Tag Archives: gratitude

These small beginnings

“Do not despise these small beginnings, for the LORD rejoices to see the work begin…” Zechariah 4:10

A terrifying thing, a blank page, to one who hasn’t written in so long. But the tide of misty darkness, the fog of depression has lifted enough for me to want to put pen to paper, or fingers to keyboard, for the first time in a long time. Years, perhaps.

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So write I shall, or attempt to at least, to regain that catharsis that often used to occur when this was a regular occurrence. “Work out your salvation with fear and trembling” translated onto a computer screen in the pre-dawn darkness.

Ann’s word come back, the reminder of gratitude for the One gave even the dark days that I now barely remember, not because everything is wonderful, more like waking from a dream and only having seconds of that state remain in your consciousness. And there was gratitude in that place of darkness, sometimes. Often, really. There often wasn’t enough energy within me to write it or record it, but I would look for the moments, desperately, for the seconds of grace filled-gifts that I could see, even dimly and recognize in my state.

Much of what I have left of those moments were captured on camera cards, to look back on now. Many others are lost to me now, but the value of them at the time (and in the present) is incalculable and stays with me—the reminder that in the darkest moments of isolated and sometimes unrecognized despair, that despite my feelings of abandonment, He was there, whispering my name, blowing in the wind. “You are not forgotten. You are known. You are loved. I am with you.”

So, to begin again, this blog about my never-picture perfect life. Still never picture perfect. Ever. That’s OK. Here are some things for which I am thankful. Many are part of what I’d call The Little  Things. Tiny things, easily missed in the busyness of life, but such sweet gifts. And sometimes, when the whole of life is too big or overwhelming, this is all I can understand or comprehend, little gifts, small moments scattered through the day or week to serve as a reminder to “Be still and know I AM.”

  • gratitude felt, and recorded on film, though unwrittenIMG_5534 DSC_0203DSC_0376                                              IMG_5742                   12112035_1280294798662883_9148772873613132558_n-2
  • Warm days of sunshine after dreary days of rain
  • Fog on the the fall colored hills
  • 12190917_1286712654687764_7287613086242823930_n

    Finding beauty in the remains of summer flowers and the seeds that remain to feed the birds

  • A tiny, tiny Black-Eyed Susan discovered amongst the dead12189840_1286712651354431_2331890523772693044_n

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Finding Joy in the Journey

“Joy in the Journey” is one of my favorite Michael Card songs. Even as a teenager, it inspired me. Now that I have jumped on the gratitude wagon, it means even more. Being grateful changes you. It changes those around you. They can’t help notice the change in you. If you are being grateful, you can’t be discontented with what you are grateful for. It doesn’t work. So, a day late in reading Ann’s blog, I am joining the 2012 Celebrate Joy Dare. Three gifts a day. Sweet Ann even helps you get started, with a calendar challenge of three gifts to look for everyday in January, with more to follow in the months to come, I’m sure. Won’t you join the chorus too? And if the change you will see in yourself is not enough motivation, she’s got a giveaway she’ll be doing at the end of the year, for those who have persevered and given thanks for 1000 gifts.

Now, you may be in a place of darkness and sadness in your life. You may have had a horrible start to the year, where not a day has gone by that looked like there was anything to be thankful for. May I humbly suggest you join us anyway? This isn’t a magic potion–you write down three things you’re thankful for today and presto! Your life is perfect and that dark situation is gone. It doesn’t work that way. But your gratitude is a tiny light in the overwhelming darkness. Even if you look all day and can only find one thing in the midst of an unbeliveably agonizingly awful day, WRITE IT DOWN. If you have found even one thing to be thankful to God for–it can be your life preserver.  For those days when you wonder “Has God forgotten about me?” If there’s one incident, one passage in a book, a Bible verse that brings you comfort, a phone call that helps or challenges you, a perfect apple ( or cup of coffee!) that warms or sustains you, a sunrise that makes you ache with the beauty–if you can find even one thing, is it not a quiet reminder of His love and Gift to us? “A whisper from Home: “You are not alone. I am here, with you always, even to the ends of the earth and the depths of the dark night of the soul.”

