November 20, 2011

Living Loved

"I am pleased with you, my child.  Allow yourself to become fully aware of My pleasure shining upon you.  Shift your focus from your performance to My radiant Presence.  The Light of My Love shines on you continually, regardless of your feelings or behavior.  Your responsibility is to be receptive to this unconditional Love.  Thankfulness and trust are your primary receptors." Excerpt from Jesus Calling by Sarah Young

As I learn to live in gratitude I am learning to live loved. 

To live fully embraced in the arms of God. 

And I am realizing that the days I neglect thankfulness are the ones I most easily forget or even resist God's favor toward me. 

Today, my prayer is that my heart would be inclined to thanksgiving in all things, a mind set on His favor, and a body resisting the urge to perform.

November 9, 2011

The Heavens

Look up. 

Look into the sky on a clear night, out of the glare of streetlights, and you will see a few thousand individual stars with your naked eyes. With even a modest amateur telescope, millions more will come into view. 

So how many stars are there in the Universe?

It is easy to ask this question, but difficult for scientists to give a fair answer! 

Stars are not scattered randomly through space, they are gathered together into vast groups known as galaxies. The Sun belongs to a galaxy called the Milky Way. Astronomers estimate there are about 100 thousand million stars in the Milky Way alone. Outside that, there are millions upon millions of other galaxies also!  From ESA Space Science website.

God made EVERY one.

DAY NINE

The GREATNESS of God displayed in the sky!  The SKY, SUN, MOON, & STARS.

The heavens declare the glory of God,
   and the sky above proclaims his handiwork.
Day to day pours out speech,
   and night to night reveals knowledge.
There is no speech, nor are there words,
   whose voice is not heard.
Their voice goes out through all the earth,
   and their words to the end of the world.
In them he has set a tent for the sun,
  which comes out like a bridegroom leaving his chamber,
   and, like a strong man, runs its course with joy.
Its rising is from the end of the heavens,
   and its circuit to the end of them,
   and there is nothing hidden from its heat.
Psalm 19:1-6

Today, I wanted to help Avery in thankfulness for the sun. 
We made "sun prints."
Neat to see what the sun can do.


Tonight, I walked out into our backyard and was stopped in my tracks by the light of the moon.  It was stunning and I had to stop.

I felt like I could touch it.  I thought about running to grab my camera and stopped.  I merely needed to savor it.  And worship the Lord.

Gazing at the glowing orb I thought of Psalm 19.  "Night after night it displays knowledge."  And I was struck to the core.  I was catching a glimpse into the mind of God.  Looking up is like reading a great novel.  God writing of His love, creativity, and kindness toward His people.

It was beautiful.  A moment of gratitude.  And God spoke His knowledge to me.

"Rachel, I know you.  And I will take care of you."

God's grace.

November 8, 2011

Mountains, Plants, & Trees

DAY EIGHT 

I lift up my eyes to the hills.
   From where does my help come?
  My help comes from the LORD,
   who made heaven and earth.
Psalm 121:1-2

I walk out my front door, turning my head to the left, and behold something full of majesty.  There is something about these mountains that takes my breathe away.

If a glance to "the hills" reminds us of where our "help comes from" I ought to look to the west more often.  These beautiful hills that speak of the power and perfection of God.

I searched to answer the question:  How many mountains are there in the world?  Here is what I found over and over again:  Tens of thousands of them, there are also ones under the sea that we can't count, and also there are ones that haven't been found out yet. So no one knows how many mountains there are in the world.

Again, I searched some more:  How many trees are there in the world?  The actual number of trees on the planet is, of course, incalculable. Here are some related facts that might assist:  Today there are approximately 100,000 known species of trees that exist throughout the world, according to World Resources Institute. 

What about plants?  It's impossible to know how many total plants there are in the world, but we do know that there are over 375,000 different species of plants and scientists discover new plants each year.

 I can think of someone who knows.
And He knows me too.
Awesome.


November 7, 2011

Who Is My Neighbor?

DAY SEVEN... We are thankful for our neighbors.
 
