Friday, November 30, 2012

Thirty

"I will extol You, O Lord, for You have lifted me up and have not let my foes rejoice over me.
O Lord my God, I cried to You and You have healed me.

Sing to the Lord, O you saints of His, and give thanks at the remembrance of His holy name.

For His anger is but for a moment, but His favor is for a lifetime. Weeping may endure for a night, but joy comes in the morning.

You have turned my mourning into dancing for me; You have put off my sackcloth and girded me with gladness,

To the end that my tongue and my heart and everything glorious within me may sing praise to You and not be silent. O Lord my God, I will give thanks to You forever."
- from Psalm 30

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Twenty-Nine

Today I am thankful for Mari Alice. She is pure delight. Every day is a new adventure with her. She's bright and happy; bold and helpful. I love how she starts so many sentences with "I was just wondering..." She is hard-working and playful, and I am blessed to spend my days with her.

Yesterday, I sat down with each girl individually and gave them "cyber dollars" so they could privately shop online for their family members. Ardyn showed up with a list. Ashlin was definitive and decisive. Elizabeth was not happy her time slot fell during her one PBS show, so with eyes darting toward the tv, she hastily spouted, "I just want to get elephants for the little kids and monkeys for the big kids, ok?" That girl!

Anyway, when Mari sat down, she had three dollar bills wrinkled into a wad in her hand. Not understanding that I intended to fully fund her virtual shopping spree, she looked up at me and with those big brown eyes blinking slowly and sweetly, she whispered, "This is all my money. Can you please look up 'wedding rings'?"

I blinked a blurry tear away as I typed "gold diamond ring" into the search box, and she continued to talk. "This three dollars can buy you a really pretty ring and then - since my money will be all gone - I'll just make stuff for everybody else ... I can make a scrap book for dad and ..."

A few weeks after my wedding ring went missing, I ordered a $15 silver band from overstock.com. I wanted to have a symbol of my marriage, but still resist the urge to replace my ring too soon ... standing firm in the hope that we'd miraculously find it.

But scrolling through all the images of glittery goodness, I think Mari and I both wanted something new. She saw one that she liked and shouted, "OOH! That one is gorgeous, and it's $2something. Get it!" I guided the cursor to hover over the price and offered another 1st grade lesson in place value. Gently, I explained, "It costs two thousand dollars." Deflated, yet resolved, she replied, "Ok ... let's keep looking."

Learning to scan for prices, she saw a giant solitaire for $24. She got really excited and began brainstorming ways to earn the extra money. I quickly introduced her to the deceptive world of "diamanoids". Silently, I wondered how to get out of this situation without hurting her feelings.

We had fun looking through several pages of rings, and then, we saw one that had only limited quantities and was drastically reduced in price ... like by 75%.  (But her money would still barely cover a fraction of the tax.) I clicked to get a better look. It was a beautiful representation of the verse "a cord of three strands is not easily broken", and the red slashed price was leading me to believe we might be able to swing it as an upgraded substitute ring. I still hope and pray for the miracle of my original ring being returned, but to wear a pretty ring until then would be nice.

I secretly sent the link to Philip's phone while Mari continued to admire the ring.

"Could I have this as my Christmas/Anniversary present? Completely on sale and the braided cord has been on my mind for months."

His immediate response: "Yes".
I love that agreeable guy:)

I closed my phone and turned toward Mari. "I think we can get it," I smiled.

"Really??  It's so beautiful! Do you love it? When will we get it? How do they know where we live? How much does it cost?"

"Your Daddy said he'd get it for me."
She stopped suddenly. "No, I want to get this for you. I thought of this ... I lost your first one and I really want to get you a new one. How much will it cost?"

"Um... if you can pay $3, Daddy will cover the rest."

Deal.

This morning, the Lord brought those words back to my mind. "If you can give $3, Daddy will cover the rest." In the calm, dark stillness, my Heavenly Father seemed to whisper, "Cari, if you can give me everything you have, I'll cover the rest."

Isn't that the truth?

Everything I have is nothing, really ... when compared to the task or project or requirement ahead. But He promises that if I'll give it all up - all my effort, all my plans, everything I seem to have acquired so far - then He will lovingly step in and offer the riches to see it through.

I am reminded of the boy in the Bible with five loaves and two fish. He gave all he had and God used his offering and blessed its effectiveness to overflowing proportions.  Alvin Slaughter words it like this ...

