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Thankful 30: Day 8–Refrigerator Art

I joined (belatedly) Emily’s* 30 Day Challenge:

I’m challenging myself to post a picture every day during the month of November (30 Days To Be Thankful For) and to add a caption as to why I am thankful.

Day 8, November 8

Thank you, Lord, for photos, drawings, clippings, invitations, and cards that amass on my refrigerator.  I put the newest items on the front and then retire them to the side when I add something new to the gallery.  I am sometimes irritated by the clutter, but I need to remember it means I have family and friends, as well as church family.

I thank my God every time I remember you. In all my prayers for all of you, I always pray with joy . . . It is right for me to feel this way about all of you, since I have you in my heart . . .  Philippians 1:3,4,7

Thank you for the niece who drew the illustration for an idea shared at a retreat.

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I thank my God every time I remember you.

Thank you that this letter “F” now reminds me more of friends and family than failure.  (The full story of the letter “F” magnet is here.)

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I thank my God every time I remember you.

Thank you for the many friends who encourage me, like the one who generously shares photos like these for me to use on this blog.

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I thank my God every time I remember you.

These refrigerator art images jog my memory, which prompts me to be thankful and to pray with joy.

What’s on your refrigerator, and how does it encourage thankfulness?

Day 1, 2, & 3 Oak leaf, sunrise, shelter

Day 4 Pumpkins

Day 5 Rain

Day 6 Vegetables

Day 7 Clean Water

See Thankful 30 page for every day’s entry.

* name changed

Thankful 30: Day 7–Clean Water

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I joined (belatedly) Emily’s* 30 Day Challenge:

I’m challenging myself to post a picture every day during the month of November (30 Days To Be Thankful For) and to add a caption as to why I am thankful.

Day 7, November 7

God, I’m thankful that I have clean, safe water for

drinking,

washing,

bathing,

and cooking.

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We take potable water for granted, but

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Every day over 4,000 children are dying of water-related diseases such as cholera and typhoid that are easily preventable. Many more are suffering sickness, diarrhea and acute stomach pains – illnesses that stop children going to school and growing up into healthy adults.  Compassion

Consider giving a gift to Compassion that will help provide a well for those who don’t have a source of safe water.

* * *

Day 1, 2, & 3 Oak leaf, sunrise, shelter

Day 4 Pumpkins

Day 5 Rain

Day 6 Vegetables

* name changed

Thankful 30: Day 6–Vegetables

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Sunday I joined (belatedly) Emily’s* 30 Day Challenge:

I’m challenging myself to post a picture every day during the month of November (30 Days To Be Thankful For) and to add a caption as to why I am thankful.

Day 6, November 6

I am thankful, Lord, for the CSA (Consumer Supported Agriculture) box full of vegetables that I picked up today.

He makes grass grow for the cattle,
and plants for people to cultivate—
bringing forth food from the earth  Psalm 104:14 NIV

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I’m especially grateful for the beets.  However, other members of my household believe this verse applies to the lowly beet:

I refuse to touch it;
such food makes me ill.  Job 6:7 NIV

More for me!

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Day 1, 2, & 3 Oak leaf, sunrise, shelter

Day 4 Pumpkins

Day 5 Rain

* name changed

Thankful 30: Day 5–Rain

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 I joined (belatedly) Emily’s* 30 Day Challenge:

I’m challenging myself to post a picture every day during the month of November (30 Days To Be Thankful For) and to add a caption as to why I am thankful.

Day 5, November 5

Thank you, Heavenly Father, for the rain today–

gentle, all day,

replenish the fields,

green up the pastures,

drip off the eaves,

trickle down the pumpkins,

and splash off the leaves,

kind of rain.

