Friday, November 2, 2012

Thankful for a God Who Overcomes

My daughter said to me just the other day, "Mom, Satan has a way of playing with your mind doesn't he?"  Upon further conversation, I uncovered that what she was really getting at was the lesson that we all learn sooner or later in life.  Satan is our real enemy.  He most certainly plays with us.  He feeds us junk.  He fills our minds with stuff.  He wants us to doubt, to question, to fear.  He wants us to think less of ourselves than God thinks of us and to look out our circumstances through our own abilities rather than through the supernatural abilities of a God who specializes in the impossible.  He wants us to surrender to defeat and to think that what we see with the human eye is the end of the story.  He wants us to forget who we are, who we belong to, and what has already been accomplished on our behalf at the cross of Calvary and in a borrowed tomb.  He is prowling around at every corner.  He finds great delight in our defeat and won't stop until we draw our last breath. 

I am so very thankful that I could share with her that I too had learned that lesson and that she was not alone in the spiritual battle she was fighting.  I am thankful that while Satan is her real enemy, her Father in Heaven is her Great Defender, her VERY PRESENT HELP IN TIME OF TROUBLE.  I am thankful that He ABSOLUTELY will NEVER leave her or forsake her.  He identifies with her in all ways and understands her every temptation.  He is not threatened or disgusted by her weaknesses or frailties.  He longs to be invited into the IMPOSSIBLE.  He finds great pleasure in being a part of every detail of our lives, even those that we we see as minute and insignificant. 

I am thankful that God is with us.  I am thankful for the power of the Holy Spirit to overcome.  I am thankful for a great High Priest who makes intercession on our behalf.  I am thankful that no matter what junk the enemy feeds us we can claim the promises of God as OURS!!!

(That's my Thankful #314)

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Thanks Across the Miles

Over the last three weeks our family has been gone from home more than we've been here.  I think we were home 5 days of 21.  WHEW!!!  I can't remember that ever happening.  We were on the road and busy and loving it!!!  It meant some time for Jason and I to be together, the kiddos to be with grandparents, a family vacation, Carrington and I attending a ladies' retreat/conference together and Jason and AC enjoying some daddy and daughter time, and a short visit to see friends.  It meant a lot of car time that involved a whole lot of laughing, some deep conversations, some not so deep conversations that were absolutely ridiculous, some fun car games (like how many state license plates can we find), some great music, a few sermons on the iPhone and CD, school in the car, and yes as you can imagine a few times when I finally had to say, "no more talking, laughing, tickling, both of you stay on your own side of the car.  Stop bothering each other (HA!)".  The last four and a half days of being away from home involved us logging 1600 miles.  We saw some beautiful, wide-open farm land, amazing windmills, and there were moments of wondering if we'd make it to the next available exit before we needed to potty or eat.  AMAZING!!!!  These 3 weeks won't soon be forgotten by any of us.  There is indeed a lot in our life to be thankful for.  I hope you're living with your eyes wide open, taking a few moments everyday just to pause and say, "WOW!! God is amazing.  He is right in the middle of the good, the tough, and the stuff that leaves me wondering what now?!"

301.  I am thankful for the flexibility that homeschooling provides our family.  I am thankful for opportunities to teach them at home, in the car, in a hotel,  . . .  I am thankful for great learning opportunities all over the place.  I am thankful for what we're learning together everyday and for the opportunity to be their mom and their teacher.

302.  I am thankful for laughter and what it does to our hearts and our minds.  I am thankful that God put in us the ability to experience so many different emotions and to experience His world from different perspectives.

303.  I am thankful for the beauty of creation.  I am thankful that there are so many different landscapes and they all show the amazing hand of God.

304.  I am thankful for moments of worship that give us a small glimpse of heaven where we will all sing praises to the Lamb who is Worthy!!!!

305.  I am thankful for the few days I spent basking in the truths of God's Word next to my 10 year old.  I am thankful for her hunger for the things of God and for her sensitivity to His leading and guidance.  I am thankful for her innocence and her questions that are so pure and untainted by religiosity or by the world.

306.  I am thankful for women and men sent to mentor us on this journey.  I am thankful when they remind us to stay the course.  I am thankful when they encourage our hearts with simple truths that tell us to keep trusting God.  I am thankful for the reminder that God never gives up on us even if we feel like we've missed an opportunity or failed to follow Him in obedience.  He sees our heart and will redeem what we regret if we will continue to surrender it all to Him.  I am thankful that it's not our story but His.

307.  I am thankful for the fullness of God.  I am thankful that His promises are true--every one of them.  I am thankful that His Holy Spirit is real and that it is available to work in us and through us to accomplish His purpose and plan in our life.

308.  I am thankful for 4 hours with friends.  It's amazing how just 4 hours can refresh your heart.  I am thankful for those moments of holding a new baby and seeing how three little girls have grown so much.  I am thankful for hearing a little about their story and what God is doing in their life.  I am thankful for 4 hours of getting a glimpse into their life in WI.

309.  I am thankful for a little visit with my sweet, sweet friend Rhonda.  I am thankful for her investment in my life.  I am thankful that God puts people in our life that NEVER, EVER give up on us.  I am thankful for people who see into the GOD story in our life and who believe in our call and our purpose and who keep speaking that truth, spurring us on to good works and calling us to action, even when we can't see the possibility of that ourselves some days. 

310.  I am thankful for reminders of God's grace and mercy in our life even when they come in tough ways.  I am thankful that He shows us that we are recipients of great grace, mercy that is new every day, and a love that we can't even fathom. 

311.  I am thankful for God's provision for my family--a warm bed, clothing, food, and people who love me.

312.  I am thankful that GOD IS ENOUGH.  I am thankful for His patience with me when I forget that He is enough and for how He is showing me that I really don't need anything else.  HE IS ENOUGH!!!!

313.  I am thankful for a word from God.  I am thankful that His Word encourages my heart.  I am thankful when He speaks to me through Scripture, a song, in prayer, through a word spoken by a friend. . .  I'd like to leave you with a word that God spoke to me today through a simple song.  I am thankful that God is our direction;  He is the ANSWER.  He doesn't just have the answer to all of life's questions--He is the answer.  I want Him to have His way with me.  I am thankful that no matter what I give Him--fear, doubt, questions--He's the ANSWER.  His direction in my life is ALWAYS BEST even if it's sometimes tough!!!

Monday, October 8, 2012

300 Thankfuls!



I pray that this Monday finds you Thankful.  It may be dreary outside.  You may have been dealt a blow today--a diagnosis, a decision that was beyond your control, a debt that you don't know how you'll pay.  I'd like to remind you that in the midst of all of that there is a God who loves you. 

He doesn't love you because you've been good enough, because you've done enough, or because you'll ever measure up.  He simply loves you!  He loved you so much that He chose to send His one and only son to be the perfect sacrifice for your inability to measure up, for your shortcomings, for your trying to do enough and falling short, for your sin.  He loved you when you were unlovable, when you would look upon His love and walk away, still He loved you.  Still, he loves you.  He knows you by name.  He has a plan for your life.  If you have not accepted the gift of His son, Jesus, as the sacrifice for your sin, He waits longingly for you to do just that.  He sees your striving, your suffering, and your pain and longs to enter in to all of that with you and to bear your load.  If you are His child and you are in the middle of pain today, I just want to remind you all of our suffering is just for a little while.  We serve a great God.  Nothing you are dealing with today takes Him by surprise.  I encourage you--LOOK UP!!!  He wants to carry your load.  He wants you to know that He wants to be a part of EVERY DETAIL of your life. 

ABOVE ALL ELSE, find a reason or two to be thankful and it just might make everything else seem more bearable.  Love you, friend!

283.  I am thankful for vacation with friends. I am thankful for moments spent laughing and playing, relaxing and sipping on coffee, playing putt putt and eating fresh seafood, watching dolphins from the balcony and enjoying family movie night. . .  I am thankful for memories made that will be cherished for years to come.  I am thankful for those times years down the road when we will tell stories about this vacation and laugh and maybe even shed a happy tear over the joy we were able to share together because God in His infinite wisdom and in His gracious sovereignty knows we need each other and He blesses our life with friends to share this wonderful journey called life. 

284.  I am thankful for car rides when fun conversations happen, when read alouds take place, when deep stuff transpires, and when family life unfolds in unique God moments like no where else.  :)

285.  I am thankful for the unfolding God story in all of our lives.  I am thankful to have a bird's eye view into what God is doing in the hearts and minds of my daughters' lives as I interact with them daily.  I am thankful that just as He is teaching me, He is teaching them what it really means to live "on mission."  Oh, how I want to learn this.  I want to know what it really means to be His hands and His feet.  I am thankful for the moments in each day that He is giving us to really understand this better.

286.  I am thankful for coffee.

287.  I am thankful for a warm house and pumpkin spice candles and candy corn and mums and so many other signs of harvest time.

