Thursday, November 14, 2013

The Facebook Game

There's a game going around Facebook.  It starts when you "like" the status of someone who has titled their post, "___ of things you didn't know about me." That person then gives you a number and you are, in turn, expected to share that many previously unknown facts about yourself.  The idea of this game interests me--learning new facts about my friends and family appeals to my interest in biography and history.

But also, I read about this yesterday and felt the triad of conviction, inspiration, and motivation all in one fell swoop:

Oh my. The world? Guilt nags. I should do more. But Jesus said Jerusalem, Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth. Right now, "Jerusalem" is my physical ministry ground. My ministry to the world is limited but I find a vast expanse of opportunity to pray for all followers on all occasions.

A devotion I once read about widening our spiritual viewfinder to include more of the world outside our own little corner of it, offered the perspective that all those awful things in the news that cause us to change the channel could (should?) be viewed as opportunities to pray and to do for those around the world in need of Christ, in need of spiritual, material & emotional support. Even that is a chance to participate in world change as an outpouring of our own thankfulness.

In my own life, I want that very thing. I want my thankfulness to pour out, to change the world. These are my own attempts to do that: 

14 Things You May Not Have Known About Me Concerning My Gratitude & How I Hope To Change The World For Christ Through That Gratitude:

1. I am thankful for my maternal heart and love for nurturing children. I would love to adopt a baby girl from China.

2. I am thankful that there is a spiritually genetic missions-oriented streak (if this is a for-real thing) in my family. I desire to go serve somewhere in the world alongside my family in the short term, at some point in my life.

3. I am thankful for Autism. (ugly-beautiful)  It has opened up my eyes and my heart to the world of disability. I really want to (and am working on) starting a disability ministry at my church that starts with a parent support group.

4. I am thankful for Christmas pageants. I am directing our church's this year and it is a big blessing to be part of taking the message of Christ coming into the world to our community through children acting out that story.

5. I am thankful for my friends and the opportunities I have to encourage them when they are feeling down or hurt or bad.  I am sorry when I don't do this well.

6. I am thankful for my Bible. I long to know it better and live its message to point those with whom I interact to Jesus.

7. I am thankful that God made me to love words. I strive to use mine to build up and encourage and love. I am often unsuccessful. But sometimes I get it right.

8. I feel an itch to move to a totally new place every three years or so. I am thankful for the experience of being a military brat that explains this inclination. Because of it, I find change slightly less daunting than I would otherwise. It's a good thing, too, because life doesn't stay the same for long, no matter what.

9. I am thankful for abundant and overwhelming grace. It is a constant reminder and motivator to give abundant and overwhelming grace--of which I am unable to do without Christ transforming me.

10. I am thankful for all of the things that I've done in my past that have equipped me to be Hayden's mom. I am hopeful that I am changing the world in some small way by being the best mom that I can be to her.

11. I am thankful to be Kelly's wife. I want our marriage to point to Jesus.

12.  I am thankful for having experienced grief with hope, sorrow-filled, though it may be.  I want to grieve with hope when I grieve so that I can demonstrate my faith & hope in Jesus.

13. I am thankful for grandparents who were more apart of my immediate family than my extended. They, as much as my parents, showed me what walking in my faith really looked like. They changed the world for Christ.

14. I am thankful for this community where I live. It's the first place I've lived as an adult that I feel a desire to sink real roots. It is my "Jerusalem." I hope to impact where I live with my life.

Thankfulness abides. May I never forget to use my thankfulness to drive me to good works. May I always remember, though, that I am saved by grace through faith; that I am equipped to do good works because I am in Christ. May those works be born out of love for others, love for Christ and a true thankfulness.

Sunday, November 10, 2013


Yesterday, Kiddo and I put up our Thanksgiving Tree. This idea has become a Thanksgiving tradition--if traditions can be made in a year. Honestly, thanks-giving should really be a tradition of living and maybe the tree--or a version of the tree--should be out in the open year-round. A thought for a future decorating idea...

