Thursday, April 26, 2012

86, 400 Seconds, 1440 Minutes, 24 Hours=One Thankful Thursday

God gave you a gift of 86,400 seconds today.  Have you used one to say "thank you?"
~William A. Ward

I'm CHOOSING to thank God today for all the wonderful gifts in my life.  I'm CHOOSING to see, hear, smell, taste, and feel the fullness of where I am right now, not missing even the smallest blessing that flows from His hand.  I'm CHOOSING to be JOYFUL on the JOURNEY!!!! 

We all have only 1 life to live.  Do the math!  How many seconds, minutes, hours, days, months, years are behind you?  What's possibly ahead?  How will we invest them?  

91.  I am thankful for getting to hug the neck of my friend Beth and her three sweet daughters.  Oh, how cute she's looking preggo with her first little boy!!!!  The hug and a few minutes of face to face, in the same room, able to hug each other conversation will carry me for a few months at least.  :)

92.  I am thankful for friends around the country who are passionate about sharing the Gospel, reaching people for Christ, going into places that others aren't going, doing church in ways that others aren't doing it to reach those who aren't being reached.   I am thankful for Tiffany and Jeremy in Florida, Buck and Beth in Wisconsin, Shawn and Brooke in Missouri/Arkansas. . .  Thanking God for their passion, love, commitment, sacrifice, example, perseverance, faith, . . .

93.  I am thankful for VACATION!!!!  While I do like the routine, the consistency, the familiarity of our life, I'm always thankful for the interruption of a VACATION!!!  I am thankful for the time to enjoy making memories with my husband and daughters, to focus on nothing but their laughter, their smiles, their pure enjoyment of life. 

94.  I am thankful for our adoption caseworker, Kelli.  She is so kind and considerate as she walks us through each step of this roller coaster of a journey.  She's reassuring; she's committed to the Biblical concept of adoption; she's conscientious and does her job well.  We're thankful to have her in our life.

95.  I am thankful for a God who sees the bigger picture when I only see the here and now. 

96.  I'm thankful for friends who remind me that God is always working on our behalf and that the fulfillment of promises may not come quickly but they will come perfectly.

97.  I'm thankful for accountability.  I'm thankful for friends who love me enough to want to see me stay the course, finish well, and enjoy the journey along the way. 

98.  I am thankful for the promise of summer break!!  Our co-op is already finished and we only have a couple weeks of home instruction left.  WooHoo!!!!  Bring on the summer fun!!! 

99.  I am thankful for time spent with some wonderful ladies at Morning Pointe.  I'm thankful for seeing those ladies love on my girls and for seeing my girls love on those ladies.  WHAT A BLESSING!!!!!

100.  I'm thankful for a mom and dad who loves their family with such love and devotion that it amazes me.  I'm thankful that they would go to whatever lengths necessary to make sure we are okay.  I'm thankful that they taught me you don't have to "be rich" to "be rich".  I'm rich in soooo many ways because of the commitment they made to each other and to our family a long time ago and they have stayed that course!!!  Thanks be to God!!! Thanks to a great Mom and Dad!!!!

101.  I am so thankful for my six year old prayer warrior.  If she tells you she will pray for you, then you can know with certainty that you're name is being called out to the Father.  She humbles me as I listen to her prayer, reminding me that Christ really did say, "You have not because you ask not."  I am thankful for the compassion and concern I see in her life for those she knows are suffering. 

102.  I am thankful for how my ten year old got to witness firsthand this week that God sometimes just surprises us!!!  He will send us an unexpected blessing, something that He knows will thrill our heart.  He knows His children, He knows the desires of our hearts, and He wants to give us good gifts!!!  Thankful for sweet friends who allowed God to use them to bless her with what was probably the highlight of her year--a trip to hear her favorite Christian artist, Francesca Battistelli!!!!   She was oh so thankful!!!  She couldn't stop smiling--literally! 

Sometimes God really does just send us little blessings, doesn't He?  Sometimes???  I think He does this much more often than any of us realize.  Are we looking?

