a river flowing

Wow ya’ll.  When God means for you to hear something, He doesn’t mess around.  This past week has been filled with encouragement from so many places…from some that have always been constant streams and others from surprising places, unexpected.  And the river has flown steady and I am completely humbled by the kindness that the Almighty has placed in the mouths of others.  I am so grateful for words that were spoken and not held onto.  I’ve been blessed beyond measure.

I can’t help but think that this opening up of eyes to see God’s graces has opened me up to receiving them as well.  As the aroma of thanksgiving drifts up to the heavenlies, the affirmations flow down.  It’s a continuous cycle of me sending up, Him flowing down and it’s nearly impossible to not get caught in the current of joy.

Days come and go and although the joy is sweet, inevitably something else catches my eye for a moment and I fall out of His step.  It happens to us all sometimes.

But you know what you do when that moment comes?  When suddenly you realize that you’ve fallen behind and lost the rhythm of His holy gait?

You run, child.

You run as fast as you can.

And you keep running until you crash into His glory.

And you are there, chest heaving grasping onto Him with the grip of Jacob.

And He smiles down, brushes the hair from your face and kisses your forehead.

I wasn’t going to let you get too far behind, beloved.

I had my eye on you the whole time.

And as you lay your head on the chest of the One who Redeemed you,

you find the beat of His heart…

breathe in His scent…

find your Center again…

and continue counting the multitudes of blessings…

#162 looking back and seeing places where God’s plan was falling into place to create this season

#163 a strong hug from sweet Margaret

#164 the sound of Bible pages turning

#165 an encouraging word that calls out destiny

#166 peeling back endless layers of the Word of God

#167 little hands clasped together in prayer

#168 a quick visit from a neighbor

#169 rain early in the morning

#170 a bird hopping around tree branches at dawn

#171 a God who calms all fears

#172 having a friend with the same crazy idiosyncrasies as me

#173 sun shining through the blinds

#174 the little one seeing an airplane in the sky and telling me to make a wish on it

#175 the Jesus Loves Me jar

#176 godly friends for my oldest son

#177 a week that has been flooded with encouragement

#178 a blue sky fading to orange at dusk

#179 ceramic angel made by the oldest

#180 hearing the hubby talk about faith

#181 family pictures on the wall

#182 a pastel sky in the morning

#183 friends who answer honest even when honest is hard

#184 an unprompted “I love you” from the little one to the oldest

#185 strength and peace that comes from God alone (Psalm 29:11)

#186 the boys playing together quietly

#187 watching a movie with the family

#188 a long awaited-for book in the mailbox

#189 a chance to offer understanding

#190 lots of little self portraits on my camera

    

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Do you have a gifts list?  Oh, how I hope you will join me in listing your gifts.  Please feel free to add yours in the comment section here if you’d like.  And I’d love for you to read Ann’s book One Thousand GiftsYou’ll be so very blessed.  And please also head over to the Multitudes on Mondays community and read more gift lists!

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continuing to count

I must admit that over the last week, I’ve not been as constant with counting my gifts as I had been when I first started.  That first week, we were on vacation in the mountains and it was so much easier then to see the gifts in front of me.  But then we returned to our normal lives – where everything is crazy busy, school for the kids, work for the hubby and me, church stuff, regular life stuff, dentist appointments, grocery shopping – and suddenly a whole day passes and I haven’t listed a single thing in my gratitude journal.

A day filled with precious gifts that go unrecorded.  They slip by unnoticed and a page that should have been full of blessings is empty.  Much of the day’s joy is left un-numbered as I (at the mercy of my faulty memory) sit in the evening trying to list what I can recall.

Father, please help me remember to be intentional

I stop and take a deep long breath.  My lungs expand as they fill with air.  My body receives and the exchange occurs…oxygen in, carbon dioxide out.  A mindless exchange, but without it my body could not function.  I can refuse to breathe if I want, but most certainly I would then cease to exist.

But isn’t gratitude the same?

Without the intentional thank offerings lifted up to a worthy God, would I cease see God’s hand?  Not that God wouldn’t be there, but that I wouldn’t notice Him.

That without the meticulous counting off of gifts, I would go days on end overlooking the little precious things laid before me by the Giver.