Let no one seek his own good, but the good of his neighbor. 
1 Corinthians 10:24

Who is my neighbor?

Anyone who is not me.

Avery and I baked Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Bread to bring to a few of our neighbors today.  Six loaves as a tangible way to tell someone we are thankful for them.

I felt challenged to be thankful for some of our neighbors.  Neighbors who, in my opinion, were undeserving of my love.  How arrogant of me to place myself in a position of authority to decide who is deserving of love and who is not.

Our family walked to six houses.  As we walked, Jesus was gracious to speak loving words of His favor given to me... an undeserving woman.  And so I choose gratitude for all of my neighbors. 

Those who are easy to love.
Those who are hard to love.

And what a blessing to step outside myself to love another.  Watching my big girl knock on door after door and say, "we are thankful for you today!" 

I am humbled and grateful.





November 6, 2011

Filling The Hungry

DAY SIX

BITE.  BREAD.  CHOW.  CUISINE.  DRINK.  EATS.  ENTREE.  FARE.  FEED.  GOODIES.  GRUB.  MEAL.  FEAST.  NOURISHMENT.  PROVISION.  RATION.  SLOP.  SNACK.  TAKE OUT.   EDIBLES.  NOSH.


Whatever you want to call it.

THANK YOU God for the FOOD you has provided us to eat and enjoy!

With every bite we took today, we thanked God.  

Let them thank the LORD for his steadfast love,
   for his wondrous works to the children of man!
For he satisfies the longing soul,
   and the hungry soul he fills with good things.
Psalm 107:8-9

Food is a gift.  A good gift.  A gift I never want to take for granted.

Food may fill our stomachs to bring satisfaction, but Christ fills our souls bringing a deeper contentment.  May I hunger for Him more than the food I eat.

I'm still very thankful for that food.  Don't get me wrong.

























I worshipped God as I ate today...  Here's my lunch.
Green chili turkey burgers topped with feta and spinach.
Cucumber and tomato salad with green onions, feta, olive oil, and salt & pepper.
YUM.

November 5, 2011

Winter Hats

144.  Winter hats pulled low over brown eyes

145.  Homemade cashew butter
146.  A loyal and faithful husband
147.  Friendships that endure the years
148.  Memories that make me smile
149.  Bedtime dance parties
150.  Dancing with my husband
151.  Playing a game with my husband
152.  Breakfast in a greasy diner with a good friend

Marvelously Made

Often times a difficult thing for me to give thanks for... my body.

More commonly I am in a place of dissatisfaction with it.

It's not healthy.
It doesn't work like it used to.
It is too squishy in places... ha!
It is too short.
It is too slow.
It is in pain.
It is not pretty.

And then I remember.  I was not made for this world, but a place entirely different and infinitely better.  And in the remembering I can enter gratitude because God did make me.  He did fashion me with purpose and intention.  He made something He looks at and says, "beautiful."

I walked through this DAY FIVE... thankful for that which I often take for granted.

And I had Avery and Madi lay down on big pieces of paper where we outlined their bodies and colored them in, thanking God as we went for every part.  A sweet time.

Thank you God for my BODY.

Oh yes, you shaped me first inside, then out;
      you formed me in my mother's womb.
   I thank you, High God—you're breathtaking!
      Body and soul, I am marvelously made!

      I worship in adoration—what a creation!
   You know me inside and out,
      you know every bone in my body;
   You know exactly how I was made, bit by bit,
      how I was sculpted from nothing into something.
   Like an open book, you watched me grow from conception to birth;
      all the stages of my life were spread out before you,
   The days of my life all prepared
      before I'd even lived one day. 
Psalm 139:13-16 (MSG)

November 4, 2011

Friends

DAY FOUR... 
I couldn't stop thanking God for you—every time I prayed, I'd think of you and give thanks. 
Ephesians 1:16 (MSG)

I woke up this morning thankful for my friends.

