Thursday, May 31, 2012

gifts and goals


#493  blue hydrangea blooming in our yard


#494  gift at 8am  reading Colossians 2:6-7  

“Now that you have welcomed the Anointed One, Jesus the Lord, into your lives, continue to journey with Him and allow Him to shape your lives.  Let your roots grow down deeply in Him, and let Him build you up on a firm foundation.  Be strong in the faith, just as you were taught, and always spill over with thankfulness.”

Be strong in your faith? 


Spill over with thankfulness?

How about this question…Be thankful for needing strength?

Yes!  I’m thankful for needing Jesus!

Being desperately dependent on Jesus is a gift!

The joy of the Lord is my strength.”   Nehemiah 8:10

Sharing your story will strengthen you.

Sharing your joys and thankfulness (even hard things to be thankful for) strengthens you because it allows hope to swell and spill from your soul.

Let your story spill over with gratitude for the little things in life, the bigger and big things in life, the hard things in life. 

For a few years I’ve been telling others, encouraging others and guiding others to share their stories and even help them write and make their own book.

But I wasn’t.

And I may have used the excuse that I was too busy, but looking deeper, I don’t think I felt I was strong enough to battle the fear.  Oh, I’m sure I would have had the strength through Christ, if I surrendered it.  And I know God has given me some strengths (like He does everyone) with which I’ve been blessed…we all have weaknesses and the battle of me actually doing what I tell and teach others to do has been my weakness!

But God can redeem those weaknesses because “God’s power is made perfect in our weaknesses. For when I am weak, then I am strong.” (2 Cor. 12:8, 12)

The discipline of counting things to be thankful for has strengthened some of my weaknesses.

And proof shows it can work for anybody!

So I’m going to keep counting and sharing because who wouldn’t want more strength?


#495  gift at noon  lunch with acquaintance and talked about the Word together…it was really lunch with a sister

#496  gift at 8pm - cutting open a fresh watermelon


#497   laughter with friends about varmints 

#497  bird standing at our back door as if it wanted to come in. 

#498  a moment of rest

#499  God’s grace is sufficient

#500  conversation on phone with the older woman I visit at the retirement home.

#501   I’m half-way to my goal of writing 1,000 gifts…

Sunday, May 27, 2012

gift of flight


I witnessed a prayer being answered. 

Mama giving a loving push

Faith he could do it.

Fear of the never-seen and unknown.

Beauty of the never-seen and unknown.

Wings of hope taking flight for the first time.

Awe and silent wonder.

Harmonies of praise!

For the past month I’ve heard the new life of baby birds…tuffed titmouse birds.  My daughter made a bird house out of wood at a girl scout camp three years ago.  Dad had hung it on the tree in our backyard, on the side of the house near the screened in porch, but there has never been any birds to make it a home…until this spring.

A few weeks ago, in the prime time to smell honeysuckle, gardenias, see irises blooming and roses awakening, I began to notice a bird flying into that little house many times…in and out, in and out.   I then began to hear a faint chirp, what sounded like many little faint cries of new life. 

As days went on, when I had a little time to sit on the porch to take a deep breath at different parts of the day, or when I was in the Word, or writing, or when our family ate dinner, those chirps would get louder and the mom and dad kept bringing them food.  In and out of that little hole.

I knew the day was near, where we’d have to tie a rope around a tree in our front yard to keep our dog from finding the baby birds as toys.  Their chirps began to sound just the same as their parents’ tweets.  They’d mimic…parent….then baby.

This morning I was out running errands and when I got home, I go to the sunroom to look out the window to see if I see any baby birds on the ground.  I look out and there in that little hole, mama was perched on the outside of the house and baby was sticking its head out the hole!


I grab the camera.

I stand waiting with camera in front of my eye, trigger pushed half-way down to focus and waited. 

Then it happened!  I had asked God to be able to see one of the birds free fall and flutter down for the first time of its life! I witnessed a prayer being answered. To see it lift off with a leap of faith.


A tear of joy and giving-thanks to God rolled down my cheek as I kept snapping shots. 

The baby landed in our natural area right outside beside where I always sit on the porch.

I go to get closer.  I don’t want to scare the baby but I thought if God allowed me to witness this, then He must think it’s OK for me to be able to get up closer so I can get some close-up photos to put in my post!

