Monday, February 28, 2011

Thankful Praying

Listing of One Thousand Gifts (and more), taking note of the things to be thankful for each week ... a tangible reminder all throughout the day and week, to be thankful. And this thankfulness, a part of praying continually ...

"You need Me every moment. Your awareness of your constant need for Me is your greatest strength. ... Your inadequacy presents you with a continual choice - deep dependence on Me, or despair. The emptiness you feel within will be filled either with problems or with My Presence.

Make Me central in your consciousness 
by praying continually: 
simple, short prayers 
flowing out of the present moment." 
(Jesus Calling)

"Always be joyful. Never stop praying. Be thankful in all circumstances, for this is God's will for you who belong to Christ Jesus." (I Thess. 5:17-18)

"Don't worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank Him for all He has done." (Philippians 4:6)

From this past week, written throughout the week ... some of my prayers, with thanks ... my list of Thank You's (TY):

#266 - TY Lord for the gift of family, and for the excitement of starting to make plans for summer gatherings and celebrations (please help us with the details and the preparations).

#267 - TY that we heard again from a son, far off on a job (and give him strength and endurance, and help him to seek You).

#268 - TY for preserving my dear husband's life 9 years ago today (Feb. 22), when he was in a terrible accident, and we did not know if he would live, or if he lived, if he would ever be able to walk again.

#269 - TY for Your Spirit within, opening our eyes and our hearts to Your Truth as we read Your Words (and teach me more about always praying, always thanking You).

#270 - TY for the unexpected joy of having a daughter and two year-old grandson join us for supper one night ... for the good connections with our daughter, and for the fun play with our grandson.

#271 - TY that Your Word was so powerful this morning when I needed to hear Your perspective ... brought alive by Your Spirit within.

#272 - TY Lord that You strengthen us with Your glorious power so that we will have all the endurance and patience we need ... and that we can have joy, and be filled with thanksgiving ... all because of You. (from Colossians 1:11-12)

#273 - TY for the warmer weather, and for the touch of spring as I washed the sliding patio door window.

#274 - TY for my husband ... taking time for a lunch appointment with a grown son; connecting and sharing of hearts.

#275 - TY Lord for time to help a daughter with some meals, and time to play with twin grandsons as she packed for their upcoming move (please help them through this transition time of moving into a rental while their new house is being built).

#276 - TY for giving me direction to start up digital scrapbooking, and for the quick arrival of Adobe Photoshop Elements (please help me as I learn how to use it).

#277 - TY for a light snowfall, wrapping our yard in white again ... and for the warmth from our wood stove.

#278 - TY for some special, unexpected, extended time with You ... reading and listening.

#279 - TY for the fun of making a sukiyaki meal for our family birthday party.

#280 - TY loving Lord for all the laughter and happy play of little people, and of adults as we enjoyed the evening together.

(One Thousand Gifts #266-280)

holy experience

Saturday, February 26, 2011

Photoshop Has Arrived

Two days ago, after I had been in Omaha for most of the day helping a daughter with her twin sons as she did some more packing for moving, and then I also ran errands for a few hours, I arrived home and discovered that Adobe Photoshop Elements 9 had arrived in the mail! It felt like Christmas! 

I've been wishing that I would have more time for scrapbooking (mainly as I want to record more of our family history in photos and words, a history of God's love and care in our lives), and came to the conclusion a few weeks ago that I should try digital scrapbooking. It promises to be a more efficient way of scrapbooking, and also looks like fun. And ... Adobe Photoshop Elements was the most recommended program to use. I found it for a great price, and used some money already saved up for photo projects.

So ... in the midst of preparing for a family party (celebrating three family birthdays!) tomorrow, I've been taking a bit of time here and there to install, and try out some things on Photoshop. I first need to learn about the organizing and editing in Photoshop, and then I'll import some digital scrapbook papers and embellishments, and try out this new way of scrapbooking.

Fortunately, there are a lot of tutorials online ... and I will be taking advantage of them, as well as a number of great websites on digital scrapbooking. A lot to learn, and it will take some time ... and I'll need to have a son who uses the full version of Photoshop, help me out, as well. But I am looking forward to learning ... never too late to learn something new!

