Friday, June 29, 2012

Relief from haze

 

There’s a haze that lies heavy as far as I can see.

It’s hard to take a deep breath.

It’s easy to need one.

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It’s been 102* today if not hotter here in the Carolinas.  Now it’s evening and it’s still 95* as I sit here at the pool to try to cool off and watch the kids swim.

It’s to be the same sweltering, hazy-summer days of several more to come with no relief.

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So…this weekend I hope to find a place where there is relief from the enveloping heat and haze where I can breathe in a deep breath and breathe in rest and cool- comfort from the Son shining over me…

…and you, too.

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Have a blessed weekend!

 

Still counting…

#612  first tomatoes out of the garden

#613  taco salad for dinner

#614  crunchy purple grapes

#615  sweet tears from words read

#616  air conditioned home when it’s 100 degrees outside…ahhh…just right

#617  the lifeguards who work in the heat so we can get cooler in the pool.

#618  the spiral notebook and pen I take to the pool.

#619  hearing girls giggle and splash

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Can you get better at everything you do?

 

I often tell my children when they get discouraged, “You can only become better if you practice.”

Do you remember times when you were young and someone older than you…your parent, coach, teacher…told you you had to practice when you took piano lessons, played a sport or tried to learn how to fold clothes in order to become better at it?

My children are at that young age now.

They are learning responsibility and discover their interests, their gifts and have tried different lessons to figure that out.

As a mom I’m trying to teach and guide and spur our kids to explore activities that interest them…to discover the gifts God has given them, and things they enjoy. God gives each one of His children gifts and wants each of His children to enjoy the gifts He gives so we can use them to give Him the thanks and praise for it.

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So, I’m teaching them how to say, “Yes ma’am, no sir”. How to make a peanut butter and jelly sandwich. How to clean a toilet. How to ride a bike. How to respect others.

But sometimes when I teach how to paint a picture, they expect it to looks just as if Picasso did it. I teach how to do a cartwheel, yet they expect to immediately do one perfectly as an Olympian. But they become frustrated when they try it for the first time and can’t do it well. They get frustrated when they see others their age learn it quicker or better than them.

They think they’ll instantly be good at whatever they want to do.

(Isn’t that what the world wants…instant gratification?)

Children want to be perfect at everything they try.

They don’t understand they have to work at it…they have to practice to improve.

They’re still learning they can only improve when they practice over and over with the heart and determination to do it.

We try different lessons in life even when we’ve “grow up”.

We can become better at everything if we work at it.

Yes, even when you’re older you can still intentionally practice new things to improve yourself (even though it can be a little harder to teach an old dog new tricks!) such as taking up something you wish you could’ve done earlier like sewing or woodworking . You can work at exercising more, eating healthier, read more and watch TV less.

But there’s other things we practice hard at on a regular basis but don’t even realize we are.

We can become better at looking down at someone, criticizing, saying harsh words instead of encouraging. Better at being stubborn and not wanting to change. Better at seeing things with a cup half empty instead of half full. Better at hiding, better at being lazy on our walk, lazy in striving to love others deeper if we keep practicing it.

A forest path in Redwoods State Park, California.

We can get better at accepting lies Satan whispers in your ears, better at becoming fear – led than Christ-led.

But there’s other things we can practice hard at on a regular basis that brings renewal.

We can become better at having gratitude for hard things in life, better at laughing more, better at being more vulnerable. We can get better at looking at situations with the glass half full instead of half empty. We can get better at changing your thought to beauty and refuse to see things ugly. You can get better at praying, memorizing, better at being intentional.

We can become better at practicing love.

God wants us to pursue joy!

“Rejoice in the Lord always, I will say it again, rejoice!” (Philippians 4:4) He must have had Paul reiterate the word REJOICE. Did he have that word repeated to stress that it’s an action to practice?

Practice rejoicing.

The more you practice rejoicing, the better you get…the better you’re becomimg.