So, I see this little baby flutter it’s wings.  I see it’s little eyes and beak.  I cannot imagine what thoughts must have been going through it’s mind…awe…wonder or the never-before-seen and unknown world.





After I got some photos, I told myself I need to let mama, papa and baby have some time to themselves so I turn around to go back to the house and there before me is a 5-6 foot long snake. Stretched and slithering towards the bird house.


When it realizes it sees me, it gracefully slides in-between the whicker latice squares that outline the porch and goes underneath the deck.  I ran to get a shovel.  I get back and it beat me.  It was completely under the porch before I got back.  It had retreated.

My nerves are shaking.  Not as much because I’m afraid of the snake but more because I’m scared for the birds.  It was a black snake.  They don’t harm people.  They’re good to have in the neighborhood to keep other rodents and critters we don’t want around at bay. 

But to think what if the snake got those little babies?  Those precious little ones would not get to experience the life of a bird!  I got to hear them grow up, hear their chirps getting louder…see their parents bringing them food constantly…and now their life cut short because of a snake!

Those precious little ones, who didn’t get to experience life, cut short by snake?!

A serpent cut life short for Adam and Eve.  Their life in the garden of Eden was cut short because of the serpent's slithering whispers beckoning God’s beloved to discover knowledge of good and evil. (Genesis 3).

I go back in the porch and start writing, but I look out the window again and there in the bird house was yet another baby bird poking its head out the hole.  I grab the camera again, this time run outside closer to the birdhouse and wait. 


And then in not a moment too long, that baby takes its first flight.


I could hardly believe I had watched two baby birds take their first attempt of flying!  I had never witnessed that before in my life.  Why then did I get to see not only one but two?!  And at this time of my life?  This moment?

As I walk back to go in, to my surprise I saw the snake again.  It had come back out to the yard…and this time was not alone.  It had come back with another one on its back and only about a foot smaller than the first.


It had gone back for back up. 

They did not seem to be scared of me at all and quickly headed for the sound of the baby bird calling for its parents who were fluttering over the snakes and squawking at them.

The first baby was in our garden.

The snakes slithered to the garden. 

And once they got to the garden they split up and went two different ways…both towards the baby.  It all happened so quickly!


I quickly followed the sound of the bird’s cry and found it stuck in the little fence that surrounded the garden.  Not even thinking, I reached down to pick up the baby to save its new life!  I didn’t think to look how close the snakes had gotten to me but once I had that baby in my hand, I completely forgot a snake was at my heel.


That baby was precious.  And it was calm.  It didn’t try to get out of my hands and we looked eye to eye.  That moment was a gift.



Then I suddenly remembered the snakes and the big one had disappeared.  Literally.  I couldn’t find it anywhere and I know me having rescued the bird and looking at it was probably only about 10 seconds.  I still to this time have not seen it since. 

I did see the smaller snake though a few minutes later that was going after the other baby bird that had also flown and skipped and hopped its way to the garden area as well. The little bird was in our new blueberry bush.  I kept threatening the snake with the shovel and it slithered under the fence and I haven’t seen it since then as well.


As I write this, I’m almost sick to my stomach  It’s almost churning!.  I’m just praying those little birds will make it…will win the battle over those snakes.

Later that afternoon God helped calm my heart because later when we were in the back yard, we found one of the birds again and it followed my daughter and me as we walked through the yard!  (and of course she wanted to hold it, too)  It made me think…I wonder what this bird thinks.  I was one of the first things it saw when it came out of its house!


My daughter said we were just like the Dr. Seuss book, “Are You My Mommy?”

It stopped hopping when it was on the ground almost underneath its house it had earlier left, and fell asleep.  It was dusk and the night came.  We said a little prayer that the baby will be safe. 

As soon as it was light the next morning, our daughter ran outside to the spot and it was gone.  But across the fence a few trees back we heard and saw those parent birds calling out to its babes and knew they would be OK.




Just like that baby bird, just like me, and maybe like you… You and feel  and even see you’re being attacked from more than one side…surrounded with temptations. 

Being tempted.  That is hard to give thanks for…

Who wants to be tempted with lies?  Who wants to feel worried, full of fear, full of harm? 

