Saturday, March 31, 2012

a gift hoped for, a gift heard, a gift held

#279  hope for finding lots of eggs at the Easter egg hunt


#280  “On your mark!  Get set!  Go!”


#281  hearing tons of kids squealing with excitement as they race to find eggs


#282  a basket full of eggs held


#283  daughter still wanting to hold mom’s hand


Friday, March 30, 2012

3 gifts uncovered

#276   my children uncovered from their blankets to get out of bed this morning and start a new day.

#277 grill cover to grill dinner


#278  gifts uncovered in His Word.

He did it again!  Hanging on the refrigerator this morning when I went to get breakfast ready for the family, I see the gifts to hunt for today.  “3 gifts uncovered”.   Then after breakfast, I open my bible to read.  That word is in the Scripture for today’s reading.  “Uncovered.” This happened to me the other day when I was looking for  3 gifts redeemed.


“When Boaz had finished eating and drinking and was in good spirits, he went over to lie down at the far end of the grain pile.  Ruth approached quietly, uncovered his feet and lay down…”    Ruth 3:7

That was a custom way back  then (and I just learned that some modern Arabians continue this practice) when it comes to a marriage proposal.   Ruth was being vulnerable enough to let Boaz respectively know she was offering herself to be his wife if he so desired.

Ruth could do that because Boaz was her kinsman-redeemer

She selflessly served…as a worker in Boaz’s fields and as a child of God. 

I need to be more selfless.

Ruth was blessed.

“God’s unfolding (or uncovering) providence which had directed Ruth to Boaz’s fields to glean, may have also been for the greater purpose of bringing Ruth and Boaz together.  It was more than just “coincidence” of circumstances.  It was God’s providence.” (BSF)

I don’t believe that the hunt words “redeemer” and “uncovered” just happened to be “coincidence” but providential orchestration. 

Why?  I don’t know.

But I’m learning it’s beautiful how God uncovers His gifts… sometimes when we seek them and sometimes when they’re just handed to us on a platter.

Thursday, March 29, 2012

3 gifts of His promises

#270  Beautiful sunrise to start of the morning. 

#271  Birds singing louder than usual. 

#272  Fresh cut flowers from the yard.


#273  Bright rays of sun shining through trees with new leaves, through screened-in porch, into sunroom, onto my face so bright I almost can’t look that way and makes me squint my eyes.  


#274  Whispering praise to God.


#275 All of them are promises.  Just a foretaste of the perfectly beautiful morning every morning in heaven to see God’s radiance and beauty.

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

3 gifts entwined


#267 our family

#268  The thorn branches entwined around the trees and bushes behind our house and fence


What is the joy in that?

If left alone, they almost slither around trees, bushes and other weeds.  They can take over areas if they’ve been left untouched or unnoticed.  The sharp thorns protrude from the vine ready to attack.    Sometimes they’re hard to see and you don’t realize they’re there until you feel a sharp prick or scratch.  Sometimes they draw blood.


They hurt when you’re pricked.

Pricked.  Just a little prick. 

Think of the thorns on Jesus’ head...or should I say in Jesus’ head. 

I know Jesus felt more than just a few small pricks from the crown of thorns on his head.

The thorns on his head were long and sharp and pressed into his scalp.  Hard.  The Roman soldiers take a stick and strike the thorns in his head even harder.  Then mocked. 

The humbling joy I have is knowing that Jesus took on those thorns for my sake.  For my redemption.  And for yours.

So, I’m grateful for thorns to remind me of Jesus’ crown.


#269  the snake around the tree in our yard…but is that a joy?  The joy is that it was a friendly black snake!


Tuesday, March 27, 2012

3 gifts redeemed


#264    Psalm 107:2  

“Let the redeemed of the LORD tell their story…”                                                                                                                   

Today’s suggestion was to hunt for 3 gifts redeemed

This morning I open the Word to read the Scripture I’m currently studying.  Today’s reading is Ruth 2:19-23.

“Her (Ruth) mother-in-law asked her, ‘Where did you glean today? Where did you work? Blessed be the man who took notice of you!’

Then Ruth told her mother-in-law about the one at whose place she had been working. ‘The name of the man I worked with today is Boaz,’ she said.

‘The LORD bless him!’ Naomi said to her daughter-in-law. ‘He has not stopped showing his kindness to the living and the dead.’ She added, ‘That man is our close relative; he is one of our kinsman-redeemers.’”

Today: Look for gifts redeemed…kinsman-redeemer found me.  I don’t believe that was just a fluke.   I’ll take it as a gift.


Redeemed is something purchased or to buy back.  It is to set free, rescue or ransom. 

