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Tag Archives: Endless Gifts

Hope and Stay

Sometimes discontent and discouragement come barging in through all your long-closed (or so you thought), barricaded doors and they tear you down and they beat you up and your bruises affect the way you love. And you wonder how these not-so-very-nice guests ever came in at all til you realize that you secretly invited them in. And of course, they eagerly and voraciously took you up on your whispered invitation.

 

Light the candles, wipe the counters, fill up every corner of your house with vicarious worship via Pandora. Some days you have to fight the discontent, the ugly, ungrateful, peering-over-the-fence heart with every dusty weapon you can possibly pull out from your arsenal. It doesn’t have to be like this.

It can’t go on like this. It has to stop.

 

Just to be still in all He’s given. In all He’s giving. In all this right-here, around-me beauty.

#729 matches aflame

#730 flickering light, reflecting in the dirty panes

#731 mulled cider, pumpkin spice

#732 golden leaf, fluttering in the cold wind, clinging to the life it knows

#733 letting go

#734 The solid Rock on which I can stand

#735 my neediness and how He can fill it, if I just wait and seek

#736 two little girls pretend-fighting over whose mama I am

#737 clean tubs

#738 sweet, though unnecessary, thank-you notes

#739 truth-filled lyrics

#740 not getting everything I want, when I want it

#741 waiting for his leading

#742 that He knows how to live the in-between

#743 new words

#744 honesty and forgiveness

#745 a reflection, realizing what I’ve been

#746 a Helper, to restore

#747 surrounded family

#748 learning to truly love

#749 that I have One I can follow

Intention

I’ve gotten behind! But I must. catch. up. I must dwell on His goodness and cultivate this thing called thankfulness. If there is not thankfulness, bitterness and resentment spring forth and choke out all that is growing gratefulness.

 

So, I weed out. Water. Allow for the sunshine.

 

#684 park dates and begged-for McDonald’s breakfasts

#685 long slides, long enough (for daddies and mommies even!) to feel the thrill

#686 not having to pack

#687 everyone home together

#688 movie nights on the pull-out couch

#689 popcorn and m&m’s, even for little pearly white teeth

#690 Dove “eeeeee-ing,” showing me those freshly brushed teeth

#691 bowling and matching scores

#691 the littlest bowling shoes they had – the only cute bowling shoes I’ve ever seen!

#692 errands, together

#693 reading, side by side

#694 him telling me not to cook

#695 healthy girls and after-shots ice cream

#696 Pushing Daisies

#697 good, good reads

#698 busy busyness and the blessing of actually writing To-Do lists

#699 the days where everything was actually checked off

#700 the grace to carry some things over to the next day . . . or the next

#701 time at the piano with fresh, sweet faces

#702 a friend’s wonderful recommendation

#703 all 8 errands, run with two, amazingly patient little girls (even I was in awe that we actually fit it all in!)

#704 a stack of new piano books

#705 successful surgeries

#706 the sweetest brother and how we all hate sending him to college

#707 but he makes us so proud

#708 dinners to share with family

#709 most everyone around the table, seeing him off

#710 out-of-the-blue, prayed for phone calls

#711 open arms

#712 giving arms

#713 a God who orchestrates it all

#714 the last pool days of summer

#715 autumn, in the air, falling leaves from yellowing trees against blue skies

#716 honesty

#717 confession . . . all the trepidation and the loving anyway

#718 the cleansing blood

#719 sister-prayers

#720 finding soft, blue Henri and the hero bringing him to our back door

#721 finding 3 more Henri’s online so that it won’t happen again (and maybe she’ll be able to carry around a halfway CLEAN one!)

#722 van windows open, warm and simultaneously cool, late August breezes

#723 hummingbirds snacking

#724 a deer with antlers, scampering a good 20 feet ahead

#725 clinging to hope

#726 and that sometimes, friends will cling for you

#727 that He will wipe away every tear

#728 looking forward to that robe of white . . . just His righteousness

The fellow-thankers

 

 

When You Know You’re Not Enough

This will be a bit cliché. But it’s something I have to do. And I question how to write something like this without sounding self-absorbed. Narcissistic. Like a navel-gazer. But then, maybe I am all of those things and that’s my problem.