I'm afraid that intentional eucharisteo was not on my lips this past week.  Always striving for imperfect progress, however, I will continue to look for beauty and joy and blessings that are often easily overlooked. I will search the way that an eager child combs fields of clover for the one lucky stem with 4 leaves instead of 3.
A special for this Lord's Day:

Observed blessings and joys throughout my day of which I am ever thankful:

*Braids keeping hair mostly tangle-free

*Eager faces beginning Christmas pageant practice

*Lunch with parents and folks willing to be a team with me

*Nap time with kiddo watching cartoons by my side

*Prospect of SNOW on Monday night!!!!!

*Two hour delay on Monday means getting up can happen at 8:30 instead of 6:30 in the AM--YES

*Burger dinner at our table--choicest piece of furniture in my house

*Recycling & trash taken out by Hubbs

*An evening of family togetherness involving computers and iPads and Wii

*Friends and cats

And the continuance of catching up:

37--Three Gifts I Gave Today: Words of Encouragement; Service; Companionship

38--Three Gifts Orange: Delicious mangoes; orange outfits on my Babins; Baby David

39--Three Gifts Funny:  Arrested Development; My Hubband; Sillies my girly says

40--Three Gifts From Today's Conversations: Good laughs at a missing hand; Sharing thoughts on grief; Whispering thanks over a sleeping kiddo

41--Three Gifts Found In Christ: Grace Abundant; Strength in our weakness; Patience in our Stupidity

42--A Gift of Peace, Of Hope, Of Love:  Peace: A night of pizza, cookies, ice cream & breathing together; Hope: God knows; Love: Oh Love That Will Not Let Me Go

43--Three Gifts Ugly Beautiful:  My tomato plant; Baby birds; weakness

44--Three Gifts In What You Are Reading:  In my weakness, He is strong; Seek Him first means seeking Him & HIS things; I don't have to choose to dwell on the things that make me mad/upset

45--Three Gifts Empty:  washer & dryer; empty plates after a good meal; empty living room floor

46--Three Gifts That Made Me Really Smile:  My daughter's words; Fantastic vacation; God's Word 

47:  A Gift At 8, At 12, At 2:  8: New mercies in the new sunshine; Midday meal date w/ Hubbs; 2: Naptime

48--Three Gifts Painted--Toy Box Coffee Table; Kiddo Toes; A Good Morning Sky

49--Three Gifts Full: Full cup of iced tea; My heart for my family; A Fridge-full of food

50--Three Gifts Smelled: An old perfume, well-loved; Kiddo's kiddo smell; Hubbs neck

51--A Gift Unexpected, Unwanted, Unlikely: Hubbs doing a chore for me; Boxes of sundry weirdness from Great Grandma; Obstacles that grow & challenge

Thursday, November 7, 2013

On A Day Like Today...

Full disclosure:  I've about had it with this week. I don't think I can face another wrench in the works regarding any of my responsibilities. I won't go into the details of the itemized's not so much the details anyway, as it's my attitude regarding them.

And don't think that it's lost on me that the troubles of this week coincide with my firm resolve to thank deeply and daily...or, mostly daily.  It's always the way of the enemy to prey upon our penchant for giving into self but when we become resolve to set self aside in exchange for more of Him, our nemesis bears down hard.

It's always far easier to complain about my injuries--justified & unjustified--than it is to be thankful for them; or even be thankful for the good things surrounding them. I need the soothing salve of true gratitude to set my mind at peace--on things above.

I will thank...I will thank.

27--A Gift Sweet, Sour, Salty: Pumpkin-flavored coffee; Leftover Halloween Gummies; Herbed Zucchini
28--Three Gifts Found In Little People: Hugs & Snuggles at Bedtime; That I get to be her Mama; Gangly legs and snaggle-tooths
29--Three Gifts That Make Me Laugh: The Hubbs; Dr. Who Humor; Grumpy Kiddo Talk
30--Three Gifts Found In Community: Service; Acceptance; Fellowship
31--A Gift In A Plate, Pot, Package:  Pork Chops & Mashed Potatoes; Warm Potato Soup; Recipes from a Friend
32--Three Gifts Hard Giving Thanks For:  The Possibility of No More Children; Uncertainty; Weakness
33--A Gift Worn, White, Whispered: Earrings from a Friend; Clean Sheets of Paper; Sweet Nothings from Hubbs
34--Three Gifts In Today's Work: Caught up laundry; Transformative thinking; Cozy Home
35--A Gift at 8am, 12pm, 8pm: Surprise egg; Laundry success; Hot Bath
36--Three Gifts Blue:  Sweatpants; Sky Behind Clouds; Favorite Eyeliner

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Imperfect Progress

Imperfect progress. It's a term I read recently in this book.  And it's a term I really like because so often, my labor at doing life encapsulates one of these two ideas.

