Friday, October 31, 2014

Majesty in the Mundane

October 26-Oct 31

Sun/Oct26~3 Gifts Extravagant: 1) God's grace He shows me every single day 2) Dad's ability to preach 4 times today while preaching in 2 supporting churches. He has struggled greatly in adjusting to new medication and this was the best day he's had in a long time. It was a gift to hear him preach with joy and strength. 3) When one of the pastors we'd met yesterday found out Jonathan loved belt buckles, he gave him a beautiful turquoise one. It is a gift to this mama to see someone being so kind to my son. 

Mon/Oct27~ A Gift Humbling, Honoring, Happy: Humbling--John telling me that the advice I gave my dad today was very wise. Honoring--Seeing a family we've worked with for years honor God today even while being persecuted. Happy-- Candles lit in the house at sundown. Some candles are gifts from friends. The crystal candle holders are ones John bought in Germany years ago. When I was taking a picture of the candles, I told Jonathan that I was thinking of these being my 'happy' gifts. He said, "Good. They make me happy, too. " 

Tues/Oct28~ 3 Gifts in Christ: 1) Gift of ministering --I have several friends heavy on my heart that I have talked to quite a bit lately. I seem to be giving wise advice (or so I'm told), but it is not of me, but of Christ in me. When talking to a friend at church tonight over some devastating things that have happened recently, she walked away comforted...This young friend of mine always looks to me for guidance. It's terrifying and humbling. 2) The body of Christ --some pastors, some teachers, some peers ..all who have helped 'shape' me into who I am today; 'all fitly joined together'. 3) His grace-- through all and whatever.

Wed/Oct29~ 3 Gifts on Time: 1) A new morning; a fresh beginning with mercies waiting to be discovered, a reminder of His great faithfulness 2) A new evening always comes, gently reminding me it's time to restore my strength and my soul 3) Refuge and healing
- always on time -in *His* time.
Thurs/Oct30~ 3 Gifts Overjoyed: 1) Jonathan overjoyed abut a new book John brought home for him -always reading, this one 2) Dad overjoyed he doesn't have to increase his pain medication anymore. He's been increasing it by 400 mg each week for 6 weeks. It has wreaked havoc with his body..but the effects are leveling out now. 3) John and Jonathan are able to attend a men's conference this weekend. Good father/son time 

Fri/Oct31~ 3 Gift Hallowed: 1)  Motherhood - It is sacred. It is humbling. I am blessed. 2)  Close friendships born out of suffering 3)  Our family time at the dinner table

Monday, October 27, 2014

When Thanksgiving Is Your Default

October 19-25
Keeping up with the graces...

"When thanksgiving is your default — the enemy gets his defeat.
You defeat your dark when thanksgiving is your default.
Anything I have, I don’t deserve.
Everything I have isn’t a given — it’s given.
Nothing is a given — everything’s a gift."
-Ann Voskamp

Sun/Oct19~ 3 Gifts Unexpected: 1) Being John's hero today in finding his lost cell phone case. We've looked for days..found it in an unexpected place. It's not everyday I truly feel like a hero. LOL 2) I count it a gift that I had the energy to exercise tonight..all by myself. I normally like an exercise partner and my dad and I have been walking
together in the mornings. Energy is a gift. I've had very little in the last few years. I feel good. 3) My friend Cherie, who posted the cross picture on Facebook, personally sent this to me 'r' for Rebecca. I might print it out and frame it. (I edited it a bit.) I love it. 

Mon/Oct20~ 3 Gifts Unconventional: 1) Color- It can change your mood, help treat certain diseases, can have an effect on blood pressure, a stress relief, can aid in restful sleep...Amazing! 2) Paper- sticky notes, greeting cards, toilet paper, to-do-lists, printer paper, school paper...3) Ink - in books, magazines, printers..and in different colors! 

Tues/Oct21~ 3 Gifts Undervalued: 1) My ability to 'wow' the guys with homemade dinner. Meatloaf does it every.single.time. 2) The creativity it takes to make a day go smoothly when nothing turns out as planned. 3) The work involved to keep in harmony 3 generations living together. many roles we play in each other's lives. The work is a shows effort. It shows care. And it can lead to sweet fellowship. 