 

But aren’t there days as women where we just feel like we can’t get our acts together? Maybe weeks of this. Months. Maybe lifetimes. I feel my feet, trudging through just the dailiness and I can’t move fast enough, can’t find satisfaction. Like Eve, always wishing for more than I’ve been given, while watching others seemingly running miles around me.

 

And I lash out at myself, all inside mind you, but the words tear deep and I believe the tongue-forked lies and the wounded beliefs bleed out onto all the ones I hold sacred.

 

If I just was more organized.

 

If I was just a better planner.

 

If I was just a better lover of God.

 

If I was just a better Christian.

 

If I was just neater.

 

If I was just a better wife.

 

If I was just a more patient mom.

 

If I was just skinnier.

 

Or more fit.

 

Or prettier.

 

Or . . .

If I was just.

And I know.

It’s plainly evident.

I’m not enough.

I know I’m not the only one. Don’t we all do this? We compare our children. We compare ourselves. We compare our homes, our husbands, our bodies, our abilities, our  achievements. Everything.

The problem is, we compare them to one another instead of to the Most Perfect. The problem is, we compare them to one another rather than to our former selves. Because hasn’t each one of us been fearfully and wonderfully made? And hasn’t each one of us a Wonderful Worker, completing His work in us?

A friend of mine recently posted an Anti-List. Things she’s not that she’s come to embrace about herself. That my friends, is some sort of freedom. And I’ve been thinking a lot about that over the past few months as well. Maybe it’s part of growing up . . . realizing that God has made us certain people and learning that it’s okay that we’re  not like so-and-so or so-and-so.  Maybe it’s part of the letting go of our hunger for power – not in the ruling sense of the word, but in control sense of the word – giving thanks to God for who He’s made us, instead of shaking our fists, wondering why He didn’t make us the way we think He should have made us.

So I come to another Thanking Milestone. It’s time to thank Him for making me. I gulp.

Because when I know I’m not enough, that I don’t measure up, I can either dwell on my inadequacies, or I can thank Him for His grace in even creating me and for His continued work in me.

So I look up, eyes to the August sky.

#649 these arms . . . no defined muscles, but strong enough to lift my children to high slides, or hug my husband tight

#650 these lips . . . nothing special, but made for smiling and laughing and saying “I love you” and giving kisses goodnight

#651 these hands . . . covered in inherited great-grandmother’s veins, but able to bring Chopin or Debussy right into our living room

#652 this waist . . . larger than on my wedding day, but stretched by life and often surrounded by my husband’s arms

#653 this mousey hair . . . hmmm . . . well, it covers my head and keeps me warm??? 🙂

#654 these spider veins . . . broken capillaries from all those hours, running on the hospital floor

#655 my lack of neatness . . . it keeps my trying and keeps me humble

#656 my lack of patience . . . it keeps me calling on Jesus

#657 my lack of achievements . . . this keeps me standing on the Solid Rock

#658 my lack of being the kind of wife I want to be . . . keeps me digging deeper, giving up more of myself, leaning on Him to fill my gaps

#659 my lack of being a good planner . . . keeps me flexible while trying to learn to use my time better

#660 my lack of being organized  . . . keeps me thinking on how He is a God of order

#661 my words of “if I were just” . . . compel me to re-focus on Him, His continuing good work

#662 that He is not finished with me

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

#663 beach-like breezes in the mountains on an August evening

#664 green swing, swaying, lonely in the breeze

#665 feeding the pond-fish

#666 rocking chairs and lullabies

#667 little voices singing with me

#668 spontaneous dates

#669 a wonderful babysitter

#670 a girls’ day coffee

#671 seeing old friends

#672 that weddings and babies keep us coming together

#673 peaceful Sundays

#674 a good mystery

#675 a sister with long, golden curls . . . still Goldilocks after all these years and how I just. love. her.

