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Days 4-30 of November Thankfulness: All at Once I Realized….

Okay, I realized that if I don’t do the rest at one time then I probably won’t finish it so I’m just jumping ahead…. Here are the rest of the 30 things I’m thankful for in no particular order….

Just a part of my job

4. My job– On any given weekend I come home with great stories from the kids that I work with… whether it is a funny story (like the kid who asked if he could say bad words and when I said no, he said to his friend, “@#$%, we can’t say bad words.” or the sweet little girl who insists we call her “Dog”) or a sweet one (the kid who requires a hug from the other party of the dispute after the apology), I always have something great to share.  Plus, because of what I do… I pretty much much get to be a kid…  I love it.

5. My co-workers– I realize that not too many people can say that they love everyone that they work with … and if they say they love them, they may not like them so much…. But I love and like my co-workers.  They are a great group of people who put up with me and love and like me back… at least, I’m pretty sure they do… I also know, not too many have co-workers that feel like family…. I do and am thankful.. (If you see my boss make sure you tell him I said these nice things)

6. My husband– Another one who puts up with me… So few get to see the funny side of him but the man cracks me up… plus he is a great dad and husband. ( You can also tell him I said these nice things. )

7. My freedom– I will be voting tomorrow and realize that for whatever reason, I have been fortunate enough to be born and live in a country that is free.

8. My kids– My girls are such a perfect addition to my life.  They are all funny, compassionate, sweet (most of the time… well, okay… sweet to others), they love each other now and someday may become friends with each other (actually, I see it happening already) They aren’t perfect by any means but then again, they have an imperfect mom so what do I expect.

9. Our alphabet– abcdefghijklmnopqrstuvwxyz…. there may be a lot of them but thankful there are no ~ or ` or other symbols over the tops of them….plus, I like to write and am glad I don’t have to write in pictures..

10. Flip-Flops– I love the idea of slipping on a pair of flip-flops and letting my feet feel the sun… yeah, leather, canvas and other shoes are great too, but flip-flops are the next best thing to bare feet...

11. Hummingbirds– Our summer is made better by these little guys… They zoom past our heads, flutter around our back porch and though we may sound easy to entertain, they are more fun to watch than most shows on TV.

12. Friends– some to laugh with, some to cry with, some to do both with, some male, some female, some who brighten my day unexpectedly, some who mentor me, some who we learn together…. some who have passed in and out of my life……….all have a special place in my heart

13. My health–  thankful that I can walk, talk, and do most anything I want to do because I have good health

14. Ale8– The Central Kentucky soft drink that has made it’s way to a few other places in the country…. I’m pretty sure it is an acquired taste, but for those of us who love it … we really love it.  And I’m thankful that they now have Diet and caffeine free, too.

15. Baby Animals– They are just so cute…  puppies, kittens, baby rabbits, baby bears, etc… well, except baby narwhals

16. Creativity-I’m a person who loves to create…. whether it be a story, a painting or a sculpted caricature of someone….It is what I love to do… I’m thankful for a creative Creator and amazed at what He createdLightening outside our house

17. Nature– Waterfalls, the change of seasons, stars, storms, lightening, weird animals (narwhals, angler fish, tarsiers,etc)… whatever it may be it all goes back to the creativity….

18. Technology – I’m thankful to live in a day and age where people thousands and thousands of miles away can communicate as if they were next door neighbors.  I also love that we can get to them by plane, train or car rather than only a horse or on foot.

19. Chocolate – ‘Nuff said…

20. Modern Medicine –  I can imagine that without what we have today, I probably would have been one on the side of the road in need of healing when Christ walked by…. AND – can you imagine surgery without antibacterial items??   that’s what I’m talking about

21. The Bible – I used to never understand it nor care much about the stories from it, but once I began to dig into it with the help of Christ, it changed my world….

22. Music – It can perk up your day, help you worship God, mellow out a crying baby, make memories, sooth a tortured soul, help motivate, help memorize… It is a pretty powerful thing.

23. Grace– I know I’ve already written about it but I’m just doubly thankful that I don’t get what I deserve…. because I can never do enough to get the good portion of deserving all by myself….

