Monday, April 30, 2012

One Thousand Gifts (742-747)

Continuing on my journey toward one thousand gifts....

I had a lovely weekend beginning on Friday watching the (in)courage Opening (in)RL Session at 9:00 p.m. Wonderful Husband and I were babysitting our granddaughter (Youngest Sweetie), and she was on my lap for the first part of the webcast as I told her that on that night, she was my community.

My mother-in-law has been suffering with constant pain this past week. She's scheduled for an MRI this week and hopefully a diagnosis and treatment will follow. We took over a couple meals to the in-laws since my father-in-law has never cooked and is now learning how to heat up food in the microwave oven. Family is my community.

Wonderful Husband and I were at church on Sunday where the 3rd grade children received Bibles. "A gift from our church and from God," our Associate Pastor told them. After church, there was a prayer quilt to pray over for a 23 week pregnant mother in the hospital with complications. Church is my community.

The theme for my weekend was community: defining, focusing, and helping others.

It was a lovely weekend.

742 - 747 on my list of One Thousand Gifts. I'm thankful for:

742. community: online and IRL (In Real Life)

743. delivering food to my in-laws. They've given so much of themselves to others and it is wonderful to be able to give to them.

744. Bibles for 3rd grade children. May they read His Word and embrace their faith.

745. a shift in attitude and what better way than finding wall art to remind myself that striving for perfection (or could it be defined as, "Doing things my way?") never worked for me and my family....

746. "(in)RL 2012 Webcast: Exploring the Nitty Gritty of Community" hosted by (in)courage. It was amazing!

747. scripture always feeding my soul

Pleasant words are a honeycomb, sweet to the soul and healing to the bones.
Proverbs 16:24 (NIV)

This post is linked to A Holy Experience: Multitudes on Mondays, One Thousand Gifts.

How was your week(end)?

Monday, April 23, 2012

One Thousand Gifts (733-741)

Continuing on my journey toward one thousand gifts....

Wonderful Husband and I had a mission on Saturday. I had to find something to wear to the weddings we're attending in June and August. And on a side note....a wedding in August? I should mention it's outside. Did I already say August???

Clothes shopping is not my favorite activity. Probably because of my three years of working retail in my youth.

I wrote a list of six retail establishments that we could try and Wonderful Husband was the driver/navigator, planning the order to visit each store on the list. (He's better at geography than I am. I married well.)

I struck out at shops one and two. At the third shop, I purchased two dresses, two necklaces, and a pair of earrings!

Bring on the weddings!

#733 - 741 on my list of One Thousand Gifts. I'm thankful for:

733. finding two dresses for the weddings

734. Dress Barn. I heart you!

735. Wonderful Husband shopping for dresses with me. I heart him too!

736. Wonderful Husband planting newly purchased phlox. I'm hoping that they'll choke the future weeds. (I sound like a bloodthirsty gardener but let me just say that I grow very hardy weeds.)

737. seeing Junior Prom students and their parents gathered at a neighbors' house for pictures

738. assisting Wonderful Husband with our granddaughter's bath

739. a Bavarian cream-filled, chocolate-covered donut

740. Violas. Are they baby pansies? I thought a viola was a  musical instrument.

741. Wonderful Husband showing me two ducks on our front walk. Silly ducks! (I wonder if they can be trained to bring the newspaper to the front porch? Ha!)

Before I left for work I saw another duck had joined the party in the front yard.

This post is linked to A Holy Experience: Multitudes on Mondays, One Thousand Gifts.

Did wild animals invade your yard this week? I'd love to know.

Friday, April 20, 2012

Fellowship Part One

I chose the word "fellowship" to focus on during 2012.

Dietrich Bonhoeffer from his book Life Together wrote:
"The first service that one owes to others in the fellowship consists of listening to them. Just as love of God begins with listening to his word, so the beginning of love for our brothers and sisters is learning to listen to them."

Listening to others. A good beginning.

This past week, Ann Voskamp had a great post at (in)courage called, "Why You Need to Find Community (even when you're really hurting)." I began reading the comments from some women who have been hurt by community and some women who are alone and desire to be a part of community.

God made us a relational people. He wants us to be in relationship with Him and with others, and one thing that captured my attention is that some women who lack community are looking for someone to focus on them and their problems.

I believe that the way to find community is to turn my focus and care toward others. To step outside of myself and my problems and readjust my vision to others, listen to them, and hear where they are in their lives. Then a relationship can begin and maybe flourish.

Not every relationship or fellowship opportunity leads to community, yet it can move me forward in my journey of being a servant of Christ. A more pro-active servant. I believe that God places every person in my life for His purpose and my benefit. I learn something from each person...mostly good things but occasionally I leave a relationship and chalk it up to "a life lesson."

When days of sadness or loneliness come (and they will) I know it's time to shift my focus from myself....toward others. My burden ends and I become spiritually lighter when I invest in relationship and fellowship with others and with God.

