Monday, July 30, 2012

Heart Filled with Gratitude

Let the message of Christ dwell among you richly
as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom
through psalms, hymns, and songs from the Spirit,
singing to God with gratitude in your hearts.
Colossians 3:16 (TNIV)

What an incredible mapping Colossians 3:16 provides for us as we begin our week:
Allow the message of our Christ to live among each of us richly.  What a wondrous thought -- each of us walking around with Christ's message living richly in each one of us because we allow the Word to dwell in and with us.

And then we are to go about teaching and admonishing each other not just with wisdom but through psalms, hymns and songs from the Spirit.  Not only are we to be walking about with Christ's message living in us, but we are to share that Word through psalms, hymns and songs.

And all this singing is to be lifted up to God with gratitude in our hearts.  If your heart is filled with gratitude, there will be nothing to keep you from living up to these words from Colossians.

Today is Monday and that means time to link up with Ann Voskamp and the multitude of friends counting 1000 gifts at A Holy Experience.  So, I'm ready to open my heart and share some

* * *

586.  For the gift of love shared by so many for our family.
587.  For the news that I have had a writing piece accepted for publication.
588.  Finally for the sight of tiny tomatoes on our vines.
589.  The bounty of the berries we've picked from our own bushes.
590.  Healing of inflammation in a really sore bursa.
591.  Joys of videos of our great-grandson.
592.  Time with an older sister and her husband.
593.  And time with an older brother.
594.  Relief from pain from a broken toe (not my week!).
595.  The community at A Holy Experience.
596.  Ann's gifts so willingly shared with us all.

If you want to give thanks and then share your post with the community at A Holy Experience, please come on over.


Friday, July 27, 2012

Five Minute Friday: Beyond

It's Friday morning and time to meet up with Lisa-Jo Baker -- Tales of a Gypsy Mama, who spreads a feast before us consisting of a challenge:

1. Write for 5 minutes flat – no editing, no over thinking, no backtracking
2. Link back here and invite others to join in.
3. Please visit the person who linked up before you & encourage them in their comments.

Today's word is BEYOND, and here's my best five minutes . . . .

Five Minute FridayREADY, SET, GO!

Beyond can be so many things:

Beyond the horizon. 

Beyond mile marker 267.

Beyond the here and now.

And on and on.

But today, for me, beyond is about my own expectations.

Yes, I set my expectations so high they are often beyond my own grasp, my own reach.  And why would you do that to yourself?

As I ponder it, I know God's expectations are many for each of us, but beyond my grasp, my reach -- NEVER!  He sees me as His child and believes that I can be expected to perform beyond His expectations.

God's love for me, and His joy in me, make me His very own, if I am willing.  And that willingness brings me to a level of attempting to go beyond His expectations for me.

Often His are no easier to reach than the ones I set for myself, but God's intention in setting His expectations sometimes beyond my grasp, my reach are to insert me into a new experience of discipleship, mission, ministry.

How about you?  Has God ever set His expectations beyond your grasp or reach?

Test me, LORD, and try me, examine my heart and my mind.

(Scripture added after 5 minutes.)

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

A Cautionary Reminder Perhaps?

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He says, “Be still, and know that I am God;
I will be exalted among the nations,
I will be exalted in the earth.”

Yesterday --

filled with fretting over things not done,

filled with impatience over the status of my housekeeping,

filled with STUFF! 


 a new day filled with hopes of catching up,

a new day hopefully free of fretting and impatience,

a new day bothered by less stuff!


I get out of bed like always,

stumble into the bathroom and back out to get dressed,

and walk right into the base of our exercise bike!

O-U-C-H -- broken pinky toe!!!

Hidden message?????

Not hidden -- a definite message --

to be still, more still than usual,

to take time to listen to Me, I am your God,

and I want you to be still and know Me

today and every day.

How about you?

Can you take some time today to
be still and know Him?

Know Him every day the way we should?

Linking up today with:

On In Around button

and with Joan at Reflections of His Grace



Monday, July 23, 2012

Life in Spite of Me by Kristen Jane Anderson with Tricia Goyer (ISBN 9781601423825)

When I chose to review Life in Spite of Me by Kristen Anderson (with Tricia Goyer), I really wasn't sure what to expect.  I had read the description provided by WaterBrook Multnomah on its Blogging for Books site and the reviews found with the 17-page excerpt available on WaterBrook's site.

