Monday, November 30, 2009

Post-Thanksgiving Thanksgiving Post

So, in this week set aside for Thanksgiving, there was so much to be thankful for!  As Katie said, "Thank you, Lord, for thanksgiving!" 

Perhaps my greatest thanks was that I kept forgetting to write down my blessings.  A strange thing to be thankful for, certainly.  I realized that giving thanks all day has become so natural that I'm forgetting to write it down.  I am grateful for this spiritual discipline which is becoming habit in my life.  I still want to make these altars to God's goodness (and so I am grateful for my husband who gently reminds me to write down what I voice out loud) for myself for the future and to encourage others along the way. 

60.  Christmas cards that turned out perfectly and were cheap! (Sam's Club: 30 cards w/envelopes for $10)
61.  A romantic night with Rob
62.  No TV for two weeks!
63.  Eggs dropped off anonymously in our kitchen
64.  New glasses for Rob and I
65.  Artichokes for $1 a piece!  Yummy!
66-69.  Three perfect Thanksgiving pies and a perfect Thanksgiving turkey
70.  Safe arrival of Dad and Ben Rose
71.  Movie date with Rob (We highly recommend the 3D IMAX A Christmas Carol.)
72.  Fresh (as in 5 minutes old) eggnog from the local creamery
73.  Creamery ice cream
74.  The Holy Spirit prompting me to remember Ian's doctor's appointment!
75.  Ian is healthy
76.  The Word of God going out in Advent packages
77.  Waking up to breakfast in bed this morning, prepared by my six and four year olds

May your week be full of blessings, too!

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Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Busy Times

Family visits always throw everything into chaos.  I have barely had time to write today and as it is, it will be a short blog.  It has been a blessing to continue those disciplines that I've been working on during the last few weeks.  Praying on the hour, tithing baked goods, practicing gratitude, brushing teeth.  All these keep me centered on God's goodness and solidness during these busy times.

I pray that your set aside time of Thanksgiving tomorrow is a blessing to all who gather in your home.

"Give thanks to the Lord, our God and King.  His love endures forever."

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Monday, November 23, 2009

I Did Not Come for Only You

My list of thanks is long this week, a praise in and of itself! But this morning I need to start with a thanksgiving for a difficult relationship. I have had a love/hate relationship with this woman all my life. There are times when she is encouraging, uplifting, challenging, spurring me on to be my best. But she brings out the worst in me, too. She is petty and arrogant and self-centered. She claims to follow the Lord Jesus, but often just wants the world to pay attention to her. I would leave her even though she's family. What brings me back every time is the Lord's own love for her. She is, in fact, his bride. He gave his very life for her and I know that I, too, if I love Him, must love her. I want to love her. Pray for me this week, would you? As a pastor's wife, all too often I see that ugly underbelly of the beautiful bride. Pray that I would see God's church as He sees her, a pure and spotless bride. Pray for her that she (and we) would be all that God created us for.

Giving thanks for:

43. Homemade Chinese food
44. An hour of reading with the kids
45. Early morning frost
46. A hard conversation with a friend
47. Rob's leadership at Session
48. At home banking
49. Dental care insurance
50. No cavities for three out of five of us!
51. Hot showers
52. Wrassling with the kids - twice!
53. Intricate frost designs
54. Ian falling asleep on me
55. Building the chicken coop
56. David whispers, "I love you in the whole wide world."
57. Mom Rose coming
58. The little part of me that won't turn from God even when I want to
59. No glasses needed for Katie

God is so good.

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Wednesday, November 18, 2009

The Spiritual Discipline of Toothbrushing?

We've just returned from a morning-long trip to the dentist.  I am trying so hard to just give thanks for having dental insurance, a good dentist, and three out of five of us with no cavities.  But...

But it's only three out of five.  My entire life I have struggled with poor dental hygiene.  It is certainly a sin-area for me.  I dread going to the dentist because I know that I'm going to be scolded for the condition of my teeth and gums.  For several years I just refused to go.  No one likes to see the fruit of their sin scraped onto a sterile pad.  But then my sweet children came along with their perfect start-from-scratch teeth and I knew that for their sakes it was time to clean up my act.  Or at least my teeth.  Last year I spent more time and money at the dentist's office than I even want to admit to, but I felt like I had made a life change.  Brushing my teeth as worship unto the Lord!

Today, at the office, I knew that I had slipped in the past month.  I dreaded going.  I feared the worst.  As it turned out, I didn't even know what the worst could be.  My teeth are fine.  No cavities.  (Insert a weak, I-don't-deserve-it "Praise the Lord.")  But two of my precious little ones have cavities in those perfect, fresh start teeth.  And I know that it's my fault.  Because while I have worked at my own hygiene, I haven't been faithful with theirs.  Too often, I let them go to bed without brushing or with a passing swipe at those precious pearls.  Too often, I give in to the cry of "I can do it myself," and don't insist on taking a closer look.  And now my babies have to endure what is perhaps my own greatest fear: dental work.  And it's all my fault.

I have spent the last few minutes searching in vain for the verse which talks about the sins of the parents being visited on their children.  I'm sure it's in there.  But the only verses I can find speak only of grace.  "The son will not share the guilt of the father, nor will the father share the guilt of the son." (Ezek. 18:20)  I am sick to think of the consequences that my children now face, but I give thanks today that they are not being punished for my lack of discipline. 

My sweet husband has encouraged me that we will now do what needs to be done.  Like every new day, we will begin again to do (as my wise aunt puts it) "the next right thing."  May God give us grace and strength to do so, and may you all be encouraged today to accept it when it is given.

