Thursday, August 24, 2023

Weekly Gratitude Journal

We were able to spend four days at the little cabin on the Umpqua River last week. Our youngest daughter's in-laws own the cabin and graciously allow us to use it. If you read my last gratitude post you know that this has not been an easy summer. More big changes with the out of state move of our oldest daughter and her family. Then there's the never ending road construction happening behind and next to our house. The mess! The noise! The devastation to our yard! Add on top of that all of the usual busyness of ministry life and boy did I need a few days of peace and quiet and rest. It was wonderful. Best of all were several "love notes" from the Lord that happened during those few blessed days. What I mean by "love notes" is little things that God brings my way that speak to me in a deep and personal way-things that say, "I see you." "I 'get' and understand you." "I love you."  The first night at the cabin I watched a falling star fall in a straight line from above my head all the way down the center of my field of vision. It was as if God said, "I'm not going to let you miss this!" The next morning I was sitting out on the back deck of the cabin having my devotions when I looked up and saw a herd of eight elk running along the river's edge right across the river from where I sat. After my devotions I walked into the kitchen to start making breakfast and glance out of the kitchen window just as the tiniest hummingbird I've ever seen was sipping nectar from the purple rose of sharon that grows between the cabin and the road. The next day we took a drive to part of the Oregon coast that we lived in when our youngest daughter was born. We drove to a beautiful viewpoint and an artist was there painting the scenery. I admired his painting and we struck up a conversation. Turns out he is from New England and his favorite place to paint is Pemaquid, Maine. One of my most favorite places is Pemaquid, Maine and my dear friend painted me a tiny 8x8 painting of it based on a photo I had taken. What a sweet encounter God arranged for me! That afternoon as I kayaked in the river I looked to my left and the cutest little river otter popped his head up and swam along beside me for a wee bit. The following day a bald eagle flew right above me as I kayaked. God knows how much His creation ministers to my spirit. He also knows how bereft I've been feeling with all of our children and grandchildren now living so far away. All of these "love notes" were His way of reminding me that I am not and never will be alone and that He's got me in His tender care and for that I am so very, very 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)


-doing a bit of writing
-a thoughtful gift from my church family
-a healthy dinner that even my husband likes
-vanilla no sugar added ice cream with fresh strawberries

-finally, pavement is happening on our street project-less dust!
-a fresh haircut
-eating, planning and praying with my leadership help
-a walk with a friend

-my birthday! Thank You God for Your faithful care for me!
-facetime calls with all my girls and grandkids and lots of other texts and messages and calls
-a beautiful drive out in the country to the wedding rehearsal of a dear young couple
-a lovely visit with the bride's mom and dad

-a quiet morning to pray, read and study
-our church family who love and serve so well and who helped put on the loveliest wedding
-K and J are married!

-Friday Date Day!
-new leaves on the flowering quince that I thought had died
-so many encouraging comments about the wedding

-getting notes for a class I'm teaching done
-making sugar free raspberry jam with my friend
-a quiet evening

-I KNOW that I can trust God
-MJ praying for me
-my birthday gift came in the mail!

-God's help with preparing for tomorrow's meeting
-the Helper-the Holy Spirit
-a walk in the cool of the evening

-an early morning FaceTime call with two of my sweet grandkids
-seeing the "day moon"
-phone messages from my oldest granddaughter
-God's help with tonight's meeting

-a FaceTime chat with my two middle granddaughters
-a helpful neighbor
-a freshly groomed pup

-praying with women from our church to start the day
-making a big batch of homemade granola

-my six year old grandson calling to tell me he read over 190 pages this summer!
-photos of our middle grandgirlies in their new school uniforms 
on their first day of school in their new school, new town, new state!