What could a young woman possibly write that would make this story, Kristen's story, palatable to a reading public?  She made a choice one dark night to end her life, and she lived to tell about it.

But how do you tell a story like hers?  With humility and grace and hope.  This is what Kristen Anderson has done.  She has told a very difficult story with humility, grace and hope.

Intermingled with the difficulties of mental and physical healing, multiple surgeries and feeling she wasn't understood by family or doctors, Kristen writes from her heart with honesty.

Throughout the book are encouraging notes to those who might be considering a similar choice to hers.  Kristen's notes are heart-felt and bring the hope of a risen Savior to those living in darkness and confusion.  You can almost hear talking with someone.

Not only has Kristen told a difficult and painful story, she has risen above it to go on with her life in a very positive way.  Kristen has become an example of the hope that we have in God.  Hers is a "hope-building" story with a prominent message that "even when we give up on life, God doesn't give up on us."

I will admit that as I first began to read this book, I wasn't overly impressed.  "Listening" to the words on the page initially sounded as if it was expected that I was an adolescent or a teenager.  However, the farther into the book I traveled the more I understood that Kristen was telling her story from the perspective of the young, confused girl who determined there was nothing left for her.  Little did she know, there was so much more waiting for her!  God had plans for her.

* * *

I received this book free from WaterBrook Multnomah for this review. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions expressed are my own. 
Read an excerpt from the book.

Read about Kristen Anderson and Tricia Goyer.

Podcast -- Kristen Jane Anderson, Life in Spite of Me:

What a Weekend Can Hold!

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As we are all too painfully aware, this weekend held within it the tragedy that struck movie goers in Aurora, CO.

Innocents, who had purchased their ticket and popcorn, waited patiently for the film to roll.

And then violence erupted!  Not on the screen, but in front of them.

Our hearts mourn for those who suffered loss, both the families of the victims and the family of the young man who obviously had lost his way.

Our prayers go out to these families and to those who survived as they heal and attempt to recover from these horrors.

* * *

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Today, thousands of miles away from Aurora and as far from the horror of what these people have experienced, I attended a bridal shower for the daughter of dear friends.  So much laughter, so much so there were even some tearsBeautifully wrapped packages, decadent foods, incredible gifts of love.

* * *

The distance between our experiences leaves us standing amazed at the disparity of emotions being felt all at the same time in our world.

And yet, God covers us all in the midst of our joys and our sorrows.  

Just as He blesses those families hurting and works to bring healing in a variety of ways, God also blesses this young couple embarking on a new life together.

Hard to believe, isn't it?

Not if you know, truly know God!

* * *

Joining with Ann Voskamp and the others who are counting gifts at A Holy Experience:

573.  Days of warmth and sunlight.
574.  A day filled with berry picking and a picnic with my husband.
575.  The patience to see me through husband's jam-making!
576.  Skill of doctors and nurses working through some lab tests.
577.  Miracle of a cortison injection.
578.  A written piece accepted for inclusion in an anthology.
579.  Quick response by emergency responders in Aurora.
580.  Heroism in action in the theater.
581.  Lives given for lives surviving.
582.  Engagements, weddings and bridal showers.
583.  Fun times spent in a room full of women.
584.  Coming home to a hubby making MORE jam!
585.  Quiet Sunday evenings together.

If you've never visited Multitudes on Mondays or begun counting to
one thousand gifts and want to know more,
won't you come on over to A Holy Experience
for a visit with us?

Sunday, July 22, 2012

Simply Sunday: Psalm 121:1-2

Mountains around John Day, Oregon
Photo Credit

I raise my eyes toward the mountains.
    Where will my help come from?

My help comes from the Lordthe maker of
heaven and earth.

Psalm 121:1-2 (CEB)

Visiting this peaceful Sunday with

and with Barbie at Fresh Brewed Sundays


Saturday, July 21, 2012

The Crumb Gatherer

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"The Crumb Gatherer" is a short memoir piece I submitted to Jonna Ivin for inclusion in an anthology entitled Loving for Crumbs.  I'm pleased to announce that my work has been accepted! 

