Friday, November 27, 2009

A Week of Giving Thanks -Friday

Today, I’m just plain thankful.

Thankful for a morning to sleep in.

Thankful for a good cup of coffee.

Thankful that I could get together for lunch with some friends that I rarely see.
Thankful that as friends we could start up again as though no time had passed since we’ve seen each other.
Thankful for that bond.

Thankful for the sunshine.

Thankful as I see Zach’s car driving up the driveway for him and Christina to spend a few days with us.

Thankful for a fire in the fireplace and a relaxing evening at home.

Thankful for technology that allows me to keep in contact with those far away.

Just plain THANKFUL!

Thursday, November 26, 2009

A Week of Giving Thanks

It was the year of 1621 when Dale's great-grandfather 13 generations back, John Alden, joined 52 others to celebrate the first Thanksgiving. They were giving thanks to God for seeing them through another year.
We can be thankful for so much, but who are we to give that thanks to?

Consider these verses.

(1 Chr. 16:34) O give thanks to the LORD, for he is good; for his steadfast love endures forever.

(Psa 30:11-12 NRSV) You have turned my mourning into dancing; you have taken off my sackcloth and clothed me with joy, so that my soul may praise you and not be silent. O LORD my God, I will give thanks to you forever.

(Psa 79:13 NRSV) Then we your people, the flock of your pasture, will give thanks to you forever; from generation to generation we will recount your praise.

(Rom 14:6 NRSV) Those who observe the day, observe it in honor of the Lord. Also those who eat, eat in honor of the Lord, since they give thanks to God; while those who abstain, abstain in honor of the Lord and give thanks to God.

(Rom 7:25 NRSV) Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord!

(Rom 8:1 NRSV) There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.
(Eph 5:19-20 NRSV) as you sing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs among yourselves, singing and making melody to the Lord in your hearts, giving thanks to God the Father at all times and for everything in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.

(1 Th 5:18 NRSV) give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

A Week of Giving Thanks - Wednesday

You have given me the heritage of those who fear your name. Psalm 61:5b

I don’t think that one really understands the sacrifice of our parents until you become one yourself. It’s then and more so even now as a grandparent, that I look at situations and sometimes wish that I had been more sensitive to their needs or desires - to be more discerning about what I was or wasn’t doing and how that might affect them. I’m still learning and at times get myself so busy with my life that too much time goes by before I’ve really connected with them again.

I am so thankful to God for giving Dale and me the parents that we have. The first reason is written of in the verse above from Psalms. Both sets of parents love God and have set for us a standard. Dale and I were both brought up with regularly attending church and being involved in church activities. It wasn’t about whether I felt like going or not, it was just something that we always did. God used those things to turn our hearts to Him, helping us realize that we need Him to be our Redeemer & Savior.

Family and home have always been a priority for our parents. Birthday, holidays and special events were important and they were celebrated with family. Special traditions like little gifts at St. Nick’s Day or always having brats and hamburgers on Christmas are things that our boys grew up with.
Both parents were involved in the boy’s lives in so many different way, from taking them camping to teaching them woodworking skills. They’ve created memories for each of us to cherish.

I am so thankful for their willingness to share us. Those of you with both sides of the family in close proximity know that it’s hard to be at both homes at once. I can’t express how much that has meant to me knowing that they understand and are willing to work around schedules and busy times.

Hodding Carter, Jr. wrote:
"There are two lasting bequests we can give our children. One is roots. The other is wings."

Both of our parents have blessed us with these.

I am thankful for all of you.

Thankful for your wisdom and direction over the years.

Thankful to God that you are here with us today.

Thankful for all that you’ve done for us and for what you mean to each of us.

I love you!

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

A Week of Giving Thanks - Tuesday

Dale and I had the privilege of raising two sons, Joshua and Zachery. It’s hard to prepare yourself for how your life will change when one becomes a parent. It’s also hard to understand the depth of love that you can have for a child that hasn’t even been born yet. When that child is born, you finally have a face, a flesh and blood person to hold in your arms and say, “So, that’s what you look like. I’ve waited so long to see you!”

Before one becomes a parent, you think about all of the things that you hope to teach your child – to play ball, to cook, to read, to have a love of certain things, to love God. The truth is, some of those things, most of them, they could learn from anyone else. But, it is that child who also becomes the teacher. My teacher.

