"What He ordains for us each moment is what is most holy, best, and most divine for us." Jean-Pierre de Caussade

Tuesday, July 31, 2012

A Cup Overflowing, 81-100

It is written, “That you have not yet died is not sufficient proof that you’re alive.  Aliveness is measured by degrees of awareness.” Could it be that I barely lived my first 50 years due to lack of awareness?  Am I just now waking up?  Heaven forbid I miss the next 50!  Therefore, I count….

#81  dancing with a grandbaby  -- His little body immediately responds to music!  Oh, that my inner self would be so alive…

#82  blood kin – it runs thick

#83  Jerry Rogers’ life

#84  the reality of 2 Corinthians 1:4

#85  high school friends come to Jesus

#86  much needed rest

#87  late night global communication – Relatively speaking, it wasn’t that long ago when a mother would send her child off in a covered wagon or a sea sailing vessel most likely never to see him or her again.  Thankful for technology…

#88  the way a piano string sings – Concerning the musical instruments, David said, “I made [them] for giving praise” 1 Chronicles 23:5. 

#89  saying goodbye

#90  Sunday morning sinus pressure/headache – that the power of Christ may rest (tabernacle) upon me (2 Cor. 12:9)

#91  anointing

#92  little hands making heavenly music

#93  the orchestral sound of cicadas

#94  morning fire emboldening agatized coral  -- Moses ... Elijah ... GLORY

#95  that God delights in showing clemency

#96  the sound of a summer afternoon rain – complete with thunder

#97  a plane landed ... a daddy home

#98  covenant prisms of light falling across my bed – His mercies are new every morning

#99  for the shepherds in my life who feed me with knowledge and understanding

#100  the assurance that God is

Just an ordinary moment full of grace ...

Monday, July 30, 2012

How to Pray for a Grandson

Long before owls were so popular and the image found on anything from notepads to wrapping paper, my daughter-in-love was given this particular bird as a prophetic word.  And it had everything to do with having a baby.  Thus, “Little Hoot” was conceived and born, quite literally.

It should be of no surprise then that when my husband and I attended the Birds of Prey show at Callaway Gardens a few weeks ago that I was truly excited to learn that the featured bird was the owl.  Preliminary reading had already told me that all raptors have three distinguishing characteristics. 

1)      They all have sharp talons

2)      Their beaks are curved and pointed

3)      They are carnivorous

But of the birds of prey, the owls have three characteristics that set them apart from all the other raptors.

1)      Their keen eyesight

2)      Their acute sense of hearing

3)      Their silent flight

Probably the most striking of all his features is his eyes.  It’s what gives him his “wise” appearance.  They are large and forward facing and may account to up to five percent of the creature’s body weight.  If you or I had the same eye to head proportions that owls have, our eyes would be as big as grapefruits!  And because of the excess rod cells in his retina, he can literally see in the dark.  In fact, all an owl needs to see at night is the light from two stars.  And see he does: ten times greater than you or I, with great telescopic vision.  However, unlike human eyes, the owl’s eyes are stationary, therefore he cannot "roll" or move his eyes – in other words, he can only look straight ahead!  To compensate for this, owls are able to turn their heads around approximately 270 degrees, or about three quarters in each direction, giving the appearance that they can turn their heads all the way around.   

But next to their keen eyesight is their tremendous sense of hearing.  The eyes are in the middle of a disk of feathers, which are highly specialized sound conductors. The owl can flex these facial disks, channeling sound waves to the ears to catch even the faintest of sounds.  On top of that, an owl’s ears are asymmetrically placed.  That is, the right external ear canal may be a different shape than the left external ear canal and each could be located higher or lower on the side of the head. The naturalist giving the show suggested we take two empty toilet paper rolls, place each to an ear and point them in different directions.  (I suggest doing this at night when the neighbors have all gone to bed.)  This design enhances hearing depth perception. 

And lastly, the owl’s ability for silent flight sets it apart from all other birds of prey.  Two different feathers were passed around at the demonstration that afternoon.  One was a hawk’s; the other an owl’s.  No doubt the intricate feather structure of the leading edge of the owl’s wings enables him to fly noiselessly.  As air passes over the feathers, the sound wave is minimized and the sound level of the flapping is reduced to almost nothing.  What a great advantage to approaching its prey.  No wonder the great horned owl is called the “tiger of the air”!

So what does all this have to do with praying for my grandson? 

Everything.  Absolutely everything!

