Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Little Graces

Did you know that the Greek word for "grace" in the New Testament also means "thanks"? I love that. I learned it a long time ago and, unfortunately, I am quick to forget it. Isn't that just the most fascinating and convicting thing ever? Something to think about this Thanksgiving and Christmas season...

What are some of the little graces you are thankful for this holiday season?

Me? I am thankful for my husband, my family, my friends, and a whole lot of lesser things like spiced tea, a good book, and a nice, long walk. I am thankful for my heritage. Growing up in a strong, Christian home is a gift that is not lost on me. I am thankful for the many people who have shaped my life thus-far and the countless others who will, no doubt, shape it in the years to come. I am thankful for all of the experiences and opportunities that have shaped me over these first few decades of my life. I am thankful for hazelnut coffee at Panera Bread and any of a number of diet drinks (with the exception of Diet Pepsi...ew). I am thankful for inspiring movies like Julie &Julia and even Surf's Up (which I saw the other day...cute and encouraging). I am thankful for moments of silliness with my husband. I am thankful for friends who will come together in prayer at a moment's notice. I consider myself blessed to live in an age where there are not one, but TWO dance shows on TV. :) I am thankful for a lot of little, unimportant things that bring a little slice of joy to my life. I am also thankful for the communion of saints, a good quote, and a heartfelt prayer.

Most of all, I am thankful to be a child of the King. I may not always show my gratitude to Him for all He has done, but I am constantly aware of my need for Him. He is the Author of all hope, the Giver of all good things, and a Constant in this ever-changing world. My cup overflows in thanks for all that He has done and is doing in my life. I pray for the grace to be more and more thankful with each new day, regardless of my circumstances.

"And from His fullness we have all received, grace upon grace." - John 1:16

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Wonderful Article(s) Link

A lot of what I've been thinking/feeling lately can be found in the two articles found here. The articles are Inconvenient Thanks and The Real Joy Secret (just in case you read this after they've changed the front page articles). I love the website {in}courage and would encourage you to add it as a link on your blog. There is always something worth reading on this site. These two posts were especially inspiring to me. I hope they do the same for you.

Friday, November 13, 2009

Listening to Life

I think I was a little spoiled in Kentucky this time of year. The colors during the Fall are indescribably beautiful. While I love it here in Alabama with the decidedly warmer weather and extra sunshine, I do so miss the Fall season in Kentucky. I love the colors, the breezes, and the overall way God speaks to you in the changing seasons. His voice, His creation speaks so clearly and audibly to me in those times.

Here in Alabama, the seasons change almost abruptly. There is no real progression of things, you just wake up one morning and it is cold. The same is true with most seasons here. I miss the in-between-ness that is Fall in Kentucky. It stretched out a little and, certainly, the leaves were majestic. {The only place I've been where it was even more exceptional was Asheville, NC. The Billy Graham Retreat Center offered some of the most beautiful trees and leaves I have ever seen. Largely because they built the retreat center amidst the trees instead of clearing them all.}

I am thinking of all of this today because I took a quick walk through Chewacla, a State Park that is just minutes from our home, this afternoon. I love it there. It is peaceful and wonderful and filled with creatures and creation that never fails to make me smile. Just today a chipmunk quickly crossed my path on my journey. Those little guys make me laugh! But one thing was missing on my journey: the bright colors of a Kentucky Fall. I saw one - just one - tree with leaves that had changed colors to a bright yellow. It was gorgeous, radiant. And yet it made me kind of sad and nostalgic, too. I'll say it again - I miss those Kentucky trees!

But then a thought occurred to me. So, the colors and trees and the obvious signs of the season aren't as bold and bright as they are in Kentucky. What if that is part of God's message to me in this season of my life? I believe His word to me today was that sometimes we must look for the blessing, for signs of God's love, for the radiance of His light. God so often speaks to us subtly in that "still small voice" rather than the loud voice we long for. I needed that message today and God gave it to me in my longing. I love that He works so creatively...

{The first two pictures were taken by my outstanding husband and the last by the incomparable photographer Rob Baird. All are pretty exquisite, don't you think?}

Thursday, November 12, 2009

On Love

I just wanted to share this beautiful piece that was read at the wedding of my brother-in-law and sister-in-law a couple of months ago. I always feeling like I'm talking with a friend when I hear/read the words of those of the communion of saints. Thomas à Kempis has always spoken straight to my heart. I especially love this reading because it connects earthly love with the divine love of God. For none of the attributes of love described here are possible apart from a relationship with God alone. It is only through Him that we are able to even attempt to love our spouses, families, friends, and foes at all.

On Love
Thomas à Kempis

Love is a mighty power,
a great and complete good.
Love alone lightens every burden, and makes rough places smooth.
It bears every hardship as though it were nothing, and renders
all bitterness sweet and acceptable.

Nothing is sweeter than love,
Nothing stronger,
Nothing higher,
Nothing wider,
Nothing more pleasant,
Nothing fuller or better in heaven or earth;
for love is born of God.

Love flies, runs and leaps for joy.
It is free and unrestrained.
Love knows no limits, but ardently transcends all bounds.
Love feels no burden, takes no account of toil,
attempts things beyond its strength.

Love sees nothing as impossible,
for it feels able to achieve all things.
It is strange and effective,
while those who lack love faint and fail.

Love is not fickle and sentimental,
nor is it intent on vanities.
Like a living flame and a burning torch,
it surges upward and surely surmounts every obstacle.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Love without getting tired...

“Do not think that love, in order to be genuine, has to be extraordinary. What we need is love without getting tired…be faithful in small things because it is in them that your strength lies.” - Mother Teresa

I borrowed this quote from my friend's blog. It is the "theme" of her blog/life. For her, to love without getting tired means giving of herself to her four children each day. She has energy that is unmatched in that department. She doesn't simply do what must be done to get by. She constantly goes above and beyond, finding creative ways to help them grow and learn. It must be exhausting sometimes, but she does it with joy in her heart and a smile on her face. She loves without getting tired...

I love this quote because this is really the stuff of life. The people I am most drawn to in this life are ones who embody this quote. They are only human, so I know that they do grow tired of it sometimes. But love means pressing on and loving through the weariness. God gives us strength for that and will not let us grow weary if we will give ourselves to Him first. This is who we are called to be: A people who love without getting tired - nothing more, nothing less. This was Mother Teresa's legacy and it can be ours, too. She did extraordinary things because she began with the ordinary and her faithfulness grew from there.

The same can be said of us.

If we can be faithful in the everyday things we'll find our strength for everything else. Love really is in the small stuff that we encounter daily. We gain a little strength and confidence with every faithful step we take. And it is that quiet strength that will sustain us when life is hard.

Saturday, November 07, 2009

I am...

Loving me some Sophie Kinsella these days. Everything I've read by her is so delightful and fun!
Trusting God for His provision and guidance.
Enjoying the Fall weather on The Plains. Living moments away from Chewacla State Park helps, too!
Missing my sisters and family in AR and WI...
Thankful for my incredible husband everyday.
Wishing I worked for Hallmark Cards. They need some fresh, new designs! :)
Hoping for a fantastic job to come my way...
Excited about the holidays that are just around the corner.
Praying for my dear friend Lisa...
Believing God...

Monday, November 02, 2009

"Life works better when we know how to glance at things, but gaze at God. Seeing Him clearly will enable us to see all other things clearly." - Selwyn Hughes