Monday, March 26, 2012

If You're Happy and You Know It

Is anyone among you suffering? He should pray. Is anyone cheerful? He should sing praises. Is anyone among you sick? He should call for the elders of the church, and they should pray over him after anointing him with olive oil in the name of the Lord (James 5:13-14, HCSB).
As I reflect on a full and varied week, these words, a commentary on the James passage above, linger in my heart:
If we're willing, God is our song when we are happy, our escape when we are tempted, our hope when we're despairing, our joy in tribulation, our strength in weakness, and our immortality in dying. Ultimately, He Himself is our health (Beth Moore, Mercy Triumphs, 176).
Whatever the week ahead holds for us, may the Lord give us grace to seek and find all we need in Him. He is so good! Let's thank Him, for His steadfast love truly does endure forever and cover every circumstance we  face.

Photo Credit: AJM

Thanking Him today for
~the sufficiency of the Lord for all kinds of days
~the victory of Christ over every enemy we face
~last planned surgeries for a friend's cancer journey proving successful
~discovery of Lotsa Helping Hands community interface for coordinating caregiving (e.g., meal delivery and other chores) for those in seasons of trial
~quiet morning in park and library to refill
~a much-needed week off work for Allen
~sending out Easter cards to overseas workers
~Dr. Ben Carson's story of family, faith, and overcoming hardship
~husband alongside to tell me when it was all clear to look again during the surgery scenes
~layers (birthday cake and clothing)
~four inches of rain on the first day of spring
~raindrops on roses
~getting all the paperwork signed, after several false starts, for a transfer of medical records
~visiting a doctor today who's known me at least 15 years and whom I like as well as respect
~her vigilance in monitoring bone health so we can start aggressive osteoporosis prevention as soon as we need to
~God's sovereignty over my lab work
~the God-glorifying music of Johann Sebastian Bach, whose birthday our classical radio station celebrated last week
~the entire, amazing Goldberg Variations, recorded by Glenn Gould
~first duckling sighted at the pond
~hearing the Lord's voice in His Word
~the amazing way the portion of Scripture on the reading plan or in the Bible study matches up with my need
~freedom to confess my sins to Him without fear of condemnation because of the atoning sacrifice of Christ my Savior
~plans to see my strong, beautiful grandmother by week's end
~an excellent, challenging sermon from our interim pastor yesterday morning
from the gratitude journal, 5248-5271

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Green Pastures

Psalm 23
A Davidic psalm.

1 The LORD is my shepherd;
there is nothing I lack.

2 He lets me lie down in green pastures;
He leads me beside quiet waters.

3 He renews my life;
He leads me along the right paths
for His name’s sake. 

4 Even when I go through the darkest valley,
I fear no danger,
for You are with me;

Your rod and Your staff—they comfort me.

5 You prepare a table before me
in the presence of my enemies;

You anoint my head with oil;
my cup overflows.

6 Only goodness and faithful love will pursue me
all the days of my life,
and I will dwell in the house of the LORD
as long as I live.

Yesterday I said no to a good thing in order to say yes to a bit of silence and solitude with the Lord and my journal. The quiet park and library (no cell phones allowed) blessed me. If you are not able to take a time-out today, I pray the truths of the Shepherd Psalm and this glimpse of our green spring would settle into your heart and give you peace. May the grace and love of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you and give you strength.

sharing with Laura's community

Monday, March 19, 2012

Doorway into Thanks


It doesn’t have to be
the blue iris, it could be
weeds in a vacant lot, or a few
small stones; just
pay attention, then patch

a few words together and don’t try
to make them elaborate, this isn’t
a contest but the doorway

into thanks, and a silence in which
another voice may speak.

    ~Mary Oliver

May you seek and find a moment in the Monday melee to still, to pay attention, to return thanks to the one Lord of all, and to listen in the silence for His voice in His Word, through His Spirit.

Walking through the doorway into thanks once again:
for readings in Exodus reminding me of our blood-soaked atonement, the cost of my sin
for Galatians, reminding me that sanctification, not only salvation, is by the grace of God
for the wisdom of Proverbs
for the Word alive again, still, in John
for new sun-protective clothing to simplify spring and summer with lupus
for grace, strength, and time to finish the James study homework
for lunch with my mom
for happy memories of babysitting a beautiful girl who turns 18 today
for success for A repairing his dad's clock to hang in our kitchen
for a compliment for A from an outgoing boss
for six months without antibiotics
for permission for A to telecommute one day a week
for a visit and meal shared with in-laws
for nephew's profession of faith and baptism
for bluebonnets along the highway on the drive across the metroplex
for real, transparent conversation with a friend at church for the second week running
for larkspur beginning to bloom in the back garden
for a friend's introduction to the songs of a beautiful new voice
for all these and more, I thank You, Lord. Open my ears to hear Your voice today.
(gratitude journal #5188-5204)

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

The Anointing {A Repost}

If right now the Lord seems to be asking everything of you, if you sense the call to leave all your precious things on the altar, to relinquish, to entrust into His hands not knowing whether you will receive your "Isaac" back for burial or in resurrection--

If that is where you find yourself today, dear crumble, let us remember this: we cannot outgive God. Whatever we relinquish today is a small sacrifice compared with what He has already given in His Son who lived love by dying for the sins of His enemies. Whatever dream we empty at His feet drains out only to make room for the fullness of Himself.