-a really nice Friday date day together
-a sweet card in the mail from my youngest daughter and her kiddos
-the sound of the sprinkler

-God's presence and nearness when I am sad and missing my kids and grandkids
-the gift of freshly picked blackberries from a friend
-a FaceTime call with my middle daughter and two of my grandsons

-my sister-today is her birthday!
-getting to watch on live stream our six year old grandson receive a Bible from his pastor
-today's amazing message
-a safe drive to the cabin
-a bouquet of wildflowers
-a falling star!

-a good night's sleep
-a heard of elk running along the river across from the cabin

-the tiniest little hummingbird
-a long walk by the sea

-driving to places full of good memories of when our kids were young

(Sunset Bay, Oregon)
-meeting an artist painting at Cape Arago who told me his favorite place to paint is Pemaquid, Maine!

(Cape Arago, Oregon)
-a fantastic lunch at Miller's on the Cove
-a kayak to use at the cabin

-a little river otter popping up his head and swimming beside me as I kayaked
-a great blue heron

-a bald eagle flying overhead as I kayaked
-a sale on something I needed and then the sales clerk giving me a magazine I was going to for free!
-listening to books on Audible together

-a safe drive home
-facetime call from the grands
-talking to my big sister on the phone

-a sweet, slow morning together
-a nice long FaceTime chat with my granddaughter
-having lunch together that "hit the spot" of what we were both hungry for

-our home
-a longtime friend
-getting a bit of yard work done

-the Holy Spirit's work in our deepest places
-my husband's kiss and hug goodbye before his trip to Atlanta
-help with a plumbing issue
-a safe flight for my guy to Atlanta

-my new sunglasses
-an early morning walk
-deep heart conversation and praying together at growth group

our kind neighbors help with a much needed tree trimming
-my husband's phone call
-a heart talk with my daughter

-my 6 year old grandson being convinced that the old "Billy Boy" song goes 
"sharmadelly" instead of "charming Billy"🤣
-good long phone chats with both of my sisters today!
-my guy is safely home from Atlanta
-the great leadership God has placed in our lives
-a phone call from my oldest granddaughter

still following,

Monday, July 31, 2023

Weekly Gratitude Journal

The noise begins at six thirty a.m. It's the rumble of heavy equipment getting into place for the day's work that will begin within the hour. The road behind our house and the street next to our house have been torn up all summer long due to a big reconstruction project. In the end, it should reduce the speed and the noise of the traffic on the road behind our house, but in the meanwhile its been quite miserable this summer-loud, dusty and ugly. Access to part of our yard and the temporary disablement of our sprinkler system was part of the county construction agreement. Our yard has never looked so dead and neglected.

Once the work starts for the day, we have to close all of the windows and doors to keep the dust and noise outside as much as possible. Thank God for air conditioning! I keep the inside of our house as neat and tidy and welcoming and peaceful as I can, hoping to shut out the noise and chaos that is outside of these walls. I keep telling myself that it will be worth it when it's done. This week they will finally start paving giving me hope that the end is in sight.

The irony is not lost on me. Messy spiritual reconstruction has been a part of our lives for the past five years. There have been big changes in our church and our family necessitating deep surrender and ongoing transformation in us. It began in 2019 as we took our church through a big transition, a good one, a God one, but one that also came with sacrifice and surrender and some loss. However we have also seen great gain. We have no regrets as the good fruit of this change is evident. Shifting the focus onto building mature and transformed Christ followers and restructuring the whole church to facilitate that goal, from the youngest children to the oldest adults is not a popular western church idea. A Sunday "make me feel good" service with no growing or maturing required is much more appealing to most. But there are those who are hungry for more than that, who want to go deep in God, who don't want to remain spiritual babies all of their lives. And God has been building our church with people like that these past five years. The reconstruction process is not easy, but it's been worth it.

Today they are making sure all of the gravel bedding for the road behind us and the street beside us is packed and smooth before tomorrow's paving begins. Even as I type this post the whole house is shaking as the heavy equipment rumbles by us.