Friday, February 25, 2011

Gift Wrap

With our big family of 21 (with our six grown children, four sons-in-law, and nine grandkids!), there are always gifts to wrap! And having a bit more room in our house than we have had before, during these "empty nest" years ... I found some space in a closet a few years ago for my gift-wrapping supplies, all in one place.

And it seemed a good time of year, before all the spring festivities, to freshen up this place ... clean out the older items no longer used, and prepare for a new season. I have been following a blog in recent weeks that is encouraging link-ups on various cleaning/organizing projects, and the link-up this week is on Gift Wrap Stations ... a motivation this week for this particular project. It has been a full week, but I always have time for an organizing project or two each week ... something I love to do.

A place for gift wrap supplies ... in a closet in the room that I use for scrapbooking, and other projects.

A supply of gift wrap ...

In a basket above the drawers ... love to use ribbon for wrapping gifts.

And the top drawer ... more kinds of ribbon.

And the next drawer ... small and medium sized gift bags, and tissue wrap.
The larger gift bags sit on the floor to the left of the shelf unit.

So thankful for family and friends to whom we can show our love by giving gifts to throughout the year. And thankful for this space to store supplies ...

Linked to A Bowl Full of Lemons

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Cheddar Chowder

This creamy, cheesy soup is one that I have used for many years, taken from a Taste of Home magazine. I love that magazine, and have subscribed to it for a long time.

Cheddar Chowder

2 cups water
2 cups diced potatoes
1/2 cup diced carrots
1/2 cup diced celery
1/4 cup chopped onion
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper

White Sauce:
1/4 cup butter
1/4 cup flour
2 cups milk
2 cups cheddar cheese, grated
1 cup cubed ham

Combine water, potatoes, carrots, celery, onion, salt and pepper in large kettle. Boil 10-12 minutes. Meanwhile, in small saucepan, make white sauce by melting the butter. Add flour and stir until smooth (about 1 minute). Slowly add milk; cook until thickened.

Add grated cheese to white sauce; stir until smooth. Add cubed ham to the vegetables, that have not been drained.

Add the cheese sauce to the vegetables & ham. Stir, and heat through.

Yield:  6 servings.  (Note: These photos show the recipe doubled.)

A delicious, creamy, comforting soup ... we love it, especially on cold winter days.

Linked to Tasty Tuesdays

Monday, February 21, 2011

Every Day is a Gift

A new little wall hanging in our entryway, calling out to us each time we come in the door, and each time we walk back and forth from the main level of our home and the lower level. A reminder ... always give thanks, every day is a gift. Even the days that things do not go as we planned or hoped ...

From my Jesus Calling book one day this last week:

"You are feeling weighed down by a plethora of problems, both big and small. They seem to require more and more of your attention, but you must not give in to those demands. When the difficulties in your life feel as if they're closing in on you, break free by spending quality time with Me. You need to remember who I AM in all My Power and Glory."

"Even though the fig trees have no blossoms, 
and there are no grapes on the vines; even though the olive crop fails, 
and the fields lie empty and barren; even though the flocks die in the fields, 
and the cattle barns are empty, 
yet I will rejoice in the Lord! 
I will be joyful in the God of my salvation!" 
(Habakkuk 3:17-18)

Every day is a gift, and we can give thanks to the Giver of our days ...

#250 - warm sun coming through the window, covering the loveseat, my place for quiet moments with God each morning.
#251 - eyes and heart opened to more ways that He pursues us with His love.
#252 - frosting Valentine cookies on Valentine's Day - 5 dozen for a Student Venture event.
#253 - a two year-old grandson's sweet hug and kiss on Valentine's Day.
#254 - picking up the phone in the evening and hearing the voices of our four grandkids in Texas, all together saying, "Happy Valentine's Day!"
#255 - ""Happy Valentine's Day to you too, Mom! I love you." ~ text from a son.
#256 - an awesome reading in My Utmost for His Highest, full of meaning for me.
#257 - pictures in frames ... 9 grandchildren, in view from my loveseat (quiet time place).
#258 - and on a lower shelf, photo in frame - youngest son (20) ~ all reminders to pray and love.
#259 - the words hanging on our entryway wall ... "Every day is a GIFT".
#260 - God's reminder to me from these words ... live fully TODAY ... don't worry about tomorrow.
#261 - some warmers days ... a taste of spring-to-come.
#262 - worship time at our church, the language of our hearts.
#263 - excited, warm hug from our three year-old granddaughter.
#264 - watching our son-in-law, leader of a Cub Scout den.
#265 - eight year-old grandson, part of a fun skit at the Cub Scout Banquet.