 

Counting continues…

#601  daughter hiding under blankets in our bed

#602  white hair and wrinkles

#603  laughter with friends

#604  the smell of fabric softener still on your hand after tossing it in the dryer

#605  older woman whom I’ve visited for a few years offered to give me a hug for first time

#606  daughter enjoyed camp

#607  daughter saw fawn at camp

#608  son wanting to learn how to improve…

#609  talking with friend I hadn’t talked with in a while

#610  my dad took my son to play golf for first time…special grandfather/grandson time and new thing to learn

#611  God’s forgiveness when I think that life is more about what I am doing than about who I am becoming…

Sunday, June 24, 2012

Can’t you see Him smiling?

Many joys this weekend that brought smiles to faces.

#590  a gift in words -

Jesus is an essentially happy man. He loves life. How could the joy of the Lord be our strength if the Lord is seldom joyful?” John Eldredge  (Beautiful Outlaw)

Jesus is joyful!

Jesus is joy-full every time He sees you smile, every time you give Him the opportunity to hold you, every time you show your love for someone else, every time you take the time to rest (especially in a too-busy-full life), every time you ask Him a question, every time you spend time with Him, every time you are happy, every time you giggle and laugh.

Can’t you see Him smiling when you do those things?

Jesus is joy-full every time He thinks of you!

Doesn’t knowing that give you strength?

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#591  a gift white -  daughter creating her own special Joy Dare book with clear, crisp, fresh white paper.  That’s one of my favorite things…

#592  a new, empty notebook or journal book…endless and unknown gifts awaiting!

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#593  a gift white – clean diapers I got to put on babies at church

#594  scrapbooking tools on table

#595 scrapbook friends around the table

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#596   mess of paper, tools and stickers on the table

#597   photos and stories with them around the table

#598   a gift difficult…picking up the phone to call

#599   a gift difficult…waiting

#600   a gift difficult…to put a good book down…like One Thousand Gifts by Ann Voskamp and Mark of the Lions series by Francine Rivers

Thursday, June 21, 2012

God’s beautiful masterpieces

 

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#580  gift of daughter bent over art project

#581  a gift beautiful - the mosaic…the fragments in the mosaic when put together made beautiful art...just like the broken fragments in our lives. 

Life is full of broken fragments of self-seeking motives, hurts, guilt, fear, lack of trust, sin and shattered dreams.

Even though we have brokenness in our lives, it can be restored.  It takes time.  It takes healing.  It takes work.  It takes trust.  And even then, when we’ve glued our pieces back together to make us whole, we still carry that faint crack even though its been sealed.  Reminds us every once in a while.

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YET God sees us whole…His beautiful masterpiece.

The fragments in the mosaic when put together make beautiful art...just like the broken fragments in our lives and yet God still sees us as His beautiful masterpiece.

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#582  a gift loved - God the Artist

#583  gift of light- sun rays shining through crack in window shade this morning to wake me up

#584  gift of light – morning light shining through rose

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#585  gift of light - sun setting, rays lowering, bringing light inside

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#586 gift in serving…happy when I made my son a PB and J sandwich...smiling he said I still make them better than he does

#587 gift in serving…being a listening mom

#588 gift in serving…being relief for a friend

#589 gift in serving…being a timer at the kids first swim meet this summer…my first time being a timer.

Monday, June 18, 2012

weekend joys

#567  my husband being the father of our children, who provides for us and loves us.  Happy Father’s Day

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#568  friends who gave us tickets to Carowinds!

#569  family day together on a perfectly sunny-not-too-hot-or-humid day at the amusement park

#570  spontaneous breakfast with sister, niece and nephew

#571  I rode medium-thrill roller coasters (so my daughter would) and I didn’t get too sick!!!!  What we do for our kids!

#572  getting soaked on a water ride…maybe because I had kept saying how I didn’t want to get wet on it.  Seeing people as they exited the ride, almost all of them were pretty dry, except for a few who were really wet…and we were waiting one and a half hours.  I was so excited when we were at the end of the ride and I was thankful I had hardly gotten wet…then around the final corner was a waterfall and yes…I had no choice and got soaked going underneath it!   I walked away with water dripping from the bottom of my pants but had a smile on my face.

#573  funnel cake…and it was worth standing in line for it for 45 minutes!

#574  heard Jamie Grace in concert…whom my daughter is encouraged by the words to her songs

#575  worshipped God with Jeremy Camp leading music

#576  hearing Third Day in concert while sitting only 7 rows back

#577  Seeing hundreds of other believers (especially youth), unashamedly raising hands and singing…worshipping…including our son.

