I run in the path of Your commands, for You have set my heart free! Psalm 119:32, NIV1984

Monday, April 30, 2012

Everywhere I Look

This word yesterday, so timely . . .

"Let Me teach you thankfulness.  Begin by acknowledging that everything - all your possessions and all that you are - belongs to Me . . . The earth is vibrantly alive with My blessings, giving vivid testimony to My Presence.  If you slow down your pace of life, you can find Me anywhere."

- April 29 entry:  Sarah Young, Jesus Calling

Continuing to count His gifts and grace:

1188 those ducklings swimming with their momma
1189 burgers on the grill at Gram & Grandad's
1190 that they said, "yes," the kids could bring friends
1191 swimming in April
1192 watching her play, hearing her laugh
1193 listening to her practice her new words
1194 mockingbird on my rooftop, singing his full repertoire
1195 fair-trade chocolate
1196 April evenings
1197 read alouds under the magnolia tree in the backyard
1198 little ladybug on a branch in the yard
1199 lunch with my firstborn
1200 hay bales rolled up in the fields along the road
1201 a field full of wildflowers
1202 that picturesque little pond
1203 meeting the ones with whom she'll travel and serve
1204 that she reached her goal...and three months early 
1205 sweaty kids playing dodge ball in the backyard
1206 the light in the window
1207 that more than 72,000 signed
1208 crazy-fun crossword contests with the kids...laughing as they race to answer first

Give thanks to the LORD
and proclaim His greatness.
Let the whole world know what He has done.
Sing to Him; yes, sing His praises.
Tell everyone about His wonderful deeds.
Psalm 105:1-2, NLT

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Monday, April 23, 2012

In Every Circumstance

I stood in front of the sink, brushing my teeth with a fury, saying to the Lord, "I'm choosing to be thankful.  I'm not feeling thankful.  But you know that anyway.  So I'm just being honest here, Lord.  I'm giving thanks in the midst of this circumstance, even though I'm not feeling thankful, because I'm trusting that You are good.  I'm trusting that You will do something with this."

Ever been there?  So completely frustrated with the circumstances of your day . . . or your week, or your month, or more . . . feeling everything but thankful . . . but determined to trust God to do something good?

That was the day He really began to teach me what it meant to be thankful in every circumstance - that day I stood brushing my clenched teeth.  I kept thinking about Corrie Ten Boom giving thanks for the fleas and seeing later that, in the midst of HORRIFIC circumstances, God was orchestrating a way of making Himself known to those who didn't know Him.  In the midst of misery, He was displaying His glory.

My circumstances weren't horrific - just frustrating and maddening and discouraging.  In the grand scheme of things, the circumstance itself was small.  But the lessons were huge and profound and life-changing.  Because if it hadn't been for the circumstance, I would have missed the miracle.  And isn't that what Jesus saidSometimes He brings the circumstance so we can see His glory.

But when Jesus heard about it, He said, "Lazarus sickness will not end in death.  No, it happened for the glory of God, so that the Son of God will receive glory from this."  (John 11:4, NLT)

Then Jesus looked up to heaven and said, "Father, thank you for hearing me.  You always hear me, but I said it out loud for the sake of all these people standing here, so that they will believe..."  (John 11:41-42, NLT)

Giving thanks because He is good . . .

1165 clouds skimming sunset sky
1166 bowl full of sweet peppers
1167 boys playing outside, their laughter and wide happy smiles
1168 that God spoke
1169 the courage that comes with a friend's encouragement
1170 such sweet response
1171 toddler hugs
1172 "tea" with my favorite 21 month-old
1173 making "clouds" in homeschool science
1174 that happy red geranium by my front door
1175 cooler spring days, low humidity
1176 tortilla soup
1177 neigborhood kids knocking on the door after school
1178 boy-child waking me in the night to pray
1179 fields of yellow flowers
1180 sun glinting off the backs of horses at pasture
1181 tractors resting in the fields along the road
1182 the sound of the train rumbling down the track, whistle blowing
1183 listening to this song online
1184 this lyric: "We will not love at our convenience the One who suffered in our place"
1185 and this one: "We will not come into Your presence withholding something from your grasp"
1186 flowers springing up everywhere...bright color, new life in Spring
1187 that He kept her safe while she was away

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Wednesday, April 18, 2012

The Blessing, part 1 (free printable)

I guess she was about 4 years old at the time.   I was putting her brother down for a nap, and she said, "Mommy, I will say his verses."  It wasn't the typical pattern of naptime, but I figured I'd go with it.

"Okay," I said, and watched to see what she would do.

She moved over to his bed, and as he lay his head on his pillow, she placed her hands on his head and on his back.  Then in that sweet, preschool voice, she said slowly, enunciating every syllable, "This is my prayer, that your love may abound more and more in knowledge and in depth of insight . . . "

My eyes grew wide.

"that you may be able to discern what is best"

My eyebrows arched in wonder.