Friday, April 20, 2012

Give Thanks, He is Good, His Love Endures Forever!

I'd like to start this "Thankful Thursday" (I know, I know!  It's actually Friday!) with a Psalm.  Would you take the time to read this Psalm.  Would you think about what your story is?  What can you thank the Lord for?  How has He shown Himself good in your life?  How has He proven His enduring love?  The psalmist exhorts the redeemed of the Lord to tell their story.  Surely, we all have a story to tell.  I would imagine that as you read this Psalm you could nod your head, give a shout, proclaim an "Amen, brother!" because I am certain that ever "sinner saved by grace" has a story.  We've all traveled similar roads.  As I like to say, we all have stuff.  It might look a little different, might be clothed in different attire, it might have grown up on a different street on a different side of town, it might have happened to us or happened because of us or it might have happened in spite of us, but we all have a story.  And thank the Lord, He has a beautiful way of redeeming our stories, of taking what Satan would have used for harm and turning it into something amazing, wonderful, a true masterpiece.  Truly, His love is unfailing.  His deeds are wonderful.  He has been more than merciful to me!

Psalm 107
 1 Give thanks to the LORD, for he is good;
   his love endures forever.
 2 Let the redeemed of the LORD tell their story—    
those he redeemed from the hand of the foe,
3 those he gathered from the lands,
   from east and west, from north and south.
 4 Some wandered in desert wastelands,
   finding no way to a city where they could settle.
5 They were hungry and thirsty,
   and their lives ebbed away.
6 Then they cried out to the LORD in their trouble,
   and he delivered them from their distress.
7 He led them by a straight way
   to a city where they could settle.
8 Let them give thanks to the LORD for his unfailing love
   and his wonderful deeds for mankind,
9 for he satisfies the thirsty
   and fills the hungry with good things.
 10 Some sat in darkness, in utter darkness,
   prisoners suffering in iron chains,
11 because they rebelled against God’s commands
   and despised the plans of the Most High.
12 So he subjected them to bitter labor;
   they stumbled, and there was no one to help.
13 Then they cried to the LORD in their trouble,
   and he saved them from their distress.
14 He brought them out of darkness, the utter darkness,
   and broke away their chains.
15 Let them give thanks to the LORD for his unfailing love
   and his wonderful deeds for mankind,
16 for he breaks down gates of bronze
   and cuts through bars of iron.
 17 Some became fools through their rebellious ways
   and suffered affliction because of their iniquities.
18 They loathed all food
   and drew near the gates of death.
19 Then they cried to the LORD in their trouble,
   and he saved them from their distress.
20 He sent out his word and healed them;
   he rescued them from the grave.
21 Let them give thanks to the LORD for his unfailing love
   and his wonderful deeds for mankind.
22 Let them sacrifice thank offerings
   and tell of his works with songs of joy.
 23 Some went out on the sea in ships;
   they were merchants on the mighty waters.
24 They saw the works of the LORD,
   his wonderful deeds in the deep.
25 For he spoke and stirred up a tempest
   that lifted high the waves.
26 They mounted up to the heavens and went down to the depths;
   in their peril their courage melted away.
27 They reeled and staggered like drunkards;
   they were at their wits’ end.
28 Then they cried out to the LORD in their trouble,
   and he brought them out of their distress.
29 He stilled the storm to a whisper;
   the waves of the sea were hushed.
30 They were glad when it grew calm,
   and he guided them to their desired haven.
31 Let them give thanks to the LORD for his unfailing love
   and his wonderful deeds for mankind.
32 Let them exalt him in the assembly of the people
   and praise him in the council of the elders.
 33 He turned rivers into a desert,
   flowing springs into thirsty ground,
34 and fruitful land into a salt waste,
   because of the wickedness of those who lived there.
35 He turned the desert into pools of water
   and the parched ground into flowing springs;
36 there he brought the hungry to live,
   and they founded a city where they could settle.
37 They sowed fields and planted vineyards
   that yielded a fruitful harvest;
38 he blessed them, and their numbers greatly increased,
   and he did not let their herds diminish.
 39 Then their numbers decreased, and they were humbled
   by oppression, calamity and sorrow;
40 he who pours contempt on nobles
   made them wander in a trackless waste.
41 But he lifted the needy out of their affliction
   and increased their families like flocks.
42 The upright see and rejoice,
   but all the wicked shut their mouths.
 43 Let the one who is wise heed these things
   and ponder the loving deeds of the LORD.

