Yeah, I’m sitting here playing


I have been sitting here playing around with my blog.  My abandoned blog.  Turkey is in the oven.  Our turkey is farm-raised, free-range from my neighbor across the alley. I watched her grow.  The neighbor did the dirty work and traded me 3 loaves of soap for this beauty of a turkey. 

Of course, my tried and true method of buying a frozen turkey with that automatic pop-up thermometer that takes the guess work out of when the turkey’s done is out.  And it’s not just the blog style or the turkey that’s new this year.  I soaked the turkey in a brine this year for the first time.   I sure hope it turns out O.K. 


I’ve taken a break from soaping for today… although I may just make some avocado soap today… I can’t help myself! Today I’m enjoying my family, rest, the farm, the cool weather, the food and meditating on the wonders of the truth that I am a daughter of God through Christ.  That’s a billion universe statement.  


I’m thinking of my mom and dad and brother and sister and grandma and mother-in-law and brother-in-law and sister-in-law and nieces and nephews and their families… I’m missing them.  I’m praying for them.  I’m so thankful for them.



You have turned for me my mourning into dancing; you have loosed my sackcloth and clothed me with gladness, that my glory may sing your praise and not be silent. O Lord my God, I will give thanks to you forever! – Psalm 30:11


Happy Thanksgiving!
Sheila

Recounting

I will give thanks to the LORD with my whole heart; I will recount all of your wonderful deeds.- Psalm 9:1

(My guy’s current project: a small barn)

It’s Thanksgiving eve and the house is asleep. We have a couple of young guests tonight. My friend had surgery today and so we got to hang out with her kiddos (two of them anyway). It’s been a good night.

My feet are swollen from standing for too long and I didn’t deal with a situation between my boys and my husband tonight, so I’m ready to put my feet up and call it a day but, as David said, my heart smote me.  Dealing with conflict between children and husband is hard, especially when you feel your husband is in the wrong.  There was a time when I would have said nothing and pouted.  But now I feel I’ve swung the other direction, I’m not afraid to speak up, but when I do, it doesn’t seem to be helping anything.  Conflict resolution is not my forte.  Praying for grace to do it better.

So the verse at the top.  I’ve been thinking about it all day.  What if I really took time to recount ALL of the Lord’s wonderful deeds?  I need to give it a go.  Last year I put plates full of construction paper pieces on the table along with a marker and large plate in the middle of the table so each person at the table could write a thing or two or three they were thankful for and put in the platter before we started eating the meal.  This year, I’m going to try to fill that plate with my Lord’s wonderful deeds.

He created the universe with his words. He holds the universe together by his words.  From the most remote star to the smallest organism in the bottom of the ocean, He thought it up and brought it into being.  He created human beings to be Imago Dei.  In His image.  Imagers of God.  Even me. He saw me in my fallen dead-to-him state and drew me to himself and made me alive to the beauty and wonder of God in the face of Christ.

Whoa.

There’s a start.

Happy Thanksgiving peoples.

Quieted,
Sheila

Pinterestic Life?

I woke up this morning like most mornings- morose, fighting depressing, fatalistic thoughts. Not hopeful. Not joyful. Not positive.

I don’t say this because I’m looking for pity or to be a downer. I say it because I’m a mom who writes a blog in a world full of mom-blogs with pretty pictures and chic designs and humorous and/or wise posts. And I’ve been there and done that so I’m not judging my fellow mom bloggers either. I like pretty blog templates, and flawless pictures of homemade things and happy children. I enjoy a well-rounded devotional and even poetic meditations. But as much as we all enjoy those things, most of us don’t have a life that’s really like that.

Most of us wake up fighting discouraging thoughts or stress or anxieties of some kind in a house with piles of laundry unfinished, beds unmade, dried toothpaste and discarded pocket contents on the counter. Most of us walk out of our rooms to wake up kids who manage to argue with each other and create tears and yelling before 5 minutes of their day has passed. Most of us walk away from such scenes seeking refuge in a cup of coffee in a kitchen where the dishes aren’t done from yesterday… or the day before that. Most of us see clutter as we turn 360 from any position in our house and fight the lie that if things were just clean and organized and a nice candle was burning and the kids were laughing and… we’d be so much happier.

