What Do You See Outside YOUR Open Window Today?

What Do You See Outside YOUR Open Window Today?
Remember: "When God closes a door, He always opens a window!" You never know what might be out there waiting for you!

Saturday, September 29, 2012

Today's Gift-A Blessing for My Kitchen


My Kitchen...Picture taken by my sweet hubby, while he was cooking our supper
one weekday afternoon. He was so proud that he had cleaned up the kitchen as he
cooked that he wanted to take a picture. This was while I was at work. I chuckled
when I found this picture on my camera.  Obviously, if I had taken this picture, I would have removed
the baseball cap and other clutter from the island before taking the picture. I would have hidden the waste basket...I mean, who wants to see my trash?   I would have made sure
that no glasses, dishwashing liquid, or other sundry stuff was left on the counter. But it wouldn't have been an honest picture then.  You would think that it was some "Country Living" or "Better Homes and Gardens" kitchen (maybe) Ha! Not.  This is how it is most of the time, except Hubby had really
cleaned up the dishes, and what is on the stove is still cooking! (Gotta love that man!--his early retirement has it's benefits for me!)

I found this little poem "blessing" for the kitchen and wanted to share it with you.  I had heard it years ago, but couldn't remember all the lines.  Thankful for "Google" to help me find most anything I can't quite remember anymore!

My Little Kitchen Prayer
"Bless my little kitchen, Lord
I love its every nook
And bless me as I do my work,
Wash pots and pans and cook.
 
May the meals that I prepare
Be seasoned from above
With Thy Blessings and Thy Grace,
But most of all, Thy Love.
 
As we partake of earthly food,
The table Thou hast spread,
We'll not forget to thank Thee, Lord
For all our daily bread.
 
So bless my little kitchen, Lord
And those who enter in,
May they find naught but Joy and Peace
And Happiness therein. "
 
Author Unknown
Here are a few more pictures of "every nook" of my kitchen...these are the places that I love in my kitchen and dining area:


This little high-boy chair belonged
to my husband's Grandmother, Nanny Martin,
along with the Hoosier Cupboard beside it.
My little boys used to fight over who would
get to sit in this chair when we visited
Nanny's house for special dinners.
When she passed away, it became a part
of our home, and has come in handy for other
little children wanting to sit up to the table with us,
as well as a great chair for giving haircuts to the
boys when they were little. I've displayed
some other items from Nanny's kitchen
on the chair...one of her cookbooks, an egg beater,
and an embroidered tea-towel.




The best part of my kitchen is when family is gathered
to enjoy home cooking...in this particular picture my son Scott
(on the right in front) was baking a batch of Orange Cookies
for my son Matt, (left in back), who was visiting from
Maine and getting ready to go home. Scott baked these
special family recipe cookies for Matt to take back home
with him on the plane. 
The "Reading Nook", a corner of my dining area. "Baby Elva" always enjoys reading time with me.
The Tea Book Shelf, also a great place for my cookbooks.

This corner of the kitchen counter is where I prepare our
morning coffee and tea. That is a very important part of our
kitchen...to start our day off just right!  Hubby gets the coffee, and I get the tea!
 
 

I hate that this picture makes me look so fat (it's the shirt...lol), but this is a good
picture of how I love to work in my kitchen, preparing something special
for my family  (in this case, an apple pie).  I love to watch the birds and other wildlife
outside (bears, bunnies, butterflies, bees) while I cook.  It makes the chores seem less mundane when you
can commune with God's creation right from your kitchen window!

And I LOVE the happiness on my sweet Hubby's face while enjoying something I baked
especially for him (and all the rest of us enjoyed it too)...Coconut Cream Pie...my Mother's Recipe.
 
Friends and relatives helping serve and clean up...what a blessing for me!!

Birthday Parties...


 I really love it when family gathers from near and far to share a special dinner...birthdays,
4th of July, celebration just becauuse we want to...and we gather at the sink to clean the
dasher from the homemade ice-cream maker and sample the first spoonfuls as we lift the dasher from
the freezer.  This is why I love my kitchen...




 
People laughing and talking and taking pictures after we've shared a meal together...
Happy Family times...treasured memories...