I am so thankful for our boys and all that they have taught me over the years. And I’m not talking about home schooling them. It is through loving and taking care of others that we learn what type of people we really are.

I remember the day that we brought Josh home from the hospital. We put him into the little antique cradle that we had and stood and watched him. Now what? I really didn’t know. I did know that as parents it was up to us to make sure that he was taken care of. He depended totally on us.
I had to learn that my life no longer was my own. Selfishness is not a character trait of a good parent. As a parent we regularly put off our desires and interests for the benefit of the child and family. Often those desires are able to be fulfilled as the family grows older. But, it’s also amazing at how those desires tend to change.

I’ve learned how impatient I could be and at times how quickly I could get upset or angry at things that really didn’t matter. Being a parent tended to regularly show me how much I needed to make sure that my life was in order. I knew that I needed to be spending time each morning with my God, who was the one who gave me my strength for the day. Oh, but I was still often reminded of my own sinfulness as I would deal with the childishness or sinful behavior of the boys. You have to make sure and recognize the difference between the two things – childishness will happen, they’re children. Sinfulness will also, but that needs to be dealt with in a different way. But, what about my sinfulness? I had to make sure that I dealt with that also.

I learned how quickly time goes by. My Mom often says that as you get older, time goes by more quickly. I don’t want that! Really!! I don’t.
I remember that there were days when the boys were small and it seemed like forever before I got a good night’s sleep.
It wasn’t.
I remember trying to cherish those quiet nights, rocking and singing.

I’ve learned that now - to cherish the times that we have together.
I am so thankful for Joshua and Lauren with little Ruth, and Zach and Christina.

I love being friends with them at this point in their lives.

I’m thankful for the homes that they are establishing and the choices that they have made.

I’m thankful that even though we are far apart, we are close.

I’m thankful every time that I answer the phone and I hear, “Hi, Mom.”

Monday, November 23, 2009

A Week of Giving Thanks - Monday

Sweetheart of All My Dreams

I am so thankful for my husband of 33 years, the Sweetheart of all my dreams – Dale.
We met when I was a Senior in high school and we had our first date 1 ½ years later.
About two years after that we got married.

Let me tell you a little about him.
He is a man who loves God and spends time regularly in prayer and God’s word. The convictions that he holds direct the steps that he takes in his life. I’m so thankful for his integrity and willingness to stand up for what is right and to stand against what is wrong. He is a man of his word.
He is an optimist and tends to see things working out rather than one who dwells on the negative.
Thankfully, he enjoys being in the kitchen. Not bugging me, but cooking, baking AND cleaning up. There have been mornings when I’ve gotten up and he has already finished washing the dishes that didn't go in the dishwasher. I do believe that he enjoys cooking more than I do. For years, Sundays have been his day for cooking. He takes care of breakfast and lunch. Yeah!!
When the boys were little, they helped him make blueberry pancakes each week. I never knew what shapes the pancakes might be in when they come off of the stove. In my mind I can still see Josh standing on a chair by the stove helping.

I learned to appreciate nature and wildlife more because of Dale. I remember one of our first dates we went out to the Kettle Moraine area and Dale brought along his camera. He set up his tri-pod and he showed me how he takes pictures of lightening. I was amazed! I often couldn’t see the deer that he saw in the trees and he told me what to look for in order to be able to see them. “Look for horizontal lines, the trees are vertical, but the deer’s back will be horizontal.” That really helped. I still use that information today.

I’m thankful that he is so easy going. Maybe that comes with being an optimist. He also has a very giving spirit and is always willing to lend a hand or share what we have.

We enjoy just spending time together. We don’t have to be doing something or talking in order to be comfortable with each other. He is more spontaneous than I am and I wonder how much fun I may have squelched over the years because of my hesitations.
There have been times of dancing around the living room or kitchen with CDs playing or even out on the deck with just the songs in our heads. There have been quiet moments standing outside looking at the sunsets. He even went outside with me at some insane hour just to look at the meteor showers this past year.

How did I get so blessed to be able to live life with him and call him not only my husband, but also my best friend.

I’m so thankful for him.

I love you, Honey!