24. Fruit-something good for you and tastes good too…. bananas, apples (fuji are my favorite), grapes, kiwi, raisins, watermelon, actually all melons, strawberries, cherries, clementines ….. add a little chocolate to some and then it’s even better…. shall I go on?

25. Humor -sense of humor- glad I have one, even if I am the only one who thinks I’m funny… and laughter,  not at the expense of others but wholesome laughter could possibly bring the world together

26. Bug sprayCitronella, flea and tick repellent, after bite….. whichever it is, it was a genius invention

27. Gloves– They keep my hands warm. (particularly on days when my office is Freezing) I can even text in them now and best of all,  I don’t have to touch things that are yucky if I don’t want….

28. My family-my parents, by example taught me how to work through arguments, dance, laugh, love each other, give to others and love God and church….I have no siblings but do have cousins, aunts and uncles… brothers and sisters-in-law, father and mother-in-law (deceased- but wonderfully remembered), a wonderful step mother-in-law…. so many great memories

29. My home– Yes, there are times when I wish I had a bigger yard or one more bedroom or a live in maid, but I am blessed to have what I have and know it

30. A Loving God– anyone who makes a way for you to get to them must love you a lot…. thankful that the Creator of all did that for me…. and for you…. so when I am thankful, that is who gets my thanks… without the Creator and his grace, all of the other things are pointless.

If only November had more days…….. Maybe I should just be thankful all of the time….

Ephesians 5:20

Always giving thanks to God the Father for everything, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.

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Posted by on November 5, 2012 in Devotions, Faith, Fun, Life Stories

 

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Day 1 of November Thankfulness-Don’t Box Me In

There used to be a skit on Saturday Night Live about a couple named Doug and Wendy Whiner.  The skit was based around this couple who spoke in a whiny voice all of the time.  I can remember traveling in Panama as a teenager and while doing a little sightseeing, my friend and I began saying things in our Doug and Wendy Whiner voices.  Looking back, we cracked ourselves up but were probably annoying everyone else.

So, now it is time for me to divulge a truth……I’m often like Doug and Wendy.  I whine. I suppose the reality of it is that I’m a pretty thankful person.  I realize that I have been blessed with a great husband, great kids (even if they do roll their eyes at me at times) and a great family.  I love my job and my co-workers. I have some precious friends. My kids never have to go without needs. (I am stressing needs… wants are a totally different thing.) I’m thankful to God  for all of these things and so much more.  BUT…. I’m also still a whiner.  Not so much of one out loud and to people (okay, maybe a few get to hear me) but in the quietness of my life, wherever that may be, I whine to God about what I don’t have or what I don’t want.

Last spring, I took a day long personal retreat.  It wasn’t much of anything other than a hike all by myself to a rock that overlooks a river.  I took my walking stick, a backpack, some music on my phone and my Bible.  The intention of the retreat was to spend my time with God….. whining.  I had been dealing with a perpetual thorn in my side… as much as I have done and as hard as I have tried, I couldn’t (still can’t) get that thing out of my side.  So, my retreat time was going to be me and God…. I totally had planned on him showing up at that rock with me.  I sat down, prayed some, opened my Bible, read some….. nothing.  No God.  I did those things again.  Still, no God.  For whatever reason, though I know I am always in his presence, he chose to be quiet.  And my reaction… I was disappointed…. I wanted to complain about this thorn in my side… I wanted answers….. It was a great day for it to be removed! Still nothing but silence.

I basked on the rock for several hours, reading, waiting….. I was at the point of putting God in a box and of believing that He was also annoyed with my whining, so I finally gave up and decided to leave.  Now being a girl that grew up on a farm, with a tad of hippie inside and lack of desire to be like others, I decided a hike without shoes would be great….  I put my shoes in my backpack and began hiking through mud, rocks and grass… It was wonderful.  The smells of fresh mud and grass, the feel of walking on gravel and squishing through mud, the sounds of a running creek and singing birds… I was instantly taken back to my childhood.