Loving for Crumbs is comprised of stories written by women about a time when they were willing to "love for crumbs."  Release of the anthology is expected mid-August in print and for Kindle.

"The Crumb Gatherer" is a look into my attempts as a child to persuade my mother to affirm that she truly loved me.

Jonna Ivin is the author of Will Love for Crumbs, a stunning memoir of her own struggle with loving and being loved.

Jonna, thank you for finding my story worthy of inclusion in Loving for Crumbs.

Friday, July 20, 2012

Tragedy in Colorado -- UPDATE

Lately it seems that tragedy is all too alive and well in Colorado.  Ravaged by wild fires destroying homes and land recently, now what some may call a greater evil struck last evening.

Quoting from an email I received from Chris Sigfrids, Online Marketing Manager for WaterBrook Multnomah:

I woke up this morning and my wife said to me, "Something bad happened in Denver last night."

She didn't know or say what it was as I rushed out the door for work.

On the drive in, I turned on 850 KOA, the largest radio station in Colorado. It was non-stop coverage of a shooting that had taken place just seven short hours ago.

I listened as one of the authorities recounted what happened: 12 people have been killed and 38 wounded in what is being called the "Theater Shooting" in Aurora, Colorado. Witnesses say a masked gunman, dressed in black, walked into the theater with a gas mask on, threw gas canisters into the theater and then opened fire on the crowd. (Hear two witnesses account of the tragedy).

If God Is GoodAs I drove down I-25 listening to what had happened, just 50 miles up the road, I began to consider what the appropriate response was. Should I be angry? Should I forgive? Should I get a concealed carry permit? Should we have tighter gun laws?

I arrived at work and went to chapter four in Randy Alcorn’s book, If God Is Good (download it here).

After spending 10 minutes with just a portion of Randy's book, I felt comfort. I had answers. I found my orientation amidst the flood of possible responses.

I wonder if your blog readers, church members, friends or family are feeling what I felt this morning?

* * *

Later today I received an update from Chris Sigrids which you can read via this link.

I haven't read Randy Alcorn's book, but I did take time to sit down this morning not only to read the download provided above but also to pray for the lives affected in this tragedy.  

Won't you join me today and in the coming days seeking God's direction in not only Colorado but all of our country against these tragedies? 

Five Minute Friday: Enough!

It's Friday morning and time to meet up with Lisa-Jo Baker -- Tales of a Gypsy Mama, who spreads a feast before us consisting of a challenge:

1. Write for 5 minutes flat – no editing, no over thinking, no backtracking
2. Link back here and invite others to join in.
3. Please visit the person who linked up before you & encourage them in their comments.

Today's word is ENOUGH, and here's my best five minutes . . . .

Five Minute FridayREADY, SET, GO!

"Enough is ENOUGH!" my mother would scream at us.

"I've had ENOUGH," I'd cry at the table when told to clean my plate.

"That's ENOUGH" our teacher would say as we misbehaved.

A word heard by every human being walking the face of the earth!

But what really is ENOUGH?

Simply put, God is my enough.

Some days I might consider the necessities of life, or what I presume to be necessities and be tempted to go shopping.  It doesn't take long for me to become one bored individual.  I don't really like shopping and I just thought I needed to shop.  That's because shopping isn't enough.

Another day I might spend my time searching for something to satisfy -- perhaps my sewing and quilting, reading a good historical novel, chatting with friends online.  But satisfied I'm not!  Why?  Because these things aren't enough.

Only GOD is enough to make me sense peace, feel unconditionally loved, feel comforted when I'm hurting, fed when I'm hungry for something more than this world can give.

After all He tells us so in 2 Cor. 12:9, as found in The Message:

My grace is enough; it's all you need.
My strength comes into its own in your weakness.

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 Images and Scripture verse added after 5 minutes was up.

Thursday, July 19, 2012

From the Desert to the Berry Patch

Each year we go to our favorite berry farm to pick our favorites -- gooseberries, boysenberries and raspberries.  EXCEPT last year, we weren't able to go.  With both of us suffering from severe sciatica and back pain, it seemed the better part of valor to stay home and anyway, we still had plenty of berries from the year before in our freezer.