288.  I am thankful for the experience of seeing my oldest daughter being fitted for her first pointe shoes--a dream come true for her.  She has longed to do this since she first realized it was a possibility some four or five years ago.  I can hardly believe it's even possible that she's old enough to stand on pointe shoes but she's a beautiful and graceful ballerina and before I know it she'll be twirling her way across the stage with ease.  I'm thankful for the gift in her.  I am thankful for Mrs. Ashley and Mrs. Carole and the love for dance that they've nurtured. 

289.  I am thankful for a reminder this week that discipline comes from the Lord because of His great love for us.  Even the tough stuff is sent to us to grow us to help us reach our full potential in Him.  Waiting on His timing, His provision, His purpose to be fulfilled is not always easy but we can know that in His time deliverance is ours.  I am so thankful that I don't have to figure at all the details; I just have to wait on Him.  I have to be obedient in the waiting.

290.  I am thankful that I serve a God who makes the IMPOSSIBLE POSSIBLE!

291.  I am thankful that I have a husband whose desire it is to seek God for MORE and not be satisfied with status quo.  I am thankful that as we journey with Christ we are unified in our desire to ask God to BELIEVE HIM for what we don't even know to ask, think, or imagine.  I am thankful that Jason's heart is to serve our family well, to lead us with integrity, to go where God wants to lead us, to be weird according to the standards of the world if that's what it takes to go with God. 

292.  I am thankful that no matter what I know of God today there's more to know tomorrow because His ways are not my ways.  He wants me to discover Him, to seek Him, to pursue Him. 

293.  I am thankful for life.

294.  I am thankful for family.

295.  I am thankful for all of God's provisions.

296.  I am thankful for Monday night outreach.

297.  I am thankful for His WORD, it is bread, it is LIFE, it is water for the thirsty, it is salve for the wounded, it is breath for the dying. . .  It is the ANSWER to all of life's questions.  It is the greatest story ever recorded.  It is our story. 

298.  I am thankful for moments of quiet, when I can hear God's voice, and reflect on His Word.

299.  I am thankful for indoor plumbing and a washing machine and dryer.  (This may seem ridiculous.  But it has been occurring to me lately just what a big deal these things are.  WHAT IF?!?!  WHEW!   I'm so thankful I have these conveniences.)

300.  I am thankful for those moments when you see little things that have become big things being checked off your to-do list.  This is a big deal for a TYPE-A personality.  God knows how we're wired, and somehow He seems to allow me just the amount of time I need at just the right moment to accomplish what I need to accomplish so that I don't erupt with frustration.  Thank you, GOD!!! 



Monday, October 1, 2012

GRACE, GRACE--GOD'S GRACE!



I've spent a lot of time thinking lately about what it means to say thank you.  How many times will I utter those words through the course of my life?  Someone extends a generosity to me, a favor, a service, a simple act of kindness, and I in return offer a thank you. As I am learning to live life reflectively I am realizing that it is filled to the brim with benefits, generosities, favors, kindnesses, in short GRACE.  I realize that God has acted again and again on my behalf with His unmerited favor.  Of course He did this through the cross for my salvation and sanctification, but what I'm realizing more and more is that He didn't just do it for me to experience it for salvation from hell but for me to experience LIFE ABUNDANTLY today and tomorrow and until my last day here on earth.  He wants me to know Him in personal intimate relationship.  He wants me to see life through new eyes, through eyes of GRACE and MERCY.  He wants me to believe that He is. . .  He wants me to know that rainbows and bellowing ocean waves and the quiet song of a redbird and the delightful giggle of my daughters and the tight reassuring hug of my daddy and the text of a friend saying "I'm praying for you" and watching dolphins play from the balcony and my heart breaking for a little girl who I pick up on the church bus. . . those are all GRACE.  These are all God with me. . .  He sees.  He is in my everyday moments.  He is not a God who just shows up when I'm in need or in distress.  He isn't a God who only makes house calls because things are looking out of sorts.  He is in every moment of every day.  He is generous.  He shows favor.  He is kind and loving and ever present.  How do I say thanks?  I say thanks by simply acknowledging His GRACE, by realizing that every good gift comes from Him (James 1:17).  I give thanks by giving my life to God because of all he has done for me (Romans 12:1-2).  I give thanks by speaking it, by telling of His goodness.

273.  I am thankful for trips on the church van each week.  God is teaching me so much about what it means to reach out, to love outside your immediate circle, to see what He sees and to let Him stretch me beyond what I am currently doing or seeing or being willing to speak or do or go. 

274.  I am thankful for the body of believers.  I am thankful for all the ways God gifts His children and how He manifests Himself in each person uniquely.  I am thankful that He has entrusted His work to the Church and I am thankful to be on the Kingdom Calendar for such a time as this.

275.  I am thankful for Worship.  I am thankful for each time I get to gather with fellow believers in corporate worship and for moments of private worship.  I am thankful for moments with hands lifted high and for moments where the only appropriate response is face down to the ground. 

276.  I am thankful for roaring waves, dolphins playing, stingrays jumping, girls and daddies giggling and playing...  I am thankful for the majesty of the beach and the reminder of just HOW BIG GOD IS and to think that He knows me by name.

277.  I am thankful for laughter.  Truly it is medicine for your soul.

278.  I am thankful for moments to watch my little girl play soccer, to see her run and play and be reminded of what a blessing it is for her to be healthy and strong.

279.  I am thankful for times when my girls want to be generous.  This is such a lesson that we learn in life.  It's not our natural inclination to give rather than take, to serve rather than be served, to reach out rather than to sit back and expect others to come to us.  I'm so thankful when my girls lead the way in this.  I beg God to help me.  More of Him, less of me.

280.  I am thankful for moments when my girls and their friends dance and sing.  My prayer is that they will always dance like no one's looking, that the joy of the Lord will so fill their hearts and minds that they can't help but dance!!!

281.  I am thankful for simple reminders from God, some of those come from a fresh Word, some of those come from a sweet text or word from a friend, some of those are from a praise song, some of those are from a Word studied years ago.  God is FAITHFUL and He will ALWAYS be what I need TODAY, TOMORROW, and FOREVER. 

282.  Several years ago I was blessed to lead a women's Bible study written by Beth Moore.  In it she taught a five- principle pledge that I would like to leave you with today.  I am thankful for these truths.  They are my sustaining hope many days.  I am so thankful that:
     -GOD IS WHO HE SAYS HE IS.
     -GOD CAN DO WHAT HE SAYS HE CAN DO.
     -I AM WHO HE SAYS I AM.
     -I CAN DO ALL THINGS THROUGH CHRIST WHO GIVES ME STRENGTH.
     -GOD'S WORD IS ALIVE AND ACTIVE IN ME.

Friday, September 14, 2012

Forget THURSDAYS!!!!!

Okay so here's the deal. . .  I started this journey to 1000 with great intentions.  I would blog on Thursdays with my list of why I was thankful until I reached 1000.  WHY THURSDAY?  Well because typically that's how my holistic thinking self works.  I think in acrostics, acronyms, catchy titles, phrases, etc.  So, I thought of THANKFUL THURSDAY.  I also thought that blogging on the same day each week would keep me accountable and would maybe, just maybe work for the few (1 or 2 people) who would actually maybe read it each week and join in with me.  BUT, FLOP!!!  That worked for a while, but honestly it just isn't working for me.  I find myself thinking on Sunday afternoon or maybe on Wednesday evening or sometimes on Friday afternoon, I'd like to write my thankful post, and then my highly prohibitive, follow the rules personality says, but it's not Thursday, how much sense does that make?  So I don't do it.  And then, on Thursday I don't do it either because something comes up or maybe I have writers' block or . . .  (you fill in the blanks you know how life goes).  Some of you out there are saying "Just write the blog and put it in for a delayed post for the next Thursday.  What's  the big deal?"  Well see that's a big deal for me.  Because I want to write it and post it because maybe, just maybe by the next Thursday, they'll be something more pressing or more timely I'd like to say. 

So, enough with the rambling, here's the deal FORGET THURSDAYS!!!!!!  I don't mean forget the journey to 1000.  NO WAY!!!  This has been one of the most rewarding disciplines of my life.  I just mean forget the day of the week or the idea to post only once a week.  From now on, I'll be posting as I feel like God has given me a word to write, as my list of thanks has grown and I feel like I'm ready to share.  It will simply be 1000 THANKS!!!!  I hope you'll understand.  I just need a little bit more freedom on this journey.  I think it will fit me much better at this point in my life, at this season on my journey.  So, here we go. . . and it's Friday!!!