73.  I am thankful for navigation systems.  It is so nice to know that I can travel safely and know where I am going.  What an amazing invention!  God gives man such amazing intelligence to think, plan, invent!

74.  I am thankful for a wonderful day spent with my children and a friend and her children.  We enjoyed a wonderful field trip to the Space and Rocket Center exploring and learning.  What fun!

75.  I am thankful for mercy--where would I be without it!

76.  I am thankful for mistakes-it's through mistakes that we learn the most.

77.  I am thankful for news from a friend that she's having a baby boy!  That little prince will be one spoiled little boy, coming into a house with three princesses!

78.  I am thankful for God's healing touch on my mother-in-law and my father, both recovering from surgery.

79.  I am thankful for on-line worship services.

80.  I am thankful for a God who understands everything about me and loves me anyway.

81.  I am thankful for the life of Peter, knowing that even mess ups don't exclude you from God's work.

82.  I am thankful for 3 hours of drive time in a car, all alone.  QUIET!!!!  Time to think, to ponder, to listen, to reflect, . . .

83.  I am thankful for praise music.  Where would I be without my music?  Sometimes when I don't know what else to do, I can simply worship!

84.  I am thankful that God's plan can not be thwarted by man.

85.  I am thankful for avocados--yummy!  These have become my favorite afternoon snack.  :)

86.  I am thankful for my friends at the Mexican restaurant--Gustavo, Rosie, Omar, Ulma, Jessica, . . . 

87.  I am thankful for the opportunity to shop for outreach ministry and imagining what it will be like to use the materials with children and adults, imagining laughs and smiles as we interact.

88.  I am thankful for a friend named Lana who PRAYS for me!

89.  I am thankful for memories of my granny who was my best friend when I was a little girl.  She taught me so much.  She taught me to love life, to love God, to dream big, to love people, to love cooking, to love cooking for people, to love sharing a meal with your family, to love sharing a meal with friends, to love sharing a meal with new acquaintances and old friends alike, to love on ALL the people that God puts along your path. . .  I miss her so very much but I am sure that she is still very much a part of so much of my life and that I will get a chance to dine with her again one day.

90.  I am thankful for playing basketball and jump rope and riding tricycles and motorized Barbie jeeps with my nephew, my girls, my parents, and my husband late on a Friday afternoon.  What joy is found in the simple things in life!

God is Good!  His Love Endures Forever!!!  

Thursday, April 12, 2012

"Give thanks in ALL circumstances"

1 Thessalonians 5:16-18

"Be joyful always; pray continually; give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God's will for you in Christ Jesus."

Paul, writing to the Thessalonians, gives some pretty clear directions. I can imagine that the question arose among those believers as it does among most, "What is God's will?" Paul outlines it pretty concisely, black and white, in terms that are fairly easy to understand yet maybe not always so easy to fulfill.

He instructed them to be joyful. When? ALWAYS.

To pray. How often? CONTINUALLY.

To give thanks. About what? In ALL circumstances.