2020, the year everything all over the world shifted. Anyone with a brain, eyes and ears knows that nothing has been the same since. Everything changed and not for the better. Everything destabilized-governments, financial systems, this whole sin-twisted world. Hebrews 12:27-28 comes to mind. God allowed a worldwide shaking to occur to expose and separate the things that can be shaken from the things that are unshakeable. 

Then 2021 came, and with it the first tremors of a big family upheaval. Our second born daughter, our son-in-law and four of our grandchildren moved to our son-in-law's home state of South Carolina. Up until then all of our children and grandchildren lived less than thirty miles away from us. The next shaking came in 2022 when our youngest daughter, son-in-law and their two kiddos moved to Florida,  But the most surprising shaking happened this year, in 2023, when our oldest daughter and son-in-law accepted a new pastoral post in California. Just last week we said our tearful goodbyes to them and our two middle granddaughters. I can hardly wrap my mind around the fact that all three of our daughters and eight of our grandchildren are so far away, the nearest over six hundred miles away. This shaking has by far been the hardest, the most costly.

A common question we get asked is when will you retire and move to be near your kids? First of all, how would we choose which one? If they had all relocated to the same area I'm sure it would be very tempting. But even if they were all in one location, God has not told us to leave our post here. Once in our marriage, we made an emotionally based moved. We didn't consult God, we didn't wait on Him to lead and guide us. Lesson learned! We were miserable! But, immediately after we repented for going our own way, God opened a wonderful door of opportunity in ministry for us that was life changing. 

To obey is better than sacrifice the Bible tells us but often obedience and sacrifice are inseparable. Anyone who has read this blog over the years knows what my children and grandchildren mean to me. I'm still overwhelmed that God would bless me with this beautiful family. I just never imagined that He would ask me, one by one, to let them go. 

My mind knows that this is all part of God's good plan and purpose, that He is working all things together for His good in my life, in my husband's life, and in each of my daughters, sons-in-law and grandchildren. I know that He is good. He is kind. He is loving and He is faithful. I know that I can trust His leadership in my life, in our lives. I know that He is reconstructing something that My eyes can't see yet. He is using all of this reconstruction, all of this shaking, to make each one of us more like Jesus. I know all this, but my heart still hurts, still grieves, even while it still yields and still surrenders.

Since I've caught you up on our major life events, let me catch you up on my gratitude journal. Because, through messy road reconstruction, messy life reconstruction, difficult to navigate family changes, through everything high or low, happy or sad, there is always, always, always something to be thankful for!

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)


-a quiet day with no road construction!
-an especially sweet morning quiet time with the Lord
-a sheet pan dinner that was a big hit with my husband

-homemade lemon blueberry scones
-tea, prayer, planning and heart conversation 
-God's provision

-first day of summer!
-Jeremiah 29:11 in The Message Bible " I know what I’m doing. I have it all planned out—plans to take care of you, not abandon you, plans to give you the future you hope for."
-this month's "Monthly Manna" that N. prepared

-praying together with the growth group
-an answer to prayer
-God adding to our church in amazing and beautiful ways

-a Friday Date Day drive to the beach
-a delicious lunch at a restaurant we've never been to before
-an almost four mile walk by the sea!

-my middle son-in-law-today's his birthday!
-our home
-texts with my granddaughter
-praying with a friend
-a fun graduation party

-God adding to our church
-a really good heart talk with friends at Sunday lunch
-my nine year old grandson FaceTiming me to tell me all about his fun day at the lake

-the beautiful paintings my friend did for me

-Psalm 78
-a beautiful time of sharing with the growth group

-an honest AC repairman
-a phone chat with my youngest daughter
-photos of my grandsons from our middle daughter
-God working in the women of our church

-Francis Chan's Forgotten God book
-dinner and fro-yo with my firstborn girl and her firstborn girl
-God's care and provision

-new shelf lining in the whole kitchen
-early morning prayer with the women of TL
-my husband bringing me home dinner
-our weekly Bible study is growing!

