Friday, October 28, 2011

Prayer for the Weekend

In about an hour, I will leave to spend the weekend at a purity event for young women.

Lord, I know to them I am an old lady.

They think I don't understand...that it's easy for me to say, "Stay Pure," because I am married.

Help them see past my wrinkles, bifocals and comfy clothes

and know that in this "ancient" casing beats the heart of a girl with regrets

--regrets that I long for them to miss out on!

I pray they will see as well that this same heart rejoices that You can make anyone pure and blameless.  You can weave a beautiful tapestry from the threads of a tattered life.

For each young woman there, I pray that she will find acceptance and freedom in Christ.

I pray that those who have chosen a straight path would be humble and encouraging to all who are there.

At the same time, I pray that they would not feel looked down upon because of their self-inflicted innocence.

Let it all be about Jesus.

 Give us a judgment-free zone, Father.

Father, if there are any there who may be wavering in their walk--I pray that you would use this weekend, Your Word, and the community of loving believers to strengthen them.

Oh, Abba, let us BE loving believers!

If there are any coming with hard hearts, I pray that You will soften them to truth, and our hearts to them.

If any are coming with shame or regrets, I pray that they would release the shame in repentance and be washed truly clean by the blood of Christ.



Father, I release the need to control the responses of others.  I trust You to woo each heart.

Amen.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

#250-#265

250. Friends who are like sisters.















251. Passionate mentors and friends to encourage me to love and good works.
252. The joy and privilege of interceding for friends.
253. Yellow butterflies playing chase--reminding me of a song I loved in first grade...
254. One more clean bill of health for a child--a gift I deeply treasure and wish I could share.
255. The truth: EVERYONE is created to do a great work.
256. The reminder: even small things can be great works.
257. Everyday chances to encourage.
258. Before bed talks with the cowboy.
259. Looks of adoration from my daughters for their father.



260. Waking up just a little bit cold.
261. An 11th hour inspection to tide us over.  God provides!
262. Revelations: God is not just good when He wounds.  He is just good.
263. Hot cocoa in the barn on a cold morning.



264. New tires for an old tractor.


265. Sprouts in the garden--come on spinach!!!



Tuesday, October 25, 2011

#237-#249



237. A chance to go to a Montana wedding!
238. Helping friends move.
239. Fresh starts.
240. Birthday boys who crack us up..."No--you have to stick your tongue out and die when I shoot you..."
241. Brother Bear and his chainsaw.




242. Another generous gift.
243. Campfires on cool nights.
244. New friends to get to know.




245. Old musicals and laughter
246. Dusting-you can see your progress.
247. Wiener schnitzle: prepared by Brother Bear under the instruction of a real German.


248. Machetes and chainsaws to build young muscles.
249. Good food and blossoming friendships.

Monday, October 24, 2011

#221-#236


221. Happy girl's morning face: squinchy eyes, half smile, messy hair.

222. Date night planting seeds with the cowboy.

223. Nearly full moon over the barn, swishes of clouds turned pink by the setting sun.

224. Brother Bear and his fire tricks.

225. Chances to praise instead of correct.

226. Dads who continue to learn and challenge their sons to do the same.

227. Magic tricks proudly performed by my son to first skeptical, then amazed first-graders.

228. A chance to encourage.

229. Laughter that opens minds to learning.

230. Old airplanes that need fixing (and people who will pay to have it done!)

231. Repaired tooth that I postponed fixing way too long.

232. New baby in the front pasture--so gorgeous!







233. El Torro's "grin" as I come to see the new calf.  Is he proud, or is this a threat?  It is absolutely NOT intimidating!












234. Evening talk time with my family.
235. Healthy kids.
236. No more gas card--a chance to trust God instead of man.

Saturday, October 22, 2011

#206-#220 Beautiful are the feet

206. Happy Girl's "foot shots."
207.  My Songbird safely home after car trouble.








208.  Good strong eyeglasses to enable me to see a beautiful morning.


209. Painting the nails of adolescent girls at the car bash.






210. Hard truth, right between the eyes.

211. Walking down the driveway at dusk, talking to my parents on the phone.


212. Long distance so I can comfort my sister a continent away.
213. Nose to nose with a calf.



214. Being told that my "nerd" is showing by a student.


215. Community theater.









216. The privilege of voting.







217. Birthdays that celebrate life.


218. Young men who rise above difficult circumstances with courage and integrity.









219. Stories of lives redeemed by Jesus and the courage of the women who share them.


220. Two generations working together to touch a third.

Friday, October 21, 2011

#191 - #205


191. Truth unraveling bit by bit.
192. Cold snaps and sweater weather
193. Women who hunger to build up other women.
194. When my Songbird is in the mood to talk.