"The most beautiful discovery that true friends can make is that they can grow separately without growing apart."
~ Elizabeth Foley ~
It felt most appropriate to write "thankful for you" notes to let these women know how much they have blessed my life.  Beyond words.
Friends from college who know the junk of my life and love me still
Friends from staff who spur me to live intentionally
Friends from church who show me how to love Jesus right where I am
Friends whom I have mentored who humble me by their lives of faith

I started writing and the names just kept coming.  The pile of cards kept growing.  Woman after woman who have greatly impacted my life.

Thank you for letting God use you to change me.

I love you.

November 3, 2011

In All Circumstances

"Give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God's will for you in Christ Jesus."
1 Thessalonians 5:18

How do I give thanks in all circumstances?  Really... all.

When a friend has to bury a child.
When those we love can't find jobs.
When marriages struggle to endure thru conflict.
When your heart is wounded by hurtful words.
When your body stops working like it once did.
When life bears down on you hard.

I posed this question last night after a tough day.  I was struck with the reality of the nearness of Christ in all things, at all times.  And wasn't HE the perfect picture of giving thanks when life is soaked in pain?  When your time on earth is full of uncertainty?  I look at his life and gain perspective that breathes hope into this question.

It seems to me that pain is a tool to squeeze out the marrow of our hearts, revealing what is actually there.  What I see in the heart of Christ, that was literally squeezed out, is a posture yielded to what is unseen.  For what we see is temporal, but what is unseen is eternal.  And as his marrow was laid bare there is a front row seat to see a life of gratitude & love for His Father.

If grumbling indicates a lack of gratitude we can assume the life of Christ was rich with thanksgiving.

What a gift to know this Jesus.
 A gift that lives and breathes in me.

So I ask Him to give me perspective in pain, discomfort, disappointment, and uncertainty, filling my heart with thanks.  Asking that my thanks would reside in the eternal, not in what is seen.  I long for what I see would merely be a glimpse, a picture pointing me toward my Heavenly Father, who created all that I do see.

I read something today from Ann Voskamp's blog... thought it was just what I needed to hear, here are some snippets...
Peace is always our Home — because Peace is a Person, not a place, and He always says come dwell in me.
Faith is this unwavering trust in the heart of God in the hurt of here. Unwavering trust all the time though I don’t understand all the time.

God is always good and we are always loved.

Loved enough to be shaped into goodness of Christ Himself.

God’s purposes are not for me to understand His plans: His plan is for me to understand Who He is.

BUT...
What if He doesn’t — what if He doesn’t do what we plea, what we pray, what we believe He can and will do and should do?
 
“And even if He doesn’t” –

Even if He doesn’t do what we beg, we are still His beloved.

Even if He doesn’t, He still is.

Even if He doesn’t do what we will, His will is still right and His heart is still good and the people of God will not waver.

Real prayer has eyes on Christ, not the crisis.

Even if He doesn’t – He does give enough — Himself.

Even if He doesn’t – He does still love us.

“If He doesn’t — I will still believe. Still believe — in Him.” 

That which we fear might happen to us — might be the thing to produce deep faith in us. Why be afraid of anything — when He’s using everything?

God is answering all our prayers: No one enters into the real joy of the Lord in spite of the hard times —- but squarely through the door of the hard times.

121.  The sweet smell of my daughter's cheek
122.  The sound of Avery drinking to satisfy her thirst
123.  Warm fuzzy robes on cool autumn mornings
124.  Slippers
125.  Four year old soccer teams
126.  Wooden turkeys
127.  A season of intentional THANKSGIVING
128.  Little girls bundled like a snow bunny
129.  Aunts, uncles, & cousins I love
130.  Reconciling conversations with my daughter
131.  A strong voice coming out of my daughter's mouth
132.  Watching Avery love and encourage others
133.  Phone calls to my grandmothers
134.  Discovering deeper love for my daughter through painful experience
135.  Restored relationships
136.  Car heaters that work
137.  Branches heavy with snow
138.  White snow on a blue sky backdrop
139.  Everything draped in white
140.  Air so cold it freezes your nose
141.  Answers to prayer
142.  Striped socks
143.  Warm sun making snow drip

Grandparents

DAY THREE is upon us.

We are thankful this morning for our GRANDPARENTS.  Those whose legacy has crossed generations.  You have played a significant role in the lives of not only your children, but your grandchildren.