#676 a husband who thinks I’m cute in the early morning . . . that he’s just crazy enough

#677 the continued rescue

#678 a job well done

#679 get-aways with friends

#680 5 pairs of eyes, all glued to the screen

#681 minivans to fit us all

#682 summer

#683 Thankfulness. It frees the soul.

Whimsy Prayers and Fleet-Footed Answers

There have been times in my life, really the majority of my life, where money was tight. I grew up the oldest of eight children, so you can imagine that I grew up on hand-me-downs and learned not to ask for much. But He still always provided through our hard-working father and through people who truly loved our larger-than-average family and I never wanted for necessities. I grew up and Jonathan and I walked down the aisle, arrived home all giddy from our honeymoon and suddenly panicked because we thought we didn’t have anything left in our newly joined bank account. We thanked God as we found $500 automatically deposited from my one-week-behind nursing paycheck. Our first week home, together, and we breathed thanks to the Provider of all things.

 

Then we were DINKS. You know? Dual Income, No Kids. So, we went to the movies a lot and ate out way too often. But 2 years passed, and oops, we were going to have a baby! We saved, saved, saved every penny we could so that I could stay home with our baby girl when she arrived. She came and I stayed home and we survived on one income while simultaneously trying to become debt-free (that ‘s a whole other story!). We didn’t buy things like fabric softener or extra snacks. We stayed home from the movies and my daughter wore wonderful hand-me-downs (I’ll *always* love hand-me-downs!). I learned as a fairly new wife and mother that there are a lot of things we think that we need to run a household, but really don’t. But now, our season has changed and God has provided. Now the fabric softener makes it into our grocery cart, but still rarely actually goes in with wash. 🙂

 

Before, there were things I thought we needed, but learned we didn’t. Now there are things we don’t need, but have anyway.

 

A girl can get lazy in asking her Provider to provide when He’s already providing more than she’s used to.

But I’m about to dare you.

Low on our priority list of “needs” has been a children’s table for our girls.  With two little budding artists and no current kitchen table, the only place the girls have had to draw is at the dining room table (which the littlest one has a tendency to crawl on top of -gulp-), or the kitchen floor (which is, as I’ve mentioned before, a linoleum parquet and creates little rub-on indentions into their artwork -grin-).  So the girls are often in the dining room, eating or drawing alone, while I’ve gone about making the morning coffee or unloading the dishwasher. Either that, or their guilt-ridden mother has placed two little, good-natured girls in front of their breakfasts and they’ve eaten their cheerios off the kitchen floor (Out of a bowl, out of a bowl!) .  So, for awhile now, I’ve been on a rather low-key hunt for a children’s table, but I just hadn’t found a good price on one and with each morning that passed, I was a little bit saddened that my children were left eating in the other room.

(Side note: Do you really think the girls cared about this?!)

Could I just have gone out and bought a table? Sure! But as I’m sure you know, there are lots of purchases in this young-parenting season of life and a children’s table was pretty much at the bottom of my priority list.

But one day I just casually told God that I’d really like to find a table for the girls. Would He help me find one? Of course, my caveat slipped in and I added something about how, of course, He knows what we truly need, so you know. Whatever. 🙂

Yesterday, one of the young neighbor girls knocked at our front door. We greeted each other with smiles and she said,

“My mom and I were just wondering if you could use a little table for your girls? I’ve outgrown mine and we can’t find a place for it in the house and we just thought your girls might be able to use it.”

You better believe I snatched that table right up! And I can’t tell you how THANKFUL I am for that little table. Yes, because now we have a nice little nook for the girls to eat and draw, but even more because it was simply God’s gift to me. How often do I not ask Him for things simply because I can just go out and do it, buy it, or manage it myself?

But I’ve asked for things on whims and He whizzes right in and in His non-fumbling way, just gives. 

There are some really large things looming in my life and I’ve been knocking on His door about them for quite some time. It is easy to grow weary. Apathetic. But when He answers our “little” prayers, He gives us the gift of hope. It is almost more humbling. That He the Master and Creator of the Universe would supply something so insignificant to one who merely asked on a whimsy.

So, I dare you. I dare myself.