Who wants to hear a serpent whispering in your ear, “You’re a child of God?  He loves you?  You are righteous?  You are forgiven?”  Satan tries to take away the truth of our identity through Christ….just as he did to Eve.

Reflecting on this whole experience, I think, “Those snakes didn’t scare me away this time even though they have in the past. I was able to overcome that worry and fear and didn’t let it get the best of me.  I didn’t run and hide." 

I wanted to save a life!  And I did it with adrenalin and passion…running through my veins…and making my heart skip a beat.  It had to have been done with trust…

…even though it was just a baby bird I was fighting for.

Baby steps or hops must be taken first but when we trust HIM more every moment, we will strengthen our wings with hope and take flight.


#475 I witnessed a prayer being answered.

#476  Mama giving a loving push

#477 Faith he could do it.

#478  Beauty of the never-seen and unknown.

#479  Wings of hope taking flight for the first time.

#480  Awe and silent wonder.

#481  Harmonies of praise!

#482  holding a baby bird

#483  family game night of Dominos

#484  cookie dough ice cream

#485  son made the team!

#486  lightning bugs in back yard

#487  life and science museum with nieces, nephew and my parents

#488  hundreds of butterflies flying all around you

#489  a picnic

#490  watching bears frolic and play

#491  hearing teaching at church from the Word that God wants us to enjoy life…live in-joy!  (Ecclesiastes 5)

#492  hearing the organ while singing “It is well with my soul” at church.

Thursday, May 24, 2012

3 gifts in community

I start this post without really knowing what to write.  So, for some reason I opened my journal book not knowing where it’ll open… and there before me is what I wrote in March 2011…and oh how it relates to community!

Gifts in community is today’s hunt.  Community…companionship, unity with believers who have common faith, common hope, common love for Christ. 

Love this quote about community…a eucharistic community…a community with thanksgiving.  

“The Christian community is a community of the cross, for it has been brought into being by the cross, and the focus of its worship is the Lamb once slain, now glorified. So the community of the cross is a community of celebration, a eucharistic community, ceaselessly offering to God through Christ the sacrifice of our praise and thanksgiving. The Christian life is an unending festival. And the festival we keep, now that our Passover Lamb has been sacrificed for us, is a joyful celebration of his sacrifice, together with a spiritual feasting upon it.” - John Stott

The Christian community…an unending festival with each other and with the Lamb!  A joy-filled celebration of the gift of communion with each other and with the Lamb.

In my life I am blessed with communion.  Communion with Jesus. Communion with others.

I have communion with our small group who have been my life-giving, life-support and life-line for almost nine years.  We’ve lived life together. 

There’s the gift of communion with a special group of women where we plunge deep in the Word to discover treasures of His love and truth…and find treasure in praise and conversation with Christ together.

Then there’s communion with other believers at our church.  It’s a larger church, but we all have in common our connection through Christ, as the body of Christ.  Even though we’re all broken, messed up, have hidden fears and have secrets with self, we’re still in communion with one another because we all “press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called us heavenward in Christ.” (Philippians 3:14)  We have communion together over bread and the cup of the Lamb and we have communion in fellowship with other believers…even ones we may not know on a personal basis…but as the body of Christ.

Even though we have these commonalities, there is nothing common about how God works in the lives of each of His children.

About a year and a half ago, March 2011, I was asked to be on a small group ministry committee. 

At the meeting, a couple of our church leaders shared visions, dreams and ideas of how we can help guide other small group leaders.  They asked us to pray about this ministry and for God to guide us so we can reach out even more to bring others in communion with fellow believers and seekers.

The leaders also asked us to pray about this committee becoming a small group of its own as well, and do a specific study they recommended to guide small group leaders.

My brain was trying to process it…my heart was wrestling with it.

Afterwards, I spoke with the two women who led the meeting and I was honest and said I didn’t know if I could do it.  It’s hard enough for me to share my story with people I do know!  The other people on the committee were just acquaintances!  One of the women reminded me of the times a few years earlier when I spoke at a Women of Worship about Moses and his battle with trusting God, and speaking at a marriage seminar, and leading a small class at church about recognizing “God Moments” in our lives… and she didn’t realize sharing my thoughts was is still an insecurity of mine.  I guess she thought I was over that.

She then, with a smile, told me that my insecurity of sharing “must really be a stronghold for you”.


Strongholds can tear you down…

…or build you up.

