Sunday, May 9, 2021

Weekly Gratitude Journal

We were at the little cabin on the Umpqua River last week for a time of rest and refreshing. It was wonderful. There is no wi-fi there so I'm posting two week's of thanksgiving from my daily gratitude journal.

I wanted to mention that this habit of gratitude journaling that I have practiced for almost eleven years was prompted when I began reading Ann Voskamp's blog, long before she actually wrote the book One Thousand Gifts. This past week Ann's father was killed in a farm accident, in much the same way her baby sister was when Ann was a little girl. Please keep Ann and her family in your prayers.


Since 2009 I've been counting my blessings thanks to the prompting of Ann Voskamp.
 I continue to count my thanks, 
piling up gratitude day by day in my journal.
(and capturing some of my blessings via my camera or iPhone)

Thank you, God, for...
-Your presence with me always-You never leave me or forsake me.
-texts and FaceTime calls with my far away kids and grandkids
-a really good, encouraging leadership meeting

-antiquing with Christiana
-great reports from our growth groups
-frogs chirping outside our bedroom window

-You are perfect in all of Your ways and Your acts
-this beautiful spring we are having
-a sweet time in the Lord with my growth group

-my daughter's wonderful in-laws
-pink geraniums 
-this New Covenant that Jesus provided for us

-a safe trip to the cabin with my Visionary Leadership Team

-flowering quince growing beside the cabin

-sharing and praying together

-waking up with this view of the river and sipping hot coffee while surrounded by my books and Bibles
-a beautiful day for a walk on the beach together 

-laughter and tears
-sharing the burden for the women of our church

-a sweet time of worship and prayer together before my VLT headed home
-my husband safely arriving at the cabin for some time of rest and refreshing together
-a video of our three year old grandson singing 80's tunes

-God's faithful and amazing provision 
-the best night's sleep I've had in months!
-a beautiful day for a beach walk

-encouraging texts about what God is speaking to our church
-another good report from one of our growth groups 

-this time of rest and refreshing together
-God's protection from almost having a car accident
-the best backpack for all of my Bibles and such for Mother's Day from my guy

-a beautiful walk on the beach while listening to worship music 

-my husband loving me well and God loving me perfectly
-sharing a dish of the yummiest no sugar added strawberry cheesecake ice cream
-heart talks with my guy

-the beauty of the stars at night when we're away from the city lights
-a beach walk every day 

-a fabulous dinner out together at Harbor Light

-driving home up the coast
-fluffy white balls of blooms covering our viburnum

-deep purple iris blooming by my backyard fence

-funny postcards in the mail from my grandson
-phone conversations with my brother and sister
-a pre-Mother's Day phone call from my youngest daughter

-an early morning Mother's Day phone call from my middle daughter
-our church family
-chocolate strawberries and flowers for all of the ladies at church
-a wonderful Mother's Day dinner and visit with our oldest daughter and her family

still following,

Saturday, May 8, 2021

Remembering Mama on Mother's Day

"Her children rise up and call her blessed..." Proverbs 31:28

I was a daydream-y type kid so sometimes I'd daydream I had a different sort of mama than the one God had given me. I'd daydream she was more like the young and perky housewife with the fashionable capri pants who lived next door or like my friend's mama with the beauty shop hair and ever-present pearl earrings. I'd daydream she was the type of mama that I could confide all of my secrets to, a mama/best friend, like a friend had told me her mama was to her. I daydreamed that Mama was less no-nonsense, and more the type to fuss and fawn over me. But Mama wasn't fancy and she wasn't very emotionally expressive, Mama was hardworking, enduring and faithful. I know sometimes the death of a loved one can cause us to forget their faults and idealize them. I don't think I've done that with Mama. I still remember her shortcomings. What I do think about, still so often even all of these years after her death, is how much I miss her. Because Mama was one very important thing to me. Mama was always there. Mama was my home.