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He covers the sky with clouds;
he supplies the earth with rain
and makes grass grow on the hills.  Psalm 147:8 NIV

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* name changed

Day 1, 2, & 3 Oak leaf, sunrise, shelter

Day 4 Pumpkins


linked to http://www.emilywierenga.com

Thankful 30: Day 4–Pumpkins

Yesterday I joined (belatedly) Emily’s* 30 Day Challenge:

I’m challenging myself to post a picture every day during the month of November (30 Days To Be Thankful For) and to add a caption as to why I am thankful.

Day 4, November 4

Thank you, God, for creating pumpkins and their tasty, green seeds, so that I can make my daily granola.

The land produced vegetation: plants bearing seed according to their kinds and trees bearing fruit with seed in it according to their kinds. And God saw that it was good.  Genesis 1:12 NIV

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* name changed

“I’m Cheating, and It’s OK If I Get Caught”

I’m cheating, and it’s ok if I get caught.  I am copying what high-school student Emily* is writing, because she is so smart.  She’s got the right answers, and this is a test I want to pass.

She has written this on Facebook:

I’m challenging myself to post a picture every day during the month of November (30 Days To Be Thankful For) and to add a caption as to why I am thankful.

She’s done it:  three photos, three captions, three days of gratitude.

She’s learned that thankfulness is a habit to be cultivated.  It’s a challenge to our callous hearts.  One of the old meanings of the word “challenge” is “a call to fight.”  So fight for your distracted mind to center on the truth of God’s goodness.  Fight for your aching heart to see the sun behind the storm clouds.  Fight for your weary soul to be at rest in his love.

I’m going to peer over Emily’s shoulder and copy her answers.  I want to ace this test on gratitude.

Will you  join me in thanking God  the rest of November?  It’s a good habit to make.

What are you thankful for?

* * *

Day 1, November 1

Thank you, God, for the ragged beauty of a back-yard oak leaf that reveals your glory.

And the glory of the Lord will be revealed,
and all people will see it together.  Isaiah 40:5

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Day 2, November 2

By the time I grabbed the camera and hurried outside, much of the red was gone.  It was glorious.  Thank you, Lord, for another day.

his compassions never fail.
They are new every morning;  Lamentations 3:22-23

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Day 3, November 3

Thank you, Lord, for unexpected blessings.  When I took this picture of the fall-colored vine, I didn’t notice the praying mantis near the bottom.  It has escaped the hard freezes by sheltering on this warm, south-facing brick wall and hiding from predators under the leaves of the vine.

You are my hiding place;
you will protect me from trouble
and surround me with songs of deliverance.  Psalm 32:7

Thank you, God, for being my shelter in times of trouble.

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* name changed

“Gone to Seed” or “Perfection”

This is a perfect sunflower.

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photo by Barb Briggs

Even if a few of the ray petals have been nibbled, the next one is still perfect.

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photo by Barb Briggs

And this ragged, windblown flower, eaten by root worm beetles?

Perfect again.

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The beautiful, golden ray petals are gone.  The leaves have shriveled in hot, dry winds.

Still perfect.

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This sunflower head is frostbitten, not a trace of green leaf or sunny yellow left.

It is absolutely perfect!

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Not your idea of perfection?  It depends on what language you’re speaking.  We English speakers most often think of this definition of the word “perfect:”

entirely without any flaws, defects, or shortcomings; correct in every detail

Some of us have carried over this idea of flawlessness to our Christian walk, thinking a character and life without defects was required of us.  We have heard bits of verses  taken out of the whole of Scripture, and they made living the Christian life seem like a Herculean task.

For every honest heart knows they are bug-eaten, wind-blown, and drought-stunted.  There are days the hard freezes of life stop us in our tracks, and we feel like dried-out husks without a tinge of green life left in us.  We make the choices and say the words and think the thoughts that take us a universe away from perfection.

There is good news, friends!  We need to reclaim the older meanings of the word “perfect.”  The old Latin word from which our English comes  is

“perfectus:” to finish, bring to completion.

In the Greek of the New Testament is the word for “perfect” (teleios) which speaks of

a thing meeting its intended, end purpose.