And this process of intentional thanksgiving…generating a cycle of purposeful expelling of anxiety, fear, anger, jealousy and the like, while inhaling joy and patience and peace and all the other gifts that flow from the Spirit.

Father, please help me to walk in intentional gratitude. 

Forgive me when I forget.

Forgive me when I hold my breath.

God, I pray that gratitude flowing out of my heart would become as natural as breath flowing in and out of my lungs.

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And so I continue counting the multitudes of blessings…

#129 the way the color of everything is more rich after it rains

#130 an easy Bm chord on the guitar

#131 my comfy oversized sweatshirt

#132 chapstick

#133 trading my worth for His

#134 an even easier Bm chord

#135 a cavity-free dentist visit for the boys

#136 a garbage truck that’s better than the mail truck (according to the little one)

#137 a sudden interest in science experiments by the oldest (science project coming soon)

#138 One True God with many names

#139 the dripping from the shower head after the water is turned off

#140 Memorize the Mount

#141 big brown coffee mug I got from my trip to Gateway Church

#142 sitting with my dad

#143 all four of us together at the dinner table

#144 my favorite orangey-pink pajama pants

#145 open windows in January

#146 a good writing pen

#147 an invitation for coffee

#148 HaShem – The Name

#149 heavy eyelids at 8:40pm

#150 watching the worshippers arise

#151 a cat that takes a shower (seriously.)

#152 a Barnes & Noble gift card from my brother

#153 the little one wearing his Bibleman cape into the CVS

#154 Bugle claws

#155 homemade laundry detergent

#156 a red balloon

#157 an ache for quiet time with Jesus

#158 entering His courts with praise

#159 the logic of a five-year-old boy

#160 keeping in touch with friends from far away places

#161 water all over the bathroom floor

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Do you have a gifts list?  Oh, how I hope you will join me in listing your gifts.  Please feel free to add yours in the comment section here if you’d like.  And I’d love for you to read Ann’s book One Thousand GiftsYou’ll be so very blessed.  And please also head over to the Multitudes on Mondays community and read more gift lists!

a stripping away of heaviness

Friday night was rough.  It was a night filled with awful nightmares and I found myself awake, sobbing at 3am.  Even knowing the dream was just that…a dream…it left me feeling overwhelmed by despair and fear.

And as if to add insult to injury, once I was finally able to settle down enough to fall asleep again, I had another rotten dream – this one leaving me filled wtih inadequacy and shame.

The entire night, I truly felt attacked by the accuser and so I did the only thing I knew to do.  I got on my knees and countered lies with prayer and Truth.

But even then, all day Saturday I just could not shake this feeling of heaviness that hovered over me.  It was like a thick darkness had just attached itself to me and would not let go.  And the longer the day wore on, the lower I felt.  I just wanted to crawl back in bed and bury myself under the covers, under the dark, and sleep.

By the time the late afternoon rolled around, it was all I could do to drag myself to Saturday night worship at my church.  And as much as I wanted to be thrilled about coming into the house of God…well, I just wasn’t.

I faked it through the first couple of songs and listened diligently to the sermon, taking notes, highlighting in my Bible.  You know, all the “godly” things a person should do when they are in “church.”  But then, my pastor said something that sort of caught my attention.  That he wanted to change the language (and thereby the attitude) we all have when we come together for service.  That we wouldn’t say anymore, “I’m going to church,” but rather that we would say (and live) “I’m going to worship.”  Because that’s what it’s supposed to be, right?  It’s not about us getting entertained, or blessed even.  It’s about us coming together with the Body to worship the Most High God.  It’s about pleasing His heart, about offering Him a sacrifice of praise and thanksgiving.

I could feel the black muck hanging over me start to crack.

And when the second song set started ~ an opportunity to respond to truth heard ~ it was incredible.  I soaked in the presence of Jesus and offered Him back my heavy-hearted worship and He came and stripped away all the dark.  He peeled away the layers of lies the enemy had plastered all over me the night before and in exchange, dressed me in His armor of light.

How I love Him so.

We worship because He is worthy.

We worship because He demands it.

We worship because in the offering of praise and thanksgiving, there is truth and release.