263.  I'm thankful for my dad.  He celebrated his 59th birthday on the 6th of September.  What a joy that is for him and for us!!!  The last 19 years have been an eventful journey for him since his first bypass surgery at 40 years old, but I'm SO PROUD OF MY DADDY!!!  He lives each day to the fullest.  He enjoys his family and friends.  He loves God and he is determined to live this life he's been given as a gift of thanks to His creator and redeemer.  I am thankful for every day I have with him.  I'm thankful for every lesson he's taught me.  Sometimes he's pushed me, sometimes he's carried me, but he's always been right there with me.  I'm thankful for him more everyday.  

264.  I'm thankful for my mom.  She also just celebrated another birthday--her 58th on the 28th of August.  My parents are young ones, aren't they?!?!  I'm thankful for the example she has lived before us when we were young and as we've grown older.  She loves with her actions and with her time.  That is a treasure.  I'm thankful that she was faithful to the task of raising up her children in the way they should go.  That wasn't always an easy task (I'm sure), but she stayed the course.  I'm thankful for her faithfulness and her determination.  She is a gift to us!

265.  I am thankful for my firstborn.  I love her more everyday.  I love what God is teaching me about letting her become exactly who He has created her to be.  I am thankful for how she really gets so many "deep things" of life.  She amazes me sometimes with how she accepts with simple faith what I make so complex. 

266.  I am thankful for time spent with my nephew.  I love, love, love when he says, "Whatcha doin' Jenn?", "Where ya' goin' Jenn?", "I love you Jenn."  Hardly anybody calls me Jenn, but he does, and it melts my heart.  I am thankful for that little blue eyed boy.  I am thankful for how I see his personality evolving and changing.  I am thankful for every time I get to hear him pray.  I am thankful for his mom and dad and what they are teaching him.  I pray that he will always know just how much God loves him and what an amazing plan God has for his life.

267.  I am thankful for the One-Year Bible on my iPhone and moments that I get to just sit and soak in the Word of God.  I am thankful for simple stories heard again and again and how the truths of God's Word absolutely will transform your heart and mind. 

268.  I am thankful for excitement and hope.  Do you know the kind of excitement I'm talking about?  The kind you felt when you were a little girl waiting on a birthday party to arrive or Christmas to come or for someone to come visit.  That's the kind of excitement I have in my heart right now, but it's not because I'm waiting on my next vacation or for the next family celebration or for the next holiday; it's because in my heart I just know God is going to work in my life in a bigger way tomorrow than He did today to show me more of Himself, to teach me how to love deeper and to live bigger, to have a stronger faith and to believe Him for what I can't even ask, think, or even imagine. 

269. I am thankful for my 6 year old ball of energy.  I am thankful for every piece of artwork she creates for me and for everyone else around her.  I am thankful for every glimpse of the creator that I catch as I see the creative juices that flow through her mind and body.  I am thankful that I can already see the gifts and talents He gave her at work and know that this is only the beginning of the story.  Being her mom is a gift from the hand of God. 

270.  I am thankful that God gives peace in our physical conditions.  I am thankful for a report this week of "no reason to believe that it's cancer."  I have a 6mm nodule on my thyroid.   It's causing discomfort and symptoms, but the endocrinologist says no cancer!!!!  Thankful to God, my great physician for this, but also for the peace that I have had in knowing that no matter what BLESSED BE THE NAME OF THE LORD!!!!!

271.  I am thankful for the many different ways that God shows Himself faithful to us.  He is our healer, our provider, our redeemer, our comforter, our counselor, our advocate, our rock, our refuge, our strength.  He is!!!  I am thankful that there is not a single circumstance that happens throughout my day that God is not ENOUGH!!!!

272.  I am thankful for freedom.  September 11, 2001 was a horrifying day in our nation.  We have not been the same.  Lives were lost that day and are continuing to be lost still in the fight against terrorism.  I am thankful for men and women who stand in the line of duty everyday defending our freedom and fighting for those who have none.  I am thankful for the ultimate freedom that only comes in the person of Jesus Christ through His death and resurrection.  I am thankful for the life that He gives that sets us free indeed!!!! 

Continuing to thank Him, all the way to 1000!!!!


Sunday, September 2, 2012

10,000 Reasons


I'd like to start my post this week with a video clip from our favorite praise song these days.  Our family finds ourselves singing this song daily.  It comforts us, challenges us, and reminds us that truly we have more reasons to praise than we can begin to list.  We could begin writing today and never stop until the day we draw our last breath and the list would not be complete.  And yet the harsh reality is that there are some days that life gets us so busy, the days are tough, and the hurt is deep.  The enemy robs us of the joy of singing praise to our Savior, of focusing on who we are in Christ as His children.  We miss those sacred moments of grace where even the simplest of blessings are a reminder of the hand of God reaching down to earth to intervene on our behalf.  This song has been a fresh reminder to me that as I journey through my day I will face troubles of many kinds (James 1:2).  However, it is the perfect opportunity for great joy.  My prayer has become that at the end of the day I would still be singing a song of praise to my God.  When the day comes when I draw my last breath, I pray that I will still be singing and recounting the 10,000+ reasons I have to worship His name. 


So here are a few more of the reasons, I have to say thanks.

255. I am thankful for my cousin Andrea.  I am thankful for how her faith encourages me and challenges me.  I am thankful for her transparency and authenticity.  I am thankful for how she is walking this journey of loss and grief with such determination to be used by God and for Him to be seen and to be glorified.  I am thankful for her love for God and for her rock solid faith that will not for a moment move over for the enemy.

256.  I am thankful for dinner with friends who will encourage your hearts and remind you that God is not finished with you yet.  I am thankful for those who speak truth into your lives and remind you that God has a plan for your life that is beyond what we can ask, think, or even imagine.  I am thankful for friends that are funnier than anybody should be allowed to be.  It is just too easy for some people to be funny.  They're so enjoyable to be around and I'm thankful that God blesses our life with their presence.  I am thankful for the gift that those people have of knowing how to connect with your heart.

257.  I am thankful for pulled teeth and pierced ears and first soccer games of the season and learning to dive . . .  Fun things of childhood.

258.  I am thankful for friends who engage in deep, meaningful conversation, who connect with your heart about the things that really matter to you. I am thankful that God knows exactly who we need at what point on the journey of life.  Some friends are there for a season for a reason and I am so thankful for God's provision in that way.

259.  I am thankful for what God is teaching me daily from His Word.  I am thankful that He opens up His Word in new and relevant ways.

260.  I am thankful for Matt and Julie and their story of Africa.  I am thankful for their passion and their obedience.  I am thankful for their willingness to go and serve and for what hearing their story does in my heart.

261.  I am thankful for God's provision.  He knows our needs and provides for every one of them.  He cares about the concerns of our hearts.  He loves His children. 

262.  I am thankful for the wonderful relationship that my girls have with their grandparents.  Some of my fondest memories of childhood are with my Granny and Papa.  I wouldn't trade those days for anything.  I'm thankful that my girls are making some wonderful memories too.

Bless the Lord, O my soul!!!!  I Worship Your Holy Name!!!!

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Thankful Thursday

It's Thursday and I'm so very thankful . . .

241.  I am thankful for the lessons that are only learned in the wilderness.  Jason and I had this conversation the other night.  We were talking about how the last 10 months or so of our life have felt something like wandering through unknown territory, something like trying to make sense out of being in a place you've never been before, something like trying to find your way to the place you should be when you realize you traveled off course or missed the mark.  A spiritual mentor heard our cries and listened to the deepest groanings of our heart and spoke words that resonated with our exact place.  He reckoned it to the wanderings of the Israelites in their wilderness days.  He reminded us that those days don't last forever, but that God has a work to do there too.  I'm thankful for that.  I'm thankful that even though we sometimes don't like it there I can see that God is doing a work in our minds, in our hearts, and in our spirit.  Jason and I were reminded by God that the story of the Red Sea and of the Jordan and of the manna from Heaven all came because of a people wandering through a wilderness and looking to their faithful God even when they were on a roller-coaster ride of obedience.  I'm thankful that many of the stories that were passed from one generation to the next came from the wilderness, from a people who learned to be dependent on their God, to obey His voice, and to bow to no other but Him, even if it was a lesson sometimes learned the hard way.

241.  I am thankful to hear my little girl learn to read.  It is simple joy.

242.  I am thankful when my big girl is eager to read.

243.  I am thankful for squeals and laughter heard everyday around my house.

244.  I am thankful for what God is teaching me in the waiting.  I am thankful that He is working on my behalf and that in His time all things will work together for good.

245.  I am thankful for a clean house--it's sometimes the little things that feel like an elephant has finally removed itself from your chest.

246.  I am thankful for prayer.  I am thankful that it doesn't have to be eloquent, lengthy, or loud.  I am thankful that it can be just the mention of His name, the cry of our heart;  it can be silence;  it can be tears.  It is our heart crying to the heart of our Father.  

247.  I am thankful that God treats us all as individuals.  He has a unique plan and purpose for all of us.  He knows us all intimately and call us all individually.  He is not playing a game of comparisons.  He loves us all as the apple of His eye.