"Let love and faithfulness never leave you; bind them around your neck, write them on the tablet of your heart. Then you will win favor and a good name in the sight of God and man."
Proverbs 3:3-4

This year I am challenging myself to bring love and faithfulness into my relationships, into my fellowship opportunities, into my community(ies).

What do you think? 
Do you long for community?
Will you share what fellowship and community look like to you?

I'd really like to listen...

Monday, April 16, 2012

One Thousand Gifts (721-732)

Continuing on my journey toward one thousand gifts....

I received a phone call from Debbie telling me about Doug's death, a long time parishioner of the church where I worked years ago. He lived a long life (93 years) and was a good man who was treasurer of the church for many years until the end of his life. He was an active member of the church from his childhood until his death.

For a while, I was both the parish secretary (producing weekly bulletins) and financial secretary (paying the bills). Our paths intersected with Doug reviewing the financial reports I generated and I also referred to him as "my second husband" because he and Wonderful Husband were very similar in personality because of their finance backgrounds. Numbers were/are one of their love languages. :)

I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith.
2 Timothy 4:7

He lived these words.

Rest in peace Doug. I will miss you!

#721 - 732 on my list of One Thousand Gifts. I'm thankful for:

721. knowing Doug

722. God who consoles me during times of mourning

723. healthcare: my eight week orthodontist appointment and annual doctor's appointment

724. mailboxes on a "lazy susan" contraption. I drive past them every day and just noticed it for the first time? Yikes!

725. seeing a bird soaring with the wind. (Something I need to remember..."to soar" through/with events, not "against the wind.")

726. Wonderful Husband taking care of tax filings for our "kids"

727. Ann Voskamp writing at (in)courage "Why You Need to Find Community (even when you're really hurting)"

728. Mary's post "Fishing for Hope." It reminds me that my hope is in the Lord.

729. talking with our new(ish) neighbor while sitting on the front porch with Youngest Sweetie. He's very excited about getting a new internet provider. I'm guessing that technology is one of his love languages.

730. a cool breeze on a sunny day. Weather perfection in my humble opinion.

731. God leading me through my word for 2012 "Fellowship": using scripture, blogs, and books. It was a wonderful week of God showing me connections! (Or was I still enough to connect the dots?)

732. being still and moments of worldly silence in order to hear Him

This post is linked to A Holy Experience: Multitudes on Mondays, One Thousand Gifts.

Do you experience God's solace during hard times?

Friday, April 13, 2012

Granddaughter With Attitude

Happiness before a walk....

OK, I was the happy one because she makes me smile while reminding me that she isn't trained to perform when I want her "to perform."

I'm calling her name, pleading for her to smile, and she won't even look at me.

I take the picture and laugh.

Yes, Youngest Sweetie has an attitude and some moments she's more cooperative than others!

Good girl!
Being a grandmother makes my heart happy!

Monday, April 9, 2012

One Thousand Gifts (705-720)

Continuing on my journey toward one thousand gifts....

Karen Ehman inspired me with her idea of sending off encouraging cards during the 40 days of Lent. While meeting with my Growth Group, we were asked what (if anything) we do during Lent and I explained where the idea came from and my commitment during Lent.

I thought I'd tell you about my Lenten experience of sending 40 cards in 40 days.

There were a couple of encores (2 people received 2 separate cards).

Some people expressed their thanks and their words were basically, 'Wow. Perfect timing. I needed to hear encouraging words today.'

The glory goes to God and His perfect timing.

I didn't hear from others and that was fine too because I took on this commitment to serve others, not to receive praise from them.

This experience started out easy. God providing me with a name/situation, writing the card, mailing it. Easy.

Half way through Lent (around Day 20) was more of a challenge. Who to send a card to? I talked to Wonderful Husband about hitting a wall (or was it a speed bump?) and a couple days later at my Growth Group meeting, two of the group asked how it was going. I laughed and said, "Funny you should ask since it's becoming more challenging as the days continue forward." They offered me words of encouragement that were deeply appreciated.

Wonderful Husband walked the cards to the mailbox every morning before picking up the newspaper. He was an integral part of this experience and  he received a card expressing my appreciation for his support, love, and care for me for....oh so many years.

I had a large supply of DaySpring cards on hand, plenty of postage stamps, and the cards sent included: prayers, encouragement, birthday, and sympathy cards. I sent cards to family, friends and a first year college student. It was a commitment of my time, focusing on others, and the experience blessed me tremendously!

I will continue this Lenten tradition next year.

And all the glory goes to God!

#705 - 720 on my list of One Thousand Gifts. I'm thankful for:

705. Karen Ehman for sharing her idea

706. sending cards during Lent. It was easy, and challenging, and a blessing.