Let’s ask and just see what he does.

Because He dared us first.

Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives; the one who seeks finds; and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened. Which of you, if your son asks for bread, will give him a stone? Or if he asks for a fish, will give him a snake? If you, then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask him! Matthew 7:7-11

 

So today, I am thankful. That God hears my “just-talking-out-loud” prayers. That He shows me He’s our Provider in all things. He gives me courage and builds my faith.

 

And I ask for more.

 

#620 summer sunlight, drying the wooden, freshly hosed highchair

 

#621 sidelong, wry smiles over their heads while watching “movies” that only little girls would want to watch

 

#622 homemade pizza

 

#623 unexpected lunch with a friend

 

#624 the way she loves us and the way we all love her

 

#625 long, hot baths

 

#626 the way words stir the soul

 

#627 day-in, day-out, just being with them

 

#628 barefoot girls, running to welcome their daddy home

 

#629 lemonade

 

#630 cucumber blooms (finally!)

 

#631 fresh, flavorful, local tomatoes

 

#632 hence, lots of homemade salsa

 

#633 this messy house

 

#634 celebrating new babies with old friends

 

#635 our littlest one’s initiated night out

 

#636 spontaneity

 

#637 rocks, ages old, right here

 

#638 coffee with a friend and having to be hinted at by the staff to leave

 

#639 Target runs

 

#640 sitting down, playing the keys

 

#641 giving myself grace, which is really HIS grace to me

 

#642 making it through his hard-working week

 

#643 a new, just-for-them table

 

#644 that HE HEARD! that little, barely spoken prayer

 

#645 that He’s just so unexpected

 

#646 How He must love to delight His children

 

#647 and how He must be hearing those big prayers too

 

#648 fuel for hope

Click here to read of more thankfulness!

Why I Thought I’d Failed the Counting

If you’re a regular around here, you know that my Multitude Mondays have been a little . . . ummm . . . lacking. I haven’t even been able to put my finger on why, but I just. couldn’t. do. it. I couldn’t formally count. I’ve found little things to be oh, so thankful for over this course of thanking-silence, but I just couldn’t come to this space and actually number them one by one. I thought I had failed the counting.

 

Looking back over the last few weeks, I’ve realized that it wasn’t that I’d failed. But it WAS that I was being ungrateful. While there have been AMAZING blessings in our lives over the last few months (and I’ve been extremely thankful for those), I was silently resentful toward God because of my perception that He’s been holding out on me. You see there’s something I’ve wanted for a long, long time.

 

Our own home. You’ve heard me speak of it before.  This quest to stop renting, to buy our own house, one where we could settle and make our own home . . . life . . . became my greatest want. I lived and breathed it.

 

I could think of hardly anything else. And although, yes, I can’t deny it, I’ve grown weary of our, ahem, vintage bathrooms and linoleum parquet, it hasn’t been so much the house that I’ve been so desperate for. It was the feeling of certainty. The assurance that we were free to plant good, solid, long-reaching family roots. Yes, for me, but even more so for our daughters.

 

And while I knew in my head that a house could never provide true security or certainty, inside my heart was pinned to the floor with the suffocating, relentless, false weight that we had to have this house to make us a truly rooted family.

 

We’ve been working toward it. We’ve looked at enough houses that I feel pretty bad for our realtor. 🙂 I have every zip code in the area memorized. If you showed me a picture of a house anywhere in our hometown (in our price range), I could probably quote you the listing price (Isn’t that pathetic?! I’m thinking maybe I should become a realtor?). But we just weren’t finding the one.

 

Then, Jonathan and I jointly decided to make a large family purchase and much of our savings needed to be put toward it. We decided this together. I watched him write the check.

 

But, I grieved. Because I knew, this was putting our home on hold. Just on hold, mind you. I guess a friend was right in dubbing it the “death of a vision” because for a few days, I was in tears. I had a hard time functioning.

 

But I am so thankful. That God wrestled me to the ground and one by one, released my fingers’ death grip on my self-made idol. He pulled my hip and rescued me from my false footing…. And in pleading with him to “bless me” with what I thought I wanted or needed to provide our security, He blessed me with something else . . .