Wed/Oct22~ A Gift Silent, Still, Strong: Silent darkness just before dawn, Still mornings before the rush of school buses and neighborhood work traffic, Strong coffee steaming in my favorite mug

Thurs/Oct23~ 3 Gifts Begun: 1) My day had begun with me feeling rested 2) The evening had begun with the family eating dinner together around the table 3) A work of hope has begun in me since I have started 'counting the graces'. 

Fri/Oct24~ 3 Gifts Accomplished: 1) Christ's finished work on the cross --accomplished for me 2) The week accomplished well by steadily naming the graces--even when it was challening 3) Another cycle of medicine doing it's healing work in Dad's body 

Sat/Oct25~3 Gifts Enjoying: 1)Time with the family away from the house. Dad is preaching in Albq this weekend and can't travel by himself. 2) Dinner at Panera Bread- a rare treat 3) John taking care of me when I had a massive headache. While I was hurting, I still enjoyed feeling looked after and loved.

October Joy Dare Link: 

Sunday, October 19, 2014

For Each New Morning

October 12-18
Counting the graces continued...
For each new morning with its light,
For rest and shelter of the night,
For health and food, for love and friends,
For everything Thy goodness sends.
~Ralph Waldo Emerson
12) Sun/Oct12~ A Gift Small, Smaller, Smallest: SMALL-- group of believers enjoying homemade burritos after church. I love my church family! SMALLER--little ones in front of the church sharing their Bible lesson about Samuel today (so cute they are!) - SMALLEST--that grain of mustard seed faith is some days all I can manage Matthew 17:20--I know Whom I have believed in...and that's why it's enough.

13) Mon/Oct13~ 3 Gifts Read: 1) Favorite book of all time, The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett. I loved it as a child and a friend of mine bought me a copy and sent it to me. It "somehow" landed in Jonathan's library. “Nothing in the world is quite as adorably lovely as a robin when he shows off and they are nearly always doing it.” 2) 1,000 Gifts by Ann Voskamp - "As long as thanks is possible, then joy is always possible." The hunt to live fully...Good book. 3) True statement this; "Life isn't fair... but you can be." 
14) Tues/Oct14~ 3 Gifts Said: 1) "I love you" from all 3 guys 2) "I appreciate you so much" from my dad 3) "Let's grab something to eat on the way home from church so Rebecca doesn't have to cook" -John -Thank you! 
15) Wed/Oct15~ 3 Gifts Re-Read: 1) I re-read the grocery list today to make sure I remembered to write down certain things we need- A gift today because I know we will have money to buy food for the family 2) Note from Christina on my Facebook wall. I've read it several times just to make sure it really was my name she posted on a very nice note. It made me feel special and that our friendship mattered. 3) Note from Tonya- our first American neighbor after living in Juárez for @ 6 years. She was a great wealth of information about living in El Paso and a huge help in watching our dog when we traveled. We had helped her when she had to go to the ER one night, and she had sent an edible bouquet as a 'thank you'. I still have that note. It's in my kitchen on our little bulletin board. I see it every day and I smile.

Thurs/Oct16~ 3 Things Burning: 1) Early morning sun burning gently on our backs during our walk 2) Muscles burning from daily exercise -I'm feeling stronger 3) Fire burning from gas stove cooking our breakfast oatmeal 

Fri/Oct17~3 Gifts Ugly-Beautiful: 1) Dead branches and roses freshly pruned off the bush - New life will emerge with a sweeter scent and with more grandeur than before.  2) Laundry piled high and neglected this week for various reasons -We have more than one set of clothes to wear.  3) Dried and shriveled roses on a shelf in the laundry room -A reminder that my husband had thought of me and had bought me beautiful roses.

Sat/Oct18~ A Gift Shared, Saved, Surrendered:
Shared: My good friend Cherie has been posting on Facebook pictures of crosses she sees while hiking or just in daily life. They are beautiful. She says, "It seems about everywhere I go God delights to show me a "cross" in nature. It's a great reminder of His presence and that no matter what, HE IS WITH ME!" A gift, to be sure. She shared some new pictures of crosses with her friends on Facebook today and the photo is one of my favorites from today.
Saved: My mother's Bible. I believe it was given to me for me for my 16th birthday. It is a gift I treasure. I love to read the notes she wrote on the sides of the yellowed pages.
Surrendered: Time ~ Sometimes it may seem hard to 'find time' for God or to notice His working in me during the day. Yet, isn't it He who gives me time in the first place? Instead of using my time to count my losses, count my disappointments, I choose to count the graces. 