My girls know that they are loved by you.
My girls know that they are beautiful to you.
My girls know that you are FOR them.
My girls know that their grandparents are people who love Jesus.
My girls know that their grandparents are people who bring love and joy to life.

And thinking on my grandparents, I remember...
How Papaw laughed, told the best stories about golfing and the WWII, loved his family deeply, and gave the strongest hugs.
How Mamaw cooks food that makes me hungry just to think of it, knows more about antiques than anyone, and a precious heart that beckons me to love her more.
How Grandpa played solitaire for hours, had a duck taped car, gave us Twinkies, and his soft eyes that spoke of a life of overcoming adversity.
How Grandma gives big kisses, has the softest skin, bowls better than I do, trusted Jesus when we was in her 70s, and is such a strong woman.

We are thankful.
I am thankful.


Then we your people, the sheep of your pasture, will praise you forever; from generation to generation we will recount your praise.
Psalm 79:13

November 2, 2011

Aunts & Uncles

Today is DAY TWO of our Thanksgiving Advent.

What a blessing it has been to have something to lift my eyes from myself.  So this morning we are thankful for our Aunts, Uncles, & Cousins.

I sat with Avery and talked about all the things we love about those people in our lives.  We are blessed by our family... the good, the bad, and the ugly.

Whether we are away from them.
Whether we have been with them for too long.
Whether we are laughing with them.
Whether we are at odds with them.

Let today be a day to remember that in every moment we have the opportunity to love them.  To bless them.  To serve them.  To encourage them.

Uncle Rob.  Kayelynn.  Michael.  Auntie Tiffany & Uncle Rob.  Jeremiah.  Reese.  Payton.  Uncle Nate & Auntie Mary.  Dominique.  Blake.  Uncle Aaron & Auntie Andrea.  Malachi.  Rachel.  Isaiah.  Little baby Taylor.  Uncle Sam & Aunt Bethany.  Uncle Glenn & Aunt Rayelynn.  Brent.  Tyler & Dawn.  Aunt Merlene.  Mandy.  Uncle Craig & Aunt Rose.  Wendy.  Chris.  Uncle Dave & Auntie Mary.  Uncle Rich.  Dawn.  Chrissy.  Aunt Sheila.  Aunt Teri.  Jed.  Natalie.

We are thankful for you today.  
Be devoted to one another in brotherly love.  
Romans 12:10

November 1, 2011

Family

We started our Thanksgiving Advent this morning.  24 days of gratitude.

And I am so excited for a season to be intentional about meditating on thankfulness.

Today is DAY ONE... and I am thankful for MY FAMILY.

For the fun we have together.
For the way we love each other.
For the smiles.
For the tears.
For the laughter.
For the adventures we go on.
For the life we live alongside each other.
For the inside jokes.
For the blessing of togetherness in all circumstances.

I have never loved people as much as I have loved these three.  They are more precious to me than words can accurately express.

May your father and mother rejoice;
   may she who gave you birth be joyful! 
Proverbs 23:25

FAMILY. 
Thank you Jesus for the gift they are to me.

October 26, 2011

First Snow

We had our first snow today.  Standing outside feeling the snow fall on my face is a gift.  Quiet, still, beautiful snow.  Snow that silences the busy world.  I stand there and, if only for a moment, I consider that God really is good.

He really is loving.
He really is gracious.

A glimpse of the majesty of my Lord in a tiny flake of snow.