(One Thousand Gifts #250-265)

holy experience

Friday, February 18, 2011

Working with Photos

A never-ending project ... working with photos! For as we organize photos from the past, we are constantly adding photos from the present. But I love photos, for they capture our moments, and help us hold on to memories.

In 2010 I did some major re-organizing of our many photos. I have had to keep them fairly organized over the years, especially as I made a scrapbook for each of our six children when they graduated from high school. I went back through all the years for each one, picking out negatives to make prints from, even making prints from some slides from way back. Partly for that purpose, I have had our negatives (before digital days) in order, and also have had all our prints in albums.

But last year I went a step further, as some of the older pocket albums were beginning to fall apart, and I also felt that moving them out of those albums would be better on the photos. I put these older photos in photo boxes, and then started to use the photo boxes for more current photos, as well.

I also wanted to have all our photos in one location, on one shelf unit. For this purpose, we purchased a black shelf unit that fits well on the large wooden desk that I use for scrapbooking and card-making. The result: all our photos from our marriage in 1971 to the present are all together in one place!

Besides the scrapbooks I have made for each of our six children, I have made a few for our family collection. Just here and there, a few years of scrapbooks. The first year I have scrapbooked was the year 1997, the year one of our daughters had a bone marrow transplant in treatment of leukemia. I'm so thankful to have that recorded, a record of the healing that God brought ...

I have a few more scrapbooks done for the years 2002 and 2003, including a fun trip to California, and also for the year 2006, the year we made a trip to NYC with our two sons, moving one of them there for a year at Parsons School of Design in the middle of Manhattan. So fun to have the memories of special trips recorded ...

I would love to be able to keep up with scrapbooking, but although I love to scrapbook, it does take quite a bit of time. Something we don't always have enough of ... but I did get a few more albums done for some of the months of 2008 and 2009.

My latest project this last fall was to scrapbook the time of our meeting, our engagement, and our wedding ... from the years 1970-1971! Very fun, especially to have it done for this year ... the year of our 40th anniversary!

And now, I have taken a bit of time here and there, in the last two weeks, to catch up with photo organizing ... organizing of albums in iPhoto, and also doing a bit of organization, and research, for a big change that I am considering.  That is, switching to digital scrapbooking! Something I did not think I would ever consider. But ... even though we are in our "empty nest" years, I am discovering that I do not have very much time for scrapbooking. And there is so much more history that I want to record in photo and in words. And most importantly, a history of God's care for our family in all that life has brought our way ...

Digital scrapbooking is looking like fun, once I learn the technique ...  and I can still use my papers and embellishments for card-making, which I love to do, as well. And digital scrapbooking promises to be a faster way to scrapbook. Also, I will be able to print multiple copies of what I make, and also share and store them digitally. I'm planning to order Adobe Photoshop Elements this weekend, and look forward to learning, and also downloading fun papers and embellishments from online sources. (If anyone reading this has some good advice for me, feel free to share!)

(Note added later: Sharing a few of my many posts on using digital scrapbooking as I have continued on with photo organizing and preserving memories. Click here, here, and here.)

Thursday, February 17, 2011

A New Way to Spell "L-O-V-E"

The "love" month ... and my mind and heart have been spending time on that word, thinking and listening.

(Photo Source)

"And you must love the Lord your God
 with all your heart, all your soul, 
all your mind, and all your strength. 
The second is equally important:
 'Love your neighbor as yourself.' 
No other commandment is greater than these." 
(Mark 12:30-31)

The first part of this verse is what occupies my mind the most, and calls for me each day, calling to me to make this love the priority of each day, the priority of my life. 

And the second part, drawing my attention, as well. These words ... "the second is equally important". Equally important to loving GOD

Loving others as I love myself ... this thing that is equally important to loving God. I must listen to what this means. I need to learn, each day I need to learn.

"Love your neighbor as yourself" ... I know what it means to love myself, to spend time caring for myself, getting myself ready for each day, pursuing my dreams and my hobbies in the midst of a busy life. It just comes naturally to me.