That's why, when I heard of the solid trust you have in the Master Jesus and your outpouring of love to all the followers of Jesus, I couldn't stop thanking God for you—every time I prayed, I'd think of you and give thanks. But I do more than thank. I ask—ask the God of our Master, Jesus Christ, the God of glory—to make you intelligent and discerning in knowing him personally, your eyes focused and clear, so that you can see exactly what it is he is calling you to do, grasp the immensity of this glorious way of life he has for his followers, oh, the utter extravagance of his work in us who trust him—endless energy, boundless strength!

Ephesians 1:15-19

Just an ordinary moment…

Thursday, July 26, 2012

A Cup Overflowing, 61-80

In The Life of the Beloved, Henri Nouwen writes, “Gratitude is the most fruitful way of deepening your consciousness that you are a divine choice.”  Could it be that God really, REALLY loves me … and you, and therefore chooses us, and that all this gift-giving is just a result of His passionate pursuit of us?  How will you respond to His pursuit? 

#61  personal temperaments -- they allow me to practice self-control

#62  hard seasons -- for they mold and make me

#63  a good, old-fashioned afternoon nap on the porch

#64  castaway bottles that now color my world -- when I awoke these caught my attention and the sight brought me joy.  It was gift in simple form.

#65  love the 2nd time around – Her birth certificate says 70.  Her heart says 16.

#66  sweaty hugs

#67  answered prayer

#68  identical twin brothers singing in the park

#69  dreams that bring loved ones in faraway places near

#70  a long distanced phone call and a warm familiar voice

#71  patterns of approaching rain on a hot summer day -- as a new bride, my husband taught me how to see falling rain.  I never want to stop looking...

#72  a season of Sunday morning rests

#73  Camp GG 2012 – That stands for Camp Geezer and G-Nan, and I could have written a thousand gifts on this one alone as our grandson came to spend the week with us.  Nothing brings greater joy...

#74  Priceless art
One for Mommy

And one for daddy
#75  numerous facial expressions that absolutely melt this heart of mine

He loves to "swim"

He loves to eat -- especially frozen yogurt with Geezer

He loves bath time and bubbles

#76  saying goodbye to the dead who now live -- a neighbor across the street while I was growing up and 2 days later, a cousin.

#77  Scotland – One of my sons spent 2 weeks there ministering to young boys at a camp.  To read the miracles taking place gave "Holy Ghost" bumps to this mother.

#78  weariness at night -- for it means I have lived the day

#79  moments with the elder son – I love it when he calls and says, "Hey, watcha doin'?"

#80  memories of Camp GG -- sigh

Just an ordinary moment filled with gratitude...

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

A Resounding Yes

When my grandson came to stay a few days last week, I found that his vocabulary had increased exponentially since the last time I had seen him.  “Bubbles,” “shoes,” and “ball” were just a few of his new verbal expressions.  And, of course, the all-powerful “no.”  Being a very active little 16 month old, I can only imagine why this particular word would be so familiar to him.  “No, Jude, that’s hot.”  “No, Jude, that’s Daddy’s.”  “No, Jude, you can’t play in the water right now.”  “No, Jude, don’t hit Maddie” (the dog), etc.  And certainly nothing is uncommon about any of those expressions to a child.  That is, after all, one of the ways a child learns.  And quite honestly, I couldn’t help but grin a little bit when he would run from me while shaking his head and saying, “No!”  At least for now, it’s still cute.

But at times as he would shake his head “no,” I would nod my head and say, “Yes, that’s pretty; but it belongs to G-Nan and it might break if we play with it.”  He would look at me and try to mimic the head motion that went up and down, but it just seemed too difficult and he would revert back to the shaking “no” movement – and smile.  The silly goose…

You’ve got to admit that an unqualified “Yes” is hard sell, not only to small children but to us adults as well.  Why is that?  Maybe it's because it takes such a leap of faith to say “yes.”  It means to risk in new and scary ways – and very often that risk involves relationships.  Think of a young woman with a man before her on his knee.  But as the Oscar Meyer commercial says about its new bacon, “In a world of no it’s nice to say yes.”  And that’s exactly what God did in Jesus Christ.  He risked it all and shouted a reverberating, “Yes!”

For Jesus Christ, the Son of God, is God's ultimate "Yes."  
He always does what he says. For all of God's promises
have been fulfilled in Christ with a resounding "Yes!"
And through Christ, our "Amen" (which means "Yes")
ascends to God for his glory (2 Cor. 1:20).

Thursday, July 12, 2012

A Cup Overflowing, 44-60

I recently heard singer/songwrite Shaun Groves say, "Stopping to say thank you is one of the most powerful prayers we can pray."  So will you pause a moment and pray with me as I continue with my list of 1000 gifts?  And in the meantime, maybe you can find reason to pray your own words of graitude as well.