 

Release from a misplaced passion.

 

A freeing demolition of my self-elevated idol.

 

Because it was an idol. When He didn’t seem to be giving me what I wanted, or thought we needed, I doubted His goodness. Even more than doubting His goodness, I doubted His good work in me. I wondered if I was doing something wrong, or if He wasn’t pleased with me or if I didn’t deserve a home.

 

Writing this even now feels so silly. So American. So often, I’ve reminisced over shacks I’ve touched in Peru. Dirt floors. Children drinking water in which I could see things floating. Women begging on street corners, holding borrowed babies, hoping to make a dollar or two. And here I’ve been in a nice home, in truly the best neighborhood I could ever imagine, and in a beautiful community — all gifts the Lord has freely given me — and I’ve wanted to throw it all away.

 

For something I could call mine.

 

Do I still want that house? You bet. But in the meantime, He’s teaching me to trust Him. To be content, right where He has me. To be used. Right. where. He. has. me. And He gently opens my eyes to the truth that I can’t be truly thankful for the “smaller” gifts He gives . . . the birds chirping in the trees, little pitter-pats down our long hallway, mocha frappuccinnos . . . if I’m also resentful that He hasn’t given me something greater. And neither can I be truly thankful for the greater gifts, if I’m flippant in my gratefulness for the smaller. He says to give thanks in everything. Yes, and now I know why. Because there is no distinction in what He’s given or what He’s not given. He gives good gifts. And what He withholds is also His goodness.

Oh, taste and see that the LORD is good!
Blessed is the man who takes refuge in him!

Psalm 34:8

I have tasted Him. In this refuge.

 

Again . . . taking up the count . . .

#614 His withholdings.

#615 Because He is a good Father and knows how to give good gifts to His children.

#616 What He gives is good.

#617 What He doesn’t give is good.

#618 That He rescues me from myself.

#619 That He loves, even me.

 

Giving thanks in all

His Willing Waiting

Posted on

Do you ever wonder where you are? You know where HE is. That He never leaves, never forsakes, but do you ever wonder if you’ve wandered a bit? Maybe been a Gomer and given your love to something else? Not even another entity, but a mere searching for something you think may fill you? The job promotion you’ve always wanted. Marrying the man of your dreams. Having a child. A home. A relationship restored. Or maybe your mind’s even simply been a little obsessed over those new curtains you’ve been saving up for, or the new 6-burner industrial gas stove your “kitchen’s” just itching to have.

 

And something or someone unknowingly wakes you up from the your heart’s wanderings and you suddenly realize just how little you’ve been living. You see their life. Their passion for Someone and something bigger than themselves. And while you’ve been pining and chasing after that certain dream or desire, you’ve neglected the here. The now. The HIM.

 

Oh, you’ve marched on, bathing kids and cooking suppers and doing laundry and working those long, soul-tiring days. But your mind and heart . . . oh, it has been on a wandering. A looking. A peering. And all the while, a real, soul-quenching Filling has been just watching you, just waiting, willing you to turn your heart . . . back . . . your First Love waits.

 

He wants to enlarge these hearts of ours. Widen their myopic horizons and give us His life-sustaining view. If we seek, we will find. If we lose our lives, they will ironically be saved. If we give, He will shake and press and make room for more. Because what we reap, we will sow. And if we thirst, He satisfies.

 

I thirst. My face turns. And I blush that there He is. His eyes watching. Willing me to turn my wandering heart. He humbles me with His patience and how can I not thank?

 

#586 That He is there and His promises are true

#587 little birthday seeds in Firefly’s hands, waiting to be sown

#588 a cool, summery breeze

#589 little songs, made up by little hearts and voices

#590 unexpected turns

#591 strawberry cake and candy flowers

#592 sweet birthday get-togethers

#593 cool water running over toes in August-like heat

#594 carousel rides and little girls in bathing suits

#595 that my should-have-been-a-boyscout sister had an extra shirt after a swimmie diaper malfunctioned (not mine, in case you were wondering) 🙂

#596 even him, just waiting for me, for my heart to slow

#597 pink lemonade and chaco tans

#598 tiger lily blooms

#599 a wonderful community and wonderful neighbors and wonderful wonderfulness 🙂

#600 SIX HUNDRED!!!!!