Naomi and her husband and sons had moved to Moab from Bethlehem to avoid the drought.   Her sons got married there and then died along with her husband.  Now both being widows, Ruth wanted to go back to Naomi’s hometown of Bethlehem with her.  She didn’t want to feel abandoned from the love of God that she felt through Naomi. 

Abandoned…the opposite of redeemed.

This love story continues and Ruth ended up working for Boaz, a well-known and respected man in Bethlehem who owned much land.  She began working for him. He noticed her.  I think she noticed him, too.

At the end of the work day, Ruth went to tell Naomi about her day.  Naomi praised God for it.  When she learned Ruth worked for Boaz, she became excited because she knew him.  He was a relative… a kinsman-redeemer.

Back then, a kinsman-redeemer was a relative who offered to take responsibility for the extended family.  Moses had written the laws and one law said if a husband died, then his brother should marry his deceased brother’s wife.  If he couldn’t or didn’t want to, then she would be passed down to the next relative.  If no one would take her, especially if she was a foreigner, then she’d probably end up living in poverty.  (There’s more detail to that so look up Deut. 25:5-10)

So, a kinsman-redeemer is a rescuer, one who purchased to save a life…to love.   Boaz was a man who redeemed and saved Ruth. 

Jesus Christ redeemed and saved us.  Because of his death on the cross, he rescued us from sin and hopelessness.  He purchased us to be his own...

#265  Jesus is our Kinsman-Redeemer.

You, Lord, took up my case; you redeemed my life.”   Lamentations 3:58


I have that redeemed life because He saved me.  Tim Keller wrote how there are three tenses of our salvation, “When we are in Christ, our past is redeemed (our old record of rebellion and sin is put away and we have peace with God), our present is redeemed (we have a personal friendship with God), and our future is redeemed (we have the promise of glory).”

#266  Jesus is willing to redeem me.

Jesus Christ "gave Himself for us to redeem us from every lawless deed, and to purify for Himself a people for His own possession, zealous for good deeds" (Titus 2:14)

Isaiah 35

Joy of the Redeemed

1 The desert and the parched land will be glad;
   the wilderness will rejoice and blossom.

Like the crocus, 2 it will burst into bloom;
   it will rejoice greatly and shout for joy.
The glory of Lebanon will be given to it,
   the splendor of Carmel and Sharon;
they will see the glory of the LORD,
   the splendor of our God.

3 Strengthen the feeble hands,
   steady the knees that give way;
4 say to those with fearful hearts,
   “Be strong, do not fear;
your God will come,
   he will come with vengeance;
with divine retribution
   he will come to save you.”

5 Then will the eyes of the blind be opened
   and the ears of the deaf unstopped.
6 Then will the lame leap like a deer,
   and the mute tongue shout for joy.
Water will gush forth in the wilderness
   and streams in the desert.
7 The burning sand will become a pool,
   the thirsty ground bubbling springs.
In the haunts where jackals once lay,
   grass and reeds and papyrus will grow.

8 And a highway will be there;
   it will be called the Way of Holiness;
   it will be for those who walk on that Way.
The unclean will not journey on it;
   wicked fools will not go about on it.
9 No lion will be there,
   nor any ravenous beast;
   they will not be found there.
But only the redeemed will walk there,
10 and those the LORD has rescued will return.
They will enter Zion with singing;
   everlasting joy will crown their heads.
Gladness and joy will overtake them,
   and sorrow and sighing will flee away.


Those words…that redemptive promise… brings me joy!

Monday, March 26, 2012

3 gifts almost done


#261  an album/book project almost done


#262  washing dirty dishes almost done


#262  chores almost done

Sunday, March 25, 2012

a gift sung, a gift written, a gift painted

#258  “You Revive Me” sung at church (words below)

#259  unexpected notes of thanks, encouragement or love

#260  Mother’s Day gifts painted on tile each year


You Revive Me”   by Chris Tomlin and Christy Nockels

You revive me
You revive me Lord
And all my deserts are rivers of joy
You are the treasure I could not afford
So I'll spend myself till I'm empty and poor
All for You
You revive me Lord

Lord I have seen Your goodness
And I know the way You are
Give me eyes to see You in the dark
And You race shines a glory
That I only know in part
And there is still a longing
A longing in my heart

My soul is thirsty
Only You can satisfy
You are the well that never will run dry
And I'll praise You for the blessing
For calling me Your friend
And in Your name I'm lifting
I'm lifting up my hands

I'm alive
I'm alive
You breathe on me
You revive me

Saturday, March 24, 2012

gift of refuge from storm

#253  gift of refuge from a storm




#254  little “helicopters” twirling from tree as the strong wind blows



#255  calm before storm



#256  capture lightning on camera

#257  in dark night when lightning lights up the entire neighborhood as if it’s day light

“You have been a refuge for the poor, a refuge for the needy in their distress, a shelter from the storm and a shade from the heat.”    Isaiah 25:4

“The voice of the LORD strikes with flashes of lightning.”     Psalm 29:7

Friday, March 23, 2012

gifts of spring, gift of wrinkles


#248  puffy clouds in blue sky


#249  tall green grass waving hello in breeze as we drive by on country road


#250  lavender flox

#251  green, green grass in our yard emerging and rejoicing the Gardener for rain, warmth, fresh spring.