 
These are some of the reasons why I love my "little" (not really little) kitchen, Lord...
Why I love its every nook...
This is the heart of our home...
the place where love overflows with thanksgiving to the One Who made it all possible..
"Come Lord Jesus, Be Our Guest...
and may all that we partake of be blessed..."
Amen.

Friday, September 28, 2012

Make Me a Blessing?

This week had its highs and lows.  It started out well enough...celebrated my birthday with loved ones. Such a treasure to have loved ones near, both to celebrate AND to celebrate with.  This is a blessing...it is a gift.

However, I fear that I was not such a "blessing" to others this week.  Lately my work has had its challenges, and there are times that I get a little out of sorts and impatient when things don't go exactly as planned. Having such responsibilities doesn't always bring out the best in me. I allowed my frustrations to overflow my better sense of handling things with wisdom and patience...and my tongue got the better of me.  It spoke when it shouldn't have spoken...when it would have been better to refrain from speaking at all... 

All on the same day that I had planned to share a devotional with our staff...to tell them about "Counting 1000 Gifts" (see www.AnnVoskamp.com), on the very same morning that I wanted to express the joy of "giving thanks"....having grace from on High on display...not grief from impatience and anger.  I failed. 
Thankfully, God was there in the midst.  He still was able to get His message of grace and love and thanksgiving across to those who listened patiently, in spite of the messenger who had already demonstrated too much humanity for one day.

This morning in my devotional reading I was directed to Ecclesiastes 3:1-11, you know the verses..."To everything there is a season, a time for every purpose under heaven...", and the question was asked as to what spiritual season am I experiencing right now, and could I name it's challenges and gifts?  Good question.  I'd like to think I am in a more mature spiritual season of life, but then I go and have a day where I blow it and don't act very mature at all, and I realize that no matter in which season of life I may be living, I always need to lean on the Lord and allow my thoughts, words, and actions to be "seasoned" with His grace. 

I was reminded of an old Gospel Hymn that you may remember and sing along with me:

"Make Me a Blessing"

1st Verse:

"Out in the highways and by-ways of life,
Many are weary and sad;
Carry the sunshine where darkness is rife,
Making the sorrowing glad."

(Chorus) 

"Make me a blessing, Make me a blessing,
Out of my life, May Jesus shine;
Make me a blessing,
O Saviour, I pray,
Make me a blessing to someone today." 


That is my prayer today.  Lord, make ME a blessing to someone today.  Help me to realize that sometimes others act and react they way they do to circumstances because they are "weary and sad".  Rather than losing my patience and reacting in an immature way, help me to "Carry the sunshine where darkness is rife, making the sorrowing glad."....Yes, Lord, please, "out of my life, may Jesus shine."  Amen.

"Make Me a Blessing", written by Ira B. Wilson, 1880-1950.  Music: George S. Schuler, 1924.  