#601 determined independence and little sandals being put on by her own little hands

#602 just the waiting, the searching, the learning of myself

#603 that he likes to hear my thoughts, the thoughts I used to be so afraid to share

#604 pink and turquoise balloons

#605 iphone auto-correction

#606 sweet friends and their hearts for Haiti and orphans and nannies

#607 hose water, trickling

#608 giggles, giggles, giggles

#609 crying through Fancy Nancy

#610 that we are never alone

#611 that He can light fire where there is no tinder

#612 make-shift black out curtains and sleeping in just a little

#613 that there are more gifts than I could ever count

 

The Beauty-Seekers

The Seeing Grace

Posted on

Is it really Monday again? The weekend was heavenly. The busyness, and the unexpected quiet of my husband’s presence beside me. Not just him, physically by my side . . . but mentally. Emotionally. Busyness and soul-quietness, all at once.

But the afterglow of the weekend fades and Monday morning startlingly jars us into gritty family life. The little one shuts a door, not knowing that her big sister has her hand in between the door and the door frame. And the pressure on Firefly’s fingers blows her top and she screams and wails and I run to the door to move the little one’s body away from the door in order to release Firefly’s fingers from between the hinge. I cringe. I thought I’d heard a crack. Her knuckles are indented and already swollen.

We go ahead and try to ice it. She screams louder. She’s never liked ice. She never seems to realize that we’re trying to help her when the ice pack makes its appearance. Its presence always seems to add insult to injury and her cries make our ears ring and our patience wears thin as she fights and screams against us.

None of us handle it well. We all sit on the couch, Firefly on my lap, squirming and combative, and the fault lines in each one of us quake and flinch and there’s no taking it back. Family fault lines tremble in the stressful moments and make themselves more than evident.

She moves her fingers. The swelling goes down and she begins her lighted smiles again.

Jonathan leaves for work through the back door. I don’t say goodbye. I make the fault lines deeper.

But He comes in those moments. I begin to believe that when the family ruts arise to the surface, that their very existence made evident is simply pure grace. Sometimes a smaller, stressful moment shines light on deeper rifts . . . deeper things that need addressed. And He comes in the Monday morning earthquakes, shifting familial, underlying tectonic-like plates, and healing is brought to the light of everyday life. This is when we have a choice.

When plates are shifted, we can try to smooth over the cracks and fissures with resentment and bitterness . . . a sort of stagnant form of “moving on” with life . . . or we can leave the cracks and fissures exposed, a hands-held-open sort of giving up, and ask Him to bring His healing.

Jonathan calls a bit later to check on her. We talk. We apologize. And we realize that we have some work to do and some prayers to pray. And there is grace in the seeing. In the not being blind to our faults. By His grace, the deeper ruts will heal and a Monday morning quake will bring a life’s worth of healing.

He is good.

#562 that it was just the door frame’s crack I heard

#563 grace in the seeing, a humbling in the knowing

#564 quick apologies

#565 that when we ask for wisdom, He will give it (James 1:5)

#566 that parenting keeps us on our toes . . . and our knees

#567 unexpected unity

#568 answers to a prayer I’m not even sure I prayed

#569 our small group’s wonderful potlucks

#570 a fun stretching

#571 painting with a friend

#572 swinging from a tall tree and long, pink ropes

#573 three nights in a row, eating with friends!

#574 sand in the sandbox

#575 sweeping the back porch

#576 weeding the flowerbed

#577 that there is delight in our work

#578 baby smiles

#579 married love

#580 warm summer sun

#581 her dancing on stage for first time

#582 sweet, pink flowers in a vase

#583 sore shins from a long, mountainous walk 🙂

#584 Cherry-Limeades

#585 His undeserved Presence

Joining the gift-thankers