248.  I am thankful for home-grown vegetables.

249.  I am thankful for family reunions.

250.  I am thankful for fun afternoons with my hubby, even when they're spent working on our "to-do list".  He is great company.  He makes life fun and bearable.  He is the one who knows what I am thinking without me having to say a word.  He is quirky and entertaining and makes even mundane tasks enjoyable.  He appreciates what is important to me and offers to help me with the chores that seem like they'll never end.

251.  I am thankful for another birthday.  I am thankful for birthday wishes from lots of family and friends that remind me of just how blessed I am with relationships.  I am thankful for moments to celebrate!

252.  I am thankful for leisurely Sunday lunches around the dining room table with family catching up on what's been going on in our lives.

253.  I am thankful for Grandpa and 70 years of life for him.  I am thankful to share this journey with him.

254.  I am thankful for grace.  At every moment it is pursuing me, it is upholding me, and it is often restraining me.  I am thankful for AMAZING GRACE!!!!



Thursday, August 16, 2012

36 years 364 days



Life is full of interruptions.  Lately, I've felt my days have been chaotic, harried, full of things I can't control.  For my type-A, organized, live by a plan self, this has been a little overwhelming.  I've been wondering what I'm suppose to be learning in all of this because I've come to realize that God doesn't bring things into my life without a reason, without intention, without a cause.  He ALWAYS has a plan and a purpose for the seasons in my life.  Sometimes those seasons are short-lived and sometimes they seem like they'll never end.  Sometimes I immediately sense what it is He's trying to do in me or through me or what it is He's trying to get out of me or develop in me.  Sometimes, however, I'm not that easy of a student.  Sometimes it takes me a little time. 

On this occasion, I think I'm discovering some of the lessons He's trying to teach.  On the other hand, I'm not quite sure that there aren't some things I still need to let Him show me.  I am desperate for Him to teach me.  I'm desperate to learn.  I want to let go.  I want to be teachable.  I want to receive the work He's desiring to do in me, and yet so many times I'm so wrapped up in my predetermined plans, in my formulated goals and dreams, in my schedule and in my agenda that I simply miss it.  I get so wrapped up in the interruptions that I miss the opportunities.  I want to ENJOY the Journey.  I want to see the opportunities not just the interruptions.  I want to learn the lessons.  I want to be a true disciple, a Christ follower, changed daily from the inside out.  I want to understand what it means to embrace the moments of this life and to see the fullness of each one.  I want to live a life of thanksgiving to the One who makes it all worthwhile. 

Tomorrow I'll be 37 years old.  As I turn thirty-seven, I think of how some things have turned out exactly how I dreamed and others have taken a much different path.  While there have been seasons of absolute peace and clarity, there have also been times I've found myself far from the place I would have imagined or hoped for.  I feel at times much like the Israelites in their wilderness wanderings.  I find myself still clinging to the hope that in God's time I will see the Promised Land.  I know that there has not been one season of this journey wasted, one moment of hurt or pain or victory or healing that God is not using to write His story of my life.  I'm so glad that I can trust Him to make sense of it all.  So on the eve of my 37th birthday, I choose to give thanks for so much that is a part of my story today that may or may not be a part of my story in a year or in two years.  I understand though that these things are a part of my becoming who He desires for me to be.  I choose to give thanks for even the tough stuff, the stuff that often leaves a lump in my throat, a knot in my stomach, that causes me to cling to Him like never before, that sends me first thing in the morning to His feet in utter dependence, that is the air I breathe and the only reason I look to the future with hope. 

219.  I am thankful for God's reminder that there is hope on the other side of whatever struggle I face today.

220.  I am thankful that life's sweetest moments are not about things but about relationships.

221.  I am thankful for prayer that sustains me moment by moment throughout my days.

221.  I am thankful for the squeals and laughter of my daughters as they play together in the pool.

222.  I am thankful for new birth.  My sweet friends are welcoming new babies to their families and what a blessing!!!  

223.  I am thankful that God is speaking order into the chaos of our daily home school schedule.  He's helping me figure out how to meet each of my girl's needs by providing them each with ample one on one time.  So very, very thankful for this.  

224.  I am thankful for forward progress in the van ministry at church.

225.  I am thankful for Marvelous Mondays.

226.  I am thankful for my husband who always seems to speak a word that reminds me that every thing's going to be okay.  He has a way of refocusing me on who we are as a family, of the God we serve, and of what we've committed ourselves to in Him. 

227.  I am thankful for a husband who works hard at his employer and in our home.  He serves us well and loves us with the love of Christ.  

228.  I am thankful that even the worst days only last for a while.

229.  I am thankful that my husband and I are each other's strongest advocates and biggest supporters in our walk with Christ.  I am thankful for the conversations we have about our faith journeys and about what God is teaching us and how we want to pursue Christ more.

230.  I am thankful for weekend fun with my hubby and girls. 

231.  I am thankful for times to work together with the family; marking things off our to-do list is always fun. 

232.  I am thankful for the opportunity to do ministry together.

233.  I am thankful for Anna Claire's funny faces and hilarious sayings.

234.  I am thankful for Carrington's wise beyond her years perspective on life.

235.  I am thankful for days when both girls will say, "I want to go on a mission trip with my family."  That is music to my ears.

236.  I am thankful for moments when they erupt in praise music and sing and sing and sing.

237.  I am thankful for times when Carrington will say, "I love you Mom" for no reason, just because.

238.  I am thankful for the Word of God, it is what sustains me.  It is oxygen to me.  It is what answers ALL of life's questions and convinces me that I can go on. 

239.  I am thankful that there is NOTHING that is impossible with GOD.  I am thankful that on days when I am struggling to believe this someone else isn't and they speak a Word to me that encourages me to move forward. 

240.  I am thankful that God is not finished with me yet, that He who began a good work in me will complete it (Philippians 1:6). 


Friday, August 3, 2012

Trusting God to be ENOUGH



Well this is one of those weeks when my "Thankful Thursday" post has turned into a Thankful Friday post.  We've been without TV, internet, and phone since Tuesday so being able to post has been an impossibility until today.  It has been a nice thing to have no TV, no internet, and no phone for a few days.  I have to say we haven't missed it much.  It's allowed us to spend our time in other ways, and that's been a good thing.  :) 

Recently, I have found myself fighting this little feeling that rises up in me at least once a day.  I'm not really sure what to attribute it to.  I'm not sure of it's cause, source, or contributing factors.  I will be feeling just fine and then all of a sudden I will feel anxious, cranky, uneasy, almost jittery.  So, I've just had to make a conscious decision to refocus, to cast all my cares upon Him, to choose my words wisely rather than to speak harshly or suddenly, and to find a few minutes of reprieve to relax, to choose to look to the ONLY ONE who has the ANSWER to ALL OF LIFE'S DILEMMAS!!!  I remind myself as Paul wrote to the Ephesisans (6:12) "Our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms."  I must be fully armed with Truth, with righteousness, with feet that are ready, with peace, with faith, with the Word of God, and with the assurance of my salvation.  And, I MUST STAND!!!  I must not falter.  I must STAND FIRM!!!Even when I feel like my legs are weak, my mind is foggy, my hands are shaky, and my stomach is queasy. . .  I must STAND!!!  I must know that I am in a battle and that I will not win it, UNLESS I allow Christ to prove Himself powerful in me. 

206.  Today I am thankful for a God who understands our deepest needs.  I am thankful that when I don't even understand my fears, my anxieties, or my needs, He already knows what is consuming me, what is best for me, and what will bring about His good in my life.

207.  I am thankful that I don't have to figure anything out.  I just have to trust that God's plans are at work as long as I stay fully committed to Him. 

208.  I am thankful for times when God sends someone to me to speak truth into my situation.  I am thankful that often they have no idea that they are being the mouth piece of God and yet they are speaking specifically to the deepest cry of my heart.

209.  I am thankful for deep conversations with my husband, for times when we discuss our spiritual journey and our commitment to serving Christ completely with our lives--wherever, however, and whatever that looks like.  I am thankful that our marriage is growing closer to the heart of God as we seek to know Him.

210.  I am thankful for a new year in school with my two daughters.  I am thankful for the days I get to sit across the table from them and learn together.  I am thankful for moments of sharing God's Word with them and learning together about God's amazing plan.

211.  I am thankful for Friday lunches with my friends.

212.  I am thankful for the completion of renovation projects around my house.

213.  I am thankful for a successful Back to School outreach and the opportunity to minister shoulder to shoulder with fellow Christ-followers.  I am thankful for a little girl named Isabella who now calls me "My Jennifer."  Two months ago we didn't even know each other; now I feel like she's an extension of my family.

214.  I am thankful that what God puts in place no man can destroy.

215.  I am thankful for my cousin's news of a baby girl and how we were able to smile even amidst the journey of grief knowing that Bradley's wishes were fulfilled.