76.  The seasons first snow
77.  Seeing my husband from many miles away
78.  Listening to the soft sleepy breathing of my 4 year old
79.  The smell of rolls in the oven
80.  Warm soup
81.  Colorful leaves trapped in wax paper
82.  Bright smiling eyes
83.  The reminder that God will indeed one day make all things new
84.  Little girl falling asleep in my arms
85.  Seeing the world through the lens of my camera
86.  The wonder of a child
87.  Folded clothes
88.  The way God moves and speaks right where I'm at
89.  Endless games of tag
90.  The soft touch of Madi's hand
91.  Missing my husband... reminding me how much I love him
92.  Perspective brought through death of a friend's son
93.  Sadness and joy mingled in tears
94.  Playgrounds
95.  Libraries and hunt for new adventures in pages
96.  My husband
97.  Fireplaces full of crackling
98.  God's presence in suffering
99.  Moments to read God's Word
100.  Breakfast alone at a diner
101.  Sisters living in unity
102.  Making big pottery bowls
103.  Little fingers wrapped around my own
104.  A quiet moment
105.  Sticker "birthday" cards from Avery
106.  Friends who pray
107.  Snuggles with Avery under fluffy covers
108.  Hugs from Madi
109.  Two sleeping beauties
110.  Soft carpet under my tired feet
111.  The sound of the furnace warming our home
112.  A husband who loves me no matter what
113.  Dates with my best friend, lover, and companion
114.  Heat blowing on my feet as I stand in the kitchen
115.  Long walks in the quiet
116.  Beautiful roses from my husband
117.  Our home
118.  Walking with a good friend sharing life together
119.  An 18 month old playing the "lip banjo"
120.  Big orange letters written by a 4 year old

A Glorious Hope

Read these words on a friend's blog the other day...


"He will wipe away every tear from their eyes.  There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away."  He who was seated on the throne said, "I am making everything new!"  Then he said, "Write this down, for these words are trustworthy and true."  He said to me:  "It is done.  I am the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End.  To him who is thirsty I will give to drink without cost from the spring of the water of life.  He who overcomes will inherit all this, and I will be his God and he will be my son."  Revelation 21:4-7

In a broken world I can live with hope of what is to come.  A glorious hope.  A picture of something so far beyond my experience here on earth. 

How I long for that day.  How I thirst to drink of that water.  How I long to live forever in that place of perfect peace and joy.

October 16, 2011

Beyond The Mundane

A few days ago I was chatting with some friends about how to transcend from what often seems like a mundane existence to something supernatural, beautiful, lovely

When I daily swim in loads of dirty laundry, listen to reruns of the soundtrack "Happy, Sad, and Mad Screams" (available anywhere you find children),  read the same children's book so many times I could recite it for memory, have polite yet superficial conversations with neighbors, get lunch on the table for two starving children while completely neglecting to feed myself, live in a quaint house, in a quaint town, with quaint schools, churches, grocery stores, and drive-thru Starbucks (we just got one here by the way)...  HOW do I see what is God's grace touched down to this earth?

I often think that my middle-class suburban life is a very difficult place to experience gratitude.  For to me, it seems... Average.  Undistinguished.  Normal.  I consider those living in "extremes" as having the perfect foundation for a life rich with thanksgiving.  That somehow, with extreme living comes a heightened sense to taste, touch, feel, and see the movements of God.  I read stories of the poor, persecuted, oppressed.  I see images of places with exotic and majestic beauty, cities with never-ending skylines, countries thick with mystery whose people live lives radically different than my own. 

I don't want normal.  I don't want undistinguished.  I don't want mundane.  I want extraordinary.  And these things can paralyze me from touching God's grace where I am.

Yet God has me here.  Okay.

If I stop fighting Him and live in the now I am bending my distorted will to His flawless will.  My eyes awakened to see beyond the physical to see what is spiritual.  To see God's grace...

Here dies another day
During which I have had eyes, ears, hands
And the great world round me;
And with tomorrow begins another.
Why am I allowed two?
G.K. Chesterton

I pose myself this question...  Isn't even one grace enough?  Two healthy girls sleeping peacefully in their beds, a loving husband watching football downstairs while I write, friends who love me...

Therefore, the list goes on...
57.  Squeaky pajama feet on the kitchen floor.
58.  Avery teaching Madi new words.
59.  The wonder of a child learning to put words to what she sees.
60.  Smiles so big they make eyes disappear.
61.  Wind blowing through little girl's hair.
62.  The world's smallest ladybug climbing up the hammock rope.
63.  Timely words spoken by a wise pastor.
64.  The steamy whistle of a red teapot.
65.  Gourds all crooked and green.
66.  Hunting for the perfect pumpkin.
67.  Steam drifting up from hot tea looking like translucent flames.
68.  Rubbing Avery's face at bedtime.
69.  Mugs of tea that warm the hands.
70.  Sitting next to Avery at the park while she eats raisins.
71.  Pictures of my big girl that bring a permanent smile to my face.
72.  Driving with the windows down.
73.  Watching Avery play soccer on a cool fall morning.
74.  Trees all red and yellow.