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Today is a Special Day

Today is a special day.  I would like to write something significant, since it is my birthday. Lately I haven’t had much to say. Not sure why. One reason is since blogger changed the format of our dashboard, my computer is having issues with writing on the new page.  It really bogs down. (Has anyone else had this issue?) I’m sure it is my old computer that needs to be cleaned out, updated, or thrown out. I’m leaning towards the latter option, as soon as I can find a suitable replacement at an affordable price.  
Sometimes I feel like my old computer.  I need to be cleaned out, updated, or thrown out! Hold your comments on these options, please.   I do believe that birthdays are a good time to reassess and evaluate what our goals, plans, and purpose may be…and where do we stand in the process?  At my grand age of 62, I am sorry to say that I have not achieved everything I had hoped to accomplish by this stage in life.  Retirement is still an elusive dream that I long to latch hold of and run into the golden sunset with my hubby, enjoying what few years of active life we still have left.  He is already there, although not by choice.  Job cuts forced him to take an early retirement last summer, and although he has been actively searching and pursuing all possibilities for employment ever since, there has not been one “open window, and many “closed doors”.  He has had a few glimmers of hope, but thus far they have not materialized into reality. Maybe that is God’s plan.  We are trying to accept that.
So back to my search for significance and purpose.  I know God is working in my life. This blog is a testimony to that fact.  You may not think much of it…you may even wish I’d just get to the point and stop babbling so much about stuff.  I understand. I tell myself that quite often. But there has been a metamorphosis taking place in my life over the past two and a half years since I started writing here and opening up my whole heart and soul to total strangers around the world. I’ve actually had to think before speaking. (So glad for the editing features of my computer).  Delete and backspace are two of my favorite keys.  For those of you who don’t know me personally, you may be surprised to learn that I have often had a tendency (understatement) to open my mouth and insert my foot.  For a rather tall person with big feet, that “feat” has been a bit uncomfortable from time to time.
What am I trying to say?  (I wish someone would tell me!)  Perhaps it is this: I believe that God is allowing me this privilege of writing to share a message of hope with the world.  Sometimes I veer off course and dabble in nonsensical stuff and materialistic dreams and activities…but even those have a purpose.  (Usually).  Here is what I hope to do with what I write:
“No one, when he has lit a lamp, covers it with a vessel or puts it under a bed,
but sets it on a lampstand, that those who enter may see the light. “
Luke 8:16
I want my light to shine before men and women…
“You are the light of the world.  A city that is set on a hill cannot be hidden….
Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in Heaven.” 
Matthew 5:14 and 16
This is risky business.  My “good works” don’t always show up.  Sometimes there aren’t too many.  I know that. I am working on that.  But I pray that God will use what talents and gifts and “good works” I do have to encourage others…plant some seeds of hope, love, and trust in the Lord.  To lift some spirits who may be dragging bottom and ready to give up.  If God will allow me to do that, I will have accomplished my goals, realized my purpose, and fulfilled my dreams.   I may even live (or die?) to see the day that I hear these marvelous words:
“Well done, good and faithful servant; you were faithful over a few things, I will make you ruler over many things.  Enter into the joy of your Lord.”  Matthew 25:21
That will be glory! Not that I care about being a ruler over anything…no thank you. I don’t even enjoy being a supervisor over a few people…not my cup of tea at all.  But to “enter into the joy of your Lord”, yes, that will be Glory!!!
Yes, Today IS a Special Day!
Amen.
 

Sunday, September 23, 2012

"Three Gifts 'Quiet'"

I am trying to get back in the groove of writing about my daily "gifts" or "blessings".  I kind of got side-tracked for a few days with a lot of activity and then just being too tired to participate, but I never stopped "giving thanks" for the daily blessings.  Just couldn't put it into words.  Sometimes we need to take a break and sit back in "quietness" and take stock of our blessings.  That's what I did today.  Here are my three gifts of "quietness" I discovered:

1.
"For thus says the Lord God, the Holy One of Israel: 
 'In returning and rest you shall be saved;
In quietness and confidence shall be your strength.'" 
Isaiah 30:15
~~~~

2.
"The Lord your God in your midst,
The Mighty One, will save;
He will rejoice over you with gladness,
He will quiet you with His love,
He will rejoice over you with singing."
Zephaniah 3:17
~~~~

3.
"Lord, my heart is not haughty,
Nor my eyes lofty.
Neither do I concern myself with great matters,
Nor with things too profound for me.

Surely I have calmed and quieted my soul,
Like a weaned child with his mother;
Like a weaned child is my soul within me.

O Israel, hope in the Lord
From this time forth and forever."
Psalm 131



I just realized that each of these discoveries are actually concerning the country of Israel.  Taken in their true biblical context, they do not have any particular message for me personally.  Even though I am claiming them as messages to my heart...I find it interesting that God has directed my attention to these messages for Israel in light of the current events taking place in that  part of the world even tonight as I write.  There is great concern for their future and the impact any possible action on their part against other nations could have on our world and on our country in particular.  Perhaps calming and quietness is something we all need during these days of turbulence.   

"O Israel, hope in the Lord
From this time forth and forever."

O America, hope in the Lord
from this time forth and forever.

O Brothers and Sisters in Christ,
Hope in the Lord from this time forth and forever.

O _________ (insert your name),
Hope in the Lord from this time forth and forever.