#252  elderly lady at store shuffling, holding onto walker with her aid by her side.  She was wearing a UNC shirt.  I asked her if she was watching the game tonight.  Her face lit up…eyes shined.

…No one can stop the joy that naturally seeps from her very being and her frail, translucent skin. 

Her smile stretched across her wrinkled face and I couldn’t help but smile back.  She talked and talked how she loves to watch basketball and was cheering for both NC teams, so proud for both of them having gone this far.

Her joy contagious…

Thursday, March 22, 2012

3 gifts found in His Word


#245  “Rejoice in the Lord always.  I will say it again, REJOICE!”  Philippians 4:4

#246  “Come let us sing JOY to the Lord;  let us shout aloud to the Rock of our salvation.  Let us come before him with thanksgiving and extol him with music and song.”  Psalm 95:1-2

#247  “Those who know your name will trust in you, for you, Lord, have never abandoned those who seek you.”  Psalm 9:10

And here’s these verses translated as God is telling you in his own words…

"Rejoice and be thankful!  As you walk with Me through this day, practice trusting and thanking Me all along the way. Trust is the channel through which My Peace flows into you.  Thankfulness lifts you up above your circumstances.

I do My greatest works through people with grateful, trusting hearts.  Rather than planning and evaluating, practice trusting and thanking Me continually.  This is a paradigm shift that will revolutionize you life.”

(from Jesus Calling by Sarah Young)

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

a gift salty, a gift sweet, a gift just right

#241  wheat thins with homemade chicken salad…Aunt Jennie’s recipe!

#242  girl scout cookies


#243  glass of cold water with lemon…just right.


#224  laughing at pictures from my college scrapbook

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

gift of emptiness, gift of blogs, gift of what if’s, gift of returning



Empty…creative…art…return.             (gifts #237- #240)

Those are the words the past few days that keep showing up. 

Again and again.

The story started last week at bible study when I heard the leader say that when we’re in Scripture often, we’ll experience progressive revelations…begin to see how God is revealing Himself to us through day-to-day activities. 

These revelations are gifts.

They are gifts for us to receive…every day.

So, over the past week, I believe God has been progressively revealing the gifts He’s giving.

It started with Naomi and Ruth. 

The book of Ruth is a love story.  The love between a daughter-in-law and a mother-in-law and between a woman and man, Ruth and Boaz.  Of course there has to be a conflict or struggle like there is in everyone’s lives.

Naomi’s struggle was bitterness.  Bitterness that her husband and two sons had died after they moved to a city filled with people who did whatever they felt like doing (isn’t that how our world lives these days with no boundaries anymore?).

Naomi was upset and shared her hurt, bitterness and frustrations of her losses when she went back to her homeland in Judea.  “I went away full, but the LORD has brought me back empty.  The Lord…has brought misfortune on me.”  (Ruth 1:21)

But don’t you have to be empty in order to be filled?

Then, when I ask myself that question when reading that chapter, later that day I was reading One Thousand Gifts and to my amazement this is what I read. 

“Empty to fill…Overwhelming grace drew me to the Christ full of glory that I might empty of self.  I empty to become full.  Full of grace…to fully live.” (p. 209)

Progressive revelation.

I want to empty myself of my selfishness, my self-seeking attitude and actions.  I want to empty the fears of myself.  I want to be self-less, full of grace to bless others.

Creating and writing on this blog is something I never imagined doing.  It’s made me step out of my comfort zone and I don’t like doing that.  But I know it is only through Christ that I’ve been able to keep it going so far.

But I still have doubts.   Every day.

I still hear the whispers, “This is silly.  It’s a waste of time.  You have a lot of other things you could be doing, need to be doing instead of this. Is it really worth it?”

Then today I read two blogs.  My husband sent one to me he had read this morning with encouraging words to keep going with this blog.  The title: Struggle Is a Sure Sign You're Creating Art by writer Jeff Goins.  He writes:

“I’m learning an important lesson about struggle and art: Creation always comes from chaos.