#44 His voice spoken through a friend – After writing my first “cup overflowing” blog last week, I thought, “That is so stupid.  Who wants to hear or read that?”; and my intention was to ‘delete’ the entire thing. But before I could make it back to my computer, my sweet friend Julie Sheehan sent me a most encouraging note.  Thanks, Julie. I love you...

#45  an early-bird special – 4 female cardinals having breakfast on the feeder just outside my window...

#46  the most darling 16-month old this grandmother has ever laid her eyes upon

#47  that Jesus looks upon me favorably – not because I’m righteous, but because I know I’m a sinner in need (Matthew 9:9-13)...

#48  two of the funniest young women I know -- they bring so much joy to this mother ...

#49  a facial -- Yes! (finally cashing in on that Valentine’s GIFT)

#50  a spontaneous overnight road trip with my man

#51  tasting fresh jam at the farmer’s market -- it made my tastebuds sing (I bought 5 jars to bring home so I could prolong the song!) ...

#52  swinging on the beach and watching the children play

#53  reading about new wine in fresh wineskins to the tune of flowing water

#54  having breakfast with a little chipmunk -- Yes, sometimes I feel God just goes out of His way to give grace and glory.  For my entire breakfast, this little fellow played and scavaged right outside the window where I was sitting.  Only a pane of glass separated us...

#55  feeling the mighty force of wind from a hawk in flight -- the raptor exhibition and show at Callaway Gardens was thrilling! 

#56  my husband’s humor – I'm always finding my magnetic wall calendar set to his birthday; makes me laugh every time ...

#57  to serve in a place that raises Godly children who grow up to serve the Lord in full time ministry  -- may the Lord bless you, Annie Hall...

#58  painful memories – they have a way of keeping me on the path God would have for me right now, and that's a good thing ...

#59  dinner with Carol -- the most soft-spoken and kind missiles launch operator I've ever known.  Actually, she's the ONLY missiles launch operator I've ever known...

#60  morning gerbers that remind me to turn my face toward the rising Son

My cup continues to overflows.  Thank You, Lord.  Amen.

Just an ordinary moment...

Sunday, July 8, 2012

Take Out the Trash

As I was on the way to church this morning, an SUV pulled out in front of me and I noticed something odd on the driver’s side.  At first, I thought it might be clothing caught in the door, but I realized it was way too big for that.  As I got closer, it came into view: a large white trash bag obviously filled with household garbage hanging by its ties on the left rearview mirror.  The driver must have realized it about the time I did, because he quickly pulled off the road, whipped the car around and headed back home.  I couldn’t help but laugh out loud.

Oh, but Lord, have mercy, how many times I have done the exact same thing?  Just carrying my trash wherever I go; putting it out there for the world to see – and defiling up their space in the meantime.  Whether my household garbage is labeled attitude, prejudice, or apathy; vulgarity, grumbling or whining; anxiety, fear, or despair: the truth is trash is trash.  It stinks.  It’s unsightly.  And it needs to be disposed of properly.

Let me tell you why you are here.
You're here to be salt-seasoning that brings out the God-flavors of this earth.
If you lose your saltiness, how will people taste godliness?
You've lost your usefulness and will end up in the garbage.
Matthew 5:13 (The Message)

 Just an ordinary moment…

Thursday, July 5, 2012

A Cup Overflowing, 1-43

It's a daunting task: to commit to naming 1,000 gifts.  {See original posting here.}  But whereas I cannot out give God, I can be diligent in recognizing His bounty and manifold goodness and begin thanking Him properly.  I’ve been keeping a list now for over 2 weeks, so what’s listed in this first log will be longer than what the following weekly entries will contain.

One thing I’ve noticed as I’ve read back over my list is that this journal keeping has become just that: a journal.  I can look back over it and remember my days – which isn’t necessarily a bad thing.  “Teach me to number so I might gain a heart of wisdom…”  Right?

As Ann Voscamp says in her book, One Thousand Gifts, "Time is a relentless river.  It rages on, a respecter of no one."  Her answer to such is to enter time's swift current with full attention and live fully in the moment.  She continues, "And when I'm always looking for the next glimpse of glory, I slow and enter.  And time slows.  Weigh down this moment in time with attention full, and the whole of time's river slows, slows, slows."

Step in the river with me, won't you?  Into the sacrament of the present moment.  My cup overflows -- and I bet yours does, too.

#1  grace – Pure, unadulterated grace.  As I sat on my couch here in the sun room contemplating that one gift – thanking God – as I live and breathe, my next gift “happened.”

#2  two full grown dear sprinting across my back yard.  It was 1 John 1:16 in action!  “From His abundance we have all received one gracious blessing after another.” It was as if God was saying, “You cannot get the upper hand in this thing!” 