O Pam,
Hope in the Lord from this time forth and forever.

AMEN.


(See www.AnnVoskamp.com for more information on "Counting 1000 Gifts in 2012")




Thursday, September 20, 2012

What's to Love about LoveBugs??????? UPDATED!

UPDATED SEPTEMBER 20, 2012:  THEY'RE BACK WITH A VENGEANCE!!! THIS IS WHAT I WROTE BACK IN MAY ABOUT THESE "LOVELY"CREATURES (TONGUE IN CHEEK).  I HAD HOPED THAT SEPTEMBER WOULD BE BETTER, BUT IT'S WORSE!  I'M PRAYING FOR A COLD WINTER (SORRY FOLKS) THAT HOPEFULLY WILL FREEZE THESE LITTLE LOVERS OUT AND SEND THEM BACK TO CENTRAL AMERICA OR WHEREVER THEY CAME FROM! 

If you've ever travelled through Florida during the months of May or September, you will understand why I am writing this post today.  Since the first week of May, we have been inundated with these very unlovely lovers,  better known as "Lovebugs".   We have been so overwhelmed with these creatures that I thought I'd better do some research and find out why they seem to be especially attracted to our new home in the forest.  I have attached a pretty thorough dissertation below that gives all the scientific information, and even dispels a few myths about their connection with the University of Florida (which I had heard previously and was tending to believe...)



These Lovebugs love to love on my daylilies...
http://edis.ifas.ufl.edu/in694   This link is everything you ever wanted to know about "lovebugs"...an insect that I am learning to dis-love  greatly...   


In reading this article I realized that we were inadvertently right smack dab in the middle of their favorite kind of love-nest...a sandy, hot, forest with lots of decaying vegetation and trees with pollen.  Our house is also a light color, which they are very attracted to, as well as anything recently painted, perhaps treated with Thompson's Waterseal...like this picnic table.
They  love to love on my picnic table and all over my patio and the
plastic base of our patio umbrella...

These lovely loving insects are lovingly swarming everywhere...if you don't close your
mouth, you may even end up swallowing some lovely lovebug lovers. Yech!!!
They taste so bad, not even the birds will eat them...







Looks like they are having quite a party here in my holly trees!
By the way, did you know that if you click on a photo you can get a close-up view? 
It sort of brings these critters up close and personal!


These wild holly trees are their favorite spot to spend the day with their mate...right out in plain view of my patio! They have no shame whatsoever!







It's a good thing we have a church right here handy for the ones
who want to do things right and get married first!!!
It also serves as a good place for the ones who have come to
the end of their life of love-making...and just drop dead from
exhaustion!

I get to clean up this mess when their frenzied season of love is
finally over ...until September, that is...

Of course, maybe that kind of death is better than the way most of them end up...

On the front bumper and windshield of the millions of cars driving through Florida
during the months of May and September...

You may want to keep this in mind before you plan your next trip to the "Sunshine State"
Try to avoid coming during lovebug season! You'll be glad I warned you!


About the only good thing I can say about lovebugs is that they don't bite. 



I hope you enjoyed this lovely little story.

"See You in September"

The End
For now.

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

My Gifts for Today: A Double Rainbow /and 3 Gifts in Conversation

"I set My rainbow in the cloud, and it shall be for the sign of the covenant between Me and the earth...." Genesis 9:13
"The rainbow shall be in the cloud, and I will look on it to remember the everlasting covenant between God and every living creature of all flesh that is on the earth."  Genesis 9:16


This is the double rainbow we chased all the way to work today:



For those of you who have been following along on my quest to "Count 1000 Gifts" in 2012 (see www.AnnVoskamp.com for details)...you know that I only started this quest in September, and it is unlikely that I will reach 1000 gifts in 2012 at the rate of 3 gifts per day.  Plus the fact that I skipped a couple of days recently just because I got bogged down and couldn't think, let alone write!  But today God made up for my slack and lack of "counting".  He did something really special for me...and not for me alone.  Let me tell you.