I’m learning I can either be real about my life and receive with thankfulness the grace that is creating a new, glorious reality for me everyday, looking for every evidence of the gifts of such grace even in this fallen place, or I can sink down into a pit of depression and “give up”.  Even worse, I can stick my head in the sand mom-blog world and pretend my life is pretty and organized and godly and smells like a Yankee candle, and spin my wheels trying to convince myself and others that I actually live such a Pinterestic life.

I don’t live a Pinterestic life.  But I do live a life alive in Christ’s blood-bought grace.  It’s a messy life.  It’s a life full of weakness and evidences of fallenness.  It’s a life of fighting giants and exposing lies.  It’s a life in the process of being transformed by a scandalous love.

As the holiday season is upon us, and so are all things picture-perfect and aromatic, let us make the ravishing beauty of Christ our boast and humbly receive with thanks every grace, every hint of his beauty and his order and his goodness we get to see and experience here in the midst of all our mess.  And let us be real with each other, and help each other fight giants and bear burdens and look up and be eternally-minded.

 Quieted,
Sheila

Of life without a down side

One day I’ll get to endlessly experience life without the down side.  I was thinking about that on this beautifully cool, gray, drizzling morning.

I was awakened this morning by, “Get up!  The cat peed on the bed!”  Yeah.  That’s the definition of waking up on the wrong side of the bed.  In fact, they should just change that saying.  Instead of, “Someone woke up on the wrong side of the bed!”  We should say, “Someone woke up with a cat peeing on the bed!”  I’m not a cat person, I tolerate her existence in my house since I have three other members of my household who adore her, but now, she’s on my hit list.

You might think this would pretty much ruin my day, but to my surprise, a theme of thankfulness has been running through heart this morning.  The hum of the constant rain, the smell of bacon and hot coffee, the sense that this wet, grey day may have provided for me hot tea, good books and quiet… at least until 11A.M. when the business of basketball games and batting practice starts.

As I lay on the couch this morning, I could hear my husband rehearsing the news out loud from the kitchen table.  Some guy has “tamed” lions by giving them, “love and affection”.   “That guy’s gonna get eaten!” my husband prophesies.    He’s probably right, but it reminded me that someday, life will really be like that with no threat of harm.  We get little glimpses now of what the Bible promises those whose faith is in Christ will experience for eternity.

Some day the lion will lie with the lamb and snakes will be play things.  Some day cats won’t pee on beds and bacon won’t clog arteries.  Some day rest won’t seem like a waste of time or laziness.  Some day what we call work will be joyful, creative expressions of Imago Dei in us.  Some day other centered affections and interests will be my constant character.  Some day there won’t even be a hint or undertone of thinking of Jesus in a religious, untouchable or cheesy way.  Some day talking of God and his beauty and glory and Christ and his love and affection will be as natural and as joyous as talking about your hero and the faithful dad who loves you and the chivalrous husband who swept you off your feet and the courageous warrior who saved his platoon in a self-sacrificing act.  Some day there will be life of life abounding without even a whiff of a down side and all that was here that I ever complained about will be a vapor long gone.  Some day life will be so vivid, so unrestrained, so deep and wide and full of awe and beauty and pleasure that all I ever thought might be worth turning away from the way of the cross to satisfy me here will seem like piles of worm filled dung.

Some day breath and rest and smiles and belly laughter and affections and flavors and sounds and vistas and powers and relationships and intimacy with the King of Glory will be my constant, uninhibited, depravity-free experience.  Oh that I would lift my head and let the things of earth grow strangely dim!


“Look! I am creating new heavens and a new earth, and no one will even think about the old ones anymore. Be glad; rejoice forever in my creation! And look! I will create Jerusalem as a place of happiness. Her people will be a source of joy.”- Isaiah 65:17-18

 Quieted,
Sheila

Joy for me


It really is true: There is no greater joy than to know that your children walk in the truth.

Tonight, tucking the boys in bed, “Let’s pray,” initiates faces to pillows and hands folded for one child followed by, “God. Thank you for the ability to throw a baseball. And thank you that I have a brother to play with.” And the mom gives thanks in her heart for the joy of hearing her son remembering God who gives him strength and brother.

For the other the que doesn’t trigger the praying posture but a aha-moment look on his face and, “I know! I’ve got a good one! Thank you God that every day there’s always something to learn.” Impressed by the 6 year old boys thinking I commented, “That is a good one son!” And gave thanks for the pure pleasure of hearing thoughtful thanksgiving from my almost 7 year old Christmas gift.