He is the LORD, who brought us up from the land of Egypt. Let us open our mouths wide, wider, as wide as we can, that He may fill (Psalm 81:10).

                        Broken, Rabboni?
The brightness of this alabaster dream
Shattered into fragments at Your feet?
What preciousness deserves so great a price?
This is My body, crushed to give for you.

                        Emptied, too?
Not one sweet drop remaining for myself?
Bereft of fragrance brightening my days?
What gain can justify such costly waste?
This is My blood, poured out for your forgiveness.

                        Broken, emptied.
Shattered into fragments at His feet.
Not one drop spared, the fragrance fills the house.
The poverty of all my all is dust
Beneath Your feet, O worthy, precious Lord.
Your sins have been forgiven; go in peace.
                                              {from Luke 7:36-50}

Monday, March 12, 2012

One More Chorus of Thanksgiving

I will sacrifice a thank offering to you 
and call on the name of the LORD. 
I will fulfill my vows to the LORD 
in the presence of all his people, 
in the courts of the house of the LORD— 
in your midst, O Jerusalem.

Praise the LORD.
Psalm 116:17-19, NIV1984

It's March 12 already, and I've returned to the blog as promised. It was a good thing I heeded God's "leave it," because I'm worn out from the busy of the last two weeks (and change) even without tending to the table here. (Why am I surprised God knew what He was doing?)

The Bible study meetings are complete, and I'm praying about whether to continue with the next five-week book. Dave released me Thursday to continue my therapy regimen at home. (Yippee!) The proverbial ball is rolling in another project that needed some no-excuses time. God is answering your prayers for me in the silent days. Thank you.

It surprised me to discover  that the part of the posting routine I most missed was these simple Monday offerings. Although my practice of journaling gratitude long preceded any knowledge of Ann Voskamp, although incorporating her "counting graces" idea preceded the blog, this Monday practice of corporate thanksgiving adds a unique blessing I didn't fully realize until a fortnight away from it.

As we, the gratitude community, share in lifting words of thanks and praise to God, we share worship and grow in our knowledge of Him and each other. Though of course the lists share common ground from time to time, each stands distinctive as the thumbprint of its author. Through the corporate practice of gratitude, I learn who drinks tea and who hears love in needles and yarn; I discover sister bookworms and sisters in chronic illness; I find out whose homes are in quarantine and whose are bursting at the seams with plans and visitors.

Through hearing your gratitude, I begin to know the community; through the community members, I appreciate the diversity and beauty of God's handiwork in each of us; through appreciating His handiwork, I lift my heart to Him in worship. And worship is not a spectator sport, is it? Nor is it a solo endeavor. It's as if all our hundreds of gratitude lists commingle and rise like incense to the Triune God. May they be a sweet aroma to Him.

Without further ado, let me come off the bench and rejoin the thanking, praising, eucharisteo community with a brief glimpse at ways God has loved me in these recent days. Let us give thanks to the Lord, for He is good, and His steadfast love endures forever (Ps. 136:1)!

~finishing this second round of physical therapy appointments
~relief of knee pain
~finishing the course (though not all the homework yet) for Mercy Triumphs, the new women's Bible study on James
~happy surprise of tea prepaid by the stranger preceding me in the drive-through
~so many shades of green
~Crayola big-box color returning to the landscape: white, pink, lavender, lilac, fuchsia, yellow in all their variations
~finches returning to the feeder
~honest correspondence
~text message prayers
~grace for the undone tasks
~the instant fellowship of prolonged illness and mutual prayer
~hoping for one another
~change, signs of life and growth
~turning a beautiful new page in a friend-made calendar
~coffee and Spanglish in the home of a neighbor often encountered while walking our respective dogs
~hope and healing growing in a friend's life
~happy writing with a new pen recommended by a friend (such a fine point! who knew?)
~familiar stories, happy endings
~first steps towards a change in medical care
~filling out forms, reviewing the big picture
~Allen ill with cough and cold
~strength to give care and pick up slack
~protection from developing his cough
~back to his old self
~walking into the store from 70F, walking out to 50F (no, I wasn't in there that long)
~a quiet day at home with no appointments or calls after a demanding, busy several weeks
~rainy Saturday
~one last treatment to try for  lupus chest pain
(from the gratitude list, #5100-5127)