Recently my son has been riding to work with me each day...literally riding with me to work...at the same place where I work.  This in itself is a small miracle (maybe even a big miracle), the fact that he has been working where I work, because I work at a church. Not that he is opposed to working in a church...he practically literally grew up in church since his father starting pastoring at his first church when our son was just 6 months old.  So church is not something new or unfamiliar.  But in recent years, it hasn't been a place high on his list to visit, let alone work in.  And the fact that he has been pretty much unemployed over the past year except for odd jobs here and there, makes it even more amazing that he was able to start working at this church. No, he isn't a pastor or in any ministry.  He is helping to renovate the Fellowship Hall...painting, cleaning, restoring equipment...anything they ask him to do that he is able to do. Wait...this IS a ministry...an important one...and I am seeing him blossom each day as he is gaining new confidence with every task completed....and completed well. 

What does this have to do with the rainbows that we chased to work today? And what about the "Three Gifts of Conversation" that I am supposed to write about today?  Well, maybe I can't put this into three distinct conversations...but I can tell you that God has been doing something special in these rides to work and giving us opportunities to have some great conversations.  Oh, a lot of it has been pretty silly and fun...especially as we chased this double rainbow down the road this morning, taking pictures as we traveled  towards it. (I drove, he took pictures). 



And a lot of our conversations have been about the work he is doing, and the pride that he is taking in what he is doing.  And the positive things I see coming out of this...little ways that he is changing and growing.  God is at work here. There is no doubt about it.

Have our conversations been particularly spiritual? No. Not really. And yet, yes, really. Today's rainbow was a symbol of the promise of God in his life being fulfilled...hope being restored. Hope being restored in me as well. Prayers being answered. One day at a time.  One rainbow at a time.  Every day has been a gift.

This particular job is not a permanent position. It will likely be ending in a couple of weeks when the renovation is complete.  But there will be something permanently changed. I can feel it. I can see it.  God is at work.  He sent His rainbow to confirm it.

 The future looks brighter in more ways than one.  It was definitely a double rainbow kind of day!

Thank you, Lord!!


Tuesday, September 18, 2012

This will be brief...Just a Note to My "Followers"

Dear Friends and Family and "Followers", 

(I know you don't REALLY "FOLLOW" me, at least I hope not, but that is what our blogging buddies are called). Something new has been added to my blog.   I have decided to add the word verification application to my "comment section", to hopefully reduce the number of spam comments I have been receiving lately.  I also will not be accepting "anonymous" commenters, as they are usually spammers (unless I am certain I know who you are).  I know some of you are not spammers, so please try to identify yourself.  It is unfortunate that there are wierdos out there trying to attach viruses and other junk to our blog posts, but they do it all the time, and it is becoming a problem. 

Personally, I do not like to do the word verification on comments, because too often I can't figure out the letters and have to try a couple of times before I get it right! However, I don't want to discourage you from making comments, because I LOVE to read your messages.  They are such an encouragement to me and that is the main reason I keep blogging!  You are all like "old friends" and kindred spirits, sharing sweet memories and personal joys and sorrows together over a cup of tea.  I so look forward to our "conversations" and get lonesome for your smiles! 

I didn't write about my three gifts the past couple of nights, as I have been worn out and brain weary and couldn't get my thoughts together.  But if I could count three blessings or gifts tonight it would be You, and You, and You!! Every night I race to my computer to check and see what you may have written, whether it be on your own blog, or in response to mine. You often inspire me to sit here and write something totally fresh and new, something I hadn't thought about until you reminded me.  When I get to feeling a little down or discouraged, I think about YOU, and I say a little prayer of thanksgiving that God has brought us together in this mysterious and marvelous place called "cyberspace".  I often think this is just a prelude to what heaven will be like...sharing hugs and smiles and joys and hallelujahs with our friends around the Throne of God...no more sorrows or pain.  No more farewells.  Only welcoming greetings and "High Fives" between "sisters" and "brothers" in Christ. Pure Joy!!

So, please don't become discouraged in responding to something that strikes you as "comment worthy".  Hopefully I will get back in the groove and write something worth responding to here soon.  In the meantime...Count your daily blessings...or "gifts".  Look around you with eyes wide open and drink in the beauty of what God has placed in your path.  There is always something for which to give thanks.