216.  I am thankful for technology that brings great Biblical teaching into my home and into my heart via pod casts.

217.  I am thankful for the reminder that the "crazy stuff" in my life is all a part of God's working in me to work out for me what He desires to do with my life. 

218.  I am thankful that God's grace is simply ENOUGH!!!!



Thursday, July 26, 2012

Give Thanks. . .Really?!


1 Thessalonians 5:18  in everything give thanks; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.

This scripture seems like it's asking a lot of us as frail humans, especially when we're suffering, when we're hurt, when life has dealt us a blow or a series of blows that has left us gasping for air.  So, why give thanks?  Why choose to lift our heads, to fix our eyes on the Father, and to utter even the smallest word of thanks?  Why expend the energy to focus on the positive when we can't even think past the overwhelming feelings we experience in life's hardest, darkest moments?  I've been thinking about the discipline of choosing thanks/choosing joy.  And as I've plodded along this journey toward 1000 for the last few months, I think I've peeled back a little bit of understanding to the simplicity and yet the mystery of this command of this scripture.  It always seemed so impossible to me, almost insensitive.  I always thought it needed an explanation something like "we don't have to give thanks for the circumstance, but give thanks in the circumstance."  I still agree with that, BUT I also believe that I realize that God our great creator knew His creation when He ordained this scripture.  He knew our physiological make up.  He knew how we were wired as emotional, physical, and spiritual beings.  He knew what would happen in our bodies physically and emotionally as we turned our minds away from negativity, hurt, pain, impossibility, hopelessness, . . . to thankfulness, to possibility, to the reminders of who He has been and will continue to be, to the thoughts of those who surround us who are assets in our life, to the good in our life, to the hope in our life now and in the future, to the positive.  He knew that giving thanks would act like an "emotional reset button", like a spiritual and physical energizer of sorts, especially in hard times.  He knew it would be a defense against the flaming darts of the devil.  He knew it would act as a way to refocus us on truth when Satan would love for us to believe lies.  He knew that choosing to give thanks IN everything would be for our good.  It would be for our benefit.  It would
do something powerful in us in overcoming the enemy, in protecting our hearts and minds. 

So again, I choose to give thanks.  I choose to stop and remind myself of ALL I have to be thankful for.  I choose to not only write those words here but to say thanks to those in my life who make it more abundant and free.  I choose to lift my hands to my Father in heaven and say thanks.  I choose to live gratefully to my fellow man and to realize what a blessed person I am, not a deserving person, but a blessed person.

195  I am thankful for life, for each second I have to live.

196  I am thankful for those who are in my life, for those who have been and who aren't now, for those who will be some day. 

197  I am thankful for moments in my life that are divinely orchestrated.  I am thankful for opportunities of impact to speak a kind word, to lend a helpful hand, to just smile and be generous, to listen.  I am thankful that when I think I have my day all planned out God sometimes interrupts it with a divine appointment.

198  I am thankful for a conversation about eternity with my two daughters this week and the opportunity to talk with them about the certainty of their salvation.  I am thankful that we were able to talk about their salvation stories and relive those moments together.  I am thankful for their love for Jesus and their hope in heaven.  I am thankful for their hearts for others to know Him.

199  I am thankful for a day spent with my mom.  It's been a while since it's been just the two of us. I'm thankful for a chance just to talk with her and share life with her.  I'm thankful for her love for me and her friendship.

200  I am thankful for a friend who is miles away but who is so sensitive to the Spirit's leading that she always seems to know just when I need an encouraging text.  I am thankful for friends who speak their heart and will say I love you and I'm thankful for you, friends who aren't afraid of authenticity and true expression.

201  I am thankful for my brother, Callie, and Slade and for the little one on the way.  I am thankful for how Slade tells me he loves me, and for the way he says "Aunt Jenn".  I am thankful for the way my girls love him and how he loves my girls.  I am thankful for how excited he is when he sees us.  I wouldn't want it any other way.

202  I am thankful for the way good things can come out of hard things.  I am thankful that though we can't see the big picture we can cling to the truth of scripture and know that God is always working for our good and His glory. 

203  I am thankful for love.  I am thankful that God gives us the ability to love.  I am thankful for deep love, the kind that sometimes hurts but mostly feels amazing.  I am thankful for love that compels us to give our lives (not always literally) but just our daily living, to live it out for others not inward for ourselves. I am thankful to be loved and to love.  I am thankful for those who love me and those I get to love.

204  I am thankful for people who believe in you no matter what, who see what God sees, who continue to speak truth into your life.  I am thankful for people who help you keep believing and dispelling the lies of Satan.  I am thankful for those who challenge you to keep believing that God's work is not finished yet.

205  I am thankful for the opportunity of ministry.  I am thankful when God opens doors to reach out to others and to pour into their lives, to connect with them relationally, to share life with them. 



Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Running the Race



Hebrews 12:1-2  Therefore let us also, seeing we are compassed about with so great a cloud of witnesses, lay aside every weight, and the sin that does so easily beset us, and let us run with patience the race that is set before us, looking unto Jesus the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God

As I've walked an unfamiliar path on the journey of life the last week, I found myself thinking about this passage.  I've pondered it in my mind; I've talked through it with others; I've thought about each word, the phrases, the characters represented, and its relevance to life as I know it.  I find in it encouragement and motivation.  It leaves me in awe and overwhelmed.  It reminds me that there is more to this life than is obvious to the human eye, to our frail minds, or to any empirical evidence.

 So, here we are on earth.  We're running a race. And, as I've experienced most often, it's rarely a sprint; it's most often a marathon.  We're surrounded by who?  We're surrounded by a great cloud of witnesses.  They're observing us in the race.  They're "all around us"--maybe visible to the human eye maybe not.  We're running toward a goal, toward a prize.  We're instructed to keep our eye on Jesus.  He is the author and the perfecter of our faith story, of our journey.  He's the one who began the story.  He's the one who initiated the story.  He's the one who's been putting pen to paper from the beginning.  He's written every detail of our faith story.  He's still writing our story and He's not finished.  He's the one who will write it to perfection.  All the while He is seated at the right hand of God the father who is on the throne. We just keep running the race and He keeps writing the story.  We run with patience.  We shed the weights that are keeping us back, tying us down, hindering our progress, delaying our growth.  We confess and repent and turn from the sin that is besetting (attacking from all sides, troubling persistently, harassing, hemming in, surrounding).  Why?  Why do we run, why do we lay aside the weight, why do we cast off the sin?  Because of Jesus.  For the joy set before Him, He endured the cross!!!  He despised shame.  He's in heaven at the right hand of God making intercession for us.  He's interceding on our behalf.  He's making sense out of our groans and moans, our agonies and pains, the mumbling and fumbling we do when we're really trying to make sense out of what really doesn't make sense.  He's making sense out of our best efforts gone bad.  He's making sense out of mess-ups and our mishaps.

I've been reminded this week that there's a race to run but not just to run.  There's a race to finish.  I want to finish well.  I'm encouraged as I think about the witnesses that are cheering me on from the "grand stands".  They've received the prize.  They are seeing my struggles and would urge me in my darkest hours, in my moments where I feel like a complete failure, in my times where I wonder what's the point, "don't give up Jennifer.  life's only a vapor.  push through to the end.  on the other side of this struggle there's victory.  every test is worth the testimony."  They would urge me to endure the struggles with perseverance, with patience, and with purpose.   

I've been reminded that I have a choice to make.  There's so much in my life-everyday!!!-that will weigh me down and hinder me if I am not exercising discipline.  If I do not make wise decisions about the boundaries I place on my life, if I don't guard the gate, and if I don't choose to keep running every day, I will find myself out of shape, overweight, and infected with all kinds of things that overtake my ability to finish the race and finish well. 

Finally, I am so thankful for the reminder that JESUS is the one who is writing my story.  He's been writing my story for a long time.  Things that happen along my race ABSOLUTELY will never catch Him by surprise.  SO, when I make foolish decisions and live with regrets, when I wish and wish I could go back to a certain point in my life and relive it differently from that point forward, when I find myself in the middle of an unexpected trauma, NONE of that was or is a surprise to Him.  He's still writing my story and wants me to let my story be for His GLORY!!!  I am thankful that even when I feel like I've messed up or I've missed out, He's still not finished writing my story.  All that is necessary is to lay aside and look to Jesus and keep on running!!!! 

Today, I want to run with perseverance the race that is set before me.  I don't know what the course for the race is.  I'm not sure the distance for this race or where it might take me and my family.  I'm not sure what bumps, curves, or rough terrain we might face.  BUT, I do know that when those things happen that Jesus is the author of that story.  He began it and He'll complete it.  All the while, He's sitting at the right hand of God making intercession on my behalf.  So, I'm committing today and for my tomorrows to run this race with joy!!!