75.  Chopping celery.


October 13, 2011

I Continue On

"How in the world will I ever write down 1000 moments of gratitude?!"  I have had this recurring thought many times on this journey.  It seems daunting.  Yet, I continue on.  

Wanting to experience the depth of real thanksgiving.
Wanting to know greater joy.
Wanting refreshment, hope, and perspective.
Wanting to be lifting from the weighty reality of this broken world... if even for a moment.

Even as I wrote these words of hoping for deeper gratitude an "explosion" happened in my home and heart.  Tantrums.  Whining.  Girls screaming.  My "agenda" got interrupted.  Napping ended.  Buttons got pushed.  And I just lost it.  How does that happen?  Take a deep breath... Pray...

Lord, you know the yuck of my heart and love me still.  Thank you.  Incline my heart to you.  Empower me to live out the grace I have received.  I'm sorry for the way I sin against you by acting out in anger toward the children you have blessed me with.  May they always know your love deeply and experience your transforming grace.  Amen.

Deep breath....  I continue on.

41.  Dimples on chubby cheeks.
42.  Sky so blue I get lost in it.
43.  Red leaves on a backdrop of a blue sky canvas.
44.  A faint dot of a moon in the middle of a blue sky.

45.  Mirrored reflections on still water.
46.  The warm touch of my husband's hand.
47.  A big pumpkin that my big girl grew all by herself.
48.  Bike rides with training wheels.
49.  The tick tock of our wall clock reminding me to "be still" for a moment.
50.  Bubble mountains.
51.  Bubble hats. 
 52.  Blanket forts.
 53.  The first sight of my husband after a long absence.
54.  Sweet words of a sister.
55.  Tears shed from a heart full of love for my girls.
56.  A glass of wine shared with close friends.
 

September 29, 2011

Infinite Love

I read something beautiful this morning...

"Because I am infinite, I am able to love you as if you and I were the only ones in the universe."

Today I have longed to sit in the lap of the Lord's love and never move from that place for as long as I live.  His love always accessible.  His love always unbroken.

I breathed His love in deep today as I walked with my girls.

Again, gratitude.

37.  The crunch of leaves beneath my feet.
38.  Watching little girl walk with one hand held up to the sky.
39.  Breathing deep the cool autumn air.
40.  The sound like a brook flowing as wind blows through the trees.

September 28, 2011

Art Nouveau Pitcher

In my pottery class we were asked to make a piece using the Art Nouveau movement as our inspiration. 

Here's what I've got so far.


We will see how the finished product looks after all is said and done.  The red part is a brown clay slip where I am doing sgraffito (carving out of clay).

Here are some pieces by artists who worked in this style.



What a gift to do this!

36.  Shaping a lump of clay into something beautiful.

Pause

If I would simply pause.

Pause.

In the midst of a loud, crazy, and chaotic life I wonder how my perspective might change if I would just stop.  Perhaps I would discover a whole new world around me.

A world created with such craftsmanship and beauty.  A world that communicates the love of an infinite Loving Savior who just wants me to "be still and know the HE IS GOD."

Sadly, most days I don't.  I never take a second to stop, look around, and notice where God is trying to woo me to Himself.  But today... Today, I did.  And my eyes saw God's goodness.

I'm thankful.

25.  Listening to big sister teach little girl new words with such joy.
26.  Puzzle pieces decorating my floor.

27.  The birthday celebration of a good friend's daughter.
28.  Christie... a woman who lives a life of grace, wisdom, and depth.  She has been and instrument of change in my life.
29.  Life-giving and encouraging words from my great husband.
30.  The smell of clean.
31.  Shiny red shoes on tiny feet.