"and may be pure and blameless"

I think my mouth dropped open at this point.

"until the day of Christ"


"filled with the fruit of righteousness"


"that comes through Jesus Christ"


"to the glory and praise of God."

From the time she and her brother were tiny, we had placed our hands on their heads and on their backs and blessed them, speaking God's Word over them each night at bedtime.  "May you love the Lord your God with all your heart and all your soul, all your mind and all your strength . . . "

"May you grow as Jesus did, in wisdom and in stature and in favor with God and man."

"May your life be filled with the fruit of God's Holy Spirit . . . "

It had never occurred to me that they were actually listening, absorbing every word.

Over the years, as they grew older, they began to ask questions.

"Mommy, what is the fruit of righteousness?"

"What is the day of Christ?"

"Mommy, what is self-control?"  I'm so glad you asked!

Those questions have given opportunity to discuss, explain, explore God's Word.

We've realized, as we've spoken the Word over our children, as we've prayed Scripture over them night after night, that the blessing extended far beyond what we had asked or imaginedBeyond the spoken blessing, beyond the prayers offered to the Lord, those words were being written on the very hearts and minds of our children.  As they listened night after night to the Word spoken over them, the Lord was recording those words in the annals of their minds, engraving them on the tablets of their hearts.

Want to join us and pray God's Word over your own kids?  I'm including a free printable to get you started. 

And if you're already praying the Word over your children, already speaking Scripture over them in blessing, I'd love to hear your stories!  Just click the email link, below, and slip me a note!  How has the Lord blessed you, your children, your family?  What is He teaching you? Do share!

In the coming weeks, I'll post more of the verses my husband and I pray over our children, the verses the Lord is writing on their hearts.

I seek you with all my heart;
do not let me stray from your commands.
I have hidden your word in my heart
that I might not sin against you . . .
Praise be to you, O LORD;
teach me your decrees.
Psalm 119:10-12, NIV1984

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Monday, April 16, 2012


just grateful today . . . 

continuing to count His gifts and grace . . . 

1143 teaching my children at home . . . watching them learn
1144 hearing him play the piano
1145 gerbera daisy stretching toward the sun
1146 these verses and understanding more after a year of drought
1147 her short cast, no surgery
1148 hearing stories in the casting room of God's grace and healing
1149 finding the sweet treat they requested . . . and on sale!
1150 running errands with my firstborn, hearing funny stories of her friends
1151 magnolia tree in bloom
1152 bright pink vincas coming back another year
1153 baking cupcakes
1154 wrapping packages with pink paper and fluffy bows
1155 running into a childhood friend & the way that feels like coming home
1156 getting pedicures with my sister, my mom, and my firstborn
1157 watching documentaries with my husband and kids
1158 cool night air
1159 breeze blowing
1160 praying, planning, remembering, brainstorming with an amazing team
1161 boy-child's deep belly laugh making all of us laugh, too
1162 listening to them giggle, even though they should be sleeping
1163 behind-the-back goal . . . and his smile afterwards
1164 snow cones with Gram & Grandad to celebrate

Give thanks to the LORD,
for He is good.
His love endures forever!
Psalm 118:1

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Monday, April 9, 2012

The Matter of the Matzah

On a Tuesday afternoon in late spring, six or seven of us sat huddled in the corner of a classroom on the third floor.  All of us were teachers, but only one taught today.  It was our weekly gathering, and I felt compelled to go, though I had at least a thousand other things I needed to be doing.  She opened the Word and told how on Passover, Jesus took the bread and broke it and said, "This is my body . . . ," and I checked the box in my mind next to "I already know this" and listened from a distance while I reviewed my mental to-do list . . . lessons to plan, papers to grade, phone calls to return . . . and when would summer get here? 

And then somewhere above the urgent ticker-tape that held my attention, breaking through the soft drone I had rendered as background noise, I heard this:

"It was pierced and striped, just like He was."

I'm sorry.  I wasn't listening.  But I think you just said something important.  I was busy reviewing my urgent list of things I'll put off till tomorrow, and I missed something.  Could you repeat that?

She was moving on to the next part of the story.  But I was arrested.  Stopped there.

"It was pierced and striped, just like He was."


Could you show me that?  Like He did?

After everyone filed out to classrooms and copiers and calls to return, I asked if she might have any further information.  Something to dig into?  Something more to read?

A worn piece of paper and a little explanation became fuel for a fire kindled several years earlier, that now, more than a decade later, blazes still.

That day became a marker.  And now whenever we break the matzah, I remember . . .

"When the time came, Jesus and the apostles sat down together at the table.  Jesus said, "I have been very eager to eat this Passover meal with you before my suffering begins."  (Luke 22:14-15, NLT)

And so because it was Passover, the only bread on the table, the only bread anywhere in the house, was unleavened.  Because that's the way that God had ordained it.  It's the way He said it must be.

It was unleavened because a grain offering brought before the Lord must not contain leaven.  It was unleavened because leaven represents sin.  It was unleavened because the bread represented Jesus, the one who was without sin.