What is the designed, end purpose of the sunflower?  In general, all of creation testifies to God’s glory and His character.

Ever since the creation of the world his invisible nature, namely, his eternal power and deity, has been clearly perceived in the things that have been made.  Romans 1:20 RSV

However, what can the sunflower do that nothing else can?  It produces sunflower seeds–enough seeds to ensure reproduction and to feed birds and other animals.

goldfinch on sunflower flickr


Photo by Audreyjm529 under the Creative Commons Attribution License 2.0.

We live in a broken world , but the good news is “the Good News.”  Jesus provided a way for us to be forgiven, and now we can live out our intended end purpose.  Jesus taught that the first and second greatest commandments were to love God and love our neighbor as our self.

We can love and glorify God.  We can love our neighbors by sharing the gospel seeds with a world that is spiritually (and literally) hungry.   Be a perfect sunflower–face the warm sun and “go to seed.”

Perfection!

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Point of View

They are artists with a shutter for a brush and use lenses as extensions of their own eyes.  These three women from my church frame hearts and souls and bits of creation and then snap them into sermons of pixels.  I’ve been privileged to see the photos that Barb, Rachel, and Shannon birth, pictures that make me say “Ah, yes, that’s the essence of that child” or “Lord, what a world you’ve made!”  I confess that I’m envious of their talent.  I wish for their “eye” that sees the end product before the lens cap is removed.

I’ve recently upgraded my camera, so I am learning.  I still leave the lens cap on, take pictures of my fingers, use inappropriate settings, or focus on the wrong place.  My instruction book is getting dog-eared.  Technical details about the self timer can be ironed out with a quick turn to page 67, but figuring out the correct “point of view” is proving more difficult.  What place should I shoot from, at what angle,  and where should the focus be?  To get the photos my photographer friends take, I need to walk where they walk and see the world from their perspective.

In the same way that I’ve been learning from these three, I learn from those who are ahead of me on the path we walk as Christians.  What do they stop and gaze at?  What is their focus and point of view?  How much of the “instruction book” is embedded in their minds?  I had the opportunity last weekend to learn from others at a women’s retreat our church held, using Ann Voskamp’s 1000 Gifts DVD Study.

We immersed ourselves in  a new/old point of view–we ate and slept and prayed gratitude.  We were reminded that God’s grace shines on us, and we learned to see through the lens of gratitude, and to witness the final photos of joy in our lives.  We were prompted to change our perspective, to stand where God stands.

The joy is there, even when showers come, as it did one afternoon of the retreat.

Remember what happens when the light shines from behind you through the raindrops?  Look up, and you might see

Image

rainbows!

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photo by Barb Briggs

You need the right point of view.

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photo by Barb Briggs

WordPress Weekly Writing Challenge:  Point of View

   Deep Roots At Home

Empty Jars and the Flower Underfoot

It was so small, I nearly missed it.

A white aster, less than an inch across,  struggled to survive in the parched, crunchy lawn.  If not for the habit of watching where I placed each footstep, scanning for bees , I wouldn’t have seen it.

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Normally, this wildflower would be over two feet tall, full of daisy-like blooms and alive with butterflies.

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Not this plant–it was drought-stricken, stepped on, mowed off.

A corn root worm beetle crawled across the face of the single blossom.

Isn’t that how life is for us some days?

We struggle.  We feel small, alone, inadequate,

convinced we have nothing to offer.

In the story of Elisha it was so small, I nearly missed it.

The wife of a man from the company of the prophets cried out to Elisha, “Your servant my husband is dead, and you know that he revered the Lord. But now his creditor is coming to take my two boys as his slaves.” Elisha replied to her, “How can I help you? Tell me, what do you have in your house?”

“Your servant has nothing there at all,” she said, “except a small jar of olive oil.”