32.  Small soft hands resting on my legs.
33.  The trees in my neighborhood with their leaves dusted with gold.
34.  Dance parties on a toy-sprinkled floor.
35.  The sound of wind chimes that compel me to smile, sigh, and dream of summer days.

September 19, 2011

Pillows, Sunsets, & Faith

18.  Pillows lined up forming a pathway to sheer joy and laughter.

19.  Eating a meal with good friends while being serenaded with the sounds of children at play.
20.  Fingers full of clay.
21.  Friends brought into my life after years and years of prayer.
22.  The eyes and soft cheeks of my daughters.
23.  Colorado sunsets.  "The heavens declare the glory of God.  The skies proclaim the work of His hands."

24.  The faith of friends who are believing God for the healing of their newborn son.  Meet Jude Pelton... a precious gift from the Lord whom we pray for every day.


September 16, 2011

I Am Limping

Most of the time when God opens my eyes to see His Grace toward me it is in the form of my daughters.  And I have wondered these last few days if part of the reason for that comes from the years and years of ungratefulness for the role of motherhood seemingly "impressed" upon me.

And I find I am much like Jacob.

So Jacob was left alone, and a man [most likely God] wrestled with him till daybreak. When the man saw that he could not overpower him, he touched the socket of Jacob's hip so that his hip was wrenched as he wrestled with the man. Then the man said, "Let me go, for it is daybreak." But Jacob replied, "I will not let you go unless you bless me." The man asked him, "What is your name?" "Jacob," he answered. Then the man said, "Your name will no longer be Jacob, but Israel, because you have struggled with God and with men and have overcome." Jacob said, "Please tell me your name." But he replied, "Why do you ask my name?" Then he blessed him there. So Jacob called the place Peniel, saying, "It is because I saw God face to face, and yet my life was spared." The sun rose above him as he passed Peniel, and he was limping because of his hip. (Genesis 32:24-31)

I wrestled with God for 4 years about becoming a mom.

Lord, don't you know that I love my job?
Lord, don't you know that my marriage is in a sweet place?
Lord, what the heck are you doing?
Lord, are you against me?

And then, God "touched my hip."  When questioned about my commitment to this vocational ministry demonstrated through "doing more," my soul began to cry out.

"Lord, I will not let go unless you bless me!"

"No" was my answer.  "I will not sacrifice my daughters on the alter of a busier life."  And I heard the words coming out of my mouth, "I love being a mom.  This is the role God has called me to and I love it."

Stunned.  Surprised.  Overjoyed.

The wrestling was exhausting and painful.  There were lots of doubts and questions.  But I saw the face of God and He spared my life.  Spared it from empty ambitions.  Spared it from the absence of the laughter of babes.  Spared it from being in my control instead of His.

And so, I limp.  

Limping in the very real awareness of my weakness and need of Jesus.
Limping as I seek to embrace every part of who God has created my girls to be... the good, the bad, the ugly.
Limping because I have finally surrendered to God's plan for my life.


Thus, the reason so many gifts I see as from the Lord are about my girls.  After being void of gratefulness for them for so long, the dam has broke, and I am flooded by God's graces through them.

13.  Peanut butter mustaches (& beards for that matter) on pretty faces.































14. Listening to the crunch of Goldfish crackers in my daughter's mouth.
15. Pigtails with flowers.
16. Brown eyes like pools of dark chocolate.
17. Making little girl laugh with my silly noises.

September 11, 2011

Do I Want To

The other day I heard my hourly alarm on my watch.  A gentle reminder to give thanks.  I heard it and paused.

Do I really want to give thanks?
Do I really want to give thanks for sleepless nights?
Do I really want to give thanks for temper tantrums?
Do I really want to give thanks for hard conversations with my husband?
Do I really want to give thanks during lonely, confusing, and exhausting days?
Do I really want to...

This, I am discovering, is the hard part of this gratitude journey.  Of looking beyond the exterior, "feel good," and pleasant things to reveal a deeper beauty.  A beauty that transcends my circumstances.  I just keep thinking that there really is more to this life than what I see, feel, and experience.  I'm so thankful for Jesus today.  That my confusion doesn't confuse Him.