Let Him take it and bless it and
Break it and give it
He'll multiply it in the moment you live it
And in the moment you call
When you've given your all
He steps in, He steps in
And He'll say
What's that you have in your hand?

I can use it, if you're willing to lose it.
Take the little you have and make it grand.
I am El Shaddai and I'll more than supply your need.

I got a little side-tracked, but now you see why I am so deeply grateful for Mari Alice. Her precious life is divine conduit - a channel of blessing to me.

Dear God, Thank you for my sweet Mari Alice. Thank You for the very fun guy You have chosen just for her. I can't wait to watch their story unfold. You are kind and good and Your mercies never fail. Thank You.

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Twenty-Eight

Today I am grateful for Ashlin Rae. She is all things easily wonderful. She is quiet and industrious, but will blast out a good-hearted belly laugh if the need arises. She carries her emotions below the surface and is seriously considerate. She is my whistling helper girl and silent back-scratcher. I love her dearly.

Dear God, thank You for Ash. Thank You for the wonderful man You are saving for her. He will be so blessed by her companionship. Keep them safe and sound until they discover each other in light of Your perfect plan. Thank You for trusting me to raise her and blessing me with her sweetness.

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Twenty-Seven

Today, I am thankful for Ardyn Grace. She is cheerful and creative. I love talking on the phone with her ... her voice is simply happy. She giggles freely, sings beautifully, sketches artfully, and writes with inspiration... and she rides her bike and the four-wheeler ... um ... rambunctiously:)

Dear God, thank you for Ardyn. Thank you for the sweet, sweet man You are saving just for her. Keep them each safe in the center of Your will. Settle deep within her the truth of her beauty in and through Christ and may she find her quiet, confident identity in You alone.

Monday, November 26, 2012

Twenty-Six

 
Today I am grateful for my best friend and that miracles still happen.
 
I can remember sitting at the dining table, helping the kids with school lessons. I answered the phone and heard her broken voice. After years of feeling trapped on the emotional roller coaster of infertility, it was hard for her to say the thrilling, yet nauseating two-word sentence: "I'm pregnant." I remember her following it up with another (more obvious) four-word announcement: "I can't stop crying!"
 
She confessed, "I don't want to get my hopes up."
 
Three years earlier, we had been in adjacent hospital rooms-  I with my newborn, and she having just endured a ruptured tubal pregnancy. Unspeakable. No words...nothing to do but pray with one another and offer reassuring, heart-wrenching smiles through our teary eyes.
 
But on that day when her call happily interrupted spelling lists and long division ... we marveled at God's goodness.
 
"I don't want to get my hopes up," she sobbed.  I remember my response. "Then, we shall pray for courage  - courage to put our hope in God ... not in this pregnancy. That way our hopes can be up. Today, you are pregnant. And we live today. Today, you are crying uncontrollably, you're puffy, and if I were to say the word "tuna", you just might barf. So this is reality. We'll live tomorrow's reality tomorrow. Today God has placed a baby inside you. Praise Him!"
 
Kate is two now and a beautiful reminder that miracles still happen.
 
Thank You, God, for Kathy and for "Baby Kate".
video

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Twenty-Five

 
 
Today, I thank God for holidays. "Holy Days" - set apart for rest from routine.
 
 

Saturday, November 24, 2012

Twenty-Four

Today I thank God for Elizabeth Anne. She is pure delight. I am terribly inconsistent when it comes to parenting this curly-haired charmer. She tells me I am "priddy" at least once a day, she gives good "squeeze the neck tight" hugs, and she loves to write ... most of the time on paper.

A couple nights ago, we were about to play a game of dice with the family. Giz filled her waiting moments with a little tower building on the table. Suddenly, she exclaimed, "Hey everybody! Look at the castle I made out of Yahtzee balls!!"

Thank You, God, for this precious soul. Bring her to Yourself as we teach her to seek You first. I pray for her husband - may he be filled with a hunger for Your Word and lots of patience;)

Friday, November 23, 2012

Twenty-Three

video

Hey guys its Luke, my mom will be really mad when she sees this but I hope yall enjoy.

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Twenty-One

Today I am thankful for Luke.

He is smart and charming. He makes me laugh. He makes me cry. He has great ideas and can be utterly sweet. For reasons we simply have to trust, God put us together ... for better or for worse.

Dear God, thank You for Luke. Please keep him close to You. Give him a hunger for the truth of Your Kingdom. I pray for the young woman you'll bring to him some day. Thank You for her. Protect her and equip her to be the perfect helper for Luke. Protect him and equip him to provide for her needs in every way. Thank You for being a faithful parent when I am not.