 Elisha said, “Go around and ask all your neighbors for empty jars. Don’t ask for just a few. Then go inside and shut the door behind you and your sons. Pour oil into all the jars, and as each is filled, put it to one side.”

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 She left him and shut the door behind her and her sons. They brought the jars to her and she kept pouring. When all the jars were full, she said to her son, “Bring me another one.”

But he replied, “There is not a jar left.” Then the oil stopped flowing.

 She went and told the man of God, and he said, “Go, sell the oil and pay your debts. You and your sons can live on what is left.”

2 Kings 4:1-7 NIV

The neighbors.  I’d never considered their part in the miracle before.  Elisha asked the widow to go to all her neighbors for empty jars.

What if the neighbors had said “No”?  But they didn’t.  Instead, they were able to participate in the “big” miracle that we’re still reading about and amazed by today.  The neighbors’ jars may seem insignificant, but the miracle that day depended on them saying “Yes.”

We can say “Yes” to God, even when we feel we have nothing to contribute, when we feel small.

Not all of us can do great things.  But we can do small things with great love.  (Mother Theresa)

It was so small, I nearly missed it.

The still, small voice that says we are enough, that we are adequate, that we have something to offer.

Our jars are not empty after all.  Given in faith, given with love, they’re big enough to hold a miracle.

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Jennifer Dukes Lee Tell His Story

A Walk in the Dark

Diamond sprinkles of stars sparkled overhead in between the masses of unseen trees. ID-10029928 The lane to the campfire in the clearing ahead was clothed in  warm, black velvet of a late summer night. We had never been to this park, to this site before and had no idea of the terrain between the parking spot and the campfire area.  We switched on our flashlights and hoped the batteries would last, as we pointed one at our feet where the next step would be placed, hoping to avoid holes and outcroppings of rocks. We pointed the other beam just ahead to see if the pathway climbed or turned to skirt unknown brambles, and we continued walking with increasing confidence as our eyes adjusted to the dark.

Our journey through life is like that, as if we’re walking in the dark.

So much of the path ahead is unknown. (It is God’s grace that we don’t have to know all of tomorrow’s sorrows.)

There are potholes to fall into,

rocks to trip over,

mud to suck off your boots,

and prickly branches that can grab and pull you aside.

But there is also great beauty:

constellations spinning overhead,

crunch of leaves underfoot,

and fresh incense of pine needles quietly crushed

sweet smoke tickling your nose,

wafted by the warm caress of a breeze.

We’re given enough light to make the journey a step at a time–to avoid some of the pitfalls and to see some of the glory around us.

Your word is a lamp for my feet, a light on my path.  NIV Psalm 119:105

 God’s words in Scripture and the God himself are our lamp and our light.

For these commands are a lamp, this teaching is a light, Proverbs 6:23 NIV

You, Lord, are my lamp 2 Samuel 22:29 NIV

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God . . . In him was life, and that life was the light of all mankind. The light shines in the darkness, . . .  John 1:1,4,5 NIV

 

It takes faith to step into the dark, to put one foot in front of the other when you can’t see more than a few feet ahead;

Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see.  Hebrews 11:1 NIV

faith that the lamp won’t go out and that there will be enough light for the next step;

faith that, even if the way ahead seems blocked, that a way will open;

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faith that detours are for a good reason, because God sees what we cannot.

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photo by Barb Briggs

The garden path in this photo leads, eventually, to the house of a lovely, Christian woman whose sweet spirit and faithfulness I admire.  I would walk up these steps into the darkness  because I trust who she is and her care for my well-being.

We trust in the one who lights our footsteps, the one who doesn’t want us to stumble over rocks or become mired in mud, the one who has seen the end of the journey.  We all, each day step into darkness, but it’s all right because we trust the one who takes the journey with us.

. . . you’ve got my feet on the life path,
all radiant from the shining of your face.
Ever since you took my hand,
I’m on the right way. Psalm 16:11 The Message

night sky photo by freedigitalphotos.net

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