Chevrons...nailed it...
I realized last night at 11:54pm that I had not put pen to page, as it were, to thank and share thanks as I had planned. But too often for me the checked boxes of productivity are idols. I talked about this today at Bible study--a clean house, a well-manicured to-do list, all the little ducks in their ordered little row...these things do not make me pure. These things do not make me successful. These things do not mean that I have it all together.

Jesus said, "it is not what goes into the mouth that defiles a person, but what comes out of the mouth; this defiles a person.

Humans use measuring sticks to quantify the good, the bad, the ugly. But it's not about the rules you're supposed to follow to be considered good or the boxes you're supposed to check to  I am, at my heart, corrupt. I am defiled. My words, the product of a murderous, double-edged, soaked-in-poison weapon. I find my remedy only in trusting Jesus. His Spirit tames my tongue; transforms my heart. That is salvation.

And I don't have my act together no matter how many boxes I check. There's too much imperfect in my progress. But it's progress and it's grace-covered and transformation still happens slowly because of Him. That is sanctification.

So I trudge onward, thanking, raising my ebenezers:

17--A Gift Outside, Inside, Upside Down: Golden & Scarlet Autumn Leaves; Warm; Kiddo hanging off the Couch
18--3 Gifts About Your Parents: Faithful to Each Other; Honest; Creative
19--3 Gifts Held In Hand Today: Kiddo Hand; Coffee; the Word
20--3 Gifts Found In Your Mother: Kind; Prayer Warrior; Tenacious
21--A Gift Picked Up, Put Away, Put Back: House Messes; Laundry; More House Messes
22--3 Gifts About Me: Good Listener; Try To Be A Good Mama; Try To Be A Good Wife
23--3 Gifts Found In His Word:  Grace; Mercy; Discipline
24--A Gift In A Box, A Bag, A Book:  New Smelly-Goodies from B&BW; Fresh Groceries; Solidarity & Resonance
25--3 Gifts Unexpected: Birthday Goodies from Friends; Financial Goal Met; Good Days
26--3 Gifts From Your Childhood:  Rectangle Pyrex Pan Cakes; Sparklers & Roman Candles in Grandma's Back Yard; Sitting In Front Of Grandma's Furnace on Cold Mornings

Sunday, November 3, 2013

The Beauty of Slow

I've been after orderly routine since the end of August and frankly, I've grown quite tired of the chase. For whatever reason, the cleaning and cooking and teaching Bible study and helping the Hubbs and exercising and small group and discipleship class and overseeing homework and making lunches will not conform to the shape I've predetermined would be the most advantageous.

I've been sidelined by bronchitis, beset by carpal tunnel syndrome in the less dominant of my two hands, gripped with quirky tendon issues in my right hand, and benched by shoulder/neck pain. I've been to the doctor more in the last two months than in the past two years.  Hubbs has had some rough patches that felt debilitating; we're contemplating some major life-changing choices that need slow, thoughtful answers...there is much. We are not alone, I know. This quandary is as old as the hills.

And it teaches me, stubborn student, though I be. It teaches me things like, I need to stop chasing perfection; there is no routine that will not be interrupted by life; living daily needs to be about thanks and taking time to love and give grace...and blessed be that my success as a mom, wife, Christ-follower is never dependent upon the state of my laundry...

Moments of snuggles and laughter, conversations about spiritual bankruptcy without Christ and the total forgiveness He offers and having faith in who He is, and loving and giving, breaking bread and fellowship and praying and worship...these are the routine that I should be pursuing; gentle and free; not forced or rushed but organic and fluid.