Yesterday was a different story!

Breakfast was finished.

The convertible was packed for a picnic lunch and with berry baskets.

And we were ready to stain our hands with the delicious juices of those berries.

GO WEST, berry pickers!  GO WEST!

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And west we drove.  About 45 minutes from our home to a lovely place called West Union GardensAfter we parked and had our containers weighed, we marched with determination into the lovely rows of berries -- row after row after row.

As we walked childish laughter could be heard.  Mamas calling them back closer, and we began to see the color of ripening berries.

Most important on our list of things to be picked were gooseberries, my husband's favorite pie making berry.  So, we found those and began picking the most luscious looking pink gooseberries. Pink, fat, juicy, big, delectable looking berries.  I kept asking how many do we want to pick, and he kept saying, "MORE!"

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Finally, we had enough gooseberries!

On to the boysenberries . . . .

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and what we found was extraordinary in its bounty.  Fat and juicy berries ready for picking.  Slipping into your hands and sometimes falling to the ground.  And ready for eating . . .  you can eat while you pick, you know.

Then it was time to take a break.  After all, we'd been at this for almost three hours.  We had our lunch under a large oak tree and once refreshed the last berries we wanted to pick called us back to the rows.

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The raspberries had just been opened, and there were so many!  It was as if a sea of raspberries stretched before us as far as the eye could see.

The berries were larger than any I'd ever seen!  And it seemed the berries wanted you to come close and pick them.  Again, they slipped right into your hand.  Often they too fell to the ground, and if you were lucky, you could snap that one up and put it into your bucket.

I heard a little one about three years old say to her mama, "Oh, look, mama.  Some of the berries falled down to the ground."  Her tiny voice sounded sad.

Dear reader, don't leave me yet.  I know you wonder where this is going.  And I have a wonderful message not just for you, but one that was meant for me yesterday.

For weeks, or so it seems, I've been traveling in the desert. I even mentioned to my husband that my writing had dried up, I felt parched and worn out, and I wondered why.  Of course, he had no answer for me.

Then, just by chance I reached out to my friend Nikki over at Simply Striving.  Nikki's post on Tuesday talked about discovering worship.  As I read it, I cried.  There was something there I needed and felt a hunger for.  Leaving a comment for Nikki, I told her where I was, or maybe wasn't.

Doing what good friends do best, Nikki reached back to me with a wonderful heartfelt prayer that you can read in her comments -- it may speak to your heart and needs as well.  I could feel something happening -- like an opening was being created.

Yesterday, while in the berry fields, breathing in His air, feeling His breeze, seeing and picking from His bounty, 

God nudged and said to me, "Daughter, where have you been?
Not nearly close enough lately."

"Father, I know.  Life's been so full and so busy with family, and you know, things."

He nudged again.  "How can life be full without Me?"

I hung my head, drew a breath,
and knew in an instant He was right, again.

It was I who had moved away.  Like the children running in the berry fields, I needed Him to call me back closer.  I needed to be nudged.

I wasn't taking time to acknowledge or draw close to Him.  Not the other way around.

I had created my own desert space.  

I had dehydrated my relationship with God.  

I am the one to take the step toward regaining my closeness with Him. 

[L]et us draw near to God with a sincere heart and with the full
assurance that faith brings, having our hearts sprinkled to cleanse us
from a guilty conscience and having our bodies washed with pure water.
Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess,
for he who promised is faithful.
Hebrews 10:22-23 (NIV)

Where are you today -- are you creating your own desert space, or are you clinging to that faith and hope we all profess and that He and He alone promises?

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Dancing in the Sky

About a week ago we witnessed an amazing, or as my husband calls it, the only lightning storm like this ever seen in the Pacific NW.

We don't get lightning and thunder very often.  A large, gaping hole in my climatological history since moving away from the South.  BUT on Sunday, July 9th, we had a lightning party!

Dinner was just over and we were visiting family out of town.  Someone said they heard wind blowing, and we all stepped out on the deck.  Sure enough the wind was blowing, but that wasn't all that was happening.

The skies were dancing, and God was putting on an exceptional show!  Thunder clapped and rolled, and the skies were filled with what looked like strobe lights dancing behind the clouds.