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Twenty

Today, I'm grateful that God is patient with me as I learn and grow.

(originally published 11-23-10)

Martha Redeemed: It's a Good Thing

Luke 10:38-42 Now as they went on their way, Jesus entered a village. And a woman named Martha welcomed him into her house. And she had a sister called Mary, who sat at the Lord’s feet and listened to his teaching. But Martha was distracted with much serving. And she went up to him and said, "Lord, do you not care that my sister has left me to serve alone? Tell her then to help me." But the Lord answered her, "Martha, Martha, you are anxious and troubled about many things, but one thing is necessary. Mary has chosen the good portion, which will not be taken away from her."
(emphasis, cdj)

I used to become defensive when reading this story. I felt so much empathetic pity for poor Martha. She had welcomed Jesus into her home, and worked diligently to provide for the occasion. I would think to myself, "Well, we ALL can't be Mary's, now, can we? The biscuits won't bake themselves!"

But I've come to understand that Martha was not wrong in her service. Her mistake was allowing herself to become distracted by her own servitude. The only reason Jesus even spelled it out for her was because she approached him in a hissy fit. Hmmmm. He acknowledged the notion that peaceful communion was preferable to perturbed complaints. Shocking.

So how can we avoid becoming "anxious and troubled" about many things when welcoming people into our home?

PROBLEM SOLVE:
Determine your hospitality trouble spots and be proactive about remaining calm. What is your biggest potential joy thief? Cleaning? Having enough room? Cooking? Finding things to talk about? Having enough food? Running out of time or having little notice of arriving guests?

PLAN:
Try to plan your menu and to-do list far in advance. Only include dishes and decorations that will bring you joy. If fancy china brings you joy, wipe it off and go for it. You'll probably have a great time chatting over the dish sink. But if disposable plates will not interfere with your festivities, they might afford you more time to sit and visit with family. I don't enjoy the tedious prep work that most cooking involves - like chopping and measuring. So I try to do as much ahead of time as possible.

PREPARE:
Clean a few days in advance and just plan to sweep over the traffic areas and entry and wipe down the bathrooms before guests arrive. Cook as much as you can a couple days in advance...or many days and freeze it. Last week I chopped and sauteed the onions and celery for my dressing. I added the measured spices and put it in a zipper bag in the freezer next to the bag of cornbread:) Thursday morning it will only take a minute or two to put bread, seasoned veggies, and broth into the crock pot. The pumpkin bars are also waiting in the freezer... in a pan ready to pop in the oven.

PRIORITIZE:
If you get caught off guard and you don't get a chance to prepare, or haven't taken time to plan, ultimately you must prioritize. Making the most of time spent together is far more important than meal prep and domestic perfection.

I always keep a grocery bag tied up in the cupboard. Its contents: canned beans, taco seasoning, canned tomatoes, tortilla chips and a brownie mix. In the freezer I keep at least one bag of browned ground meat and frozen corn. These two mainstays allow me to offer taco soup for dinner within an hour. So if afternoon friends linger toward the dinner hour, I barely have to interrupt the conversation to throw together dinner. Philip has the freedom to invite folks to dinner without me having to panic and run to the store.

PRAY:
Ask the Lord what would bring Him the most honor. Sometimes a nourishing meal is the priority, so you concentrate on being resourceful, spontaneous, and quick. Sometimes the conversation is of greater importance, so you throw together some sliced apples, popcorn & cheese and sit and visit. Sometimes the need for others to fellowship is the central concern, so you keep the kids occupied, follow the toddlers, and keep every one's tea glasses mysteriously refilled.

As a hostess, your peace and joy can set the vibe for the whole house. So if you spend the day walking about serving all those you've welcomed, focus on your love for God and love for His creation. Don't be distracted by your effort and become anxious and troubled. Your worship will not be taken from you:) It's a very good thing!

Monday, November 19, 2012

Nineteen

Today I'm thankful for Landen.

He is handsome, kind, and funny. I saw him in town today - driving the four-wheel drive pick-up, hauling a trailer with a 4-wheeler loaded. He had happily helped his brother quarter the buck he harvested this morning. Now, all decked out in camo, armed with a gun, he was heading to the deer lease to hopefully bag one for himself. He looked so strong. So handsome. So grown.