A song runs through my head; heard it this morning. It goes:

Could've come like a mighty storm
With all the strength of a hurricane
You could've come like a forest fire
With the power of Heaven in Your flame

But You came like a winter snow
Quiet and soft and slow
Falling from the sky in the night
To the earth below

Could've swept in like a tidal wave
Or an ocean to ravish our hearts
You could have come through like a roaring flood
To wipe away the things we've scarred

But You came like a winter snow, yes, You did
You were quiet, You were soft and slow
Falling from the sky in the night
To the earth below

Ooh no, Your voice wasn't in a bush burning
No, Your voice wasn't in a rushing wind
It was still, it was small, it was hidden

Oh, You came like a winter snow
Quiet and soft and slow
Falling from the sky in the night
To the earth below

Falling, oh yeah, to the earth below
You came falling from the sky in the night
To the earth below

Give it a listen here. You won't be sorry. :)

Thanks for this day:

11--Three Gifts Before 9am:  Holy Spirit awakenings to prayer; Sunrise!; Newness & freshness of the morning
12--A Gift in a Sign, a Smile, a Snack:  Good days remind that God is near, always; my Kiddo's bright one when she laughs; Pumpkin spice latte
13--Three Gifts Found in Christ: Forgiveness; Transformation; Companionship
14--Three Gifts Found About In My Home:  Cozy; Clean; Safe
15--Three Gifts Inside A Closet:  Handbags!; Warm coats for cold days; Space to store linens
16--Three Gifts Found in the Dark:  Blessed rest; Quiet stillness; Kiddo snuggles & Hubbs holding me close

Saturday, November 2, 2013

Practicing Joy, Giving Thanks

It's been over a year since I set my foot tentatively on the path of daily thanks. It's been a little less than that since I started sharing the lessons I'm learning on that path. I am but a beginner and there are days that the lessons seem really easy and I still muck it all up. And I have, despite my nifty smart phone-computer connected app, days upon days--nay, months--of blanks for joys unthanked; opportunities for worship skipped over. Maybe it's my propensity for checking boxes on to-do lists, but I often go back and fill in the blanks for days past. I find justification in this, for at the end of the day, is it not still continuing the discipline of thanking--of Eucharisteo? I really don't want it to be about just checking a box but about persevering to see the hand of God in my life & to thank Him for being there, for being faithful despite my ridiculous pinball mind, so easily distracted by things. 

I am inspired by this month. At the end of it, we set aside a whole day for thanks. And as much as it has become a day of turkey and pie, it's original purpose--Thanks-giving--remains. I want to purposefully, intentionally give thanks this month--all months, really, but as an spiritual exercise this year, in an effort to fix my mind on what is true, honorable, just, pure, lovely, commendable--on excellence and what is worthy of praise. I want to place my days and weeks of unthanked joys at the feet of Jesus, as an offering of thanks. 

One full day of November is past. This next is nearly there. Five each day, with an extra on God's day and an additional on the Day of Thanks, with maybe some ramblings and lessons I'm learning, starts now:


1--Three Gifts Inherited: Love of Words; Stubbornness Tenacity; Grandma's Dishes
2--Three Gifts Square: Pack of Fat Quarters for a Rag Rug; Enough Parchment for 2 Triangles; White Overflow Basket
3--A Gift Stacked, Stashed, Stilled: Books upon Books; Nut Meal for Cookies; Raging Hormones calmed with quiet
4--Three Gifts Found in Christ: Forgiveness...Grace, always; Patience w/ my stupidity; Holy Perseverance 
5--Three Gifts Found Close: My Husband; My Daughter; My Friends
6--Three Gifts Found Reflecting: Aging Face in my mirror; Being made into His image, one chipped piece at a time; Light reflecting off yellow trees
7--Three Gifts Fragile: Glass scoops, heirlooms from Grandma; Delicate cookies that turned out decently, made for a friend; Quiet in my man's mind
8--Three Gifts Tasted:  Good chocolate cake; hearty spaghetti; blueberry cheesecake ice cream
9--Three Gifts Flat: Stone in my garden, ready for my baby gardenia; Oklahoma; Organized desktop 
10--Three Gifts Found in Difficult People:  Growth in learning patience; complexities & history that paints & taints personality; recognition of my own fallen nature