And this wasn't intermittent in nature.  This entertainment went on nonstop for about 20 minutes.  With never a break.  Never a rest.  Constant.

SUDDENLY, it dawned on me.

There was a message in this storm.

Its theme was constancy.


You stay grounded and steady in that bond of trust,
constantly tuned in to the Message,
careful not to be distracted or diverted.
There is no other Message—just this one.

Unfortunately, I'm not constantly focused.

I'm easily distracted or diverted.

But I am to stay grounded, steady resting on His bond with me.

What about you? 

Linking up with:

On In Around button


Monday, July 16, 2012

Celebrating Marriage

This weekend found us on the road againBut for happier reasons this trip.

Heading the car toward Seattle, we traveled to celebrate with my husband's older sister and her husband their 60 years of marriage.

As their generation grows older and passes on, it is not likely that we'll see so many long-lived marriages.  Divorces, living together rather than marrying, and other current social trends may cause 60-year marriages to come into decline.

During our celebration, the pastor at the church where the celebratory couple attends spoke for a moment.  Yes, he reminded us of the verses found in Genesis that speak to the state of marriage.

He went on to point out that this marriage of 60 years exemplifies for all of us who come behind what marriage should be.  Despite ordinary tough times and medical crises along the way, this couple has remained as one, joined together as God would have them be.

In so many ways, my sister- and brother-in-law have been good examples for all who have come behind them.  But in this one, they are standouts!

For this reason a man will leave his father and his mother,
and will be joined to his wife. And they will become one flesh.
Genesis 2:24 (NLV)

* * *

Today is Monday so time for Multitudes on Mondays at A Holy Experience and for giving thanks for God's many gifts over the past week.  Ann Voskamp is traveling in Haiti with her son this week on behalf of Compassion International.  Whether or not Ann puts up the usual link for Mondays, I'm counting anyway!

560.  For the gift of our sister- and brother-in-law's example in marriage.
561.  Seeing family from all across the country this weekend.
562.  Once again safe travel.
563.  Joy of seeing generation to generation engaging with one another.
564.  The long-awaited arrival of summer in the Pacific NW!
565.  Blooming hydrangeas.
566.  Sitting outdoors and breathing in the fresh air.
567.  Picking blueberries from my bushes.
568.  Picking our first marionberry this morning.
569.  Looking into the eyes of my husband and giving thanks for 30 years together.
570.  Healing for our grandson.
571.  Our daughters-in-law who bring us great joy.
572.  Being at home for awhile.

Have you started counting your one thousand gifts or more?  Come on over to A Holy Experience and join the community!


Sunday, July 15, 2012

To Heaven and Back by Mary C. Neal, MD (ISBN 9780307731715)

Not too long ago I won a copy of To Heaven and Back by Mary C. Neal, MD, in a WaterBrook Press giveaway.  Therefore, this review is not part of my Blogging for Books agreement with the publisher.

* * *

Whether or not you believe in near death experiences or a return to life after death, Mary C. Neal shares in a beautifully spiritual way the amazing story of drowning to dying on to eternal life, and then back again to live among her family and friends.

The author, also an orthopedic surgeon, knows the emotional nature of death in her practice.  Yet, she is still surprised by her own experience which opens a wealth of spiritual awakening to her.  Although sent back to live again, Mary, like many others, was disappointed that she couldn't stay and share in the joys of Heaven.

However, as we all know, God has a plan for us and obviously He wasn't finished with Mary Neal yet.  In her book, Neal talks about life after death and the various twists and turns it takes for her and her family.  She shares a few of her less than happy experiences but rejoices that she was able to support her family during times of extreme sadness, frustration, disappointment, all because she had experienced something that so filled her own heart with joy.

The reader is greeted in each chapter with a Scripture verse which, in my opinion, fit perfectly with the subject matter of the chapter.  Some verses I saw in a totally different light than I had before reading the chapter.  I don't believe the author intended this as a Bible study or resource book, so not many Scriptures, if any, are found throughout the book.  However, these verses used with each chapter tell me they mean something special to Mary Neal.

Many discount stories of near death and return to life from death.  This doesn't seem to dissuade Mary Neal from sharing hers.  I admire her willingness to tell what she believes to be her own truth and the impact it had on her and her family and her practice.