Sunday, November 22, 2009

A Week of Giving Thanks - Sunday

I am so blessed!
I have so much to be thankful for!

So, on this Thanksgiving week, I am going to write on this blog each day concentrating on one specific area that I am thankful for. Now, as you can tell from past posts, I don’t write weekly, much less daily! So this might be a challenge for me.

There are so many things that can distract us from being thankful. I’ve often heard the phrase “have an attitude of gratitude”. I tend to think that I’m not one who complains a lot – maybe I’m wrong, but this week I’m going to make sure that I’m one who is thankful a lot!
Here goes…

Remember the Sabbath day by keeping it holy. Six days you shall labor and do all of your work….But He (God) rested on the seventh day.” Ex. 20:8,9,11

I am so thankful that in God’s infinite wisdom He set aside a day for us to rest and to worship with others. I love going to church on Sundays. That’s where most of my other family is, my brothers and sisters in Christ – people I serve with, teens I meet with weekly, friends who also are striving to live Godly lives in difficult times.
I love to stand in the back at the start of worship and just watch. I see my “family” as they greet each other with smiles and hugs. I see them as they introduce themselves to new friends. I hear them as they get updates on each other’s lives. I see “family” who love being there as much as I do.

I love to worship through music.
I love music and starting the service with it. Music has a way of drawing me into the presence of Almighty God unlike just the spoken word. There are times when I don’t sing. I close my eyes and let the words and music speak to my heart, allowing God’s Spirit move this clumsy believer from my self-centeredness to my awareness of my being a sinner, quiet before my God.
I’m thankful for our pastors and families and how they minister to this body of believers and beyond. I’m so thankful that we are a mission minded church and support many families around the world.
I’m so thankful for my friends who I get the privilege of serving alongside of in Youth Ministries. We are a group of like-minded people who love youth and love each other. We have fun serving God while working with the most amazing group of teens.

We are a group of sinners, saved by grace. Even as I write that, it sounds so simple, “saved by grace”.

I love the old hymn “Grace Greater Than Our Sin”

Grace, grace, God’s grace.
Grace that will pardon and cleanse within.
Grace, grace, God’s grace.
Grace that is greater than all our sin!

I am most thankful for my God!!

Clap your hands, all you nations; shout to God with cries of joy. How awesome is the LORD Most High, the great King over all the earth? Psalm 47:1-2

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Montana Moments

We recently flew to Montana to spend some time with Lauren, Josh and our only grandbaby, Ruth. It was so good to see them again. We hadn’t seen them since Zach & Christina’s wedding in July. We arrived late on a Wednesday night. We knew that they had about 8” of snow on the ground so we had packed our boots and winter gear.
We all went out hiking one of the afternoons and drove to Yellowstone National Park on another day. It was rather cold, but it was beautiful. We arrived at “Old Faithful” just minutes before it erupted. We were glad for that timing, because we really didn’t want to stand out in the cold for too long to see it.
But, most of all, we enjoyed just spending time together, getting to know little Ruth and see how much she’s grown in 3 months. We really didn’t have much planned so it was a relaxing time.
It is a joy to see Josh and Lauren in their roles as “mom & dad”. They are doing such a wonderful job and it is fun to watch them interact and play with Ruth. She is such a fun little girl. It didn’t take long for her to warm up to us, so we enjoyed being able to play with her as well.

Saturday night Seth & Cathy, from Yellowstone Alliance Adventures camp, came for pumpkin carving. Ruth was having a blast just playing with the seeds and pumpkin goo. Later, we got to know some more of their friends as several more came over for a game of Settlers of Catan. There were 10 of us around a table playing a double game.
I love getting to know who their friends are. And even though we were the “parents”, we felt very much a part of the group.

I knew that heading home would be difficult. I had my emotions under complete control – that is until I heard Ruth cry out as she was waking up Sunday morning. So much for my control! From then on tears were close at hand and there was that continual lump in the throat. You probably know what I’m talking about.
How did they do it years ago when there weren’t phones and computers with skype and e-mail?
When you didn’t know if you would ever see your family again?
I can understand why grandparents move to where their adult children live.

We love being a part of their lives and having them in ours. I love and cherish the time that we have together.

We are so blessed.

We are so thankful.