I made it through the rough terrain and back to a concrete sidewalk and was watching a group of kids in the distance when I looked down and caught myself in mid-step.  I almost stepped on the biggest thorn I’d ever seen in my life.  It was huge… at least to me it was.  It was probably three inches long and the thorns on the side were sticking a good two inches outward.  It looked much like a cross.  I thought in my mind that thorn would be great to show the kids at church because it was probably the size of the thorns placed on Jesus’ head.  I looked around to find more but there were none.  The only ones I saw were about 40 feet in the air, wrapped around a large tree.  So, I picked it up and decided since God wasn’t meeting me that I would listen to some music.
I put in my ear buds and without looking, clicked on my music.  A song began to play and as I sat down in my car, I heard the words in a whole new way….

The song was, Don’t Give Up by Shawn McDonald…. These are the words that I heard….

Sometimes it is hard to go on
It’s hard to see the reasons
For breathing, living, letting love guide the way
But you must hold on

 
Don’t give up
Don’t give up
Hold on for one more day

 

Sometimes we fall down
We get ourselves in trouble
But it’s OK
Cause we still have another chance to get it right
To get it right

 

I’ve come too far
I’ve seen so much
I’ve heard the call and felt the touch
I’ve tasted love that I cannot deny

 
Don’t give up
Don’t give up
Hold on for one more day

 
I remembered the words that had been spoken to me just days before, ” Maybe the thorn in your side is to keep you relying on God.  If you didn’t have it would you depend on God as much as you have to with it? Maybe not” … I looked at the thorn… it was a souvenir…God waited until I was like a child and spoke to me in a way that was creative and miraculous….. I wept…

I’ve kept that thorn. It sits on my desk as a reminder of that day.   I still don’t like the thorn in my side and it still bothers me a lot, but at least I have an understanding and that understanding came in such a loving and beautiful way.

 

 

Day 1: I’m thankful for a God that cannot be put in a box, desires a personal relationship with me (and you) and speaks in beautiful ways.

2 Corinthians 12:7-10 (NLT)

even though I have received such wonderful revelations from God. So to keep me from becoming proud, I was given a thorn in my flesh, a messenger from Satan to torment me and keep me from becoming proud.

Three different times I begged the Lord to take it away. Each time he said, “My grace is all you need. My power works best in weakness.” So now I am glad to boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ can work through me. 10 That’s why I take pleasure in my weaknesses, and in the insults, hardships, persecutions, and troubles that I suffer for Christ. For when I am weak, then I am strong.

From Jesus Calling by Sarah Young-

Grow strong in the Light of My Presence. Your weakness does not repel Me. On the contrary, it attracts My Power, which is always available to flow into a yielded heart. Do not condemn yourself for your constant need of help. Instead, come to Me with your gaping neediness; let the Light of My Love fill you.

A yielded heart does not whine or rebel when the going gets rough. It musters the courage to thank Me even during hard times. Yielding yourself to My will is ultimately an act of trust. In quietness and trust is your strength.

 

Don’t Give Up- Shawn McDonald

 
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Posted by on November 2, 2012 in Devotions, Faith, Life Stories

 

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Running Naked…. BUT With Clothes on AND a Target on My Back

A few weeks ago, I was unable to sleep one night and as I lay there at 4:30 a.m., I decided that in thirty minutes I was going to turn on my “Couch to 5K” app and head out the door.  I was going to be a runner.  It would be a new everyday routine .  I would run at 5:00 a.m., experience no embarrassment (no one would see me), be back to the house before anyone was awake and in the darkness of the early morning become a seasoned runner that could eventually show herself in daylight with no shame.  I had it all planned out.    But then I started thinking, “what if others are out running at that time too” and I remembered that I probably didn’t have great running shoes or clothes to run in, so when 5:00 a.m. rolled around, I decided to skip it and go buy some running apparel later that day.

However, I  later saw something that threw my excuses right out the window…. It was a man, who was obviously not running from anyone, but instead was running for pleasure, and on his feet were not fancy running shoes…. actually, no running shoes at all.  He was running in flip-flops.

Well,  to know me, you know that I love flip-flops… I wear them everywhere, even hiking.  So, I actually became inspired and went home and googled  “flip-flop running”…. not only did articles come up about running in flip-flops but there were articles about running barefoot.  Now, to really know me is to know that barefoot is the way I’d prefer to be pretty much at all times, so barefoot running was very intriguing to me… but before I can run barefoot I need to study up on it.