Often, we want to wait for perfection before pursuing our craft. We want to clean the desk before going to work. To empty our inbox before we begin writing. But often, this is just stalling.

If we’re waiting for perfect, we’re kidding ourselves. Life is messy. And if we’re going to do meaningful work, we’re going to have to enter the mess.

All artists struggle. It’s an indication that you’re actually “in the game.”

I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again: We need your voice. Start using it. Yes, there will be pain, but there will also be glory.

Every graveyard is a tale of legacy, of something important left behind. So will your stories of struggle live on in your absence. If you dare to be an artist.”

As some of you know, I have an art degree with a minor in English.   I could relate to his words…what I needed to hear.

And then, just a few minutes later, I receive today’s blog post from Ann Voskamp.  It’s titled: Why Eveyone Needs to Create Art Everyday:  7 keys to creativity. 

OK God!  What’s Your point?!   These 7 keys Ann posted (see below) brought a little revelation…

progressive revelation…

That I need to return back to the main road where God wants me.  I so often go on side roads because I’m lured by selfish desires, uncertainties, comforts, whispers. 

Didn’t Naomi do that?  She had to return.  She had to be emptied in order to be filled again. 


I thank God for luring me back to the main road.  Today I was back on that main road.  And these were the big billboard signs as I started forward again.

1. Quit trying to fit. Why try to squeeze all your extraordinary into ordinary?

2. God made woman to be a maker, to open her empty places and let life be knit from within her.

3. Creativity, it’s good theology; it’s what God did in the beginning.

4. When we stop fearing failure, we start being artists.

5. Don’t let the sun set till you’ve done one thing that sort of scares you. The only trees that ever grow tall keep relentlessly stretching into unknown territory.

6. Art, it’s the second person present indicative of the verb to be. Art is a way of being and when you make your life art — thou art.

7. Bury your fear in faith. Otherwise you bury your talents.

I have to return to the main road.  I have to return to my heart’s desire to write that I’ve always had, but have always filled my life with other things to avoid, to make excuses. But I need to empty myself and allow God to fill my with His plans and purposes.



Monday, March 19, 2012

4 gifts eaten

#234  kids eating blueberry muffins for breakfast that mom got up early to make…

#235  free Chick-fil-a biscuit!

#236  daughter eating pear outside on beautiful spring-like-last-day-of-winter sitting on basketball


#237  yogurt with a friend



Sunday, March 18, 2012

3 gifts red

#231  a red cross shown during worship service at church this morning as we sing “Great is Thy Faithfulness”

cross 8x10 E

#232  our red blazer truck that gets our family places we need to go

#233  the red buds emerging from the tree branches as my daughter and many other girls join together to celebrate World Thinking Day…world thanking day…He’s got the whole world in His hands…



Saturday, March 17, 2012

a gift turned, a gift folded, a gift hung

#224  wheels on the lawn mower turning around in the tall green grass.  it’s that time of year again to mow the grass!  thanks hubby and son!

#225  son turning ball around many times at soccer game…good defense son!

#226  the soft blanket folded that was left on the couch from the night before when we were snugging under it.  The screened-in porch door was open, hearing the rain and thunder and the cool breeze blowing in the house bringing chills.



#227  HOPE picture hanging on wall.  A friend gifted with photography gave me the photographs she took of ‘letters’ that spell “hope”.  Hope is a “life word” that I don’t want to forget.  It’s a reminder everyday to live by hope. 

Hope opens our eyes.  Hope affects our attitudes.  Hope gives us purpose.  Hope sets a goal before us.  Hope fills our lives with good things – the very goodness of God.”  -   Marilyn Meberg

We have this hope as an anchor for the soul, firm and secure.”          Hebrews 6:19



#228  P.Buckley Moss print hanging on the wall that my husband’s parents gave me for a Christmas gift.  The print is autographed by the artist and my in-laws framed it.  That picture tells a story of grandparents telling their grandchildren a story. 

Only be careful, and watch yourselves closely so that you do not forget the things your eyes have seen or let them fade from your heart as long as you live. Teach them to your children and to their children after them.”  Deut. 4:9

#229  amazing lightning display as I write today’s gifts this night

#230  safety of our home

Friday, March 16, 2012

2 hard eucharisteos (things to be thank-full for)


#222  the challenge of parenting can sometimes be hard... 

…sometimes it’s hard to remember while we’re in the heat of a disagreement that we’re not perfect when it comes to parenting .  It’s even harder to admit we aren’t... 

#223  It’s hard to break habits…

…because it’s hard to admit we have them.

