Wednesday, November 28, 2012

What Are You Waiting For?

"But as for me, I watch in hope for the LORD, I wait for God my Savior."
Micah 7:7

While we set aside lawn rakes for snow shovels, pumpkins for pointsettas we usher in the Advent season - the season of waiting and inward preparedness. But what exactly are we waiting for? And how do we prepare for it?

Are we awaiting a birthday celebration - the remembrance, the anniversary of the Christ child? Yes, in part. The incarnation of God's love for mankind through Christ is certainly a divinely significant event to celebrate. Yet, if that's all we celebrate - an anniversary - then we are left wanting after all the presents are unwrapped, the decorations torn down and put away. For what power does Christ's birth have for us here and now without understanding the hidden cross inside his lowly manger on Christmas night as our hope of salvation and resurrection? (Watch for the Light, 2001 Orbis Books).

Join me over at {re}fresh for the rest of the story... 

Monday, November 26, 2012

Curing the Thanksgiving Hangover

"We have different gifts, according to the grace given us...if it is showing mercy, let him do it cheerfully." Romans 12:6, 8

If a Thanksgiving hangover exists, I suffered one this weekend. Turkey and all the fixings, either graced our family table or someone else's three times this week and the other four days we filled up with birthday celebrations, yard work, painting and an author event.

Today, I was more than ready for an ordinary, boring Monday where silence reigned down refreshing my body, mind and soul; where I feasted on God's Word instead of more turkey pot pie.

Then, Auntie called asking for help - more shopping and a doctor visit.

My eyes squinted shut and my heart grew tight and small. My mind screamed, "No! Not one more thing! Not one more person needing me or one more place or one more errand. No!" I'm grateful God sealed my mouth until I could hear Him over my grumbling thoughts.

"Grace and mercy," was all He whispered.

Grace and mercy don't come naturally. I struggle receiving and giving these heavenly gifts, especially when I'm physically worn out, just like today.

Heaving a deep breath, I reluctantly agreed to one more person, one more place, and one more errand before the call ended. With barely a few hours to spare, I crawled upstairs and opened my thanks-giving journal. Remember? The one where I'm supposed to be counting all God's gifts? Yes, in all my Thanksgiving busyness I'd neglected to stop and count and mindfully give thanks.  

When we neglect thanks-giving, grumbling replaces joy. Our minds and souls need reminding every moment of every day that joy comes only after we offer our thanks to the Giver of all our good gifts.

So, this morning, I recounted the past few days - looked back and recalled God's precious gifts given even through my busyness.

#49 Rest at night
#50 Precious morning silence
#51 Musicals
#52 Still sharing dreams after 28 years
#53 Strangers turned friends
#54 An extra day off
#55 Winter preparations
#56 Physical exercise
#57 Celebrating one more Thanksgiving with Mom and Dad
#58 Intimate family moments
#59 Mom and Dad's laughter
#60 Mom's grateful heart
#61 Midnight shopping adventure
#62 A soft warm bed
#63 Sleep
#64 New paint on old walls
#65 New generation inspired
#66 Playful puppy cousins
#67 Seeking stranger
#68 Sharing God's hope
#69 God conversations in holiday traffic
#70 Smiling, snuggling grandchildren greeting me at the door

Yes, recounting God's limitless gifts and offering Him thanks transforms this grumbling heart into a cheerful heart; makes room for more grace, more mercy and allows me to offer it freely. One more person? One more place? One more errand? By God's grace and mercy, yes.

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Why is Saying "Thank-You" so Difficult?

"Since he did not spare even his own Son but gave him up for us all, won’t he also give us everything else?" Romans 8:32 (NLT)

Her petite frame bent low worn from nearly a century of living. Small in stature but oh, her heart - full and generous and always giving - barely containable. One could never out-give her, never repay her. "Just say thank-you, that's all," she'd say.

Open hands to receive and a grateful heart is all she asked in return. She gave what we couldn't earn. She gave more than we deserved. All because she loved - delighted in providing for others. And today, nearly eight years since her passing, my heart spills gratitude - not for the gifts but for the giver. 

(Having trouble saying thank you? Join me at Christian Children's Authors blog or
{re}fresh for the rest of the story.)

Monday, November 19, 2012

Living Thanksgiving Every Day

Norman Rockwell's Thanksgiving
"May your deeds be shown to your servants, your splendor to their children."
Psalm 90:16

Our glasses raised, four generations gathered around the table, gave thanks for God's generous blessings and another year together. We feasted on turkey and all good things until our hearts and bellies filled.

And in the midst of our joy I thought, when we start counting God's gifts, is one thanksgiving day enough? Can our hearts and lips express enough to our ever-giving God? Shouldn't our diet include a large heaping scoop of heart-felt thanksgiving every. single. day?