As I wrote in my journal the next day, I asked myself, “Was that meeting, that God moment, “a stepping stone for something in the future? For God to use this opportunity to ‘practice’ sharing my thoughts?”

I continued to write in my journal about having the feeling of change, yet not knowing what that change was.

A couple of days later, while sitting in the sunroom, my holy grounds room, I actually took time to listen (which I admit is not easy!).  And He spoke.

“Trust Me.  Trust Me.  Write!  Just trust Me.  Be like Abraham and trust Me.”

Write?  Why?  Write what? 

I already journal.  So what’s the point?


Now move ahead ten months.    January 2012

I start my Joy Dare.  I started recording in my journal book joys I found in the refrigerator, in my purse, in my hand, someone I sat with, something yellow…the new journey had begun.

And then a couple of weeks into it, my husband encouraged me to create my own blog and start writing my joys there. 

Write!?  For others to read?!  And some acquaintances or strangers might read it?  Be more transparent?  Share my God moments?  Actually write…a dream that’s been balled up and stuffed down in my heart and covered with business, “maybe some day”s, worries, stress, but mostly lack of trust?

So, I took a deep breath, said a prayer, and started clicking and typing.  Maybe this is what God meant when He told me ten months ago to write.

I actually shared my dream with my life-giving, life-support and life-line girlfriends who encouraged me.

And I know, every day I totally have to have a strong hold on God and trust Him to keep my blog going. 

“The Lord is the stronghold of my life…of whom shall I be afraid?” Psalm 27:1

I’m so thankful for the communities in my life.  I’m also thankful that day when I was asked what my stronghold was.  And that question stretched me…and led me to listen.  That comment became a “God moment” in my life. 

So, all I just wrote brings me to today’s gifts

#472 community to stretch me; 

#473 community to speak Truth to me;      

#474 community to be my backbone…they are people who hold strong to our friendship, hold strong to believing and telling me that I can do it, and I’m blessed with the body of Christ, as a whole (even in the blogosphere!), surrounding me with a strong hold of faith in Jesus.

Even though I’m no where near being a “professional writer”, and this might make no sense, I know I write for the Audience of One.  But if anyone else who reads my blog is encouraged, it makes me smile, yet I want to take no credit for it. 

(I’m thankful for you having read this long post!)

Monday, May 21, 2012

7 gifts found in young people


"Children are great imitators. So give them something great to imitate."  Anonymous

Let them imitate you giving thanks to God!  Thanking Him today for…

#465  babies giggle hard

#466  joy in a smile eating a popsicle

#467  little people feeling “big” while holding other babies


#468  concentration while creating art


#469  when the only hide they know how to do is when they play hide and seek

#470  don’t tip toe around honesty and they say whatever is on their mind

#471  the gift of hearing fishing stories from special young man in my life that has been part of mine since he was a baby.

The teaching at church this weekend taught about the significance of younger and older people to have special Christ-led roles and relationships, in addition to one’s own children.   We can learn big things from the words and hearts of young people.

God, please use me to be a friend, an encourager, a listening ear, a mentor to some younger people in my life…where I can tell stories of lessons I’ve learned from making mistakes and how I was only able to overcome them by God’s grace.  I want to teach gratitude and God’s goodness and His never-failing love for His children.

Sunday, May 20, 2012

spring weekend gifts


A good weekend spent with friends, adventures, yardwork, relaxation, good food, worship at God’s house and all the other simple joys listed below…couldn’t count them all!  Hope you had a good weekend and you’ll see God’s grace in every-day things every day.

#452  shucking corn for the first time this year



#453  licking peanut butter off a spoon

#454  daughter making peanut butter cookie all by herself

#455  finding intricate- colorful design of yellow, lime green, black and white on a spider outside our porch


#456  beautiful spring day with lots of sunshine, a few whispy clouds, a gentle breeze and no humidity

#457  grilling steak for dinner

#458  hearing baby birds chirp

#459  planting new flowers

#460  smelling gardenia flowers outside our front door and in our kitchen.  That fragrance almost brings tears to my eyes it’s so beautiful.  It was the fragrance I smelled as I held the bouquet on our wedding day.  The smell is like breathing in God’s sweetness and goodness.