Thursday, July 19, 2012

A Tough Thankful Thursday



Today is one of those thankful Thursdays where it's hard to find the words of thanks.  It's been a week that's been splattered with all kinds of emotions.  In those emotions, I've searched to find my way to what I know is truth.  I've struggled to see my way through the grief, the tears, the overwhelming lump in my chest, the sick feeling in my stomach, the helpless feeling of wanting to do something, wanting to take away the pain for my friends and family but knowing I couldn't.  It's been hard to find my way to the hope on the other side, to the promises that I know are true, the God that I know has never and will never change. 

You see when I started this journey of thankfulness to 1000 it all began because of a book I had read entitled One Thousand Gifts:  A Dare to Live Fully Right Where You Are (emphasis added mine).  You see "the right where you are part" is sometimes the hard part.  The living fully and giving thanks is easier on some days, during some seasons, but frankly, there are seasons, days, years when it's just downright HARD!!!!  It doesn't come easy; it doesn't make sense; it's hard to live at all much less FULLY!!!!  The author of the book (Ann Voskamp) proposes, and I agree because it is in line with scripture, that we live most fully when we give thanks, when we choose joy, when we find hope even in the midst of the most difficult, the messiest, the most uncomfortable.  BUT, when I'm staring that stuff in the face, it's often another story.  I have to really step back, breathe deep, and look UP!!!  I have to cry out to God and choose to say I don't understand God but I do choose to believe that you are God and you are good!!!  I don't understand God but I believe that you are faithful and that you can not be otherwise.  I don't understand what you're doing God but I know that you have a plan.  I don't understand God but I know that you are with us always, that you will never leave us or forsake us.  I don't understand God but I know that heaven is real and this is just a temporary home and one day in your presence is better than a thousand days elsewhere.  I don't understand God but I know that you are our Great Comforter!!!  I don't understand God but I know that you have sent us a great counselor who will continue to teach me ALL that I NEED to know!!!  (there are some things I just won't NEED to know).  I don't understand God but I am so thankful that you are God and that you are big enough for any question that I need to ask, that you aren't insulted that I ask why or how can this happen or what now and that even in my asking I'm exercising faith in the fact that you are the ANSWER!!!! 

So in the midst of this week, I'm going to choose to give thanks, not because it's easy or because it's the natural thing to do, but to honor my God and to honor the life of two great men who died too early whose smiles remind me that life really is to be lived FULLY and GRATEFULLY!!!!!

#184  I'm thankful for family and friends who gather to support, to grieve, to walk through unchartered waters, to CELEBRATE how one's life has touched the lives of so many others.

#185  I am thankful for the reminder that life is a gift.  It's fragile, frail, it's only given one breath at a time.  It should be cherished.  It should be lived fully and given away, not hoarded.  It should be used to touch each person who comes across our path.  I've seen this week just how much one's life can touch someone else's.

#186  I am thankful for God's sustaining grace.  I am thankful for grace that's just what we need in every situation.  God's grace is always what we need in every situation.  There's never, ever going to be a situation we can't get through because for people of faith, for kids of the king, he will ALWAYS have sustaining grace.  He'll have grace for the moment, for putting one foot in front of the other, moment by moment, day by day.

#187  I am thankful for salvation, sanctification, eternal hope in heaven.

#188  I am thankful that good-bye is not good-bye; it's really just see you soon, see you later!

#189  I am thankful that God's plans are perfect even when we can't see how.  That His grace and mercy is BIG ENOUGH for all of us.  I am thankful that whatever situation I can think up and say "what if  . . ."  I can just plug in "then God!"  and know it covers it!!!

#190  I am thankful for my cousin Andrea.  I am thankful that I know her testimony.  I am thankful that I have seen how God has worked in her past and I can rest assured that she is a woman of great faith, incredible courage, and unwavering resolve.  I am thankful that I know she will trust God even on the darkest days to carry her through what lies ahead.

#191  I am thankful for Bradley's life.  I am thankful for his smile and how even now as I think about it I smile (it was contagious).  I am thankful for his wit and humor.  I am thankful for how he would start laughing over something and not be able to stop.  I am thankful for a trip to Disney with him and Andrea and Anzleigh and the great fun we had!!!  I am thankful for his love for his family and how that just showed through in everything he did.  I am thankful for how he was always ready to go out to eat or on a trip.  I am thankful for his testimony in Christ and knowing He's with Jesus.


#192  I am thankful that NOTHING absolutely NOTHING catches my God by surprise.  It may floor me.  It may leave me dumbfounded.  It may shock me and leave me numb for days, but God is never caught off guard!

#193 I am thankful that even in my darkest days, God is the light!!!

#194  I am thankful for LOVE.  I am thankful for the love of a mom and a dad to their child, a brother and a sister, a brother for his brother, a wife for her husband, a child for their father, a father for his child, friends for each other, a community for a neighbor.  We are able to love because God first loved us.  I am thankful for LOVE. 

#195  I am thankful for my best friends.  I am thankful that they know me and love me anyway.  I am thankful that they celebrate life with me.  I am thankful that I get to celebrate life with them.  I am thankful that we enjoy good times with each other and help each other through the tough stuff.  I am thankful that we can tell each other the truth.  I am thankful that we laugh and cry together.  I am thankful that our kids love each other.  I am thankful that we know a lot about each other and don't judge and criticize each other.  I am thankful that we get to share the journey of life. 


#194  I am thankful for music.  I am thankful for the way it lifts my spirit and helps me find truth and joy. 

I leave you today with a song that was on my heart when I awoke this morning.  It gives me hope in these days. 



Sunday, July 15, 2012

Wow! God is Amazing!!!!



Wow!  God IS amazing!!  That is such a simple but profound statement.  That's been the theme of our VBS this week.  We've spent our week marveling at just how awesome, how amazing, how powerful, how mighty our God is!!!  It's always refreshing to me to see this again and again through the eyes of a child.  It's no wonder Christ said, "Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these." (Matt 19:14).  They really do take God at His Word.  They really do GET the simplicity of it all.  They really do SEE just HOW BIG God is.  They really do understand how approachable He is.  They desire Him.  They long to worship Him without reservation, with reckless abandon.  They look like they're actually enjoying worship and would do it for longer than say 10 minutes.  They see Him in His creation.  They can grasp that He really is right here with us, "like in this car, or in this room, or . . ."  I can't imagine a better way that I could have spent the last 7 days of my life.  I am thankful for so much, so let me list just a few.

#173  I am thankful for a van load of children that rode with me each night to VBS.  I am thankful for Derek and Clint who make that trek each night with me over to pick up our new friends.  I am thankful for each story I heard about their lives and for each mom and dad, aunt and uncle, grandma and grandpa who entrusted us with their precious little ones.  I am thankful to know 10 new friends who rode with me and for the 40-50 other little lives that rode with Mr. Ken and Mr. Lee, Mr. Garry and Mr. Roger, and Mr. John, Mr. Keith, and Mr. Andrew.  It was a blessing that I can't even really begin to put into words.  I am thankful for the reminder that the harvest is plentiful.  I am thankful that this is just the beginning of a relationship with some wonderful families.  I can't wait until I see them again. 

#174  I am thankful for the reminder that the word was made flesh and dwelt among us.  He came and walked where we walked, He came to live and breathe among us.  I am thankful for the reminder that this really is the most effective way to do ministry--to develop personal, intimate relationships with those you hope to reach.

#175  I am thankful for my husband who will serve in ANY WAY he's needed.  I am thankful that HE LOVES kids, especially little ones who need a father figure, who need to see a man who loves God and loves kids.  I am thankful for other men like that.  It blesses my heart to see men serving in VBS because so many kids really do need to see a spiritual role model. 

#176  I am thankful for so many of my best friends who are serious about their service to their King.  God has blessed me with some great friends who aren't just girls to shop with or to have dinner with or to talk about my favorite book or TV show with, but girls who will challenge me in my walk with Christ, who will serve with me and encourage me to give my best to my Savior, who sweat for the kingdom and teach our children to serve God with ALL they have.

#177  I am thankful for a clean house.  I've struggled for weeks now trying to find my way through our "construction zone" at home.  It's really gone against my type A personality, my obsessive compulsiveness.  BUT, thanks to my hubby, following our very busy VBS week, we found some time Saturday to clean at least the important parts of our house.  Construction is still underway.  We need floors worked on in the girls' rooms and the bathroom painted, and a window replaced, BUT, I'm feeling thankful that I see less dust and some clean counter tops, and a few pictures hung, and mopped and vacuumed floors.

#178  I am thankful for the assurance of heaven.  I am thankful that we do not have to fear death.  We can know that life here is ours to enjoy because of the freedom we have in Christ and He desires for us to know joy, love, peace, . . .  BUT we also can live knowing that HEAVEN is as real and it's BETTER!!!

#179  I am thankful for the exciting news just one phone call can bring!!! :)

#180  I am thankful for the anticipation of a friend's visit.