The Lord inhabits the praises of His people.  And where the Lord is, there can be no darkness.

And on this Monday, I continue counting the multitudes of blessings…

#86 a day to recoup from vacation

#87 sleeping in my own bed

#88 a mother who is struggling for her daughter

#89 checks waiting in the mailbox

#90 my husband surprising me with dinner

#91 shadow puppets on the ceiling

#92 a play date for the little one

#93 grace where it didn’t have to be

#94 little fingerprints on my glasses

#95 my new bathrobe

#96 sending out greeting cards just because

#97 hot doughnuts

#98 a new knee for my daddy

#99 a slow start to the morning

#100 a bright blue bird chasing another

#101 a hospital room with a view

#102 rainbow socks

#103 the warm red and blue blanket my grandma made

#104 deep breaths

#105 waiting in the car with husband and little one for the oldest to get out of school

#106 a nightmare that brought me to my knees

#107 kindness of a stranger

#108 the oldest letting the little one help

#109 made-up words to a song

#110 a small bruise that could have been a lot worse

#111 clouds painted on sky

#112 a bird that soars just above the tree line

#113 red, blue, and yellow kite high in the sky

#114 scriptures written on door frames

#115 a sky that promises rain

#116 the overwhelming power of the Holy Spirit

#117 being completely overtaken by Him

#118 little baby cooing during worship

#119 sitting in the midst of God movement

#120 pink, blue, and gold darkness

#121 loud worship

#122 hearing what I needed to hear

#123 a stripping away of heaviness

#124 a pastor’s wife with her own passion

#125 a grocery list

#126 wrinkly raisin toes in the tub

#127 a royal priesthood

#128 fog lying low, hanging in air

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Do you have a gifts list?  Oh, how I hope you will join me in listing your gifts.  Please feel free to add yours in the comment section here if you’d like.  And I’d love for you to read Ann’s book One Thousand GiftsYou’ll be so very blessed.  And please also head over to the Multitudes on Mondays community and read more gift lists!

the majesty of the Almighty

My family and I just got back home from a trip to the North Carolina mountains.  And as an added surprise, it snowed a little while we were there.  If there’s one thing that calls to mind the majesty of God to me, it is the beauty of the mountains.  And with the blanket of snow covering the ground and sprinkling the trees, at times I could barely speak…breathtaking for sure.

And I’ve continued to keep my list and I guess I’ve gotten on a roll with it because I’ve got a lot to add today.  I hope you don’t mind.  It’s just that once you start to pay attention to all the sweet blessings and gifts, you realize just how many there are…and how many you’ve often overlooked.  So to continue my gifts lists from last week…