But this second part does not come on it's own. Yes, days when I can hardly contain it, as it spills out all around me ... love for others. The days when I held each of my six in my arms for the first time, and all the subsequent days when they are irresistible, drawing my heart and my love ... on days when things are going well and people around me are magnets, drawing me to love them unreservedly. But there are more days than we want to admit when it does not come naturally, when it is the hardest thing. Days when we just want to spend our time doing what we want to do.

But instead, we are called to love ...

to drop what we have planned for the day, and help a family member or a friend in their need

to give 18 years, and more, of our lives to each of our children, around-the-clock

to carry them around in our hearts and our prayers for all of our days

to take time during our days to send an encouraging email, a caring card to someone in need

to listen and to care what our husbands are thinking and needing from us

to spend time in intercessory prayer, what is most needed for those we love

This loving others as myself ... requires that I have the first part in place, that I am growing my love with God first of all, that I am letting His Love fill me completely to the brim, and spill over. For this love for others does not come on it's own.

And this loving others means giving of ourselves and giving of one of the things most precious to us ... giving of our time. Maybe the hardest thing of all to give.  Giving of our time, giving up our time, offering our time to the Giver of Time. A new way to spell love ... T-I-M-E.

Loving Lord, maker of love, and giver of time ... fill me to overflowing with Your love, and use my time to love those around me.

Linked to Faith Barista, Walk with Him Wednesdays


Wednesday, February 16, 2011

The Gift of Time

Something we all have in common all over the world ... each day of our lives we have 24 hours, or 1,440 minutes, or 86,400 seconds. Our number of days, months, years, will vary according to the time that God has allotted for us on this earth, but we all have the same number of hours, minutes, and seconds to use in each day.

A constant battle going on each day ... things and people needing our time. Never-ending "to do" lists calling us constantly. But each day is a "gift", given to us with love, to be carefully used ...

Every day ... choices to make with this "gift of time".

(Photo Source: Dreamstime)

And a gentle reminder this past week ...

"Trust Me enough to spend ample time with Me, pushing back the demands of the day. Refuse to feel guilty about something that is so pleasing to Me, the King of the universe. Because I am omnipotent, I am able to bend time and events in your favor." (Jesus Calling)

"You will find that you can accomplish more in less time, 
after you have given yourself to Me in rich communion. 
Also, as you align yourself with My perspective, 
you can sort out what is important and what is not." 
(Jesus Calling)

As a wife, mom of six grown children, grama of nine, also in full-time ministry to high school students with my husband ... I have to constantly make choices. My endless "to do" lists, my projects and hobbies that I love, all call loudly for my time each day.

I don't always make the right choices with this gift of time ... and today I am reminded again to choose the most important. For as I choose the most important first of all, then everything else will fall into place. And all those around me will be affected by this one choice of mine. 

Choosing each day to nurture my relationship with Jesus ... whatever I need each day, to draw closer to Him, and to be able to listen and hear Him. Slowing down enough so that I can really hear. For me, it involves pen and paper (or keyboard and screen) ... reading, hearing, and recording thoughts. For others, it will involve other things ... just a word spoken or read on the run, nature, music, even pausing amidst a diaper change ... whatever takes us into deep connection with our Maker, so we can hear His heart. 

For everything else in life is affected by this connecting with His Spirit within, this abiding in the Vine, this walk through life holding onto His hand. Giving back to Him and His gift of Time ... giving our time.

Linked to Walk with Him Wednesdays

Monday, February 14, 2011

Sour Cream Cutouts

My favorite cut-out sugar cookie recipe ... one I have been using for years and years. A tradition at Christmastime, and also used often around Valentine's Day. I love the soft consistency of these cookies.

Sour Cream Cutouts

1 cup butter or margarine, softened
1 1/2 cups sugar
3 eggs
1 cup (8 oz.) sour cream
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
3 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda

1/3 cup butter or margarine, softened
2 cups confectioners' sugar
2 to 3 Tablespoons milk
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon salt

In a mixing bowl, cream butter and sugar. Beat in eggs. Add sour cream and vanilla; mix well. Combine flour, baking powder and baking soda; add to the creamed mixture and mix well. Chill dough at least 2 hours or overnight. Roll on a heavily floured board to 1/4 inch thickness. Cut with a 3-inch cutter. Place on lightly greased cookie sheets. Bake at 350 degrees for 10-12 minutes or until cookie springs back when lightly touched. Cool. Mix all frosting ingredients until smooth; spread over cookies.
Yield:  3 1/2 dozen

This year I doubled the recipe, and besides sharing some with grandchildren (and having two of them help with the decorating of some, when they were here overnight on the weekend), I made 5 dozen for a Student Venture event. Cutout cookies bring back a lot of memories ... with six children, we have used this recipe many, many years. A yummy, sweet cookie for this sweet holiday ...