I get weary of the things. The toys. The latest gadgets and goodies and attempts at making our kids “happy” that are everywhere. I’ll take words of thanks rolled off little lips to a Great Redeemer who once walked through age 6 and 8 for them.

No greater joy. Period.

Quieted,
Sheila

It’s easy to miss

Tonight I caught myself moping.

I was comparing my problems to others and thinking they had nothing to complain about. Boy is that a slippery slope! It’s a fast ride down to the pool of depression. But thank the Lord I caught myself. Actually He caught me and said, “Thank Me for the grace I give to help you in your time of need.”

I was naturally inclined to ignore that thought and keep moping. Sliding quickly down. Down. Down. But I didn’t. Instead I opened my mouth and said, “Thank You Lord that you’ve given me the grace to go through this. And thank you that you’ve provided others in my life the grace to go through what they go through.”

It was as though I was on some weird Willy Wonka chocolate factory ride. Suddenly there was no mad, out of control spin of depressing thoughts. There was just a peace that put all that to rest. My circumstances didn’t change. I still hate it that I have to go through this. But everyone has to go through stuff.

In this world there’s trouble. Period. Some go through their storms with the One whom the wind and the waves obey (even though at times it may feel like He’s taking a nap while you’re about to sink). Some try to muscle through. Others jump ship. But for any of us who would simply thank God for the grace He provides- not just to grin and bear it, but to grow in it, be made more beautiful by it, become stronger through it, and come out as gold when its over- for us there is a sweetness which is easy to miss in this bitter life.

It’s gonna take some clinging. Its gonna take some trusting. Its gonna take remembering who our God is. He understands. He knows us. We’re gonna have to be bold so we can find, and not miss, the grace He so generously gives when we need it.

That is why we have a great High Priest who has gone to heaven, Jesus the Son of God. Let us cling to him and never stop trusting him. This High Priest of ours understands our weaknesses, for he faced all of the same temptations we do, yet he did not sin. So let us come boldly to the throne of our gracious God. There we will receive his mercy, and we will find grace to help us when we need it. – Hebrews 4:14-16

Quieted,
Sheila

Giving thanks brainstorm

Thank YOU Jesus…

You are God. The One who knows what it feels like to be in a fallen place, in a fallen body. Who knows sorrow, rejection, grief and pain. Who suffered for all my mistakes, sin and crooked nature just so I could know God and be made right, the way You created me to be. Thank YOU because YOU are God!

Thank YOU Jesus…
For receiving what I offer You. For the promise that You will never leave me or forsake me. For being so patient with me! For promising to be my children’s teacher and peace. For a computer. For an oven and a kitchen and a couch. For mountains to climb. For moments of refreshment. For beautiful sunsets. For chocolate. For songs that speak my heart. For not giving up on me. For the blessing of being a mom! For letting me hear Your voice. For hope. For the Church. For Your Word preserved! For the ability to hear. For Kris and Darren. For the ability to see. For Austin, Ashley, Robert and Makayla. For perfume. For the promise that You are greater than he who is in the world. For the promise that You have overcome the world. For clean water! For Ethan, Nolan, Avery, Liam. For Searchlight. For the ability to smell. For letters, emails and phone calls from friends. For the country I live in. For orchids. For Samuel’s mom! For listening to me and answering my prayers! For sleep! For perfume! For Moses’ mom! For my trip to San Diego with the boys!! For being with me when I’m alone. For the ability to see. For free access to Your word. For being with me when I’m sick. For turning what is meant for evil into something good!!! For being with me all these years. For Kandace and Wally and John and Will. For going to the cross for me. For laughter! For pain that you promise is not in vain. For satisfying my thirst. For providing my needs and pampering me with pleasures. For hugs! For a healthy body. For cold water! For medicine. For a phone. For the sure confidence of resurrection life!!! For parents who told me about You! For the 31 Days of Praise book. For coffee! For a rescue! For being good!! For Jenene and Ken. For the promise of completing the work You started in me. For being with me when I’m with others. For deodorant. For the woman you gave me as a mom, Verna, Mom. For understanding landlords and maintenance people. For sadness that drives me to YOU! For a cell phone. For letting me pour out my complaints to You. For Arizona sunsets. For a job that allows me to be home with my boys when their home. For Connor and Ryland!!! For giving me Your Spirit! For the man you gave me as a dad, Bob, Dad. For the opportunity to help someone else. For the color blue. For James. For candles. For a hiding place. For letting me taste of the joy of being a wife with Your heart. For a warm home. For understanding me. For shoes that fit. For B.J. For being gentle. For April. For Eileen. For Frank. For a kind boss and co-workers. For that day on the floor in the kitchen. For a car that works. For helping me out of pits!!! For air conditioning. For a hot shower. For John and Lorna. For Internet access. For putting LOVE in my heart. For a pencil and paper. For a washer and dryer that work. For hands. For the promise to conform me to the image of Your Son. For the Streams in the Desert book. For watermelon. For dentists. For health insurance. For lights and a dishwasher. For quiet moments. For feet. For getting to tell someone else about Jesus! For airfreshner. For Bailey. For Jackson. For scorpions. For candles. For peace in the midst of pain….