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Monday, November 16, 2009

Honeymoon's Over

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I think that the honeymoon is over.  The last few weeks of keeping track of the many blessings in my life has been exciting, even easy.  I've given thanks at the beginning of each hour as my watch beeps and it's been easy.  Maybe too easy.  Yesterday, my watch beeped and I thought, "Not right now."  (Gasp!)  I went several days without writing down something to be thankful for.  (The horror!)  This happens with many things in my life.  I'm filled with early enthusiasm and then life happens.  It's hard to be thankful when all four of your children have fevers on Sunday morning.  It's hard to finish crochet projects when cats and children undo half of the finished stitches.  It's sometimes hard to be married after the honeymoon and life happens.

This, then, is when the hard work of the soul happens.  This is when the discipline begins.  And when the most growth happens.  When life happens.

Today I am grateful for
31.  Our local WIC office
32.  Other women in my life encouraging me
33.  My husband still so in love with me after eight years of marriage and four kids
34.  An indescribable sunset that prompted my six-year-old to exclaim, "No person could have made that!"
35.  The service of the men and women in our military (including my grandfathers, father, and husband)
36.  An understanding waitress (four small, hungry children in a noisy restaurant on a holiday night!)
37.  The powerful simplicity of the Gospel message presented to an arena full of youth
38.  Witnessing some of those young men and women respond to that message for the first time
39.  Rainy days with good books
40.  My four beautiful children sleeping peacefully
41.  The picture of bounty that is leftover turkey simmering to make stock
42.  Fevers down and children growing healthy again

For these and many more, I give thanks!

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Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Memorizing Scripture

      I wish I could say that I've been really on top of memorizing Scriptures that are particularly meaningful to me this week, but I've been mostly relying on what my children are memorizing.  Ironically, their verse is instructive to me in this area:  "But these words are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in Him."  I do want that "life in Him."  Guess I should work on knowing and believing the words.

      I also wanted to write this week about our particular Wednesday discipline.  I've mentioned before that Wednesday is Baking Day here.  We've been talking to the girls about the concept of giving our first fruits to God and in that spirit we've been "tithing" on what we bake.  The girls figure out what a tenth (or so) of our batch of cookies or bread is and then they choose the best (hard to do when you know you're giving it away) and decide who needs some extra love this week.  So far they've chosen people from church and neighbours to share with.  It's teaching all of us to hold loosely what we have, to be grateful for what we keep, and to think of others.  It's an excellent practice, one I hope to continue into our summer garden. 
     Thank you, Lord, for your great bounty!

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Monday, November 9, 2009

"Then come, let us go up to Bethel, where I will build an altar to God, who answered me in the day of my distress and who has been with me wherever I have gone."  Genesis 35:3

I pray that this will be an altar and a testimony to what God has done in my life.

Thank you, Lord, today, for:
21.  Children cleaning rooms with good attitudes.
22.  Rob home safely from drill weekend.
23.  Coming home after a long day out.
24.  Rob taking Ian for an errand so I can have a moment alone.
25.  Dr. Dan willing to see us on short notice and taking such good care of our family.
26.  Alone time with Emma.  So sweet.
27.  Money for groceries.
28.  Young adults in our home on Sundays.
29.  Big sisters with their little brothers.
30.  Random gifts.

I pray that your week has been filled with blessings and that you've been able to take some time to set up altars of remembrance for them.

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Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Discipline Interrupted

I'm almost too full to write today.  It's one of those "curl up and hide in bed" days which are so opposed to discipline.  I've been pretty faithful to pray on the hour and do those things that I know I need to do to stay spiritually healthy, but today was hard.  Ian is teething and fussy.  David won't stay down for his nap.  Rob needed the computer when I wanted to post this and even now the girls are pouring flour and baking soda all over the counter in their attempt to bake by themselves.

Even so, we are doing Baking Day, something I'm realizing is a discipline for me.  It requires me to slow down, have the cooking space cleared and spend some time with my lovely girls.  I almost didn't do it today.  Putting them down for a nap would have been so much easier, and at six and four years old, they wouldn't even have remembered.  But I would have.  And I would have missed that time.

I even found myself at one point praying that my hourly watch chime would sound soon.  Silly, I know, and I quickly realized that I didn't have to wait for the top of the hour.  Giving thanks that He hears me all the time in any place, I stopped to pray.  Rob has taken Ian to get butter (amazingly, we're out) and I give thanks again for my sweet and sensitive husband.

My few disciplines that I cultivate haven't come easily today, but I'm giving thanks for grace and struggling on.  Thanks for your prayers today especially and I am praying that you my find grace and strength to carry on.
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Monday, November 2, 2009

Monday, Monday...

So, I have my list in front of me, the list I've been keeping all week to remember what I'm thankful for.  And I can't, for the life of me, decide how to start this post.  I'm not feeling very thankful right at this moment.  I guess this is why it's a spiritual discipline.  You do this whether you feel like it or not.  Kind of like love.  That actually leads me to the first thing that I'm thankful for:

11.  My husband's willingness to work on our marriage, even when he doesn't think that anything's the matter.
12.  Fresh-baked goods, particularly the pumpkin scones my daughters made.

13.  The baby saying, "Mama" for the first time.
 14.  Ian feeding himself.
15.  Emma's incredible abilities at gymnastics.
16.  David's bully leaving gymnastics class.  (Thank you, Lord, for that answer to prayer.)
17.  Fresh milk from the creamery.
18.  Story time at our library and the sweet friends we're making there.
19.  Ian making us laugh.  On purpose.
20.  Baking Day with my girls.

21.  Shoes on my children's feet.

22.  Learning a new language.
23.  And finally, a moment alone. 

I find that I have many things to be grateful for, not the least of which is my ability to be grateful.  Thank you, Lord.


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