Monday, November 29, 2010

Clothes for the Season

The clothes on trees this season reminded me of the upcoming season.

Most of the trees stand naked - no leaves to cover them.  The season of dormancy slid in quietly.  Dormancy allows plants to survive conditions of cold, drought, or other stress.

In my life, this season finds me changing my "clothes": decluttering at the office, at home, in my heart; listening more than speaking; receiving and giving grace. Living life with faith, intention, and mindfulness are the clothes I am wearing this season. 
I am trusting the Master to prune me, to prepare me, to grow me this season.  
Maybe dormancy is the current season for this vine; the adventure continues...
I delight greatly in the Lord; my soul rejoices in my God.  For he has clothed me with garments  of salvation and arrayed me in a robe of righteousness... Isaiah 61:10
I open my heart and my eyes with gratitude to gifts seen in the midst of the season:

#541 colorful landscapes in the fall

#542 power walking

#543 beautifully designed and skillfully sewn Nigerian dress - a gift from a friend

#544 conversation about the future with a dear friend

#545 yielding to a simpler flow of life

#546 tasty red lentil and butternut squash soup made by my firstborn

#547 dinner with extended families

#548 steady progress in the physical and cognitive development of a special girl

#549 clarity regarding a dilemma

#550 guidance from the One who shepherds

#551 a warm home during the cold weather

#552 a heart made alive

#553 Scrabble games with my husband

#554 phone calls from Florida

#555 hope - I am never ashamed of my hope in God

#556 learning to do the next thing when I am overwhelmed

#557 flexibility to accept a last minute dinner invitation

#558 fresh coats of paint on the walls

#559 writing letters and notes to friends

#560 grace to listen

My thankful heart joins many others at the Gratitude Community

holy experience

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Putting My Foot Down

The news passed me by; the conversation was closed until I happened to ask a question.  Oh well, no  big deal or so I thought.

The familiar feeling of rejection washed over me like a cold wind. 

Thoughts swirled out of control like leaves dancing in the wind.

"Did I say something wrong?"

"Maybe I did not reach out to connect often enough."

Then, I remembered what I learned long ago as a new bride: When thoughts swirl out of control, I can put my foot down, just the way I put my foot down on the playground while going round and round and  round on the merry  go round. 

The swirling stops when I out my foot down.

When I put my foot down, I determine where the thoughts go and how long they linger.

What does it look like to put my foot down?  I give thanks to God!
O Lord, you are my God; I will exalt you and praise your name, for in perfect faithfulness you have done marvelous things, things planned so long ago.  Isaiah 25:1
Today, I give thanks for:

#511 my mother's eagerness to share recipes

#512 rice pudding (Mama's recipe) warm from the oven

#513 standing in the kitchen chatting with my daughter who cooks.very.well

#514 learning cooking tips from my daughter

#515 speaking with my son after his work assignment

#516 learning grilling tips from my son

#517 dreaming with my husband

#518 candles that give fragrance and light

#518 the Light that gives joy and strength

#519 grace to be and to do

#520 walking to the mailbox with the late autumn sun beaming on my face

#521 teaching a young friend to make chili, then sharing the meal together

#522 pretty purple pansies standing tall in the container

#523 thought-stopping tools

#524 warm and fragrant apple cake fresh from the oven

#525 newly organized desk

#526 sitting in the stands with my husband watching college basketball

#527 quick recovery from disappointment

#528 dinner with a dear friend

#529 visiting with two pastors who positively influenced my life over the years

#530 celebrating John's life with his family and friends

#531 growing in giving thanks

#532 generations: family by birth, family by marriage, and family made by love

#533 songs of freedom; songs of deliverance

#534 His mercy; His faithfulness

#535 His Word - fresh daily bread

#536 BSF and friends (YC, Debbie, Stephani) who shared this resource with me

#537 encouragement received and given

#538 understanding and wisdom from my husband

#539 long neighborhood walks

#540 Ann's encouragement to be thankful.always

Happy Thanks!

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Walk this Way

Over the years, my mother's solid and purposeful footsteps formed an indelible memory in my mind.  I enjoyed walks with her when I was young...walking to a bus stop, a store...

My mother's footsteps - rapid and firm - have changed only slightly in her latter years.

I visited my mother last week.  She appeared at the front door of her apartment as I approached.  She smiled as she said: "I heard your footsteps; they sound just like mine."

My daughter visited Grandma today.  As she approached the apartment, Grandma opened the door and said: "Oh, I heard your footsteps.  You walk just like me and just like your mother."

In recent weeks, my mother's steps have slowed considerably.  My heart deeply feels that change. 

At the end of our phone call today, Mama said: "Pray for me." 

I whispered: "I do, Mama; I do."