I don't know how to do this whole thing yet.

But I'm asking the Lord to give me a heart like His, a heart of joy.  I know He will.

12.  For a Sweet Savior who is consistent when I'm a mess, who is loving when I'm angry, who is patient as I learn.

September 8, 2011

Sunflowers

8.  Sunflowers from my husband.

9.  Longs Peak covered in clouds on an early fall morning.
10.  Hearing sweet Madi calling my name from her crib.
11.  Phone calls with dear friends that breathe life into me, encourage me, and never ask me to be anything other than what I am.

September 7, 2011

Veggies

Gifts...
7.  Tomatoes, carrots, basil, kale, parsley... from seeds I planted!

Beautiful

Read Isaiah 61:10 this morning...
"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, as a bridegroom adorns his head like a priest, and as a bride adorns herself with her jewels."

I read it to Avery and told her that when God looks at her He see BEAUTY.

I think I understand this in a small way when I saw my sweet little princess sleeping...


























Grateful...
3.  A precious little girl sleeping so peacefully... isn't she stunning?
4.  The sweet smell of basil that makes me think of Italy.
5.  Uncontrolled laughter of a 4 year old giving her little sister a piggy back ride.
6.  The smell of rain.

September 5, 2011

Journey Toward Gratitude

I just finished reading "1000 Gifts" by Ann Voskamp and was touched very deeply by a woman whose life I so relate to and whose words opened my eyes to the possibility of an experience with God that I have yet to know.

It is all about an experience of seeing the grace of God, the gifts of God, and His Hand of blessing in the everyday things of life... the things that I would normally just "pass by" and never take a second glance at.

So, I'm embarking on a journey toward greater gratitude.

To start my own list of 1000 gifts... I have no idea what this will look like or where it will take me.  And I love that.

1.  A patch of blue sky right in the middle of a dark raincloud. 
2.  The light of the sun at sunset... drawing stripes in the sky.

June 19, 2011

Apples!

I was doing some work in my yard today, glanced up at one of my apple trees, and check out what I saw!!!




































Three years after planting these trees, I am SO excited to see my first apples!

June 6, 2011

Turkey Meatballs

I made these tonight.  They are becoming one of my favorite things to eat on this crazy new diet I am on.  Full of flavor and they make a great snack!


INGREDIENTS
1 lb. ground turkey
1/2 c. onion, diced
1/4 c. almond flour
1 t. arrowroot powder
2 t. garlic, minced
1 egg, slightly beaten
1 T. fresh basil, chopped
1 t. dried oregano
2 t. fresh parsley, chopped
1 T. Parmesan cheese (optional, if needing dairy free)
1/2 t. salt
1/4 t. pepper

DIRECTIONS
Preheat oven to 400 degrees.  In a large bowl, combine all ingredients and stir until thoroughly mixed.  Form into 1 inch balls and place in a greased 9 x 13 baking dish.  Bake for 10-15 minutes.  Transfer meatballs to sauce pan of tomato/spaghetti sauce to finish cooking, approximately 20 minutes.  Makes about 40 balls.

May 2, 2011

Green Strawberry Smoothie

Yes... this sounds like a really strange, and potentially gross thing, but it is SO good.  If you struggle to get your kiddos to eat veggies, this is a great way to do it.  Avery wouldn't touch spinach, but drank this like it was candy.

Ingredients:
1 c. strawberries, chopped
2 T. plain lowfat yogurt
1 t. agave nectar
1/2 c. fresh spinach
1/2 c. unsweetened coconut milk
1 c. ice cubes

Directions:
Place all ingredients in blender and mix until smooth.  Enjoy! 

Variations:
Add 2 T. shredded coconut
Add 2 T. almonds
Use 1/2 c. strawberries & 1/2 c. blueberries in place of just strawberries
Instead of spinach, you can use 1/2 of an avocado chopped up

March 17, 2011

Sgraffito Pots

I learned a new technique in my pottery class called "Sgraffito."  After you throw your pot and let it dry, you paint a colored slip on and then "carve" it away.  I had SO much fun creating with this and the finished pieces turned out great!