195. Sandhill cranes picking through the pasture.
196. Kids at the table learning the Word.
197. Unimaginable mercy.
198. Mornings early enough to see the first light creep into the sky.
199. Beautiful, big-eyed Chinese girl, preparing to meet her forever family--the best kind of blended family.
200. Favor at the livestock market!  Above market price for our crazy cow and calf.
201. Possible students already for next year.  God's whisper that He will provide.
202. A cool breeze to blow through the un-AC'd house.
203. Freedom to live in the power of the Holy Spirit.
204. Forgiveness in Christ, that allows me to forgive others.



205. A long list of unique and godly women who have influenced my daughters.

Bring on the Sun


This exercise of writing down one thousand gifts has been an eye-opener.  In her book One Thousand Gifts, Ann Voskamp chronicles the journey of learning to say thank you to whatever God gives--even the gifts that are hard.

The practice of saying thank you for the little pleasant gifts prepares her to say thank you for the difficult ones.

I almost feel as if I am having the reverse experience.  I find it easy to find the gifts in the difficult, but not so simple to notice the lovely and rejuvenating.


The past several years have been full of difficult experiences.  In the fight to maintain my joy as most of my idols of security have been stripped from my life, God has given me much practice in saying thank you for what hurts.  I have even felt victorious over the last couple of years, sensing such a confidence in God that I can shake my fist at trials and even say, "Bring it on!"

It wasn't until I began counting my one thousand that I realized that perhaps I have lost something in the process.  Something God wants me to get back.

In my determination to look for the blessing in the trial, I have neglected to notice the simple beauty that He showers me with in good times and bad.  God uses hard things to bless us sometimes--but He also uses easy things, beautiful things, noble things....


I have been on a quest to see how God is good even when my circumstances seem bad.

God is reminding me that although that's true, I need to realize that He is just good.

Period.

I have learned to praise Him in the storm, but I have been blindsided this week by the fact that I have begun to expect only storms.  Only storms from the One who sent the rainbow as a promise!  It is tantamount to ingratitude.

Taking the time to count my one thousand and beyond has caused me to open my eyes to the love that He lavishes on me every moment.  To thank Him for the storm, but anticipate a rainbow.





Thursday, October 20, 2011

#172 - #190


172. More laughter!
173. Big, clumsy boys




174. An afternoon visit with a new friend.
175. A chance to encourage a young woman.
176. French Skype chats with Aaoutatif, my adorable Guadeloupian friend.
177. The promise of a cooler weekend.
178. Tiny fingernail shaving of a moon just before new moon.
179. Surprise checks in the mail.
180. A cowboy who will take the time to stop me in my routine and lead me to a place where I can enjoy gifts I might not have noticed.
181. A snuggly hammock on a fall morning.
182. Sunrise over the pasture.
183. Sandhill cranes flying off two-by-two for the day.
184. One, long line of bird, legs streaming behind.
185. The bugle of the cranes just waking.
186. Happy Girl, my early bird, stepping out to share the morning.
187. Ponytail bouncing behind as Happy Girls takes off to the barn with dogs in tow.
188. Celebration of a legacy.
189. Clean porches
190. Hot and cold running water.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Muddy Pup




Our chocolate lab has been an indoor dog her entire life.   In fact, I often had a difficult time convincing her she was not a LAP dog.  Since moving to the farm, things have changed for our social pup.  With twenty acres of sand and swamp (not to mention cow dung) to romp in, she is never clean enough to bring inside.  

She is in her glory all day long carousing through the yuck.

Come bedtime, however, when we all go inside, she stands at the back door with the most forlorn look on her face, stunned that we are not letting her in with us.

Actually, if she would be content to just run through the grassy fields, she'd probably be fine to come in.  However, she's not content with that.  No, she insists on diving headlong into our rather mucky pond, and then, still soaking, rolling around in the sand, coating herself completely.




