Wednesday, November 27, 2013

She Helps Me Count

"Be joyful always; pray continually; give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God's will for you in Christ Jesus." 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18

Bubble-bath clean she looks up at me with her half-mooned baby blues spilling crocodile tears and my heart puddles on the bathroom floor. She pleads with pouted lips, "Grams, I'm too tired to go home. I've just GOT to sleep here at YOUR house, please? I've GOT to."

(Grab your hot coffee or tea and read the rest at {re}fresh? Just click here.)

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Turn Around: Letting Go of Your Best Laid Plans

"I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go; I will counsel you and watch over you." Psalm 32:8 NIV
I accepted a job, against Godly counsel, that looked promising in every way: more money, better and cheaper health benefits, a lucrative 401K plan, and still close to home. Within eight weeks none of that mattered as I found every facet of my life turned upside down. My pride kept me going, holding onto this job that I just knew was right, but screamed, "TURN AROUND! WRONG WAY! DO NOT ENTER!"

Month after month things grew worse, at home and at my job, but I was in this job to stay, like I had something to prove to God, and planted my feet firmly under my desk. Then one day, I lost my footing...
(Slip over to Encouragement Café for the rest of the story, won't you?)

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Notice Him

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“For everything God created is good and nothing is to be rejected if it is received with thanksgiving…” 1 Timothy 4:4 

I stare out my picture window into the cold, gray November sky. Chilling winds bare the last golden leaves from the maple limbs carpeting the neighborhood streets and lawns. The first snow sneaks in early, barely visible, and almost undetected—or maybe I just missed it. 

Living a year of great extremes, my heart’s become a bit numb and I miss the obvious things sometimes, like the first fallen snow.  

Experiencing life and death, rejoicing and mourning all together and in multiples with little time for processing, my emotions hang in limbo. Days and weeks jumble together and the months flip forward like I’m thumbing my way through a magazine in the grocery checkout line. While I crave time to reflect, family needs fill my calendar—the young and old alike—and life moves forward.   

And so, on rare occasions when I’m alone and my “to do” list is empty I add to another—my One Thousand Gifts list. Ann Voskamp taught me this—how when your heart is heavy and your days are busy, consciously set your eyes on the horizon and keep watch. Keep watch for all the big and little gifts God bestows on you every day—unique pleasures that whisper, “I AM here and will never leave you” and “I love you.”  

Give thanks because as we express our gratitude, a wellness comes and joy erupts—lifts us closer to heaven. Then, write them down, list them out one-by-one because, as Ann admits truth, our hearts need reminding that God’s goodness surrounds us.

#571 First snow

#572 Fourth grandchild announced

#573 Husband’s victory

#574 African children’s God-joy

#575 Anticipating thanksgiving celebrations

#576 A father remembered 

Every day God’s blessings surround us. Notice them. Give thanks for them. Write them down so that on days when thanksgiving comes hard, your hearts will be reminded of at least a thousand different ways God loves you!  

To start your own One Thousand Gifts list, here's some help Ann gives. Just click here.

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

My Children Taught Me How to Read

"Jesus taught them many things by using picture stories..." Matthew 13:3a NLV

My children cut their teeth on books like Pat the Bunny (Dorothy Kunhardt), The Little Engine That Could (Watty Piper), Goodnight Moon, The Golden Egg Book and Home for a Bunny (all by Margaret Wise Brown) and various nursery rhyme board books.
It all started when I received a lovely book basket overflowing with these colorful childhood treasures from my sister-in-law as a baby shower gift. I poured over every illustration and devoured every word like I’d never seen the likes of such playfulness. And, I hadn’t. 

Growing up just as television became a household item books went to the wayside in our home. Rather than a bedtime story every night, my sisters and I were sent off to bed after watching our favorite week night after-dinner sitcom or weekend variety show. On special occasions we stayed up past our bedtime to watch the latest Sunday night Wonderful World of Disney movie or holiday animated specials.  

I loved listening to stories: in school, during the flannel graph Bible stories at Sunday school and listening to family stories as we gathered around the dinner table. But, books just weren’t a priority in our house.
(Amazed that a children's author and writer didn't grow up loving books? Yeah, me too. Click here and join me at Christian Children's Authors blog for the rest of the story, won't you?)