October Joy Dare Link:

Saturday, October 11, 2014

Discovering the Mercies

October 5-11
The unthankful heart... discovers no mercies; but let the thankful heart sweep through the day and, as the magnet finds the iron, so it will find, in every hour, some heavenly blessings! ~Henry Ward Beecher

Sun/Oct5~ 3 Gifts Returned: 1) Family returning favors - not because they feel they ‘owe’, but simply because they care 2) Church members returning to church! Always a blessing 3) E-mails from long distance friends

 Mon/Oct6 - 3 Gifts Redeemed: 1) My life - "O Lord, thou hast pleaded the causes of my soul; thou hast redeemed my life." Lamentations 3:58 2) My time - I say I don't have time for God sometimes (yes, me!), yet I find when I am naming the graces each day, I am using my time to the fullest..and I find the fullest life. 3) The old lamp Dad made in high school. I put a new shade on it and it's been rewired a few times. I love this thing. 

Tues/Oct7~ A Gift Baked, Stirred, Eaten:

Baked - homemade apple cinnamon muffins. We don't eat a lot of bread anymore, and all 3

of my guys are thrilled that I made them. Sweet. 

Stirred - Healthy vegetables cooking on the stove for dinner to go with the roast that had been cooking all day in the crock pot
Eaten - Meals with the family over lively conversation

Wed/Oct8~3 Gifts Prayed For: 1) A home on the US side of the border that would fit all our needs 2) Our safety in Juárez as we travel back and forth 3) Dad's good news on the two MRI's done recently -no sign of Alzheimer's and nothing to indicate he needed back surgery 

Thurs/Oct9~ 3 Gifts Praised For: 1) Lazy days with the family 2) A husband who adores me 3) I actually slept last night. That's a praise, yes it is. 

Fri/Oct10~ 3 Hard Graces/Thanks: 1) Ministry -- Sometimes, I see the reward of helping others. It's taken years to see that what I did mattered. Other times, I wonder why I keep trying to reach someone. Things can look grim. The results aren't up to me, though. My job is to show God's love and I'm thankful for the opportunity. 2) My Mr. Steady Husband --My dad is a dreamer. He's always had tons of plans..some he completes, others are still on the 'to do' list. He likes to dive headlong into a project. My husband, however, is what he refers to as a 'realist'. He takes his time. He evaluates a situation with great care. John is our rock. Our anchor. When I want to rush, he says 'Slow down'. I need him. 3) Stay-at-home Status -- We've never been well off financially. I've often offered to go back to work to help out. John always responds, "No" and we always manage to make it. I am thankful that I have stayed home with Jonathan and homeschooled. It's not always been easy, but it is very rewarding.

Sat/Oct11~ 3 Gifts of Change: 1) Change in homeschool curriculum this year-- Jonathan has always loved learning, yet this year's books sparked an even deeper love of study and level of wisdom. It also made our workload lighter. 2) Change in the air bringing cooler days 3) Change in life's lenses --When I look through eyes of distrust in God's plan, of ungratefulness in life's way, my eyesight is too poor to see that I am, indeed, blessed. When I choose to see through His Word (through truth!)..I see grace. 

October Joy Dare Link:

Saturday, October 4, 2014

'Gratitude Is the Memory of the Heart' -Jean Baptiste Massieu

October 1-4 

1) 3 Gifts Orange: 1) Growing Vincas by the front door all bright and cheerful 2) Sun burning orange on it's way down for the night 3) Pumpkin Pie in a mug for a snack before bed. The pumpkin was given
to us by our neighbor last year. I cooked, pureed, and froze it for a cool evening like this.

2) 3 Gifts Falling: 

1) Dad falling all over himself in excitement over the rose bush we planted last year. He plants roses because Mom liked them and he is delighted when they bloom. He wanted me to cut them and put them in a vase of water so he could look at them while in the living room. 

