saying thank you to God


google images

google images

My  husband and I received a blessing today. Here is what Oswald Chambers wrote for his January 6th devotion for My Utmost For His Highest. 

 

“Whenever you get a blessing from God, give it back to Him as a love gift. Take time before God and offer the blessing back to Him in a deliberate act of worship. If you hoard a thing for yourself, it will turn into spiritual dry rot………..God will  never let you hold a spiritual thing for yourself, it has to be given back to Him that He may make it a blessing to others.”

But how? Do I find a way to give back right away?  Do I wait and watch and listen for that prompt from God as to something specific?  How is it even possible to give a blessing back to God?

Some authors suggest an extra financial gift to a needy organization.

There are times when saying “Thank you, God”, just doesn’t seem enough. For God it probably is but do we always want to do just enough? Aren’t there times we want to do much more?Today is one of those days for me.

I have decided I will be alert for a special prompt these next few days but until then I want to do something today. So here it is.

First of all, would you thank God with me for this blessing we’ve received? (Details will not be included here as this is going out on Facebook. I can tell you we didn’t win the lottery though. Seeing as we never buy tickets that’s pretty much a guarantee. 🙂 I would love to think that the heavens are being inundated with praise. And secondly, as you go about your day, would you be alert to that stranger that might need a prayer? And would you offer one up for them?

Years ago when I was in Brazil, I sat poolside on the roof of our hotel and noticed an unusual bird flying nearby. I was feeling pretty alone that day as my husband was working and no one else was on the roof with me. I kept watching that singular bird and thought how much we were alike. Both of us by ourselves. But soon that bird was joined by a flock of birds and he was no longer alone. Other people showed up on the roof and I was no longer alone.

For some strange reason, I felt God “speaking ” to my heart that day and tell me to pray for those people on the roof. I had never felt the urge to pray for complete strangers before, but I did. I mean how does one pray for a stranger? I found it far easier than I would have thought and even today, years later, I often find myself praying for people I don’t know.

And just one last thought. Remember, that prayer you offer up for that stranger today may be the ONLY prayer that has or ever will be prayed over that person. That really puts a different spin on things, doesn’t it? (I’ll be sure to write a post about that soon.) We know that no prayer ever goes unheeded. God hears them all.

Notice that stranger today and let God lead you to the words you will pray. You will both be blessed and thus I will have passed on my blessing to you while you have passed it on to others.

God bless and let me know how it goes.

an unexpected gift


Crop of original painting "Anbetung der H...

Crop of original painting “Anbetung der Hirten” (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

(For those of you who follow both my blogs, I’m posting this to both of them today. I don’t usually do this, but I felt it as appropriate to both.)

I’m just getting ready to spend some quiet time with God but I wanted to post before the day gets beyond me.

I don’t know about you but the closer I get to Christmas the more I think of all those projects I wanted to complete but didn’t. All those Pinterest DIY’s that beckon me and awake my creative juices. Making presents for the people in my life is one of the highlights of Christmas for me.

This year it was flannel plaid infinity scarves for the women. It was jute wrapped bottles with the word, “love” spelled out in separate letters on each bottle. It was adorable “HO, HO, HO,” wall :”thingees” I made for friends. Yes, I took pics but honestly doubt I’ll get them posted. I don’t know how everyone is posting Christmas tours of their homes. I have to say mine is beautifully decorated. It’s an old, old house so it lends itself to Christmas anyway. In fact it was during the Holidays that we decided to buy it. But whether you ever see the pics is in question at the moment. But I certainly enjoy those pictures that others have posted. Makes me feel I know them.

I’m winding down now knowing that many of the things I wanted to do aren’t going to get accomplished. But I’m OK with that.

Mary and Joseph were only thinking of one thing, the birth of their Son. That’s what I’m concentrating on today. How the birth of Jesus is meant to impact my life and how I relate to others.

Does Christ make a difference in my life or not?

So today I take time from a very busy day and reflect on a birth I don’t understand. I mean, seriously, a virgin birth? And yet I believe. And what amazes me at this very moment, even as I write, is that if I can believe something as “out-of-box” as a virgin birth, why do I question God in other areas?

