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!

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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!