#578  daughter’s head on my shoulder at concert, worn out from a fun day. 

#579  My Abba!

Saturday, June 16, 2012

gifts found in my dad

 

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My dad is a gift to to me. There are so many good qualities about him that I respect.  So Dad this post is for you….

When I think about the way you’ve impacted my life, these words come to my mind…heart to serve, safe, secure, supportive and quiet strength.

I see you with a heart to serve.  My entire live I’ve seen you serving others.  You are a reflection of Jesus in the ways He served. 

You’ve become a carpenter in the past few years. You’ve taken this new discovered talent of yours to create beautiful furniture for other people…including our family.  I know with each nail hammered and piece of wood sanded, it is done with love.

You’ve also got the heart to serve your community.  I admire how you volunteer with Habitat for Humanity building homes for low income families…helping the less fortunate be blessed.

I can also see how you serve Jesus at Highland United Methodist Church.  When I was in high school and for several years after, you’ve gone to the poor at their falling-apart-but-thankful-to-have shacks and houses and seen what needed to be fixed or built.…allowing and providing some physical and spiritual hope for the needy that lived there and for the young kids who put their sweat, hands and even tears into it.  Even though you did “behind-the-scene” work, you’ve helped hundreds of peoples’ hearts swell with joy in serving and with thankfulness.

At church, for as long as I can remember, you’ve greeting people when they enter the sanctuary with a smile and even hugs, serving communion and even doing repairs around the church.

One of my most special memories at church when I was young is when I would sit in the pew by myself until after the giving of offering.  Then you’d come sit with me to listen to the minister give his sermon.  You’d let me lie my head in your lap and with your what-I-thought-huge hand rub my back or sit with your arm around my shoulder…it made me feel secure and safe and loved.

Another gift you’ve given me is constant support.  You’ve supported all my endeavors, activities and dreams….that went from piano recitals, dance recitals, cheering, paying for me to attend and graduate from college, and still today, encourages me as a mother to train and love your grandchildren…just to mention a few.

But one of the most valuable qualities in you that I look up to and ever-so-grateful- for is how you’ve shown me that quiet strength is a gift.  It truly is a gift that I’ve realized in my later years.   In James 1:19, it says we are to bequick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry.”   Dad, you live by those words… 

You think before you speak and take the time to say just he right words…which I admire and try to live by, too.

I will never forget the letter you took the time and wrote me right before I had my brain surgery…almost 20 years ago!  That meant so much to me and your words gave me strength to help get me through that hard chapter of my life…that letter may have show me where I get the love of writing comes from…

Children inherit or receive some of the same genes from their parents…and I feel like I’ve been given several ones from you.  I’ve come to realize I’ve been given the gift, from our heavenly Father, some of your strengths and qualities that I am so thank-full for.

I love you Dad!  Happy Father’s Day!

#564  my dad’s support

#565  my dad’s serving heart

#566  the quiet strength I admire in my dad

Thursday, June 14, 2012

gifts smelled and unexpected

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#556  smelling tomatoes growing in garden…rubbing the leaves, moving the stems to wrap around the strings leaves a smell on my fingers that can only be smelled in the summer.

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#557  smelling chopped red peppers

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#558  smelling cinnamon muffins that the kids wake up to

#559  smelling sunscreen as I spray it on our kids

#560  unlikely chance of rain on this beautiful 80* sunny day with a light breeze

#561  unexpected invitation to a cookout

#562  gift unwanted – change 

Not the kind of change I find loose in the bottom of my purse, pocket or wallet.

Change that makes me resist.

Change being a gift…. Do You have the gift receipt for that so I can return it?   That was so thoughtful of You but it’s not my favorite thing or honestly I don’t like it.  Can I exchange it for comfort or stability…or promised no worries?

When God moves us out of our comfort zone —- into places that are way bigger than us, places that are difficult, hard, painful —- that even hurt — this is a gift.

We are being given a gift.

These hard places give us the gift of intimately knowing God — in ways that would never be possible in our comfort zones.”

It’s only in the uncomfortable places that we can experience the tenderness of the Comforter.

Counting gifts means counting the hard things as gifts — otherwise I’ve miscounted.