I could go on and on Lord. It is good to give you thanks!

So glad He found me ,

Isaiah 51:3

A Day of Gratitude- Today I’m not going to ask why… I’m just going to give thanks!

(Read more Day of Gratitude posts at the Cafe)

Lori at All You Have to Give made the above graphic. The quotes on it remind me how easily I forget how important simply giving thanks is!

“If the only prayer you said in your whole life was thank you that would
suffice.” -Meisier Eckhart

“The Pilgrims made seven times more graves than huts. No Americans
have been more impoverished than these who, nevertheless, set aside a day of
thanksgiving.” -H.U. Wesiermeyer

“A thankful heart is not only the greatest virtue, but the parent of all
other virtues.” – Cicero

“On Thanksgiving Day we acknowledge our dependence.” -William Bryan

I have so much to be thankful for, and yet as each year passes from the big turning point in my life where I could see the obvious provision and rescue that made my heart cry “Thank YOU!”, I find a tendency to slip into questioning and doubting, complaining and criticalness. But the detour away from these pitfalls is simply looking up and giving thanks!

I was just thinking yesterday that my prayers are increasingly becoming, “Thank you Lord!” for everything! Literally!

  • Thank you Lord for my van.” Spoken right after my husband informs me that he’s just put the new starter in and it hasn’t made any difference… the thing still won’t start.
  • Thank you Lord for my kids.” Spoken right after a face off with my 5 year
    old.
  • Thank you Lord for this piece of chocolate.” Spoken at the height of my PMS with much conviction that chocolate is God’s prescription for comfort during the monthly pains of womanhood.
  • Thank you Lord for my dog, this carpet, and this steam cleaner.” Spoken right after cleaning up the dog vomit I almost stepped in while putting away the steam cleaner I just finished cleaning the carpets with.
  • Thank you Lord for my husband.” Spoken as I walk out of the pre-op room
    leaving my hospital gown-clad man behind.
  • I have sooooo much to be thankful for. And the more I put my trust in the sovereignty and goodness of God, and acknowledge my utter dependence upon Him, the more I stop trying to figure out what’s going on or why and just simply look up and say, “Thank you Lord!”

    How the Homemaker and Her Family are Spending Thanksgiving

    Today will be a gathering of four- me, my husband and our two sons. I’m up early, spending some time really reflecting on what God has done in my life and praying, because He’s not done with me yet.

    The day is planned on being a fairly “normal” day- except the huge feast midday and the limping, one week post-op husband, and the deluge of fall rain we’re getting in the Arizona dessert. Although, according to conversations with my husband last night, Thanksgiving this year is shaping up to be sorta anticlimactic, I think today is going to be very special.

    There’s a work of “leaving and cleaving” which began 3 years ago this Thanksgiving when my tender, reunited marriage moved away from family and friends to the desert that continues to this day. Today as my husband continues the rehab work on his leg I’ll be remembering that God is doing a reconciling work in our marriage for His glory, and I’ll be thanking Him for it.

    There are two very sentimental sons who have been anticipating when we get to have our “big feast” (as they put it) for weeks. And today while I’m working in the kitchen, loving on my family through the making of a “feast”, I’ll be praying for the words and the work of the Spirit as I use every opportunity to teach my sons about our great Redeemer and God, and how important it is that we take the time to remember we are utterly dependent upon His mercy and grace and therefore must give Him thanks!