Why do I ever question He hears AND answers my prayers? Why do I ever question He can perform miracles. Honestly, until I started writing today, I never made that connection What an unexpected gift of insight I’ve just been given.

Some will scoff at my beliefs. It doesn’t matter. Belief and faith are intensely private and personal. Besides, everyone operates from a belief in something. Everyone.

has it been that long, or is it just Christmas?


Christmas lights

Wow. I’ve never gone this long without posting.  One thing I know for sure, if you’re female and you’re reading this, you’re not wondering why it’s been so long,  you’re wondering how I’m finding time to post a little over two weeks out from Christmas!

I’ve been busy. No, past busy. We were at my daughter’s for four days. We had a wonderful, carefree Thanksgiving. Couldn’t have enjoyed it more.  Between taking care of my mom, shopping, making presents, trying to decorate the house, AND deal with constant pain, it’s been a whirlwind. Seems like Thanksgiving was months ago.

But I’ve enjoyed all of it,. (not the pain, of course but nothing I can do about that)

I love making gifts. I love decorating the house. I love the hustle and bustle. I would enjoy it even more but when every step hurts, it puts a damper on things. But then I think, “Hey, at least I’m still walking.”

So what have I been making? Well, the pictures will remain unpublished till have Christmas as some of my followers are recipients of said gifts. But I’m liking how things are turning out.

This morning during my “quiet time with God” I asked that He continually  remind me about what this season is all about. I want to experience the “peace that came to earth”. I don’t want to cheapen the cost of that gift by getting so caught up in the busyness of the season that I forget to  unwrap it.

I’m not one of those who take the concept of commercialism and lay a guilt trip on anyone, including me.   Commercialism doesn’t just exist at Christmas time. It’s just more concentrated. Sure, some people, (those crazy ones you see on the news shows grabbing items out of someone else’s hands) go over board.  But most people I know are simply trying to show their love for the people in their life the best way they know how.  They’re enjoying the process.  They’re enjoying  searching for just the right gift, They’re enjoying creating that perfect gift.

Today my hubby and I are baking dozens of cookies. Anzac cookies. They are an Australian cookie we fell in love with when in, you guessed it, Australia.. Everyone loves them which is why so many. If you want to make them be sure to look for the original recipe from Australia.  The others are OK but the original is the best. They’re a cruncy cookie so don’t over bake them. It’s very easy to do.

So if you’re feeling swamped, enjoy it. Enjoy the process not just the end result. We’ll get ‘er done. Remind yourself that you’ve felt this way every Christmas and every Christmas you’ve manged to pull it off. And even if you can’t convince  yourself, speak the words anyway. it will help. Speaking words of encouragement always helps and we should speak them to ourselves as well.

Hope to be back before Christmas.

an alphabet of thanks “W”


google images

google images

(Somehow my alphabet wasn’t turning out on schedule so I’m having to post twice today so I end on the 26th as does the alphabet.  What can I say? It’s the holiday season. )

I’m so grateful for ” Wonder”. particularly the wonder of this Christmas season fast approaching. What is it about Christmas that makes cookies taste sweeter, the sun shine brighter, colors more vibrant, coffee better-tasting, experiences lived deeper, people appreciated more?

But why shouldn’t it be that way? Isn’t that what Christmas is all about? Wonder. The wonder of a prophecy come true.

But the biggest wonder for me is the wonder that the God I’ve come to know   continues to love me. The wonder that my experience is not unique,; God wants to love everyone who calls him Father. The wonder that no matter what happens in this world, no matter how evil seems to triumph, God remains in charge in the long run. ( I italicized that because one only has to look around them to feel that God that is not in charge. But that’s another conversation.)

Believe me I know that many don’t share my views because Christmas is a nightmare for you. You’re trying to dig out from financial issues, relationship issues, illness…………..There is no wonder in this season for you, except the wondering  why everything is a mess.  I understand that.  Not everything has always been right in my world either, but that doesn’t nullify the fact that the wonder of the season still amazes me.

Starting December first, I will look to see God show up in wondorous ways. It is my prayer that you, too, will be able to see the wonder of this season.

an alphabet of thanks “V”


google images

google images

(OK. I do know my alphabet. How “U” got published before “T”, I don’t have a clue.)