#461  smelling gardenias while chopping potatoes

#462  son home safe from hiking 8 miles on Mt. Roger


#463  thankful son’s leg not broken when kicked by wild horse

#464  singing praise to God…”Holy, Holy Holy is the Lord Almighty, Who was and is and is to come”.

Friday, May 18, 2012

3 gifts unexpected


Isn’t it a joy to receive gifts unexpectantly?  Aren’t they more special when you don’t know you’re getting it than it is when you “expect” one for Christmas or your birthday?  It’s a daily joy to find all the surprise blessings you don’t expect (much less deserve) but that God gives everyday when we intentionally look for them!


#448  the bird nest in neighbor’s flower pot

#449  good and vulnerable conversation with girlfriends

#450  husband and daughter getting tickets to a baseball game with friends

#451  seeing friends that had moved away and gave us a surprise visit today

We are so blessed to have good friends…they are all people who do life with us and still love us anyway!

Thursday, May 17, 2012

gift in a box, a bag, a book


These gifts from tiny babies to my “getting bigger babies” to wisdom on how to stay focused on seeing those gifts all around me every day…

 # 445   nailed to our tree the box that daughter made and painted at camp has new baby birds.  Mama going in and out of the box all day with food for her babies.



#446  put special treat…M & M’s!… in kids’ lunch boxes to celebrate that tests are over!


#447  a book…Daily Light Journal by Ann Graham Lotz  Gives truth and wisdom…


Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Gifts about me???

This is the hardest gift to look for so far this year… the Joy Dare asks to find gifts about yourself…or myself.   Why is that hard to do?  But I strive to live by God’s Word, which includes these words bring truth:

"No one can receive anything unless God gives it from heaven" (John.3:27)  So that’s what I hold onto to find my strengths and gifts that only He has given me.

I believe it’s a gift…

#439  to know that I am nothing without Him.  

#440  I’m not ashamed to stand on grace because I know when waters rise sometimes, my faith can be like a sand castle…shifting sand.

#441 I love hope

#442  I love to listen…to the Word, to His Voice.  I love to listen to others’ stories of their life lessons and struggles, redemption, restoration, wisdom, struggles and joys.  To be that person that someone needs to just listen.   (I have to pray hard that my response is not from me but from God)

#443  A friend has told me I have the gift of quiet strength…of which I’m humbled for the compliment.

#444  I believe it’s a gift to believe that God is not done with me yet…it gives me hope and strength and reassurance that I’m on the right path in my journey…

All credit to HIM….

Monday, May 14, 2012

gifts picked up and put away

Joys from today…

#436  picked up the special cards and tile that were written for me for Mother’s Day


#437  paper, tools, tape runners picked up to make photo albums for teachers…so grateful for them!


#438  toys and clothes put away in drawers in kids’ rooms!

Sunday, May 13, 2012

Mother’s Day weekend joys


"I have been reminded of your sincere faith, which first lived in your grandmother...and in your mother...and lives in you also." 2 Timothy 1:5

#421 seeing little critters like chipmunks and ladybugs in backyard



#422  leaves silhouetted at sunset


#423  seeing 10 day old baby smile in sleep


#424   the soft hair on top of newborn baby’s head

#425  mother, my sister-in-law, holding her newborn, my neice


#426  mother-in-law’s dinner she cooked

#427  watching a bird take a bath


#428  cookout with husband’s family

#429  seeing great-grandmother hold great-granddaughter of whom she was given the name.


#430  fancy chocolate cupcakes with glitter



#431  peonies blooming…that were transplanted from grandmother’s garden.



#432  hearing Proverbs 31 at church

#433  Mother’s Day day with my family

#434  husband bringing me a chocolate malt milkshake from Cookout to end Mother’s Day

#435  My mom, thank you mom, mother-in-law, and all of the special women in my life that have raised me, taught me, been there for me, prayed for me, loved me, ministered to me, laughed with me and touched my life in some way…

Friday, May 11, 2012

gift outside, inside and upside down


So much to be grateful for…

img_7219s##413  smell of spring flowers in bloom outside

#414  garden growing outside


#415  beautiful spring 70 degrees weather day

#416  green inch worm hanging in the air outside

#417  playing with neighbor’s new puppy outside


#418  full moon rising

#419  my husband helping edit my Life Story brochure

#420  rolly polly upside down in daughter’s hand