Monday, May 31, 2021

Weekly Gratitude Journal

Yes, I've been keeping a daily gratitude journal for almost twelve years, yet still I fail. 
The truth is, if I stay focused on living in the present then it's easy to see God's blessings in my daily life. But, when I begin to entertain "what if" thoughts about tomorrow, then worry and fear and sadness crowd out today's gratitude. The truth is, nothing about tomorrow is guaranteed except for the fact that God is the same yesterday, today and forever and will never, never, never leave me or forsake me. What happens when I fret about tomorrow is that I lose my delight in what is in my here and now. Oh, how I want to savor these moments I have today and to cherish them in my heart with a heart that overflows with gratitude to the One from Whom all of these blessings flow.
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)

-my hubs bringing me coffee in bed-(my favorite!)
-our tire shop repairing our tire for free even though it wasn't one we purchased there
-hosting growth group at my house-(I love these ladies!)

-grandson number three is four years old today! (I love him so!)
-see God working in a situation I was praying specifically about
-thank you God that our doctor found a medicine that knocks out my migraines 
and that I've not had one for a long time until today

-sunshine streaming through my window
-good coffee
-beginning the day with worship
-a bit of unexpected time with my husband on a weekday as we ran some errands together

-our youngest daughter, son-in-law and their two children are home after three months away!
-the beautiful, wonderful, faithful, surprising, amazing leadership of God in our lives
-praying for one another at church

-Papa and I taking C and B on a walk to the park in my hometown

-enjoying lunch outdoors by the river
-this beautiful weather 

-taking a picnic lunch to the park with the grands
-again, so thankful for this beautiful weather so the grandkids can enjoy being outdoors
(and eating ice cream!)

-reading bedtime stories, singing with and praying with my grandkids who get to spend two nights with us

-my daughter and grandkids being at church with us
-such a good message!
-visiting with one another at our church's annual Memorial weekend BBQ
-for the most powerful prayer you can pray, "Lord, change me!"

still following,

Monday, May 24, 2021

Weekly Gratitude Journal

I was rereading the Mitford books by Jan Karon. I've purchased the whole series of books over the years and have reread them multiple times. They are like "comfort food" to me. Last night I was reading the book On This Mountain. Father Tim, the main character of the book, is experiencing a season of health problems and depression. He becomes desperate for a word from the Lord and cries out to God to speak to Him. God responds with four words. "In everything give thanks." As I was reading, God convicted me, again, to give Him thanks even for the hard things. Why? Because God is faithful and wastes nothing that we go through. He is always working for our good. And so, again I choose to give Him thanks in everything.
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 beautiful day to work in the yard
-the smell of fresh basil in tonight's caprese salad
-The Chosen series

-God's Word
-a postcard from our grandson-"I wish your car could fly!"
-praying with my sister over the phone

-our middle daughter on her on her 41st birthday
-spending the afternoon with my two middle grand girlies
-a phone call from my oldest sister 
(She pointed out to me that we both gave birth to our second borns on the 19th of May 
ten years apart right before we each turned 23 the following August!)

-a big pot of yummy homemade soup on this gray, rainy, spring day

-such a good Bible study on Romans at church tonight
-God is answering my heart cry prayers

- a relaxing Friday date day
-a FaceTime chat with our grandkids
-peonies in abundance from the plant a friend gave me years ago

-a really good heart talk with my brother
-a big yellow butterfly
-a Saturday full of God's peace and presence

-our oldest daughter and son-in-law's 23rd anniversary 
and our youngest daughter and son-in-law's 6th anniversary
-taking our grandgirlies out to lunch and to the bookstore to let them pick out a new book

still following,

Monday, May 17, 2021

Weekly Gratitude Journal

This is our new reality. Our family is no longer living all within a half hour drive from one another. We now have one daughter and one son-in-law and four grandkids living on the opposite coast from us.  They flew us back to South Carolina this past week so that we could be with our two oldest grandsons for their birthdays. Next month they will be flying here for our oldest granddaughter's birthday and graduation and our youngest grandson's first birthday. I guess that frequent cross country flights are our new reality too. I've wrestled to accept that this is how things are now, much less to give thanks for it, and that needs to change. God, I give You thanks. This is hard, being on separate sides of the country, but You are still good even in the hard things. Thank you for airplanes and direct flights! Thank you that nothing can separate us from Your love as well as for our love for one another, no matter how far apart that we live.

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)

-our daughter and son-in-law flying us to South Carolina for our two grandson's birthdays
-getting to be at our grandson's seventh birthday party at a beautiful state park

-a few quiet moments on a bench swing under a canopy of leafy green trees

-And today he's seven! Thank you, God, for him!
-a fun day celebrating him-(he even went on a zip line over water all by himself!)
-the cousins all FaceTiming him for his birthday

-Our oldest grandson is seventeen today! So thankful for him!

-our oldest granddaughter's love for her three brothers

-encouraging messages from our growth groups at home

-finding a gas station with gas!
 (We had a scare with the pipeline shutdown that we might not have enough gas to get to the airport!)
-a walk on the beach with my little buddy

-God taking care of a scheduling conflict back home

-getting to see the 36 acres our kids bought to build on in S.C.
-a safe flight 
-our home

-a day of studying and worship to get ready for tomorrow
-the beauty of the Pacific Northwest
-the difference just a few minutes of pulling weeds makes in the flowerbed 
(and the spiritual lesson that that holds as well, God, keep my heart weed free!)

-Your continued good work in us and in our church
-our son-in-law coming to church when he's in town for work
-a wonderful gathering of the women of our church

still following,

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.

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