And once the first awkwardness of looking for His gifts, both big and small, once it ceases, there will be an eagerness in your search. Looking high and low for His gifts of the day, you will find them in amazing and unexpected places. And with the gratitude comes humility–when you think the Lord of Heaven, the Paraclete, the Savior of the World, one and all is sending you reminders of His love, with lavishness that can astonish–it can leave me undone.

So, get a notebook or grab the free app to list on your iPhone/iPad etc. Get a cheap notebook at the school supply clearance aisle, a lovely one at the book store, a folder with notebook paper inside–it doesn’t matter. Be crafty if you want and make it pretty, but don’t obsess on making the outside be so lovely that you forget the beauty of it all is on the inside–both the gifts He gives and that you were grateful for them. It truly is a double blessing, the gift and the gratitude toward the Giver. Start finding the joy in your journey.

If you want to have this song to add on your ipod, would you consider purchasing it? To bless the man that blessed us with the song, you can honor the gift Michael gave us by purchasing it legally. I mean, you pay for food at the store that feeds your body. Is it not right to pay for the song that nourishes your soul? I don’t get a “cut” of your purchase, it’s just the right thing to do. 🙂

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How Deep the Father’s Love for Us…

It has been 14 months since I walked into my house midweek, during the day, to find my husband putting flowers in a vase for me. He turned around, smiled uncertainly and I said, “You just lost your job, didn’t you?” and he said, “Yes.”

There were many phone calls and conversations with family and friends. Lots of time siting around the dinner table after we ate, talking and listening to each other. More time than was comfortable wrestling with the Lord, fighting emotions, plowing through attitudes, hours of sleep lost in silent tears and pleading to the Lord, “What is it you want to teach us and why can’t we learn it any faster?” and “We want to do Your will, but what is it?” Stresses as we went over the budget, cut things out, watched the money in our account dwindle.

There were sweet times too. So many of God’s secret love agents blessed us, and I hope were blessed in return.An elder at our door with an envelope of cash from someone we know but do not know, simply marked “Merry Christmas!” Gift cards to grocery stores with the envelopes typed to conceal the identities of the givers.  Notes and cards saying “We’ve been there too. God is faithful. You WILL survive this,” on days that we doubted if we could or would.  A dear time of blessing from one who has run his race so well, all he said straight from the heart of God to us. A desperate conversation with one, who, as I fumbled to explain what I barely understood and couldn’t articulate, simply said and meant it, “I get it” and he did.

There were conversations with others in our shoes, as we tried to encourage each other, as the weeks lengthened into months. The prayers prayed over us and for us on days when we simply did not have the strength or words to know what to ask for any more. There were answered prayers for others and the joy that comes from watching the Lord as He meets others’ needs and answers those prayers. There were times of great faith building and hope and resting in His arms and learning that Jehovah Jireh, the Lord who Provides, is not just a name of God in the Old Testament, but the truth for today and always.

And then there was this past Monday. After a week trying to decide if we should put the kids in public school and I should try to find a full-time job, a week of wondering if we were to give up everything we thought God wanted us to do, a week of figuring just how many more days our money would last and what else I could sell, there was Monday.

My husband received an offer of a job and accepted it. Not a job-to-help-out-til-you-can-get-a-real-job. A real job. A new career path. Some place to put all his office stuff that’s been hibernating in the attic and under our bench for 14 months. Someone that will sign a paycheck. Just in time.

What impeccable timing, that One, the Keeper of the Clock, the One who knows the end from the beginning. How He knew there must be less of us for there to be more of Him in us. And how, because He loves us so, knew we could never do it ourselves, He emptied us, chiseled away the stony hearts, burnt the chaff, smashed the idols within us to make more room for Him.

A dear friend, whose husband was unemployed for two years and just recently got a job, said, We’ll never be the same. I didn’t understand what she meant at the time–Until now. We will never be the same. We are changed. God, in His love, changed us. Our hearts, our priorities, our faith. Some things are more important. Some things just aren’t important at all any more.  We view God differently. We view the world differently. We view ourselves differently.

We have learned “give us this day our daily bread” by being forced to walk it.

We have learned “God is our provider” by living it.