2) Dog falling in love with John again as she gets some special attention. There's just something special about the unconditional love of a dog

3) Night falling gently around Jonathan and me (and Zap!) during our evening walk 

3) Gifts Caught, Let Go, Mid-Way: Caught- A 'fire' to take better care of my health. I've been going with Dad to his doctor's appointments the last few months. He has trouble remembering what the doctor said, so I go with him to help. Each doctor he has seen has told him he needed to start purposely taking care of his health. He needed to watch his weight, start exercising, and making conscious decisions in living more healthy. The exercising would help him keep his back in shape and would help his brain as well. I feel I need to take better care of myself - not only for my own sake, but so I can keep taking care of the family I love.  I could be complacent and not care, but I choose to take what the doctors had to say to Dad as advice for myself and honor God with what He's given me. Let Go- In the recording of graces, in taking note of the gifts God has already given me in the day, I find that I'm letting go of anxiety. I have all I need. I am blessed. Mid-Way- Control! I love a well-structured day, yes I do. My days have been nothing like the well ordered day I imagined the night before. Dad's doctor appointments change, plans change for running errands, homeschooling gets put on the back burner...and I don't get the things done I want to get done. I'm working on being flexible and trying to not be so bent on having things done according the the time line in my head.

4) 3 Gift Reaped: 1) Child Training - We always trained our son with the mindset that he wasn't always going to be little. We had visions of him being a responsible adult; one that was helpful, respectful, trustworthy, and kind. He is all those things and
more. In the craziness of changes in our lives in ministry and in my dad's health care, Jonathan is even-keeled and is a treasure to have around. I can trust him to get his school work done when I'm gone all day with my dad. I can depend on him to get his chores done without having to check to see if they were completed. He's 18 years old and my role as a trainer is about over. I pray we have done what we were called to do in parenting him. 

2) True Friendship - Mary is a gift. I remember the rough years, the beginning of our friendship. She was broken and in need of a friend.  Now 9 years later, she and Luis are in the ministry and teaching their children to serve God. This picture is an old one and I keep it framed where I can see it. This was taken on
the day of their wedding in 2009. They had lived together for several years and were ready to make things right before God and be married. I am so grateful for taking the time to reach out to her..the rewards of investing in this young lady has been a delight to our family.

Finding God - Jeremiah 29:13 says,"And ye shall seek me and find me, when ye shall search for me with all your heart." When I dutifully look for His grace each day..praising him for that which He has already provided, it brings contentment- not because I have, but because He is. 

"'Gratitude is the memory of the heart'..but gratitude is not only the memories of our heart; gratitude is a memory of God's heart and to thank is to remember God." -from the book, One Thousand Gifts by Ann Voskamp

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

30 Days Hath September ~ Continued

September Graces Day by Day
*Days 16-30*

16) 3 Gifts Shared:  1) Mom and son breakfast omelets just the way we like them! 2) Conversation with an animated sweet 4 year old little friend, 3) and a tender moment
watching these 2 buddies 'hang out' before church. Why they are sitting on the side of the road...I'm not quite sure. 

17) 3 Gifts 'Ugly-Beautiful': 1) Kitchen sink full of dirty dishes - we had food today and I have a family to share it with 2) Bookshelves overflowing with books, rocks, bottles, shells, and memories of fun places -the boy loves learning and his life is rich and full 3) Scars -whether they be emotional, spiritual, or physical, scars are a sign of healing. 

18) A Gift Fixed, Folded, Freckled: Fixed --My eternity is fixed in Heaven ..saved by grace...through faith..not of is the gift of God (Ephesians 2:8); Folded--freshly washed and dried towels folded by Jonathan; Freckled -- our sweet red heeler dog, Zap, who was rescued from the pound a year ago. She's fun to walk with, never
unnecessarily (even when chased by poodles-on-the-loose during a walk), always ready to love and be loved. She brought joy to Jonathan's heart after his other 2 dogs went missing. He was heartbroken. They both needed a friend. She is a treasure.
19) 3 Gifts in Conversation: 1) Gift of honesty in conversation from teenage son struggling with a decision. It shows maturity in how he relates to new ideas. 2) Gift of gratitude in conversation with Dad when I made him a bologna sandwich for lunch when he wasn't feeling well. 3) Gift of cooperation in conversation from John when I wanted to move furniture and bookshelves (and desks, and books, and beds) around - something I've been wanting to do for awhile. Normally, Dad is the one who is all for helping me. John listened to what I wished to be done, and it was done. 