Linked to Tasty Tuesday

Daily Hunt for God's Gifts

Sometimes it seems that it is easier for us to see God in the bigger things of life ... and my journal is filled with many of those things and happenings that I am so thankful to Him for.

But are my eyes and ears open to the little things He wants to bless me with each day? His little gifts throughout the day?

(Photo Source: Dreamstime)

"If we are children of God, 
we have a tremendous treasure in nature 
and will realize that it is holy and sacred. 
We will see God reaching out to us in every wind that blows,
 every sunrise and sunset, every cloud in the sky, 
every flower that blooms, and every leaf that fades ..." 
(From My Utmost for His Highest)

Reading in One Thousand Gifts: A Dare to Live Fully Right Where You Are, Chapter 3, this past week, I am reminded to look for evidences of His love everywhere, everyday, even in the small, seemingly insignificant things. But nothing is insignificant to Him ... each, a gift.

Sharing some of things I saw and heard this past week, evidences of God's love for me:

#234 - my husband bringing a supply of wood down into our family room (for our wood stove) before he left for five days to Florida this last Tuesday ... such a blessing to me, as the high the next day was +5 degrees.

#235 - a warm hug and kiss the next morning by the airport terminal, standing in -6 degree weather.

#236 - and the parting words I heard and treasured, "I love you with all my heart".

#237 - the gift of Chapter 2 of One Thousand Gifts, so full of meaning ... eucharisteo.

#238 - time to spend five hours waiting while a friend had surgery ... and hearing the good results.

#239 - a husband who calls me often when he is away from home.

#240 - refreshing, soothing, cleansing warm showers ... something I often take for granted.

#241 - colorful, fun stickers ... love seasonal ones to use for cards, etc.

#242 - a quiet house.

#243 - my sweet husband surprising me with a fun gift before our Valentine Date Friday evening.

#244 - the love that we share ... 39 1/2 years of marriage on Valentine's Day.

#245 - directing my thoughts towards maybe switching to digital scrapbooking.

#246 - two grandchildren helping decorate Valentine cookies when they were here for an overnighter.

#247 - warm hugs from our twin grandsons when we dropped by for a short visit, and seeing their happy play ... they are such wonderful gifts.

#248 - land purchased by a daughter and son-in-law (parents of these twins) ... soon building a home just 5.6 miles from us.

#249 - the daily, gentle reminders ... calling us to look and listen for Him, the source of all Love, and all Joy on this Valentine's Day, and everyday ... pursuing us with His Gifts of Love.

(One Thousand Gifts #235-249)

holy experience

Friday, February 11, 2011


Sometimes one comes across a new thought, a word, a new idea ... that all of a sudden brings light to one's understanding. This is what happened for me while reading Chapter 2 of One Thousand Gifts: A Dare to Live Fully Right Where You Are.

Eucharisteo ... a Greek word meaning "giving thanks". And within this word are deeper meanings. The root word for eucharisteo is charis, meaning "gift", or "grace". Charis also forms the root of the Greek word, chara, meaning "joy". And this word,  Joy ... what we all search for. 

These three meanings in the same word: Grace, Thanksgiving, Joy.

As I accept all that God gives me, all He allows in my life, as grace, a gift ... accept it with a thankful heart ... the result will be what our hearts long for ... JOY!  Eucharisteo ... one word wrapping it all up together. Each one essential to the other, and altogether they are what we are made for. 

It's like the missing piece that adds depth to what I've known. I have known that thanksgiving is to be a big part of my life as a follower of Christ. And I have learned to know that I am to accept all of life, the hard things as well as the good. To embrace them all, for God uses them for our good.

And now ... I need to think on this deeper meaning, these meanings from this word Eucharisteo. How accepting everything as a grace gift to us, with thanks, and how the result of doing this is what we all long for ... JOY. I am going to be on a hunt for these words in the days and weeks ahead ... and I already can see that they are sprinkled throughout all of Scripture ...