And that bread that represented Jesus then, that bread that reminds us of Him every time we see it, that bread that He gave thanks for and broke and gave . . .  that bread is pierced and striped, just like He was.

But He was pierced for our transgressions  (NIV)
He was crushed for our iniquities (NIV)
The punishment that brought us peace was upon Him (NIV)
And by His stripes we are healed. (KJV)
Isaiah 53:5

a few helpful resources . . .
This book:  The Feasts of the Lord, by Kevin Howard & Marvin Rosenthal
This book:  Sitting at the Feet of Rabbi Jesus, by Ann Spangler & Lois Tverberg
This story & video by Joel Rosenberg, on Passover, being Jewish & following Jesus

Continuing to count His gifts and grace . . .

1106 reading aloud to my kids
1107 cranberry scones for breakfast
1108 frozen strawberry lemonade
1109 rotisserie chicken for dinner
1110 ciabatta bread with olive oil
1111 whipped cream in my coffee
1112 making my own foam soap - so simple - and saving pennies!
1113 tea & scones in the afternoon
1114 filling the old-fashioned teapot
1115 looseleaf tea that my mom brought home from England
1116 a day at the museum with my mom & my kids
1117 bread-bowl soup
1118 fresh berries piled high
1119 lingering long at the table with family and friends
1120 his head bowed for blessing
1121 cows grazing
1122 tiny calves snuggled next to their mommas
1123 lilies blooming along the road
1124 the happy gurgle of the coffeepot
1125 the rich aroma of coffee brewing
1126 treetops swaying in the wind
1127 long talks over coffee & chai
1128 faithful friend and her faithful prayers
1129 friends praying through the nightwatches for friends overseas
1130 thick green grass
1131 knock-out roses in full bloom
1132 sunlight and shadows
1133 the days and hours and love she invested because we asked
1134 celebrating Passover with family & friends
1135 that He took the Cup of Redemption
1136 that He chose the nails
1137 that He died so I might live
1138 that He rose up from death and the grave
1139 that He stretched out His hands so Thomas could see
1140 that He called her by name
1141 that He walked with them and let them process
1142 that He loved His brother that much

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Monday, April 2, 2012

I Want to See!

Last week, I wandered down the pebbled paths at a local plant nursery, stepping over puddles, searching for just the right color and blooms.  One of the men who worked there walked over to ask if I needed help, and I told him that I was looking for just the right thing to hang in a shady spot at home - something bright and colorful, something that would spill over the edges of the basket as it grew. 

"I'd really like a basket of dark purple petunias if I can find them.  You know - that really dark, rich purple." 

"Hmmm..."  he said, and wandered down the path ahead of me. 

"Like these!"  I reached up to touch a basket hanging just above my head.

"Oh!" he said.  "I haven't even seen those.  I'm here every day, and I walk up and down these rows all day long.  But I never really look at the flowers.  I didn't even realize how pretty those were."

How many times have I done the same thing?   How many times have I walked past the brilliant color, the delicate artistry, the intricate wonder all around me, without ever really looking so I could SEE?

How many times have I missed the gifts that God has placed right in my path because I was too busy to pay attention, too distracted to appreciate, too self-absorbed to see?

I say with Bartimaeus - that blind man of Jericho of whom Jesus asked, "What do you want me to do for you?" - with Bartimaeus, I say,  "Rabbi, I want to see!"

The gifts that just keep coming . . .

1070 thunder
1071 hard rain
1072 heavy clouds
1073 former students returning to invest in students now
1074 good news coming from far away
1075 sun bursting through clouds after a long night of rain
1076 crockpot cooking
1077 beef stew on a rainy day
1078 coconut macaroons
1079 waking up to sunshine
1080 shadows on concrete
1081 bluebonnets bursting into bloom
1082 the song of the night bird singing loudly
1083 making it safely through the fog
1084 the quiet of fog hanging low over fields
1085 8 goals and 4 assists
1086 dinner with Gram & Grandad, home from their trip overseas
1087 that fun mug they brought home to me
1088 lunch with my mom and my boy-child
1089 firstborn's first training meeting for her mission trip
1090 dinner with my little family after the musical
1091 impromptu coffee date with a friend
1092 Venus, Jupiter, and that sliver of the moon blazing in a clear night sky
1093 butter melting on hot biscuits
1094 apricot preserves
1095 Swiss chocolate from Switzerland from our favorite Swiss family friends
1096 studying James
1097 that olivewood camel on my desk and how it reminds me . . .
1098 local honey drizzled thick on bread
1099 date honey from Israel dripping heavy on plates
1100 petunias by the front door
1101 verbena spilling from the pot on our front walk 
1102 pebble paths
1103 row after row of flowers at the nursery: petunias, impatiens, geraniums, verbena, daisies
1104 pouring over Scripture with a dear friend and mentor
1105 husband making it back from the airport to have dinner with the kids and me

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