Outside of comfort’s warmth, gifts unfurling underneath. Signs of radical change emerging everywhere.”        ~ Ann Voskamp

 

#562  So I thank God for the gift of unwanted change…

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Gifts of full life

 

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I had a bowl of Life cereal for breakfast this morning.  I probably put in a little too much because I was a little full after I finished.

I take the kids to swim practice and come back home and open my bible and a devotion guide I’ve used in the summer the past couple of years. 

“Read Psalm 130”

“…put your hope in the Lord, for with the Lord is unfailing love and with him is FULL redemption.  He himself will redeem Israel from all their sins”…. or He himself will redeem us from all our sins.  Psalm 130: 7-8 NIV

Today’s hunt suggestion is to find “gifts full”.  Earlier this morning I really was full  after eating Life and then it just so happens that after I ate, the assignment for today to start the devotion by reading Scripture about the promise of God’s unfailing love with His FULL redemption

The Lord is the only One who can fully redeem…or rescue…or set us free with ransom (his Son)…from our sins. 

Then the study says to, “Read Colossians 3:1-17” ( I read from The Voice version)

On that day when the Anointed One – who is our very LIFE – is revealed, you will be revealed with Him in glory!”  vs. 4

LIFE!  LIFE REVEALED with Him in glory!

I keep reading…verse 16-17…

Let the word of the Anointed One richly inhabit your lives.  With all wisdom teach, counsel, and instruct one another…sing to God from hearts full and spilling over with thankfulness.  Surely, no matter what you are doing (speaking, writing, or working), do it all in the name of Jesus our Master, sending thanks through Him to God our Father.”

(Yes, in this version of Scripture, the words full and spilling over and writing are really italicized!!)

And I’m really not joking, as I was writing this, I was listening to Pandora and the lyrics of this classic hymn sing softly in the background….”How marvelous, how wonder-FULL is my Savior’s love for me.”

I am full of wonder spilling over of amazement of God’s love, or maybe even sense of humor, by putting those scriptures and hymns with words and promises of “full” and “life” as my hunt assignment and devotion for today relate to each other.

My life is wonder-FULL of blessings that I know I don’t deserve…but I’m ever so humbled and grateful for.

I am FULL of LIFE through Christ and I’m sending thanks through Him to God!

#548  What a gift of Life wonder-FULL of God’s surprises, redemption, grace and love.

#549  bowl of LIFE cereal

#550 first summer trip to the library to stock up on books

#551 finding missing socks

#552 playing in the rain

#553 laughing with family so hard it literally makes me cry

#554 dinner with college friends

#555 FULL of fun memories and catching-up-conversations

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Thanks friends for a great evening together…thanks for your encouragement and I loved hearing your stories about miracles and blessings from God!

Sunday, June 10, 2012

gifts that make you smile

#539  empty desks…school is out for the summer!
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#540 smiling as our children smile when we say we’re getting a Frosty
#541  smiling at a bird standing on side of road that was just raising and lowering its wings as if it was just needing to stretch
#542  HUGE SMILE…my absolute wonderful and caring husband who I know loves me just registered me to attend the Allume Social conference in October!
What a HUGE WONDER I’m so excited about!  I never in my dreams imagined wanting to go to a conference by myself 8 hours away from home with a group of other women whom I’ve never met.  For those that know me, they know that I’m much more an introverted person and this will be out of my comfort zone.
Much less, that I’d be going to learn more about writing and blogging!  Me!  I’ve never been a person who “surfs the net” a lot.  I just have my few websites I visit. 
I guess the thing I’m most excited about the conference is to learn more about writing.  That is something I’ve always enjoyed doing…and even been a dream to write something that maybe others would be interested in reading.  It’s only been a dream, and I honestly haven’t been much of a person to “go after your dreams”.  It’s probably because I just stay in my bubble, busy, day- to -day life as being a mom and wife.  Don’t get me wrong… I do love and consider myself blessed to be a stay-at-home mom… but at the same time the evil one can use my everyday routines to squelch my thought of dreaming or even thinking of asking God to give me the desire of my heart. (Psalm 37:4)
I guess a dream of mine, that I’ve shoved to the bottom of my heart, is to have the boldness of sharing my faith through writing. 
My husband has been telling me that I am doing that when I post on my blog.  I’ve never imagined having a blog!   He just suggested that to me one day this past January and showed me how to set it up that day!  It had never been a dream of mine. 
I do pray whatever I write for my blog to be what gives God the glory. He is my ONE AUDIENCE. 
I do feel though that this is a brand new door God has put before me to open.  This is a new chapter in my life story..my faith story.  This is part of my journey.  This is a huge TRUST GOD opportunity (trusting God that this really His a purpose in my life and even trusting the logistics…I’m registered but that’s it and trusting everything else will fall in place!)
This is a HUGE GIFT!!  
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I’m so grateful and thankful for my husband giving me the gift of attending this conference…and it’ll even be on my birthday!
More gifts this weekend…
#543  hanging out and line dancing with new and long-time friends at the pool
#544  “For I am His and He is mine - Bought with the precious blood of Christ.”
#545  From life's first cry to final breath, Jesus commands my destiny.
#546  meatballs and mashed potatoes
#547  our Bigger God is behind every giant in our lives