#181  I am thankful for clean water to drink on a hot day.  Did you know that 1.1 billion people in the world do not have access to safe drinking water, roughly one-sixth of the world's population?  2.2 million people in developing countries, most of them children, die every year from diseases associated with lack of access to safe drinking water, inadequate sanitation and poor hygiene.

#182  I am thankful for air conditioning.  WHEW!!  It's been hot, but we've been able to stay cool. 

#183  I am thankful for God's truth that defines who we are regardless of the circumstances that life may deal us.  I was reminded of this just a few days ago through the life of an 8 year old boy.  I pray that God will help me share this with so many who need to know that Satan is lying to them about who they are and what they can become.  God's truth is revealed in the person of Jesus Christ.  His truth has come to set us free!!!  I am thankful that He has a plan that is not bound by our lineage, by our location, or by our "luck".  He will rewrite our story.  He will give us a hope and a future.  I am thankful that He always speaks truth to me when Satan is whispering lies over my life.  I pray that I will choose to believe.

WOW!!! GOD IS AMAZING!!!

Thursday, July 5, 2012

In the Middle of Messy




In the middle of the messy, it's often hard to find the words or the will to stop and say thanks.  But, this simple discipline of giving thanks is teaching me that when I will stop and look up, acknowledge the many good gifts that flow from His hand, and choose to give thanks even in the tough stuff, joy rushes in on the worst of days.  It's in giving thanks that the hard stuff seems a little easier, a lot more bearable, and somehow not quite so big.  Lately, our life has seemed a whole lot messy.  I've been reminded that life is certainly not perfect.  It's rarely neatly packaged; it only stays tidy and organized for a while, and it is in the chaos, the rough stuff, the wanderings and the cries for help that I find my God faithful again and again.  He is kind and loving, patient and long suffering.  He is not easily scared off and He will stay with me through the grime and the dirt, the messes and the whining.  He will even take my temper tantrums in stride and remind me that while I'm going on and on with my insistence on having my way; He really does have it all under control and He is working for my good. 

Oh, thanks be to God!!!  Because of the Lord’s great love we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail. They are new every morning!  (Lamentations 3:22-23)

156.  I am thankful for the reflections of the moon on the lake late in the evening.  What a sight!!!  Reminds me that the God who hung that moon in place, who spoke the Earth into existence, who keeps it all in motion. . .  loves me, knows me by name, and loves me as His own.

157.  I am thankful for that moment when a total stranger approaches me in the store complimenting me for the manners and behavior of my daughters.  WOW!!!  How that humbled my heart.  Reminds me that at all times people are watching our interactions, seeing how we treat one another, seeing how we use our words and our actions.  Thankful that she was respectful of her elders and treated the gentleman with kindness and respect.  Thankful for the awesome privilege of being their mommy!!!

158.  I am thankful for a Saturday morning of creating pottery on the back porch, all four of us.  We attempted to use a pottery wheel.  What a teachable moment about God being the potter and us being the clay. 

159.  I am thankful for a Word from God that you know is just for you.  I am thankful for that moment this week on a video during our Nehemiah study.  I was discouraged and God used the words of a young lady sharing her testimony to let me know to not be discouraged, to keep pushing ahead, to keep my hand to the task.

160.  I am thankful for a great check-up at the doctor for Carrington when she went for her ten-year old check up.  Thankful for her health, for her well-being, for her growth, for her life.

161.  I am thankful when I hear my girls talk about heaven and how they don't want to miss it and they don't want anyone else to miss it either.

162.  I am thankful for a Sunday night spent going door to door inviting children to VBS.  Can't wait to pick those kids up on the bus!

163.  I am thankful for my husband who puts up with me even when I'm frustrated with dust and dust and more dust and floors that need to be replaced from a flooded bathroom and walls that need to be painted and keeps on letting me work through my exasperation.  He loves me!!!!

164.  I am thankful for lunch a McDonald's--not because I like McDonald's but because it was the chance to be with people I love.  I am so very thankful for my friends and my girls and their friends.  Friendship is a gift!!!

165.  I am thankful for every opportunity I get to hear my sweet girls sing.  Their voice is a treasure to me. 

166.  I am thankful for Melinda.  I am thankful for her spirit of service and passion and commitment.  I am thankful that she wants to see children and their families know the grace and mercy of Jesus Christ. 

167.  I am thankful for Garry D. and his commitment to the outreach ministry at GBC. 

168.  I am thankful for Mr. Shirley and Ms. Jackie and their commitment to feed the least of these.

169.  I am thankful for VBS and the opportunity to share the Gospel with boys and girls and moms and dads. 

170.  I am thankful for Courtney and how she's worked so hard to see VBS be all that God would desire for it to be at GBC.

171.  I am thankful that God always brings me back to what matters most regardless of how the enemy tries to get me distracted by fears, lies, frustrations, busyness, . . .  I am thankful that He loves me and seeks intimacy with me through His Word, through prayer, through Worship, through my fellowship with others.  I am thankful that when I seek Him I find Him and that He is evident all around me!!!!

FINALLY,
172.  I am thankful  that "I may be hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed." (2 Corinthians 4:8-9) because "greater is He that within me than He that is within the world (1 John 4:4). 





Monday, June 25, 2012

Guest Blogging



One of my nearest and dearest friends, Beth, over at will I ever wear a white shirt again?  The Messy Journey of a Life Surrendered to Jesus, asked me to guest blog for her this week as a part of her June series on intentional living.  WOW!!!  What an honor!!! 

The longer I live the more I'm convinced that God brings people in and out of our lives for a reason.  He brings people into our lives to grow us or for us to be a part of their growth;  He brings people into our lives to show us something new, insightful, or challenging.  He brings people into our lives to point us to Him and sometimes to simply bless this journey we're on called life.  I am so very blessed by those He's putting in my life--those that challenge me to be a better Christ-follower, better wife, better mom, daughter, sister, friend, neighbor, . . ., those that show me a glimpse of who I am and who I want to be in Christ, those that allow me to be an extension of His grace, mercy, and love, those that love me well and that teach me to love deeper and more authentically.  That's my friend Beth.  She's been such a challenge to me, such a blessing, such a motivator at times.  She makes me think deeper, love longer and stronger, and long to be more like Christ. 

So, to be asked to guest blog--WHAT A BLESSING!! Here it is if you'd like to link up and read what God's teaching me about intentional living with the life He's giving me NOW!!! http://bethwebb.typepad.com/blog/2012/06/guest-post-intentional-living-part-4.html

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Choosing!

This past Christmas season we were blessed in our home to discover the devotional book Jesus Calling by Sarah Young.  I have found the words to speak to me RIGHT WHERE I AM as I travel this spiritual journey.  Actually the only way I can explain the deep significance with which the words resonate is that the Holy Spirit allows the words of the author's pen to transcend time and space into my life and to speak directly to my situation as if Jesus Himself were sitting at my kitchen table talking to me.  Just this week I felt God's Word intersect my current, harried, frustrated, frazzled, I feel out of control mindset with such a gentle and soft-spoken word as I read the devotion for June 17.  The author's words reminded me to stop.  To STOP and breathe deeply.  To inhale all that God has and is and will continue to do on my behalf.  To STOP and to RECALL that He is GOD and that He does not need me to be in control.  To STOP and to sing PRAISE.  To STOP and to recognize all the gifts that are mine, even in the midst of sickness, and flood, and dust, and piles of clutter that I can't uncover because I'm living in the middle of a construction zone, and days when I know I'm far past the limit of what I can handle on my own. 

These simple words spoke to me and I thought they might speak to you too.  So I share with you from the author, Sarah Young (Jesus Calling).  "Relax and know that I am God with you.  When you desire My will above all else, life becomes much less threatening.  Stop trying to monitor My reponsibilities--things that are beyond your control.  Find freedom by accepting the boundaries of your domain. . . .  Do not miss the Joy of My presence by carrying the weight of the world on your shoulders."

So today as I give thanks, I am reminded that in our daily life we really do have a choice to make.  We can CHOOSE the joy of His presence or we can CHOOSE the doubt, the depression, the sadness . . . that the enemy would love to fill our life with.  We won't always feel happiness but we can truly feel that deep sense of joy, the knowing that there's someone bigger in control here.  We can choose to look up to the heavens from where our help comes, knowing that we have so much to thank Him for.  And, I choose to believe that when I begin to focus on the THANKS the doubt and the dread begins to demenish. 

I GIVE THANKS!!!
#141  I give thanks for Godly men in my life.  On Father's Day I thought a lot about the men that God placed in my life at different times to guide me from one milemarker to the next.  I'm thankful that God has given my daughters wonderful Godly men to love them, to show them a glimpse of their heavenly father.  These are a few of the men who came to mind:  my dad, my father-in-law, my husband, my brother, Mr. Bull, my pastor when I was a teenager (Troy Finney), my pastor when Jason and I were dating and engaged and newly married (A. J. Alderman), my pastor when Jason and I were becoming new parents and learning how to serve in ministry (Pastor Steven Lester), my Papa. 