Anyway………today I’m thankful for all the “voices” in my life. The voices that encourage me. The voices that challenge me. The voices that make me grow up. The voices that soothe me. The voices that calm me down.  The voices that irritate me. The voices that make me mad. I’m grateful for all of them.

But mostly I’m grateful for the “The Voice”.  God’ voice.  I believe I hear Him in all the human voices I hear every day. It’s so easy to get caught up in thinking that God’s voice is always ethereal, mysterious, always “holy” sounding. But the more I learn to recognize God’s voice, the more I hear Him in the most ordinary people and in the most ordinary circumstances. Yes, sometimes I hear Him in the most magnificent of ways but not usually.

So today I’m grateful for all the voices I hear every day.  I hope I always listen to the most subtle of messages from the most unexpected of people. Those that aren’t like me, that don’t believe like me, that don’t think like me and even those that don’t believe like me.

Especially those that don’t believe like me.

an alphabet of thanks “U”


DSCF0081

As we’ve gone through this renovation, I’ve learned that the pieces I still love are the ones that were never mass-produced. They are the ones that I don’t see in anyone else’s home. I’ve got some pieces I’ve had for many years and they still “work” because they are unique.

Like the big copper bowl that sits on the lower shelf of a table. Like the chamber pot I use in a bathroom for my wastebasket. The old sewing machine table that has a mismatched top which has been repainted many times over the years. Like the crocks that sit on each one my steps going upstairs. The unique pieces we’ve collected on our travels. The sand, rocks and driftwood that sit in a bowl in my entryway. Or the birdbath above that is constructed from a discarded birdbath base, a tray from house, and a big rock. It’s so “zen”.

I think I like the unique and unusual because they prompt memories. The usual, the mass-produced don’t do that for me. Sometimes i even forget where they were purchased because they are that forgettable.

The pieces I’ve given away or are going to give away are pieces I’ve bought in department stores where there have been a dozen of them on the shelf. That must have been a period in my life when I thought my home had to look like someone elses’. Thank goodness I got over that.

There’s nothing I like more than to find a great thrift store piece and upcycling  it into something really unique. Almost every thing in my home has had my hand print in some form or other.

Redecorating my home has brought me back to what I love.  It has stirred my creative juices much to my husband’s chagrin. I’ve taken some pieces I’ve put aside and brought them back out. As I look around, I’ve probably eliminated almost everything that I purchased as new. The “old” has become new for me again.

I love the unique. In things, people, situations, art, books, etc. I’m thankful that God has made each of us unique as well.  Sometimes I forget that. I want people to act like me, thank like me, believe like me. But then I remember, if they did  wouldn’t be unique either!

an alphabet of thanks, “Q”


Noise?
Noise? (Photo credit: AGrinberg)

Quality, qualify, quake, quarrel, quilt, quiet, quirky.

Today I am thankful for quiet. (Quiet doesn’t necessarily mean lack of noise. We can be quiet within even when it’s noisy around us. But for this post, I’m referring to quiet as the lack of noise.) I’m not one of those people who need someone around all the time. I don’t mind being alone especially when I can have quiet time. I find I listen and think better when it’s quiet.

Religious leaders from all faiths have extolled the importance of quiet for meditation. In Christian vernacular, quiet times refer to the times we set aside to read our Bibles and pray.  Although I still read and study my Bible, there seem to be more and more times I remain quiet and just listen. Every once in awhile I like some extended time of total quiet. When even my own voice is not allowed to break the silence.

There has been considerable research about noise and stress and the conclusion has been that noise is a huge stress factor in the world. It certainly didn’t use to be that way. Life was simply quieter a hundred years ago because life was, well, simple. Of course we can turn off the noise if we choose. We just seldom choose. But complete quiet is hard to get used to. Most of us are uncomfortable with quiet. There are reasons for uneasiness.

When we are quiet, the chatter in our head subsides to a whisper. That’s when our demons can come to haunt us. We are faced with our fears and insecurities. That doesn’t scare me like it used to. I’m learning to be comfortable with the “quieter” version of me.