At the end of the book, the reader can enjoy some Q&A where the author answers a variety of questions posed by readers.

This book was a quick read for me, finished in the span of a busy weekend travelling back and forth about 5 hours each way.  I can highly recommend it to the reader who wants to know what it's like to go "To Heaven and Back."

Simply Sunday ~~ Lamentations 3:23


Words so sweet and simple,

like music to my ears.

How about you?

Can you feel His mercies,

new every morning?

 * * *

Linking up with the beautiful ladies of

and with Barbie at Freshly Brewed Sundays

for a time of quiet reflection and inspiration.

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Promises Made, Promises Relied On

Attribution Unavailable

As it happens so often, I stumbled upon the verses from Isaiah found in Chapter 35, verses 1-10.

The wilderness and the solitary place shall be glad for them;
and the desert shall rejoice and blossom as the rose.
It shall blossom abundantly, and rejoice even with joy and singing.
The glory of Lebanon shall be given unto it, the excellency of Carmel and Sharon;
they shall see the glory of the Lord, and the excellency of our God.
Strengthen ye the weak hands, and confirm the feeble knees.

Say to them that are of a fearful heart, “Be strong, fear not.
Behold, your God will come with vengeance, even God with a recompense;
He will come and save you.
Then the eyes of the blind shall be opened,
and the ears of the deaf shall be unstopped.

Then shall the lame man leap as a hart, and the tongue
of the dumb sing
; for in the wilderness shall
waters break out, and streams in the desert.
And the parched ground shall become a pool, and the thirsty land
springs of water; in the habitation of dragons, where each lay,
shall be grass with reeds and rushes.

And a highway shall be there, and a way, and it shall be called

the Way of Holiness. The unclean shall not pass over it,
but it shall be for those; the wayfaring men, though fools, shall not err therein.
No lion shall be there, nor any ravenous beast shall go up thereon;
it shall not be found there, but the redeemed shall walk there.

And the ransomed of the Lord shall return, and come to Zion
with songs and everlasting joy upon their heads; they shall obtain
joy and gladness, and sorrow and sighing shall flee away
(emphasis mine)

 Instantly, I was reminded of my sister-in-law who died some years ago after a struggle with ALS, also known as Lou Gehrig's disease.  These verses and a song our choir sang at the time, based on these verses, gave me great comfort that upon entering Heaven she would be able to walk and talk again, her body would be restored, and she would rise up and praise our God.

Funny that I've not often thought of these words in Isaiah nor the song lyrics. . . .

UNTIL this weekend.
We were visiting my husband's brother and his wife.
Bob's brother suffers from a rare and serious form of dementia,
which has stolen the core of his being from us. 

His eyes show little light or recognition.
His tongue and lips have been quieted
except for a rare word here and there.
His body doesn't cooperate the way it has before,
and he sits or lays most of every day,
unable to move under his own strength.

The words from Isaiah and from this song have once again spoken to me.  I am reminded that one day my husband's brother will be able to sing, speak, see with recognition, and walk as He becomes one with our God in Heaven.  It is hard not to be sad as we watch him slip away so quickly from us.   

BUT God's promises are true and on them I relyI pray the same trust and reliance on Him for you.

Monday, July 9, 2012

"My Gutsy Story"

Every week Sonia Marsh of Gutsy Living features a short story on “Gutsy Living”  about something Gutsy you have done in your life that either:
  • Changed you.
  • Changed the way you think about something.
  • Made your life take a different direction.
You can check out all the details on the Join the “My Gutsy Story” contest page.
Today Sonia is featuring my story, Mama and Her Arsenal.  I do hope you'll join me at Sonia's and read my story.  
Thank you, Sonia, for offering me this opportunity to share a part of my story.

Breathing Praise and Gratitude




Simple, reflexive, necessary, life act of breathing.

On each inhalation, exhalation, complete cycle of breath, we can praise and give thanks to the Lord our God.

Take the time to realize that He who gave us the breath of life, who made our body to respond to the reflexive need for air, asks us to do so little.

Draw close, need Him in our life, and let Him know by praising Him and giving thanks.

Thank you, Lord, for the gift of breath with which to praise and thank you.