20)  3 Gifts in Salvation: 1) Redemption (Ephesians 1:7 & Colossians 1:14) 2) Justification (Romans 5:1), 3) Eternal security in Heaven (I John 5:11-13)

21) 3 Gifts in Information: From this morning's message -John 6: the feeding of the 5,000 

 1) vs. 5, 6 .. "When Jesus then lifted up his eyes, and saw a great company come unto him, he saith unto Philip, Whence shall we buy bread, that these may eat? And this he said to prove him: for he himself knew what he would do." Nothing occurs to God. Not the fact that the disciples didn't have enough money to buy food for the multitude. Not the fact that the lad didn't have enough food to feed everyone. Nor did they have the power to make it happen. Maybe..just maybe...our faith is tested sometimes so He can prove us..because He already knows how it will all work out. He has a plan.

 2) Faith comes before the miracle. - Jesus told the disciples to make the multitude sit. They had seen first hand the miracles He did on the diseased and were most likely expecting something more..possibly for themselves personally. My take on it is that they, in expectation, sat believing they would see something special. Faith came before the miracle of the distribution of the 5 loaves and 2 fishes among the crowd. They were fed so much and were so full, that there were leftovers. Faith comes first. If we do not believe God can work in our lives and show Himself to be who He says he is, we miss out on any working on our behalf. When I feel God is not working in me, have I had the faith that he would?
Lord, help my unbelief.

3) vs 12, Jesus says, 'Gather up the fragments that remain, that nothing be lost'. Though He was talking about loaves and fish, the thought occurred to me that it's that way with our lives as well. He can gather up the fragments of a broken life and use it ..that nothing be lost. Amen

22)  A Gift Rattling, Receding, Reclaiming: Rattling - Rattling rain against window panes, Receding- The heat of summer receding and giving way to a cooler season; Reclaiming - Reclaiming joy by naming the graces in each day

23)   3 Gifts Quiet: 1) Quiet, peaceful mornings 2) Quiet companionship while we clean up after meals 3)Quiet strength in my sweet steady husband   

3 Gifts Funny: 1) Listening to our mission director and my dad swap missionary stories during breakfast ..mishaps, language barriers, food stories...2) Jonathan has been using push pencils with the refillable lead. Every time he got 'lead' on his hands, he HAD to go wash them. I just thought it was part of the 'fetish' he had about having clean hands. Today, John and Jonathan were working on math and Jonathan's pencil ran out of lead. John asked about the lead being changed because Jonathan seemed hesitant to touch it. ...because he thought he would get LEAD POISONING!! John explained that it was GRAPHITE not lead. He was quite relieved. We had a good laugh over it. And Jonathan wants to know why they call it lead, then. 3) Dad singing Hank Williams songs on the way to church. What inspired him, I don't know..but we were having a good time listening...

25) 3 Gifts Finished: 1) The finished work of Jesus Christ on the cross. For salvation, for grace, He paid it all..."I have glorified thee on the earth: I have finished the work which thou gavest me to do." John 17:4 2) A few finished school lessons on a busy day. 3) The day's work. Time to rest.

26) 3 Gifts Flourishing: 1) Child of mine 2) Backyard life 3) Children in church

27) A Gift Unexpected, Uneven, Unpopular - Unexpected; This week, our director is visiting and he had told us he wanted to take out all out to eat while he was here, which was unexpected. We enjoyed our lunch with him and took our time being out. (Then came home and took a nap!) Uneven - My body is uneven in many places. While I could gripe about it, I choose to show grace to myself and be thankful that I have the choice to take better care of myself. I am not terminally ill. I am not confined to a bed or a wheelchair. When I get to a place of discontentment, I need to change my perspective. Unpopular - John said he was my 'unpopular gift'. Ha.

28) 3 Gifts Shy: 1) Shy smiles from 4 yr old Vania who takes awhile to warm up to people 2) Shy handshakes between visiting teenagers and our own 3) Shy Martina who doesn't know how special she really is

29) 3 Gifts Shelved: 1)Well read and loved books in almost every room of the house 2) China plates that were my mother-in-laws shelved in a hutch John's grandfather made 3) Sun's morning shadow

30) 3 Gifts Shining: 1) My engagement ring that I don't wear too often anymore. I don't wear it over the border for safety reasons, but I love it just the same as I did when John gave it to me. 2) A silver bracelet Jonathan bought me from the market in Juárez one year for my birthday. I wore it tonight to church and he was excited to see that I was wearing it. 3)Kayla's eyes when she smiles. She likes to share with me what's in her purse and she loves that we both wear lipstick.