Most of us are going to go through a period of quietness before we leave this earth.  Due to the infirmities that accompany old age, we will have no choice.  Being comfortable with “quiet” and being unafraid to face ourselves will prepare us. I hope this doesn’t sound maudlin but the truth is unless our lives are “interrupted”, we are going to experience old age. If we want to be a serene, contented elderly person, we need to be a serene contented 20, 30, 40, etc year old person.

The future always begins with the present.

an alphabet of thanks “O”


Choice
Choices (Photo credit: anyjazz65)

Today’s choice was narrowed to “obvious”, “openness”, “organize” and “options”. I like things that are obvious. I don’t like playing guessing games with life. I like concrete answers. I like people that are open. I don’t like people that have an agenda, you never know where you stand with them. I like to organize-things, my schedule, my life. I don’t like chaos. I could write volumes about each of these but I’m going to settle on “options” because “options” is really just another word for “choices.” And I’m a big believer that we all have choices about most things in our life.

We’ve been updating our big old farmhouse. I had a general idea where I was headed with the house. I wanted to ditch the heavy, wood-grained look and go for something crisper.I have made a lot of painting color choices. In this case I wish I hadn’t had so many options. At one point, I had nine, NINE, samples of white paint. I never realized there were so many different whites.

Painting the furniture,however, was a no-brainer. I had been studying decorating websites and magazines for months and months and when the time came to decide, it all just kind of fell into place. I am fairly confident in my decorating abilities as it is one of my passions. It’s been my experience that when we’re passionate about something we’re usually good at it. I feel like I make good decorating choices. At least most of the time.

I have a cousin who is passionate about cooking and she’s a wonderful cook. I’m not passionate about cooking-enough said about my culinary skills.

But when it comes to people, our options can become very complicated. Things are just things. People are people; they can hurt and they can be hurt. Relationships can be damaged forever if we choose the wrong words for example.

Sometimes there are more options than the obvious but they usually only show up after we’ve let some time lapse. Most things in life can sit on the back burner for awhile. Often they resolve themselves if we let them sit and simmer.That’s the wonderful thing about options. You even have choices about your choices!

an alphabet of thanks “N”


Steinlausweibchen, frei nach Loriot.
Steinlausweibchen, frei nach Loriot. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Today I’m thankful  for my naiveté. My family is always kidding my about how naïve I am about some things. For example, if a family member tells me something outlandish, (like there’s such a thing as a Michigan peacock) I’m very apt to believe them because of course, they wouldn’t lie. I easily fall for practical jokes therefore  people love to pick on me.

The first definition for naïve in the dictionary is “inexperienced”.That’s not me. I’ve experienced enough of life to know its reality.  Another definition is “youthful”. Young people are generally considered naïve. Young people generally trust and believe in people. Young people believe in possibilities. I’ll take this definition.

I trust and believe in people to my detriment at times. I often walk into situations where I can’t win no matter what because I always believe people can change. I’m naïve enough to believe most people like me. I’m always surprised when people don’t play fair. I guess I really am naïve.

But that’s o.k. I rather be the one picked on than the one that does the picking . I’d rather be easy to play a joke on than so sophisticated no one would dare. I rather be naïve and see the wonder of life, than so jaded I can only see the ugly.

I’ll admit it. I’m naïve. I’m naïve enough to believe that God still performs miracles. I’m naïve enough to believe that my prayers really matter. I’m naïve enough to believe that God is who He says He is, that He can do what He says He can do, that I am who God says I am, and that I can handle anything God allows in my life. Call me naïve want. I call myself smart.

an alphabet of thanks “G”


google images

google images

Today is again easy.   “G”   “G” is for grace, indescribable, undeserved, and unending. 

When I think of all the ways God has “graced” me, I am humbled. And not just me. I read Scripture and see God’s grace to the Israelites time and time again. I see God’s grace extended to others everyday.  But the one thing about grace that needs to be said is this:

While God’s grace may be free, it isn’t cheap. It was paid with a price. A big one.

When God extends His grace, we need to  remember the price that was paid for it and to make sure we  don’t just accept the gift casually.

I don’t understand God’s  grace.  I’m just  grateful for it.