Thursday, June 7, 2012

3 gifts of reading

 

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#535  gift of reading the replies viewers have written about my blog posts.

#536  gift of reading about our untame God.

Ann Voskamp wrote on her post today about being a dangerous disciple of an unsafe God, 

“What did Randy Alcorn say and in the most Scriptural sense? “It’s dangerous faith in our untamed Savior that leads us to the joy we crave.

“Sometimes the dangerous is the only way to get down to the endangered truth.”

“The right dangerous can be good and the wrong safe can be useless.”

I want to know the difference between right and wrong…to know when to be dangerous and when to be safe. 

#537  I remember reading, on another note, the book Epic, by John Eldredge who wrote, “It is a dangerous thing to underestimate your role in God’s Story. ”  That is the danger we don’t want to tread on. 

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God has everything worked out for you and for me to play a specialized role in His big Story.   We can’t allow ourselves to hide and “play life safe” when it comes to be disciples of Christ.  It can be so easy to play it safe…for me to do. 

We need to have “dangerous faith in our untamed Savior that lead us to the joy we crave”.  That dangerous faith to share the Gospel, befriend an enemy, tell your redemptive story.  

I’m thankful for this endangered truth.

#538  today would’ve been my grandmother’s 100th birthday

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

more gifts of hope, peace

 

The alarm beeped loudly.  I reached over and slapped snooze.  Then I heard it.

Rain.  A steady, comforting, relaxing sound.  Not too heavy, no rolling thunder, no high or howling wind.

#529  The peaceful sound of steady rain to wake up to in the morning. 

I could feel the cool dampness in the room.  It made it hard to have to get out from the warm covers but also made it so easy to have something to thank God for first thing in the morning.

I put on my comfy pants and wrapped my cotton jacket around me and went out to the screened in porch with my Bible. 

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The rain continued and I read. A little after I had been there, the rain began falling a little harder. The wind began to blow just enough to give me a chill...and goose-bumps.  Maybe to keep me awake.  To listen.

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So I listened.  I still heard the rain.  I heard the birds who were getting a shower. 

I felt peace. 

I felt the warmth of God’s Presence.

I heard again the word HOPE. 

I remembered words I read from a Women of Faith book called Hope the Anchor For Your Soul. 

“Hope remakes us into new people.  It changes our state of mind.  Our perspective changes, so that our eyes become fixed on the Lord.  We try to put ourselves in His place – look at things in the same way that Jesus would have

Hope also works on our attitudes.  Our heart tells us to put posing and pouting aside, trading grouchy ‘attitudes’ for the attitude of Christ.  When this happens, God is pleased with us.” 

Is this hope-thing working?  It would’ve been so easily to wake up this morning and grumble that it was a rainy day, that I had to get up early, that I had a big “to-do” list today and didn’t know how I’d get it done.  I could’ve grumbled that I had to deal with a hard-to-deal-with person, that I had overflowing baskets of laundry to do…

So counting joys can change hope…

“When we consider the sheer magnitude of these changes in naturally selfish creatures, we begin to grasp the truly miraculous effect of hope in our heart.

We can have an incredible, amazing, irrepressible hope.”   What an amazing gift to cling to…to thank God for!