Not because we wanted to learn it that way. Apparently we had to learn it that way. It’s much easier just to say it and think you believe it, but the living it–that’s hard and wonderful and frightening and exhilarating and humbling all at the same time.

So there is much gratitude in our house this week. Not a jump up and down and ra-ra gratitude, but a call and tell others with tears of joy kind of gratitude. A marveling in our hearts gratitude. A deep gratitude to all those who have faithfully walked with us and loved us so well on this rather rocky portion of the Jesus Way. Thanks be to the One who is not slow in keeping His promises.  A thankfulness for the love of the Father so deep, that “I will not boast in anything, no gifts, no power, no wisdom; But I will boast in Jesus Christ…” It has all been Him. To Him be the power and glory forever and ever. Amen!

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Filed under Family, Gratitude, Meditation

Gratitude for Holy Week

A week of quiet reflection amid a busy schedule and a heart humbly grateful for what Jesus did for me and everyone when we certainly didn’t deserve it, and a little sad from learning of the death of a work colleague after a long battle with cancer. Here’s my gratitude list:

  • Passover celebration with friends–a night of food, wine and remembering God’s faithfulness
  • spending time with my eldest daughter
  • laughing with my husband
  • being allowed the privilege of blessing someone who has blessed me
  • girls making cupcakes and friends
  • little boys holding bunnies
  • unexpectedly early blooms of peonies and irises in my yard
  • nighttime thunderstorms
  • A new perspective on the book of John
  • other worship leaders who mentor and befriend my husband
  • watching my son use shovel and wagon to move rocks in my yard
  • news of friends getting a new job and moving back to town!
  • corporate worship celebrating the resurrection of the King
  • my youngest children playing games with my 89 year-old grandmother

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Gratitude for The Glorious Impossible

I was washing breakfast dishes when it popped in my head. The Glorious Impossible. I thought we always sang this around Christmas, but it kept running through my head. When I found the words, they fit so perfectly with this season and everything in our lives. A virgin with child? Impossible without the glory of God. Walking on water, turning water into wine? Impossible without the Son of God. The God of heaven entering a human body and human time and being wounded for our transgressions, God dying for our sins? Impossible to even think about giving one of my sons to do that, God did it for us all out of love, when we still were sinners.

A family living a year without a “normal job”? Holding on tight to each other and our faith, growing more dependent on the LORD instead of blaming Him? Impossible, I would have said last year. And yet, He sees us through. Each day, He provides what we need. A word, a note, a knock on the door, a gift card in the mail. So many prayers sustain us on days when we wonder what to do next. A church body being the hand and feet of Christ to us. When the furious winds of doubt and despair howl around us, we cling to each other and the Comforter and listen for that still, soft voice to say “This is the way, walk in it” (Isaiah 30:21).
Even when it seems a new, full-time job is the impossible, HE has shown us again and again through short-term contract jobs and extra shifts and food budgets that go waaayyy farther than humanly possible, NOTHING IS IMPOSSIBLE WITH GOD.

With a humble, grateful heart, here is my list for this week:

  • early irises, green grass
  • digging in the dirt & pulling out the weeds in my wee little flower garden
  • blustery days and thunder filled nights
  • no damage to our home despite the wind
  • better-late-than-never birthday celebrations
  • cheesecake and homemade cards
  • first garden harvest–6 lettuce leaves and a handful of cilantro!
  • a beautiful community of faithful women, praying out the next generation
  • the King of Kings, riding into Jerusalem on the foal of a donkey
  • the gentle reminder through this song, that Jesus is our Glorious Impossible

GLORIOUS IMPOSSIBLE

See the virgin is delivered in a cold and crowded stall
Mirror of the Father’s glory lies beside her in the straw
He is mercy’s incarnation
Marvel at this miracle
For the virgin gently holds the glorious impossible

Love has come to walk on water
Turn the water into wine
Touch the leper bless the children
Love both human and divine
Praise the wisdom of the Father
who has spoken through his Son
Speaking still he call us to the glorious impossible

Hallelujah

He was bruised for our transgressions
And he bears eternal scars
He was raised for our salvation and his righteousness is ours
Praise O’ praise him
Praise the glory of this lavished grace so full
Lift your souls now and receive the glorious impossible

Carl Cartee, from the CD Here I Go


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