When Daddy left Mama and us kids that were still young enough to live at home, she was still recuperating, still being medicated, after a stay in the mental hospital due to depression. That was the only time Mama was ever gone from home for any extended length of time. When Daddy found somebody else and ended up leaving, Mama was left to figure out how to provide and take care of us. I don't know how she did it, how she got off the  tranquilizers the doctors gave for depression in those days and got a good job. Her job was clear across town, a forty five minute drive, but she chose not to move closer to work so that us kids could stay in the house we grew up in and stay in the same schools. 

On Sundays Mama and us kids started going to a little church in the town next to ours. Being divorced or from a broken home had a stigma in those days, but the people in that little church loved us well, they 
loved us into wholeness. A time or two Mama thought about going to a church closer to home, but ended up staying put for our sakes. I suppose that was Mama's litmus test for just about all of her decisions. She simply did her best to do what was best for us. For that same reason, Mama remained single. I've always appreciated that she gave us a fairly drama free life, a simple quiet life.There were no men friends coming in and out of our lives. We never wondered where Mama was or why she wasn't home. She worked hard at her job and when she was home she worked hard making good food for us, keeping up our home, sewing us clothes, being there for us.

In thinking over who my personal faith heroine is, I thought of many women who have invested in my life, who have mentored me, who have encouraged me. I thought of women much more vocal in their faith than Mama, much more skilled in Bible teaching, women who could express themselves more easily, who could pray more passionately. Yet, I still kept coming back to the fact that without Mama's steadfast presence, her faithfulness to do her best to do right for us, I don't think I would have had a firm foundation for those other women to build upon.

Mama's relationship with God was a lot like her relationship was with us. She wasn't great at expressing her feelings with her words. She wasn't very physically demonstrative. She did tell me about her salvation experience and it was very real, very sincere. We heard Mama praying over every meal and saw her reading her Bible every night in bed and faithfully giving her tithe and offerings every Sunday, but Mama didn't talk all that much with us about Jesus, pray with us often or disciple us. As I got older, she always asked me to pray for things, expressing feelings of inadequacy about her own prayer life. But,  I suspect God paid more attention to Mama's prayers than Mama realized. The three of us kids that Mama continued to raise without Daddy all ended up to be passionate Jesus followers and all ended up in full time ministry. 

That daydream-y kid who wanted a different kind of mama grew up to be a woman who's thankful for the Mama God gave me. She wasn't a saint, she wasn't outwardly exuberant and expressive about her faith, she wasn't gifted at spiritually mentoring or nurturing me, but Mama was always there. She endured deep brokenness but she didn't run, she stayed.  She was always faithful. She was what I needed. She was my roots.

still following,
Also happily linking up with:
Sunday Scripture Blessings

Monday, April 26, 2021

Weekly Gratitude Post

I admit it. I've struggled with sadness and heaviness over all of the changes going on in our family. Having some of my children and grandchildren move all the way across the country has been so very hard after being spoiled by having them all live nearby. At the same time, there is a beautiful deep work God is doing within me and my husband and our church. My spirit is growing while in my emotions I've been so very sad. It's a strange dichotomy. Tuesday morning of this past week I woke up with God speaking these simple words to my heart, "You're going to be okay." The despair and sadness had lifted and I knew in my heart that someone had been praying for me. Later that day, a friend from our church called and asked me if I was ok. She said, "God has had me up since 4:00 a.m. praying for you." How thankful I am for the prayers of God's people! I still miss my far away family members. I still get sad. I still shed tears. But, now I know that I truly will be okay. For that I give Him my thanks and praise.
(If my blog is more "quiet" than usual in the coming weeks, don't be concerned. I am spending some time being quiet and listening for God to show me His next steps for me in this space.)
Since 2009 I've been counting my blessings thanks to the prompting of Ann Voskamp.
 I continue to count my thanks, 
piling up gratitude day by day in my journal.
(and capturing some of my blessings via my camera or iPhone)

-the ornamental cherry tree covered in pink fluffy blooms that I see right outside my kitchen window
-the smell of freshly mowed grass
-a good talk and prayer time with one of our growth group leaders