"The Way of the Cross Leads Home"
(This cross is on the lake at the Florida Methodist Youth Camp in Fruitland Park, FL.  (Warren Willis Youth Camp)
This is where I truly committed my heart to Jesus as a teenager.  I will always thank the Lord
for this place.  Saved my life...for eternity!!!



Good Night Dear Hearts!  (((hugs)))) to all!

Saturday, September 15, 2012

Three Gifts Paired

Still following along with www.AnnVoskamp.com "Counting 1000 Gifts in 2012"...and today's gifts are to be "Three Gifts Paired".  Here goes:

1.  Homemade Vegetable Beef Soup simmering on the stove and Hot Cornbread fresh out of the oven.
It's what's for supper tonight!



2.  Mama Bear and Baby Bear on the Bear Crossing Sign created especially for me by my son today:

This is an early birthday present from my son.  It is in our front yard because
that is what it is...a bear crossing zone! Truly!!


3.  A sweet little Cup and Saucer from "Steubenville China~ Ivory", and a delightful yellow Creamer from "W.S. George Canarytone" "Lido" pattern.  The creamer was given to me as a gift from my dear friend and neighbor Maura, just because she saw that I admired it. (The REAL gift is my friend Maura!) The cup and saucer is a gift to myself as a purchase from our church "yard sale".   I love that both of these items were "Made in the USA",and they are vintage pieces.  The reason I was so attracted to the "Steubenville China" cup and saucer is because that is where my dear late Aunt Marion lived many years ago...and it made me think of her and miss her. 




These are my 3 Gifts Paired for today.  I love this counting gifts idea...it helps me to appreciate so many wonderful items, precious people, and thoughtful ideas surrounding me each day.  Oftentimes we take the ordinary things and even the special people in our lives for granted...and we don't take time to recognize their unique qualities and talents.  I am trying to correct that flaw in my life.  I am also beginning to realize that I have been given so many gifts...and I want to become more of a "giver" than a "taker". 

"Give, and it will be given to you: good measure, pressed down, shaken together, and running over will be put into your bosom.  For with the same measure that you use, it will be measured back to you."  Luke 6:38

Friday, September 14, 2012

Three Gifts "Drawn"

"Through wisdom a house is built, and by understanding it is established; By knowledge the rooms are filled with all precious and pleasant riches."  Proverbs 24:3-4

Today's prompt to "Count 1000 Gifts in 2012" is to share three gifts "drawn".  (see www.AnnVoskamp.com for more information).   Here are my three offerings for today...They each have significant memories and thoughts connected with them.  Please read the links attached to each picture to get the full story for each.   (you can click on each picture to enlarge for better viewing)




"Sleigh Ride", a gift drawn by my son during a very difficult time during his life and mine. You can
read more about that here: "Saved from The Abyss"

"The Old Whelchel Estate", Paintings drawn and painted by
my father as a Christmas Gift following our visit to this enchanting place
Read more about that day here: "Remnants of the Past"



"The Cabin", another "gift" drawn by my father.
This special story can be seen here: The Cabin


Here is a replica of "The Cabin", a birdhouse built by my son to honor
his grandfather's special family cabin.

 
 I just realized that all of these 'drawings' are of houses.  Houses are more than just dwellings.  These are places where lives are lived, dreams are dreamed, and memories are made for eternity.  What kind of life, dreams, and memories are YOU creating in your house today? I hope your house is being built with wisdom, and being established by understanding the ones entrusted to your care. I pray that your rooms are being filled with precious and pleasant riches...the kind that last for eternity...

"Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where
moth and rust destroy
and where thieves break in and steal;
But lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where
neither moth nor rust destroys
and where thieves do NOT break in and steal.
For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also."
Matthew 6:19-21

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Three Gifts in His Word

Today's "joy-dare"...Count 1000 Gifts in 2012...(see www.AnnVoskamp.com) : 

Three Gifts in His Word:


"Bless the Lord, O my soul, and forget not all His benefits:

  1. Who forgives all your iniquities
  2. Who heals all your diseases
  3. Who redeems your life from destruction
  4. Who crowns you with lovingkindness and tender mercies,
  5. Who satisfies your mouth with good things, so that your youth is renewed like the eagle's."