-God's care over me when the airlines made a mistake on my boarding pass
-a delicious dinner and fun visit with my oldest brother

-a beautiful SoCal sunset

-my guy bringing me breakfast
-a delicious lunch together
-this beautiful day in SoCal

-all of the people from our church who flew or drove to SoCal for this event
-our beautiful church family
-laughter and learning together
-leadership with a servant heart

-brunch and fellowship with leaders/friends
-my guy making sure I got a beach walk in before going home
-an unexpected bump up to first class and a safe drive home!

-our nation's 247th birthday
-my dad-he would have been 102 today!
-facetiming with my east coast kids and grandkids
-our oldest daughter and her family and my nephew and his family coming over for dinner
-a wonderful fireworks show at a J and L's house

-our two middle granddaughters spending the night at our house
-a wonderful day at the river with them

-root beer floats!

-singing "There Is A Place" with them in the car
-them telling me what God did in their hearts at youth camp

-my youngest brother-today is his birthday!
-praying together on Thursday mornings with other women from our church
-a long phone chat with my daughter

-a good night's sleep
-our favorite ten grain muffins for breakfast
-a nice Friday Date Day together

-a FaceTime chat with my middle daughter and two of my grandsons
-getting to see God's provision of a new home for one of the young men in our church
-our home-also God's provision!

-a full parenting class at church today
-the Holy Spirit
-God at work in us and in our church

-reading through everything the New Testament says about the Holy Spirit
-fresh zucchini from V.
-laughter about our youngest grandson's antics

-praying about a things we don't know how to handle
-God talking care of the whole thing within moments of praying!
-a full house at our monthly gathering with the women at our church and the beautiful presence of God with us

-the book of Romans
-BLTs and watermelon for dinner
-a rest day

-a good prayer time
-a lovely drive to Lake Sacajawea, worshipping and talking to God as I drove
-a lovely walk around the lake with our dog

-blueberry dutch baby for breakfast-yummy!

-texts with my granddaughter
-going to the Miracle Club movie with my guy

-re-listening to the seminar we went to in SoCal while I cleaned the house
-video of my nine year old grandson singing to the Lord
-a fun evening with friends

-powerful worship and teaching with our church and Sent Life
-lunch and shopping with a friend
-God at work!

-a beautiful new 2024 calendar for only $9!
-telling stories to my Florida grandkids via FaceTime
-prayer support from friends for a loved one

-a bouquet of sunflowers

-antiquing with friends
-lunch and good conversation
-a phone call from my granddaughter

-an early morning walk
-helping my granddaughters pack up their rooms for the big move
-a great growth group gathering at our house

-prayer time with other women-a great way to start the day!
-a great visit with D and C
-my husband telling me to stay home and rest after the onset of a migraine

-Friday date day!
-talking about the future and God's will for us
-a cup of my favorite tea to end the day

-a clear report on a medical test
-phone calls from both of my sister's
-an evening walk

-God's Presence and God's Word
-my friend running errands with me
-our two middle granddaughters spending the night before their big move

-new frames for my glasses at no cost
-hugging my firstborn and her babies goodbye 
-real, deep, open heart communication at Growth Group

-a BRIEF power outage
-a cup of Starbucks brought to me by my guy
-a long talk with N
-a good report about all of the growth groups
-my oldest daughter and her family arrived in California safely

-my nephew's help with my dripping kitchen faucet
-new sunglasses for my upcoming birthday
-a mid-week date after a hard week of saying goodbye
-a FaceTime call from my six year old grandson who knows how to tell time now!

-a sweet prayer time with K.
-good heart communication 
-an early morning walk with our pup
-making a new to me delicious chocolate zucchini muffin recipe to share with friends

-answers to prayer
-a perfect date day beach day

-a FaceTime chat with our granddaughter

-paving begins next week-the end is in sight!
-plans to get the yard back in shape
-Saturday chores-a clean house
-a fun afternoon outing with a friend

-Jesus' body broken for me and His blood shed for me
-God doing a healing work in two people I love
-playing Scrabble with my guy

still following,