* * * 

547.  Breath of life.
548.  Every living, breathing thing in creation.
549.  Freedom to declare our worship and love of the Lord.
550.  Music of the Independence Day holiday.
551.  Sharing with friends, old and new, in celebrations.
552.  Safety of our great-niece and great-nephew in Nigeria...
553.  Swift medical care for our grandson with a wound infection.
554.  Goodness of our daughter-in-law who loves her family so much.
555.  Sun, blue skies and the start of summer, finally!
556.  First harvest of lettuce and blueberries from our own plantings.
557.  Changing colors of the hydrangea blossoms.
558.  Encouragement from writing friends.
559.  Connections with other women writing about God's love on the Internet.

Although I'm counting today, I don't have the ability to link up with the gang over at Ann Voskamp's, because we're traveling.  However, I'm thinking about them and you, and want to invite you to drop in there and see what's going on:

Saturday, July 7, 2012

Friday, July 6, 2012

Five Minute Friday: Have I Got a Story to Tell!

It's Friday morning and time to meet up with Lisa-Jo Baker -- Tales of a Gypsy Mama, who spreads a feast before us consisting of a challenge:

1. Write for 5 minutes flat – no editing, no over thinking, no backtracking
2. Link back here and invite others to join in.
3. Please visit the person who linked up before you & encourage them in their comments.

Today's word is STORY, and here's my best five minutes . . . .

Five Minute Friday

How many times has someone said to you, "Have I got a STORY to tell!"

And you're reaction may have been, "Oh, no, here we go again!"

But think about it -- we've all got stories to tell.  We just don't always preface our stories with such an announcement.

As I thought about Lisa-Jo's word for today, I began to think about my story.  Well, actually that would be STORIES!

There are my mamahood stories.  Then my single parenting stories after the divorce stories.

My stories about working as a legal secretary for some 30 plus years.  Oh, all the soccer, T-ball, swimming, football stories.

And the stories of finding Mr. Right and marrying him, and now the stories of our glorious almost 31 years together.  In between all of that, the stories of our children's marriages, grandchildren, and now great-grandchildren.

That's a lot of stories!

But there's one story so much more important than all of these . . . . it's the story of a loving Father who looked down on His creation and saw people who needed Him and His loving grace.  The Father who gave us His only Son, Jesus Christ, to die on the cross for our salvation.

Now, that's a STORY!



Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Thoughts on Independence vs. Dependence


Today our country celebrates what is probably the most important day in American history -- our independence.

Where I live in the Pacific NW, we celebrate what we hope is the beginning of summer.  Hard to believe considering where the rest of the country has been recently in the weather news.

As I reflected on our hopes in the NW for warmer, drier, sunnier days, I found myself thinking of the hope our forefathers held in their hearts when they left England for what would become America.

They were seeking freedom from tyranny, to worship as they wished, to be at liberty to govern themselves, and so much more.

BUT even in gaining independence, those hopes depended on their faith in God, a leaning on His everlasting arms.

In Isaiah 26:2-4, as found in the Amplified Bible, we read:

Open the gates, that the [uncompromisingly] righteous nation
which keeps her faith and her troth [with God] may enter in.

You will guard him and keep him in perfect and constant peace whose
mind [both its inclination and its character] is stayed on You,
because he commits himself to You, leans on You,
and hopes confidently in You.
So trust in the Lord (commit yourself to Him, lean on Him,
hope confidently in Him) forever; for the Lord God is an
everlasting Rock [the Rock of Ages].

Lately, and perhaps because of family circumstances, I've been considering just how much I fix my eyes on Him, allowing myself to lean into Him and hope in Him.  Is it enough?

Or do I allow myself to get caught up in the worldly comforts of our free nation, and lose that focus?  Do I battle for independence from Him in favor of what the world around me can offer? 

God's been nudging me to come closer, to lean more steadfastly, to be constant in my hope and trust, because this is the greatest of freedoms.  A pure and simple gift of grace offered through sacrifice, the sacrifice of His Son.

Today, although thankful for the freedoms of our homeland, I choose dependence on Him first.  Then I can truly enjoy the independence found in our history and our lives today.

What about you?  Where do your priorities and freedoms take you?  Closer or farther away?

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