#25 rays of sun coming through gray clouds

#26 prayers with the oldest on the way to school

#27 trees bare in winter

#28 a smile from a friend

#29 a surprise visitor bearing gifts

#30 bright green apples

#31 a hot shower

#32 a bookshelf filled with books

#33 the tick tick tick of the ceiling fan as it turns

#34 warm sun on my face

#35 a cross standing firm in the midst of an entanglement of weeds

#36 lights and color reflected off flowing white

#37 a moment with Him carved out of noise

#38 quiet cool dark where the peace of God is thick

#39 smashed yellow flowers from the little one’s hand

#40 Lego creations made by a little boy with a big imagination

#41 made-up stories

#42 the sound of covers rustling as the boys begin to awaken

#43 parents that live close by

#44 clean, clear water to drink

#45 the splashing of raindrops

#46 anticipation of a journey

#47 a conversation with a dear friend

#48 women gathered together to study the Word of God

#49 yellow flowers popping up among brown winter grass

#50 yummy eggs scrambled with broccoli and cheese

#51 a sweet little snuggle-bug in a yellow shirt

#52 lunch with my precious Jesus sister

#53 clouds that touch the tops of mountains

#54 raindrops on leaves all at once

#55 playing Scrabble with the oldest and my mom

#56 the majesty and beauty of the mountains

#57 a picture of me drawn by the little one

#58 the oldest crawling into my lap for a big tight hug

#59 a dusting of snow

#60 middle of the night conversation with my mom

#61 the oldest sighing in his sleep

#62 surprised little faces

#63 bacon frying, popping and crackling

#64 red, green, and purple grapes

#65 little blue pajama pants with red firetrucks

#66 snow that falls soft and silent

#67 a belly laugh of a little boy

#68 a silly dance by the oldest

#69 a song from a kazoo

#70 hot chilli on a cold day

#71 the hissing and bubbling of coffee brewing

#72 a crown of thorns on my finger

#73 my husband humming in the kitchen

#74 a conversation between the little one and my daddy

#75 the oldest playing “Happy Birthday” on his sweet potato flute

#76 breath blown that shows in cold air

#77 orange flames dancing that warm my feet

#78 ducks huddled together

#79 creaky wood floors

#80 big, medium, small

#81 brown grass standing tall through a blanket of snow

#82 peanut butter and jelly sandwiches

#83 ten little fingers and toes

#84 a small mountain town

#85 sunlight pouring through the kitchen window

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Do you have a gifts list?  Oh, how I hope you will join me in listing your gifts.  Please feel free to add yours in the comment section here if you’d like.  And I’d love for you to read Ann’s book One Thousand GiftsYou’ll be so very blessed.  And please also head over to the Multitudes on Mondays community and read more gift lists!

Happy Birthday to me!

Yes, today is my birthday.  I’m 38 years old today.  I have lines in the corners of my eyes when I smile…but I smile just the same.  My life is full to overflowing with so many blessings and gifts from God.

What better gift for my birthday than for today to be the first of many that I will join in with Multitudes on Mondays.  I began my list about a week ago and will continue on, posting pieces of it here on Mondays and on Ann Voskamp’s Multitudes on Mondays community.  So here we go…

#1 watching a movie with my boys

#2 a stay home day with the little one just because

#3 the way my teeth feel right after I brush them

#4 the sound of my husband’s truck pulling into the driveway

#5 watching my sweet husband eating my ghetto chicken parmesan and liking it

#6 an extra $15 off in coupons at CVS

#7 a grilled cheese sandwich all melty and gooey

#8 my joy journal already being filled with gifts

#9 astounded by the beauty of love given with no expectations but the return of love

#10 a fridge filled with drawings, pictures, and two handmade Christmas cards from two sweet boys

#11 little boy giggles early in the morning

#12 a buttery crispy croissant that melts in my mouth

#13 driving up at church for Saturday night worship

#14 sweet Emma

#15 people with servant hearts

#16 my five-year-old’s little sound effects he makes when playing with toys

#17 hearing voices blending harmony in worship

#18 advice and encouragement from a dear friend with a sincere “you can do it”

#19 the morning sky all swirled of pinks and blues and grays

#20 rainbow colors reflected in bubbles blown

#21 seashells spread on the kitchen table all broken and lovely

#22 morning coffee in my new favorite travel cup

#23 my cell phone beeping every couple of minutes with birthday wishes from family and friends

#24 a moment of quiet reflection

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Do you have a gifts list?  Oh, how I hope you will join me in listing your gifts.  Please feel free to add yours in the comment section here if you’d like.  And I’d love so much for you to read Ann’s book One Thousand GiftsYou’ll be so very blessed.

One Thousand Gifts: intentional gratitude

I’m reading Ann Voskamp’s book One Thousand Gifts.  If you’ve not read this one yet, you should definitely add it to your list.  Ann’s writing is so beautifully eloquent.  You can almost feel what she feels, see what she’s seeing.

One Thousand Gifts is a book of gratitude.  Ann starts making a list of big and little things for which she is grateful…gifts from the Creator.  In the midst of a life of gratitude, God’s hand is much more clearly seen.  I really love this book.

And since it’s a fresh new year, I thought it the perfect time pick this book back up, and start from the beginning again.

And the perfect time to begin learning intentional gratitude.

So I’m starting a gift list.  I will be sharing pieces of my list on Mondays and will be linking up with many others at Ann’s blog for Multitudes on Mondays.  I hope you’ll stop by then.

I’d encourage you to check out Ann’s site, A Holy Experience, as well.  She has so many wonderful resources there to help you along on the journey.  She’s even put together a January’s Joy Dare calendar to help you get started.

I can’t wait to share some of my list and I hope you’ll share some of yours with me too!