#28 early morning coffee in bed                                          
#29 a chickadee's serenade                                                  
#30 early Christmas shopping                                             
#31 much work accomplished                                               
#32 God's protection                                                             
#33 new deer sightings                                                          
#34 Christmas music streaming                                           
#35 alone time                                                                         
#36 God's miraculous provision                                            
#37 God's gentle wake-up call                                               
#38 a new baby promised in June                                       
#39 God's Word whispered                                                    
#40 watching God's blessing poured on my children        
#41 giggling grandchildren                                                     
#42 a new friend seeking & speaking                                   
#43 early morning love pats                                                  
#44 playfulness                                                                        
#45 faith community                                                              
#46 four generations gathered, celebrating, giving thanks
#47 happy thanks-birthdays                                                 
#48 word gifts                                                                          

If we readjust our focus, realign our thinking, walk in God's rhythm, then every day is Thanksgiving.

Blessings to you this week,


Monday, November 12, 2012

It Smells Like Snow

It sneaks up on us quiet-like; that unexpected fresh, heavy laden dampness that every New Englander knows. Stepping outside, it's undeniable. It smells like snow.

And before my brain can dismiss the thought of early November snow, the clouds disperse their frozen crystals and snowflakes drift down and fill the cracks. Every black space and gaping hole transforms in minutes with heaven's brilliant white grace.

Suddenly everything busy slows.

In the slowing, God's artwork appears.

Tiny white crystals outline spider's webs

in lacy white drifts.

The invisible becomes visible.

God's grace covers my busyness
and His invisible presence slows my heart-pace
until He blankets my soul
with peace.

Though the week progresses, warms and melts this cozy winter blanket, God's presence continues  to sneak into busy days. He creates slow moments and helps me count His good gifts.

#4 warm glowing fires
#5 hot brewed tea & honey
#6 a comfy couch
#7 freedom to vote who governs
#8 a husband who serves
#9 children who engage their world
#10 time to think
#11 family living close
#12 winter's first snow
#13 snow blowers that last to the last swipe
#14 unplanned romance
#15 winter naps
#16 enjoying God's harvest food
#17 healing prayers
#18 slow moments in the midst of rushing
#19 wordsmiths gathered in one place
#20 God honored through words
#21 laughter around the table
#22 worship
#23 community touched by a puppy
#24 an early Christmas present: a book of carols
#25 delight in Dad's chuckle as grandchildren sing him Happy Birthday
#26 snuggling grandchildren while reading stories
#27 living moment by moment

How has God slowed your days this past week?

If you haven't had time to count, do it now. Without thinking, list three gifts in this very moment, won't you?

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Torn Between Heaven and Earth

"Everyone must submit himself to the governing authorities, for there is no authority except that which God has established"
(Romans 13:1 NIV)

I stepped up to the half-walled voting table with only space dividing me from my fellow citizens and cast my ballot. It’s a simple task that takes only moments, but weighs heavy on everyone’s heart. We wonder, “Does my vote count? Will it make a difference? How does this matter between heaven and earth?”

(Hop over to Christian Children's Authors blog and join in the discussion, will you?)

Monday, November 5, 2012

Joy Comes by Counting 1, 2, 3

"You have made known to me the path of life; you will fill me with joy in your presence, with eternal pleasures at your right hand." Psalm 16:11

She wrecked me - in a good way - with her elegant prose-etry - as she laid down her story in front of me and 600 others. Beauty arose there from her ashes filling us all with hope; an uncomplicated hope that's born by simply giving thanks.

Keeping record of all the gifts bestowed by our Creator God - even on the difficult days when finding good gifts proves hard - fills us with heavenly joy. It's true, she said. So, I tried it. I can't say my journal filled with One Thousand Gifts jotted down in permanent ink, but my heart witnessed them all.

Now, fourteen months since we first met, thanksgiving is on my lips more and more - not because of her, but because thanksgiving ushers me into God's presence. And when I'm in God's presence more and more, heaven's grace transforms life from within filling me with pure joy. It's true.

When joy is on our lips, friends, He takes our burdens and makes us light. And when we're light-hearted, we catch His heart's rhythm and we join God in the dance. Life starts with thanksgiving; it's how hope rises and joy fills.

Will you join me in giving God thanks for at least three things a day, like she taught me? And, one more thing? Will you hold me accountable to write them down? Because writing them down serves as a solid witness of God's faithful goodness to our forgetful hearts.

Every Monday, we'll meet right here where I'll share my 27 God-gifts with you. Will you do the same? Join me in simple thanks?

Today, God's presence fills me with joy and makes me dance as I give thanks for:

1. Sunshine & blue skies after Sandy's hurricane fury
2. A quiet house
3. Piano solos ushering my heart into God's presence

Are you ready to dance?  Share three things are you thankful for today, won't you?