Psalm 103:2-5



Sorry, I couldn't stop with just three gifts. I could continue on and on and on...but this was a good start, don't you agree?



Oh! To be able to fly like the Eagle!




To have my "youth restored like the eagle!" Wow!
God does that for us!



Eagle photos taken by my sister Doris, near our family home in
Tavares, Florida


"Bless the Lord, all His works,
In all places of His dominion,
Bless the Lord, O my soul!"
Psalm 103:22

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Three Gifts Today: "Hard Eucharisteo"...

Ephesians 5:20 says: "Giving thanks always for all things to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ..."

In reading the book  One Thousand Gifts  by Ann Voskamp, I have learned about the word "Eucharisteo".  To put it simply, it means "Grace, Thanksgiving, Joy, ".(page 33)  Primarily it is used to describe how Jesus "gave thanks"...in so many places in Scripture...check it out.  Think about everytime you see a reference to giving thanks in the New Testament, especially as it refers to Christ.  I can't go into the whole study here...you need to read the book!  Giving Thanks in all things...changes one's perspective on life itself. Not just in the good things, but in the difficult things as well.  Today's challenge is to list the hard "Eucharisteo" times of our lives.  The times that are painfully hard to give thanks.  The times that we'd rather escape from our troubles and trials and weep and beat our chests and cry out to God, "WHY?"  "Why me?"  "Why him?" "Why her?" "Why, Why, Why???" 

We've all had those times in our lives.  If you haven't yet, I am sorry to inform you, you will.  No one gets through this life without experiencing sorrow, loss, disappointment, fear, anguish, pain.  So how do we give thanks in ALL Things?  How do we get through the "hard Eucharisteo" moments of our lives?

There is no pat answer.  No easy formula.  No magic potion that takes away the agony and replaces it with ecstasy. 

"The Lord Jesus, on the same night in which He was betrayed, took bread; and when He had given thanks, He broke it and said, 'Take, eat; this is My body which is broken for you; do this in remembrance of Me.'
In the same manner He also took the cup after supper, saying, 'This cup is the new covenant in My blood.  This do, as often as you drink it,in remembrance of Me.'"  I Corinthians 11:23-25

Jesus "gave thanks" before He broke the bread and drank the cup with His disciples. He knew He was going to the cross to die for the sins of the world (you and me) in just a very short time.  But He still "gave thanks".  This was an example of a very "hard Eucharisteo". 

My three examples of "hard Eucharisteo": 

1.   My son Matthew diagnosed with cancer at the age of 37.
(Why Lord?  He's married, has a beautiful family, and a full life.)



 
2.  My son Matthew diagnosed with a brain tumor at age 18.
(Why Lord?  He's about to graduate high school, and is planning to go
to Bible College to prepare for the ministry.)



3.  My Son Matthew, being hit by a car at age 18 months
while my husband was preparing for the ministry at Graduate School
(Why, Lord? We gave up all to follow You!)



Yes, giving thanks in ALL things is never easy.  There are many unanswerable questions.
But I can honestly tell you this: Even in all the hard times...the times of uncertainty and doubt...and there have been many, many more...I just picked one child tonight as an example...but I have three sons, each with their own stories that have caused me to have serious moments of "hard Eucharisteo"...times when I found it almost impossible to "give thanks."
But God, in His Mercy and Grace...has carried us through. He has worked His miracles in each of these stories briefly summarized above.  We did "give thanks", and He provided streams in the desert and roads in the wilderness... (Isaiah 43:19)

My friend, if you are experiencing a time of "hard Eucharisteo" in your life today, I can only say to you what I know from my own experience.  Give thanks in all things...trust God.  He will not leave you comfortless.  He may even choose to work a miracle on your behalf.  The miracle sometimes isn't what we expected or hoped for, (but sometimes it is!)  but it is what God wants to do inside of you in the process.  Trust Him. He will not let go of you.
Give Thanks.
"Eucharisteo."