Dear God, please keep Landen in Your safety - no matter what that looks like to my earthly Momma-eyes. Bless his time alone with You in the woods. Bless the young woman that you will send his way some day. Prepare and protect his heart for her ... and hers for him. Help him rest in Your goodness until then.

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Eighteen

Psalm 116

I love the Lord, because he has heard
my voice and my pleas for mercy.

Because he inclined his ear to me,
therefore I will call on him as long as I live.
Gracious is the Lord, and righteous;
our God is merciful.
The Lord preserves the simple;
when I was brought low, he saved me.
Return, O my soul, to your rest;
for the Lord has dealt bountifully with you.

Saturday, November 17, 2012

Seventeen

Today I am grateful for Celebrate Recovery.

"We have overcome ... by the Blood of the Lamb and the word of our testimony ... overcome!"

I could write a thesis on the benefits of this ministry in my life, my family, and my friends.

Thank you, Jesus.

Friday, November 16, 2012

Sixteen

We are thankful our Daddy is home!

After working Hurricane Sandy clean-up for 19 days, he returned to town and got to enjoy a total day off yesterday.

While the boys were at school, he did some target shooting with the girls. (I had R.U.N.N.O.F.T.)

Then the little two stayed with me while the rest of our clan met at the deer lease til dark.

Apparently, Mari Alice is poised to dethrone Luke as "Eagle Eye Johnson".

Thank You, God, for family and for letting us be together again!

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Fifteen

I'm thankful for the do-over.

I have cooked 3 turkeys in my life. Only once have I successfully followed through with removing ALL the "inclusions" before cooking.

Those paper bags of belly guts withstand high levels of sustained heat surprisingly well. (Sorta makes the turkey dry and slightly reminiscent of a kiss from a Marlboro Man, but whatev.)

The first time I was ignorant. Trying to rinse off the bird without getting too "personal" ... I had no idea that the processors thought I might be interested in a neck and some giblet junk.

The second time, I remembered to really clean out the cavernous fowl.

But then, last week, I did a trial run for the holidays. I rinsed the bird, washed my hands to help with a math problem, and went back to the sink to remove the neck. Then my prep work was interrupted again with someone needing my attention at the back of the house. (I've lost many a decent idea in that hallway as I traverse the floors of this home - attempting to mult-task.) Upon my return to the kitchen, noticing time was tight to have supper ready, I quickly loaded the turkey into the oven.

Long story short: I might be a moron. A highly publicized moron, since my kids got an enormous kick out of my culinary mis-hap and told their friends.

Short story long: this is only one example in which information and experience prove insufficient in my quest for consistent excellence.

So I am grateful for second [and third and forty-seventh] chances.

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Fourteen

Today, I'm thankful for running water and electricity. In terms of global advantages, I'm either rich or spoiled ... perhaps both ... but supremely grateful, nonetheless!

Play on Words

Recently someone emailed this to me.

Can you raed this? Olny 55 plepoe out of 100 can. I cdnuolt blveiee that I cluod aulaclty uesdnatnrd what I was rdanieg. The phaonmneal pweor of the hmuan mnid, aoccdrnig to a rscheearch at Cmabrigde Uinervtisy, it dseno't mtaetr in what oerdr the ltteres in a word are, the olny iproamtnt tihng is that the frsit and last ltteer be in the rghit pclae. The rset can be a taotl mses and you can still raed it whotuit a pboerlm. This is bcuseaethe huamn mnid deos not raed ervey lteter by istlef, but the word as a wlohe. Azanmig huh? 

I found the email really intriguing because - for weeks -  I had been pondering these two words. Sacred vs Scared: two words that begin and end the same,  but how you order the interior letters makes all the difference.

Sacred: set apart, devoted to the service of God. Reverently dedicated to a person or purpose.

Scared: to suddenly fill with fright, alarm, or worry.

So often, the circumstances of life call for fear. My instinct is to become scared, but I can blink and look again. With renewed vision, I can realize a deeper devotion and a higher purpose.

My husband is away. Am I nervous about being overwhelmed, or focused on the promise that God will take care of us all?

My child is disrespectful. Am I anxious and irritated, or  purposefully prayerful and consistently kind?

Finances are shaky. Do I worry about tomorrow, or surrender to God's plan today?

People are mean. Shall I react with alarmed defense, or rise to God's loving standard and respond with forgiveness and grace?

I battle depressed laziness. Will I write myself off as a loser, or choose to see myself the way my patient Creator sees me - in need of a fresh word of truth.

Government seems to be growing in power and ignoring wisdom. Am I frightened for the future, or determined to live at peace and do what God requires?