It’s easy to come up with excuses of why we said what we said.  It’s easy to justify our excuses or reasons.  It’s easy to put the blame on someone or something else.  It’s easy to let our frustrations, aggravations and disappointments constantly simmer.

And it can overflow onto and into the lives of the ones we love.

But I’m thankful for justification through Christ.  That all things are set right because of the Cross.  When parenting, it’s easy to trust ourselves and lead by our own emotions and opinions instead of trusting God to lead us.  It’s easy to take our personal frustrations out on the ones we love.

Tim Keller, bible teacher, said, “The gospel gives you a grounding so criticism and “bad news” and negative evaluations can now be handled.  ‘Bad news’ no longer threatens your confidence.  Now, the more you see your faults, your failures, the more amazing and precious does God’s love appear, and the more loved by Him you feel.”

Even though it’s hard to be thankful for ,challenges, there’s hope through Christ, justification through Christ and Truth in His Word to guide us and teach us and allows Jesus’ immeasurable love to seep through us as we love our children.

Thursday, March 15, 2012

6 gifts given away

#216  morning kisses

#217  a note and spoken words of thanks to a friend who’s a reflection of Jesus.

#218  good night prayers and kisses


#219  Jesus’ forgiveness

#220  Jesus’ mercies that are new every morning!

#221  Jesus’ grace 

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

3 gifts found in silence


It was so hard to find a moment of silence today. 

There’s the sound of construction that’s practically in my back yard.  Honestly, that frustrated me because it was such a beautiful almost spring day.  So nice I wanted to sit on the porch and be silent.  Breathe in the fresh air and have a moment of peace and quiet.  

But instead I heard the almost constant beep of the machines, of the loud clanks of the dump trucks emptying the bed of dirt.  The squeak of brakes.  It’s been going on for months!




Today, this day where I was on the hunt for the gift found in silence, there were so many distractions.  The big machines, the dogs barking, the neighbor next door making some kinds of ruckus in her backyard, the garbage truck, the recycle truck.   And then another loud noise…so loud it made me go look out the window.  It was the truck that picked up sticks and yard debris.  It didn’t normally come on Wednesdays.  I remembered we had two trash cans full of sticks, so I ran to the side of the house to get them to the road before the truck drove by our house.  img_6347

I made it on time and just stood there as the man in his bright florescent safely vast dumbed the sticks into the machine in the back of the truck that shredded the sticks into little pieces.  It was so LOUD!  I looked at the man’s ears to see if he had plugs in them.  He didn’t.  I don’t know how he does it every day!  He really must have hearing damage with that job!

Does he ever hear silence?  Does he always have a ring in his ear because he hears a LOUD roar 8 hours a day 5 days a week?  Is it constant?

Most of the day we hear noise the entire day…traffic, radio on in traffic, meetings at work, fingers typing at work or checking facebook, kids laughing or bickering, the TV, iPod exercising, the laundry machine or dish washer running and the list can go on.

Is it only at night when you’re in bed ready to go to sleep when you hear silence?  Even then I have to have a noise machine on!

And then if and when we do have a moment of silence, we don’t know what to do with it!  It’s a rare moment we don’t often have. We don’t often make the time for it

But in those moments of silence are the times where we can hear God’s voice the most.  In silence, when we stop talking, when we stop listening to all the distractions, when stop thinking of all the things we still need to do the rest of the day, in that silence we can rest.  Rest in the silence of peace.  Rest in the silence of grace.  Rest in the Spirit for refreshment or to be rejuvenated. 

Silence is a gift from God but we often don’t know how to use that gift.  Silence is a gift we can give God, as well.

#213   when silent, when you take time to listen, your heart can hear what God is teaching you.  When I was silent today I heard the teaching that…

History = His Story. You have your own story. You have a history. You continue to make history every day.   Your history might not make it into a book that students study at school in history class or in the local news, but daily moments in your life make history in His Book.  You history lessons in your life vary from “hard to grasp” to “easy to see the reasons”.  You make history for God’s purpose and plan. You are making the history of God’s Story…God’s Book of Life.

#214  the silence on my morning walk.  Even though the birds were singing in a chorus the entire way, that was still a peaceful sound.  But it was still a silence to listen and praise and give God thanks.


#215  the silence in the kitchen for 5 minutes while fixing dinner.

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

3 gifts round

#208  the round wheels that got our family to school and work…even though a little late because our alarms didn’t go off this morning!


#209  the round tray holding the sweet muffins, fruit and tulip in the round vase. It also held the sweet conversation and prayers with a dear friend.

#210  the gift of candles…that bring light and warmth…peace and comfort

#211  a camera lens to take pictures of things that bring me joy


#212  the round mirror in sun room