#3  heirloom tomatoes on the vine

#4  morning bounty from my garden

#5  busy bees doing their thing

#6  hands clasped at breakfast – heads bowed

#7  a mid-morning snack of frozen cherries

#8  the sudden smell of chocolate

#9  the color of eggplant – so royal

#10  the power-filled testimony of a certain young woman, Julie Sharpe, who I knew and loved so many years ago … and still do  Out of darkness -- into His marvellous light!!!

#11  the life of Mark Smith, a fellow classmate  For him the race is over and the victory won.

#12  morning sanctuary

 #13  leaves piled on a curb

#14  hearing my "children's" band for the first time and watching my sweet daughter-in-love sing “Revelation Song” Oh, my...

#15  the smell of wild ginger  It’s important to listen to what God is saying through each gift.  This one held a special word. Intercessory...

#16  wild turkeys

#17  doing “guy things” with my husband and oldest son

#18  the sound of a waking creation

#19  the cool breeze against my sun-warmed skin

#20  a sanctuary full of excited and talkative teenagers  Life!!!

#21  a Sabbath sunset

#22  a shopping trip with my daddy – and lunch at Firehouse Subs  At 81, he still insists on carrying the packages. Such a gentleman, my dad... 

#23  Cynthia, my college roommate – and God’s continuous work of redemption in her life

#24  the sunrise song of cicadas

#25  enjoying an unusually cool June morning

#26  watching two squirrels at play

#27  celebrating Retha  It was at her feet I sat for my first women's Bible study.  She struck the original match.

#28  an unexpected guest

#29  sitting with my parents on their porch and just being

#30  faithful companions along the Way -- through thick and thin  A chord of 3 is not easily broken.

Me, Vicki and Retha

 #31  the Word incarnate fleshing its way out

#32  a deep drink resulting in a refreshed spirit

#33  to be born in the USA

#34  for all those who have lived and died protecting our freedom

#35  family – and the retelling of stories

#36  for laughter around the dinner table – the kind that makes mascara run

#37  a tired body and a bed in which to fall

#38  morning rays streaming into my bedroom reminding me to open wide the windows of my heart and let Him in

#39  truly tasting for the first time the sweetness of a fresh Georgia peach on the tongue

#40  and Mennonite toast with fresh butter -- for breakfast

#41  a swallowtail sipping nectar

#42  a Swedish body massage Oh, yes, thank You, Jesus!

#43  Angie – a crown of beauty in the hand of the Lord

Thank You, Lord.  My cup overflows.

Just an ordinary moment...

An Attitude of Gratitude

Have you ever been just reading along and all of a sudden something jumps off the page, enters your heart and over a period of time your life becomes unalterably changed?  Such is what happened when I read this passage from Brother David Stendle-Rast’s book, A Listening Heart. 

“… any given moment confronts us with a given reality.  But if it is given, it is gift.  If it is gift, the appropriate response is thanksgiving.  Yet, thanksgiving, where it is genuine, does not primarily look at the gift and express appreciation; it looks at the giver and expresses trust.  The courageous confidence that trusts in the Giver of all gifts is faith.  To give thanks even when we cannot see the goodness of the Giver – to learn this is to find the path to peace of heart.  For happiness is not what makes us grateful.  It is gratefulness that makes us happy.”  If I've read that paragraph once, I've read it a dozen or more times.

Olympian weight lifter Paul Anderson referred to it as “an attitude of gratitude.”  Like joy (in my previous blog entry), I believe it’s a choice.  But it’s also something for which I have prayed for decades.  “Lord, You have given me so much.  I ask for one thing more: a grateful heart.”

It is not surprising that several of the books I am currently reading are dialoguing with one another.  A Listening Heart by Stendle-Rast, One Thousand Gifts by Ann Voscamp, the small devotional book Dear Jesus by Sarah Young, and even a quote on the bottom of a recent email are interacting not only with each other but with me in such a way that I’m not even sure who is who and what is me.  But this I do know, God is calling me to be intentional about recognizing my “given reality” – my ordinary moments, if you will, and giving Him thanks.

And so I’ve taken the challenge of Ann Voscamp and have begun listing my 1,000 gifts.  I’ve chosen to go public via blog with it for two simple reasons.  One, it will hold me to somewhat of an accountability, and two, it’s my prayer that my “attitude” will somehow encourage others to see their given reality for what it is – a gift – and give thanks as well.

As I type just now, I catch a flutter in my periphery.  I look and spot this most beautiful swallowtail feasting outside my window....  Pure gift! 

Please join me in an attitude of gratitude as I journey on “Thankful Thursdays.”

Just an ordinary moment…