Even in the words of Colossians 1:11-12, the two verses from Colossians that I am memorizing this week ...

"We also pray that you will be strengthened with all His glorious power so you will have all the endurance and patience you need. May you be filled with joy, always thanking the Father. He has enabled you to share in the inheritance that belongs to His people, who live in the light."

Our Joy in life is related to our Thanks, which is related to accepting all that God gives as a gift of Grace.

I must think on this ... and let it wash over and over my heart. I want this word eucharisteo to sink deep and do it's work.

My thanks to Ann Voskamp for her thoughts, for the sharing of her search for joy in the midst of great pain, and for listening to God's Spirit within her, giving her wisdom and knowledge to share with a world hungry for joy ...

Tuesday, February 8, 2011


Early in our marriage, in the first years of cooking everyday, I came across a recipe for meatloaf that has stayed with us all these years. A recipe for meatloaf that includes Heinz 57 Sauce. Whenever I see another meatloaf recipe in cookbooks or magazines, I just ignore it ... for we have the one that we are happy with. In fact, my husband never liked meatloaf until this recipe. So I keep making it ...


1 1/2 lbs ground beef
1 egg, slightly beaten
1 cup soft bread crumbs
1/2 cup milk
3 Tablespoons Heinz 57 Sauce
1 1/4 teaspoons salt
dash pepper

Combine ingredients thoroughly. 
Place in a lightly greased loaf pan (8 1/2 x 4 1/2 x 2 1/2 inches). 
Brush top with additional Heinz 57 Sauce. 
Bake in 350 degree oven for 1 hour. 
Allow meatloaf to stand 5 minutes before slicing. 
Use additional Heinz 57 Sauce when serving, if desired.
Makes 6-8 servings

Note: Meatloaf may be shaped into a loaf (8 x 4 x 1/2 inches) in a lightly greased shallow pan instead of using the loaf pan.

In order to more easily share recipes with family and friends, I have added a page tab under the blog header above, and will be adding our favorite recipes over the weeks and months ahead.

Linked to Tasty Tuesday

Monday, February 7, 2011

Letters of Christ

Letters ... bearing news from those we love, giving us a picture of their lives. We all love to receive letters ...

(Photo Source: Dreamstime)

And the One who loves each of us more than can even be imagined has chosen to use us, His children, as letters bearing news of His love ...

"Clearly, you are a letter from Christ ... 
This 'letter' is written not with pen and ink, 
but with the Spirit of the living God. 
It is carved not on tablets of stone, 
but on human hearts."
(II Cor. 3:3)

Lord, I love to think of our lives in this way ... we are Your letters, a picture of Your love in flesh and blood, making it possible for those around us to reach out and "touch" what Your love feels like. Even if it is just a miniscule, drop of Your love that they may feel ... it can make a huge difference. Please help us to be so connected to You, clinging tightly to You, our Vine, and our Source of Love, so that the letters we write reflect You clearly.

"So all of us who have had that veil removed, 
can see and reflect the glory of the Lord. 
And the Lord - who is the Spirit - 
makes us more and more like Him 
as we are changed into His glorious image."
(II Cor. 3:18)

And with a grateful heart, I continue counting the many gifts He gives us ...

#216 - receiving my copy of One Thousand Gifts: A Dare to Live Fully Right Where You Are in the mail this past week, in time to read the first chapter for the discussion online yesterday at Bloom Book Club.

#217 - amazing, gripping truths in the first chapter, guiding us to embrace all that comes our way, knowing that God has only the best in mind for us.

#218 - the warmth of candlelight on these cold, winter days

#219 - birds outside our patio door, so beautiful with the bird feeders near ...

#220 - my husband who faithfully fills the bird feeders each day, during these cold snowy days ...

#221 - a full trunk of groceries, and my dear husband home to help carry all the bags inside ...

#222 - time for re-organizing my pantry shelves as I put away all the groceries ...

#223 - the joy of having a "snow day" ...

#224 - two sweet grandkids to share our "snow day" with us ...

#225 - a fun staff party together, postponed from December!

#226 - three little boys so excited to spend some time at an Omaha train museum ...

#227 - two sweet moms of these boys ... and sweet daughters to me ...