-someone is praying for me and I know it has made a difference
-finally getting our taxes done
-a half moon in a clear midday sky

-such a sweet time with the Lord this morning
-lunch at the food carts with my oldest daughter and granddaughters 

-a walk to the park with my nine year old granddaughter who kept reaching out to hold my hand ❤️

-a beautiful drive to eastern Washington for our leadership retreat

-the vacation home that God provided for us to use
-this time with our leaders

-the way God shows me connections between the Old and New Testament and speaks to me through His Word (Gideon's army's earthen vessels with torches inside-we are earthen vessels with the treasure/light of Christ inside)
-a few glorious moments of laying in the warmth of the sun
-an amazing time of worship and communion together 

-getting to meet my oldest grandson's girlfriend via FaceTime
-getting a funny postcard from our grandson in the mail
-being back home

-the "denseness" of God's presence as we worship
-a clear word for our church
-a sweet time of fellowship

still following,

Monday, April 19, 2021

Weekly Gratitude Journal

It's Monday evening and I'm determined to get this gratitude post up! This past week I shared with the women of our church that choosing to daily give thanks to God is one of the best ways to shift your focus and change your attitude. I believe it can change a pessimist into an optimist! Making thankfulness a habit is life changing!
Since 2009 I've been counting my blessings thanks to the prompting of Ann Voskamp.
 I continue to count my thanks, 
piling up gratitude day by day in my journal.
(and capturing some of my blessings via my camera or iPhone)

-spending the day studying God's word 
-God's protection over my daughter when she was in a car accident
-picking up my granddaughter's cap and gown for her graduation!

-my Bibles
-a healthy body that can take long walks outside in the sun
-a wonderful gathering with the women of our church

-praying with a friend
-encouraging texts
-a phone call with my oldest granddaughter
-a relaxing evening with my husband

-God speaking to my heart from Joshua 23-24
-a beautiful summer like day to work in the yard
-my husband's tenderness to me

-the women of our church 
-Papa buying sparkly shoes for youngest granddaughter 
-a wonderful dinner and visit with my youngest brother and sister-in-law and my middle brother on a beautiful evening outside by river

-it's over 80 degrees in April!
-my son-in-law arrived safely in South Carolina with the last truckload of their belongings
-buds on my lilacs that grow along my backyard fence
-getting my spring cleaning done!

-beautiful worship and a word to take to heart
-a text saying that my youngest grandson took his first step today
-a restful Sunday afternoon 

still following,

Saturday, April 17, 2021

Spring Cleaning

"Create in me a clean heart, O God, 
and renew a right, persevering and steadfast spirit within me." 
Psalm 51:10

It's that time of year again! It's time for spring cleaning. I like to do a deep and thorough house cleaning in the spring and then again in autumn before the holidays. In spite of doing a deep house cleaning twice a year, in spite of doing a weekly house cleaning every Saturday and in spite of trying to keep things picked up and tidy daily, dirt and grime and stuff still accumulate! The need to clean my house just never ends!

There are some similarities between the need to keep our physical home clean and maintained and the need to keep our "spiritual house" clean and maintained as well. Our "spiritual house" could be called our innermost being, our soul or our heart. No matter what we want to call it, the truth is, dirt and grime and stuff accumulate in us just as they do in our home.   (Join me for the rest of this post on Sunday, April 18th at Woman to Woman Ministries, where each Sunday I share a bit of Sunday Soul Food!)