There is no way we could let her in the house unless we bathe her, and so far, we haven't been able to keep her clean long enough for her to make it into the house even for a minute.  (The girls have high hopes for Christmas Eve...)

Her determination to wallow in the dirt keeps her from enjoying full-time fellowship with her master.

What a picture!  How often do I miss out on entering the cool and welcoming presence of my Master because I insist on rolling my mind or my spirit in the mire of pride or worry or fear?

Oh, wash me Lord, so that I can come inside.

#154-#170

154. Laughing at the love-sick, bellowing serenade of El Torro outside my bedroom window.
155. Interesting, honest teenagers.


156. The opportunity to continue for one more year earning income doing something satisfying











157. Early morning, quiet house, sun just peeking up.


158. More than enough food in the fridge.
159. Almost the end of hurricane season!
160. Beautiful worship music by young people.
161. The ability to share even small things.
162. Corny jokes.
163. Truth when I need it.


164. Every single "fear not" in the Bible.
165. Momma cows and babies in the "nursery" nestled in the morning grass.







166. Great books that explore through a story worthwhile truths.
167. A coyote tucking away into the woods.
168. Sitting with the calves and the kids on a cool evening.











169. Calves tentatively approaching...which will win, curiosity, or fear?



170. A rare meal out with friends.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Circumcision of the Heart


Romans 2:29
No, a man is a Jew if he is one inwardly; and circumcision is circumcision of the heart, by the Spirit, not by the written code. Such a man's praise is not from men, but from God.

What is meant by circumcision of the heart?
I have often wondered about the act of physical circumcision as a sign of the covenant between God and Abraham.

Why that?

Circumcision is a cutting away of skin that is not really necessary. Unnecessary, perhaps--but that skin is attached to the very “man-ness” of a man. Therefore, the act of circumcision requires cutting away what is not vital, but what is near to what is arguably most vital to a man.

In a sense, God asked the Israelites to trust Him with their manhood, to risk losing it as they submitted to Him. God asked Abraham and his seed to trust Him enough to wound them in the most intimate place.

Perhaps that reveals something about circumcision of the heart. God asks me to trust Him enough to wound me in my most vulnerable place for the purpose of removing that which seems important, but is really not necessary.

He asks me to be willing to be different from those around me in a dramatic way. (There was no denying you were an Israelite in the men’s locker room!) Essentially, I have to trust God enough that I am willing to risk the very things that I think define me.

Oh, that He would help me to trust Him enough to expose my vulnerable heart, even knowing that a wound is coming. My trust should be that great because I know that He loves me. I know that if He wounds me, He will feel the pain as well. He will only inflict those wounds that are for my best. Most importantly, no wound that He inflicts on me could be as great as the wounds He first bore for me.

Nowadays, circumcision is much more common, but it is performed for reasons of hygiene rather than religion. If not kept meticulously clean, the foreskin can become infected, horribly so. It became the practice to it cut away at birth to eliminate the warm, moist environment so conducive to infection.

There is a parallel there as well. Those unnecessary things around my heart, which I think “protect” it, can actually provide a breeding ground for bitterness and decay. How much better to cut them away completely. Yes, I will be more “exposed,” feel more vulnerable, but there will be no more danger of rotting.

Oh, Lord, circumcise my heart! Give me a willingness to trust You enough to wound me if doing so makes me wholly Yours.

Sunday, October 16, 2011

#140-#153


140. Teenage girls all dressed up and feeling beautiful.
141. Laughter shared between siblings who normally bicker.
142. Shiny beetle digging up the earth. (I hope this is a good thing...)
143. El Torro coming right up to the fence to greet (threaten?) me.  Such a small fence!


144. The presence of that small fence!
145. The courage of my "boy/man" hunter.  "I want to go alone."
146. The fact that poop fertilizes.
147. Fro-yo dates with Happy Girl.  Shhh. It's a secret.

148. Side-splitting laughter.
149. Extra work for the cowboy.
150. The chance to watch God provide when we can't.
151. That any losses I've had have mainly just been "stuff."
152.  Having a place to give a 16th birthday party for a brave young man whose 15th year was pretty rough.
153. Homemade soup and fresh baked bread.

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