#228 - a wonderful phone call from our son, up in the Bering Sea ...

#229 - being able to upgrade to Snow Leopard here on this MacBook ...

#230 - and also upgrading iLife and iWork ... continually thankful to have switched to Apple! (thanks, Seth!)

#231 - some good communication with a sweet daughter ...

#232 - blessings of hearing great reports of our church's missions team in El Salvador ... students coming to know Jesus!

#233 - and so thankful to be reading One Thousand Gifts: A Dare to Life fully Right Where You are ... where this idea of a gratitude list came from ...

(One Thousand Gifts #216-233)

holy experience

Saturday, February 5, 2011

"An Emptier, Fuller Life"

One chapter ("An Emptier, Fuller Life") into One Thousand Gifts: A Dare to Live Fully Right Where You Are ... and I am needing to pause. This book compels me to keep on reading, but there is so much to digest and so much to soak into my soul from just these first pages. I must pause before going on.

My story has been different than Ann's ... I did not experience what she did at the tender age of four. But I have experienced other things that have torn holes in my heart, that have almost crushed me. I remember one day, the day I felt the most grief of all my years, when more tears came than I ever knew could be, when my dear husband called others (though he was grieving, as well) to pray for this wife of his, who was drowning. How do you stop the tears when you feel you have lost the love of a child, forever? That's what we were told on the phone.

But it did not turn out that way, and God restored the broken relationship a hundred times over. We could have turned our backs on the God we had prayed to, who allowed this unimaginable grief to come into our lives. But instead, we continued to pray, to desperately pray to this God, to cling to Him, to cry out to Him ... for who else could we go to?

As Ann describes so clearly, from the very first family in that first garden, that is what the enemy of our souls twists us to think. That God does not have our best at heart, that we must take our eyes off of Him, and make our own way. What he secretly deceives many, everywhere, to do.

But our deep, empty place of need and despair, opened us up to receive so much more. We learned how our deep needs could be met by only One. And He, the only One who could, gave our daughter back to us. The sorrow we went through was His way of bringing more to us, of filling us up. Of learning in a much deeper way, that everything good comes from Him. And learning that He can use all the empty things to fill us up, to show us only good.

"And we know  that God causes everything 
to work together for the good 
of those who love God 
and are called according to 
His purpose for them."
(Romans 8:28)

Just one chapter read, and I am filled. But I will continue! I will read of Ann's story and of more answers to her question, "How do we choose to allow the holes to become seeing-through-to-God places? To more-God places? How do I give up resentment for gratitude, gnawing anger for spilling joy?"

(The experiences that I have alluded to in this post will, no doubt, come out even more in my writings in the future ... but for now, this is what God has opened up for me to share. Seeking to listen, and share what He wants, when He wants ... for His purposes, which are all good.)

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Sweet Fragrance

(Photo Source: Dreamstime)

The month of roses, chocolates, and sweet fragrance ... the month of expressing, and receiving love. As women, we dream of being cherished, of being treasured and held close. And of making a difference and lasting impact on those around us.

How can we be this sweet fragrance, spreading love, lasting love, to those around us? And, especially to those we love the most ... our husbands, and our children.

A never-ending supply of the sweetest of fragrances available to us, within us. God's Spirit, the essence of fragrance ... living in us. The fragrance of our Creator, the Maker of Love, of Intimacy, of Marriage.

"Our lives are a Christ-like fragrance 
rising up to God."
 (II Cor. 2:15)

"Now He uses us to spread the knowledge of Christ everywhere,
like a sweet perfume."
(II Cor. 2:14)

More important than putting on my scent from Bath & Body Works, or my "Beloved" scent from Kohl's. Putting on the heavenly aroma of Christ. As a follower of Jesus, pausing and letting His Spirit fill me, enveloping me with His sweetness. Throughout the day, everyday ... applying and re-applying this never-ending, always available sweet fragrance.

The greatest gift I can give to my husband, my children ... the sweetest of all fragrances, spreading Love, and making a difference for eternity. And finding what we dream of and long for ... to be held close, to be valued and cherished by those we love.

"Charm is deceptive, 
and beauty does not last;
but a woman who fears the Lord
will be greatly praised."
(Proverbs 31:30)

Loving Lord, help me to remember today, and each day, where true beauty and fragrance come from ...