those days.I hope you will read my blog post with your eyes wide open.

On pages 84 and 85 I read the words that slammed through me like a deadly, powerful wind. My breath caught in my throat.

Ann Voskamp writes, “What will I lose? Health? Comfort? Hope? Eventually, I am guaranteed to lose every thing I have possessed. When will I lose? Today? How  much time do I have before the next loss? Who will I lose? And that’s definite. I will lose every single person I have ever loved. Either abruptly or eventually. All human relationships end in loss. Am I prepared for that?”

Tears stained my cheeks with wet. My breath was ragged while reading her words. Because…..I know they are true. A sob escapes my throat. So true.

Will I be prepared for the hard eucharisteo when that time comes? If I am learning the discipline of thanking God in all things now…daily writing down all the ways that God says ‘yes’ to me, all the proofs of His love, will I be ready to thank Him through the hard times? God is good today. God will be good tomorrow. God will be good for all the days after that. He does not change. If I love Him today when things are well for me, should I not love Him tomorrow, even when the news might change?

It is not an easy thing.

It is not easy when my heart bleeds. When my hopes are dashed. When my world is torn apart. When pain is so great. When I scream “the why’s” at Heaven.

God is good.

He is good.

He loves me.

He shows me His love daily. I am listing His thousand gifts to me….and when I get to the end of my list, I will list a thousand more. His love is eternal. On days when life is hard, I can look at my list and be amazed at each moment I recorded. He showers me with the moments.

On page 91 Ann states, “Without God’s Word as a lens, the world warps.”  (Matt. 6:22-23)  Yes. Yes. Yes!  Page 94..”When I realize that it is not God who is in my debt but I who am in His great debt, then doesn’t all become a gift?

One act of thanksgiving, when things go wrong with us, is worth a thousand thanks when things are agreeable to our inclinations.”

Saint John of Avila.


Feeling Time

Clouds and Sun rays

On occasion, I can hear time. The sound is faint, a whisper.  The sound of moments that I have been ignoring in order to rush through my days. My perspective was all messed up. For me, who has been through some perspective changing life altering moments, one would think I’d remember. Yet, I forget. Forget what is truly important. Forget how quickly time melts away. Forget to savor the here and now.

My eyes and ears are opened now, to catch a fleeting glimpse of eternity. In the grit of my today…time slows.  When I stop, to be fully in the moment, thanking God for even the smallest of gifts, I am forced to slow down. Breathe. Enjoy. Savor.

God is good. He gave me beautiful gifts this morning.

* The reflection of the sun’s rays bouncing from behind a cloud. The sunlight spilling out from an opening in the cloud, causing a rainbow of golden colors. An amazing sight. Thank you God for beauty.

* A hug from my son. His arms around me. Long, slender arms…full of young man strength. Hugs that I will miss, when he is a fully grown man and is gone… out to discover the world on his own. Thank you God for making me a mommy.

* My husband, hair tousled in sleep. Eyes closed, breathing soft. Thanking God.

* The sunlight splattered on the foyer wall. Swirling light.

* The hum of the refrigerator. When we first moved in after the building process, we didn’t have a refrigerator (left it in the house we sold). I never appreciated my refrigerator, until I didn’t have one. Thank you God for food and for refrigeration. Thank you for provision.

* The smell of the morning air. Pregnant with the aromas of mud and country.

As most of you know, I am reading Ann Voskamp’s book, One Thousand Gifts. Her words challenge me with each chapter read. If I take her God inspired words to heart, I will continue to change.

In chapter four she states, “I just want time to do my one life well.”  Isn’t that what we each want?  But you might be thinking, time stops for no one. Life is a rush. So much to do…so little time. It is a choice. A decision. If we each choose to stop, meet God in the moment, time can slow. Thankfulness, appreciation can do that.

My fingers tap out sounds on my keyboard. I hear my son clear his throat. I see the blueness of the sky reflected on my computer screen. I smile as I notice the fur that I need to sweep from the floor. God is so big…and yet, He is so small. He is right here, present, in this moment.

 

A Dare To Live Fully

Silver Gift Boxes

The postman delivered my book last evening. The book, written by Ann Voskamp, One Thousand Gifts. I was so excited to receive it.  Despite all the snow and ice on the roads the postman got it to me.

I read the first chapter and into the second. I wanted to be prepared for the video book club that starts today. To be able to discuss. To share.

Mrs. Voskamp is an author who has the skill of a surgeon, her words cut through me like a knife. From the very beginning, she challenged me…caused me to consider.

How do we live in a world full of pain, in the shadows of what should have been? How do we live a life of thankfulness in the midst of it all?

Radical gratitude. Not what you might think.