Monday, September 10, 2012

Three Gifts Moving? This is a Tough One!

So, for the "Count 1000 Gifts" prompt today I am supposed to list "Three Gifts Moving".  For a person who has literally moved well over 30 times in my life, I hardly consider "moving" a gift that I'd like to repeat again.  Actually, we moved, hopefully for the last time, this past February.  And this move really was a gift...in so many ways.   For more on the story of this particular move, please follow this link to: "Promises Fulfilled", and I believe that will explain why this move was so special.  To sum it up more completely, This rainbow in the sky just a few days after our move into our new house was a sign to me of God's promise being fulfilled in our new home.  Not just in the physical, material sense, but in a deeper, more spiritual place in our hearts and souls.


Another gift of moving: Laughter of friends and family in our new home...and the gifts that they bring:


This Pink Flamingo Cookie Jar was a "house-warming" gift full of home-made cookies,
a "moving gift" for sure!  It moved us all to laughter and tears at the same time...
Thank you, Lord, for these friends who know how to bring a smile to our faces.


Some of our other "moving gifts" since coming to our new house in the forest have really stirred up some excitement:








These beautiful creatures are our new neighbors, or rather, we are their new neighbors, as they were here first.  Although we do not often have the privilege of seeing them in the daylight, we know they are out there, almost every night, "just passing through".  We don't mess with them, and they don't bother us.  We just make sure to be in before dark, and never take walks alone...



(Another "gift" of moving...from my sister...she knows exactly what's on my mind!)

But we do not fear this place, nor do we allow ourselves to become too attached, because we have another home, a Heavenly Home, not made with hands, that is waiting for us just over yonder.  We, like these bears,
are just passing through. 

Jesus said,
"Let not your heart be troubled; you believe in God, believe also in Me.  In My Father's house are many mansions; if it were not so, I would have told you.  I go to prepare a place for you.  And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you to Myself; that where I am, there you may be also. "

John 14:1-3

For more information on the "Count 1000 Gifts" project, please go to www.AnnVoskamp.com.  Why don't you join us in this "joy-dare" each day?  There is something life-changing that takes place inside our hearts when we allow ourselves to find God's fingerprints in everything we see and do. 



Sunday, September 9, 2012

Counting My Gifts- September 9th - 3 Gifts Framed

Today's "gift" prompt for "Counting 1000 Gifts" is Three Gifts Framed.  (See www.AnnVoskamp.com for more information )

 I've been thinking about this...and the first framed gift I cling to is this one:  This photograph of "My Three Sons", taken back when they were all still a part of our home before they dispersed to their own worlds as adults.  This framed picture could easily count for my "three gifts framed", but I don't think that is where I am supposed to stop.



The next framed gift is this one:


This is the "framed gift" that inspired the title of this blog, and you can read more about that here: "Closed Doors, Open Windows", The Beginning    and here: Another Closed Door or An Open Window? Now, about 2 & 3/4 years later and with 266 posts written, I can honestly say that this framed gift is a gift that keeps on giving.  The little seed of inspiration contained within that frame has indeed opened a window into a world that I did not previously know existed.  I have learned much, gained so many new friends, and have enjoyed the fellowship of new sisters and brothers in Christ all over the world as a result, praise and glory be to God!  I hope someday to find the young lady who gave me this gift and share with her what her selfless act has created.

As I look around my home, I could find so many other framed "gifts" to include in this post today.  There is one picture that I do not have an actual copy of  in my home, but it is a picture that tells the whole story of why I am here in the first place:


The title of this picture is "Forgiven", and although I do not
know the full history of this picture,* it appears to be the one
who hammered the nails into Christ's hands...still holding the hammer,
and being held in the arms of the Resurrected Christ---Totally Forgiven.


That is where I am today...Totally Forgiven.
I do not deserve to be forgiven for my sins.
I have done nothing to merit this gift.
It has been given freely by the very One I sinned against.

"For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves;
It is the GIFT OF GOD,
Not of works, lest anyone should boast."
Ephesians 2:8-9


These are my three gifts for today.  Wow.  Amazing Grace. How Sweet the sound.