Thank you, Lord, that my mother taught me to walk this way.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Thoughts on Falling Leaves

I stood outside this morning watching leaves fall from multi-colored trees. The  briskly blowing wind hastened the free fall of leaves.  

The beauty of vibrant hues on once green leaves evokes deep memories of:
  • losing a house key while walking home from elementary school; I searched for  the key in piles of leaves well until after the sun went down
  • walking through leaves on my high school grounds on the way to the bus stop for the long.ride.home.
  • attending leaf raking parties in the fall at the Lambs' home with plentiful leaves, chili, friends, and fun
  • kicking through leaves while traveling from one class to the next on the college campus
  • watching my children jumping into tall piles of leaves in the back yard after raking with mom and dad
  • knowing that falling leaves heralds a season of preparation
What do falling leaves bring to your memory?

Falling leaves also remind me of fallen seeds.  My friend John died last week. He taught me, taught many about God as our Father and us as God's sons. The lessons learned and applied transformed my life. I thank God for John's life; he planted many seeds.  I pray for comfort for John's wife, children, and grandchildren.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Forgiving is For Giving

As a teen, I learned that I could shrink my heart by holding a grudge. 

It started when I confided in a friend; told her what I could hardly tell myself.

I noticed that I felt relieved by releasing my secret.

Then it happened.  As I stood speaking with the pastor at the back of the church, he asked me about the very thing I had kept from every  I stammered low and hurried away from his presence - heart beating fast, tears streaming down, anger welling up and tumbling out faster than I could run.

When I saw her later, I couldn't wouldn't speak.  She asked what was wrong.  I asked her how she could betray my confidence.  We stopped being friends.

Forgiveness seemed to me a strange response for someone who hurt me so.  But as I saw her laughing with her I wandered lonely through the halls, the truth slowly unfurled: I could not find joy because I shrank my heart.  In my attempt to protect myself from hurt, I locked out the very gift given freely to me - forgiveness.
Like a victim of a spiritual stroke or heart attack, I haven't let my mind be as Christ's or my heart beat as  His.  I missed giving in His order of gracious largeness of heart.  Jack Hayford
How can I not give what has been freely given to me?  I know what God has forgiven in my life.  I am grateful.  My gratitude is shown by imitating Him.

Over time, I have learned to give forgiveness because forgiving is for giving. The lessons came hard; the lessons came steadily. I am grateful for Love that gives and forgives.
For if you forgive  men when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you.  But if you do not forgive men their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins.  Matthew 6:14-15
How do you give?

You may want to visit with Ann for Walk with Him Wednesday

holy experience

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Developing Negatives

Kelly found her sweet spot through photography.

I discovered photography during my senior year of high school.  No one and nothing was safe whenever I was near with my camera.  Not the dog (wish I still had the photos), not the family, not even the flowers by the fence.

During that high school photography course, I learned to develop black and white film.  The slowly emerging pictures took me by surprise.  My teacher taught that once you really learned the skill of photography, you could envision the final product even before it appeared in the darkroom.

So it is with the Lord, Master Creator.  He envisioned who I would be well before I was developed.  I am grateful that my negatives (character flaws, self-pleasing bent, self-righteous, and more) were washed in His developing bath.  Salvation comes from the Lord.

I am grateful; I am still developing.  Thank you, Lord.

For we are God's workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.  Ephesians 2:10

Monday, November 8, 2010

10 Steps into Joy

Since the calendar moved forward to November, whispers of gratitude echo in my senses.  The whispers multiplied this month, in part because I gave myself space to see, smell, hear, touch, and taste His goodness.

Steps to deeper joy begin with one word of thanks.  Gratitude grows; joy takes hold; I am transformed, and so I go step by step into joy through the doorway of thanksgiving.

Step # 501: thankful to have legs and arms that still dance for Him

Step # 502: grateful for the crock pot that cooks while I'm out of the home

Step # 503: deeply inhaling the fragrance of scallion and jalapeno embellished cornbread fresh from the oven

Step # 504: thankful for ears to hear mother's heart as she bares her soul

Step # 505: grateful for the sure, strong, loving touch of my husband's hands
Step # 506: eyes dance with appreciation for the beauty of the earth

Step # 507: taste buds drool with delight bite after bite of golden delicious treat

Step # 508: lips pour out gratitude for life, salvation, grace, mercy...

Step # 509: thankful for growth that continues - He will complete the work

Step # 510: believing, receiving, giving Love's love

Steps into joy begin with my heart of thanks.  You may want to step over to Ann's place to share your gratitude list today.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Breath of Freedom

In days before I understood
I held onto guilt; I  thought I should
keep myself wrapped in guilt's warm cocoon;
that's what the law taught me to do.

But, o happy day, when grace I knew!
Repentance allowed the light to breathe through
my tightly wound and bound core;
until like a butterfly, now I soar!

Join the crowd at the Faith Barista Jam.