Okay. Well, that's not so bad. I can do that. I can be a joyful person. I pray. I'll list my blessings. I'll count them as long as things are going my way, on my good days, when I'm experiencing good health, when my children are behaving, when the bank account's looking plentiful, the people at work are easy to get along with, my husband and I are in harmony, the neighbor's are all mowing their lawns and keeping the noise down, when the other drivers on the freeway are following the speed limit (not too fast and definitely not too slow) and aren't cutting me off in traffic, when life is turning out the way I painted the picture, when I've chosen obedience and I'm not feeling like a failure, when I'm not experiencing conflict with anyone or with myself, when the sun's shining on my parade, and life is going according to my plan, working out according to my timetable, and I think God must be really happy with how things are looking. But, what about when things aren't like this. What about when the car's broken down? What about when finances aren't holding out? What about when the diagnosis looks bleak? What about when my children aren't behaving like I think they should and I know everyone else has an opinion about that too? What about when the plans I had so clearly made aren't turning out the way I had hoped? What about when my dreams and desires and hopes and wishes suddenly seem unreachable or impossible and I know it's beyond my control? What about when there's more conflict than harmony? What about when there's death or loss or sickness or betrayal or any of the other dark moments that we as humans are bound to face? What about when there's not sunshine but bucket loads of rain on our parade? What about when our dark days turn into dark weeks or months or maybe even seasons and no one seems to be noticing? What about when we feel like a failure and we wonder if God will ever be able to use us again? What about those moments when everyone irritates us and we're really not sure why? What about when we so desperately want to hear a Word from God but it seems like there's a wall that can't be penetrated dividing us from Him? What about those moments? How easy is it to give thanks then?

As Jesus faced death on the cross, He prayed a simple but profound prayer. "Father, if it is possible, let this cup pass from me. Even so, not my will but yours be done." What if we could learn in every moment of our life to exercise what Paul is suggesting to the Thessalonians is the will of God? To rejoice, pray, and give thanks even if we don't feel like taking the cup we've been handed, even if we would rather whatever we were facing to pass from us, even when we're in the middle of great strife. What might happen if we learned to pray, "Father, if it's possible could this pass, but more than anything Father, your will!!!! Father, your will is for me to rejoice, for me to pray, for me to give thanks. So right now in the middle of this . . . (you fill in the blank) I want to learn to rejoice. I want to find reasons for rejoicing. I want to rejoice in you, that you are my hope, that my salvation is found in you. Father, I want to live in constant communion with you. I want to sense you so closely that truly I am in prayer continually, hearing your voice, responding to your leading. I want to ask what you think about even the smallest details of my life. I want to give thanks that even as bad as this season is it's doing its work in my life, it's drawing me close to you, it's teaching me of your Sovereignty, your provision, your faithfulness. Father, teach me to be thankful." What might happen?

I'm finding that as I ask God to stretch me, to make me uncomfortable, to break my heart for the things that break His; He's doing just that. I'm beginning to see in myself the stark contrast between the teachings of Jesus in the Gospels and the person I am. I'm so very thankful that God sees my heart. He knows that I love Him and that I long to love Him more. I believe and I long for Him to help my unbelief. I love Him and I want to love others like He loves them. I want to rejoice, to pray, and to give thanks. I want to do His will.

So, here it goes--rejoicing and thanking God for the many gifts that flow from His hand. . .

61. 27 children gathered at the bottom of my steps to hear the Easter story. Hearing my daughter and her friend share the Easter story. Watching each of those little heads bowed as we thanked God for sending His son to die for us so that we might live for Him.

62. Easter egg hunts that remind me that while we hunt for eggs it's only a reminder that on that first Easter they went to find an empty tomb because the Savior had risen. He's alive!!!!

63. So very thankful for a creator God who shares His creativity with His children. Anna Claire's creativity and artistic ability amazes me. I'm so thankful that she can see beyond the obvious, that she can plan and dream, that she is not bound by any of the constraints that I have. She truly has an imagination that I can explain with words.

64. Over 11,000 gathered in one place to participate in an Easter worship service. Powerful!

65. A reminder that when we take our concerns to God in prayer, He hears. Carrington and I had a moment this week when something rather small in the whole grand scheme of life was missing. We prayed and asked God to help us find it. God led us to its whereabouts. A great moment to stop and praise Him for caring about the concerns of His children.

66. 4 young girls running down the street as it began to rain, determined to finish hanging invites to an Easter egg hunt. Their response, "We're doing this for God. We're not finishing until it's done."