    We’ll be enjoying the rain today, rehabbing a knee, wrestling with the boys, reaching for the sweet potatoes, relishing the cherry pie with ice cream, rejoicing in our Redeemer, reminiscing on the phone with family far away and resting with full bellies too.

    Today I’m not going to ask why, or try to figure out what’s next, I’m just going to draw near and give thanks to the God who wants me to know Him. Mr. Oswald Chambers’ questions and answers hang in my kitchen. And today, while I’m cooking, I’ll be surrendering myself to my miracle-working God and resting in knowing Him more.

    “Have you been asking God what He is going to do? He will never tell you. God does not tell you what He is going to do- He reveals to you who He is. Do you believe in a miracle-working God, and will you “go out” in complete surrender to Him until you are not surprised one iota by anything He does?” – Oswald Chambers

    I pray you and yours have a surrendered and thankful thanksgiving!

    Redeeming the time,
    Sheila

    Holiday Traditions and Ideas

    I LOOOOOOOVE the holidays!!! I really enjoy “special” days of any kind, and am just generally a sap for memorable events or get togethers. But what really gives me the jollies is the opportunity to widely, joyfully, and decoratingly (is that a word?) proclaim the wonder of God and His Salvation this time of year.

    Christmas in particular holds very dear and personal times of worship and reflection upon what God has done for me… for us! And it seems Thanksgiving has become a month long preparing of my heart and a time to spur my kids to think on God’s care for us. By the time December comes, the anticipation and wonder is building to a climax. There’s a real sense of the need, and desire, to stop and simply thank God for all He has done and reflect upon the glory of His story in our house. I guess Thanksgiving isn’t a separate holiday from Christmas in our house, it’s just the build up to the celebration of the Redeeming Gift we are most thankful for.

    Bless the Lord, O my soul; And all that is within me, bless His holy name! Bless
    the Lord, O my soul, And forget not all His benefits: Who forgives all your iniquities, Who heals all your diseases, Who redeems your life from destruction, Who crowns you with lovingkindness and tender mercies,Who satisfies your mouth with good things, So that your youth is renewed like the eagle’s. – Psalm 103:1-5

    Traditions and Ideas

    Our family traditions are still newly forming. Our kids are just 3 and 5 and truly we didn’t have a tradition or special time during Christmas or Thanksgiving before the kids came. For my household, that was mostly due to our marriage troubles. If you are a childless couple, especially a newly married couple, I’d encourage you not to wait until the kids come (if they do) to start your own special times of worship, activities, and memories during the holidays.

    That was a bit of a sidebar… anyway, back to our traditions and ideas.

    Here are some of the things we do during the month of November:

    • Pick a verse or two from scripture to say and talk about daily, committing it to memory. This year I picked 1 Timothy 2:1.

    First of all, then, I urge that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and
    thanksgivings be made for all people

    • Find a craft or two to do with my kids which helps us all to verbalize and bring to mind how much we have to be thankful for. This year we did this and this.

    It turned out like this:

    And here’s the Youtube video if you’d like to do it! 🙂

    • Find a way to remember, pray for, and reach out to someone else in need. Each year I pray about this, and sometimes the person in need is right under my own roof, so the focus is a ministry of service there. This year we may go to the local nursing home and just walk around with the kids and kneel down to visit with some widows and widowers on Thanksgiving day.

    For Christmas

    To begin celebrating Christmas I pull out the tree December 1st, along with all the decor I’ve collected over the past couple years, and put on the music!!! I LOOOOOVE Christmas music. My favorite song is O Holy Night. I let the kids decorate the tree, which leaves lots of great memories and pictures and the perfect looking tree in my book! 🙂

    During the month of December I also pick a new verse or two to discuss daily and put to memory and try to memorize a song that the boys and I can sing.

    This year, the boys will be involved in their first Christmas program at our church, which I’m really excited about.

    But the tradition that I love the most at Christmastime happens the night before Christmas. You can read about the tradition we have of sleeping in a tent by the tree on Christmas Eve and other traditions we have , and our Days of Pondering ornaments by clicking those links.

    Be sure to head over to Internet Cafe Devotions for more fun and inspiring holiday traditions and ideas!

    Hope you all have wonderful, worshipful holidays!

    Redeeming the time,