#142  I'm thankful when I get to see my girls participate in something they really enjoy like art camp or dance lessons or swimming.  It reminds me how much God must delight as He sees us enjoy the blessings He bestows upon us.

#143  I give thanks for how God puts people at the right place at the right time and then you get to sit back and say WOW!! that was God's provision. 

#144  I give thanks for 3 hours on a Saturday at a block party with total strangers, seeing moms and dads and boys and girls enjoy snow cones and hot dogs and bounce houses. 

#145  I give thanks for the WORD of GOD that is alive and active and sharper than any two edged sword. 

#146  I'm thankful for the truths in Nehemiah that are penetrating my mind and heart with a fresh clarity and challenge.

#147  I'm thankful for fresh zucchini and cucumbers and green onions.

#148  I'm thankful for an updated home study.

#149  I'm thankful for doctors.

#150  I'm thankful for my friend Beth.  If I said this everyday, it would not be often enough.  She blesses my life and challenges me to be a better person.  God knew I would need her during this season and I am thankful doesn't really do it justice.

#151  I'm thankful for fresh paint.

#152  I'm thankful for new shelves in my garage.

#153  I'm thankful for a weekend getaway to Savannah with my hubby.  What fun!!! 

#154  I'm thankful for my two daughters.  I'm thankful for the wonderfully, creative personalities that God has given them both.  I'm thankful for the way they can play together for hours and how they love each other and protect each other.  I'm thankful that they care about the things of God and want to serve Him.  I'm thankful that God has given me the amazing opportunity to be their mom. 

#155  I'm thankful for SUMMER!!!!!  I'm thankful for a God that created the seasons, the planets, the stars, and holds it altogether.  I'm thankful that as I look all around me I see so many signs of an AMAZING creator and yet I know that this same God loves me; He knows me by name and He cares about my every care.  How amazing is THAT!!!!!


Thursday, June 7, 2012

15 Wonderful Years. . . For That I Think I'll Say Thanks!!!





Today is no ordinary Thankful Thursday.  It's a monumental day on the calendar of life.  It's a mile marker, a stone of remembrance, a flag raised on this journey of life. . .  It's a day to celebrate life and marriage and love and happiness and choosing to live the covenant relationship that Christ has called us to.  It's a day to say thanks to God for helping us stick it out when the world around us is throwing in the towel.  It's a day to say thanks to God for choosing us for each other, knowing we would need the strengths and weaknesses of one another in this journey toward Christ likeness.  It's a day to say thanks to God for showing us that it's okay to not be perfect, to not have it all together all the time, that it's okay to simply love Him and love others.  It's a day to look at one another and say I love you, and after 15 wonderful years, I'm so glad God gave me you to do this thing called life with. 

So, on this Thankful Thursday, I'm going to keep it short and sweet.  I'm thankful for my husband; I'm thankful for a marriage that is not perfect but a marriage that is teaching me more about Christ and His love, His grace, and His mercy everyday.  I'm thankful for the wonderful opportunity to love and serve my husband and my children everyday.  There is no greater privilege than loving my husband and loving my children well.  I'm thankful that I get the great joy of being married to my best friend.  I'm thankful that we have lots of fun together.  I'm thankful that God is breaking our hearts for the same things.  I'm thankful that while I don't know what the future holds I do know that the God who spoke the universe into existence knows me by name.  He has a wonderful plan for my marriage, my children, my grandchildren, and my great-grandchildren.  And, I plan on growing old with my wonderful hubby (I just don't plan on growing gray--WINK, WINK!!!). 
Happy 15th Anniversary, Jason!!!

BLESSINGS!!!!!

Thursday, May 31, 2012

A Month Full of Thankful Thursdays



WOW!!!!  That about sums up this month.  My dad reminded me last night that I have not posted since May 7th.  I can assure you it has not been by choice.  We have had a rather eventful month.  Every Thursday has found me away from my computer, unable to post.  The last time I tried it from my trusty phone that didn't turn out so good.  So, I have continued to look ahead until the next Thursday with my thankful list continuing to grow in light of every little event that we've experienced.  Life sure does catch us by surprise sometimes, but I am so very thankful that it absolutely NEVER catches our amazing God by surprise (#111)

#112  It really doesn't matter how clean my house is, or if every piece of laundry is washed, dried, folded, and put away.  The time I spend with my girls, my husband, my family, and my friends is a gift from God.  I am thankful for each of those moments. 

#113  I am thankful for days when no one is sneezing, coughing, vomiting, having a headache, or (you fill in the blank).  We really do take our health for granted.

#114  I am thankful for Dr. Pepper and Happy Hour at Sonic.

#115  I am thankful for pool days once again!!!!

#116  I am thankful for dance recitals and choir musicals.

#117  I am thankful for friends like Beth who will take the time to have her precious daughters record and send a special video to my sick little one in the hospital just to brighten her day.

#118  I am thankful for a message like this sent from many miles away--"I wish I was there to make sure you were taken care of."  God blesses our life with special friends who understand the depth of that kind of message only a few times in our life. 

#119  I am thankful for health insurance. What a blessing to owe only a small price for such amazing health care!!!!  Five days in VCH is not cheap.  Insurance is a blessing.

#120  I am thankful for a husband who works hard, loves selflessly, laughs with us daily, enjoys being with us, chooses to like our hobbies/interests, . . .  the lists goes on and on.

#121  I am thankful for my daddy!!!  He came to sit with me while Anna Claire was in the hospital just so I wouldn't have to be alone so Jason could continue to work.  He loves his kids and grand kids. 

#122  I am thankful for suffering.  God teaches just how BIG He is, just how much He is into every detail of our life, just how much He can be trusted, just how much His ways are higher than our ways, just how much He loves us.

#123  I am thankful for Kim, Chris, Kathryn Grace, and Christin Faith.  They are like family to us.  What would we do without them?!  I can't begin to imagine.  For five days our oldest daughter lived with them while we made sure our youngest was taken care of in the hospital.  Not one time did I have to wonder if she was safe, protected, fed, bathed, loved, . . .  Friends like that are a treasure.

#124  I am thankful for doctors and nurses, housekeepers, IV techs, dietary/nutrition staff--every single person who crossed our path at Vanderbilt Children's Hospital.  I am thankful for the care that we received that restored our precious daughter to full health.  I am thankful for the guiding hand of our Great Physician.

#125  I am thankful for a successful year of homeschooling.  I couldn't be prouder of the progress of Carrington and Anna Claire.  They both worked so hard.  God rewarded their efforts; He expanded their knowledge; He grew them spiritually, emotionally, physically, and mentally. 

#126  I am thankful for friends who visited AC or sent her a special little treat to brighten her days in the hospital.  She was BLESSED beyond what words can truly say.

#127  I am thankful to be a mom!!!!

#128  I am thankful to be on the journey toward adoption even on days when the path seems rugged and steep, days when the path seems covered in quicksand, days when the path seems like where trudging through mud. 

#129  I am thankful for summer Bible study in the book of Nehemiah.

#130  I am thankful for the sacrifices of men and women in uniform, past and present.

#131  I am thankful for my mom.  I am thankful that when I was a teenager she was my friend, not my enemy, that she was willing to listen to me, that she had time for me. 

#132  I am thankful for food, shelter, clothing, and love.  The simple things in life are often so very easy to overlook.  Today I got to eat Mexican--one of my favorites.  I get to sleep in a comfy bed tonight.  I had a choice of what to wear today, and I have the amazing opportunity to love and to be loved by many.

#133  I am thankful for my friends from Los Trojas, amazing how God binds your heart to those who aren't just like you, across language barriers, just by investing a little time in building relationships.

#134  I am thankful for Bill and Sharon Z. and their leadership in our church in the lives of young families.

#135  I am thankful for Barbara and Bill and how they love our family like we were their children and grandchildren.

#136  I am thankful for a weekend in the mountains with Meme and Grandpa.

#137  I am thankful for a garden full of plants just waiting for a harvest of fruits and veggies.

#138  I am thankful for Shonda and Neil and how they make me laugh hysterically and how they jumped right in to help take care of Carrington on the day AC was so sick.

#139  I am thankful for dance teachers who would make AC feel so special by sending her the cutest pink pig and tiara craft kit to the hospital.

#140  I am thankful for Kelly.  A long phone conversation with her makes everything seem okay!!!  She loved us so well when my sweet girl was in the hospital.

WHEW!!!  I'll stop here for this week.  I feel like I could go on and on forever.  I have so much to be thankful for.  I don't want to cease to notice every detail in my life that really is a gift from the Father. 

Give thanks to the LORD, for he is good!
His faithful love endures forever.
Psalm 107:1