Okay, who am I kidding… deep down inside I want to be a runner but the reality of it all is that I have enough excuses to hold me off until, well, until I have no desire to run.   I once told my co-workers, which became a running(excuse the pun) joke for years,  “The only way you’ll ever see me run is by placing a target on my back with a gun in your hand”.  I definitely have to be motivated to run. (A 5K with zombies chasing me might work… keyword: might).

Recently, when brainstorming with a friend about ideas for teaching Hebrews 12:1 (vs 1b-And let us run with endurance the race God has set before us.), I was reminded of my whole running desire, barefoot running and having a target on my back.    I realized that sometimes I don’t want to “run”, much more, run with endurance… (this time I’m talking about spiritually running). Just like physical running, sometimes I need a reason to run, a reason to “get going”,  something to get me motivated or just to stop being lazy about my faith….. So what can possibly create that motivation?  A target on my back, of course.  A target that the enemy wants to hit.

Now, with a target on my back, not only do I have to run with endurance, but I have to focus on my run… where the path is taking me and where I need to go in order to dodge that bullet, or maybe even a missile, that is headed for me.   The first portion of Hebrews 12:1 says “let us strip off every weight that slows us down, especially the sin that so easily trips us up”  So now, I also need to release some things so I can run faster and dodge easier…. pretty much metaphorically get naked.

So, now I have a target on my back but I’ve thrown off everything that could weigh me down….you would think that now being “lighter” and having a clean, pure, faith-filled life, the target would be gone, the path easier and I could slow down. However instead, by throwing off everything, I just exposed the target and now it stands out more than ever.   Making my target more available and feeling exposed and vulnerable……I’m not so sure that this sounds like something I would want to do. It sounds more like something I would lie in bed and make excuses to get out of.  Why give up what is comfortable only to make myself a running target?   Hold on… Good news is coming…

If you keep reading in Hebrews, it says that by keeping our eyes on Christ we can do it. Why? Because if I have a target on my back, I want to make sure I know every place to run so I don’t get stuck in some dark dead end somewhere…. Also, keeping focused on Christ will give me the opportunity to see what he sees and behave how he does.  After all, he is God so he’s got it all figured out. Not enough reason to expose your target? Hang in there….there’s even more….and its my favorite.

A few weeks ago, I taught the kids about the armor of God…. And one very cool thing that I love to remember and also to remind others of is when looking at the armor of God, our head (helmet),  our heart (breastplate) our vital organs (belt), our feet (boots), anything coming our way (sword and shield)…. I am protected.  However, there is one piece missing…. There is still one exposed important part of the body that this armor doesn’t cover… MY BACK.  The place where that exposed target is…. BUT…. here is the best part ever… Christ has my back.  The target may still be there but by keeping my eyes focused on Christ, I stay on the path of protection and hope.  He’s not going to allow me to be hit….That doesn’t mean the enemy won’t attempt to strike…. It just means that I’ve got protection,  hope and excitement to get to the finish line.

Running naked with my clothes on, a focus and a protector ….. that’s a race that I can run.

Hebrews 12:1-2

Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a huge crowd of witnesses to the life of faith, let us strip off every weight that slows us down, especially the sin that so easily trips us up. And let us run with endurance the race God has set before us. We do this by keeping our eyes on Jesus, the champion who initiates and perfects our faith.[a] Because of the joy[b] awaiting him, he endured the cross, disregarding its shame. Now he is seated in the place of honor beside God’s throne.

Ephesians 6:13-18

13 Therefore, put on every piece of God’s armor so you will be able to resist the enemy in the time of evil. Then after the battle you will still be standing firm. 14 Stand your ground, putting on the belt of truth and the body armor of God’s righteousness. 15 For shoes, put on the peace that comes from the Good News so that you will be fully prepared.[b] 16 In addition to all of these, hold up the shield of faith to stop the fiery arrows of the devil.[c] 17 Put on salvation as your helmet, and take the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.

18 Pray in the Spirit at all times and on every occasion. Stay alert and be persistent in your prayers for all believers everywhere.[d]

 
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Posted by on September 8, 2012 in Devotions, Faith

 

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