still following,

Also happily linking up with:
Sunday Scripture Blessings

Tuesday, April 13, 2021

Weekly Gratitude Journal

I'm well aware that my weekly gratitude posts have been posted every other week all too frequently lately! Life has been so full and busy and there have been so many changes in our lives since mid-January that it's been hard to maintain any sense of rhythm or routine-and I love my routines! In leading our church, God is doing a beautiful, deep work of growth and maturity and we have been busy restructuring everything from children's ministry to growth groups. In our family, our oldest daughter and her husband transitioned to lead another church in the network they are involved in which meant that they also relocated-thankfully only a half hour drive from us. Our second born daughter and her family also made a big move-they have moved across the country to my son-in-law's home state of South Carolina. Last week we had the grandkids here with us while my daughter and son-in-law moved their belongings and then Saturday, we said teary goodbyes to them as well. (Truth be told, I've shed tears just about every day since they told us of their move! I've LOVED having all of my children and grandchildren living close by and having my daughter and four of our grandkids move so far away is heartbreaking.) 
Yesterday, I spent hours surrounded by my Bibles and journals and study materials prepping for a meeting I have tonight with the women from our church. There was something grounding, healing and refreshing in spending the whole day feasting on the riches of God's Word. For months now, God has been speaking to me about the difference between knowing His ways and knowing His acts. Moses knew God's ways-He knew God as a friend. He knew God's heart and God's character. The children of Israel knew God's acts. They served God for what He could do for them and got angry when He didn't do what they wanted. (In all honesty, I have questioned why God would allow my grandchildren, who bring so much joy into our lives, to move so far away. Obviously, it's not God's fault. My kids have a free will to make choices. But, I can't say I didn't wish God would tell them "don't go!"😔) I can honestly say that keeping this gratitude journal has helped me to see that God is constantly acting and working for my good. This has helped my relationship with Him to become more focused on Who He is. He is faithful. He is steadfast. He is merciful. He is trustworthy. I am less focused on asking for Him to act the way I wish He would. Yes, my heart feels torn apart at the loss of close contact with my daughter and grandchildren. But I have a friend Who has promised to never, never, never leave me or forsake me. For that, I am forever thankful.
Since 2009 I've been counting my blessings thanks to the prompting of Ann Voskamp.
 I continue to count my thanks, 
piling up gratitude day by day in my journal.
(and capturing some of my blessings via my camera or iPhone)

-the morning sun through my kitchen window
-the amazingly detailed way that God provides for our needs and so many of our wants
-seeing my oldest granddaughter at her job
-running errands with my guy
-an evening walk

-making candles

-filling plastic eggs with candy with my grandson
-the best kind of fun with him-making a castle and knights and a king and queen out of cardstock and watching his imaginative play

-golden yellow forsythia, salmon pink flowering quince
-getting to see  our oldest daughter's new home
-heart talks with my girl while helping her pack and clean

-a beautiful day to weed the flowerbeds with my grandson
-a bit of time to write before a busy weekend
-seeing God at work 

-a huge bald eagle perched on a tree top
-a walk by the sea

-spending the day with my guy

-prepping for Easter dinner
-listening to encouraging teaching while I cook and clean
-God giving me this day to get ready before the grandkids spend the week with us

-Christ is risen!
-my oldest son-in-law on his birthday today
-our annual Easter breakfast and celebration at church
-family and friends around the table for Easter dinner

-Philippians 4:6-7
-a walk to the park with my grandsons
-dinner in the crockpot

-planting some flowers with my grandson
-walking around the park with my youngest grandson in his stroller while my husband watched my other grandson play on the playground 
-a hot dog roast and s'mores with the grandkids around our backyard firepit

-lots of volunteer help for next week's meeting
-encouraging communication amongst our growth groups
-taking my grandkids to see their cousins and Auntie's new house

-coffee and a wee bit of quiet time in the word while Papa and big sister watch the younger grands
-a sweet meeting with a friend
-a refreshing evening walk with my grandsons 

-a beautiful day to go to Lake Sacajawea with the grandkids
-time to work on Sunday's blog post
-watching a good movie with my husband after the grandkids went to bed

-these beautiful words from an old song coming to my mind- "He hideth my life in the depths of His love and covers me there with His hand"
-a chance to have a heart talk with my oldest granddaughter before they left
-my daughter's loving words when saying goodbye

-my youngest daughter on her birthday
-my daughter and grandkids arrived safely in S.C.
-God's deep work in His people
-a bald eagle flying overhead on our way to Sunday lunch

still following,