God says, "Fear not!" Evidently, when the task or thought ahead of me reads "scared",
I have the opportunity to choose to read "sacred".

Same beginning and end,
but perceived with gratitude and ordered in such a way to bring abundant life.

This is how the Psalmist phrased it...

"In God, whose word I praise,
in the Lord, whose word I praise—
in God I trust and am not afraid.
What can man do to me?
 
I am under vows to you, my God;
I will present my thank offerings to you.
For you have delivered me from death
and my feet from stumbling,
that I may walk before God
in the light of life."
Psalm 56:10-13
 

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Thirteen

I'm thankful for family road trips ... opportunities to be a helper in the car:)
 

Monday, November 12, 2012

Twelve

Today I am grateful for my brother, my Grandfathers, Uncles, and Great Uncles who served in our nation's military. They gave their lives - some for a season, some for a vocation, and some as a complete sacrifice of earthly dwelling. May we be careful to remember.

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Saturday, November 10, 2012

Ten

Today, I'm thankful for my Bible(s).

"Your hands made me and formed me;
give me understanding so that I can learn Your commands.

Those who fear You will see me and rejoice,
for I put my hope in Your word.

I know, Lord, that Your judgments are just
and that You have afflicted me fairly.

May Your faithful love comfort me
as You promised Your servant.

May Your compassion come to me
so that I may live, for Your instruction is my delight."
Psalm 119:73-75

Friday, November 09, 2012

Nine

I'm grateful for the ladies over at A Martha Heart allowing me to contribute.
And I'm grateful for Philip, who works to provide for all our needs. This frees me to invest my time and energy without the concern for monetary compensation. A really cool deal:)

Earlier this week, I shared about caMP3. I hope you'll visit the site to read the rest of the story:)

A Holy Hobby
“So, do you think you’d like to help us with a multi-media elective?”
My long-time friend and I stood against the brick exterior of our daughters’ dance studio. He was hesitantly willing to participate in a worship arts program for kids in our community. Skeptically, he probed, “Whose idea was this, anyway?” 
(click to read more:)

 

Thursday, November 08, 2012

Eight







Thank You, God for family.

We are missing this guy, though. Please continue to keep him safe. We know You are using him to be a blessing to others. Thank You for making him to be such a happy helper guy.

Please help us to keep being sweet to each other while we're missing our daddy-hugs. Just like West Virginia, he is "wild and wonderful".

Thanks, God, for never leaving us ... it's times like these that we really appreciate that about You!

Wednesday, November 07, 2012

Seven

In Philip's company, the signal for "affirmative" is "signal 7".

So all day long, when someone gives directions and he comprehends, his response on the radio is, "Seven!"
When someone gives an instruction, he happily answers, "Seven!"
When someone warns him to stop at the entrance because his truck won't make it up the road, he confirms, "Seven!"

Sometimes, he forgets I'm not a lineman when he talks to me.

"Honey, can you stop by and get eggs on your way home?"
"Seven!"

(ummm. the customary dozen would be great, but ok.)

Thank You, God, for my handsome husband and his company of folks who keep our lights on.

Help me have that automatic affirmative response to everything You say to me. So when You give me direction or instructions or warnings, I instantly, out of strong habit, say "seven"... errr. "Yes!"

Tuesday, November 06, 2012

Six

I'm thankful for the fun things I enjoy with each of my six children ...

Tim Hawkins with Landen.
White Collar or Psych with Luke.
Cooking with Ardyn.
Planning with Ashlin.
Yahtzee with Mari Alice.
Memory cards with Elizabeth.

Monday, November 05, 2012

Five

Thank you, God for my five fingers on both hands.

With them, I can scratch a back, play a song, stir some batter, or post a blog:)

Sunday, November 04, 2012

Four

I am thankful for the freedom to worship.

Saturday, November 03, 2012

Three

Thank You, God for cranberries.

Bold and bright,
sweetly tart.

The possiblities are endless.

Friday, November 02, 2012

Two

I thank God for Philip.

He is ...
strong, but gentle
helpful and kind,
patient, but fidgety
handsome and free.

I never want to be in love with anyone but him.

Thursday, November 01, 2012

One

I am thankful that there is One True God.
He is holy and righteous; merciful and kind.

He never changes - He is the same yesterday, today, and forever.
(I dig dependability!)

He created me.
He is writing my story.
He redeems my life - moment by moment.

He is my rock and my song:)