#530  “Hope opens our eyes. 

#531  Hope affects our attitudes. 

#532  Hope gives us purpose. 

#533  Hope sets a goal before us. 

#534  Hope fills our lives with good things – the very goodness of God. 

Hope is our reason for rejoicing!

The hope we have makes all the difference in the world because it opens our eyes to new things, and it gives us something to look forward to.  But it also gives us something to hold on to right now”…in our everyday struggles and sometimes battles or outright wars…confidence through Christ.   Psalm 27:3

So as the rain came to an end this morning, my hope was refreshed.

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Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Gifts in Christ and hope

#518  A gift from Christ is guidance

#519  A gift from Christ is direction

#520  “Whenever you walk to the left or to the right,your ears will hear a voice behind you, saying, ‘This is the way; walk in it.’"  Isaiah 30:21 

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God’s guidance will be as clear as a whisper in our ears…when we take the time to listen.

With God’s guidance we can find direction and loving redirection, assurance,  instruction, leadership, teaching and…perfect peace as He guides you.

#521  “You will keep in perfect peace him whose mind is steadfast, because He trusts in you.”  Isaiah 26:3

This is the way; walk in it…because He trusts you.

That’s for anyone and everyone to hear and see and know.  He has a perfect plan for each one of us and He trusts us to use and do those gifts.

Am I going in God’s direction as a stay-at-home mom, a life and faith book creator, a Creative Memories consultant, a blogger…a Joy Hunter? 

I hope that I am.

#522  I hope that I am walking the way He wants me to go.

#523  I hope I will clearly hear God whisper to me that He trusts me. 

I’m humbled to think…or have to believe because it says to in His Word…that He trusts in me…and you.

I’m humbled for these gifts, too…

#524  hearing the crickets chirp outside in the dark

#525  having windows open at night in June.

#526  laughing at pictures in baby album

#527  Levi our dog having a friend over to play

#528  sunrays stretching down through gray clouds in morning

Sunday, June 3, 2012

Reminders

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Reminders.  We always need them.  There’s Outlook calendars, on iPods, Post-its on kitchen counters, doors, mirrors, dashboards, and my favorite…what’s probably an “oldie” these days… but a paper family planner book.

Last week I had to write reminders to go to a few meetings, what supplies to get for a party, to bake a dessert for a cookout, visit a shut –in elder, send a birthday card and pick up photos at the store to name a few.

God has His own reminders for us.  Every spring, when the earth stirs with new life.  Every sunrise, every star, every snowflake, every breath, every heartbeat.  It all points us to the God who created us.

Paul wrote, “I will always remind you of these things even though you know them and are firmly established in the truth you now have.  I think it is right to refresh your memory…” (2 Peter 12-13)   It

It is right to refresh your memory

My memory is refreshed with each new day as I remind myself to hunt for joys every day.  Not just days when I feel like it, but to intentionally do it, even though some days are hander than others. 

I need to be reminded of the basic fundamentals of my belief and faith…that God’s biggest desire for us is to praise and glorify Him and have a heart to heart, soul to soul relationship with Him.  That’s all. 

God’s people needing reminders goes all the way back to the Israelites while they were on the search for the Promised Land.  God gave them…

Manna every day. 

Provisions every day.   

New mercies every day.

Blessings every day.

Reminders every day to not forget God’s love for them…for us.  He wants us to remember. 

We need to be reminded to remember. 

To remember that God blesses us.

 

#502 purple butterfly bush flowers in bloom

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#503  orange flower in butterfly exhibit

#504  daughter over stomach bug

#505  perfect weather for a cookout

#506  daughter drawing a picture a writing a note to our Compassion child in Spanish…so thankful for that common unity of loving Jesus and speaking the same language at a young age.

#507  writing a letter to our Compassion child

#508  kids giggling on the tire swing

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#509  Chick-fil-a!

#510  daughter asked us if “back in the old days when we were young if computers were made of wood”!  Funny!

#511  mom and daughter making a flour mess baking

#512  raising praise and singing to God at SM:FX at church

#513  the children and youth leaders at our church

#514  excitement in son’s voice as he tells me about Scorch

#515  conviction from conversation with a young boy

#516  exhausted husband and son home from serving God all day long.

#517  God’s grace