707. God who deepened my faith through Lent this year

708. our son, the Teacher visiting during his spring break

709. the safety of my Texas family during the tornadoes this past week

710. following a car with a license plate frame that said, "The lower the latitude, The better the attitude." (It made my "southern heart" smile:)

711. receiving a text that our granddaughter cut her first tooth

712. cotton socks on my cold feet

713. a surprise gift from Charlotte hand-delivered to me at work, the book: Selections from One Thousand Gifts: Finding Joy in What Really Matters by Ann Voskamp

714. pear trees in full bloom

715. shopping with Young Sweetie and Youngest Sweetie. These two enjoy shopping.

716. Holy Week and reading scripture each day

717. the 8:00 a.m. Easter service at church

718. pineapple stuffing, the perfect complement to ham. I love taking a side dish to family events!

719. Youngest Sweetie's first Easter egg hunt

Youngest Sweetie is not a big fan of grass,
and received help from her mama and uncle.
720. reading Holley Gerth's book, You're Already Amazing: Embracing Who You Are, Becoming All God Created You to Be, and following along with Bloom (in)courage book club

Alleluia! Christ is risen!
Christ is risen indeed!

This post is linked to A Holy Experience: Multitudes on Mondays, One Thousand Gifts.

What are you thankful for this week?

Friday, April 6, 2012

Pear Trees in Full Bloom

Happiness on a branch....

Years ago we lived in Germantown, Maryland and I was driving down a neighborhood road that was lined on both sides with pear trees in full bloom. It was a windy day and the petals were blowing off the trees and swirling through the air.

They made me feel like a bride exiting the church: celebrating my youth, the beginning of shared dreams, and knowing I was holy, chosen, and dearly loved.

A memory which makes me smile 20 years later.

Do you have a favorite tree?

Monday, April 2, 2012

One Thousand Gifts (685-704)

Continuing on my journey toward one thousand gifts....

I have a neighbor (who shall remain nameless:) who delights in telling me that North Carolina has the bluest sky. Hands down.

I took this picture while I was taking a 15 minute break from work on Friday:

Isn't it lovely?

I think Pennsylvania has the prettiest clouds!

#685 - 704 on my list of One Thousand Gifts. I'm thankful for:

685. the beauty of Pennsylvania clouds

686. morning smells: freshly brewed coffee and a toasted multigrain bagel

687. celebrating lunch out with two co-workers for their birthdays

688. birthday cakes two days in a row? Yes, there can be too much of a good thing!

689. daffodils. I think they are the happiest flowers of Spring.

690. my Growth Group at church. It was difficult for me in the beginning yet after our meeting together for eight Thursdays evenings, the experience was indeed a blessing in my life.

691. opening myself up to new relationships

692. appreciating how God made us with unique qualities and characteristics. (It used to irritate me that other people weren't the same or thought the same as me. Not anymore!)

693. the joy in recognizing each person's individuality and sharing our lives and our faith with each other

694. God's creativity in bringing six different people together to study His word

695. weekends and recharging myself for the work week

696. my job

697. my brother-in-law getting a job after a long stretch of looking

698. opening day of baseball season is coming. Time for spirited conversations between Wonderful Husband, the Teacher, and Young Sweetie. (Free entertainment for me!)

699. a Saturday afternoon of shopping with Wonderful Husband, Young Sweetie, and Youngest Sweetie

700. Youngest Sweetie's first visit with the Easter Bunny

I love this age (4 1/2 months). Not afraid of strangers or a bunny with large wire-framed glasses.

After the photo opp was over I said, "Bye Easter Bunny."

He (or she) waved.

Young Sweetie (my daughter) said, "Bye Easter Bunny. See you next week!"

701. Palm Sunday

702. palm fronds

703. Young Sweetie making palm crosses for our family

704. Holy Week - from Jesus' arrival in Jerusalem through his resurrection

This post is linked to A Holy Experience: Multitudes on Mondays, One Thousand Gifts.

What beauty do you see today?

Sunday, April 1, 2012

Holy Week 2012

*What I am reading this week:

The Triumphal Entry, Jerusalem, Sunday (Palm Sunday)
Matthew 21:1-11

Jesus curses the fig tree, Monday
Matthew 21:18-19

Jesus clears the temple, Monday
Matthew 21:12-13

The authority of Jesus questioned, Tuesday
Matthew 21:23-27

Jesus teaches in the temple, Tuesday
Matthew 21:28-23:39

Jesus anointed, Bethany, Tuesday
Matthew 26:6-13

The plot against Jesus, Wednesday
Matthew 26:14-16

The Last Supper, Thursday (Maundy Thursday)
Matthew 26:17-29

Gethsemane, Thursday
Matthew 26:36-46

Jesus' arrest and trial, Thursday night and Friday
Matthew 26:47-27:26

Jesus' crucifixion and death, Golgotha, Friday (Good Friday)
Matthew 27:27-56

The burial of Jesus, Joseph's Tomb, Friday
Matthew 27:57-66

The Resurrection, Sunday (Easter)
Matthew 28:1-10

Alleluia! Christ is risen!
Christ is risen indeed!

Easter blessings to you and yours!

*from my archives - an annual reading tradition