67. Family afternoon naps.

68. New rose bushes.

69. A garden ready to be planted.

70. A friend sharing about his mission trip to the Philippines.

71. Easter Sunday lunch with family, watching grandparents hunt Easter eggs.

72. Routines that become rituals, making family time extra special.

Friday, April 6, 2012

What a Glorious Day!!!!

Today is the day that changed my life. It's the day my Lord took up the cross and laid down His life. He paid the price I could not pay. He died so that I could live. His grace and mercy poured out, and the words "It is finished!" drew the line in the sand for all mankind. It invited all of us into a personal relationship with a great High Priest who knows our suffering, our weaknesses, and every detail of our life. He loves us and redeems us, giving us a new name. He frees us from our own self-destruction and gives us the promise of eternity and more than that He gives us the promise of knowing His will on earth as it is in Heaven. Oh, it really was a glorious day! Some call it the darkest day in history. But, it was only dark for a few days because death could not hold him, the grave could not keep Him captive, and because of His great sacrifice, death can not hold us either. Sin can not keep us captive. We can know the freedom of a stone being rolled away and of grave clothes falling to the ground and chains being loosed. Join me in rejoicing over this glorious day!!!

(Before you hit play on the video, you might want to mute the music box!)

Thursday, April 5, 2012

Today's Thursday. Do you know what that means?

Well, today's Thursday, and it's not just any Thursday. It's the eve of Good Friday. This week is one of the most monumental weeks on the Christian calendar. It's a week filled with reasons for thankfulness, filled with reminders of why I have any reason to look toward my future with hope, filled with so many recollections of a past that would be left unredeemed if it were not for one dark day, one empty tomb, and a Savior that has promised to return.

So that is where I'll continue with my list of Thankfulness (counting my way to 1,000), choosing to live fully right where I am.

46. Thankful that I once was lost but now I'm found. I once was blind but now I see. My chains are gone; I've been set free.

47. Thankful for the wonderful gift of technology. My friend Beth listed this one this week. Oh, what a gift this is. It allows us to connect with friends across the miles, to see each other's face, to hear each other's voice. . . Who would have ever thought we would be a part of a four year old birthday party via the web? How cool is that? Thank you God for the knowledge and wisdom you impart to man to enable us to invent, create, plan. . .

48. Thankful for prayer. Read this quote by Louie Giglio this week and thought it so fitting: "If only we knew what was happening when we pray, we would never cease to pray." Thankful to know that the Father hears us, that Jesus intercedes on our behalf, that truly there is power in prayer.

49. Thankful for the opportunity to engage in ministry with my family and friends. We've had several opportunities this week, and it's been AMAZING!!!!!

50. Thankful for friends who accept me as I am, understand me (junk and all), and love me anyway.

51. Thankful for family moments that become traditions.

52. Thankful for a kiss on the cheek from a lady who has lived a long, hard life. I knew the kiss was her way of saying thank you for spending just a little time with me. The kiss meant more to me than words can express. I think the time spent with her blessed me beyond any sort of blessing I could have been to her.

53. Thankful for this truth, "Jesus is the way, the truth, and the LIFE!" I was reminded this week that we don't have to find the way between our point A and point B. We don't have to figure it all out. The only thing we have to know is the answer is JESUS, JESUS, JESUS!!!!

54. Thankful that iron sharpens iron. Thankful for friends who challenge me to think about who I am, who God desires for me to be, what I'm really doing to change my world for Christ. . .

55. Thankful for a friend named Courtney who makes me laugh.

56. Thankful for a friend named Beth who has a heart for Christ and a love for people that is deep and profound.

57. Thankful for a friend named Sharon who loves her family, clings to the truth, and challenges me to be better than I am.

58. Thankful for a friend named Kim who is as sweet and gentle as they come.

59. Thankful for a friend named Lana who shakes heaven and earth with her prayers.

60. Thankful for friends named Kathy and Sherri who make life fun and who believe keeping in touch is what friends do.

I'm thankful, and I know you must be too!!!!!