Category: 1000 Gifts

As You Wish

Are you familiar with The Princess Bride? It’s a movie that I memorized I watched it so often. And of course, “As You Wish” was Westley’s way of saying “I love you.”

I think we all have those particular ways in which God communicates to us saying, “I love you.” For me there are many. One of them is starfish.

Brittle Star

Ever since I was a kid I’ve been fascinated with starfish: their textured feel, the way they suck onto a rock (or your hand), their colors. I always scanned the tidal pools of the Pacific for them.

But, they are much fewer and farther between here on the Welsh coast, so they seem especially significant when I come across one.

A couple of weeks ago I took a day of solitude with the Lord and I heard him say, “Come to the beach with me.” To be honest I wasn’t feeling much like prying myself off the couch and I sensed the beach that he was inviting me to was one that’s a bit of a drive from here. But I couldn’t bring myself to refuse the invitation and so I went.

As I walked on the beach I was talking with the Lord and I remember looking down the beach and praying, “I know there are no tide pools here, but even without the starfish I’m really aware of how you show your love for me.”

About two miles down the beach I was focusing on where I was stepping, as there were a lot of jelly fish on the beach that day, and at a curve where the tide was just going out, I saw my first brittle star. So, they might not technically be starfish, but they are starfish in every way that matters to me. And as I walked along I saw not one, but literally hundreds of them. I just wanted to laugh. I’d done it again. I’d boxed God in. As if he couldn’t say “I love you” with a starfish unless there were tide pools.

Rhossili – The Gower
Jellyfish
Going in circles
Wild Welsh Ponies

And to up the ante, I ended up going home on a different route and the wild ponies were right there on the side of the road for me to enjoy.

It was a sweet day and a sweet reminder of the God who has time and again moved heaven and earth to show me his love: in Jesus, in a starfish, in a sunny day on the beach, though a herd of ponies, in the midst of pain, on the days when I don’t want to pry myself off the couch.

I am loved.

You are loved.

Keep your ears open.

You might hear “As You Wish.”

Keep your eyes open.

You might be surprised by a starfish.

Year of Joy: Beginning Lent

Since I first began practicing Lent I have made a habit of asking God what He would have for me in this season.

What indulgence might I set aside in order to tune my heart to greater awareness and prayer, toward greater humility and imitation of Jesus’ delight in doing the will of the Father at any cost to himself?

For me it usually involves food and it almost always means giving up soda (one of my most treasured indulgences).

So  I was a bit surprised when God told me that what He wants from me this year is a sacrifice of praise.

An offering of thanksgiving.IMG_4423Then I read this morning’s Lent devotional…

A life of faith is a life of gratitude – it means a life in which I am willing to experience my complete dependence upon God and to praise and thank him unceasingly for the gift of being.

A truly eucharistic life means always saying thanks to God, always praising God, and always being more surprised by the abundance of God’s goodness and love.

How can such a life not also be a joyful life? It is the truly converted life in which God has become the centre of all.

There gratitude is joy and joy is gratitude and everything becomes a surprising sign of God’s presence.

Show Me The Way – Readings For Each Day Of Lent

It never ceases to amaze me how God speaks right to my heart at just the right time.

I’ve been asking Him for joy.

I’m desiring to grow in awareness of Him and to be formed into the image of Christ.

And the “sacrifice” that He asks of me is the very one that answers both of those requests.

“How can such a life not also be a joyful life?”

“There gratitude is joy and joy is gratitude and everything becomes a surprising sign of God’s presence.”

He’s so beautiful, this Beloved of mine.  He gives and gives and gives.

And when He asks me to die to self, even in this, He gives me more than I could ask or imagine.

I Have Laughter: An Experiement

I was reading this book and I was struck by a couple of simple lines of profound truth.  Without negating the hard things, the main character in the story refused to feed the dragon his pain.  The dragon tried to defeat him saying: “Give me your pain, your anger…Do you not fear?”  And the boy replied with this one truth: “I have laughter…what can you do, dragon, to erase the life and laughter I’ve already lived and already laughed?”

“What,” he asked the world, “can you do to erase my laughter?”

Life is hard.  I don’t negate that.  I encounter that truth every day.

And I’m a firm believer in the necessity of lament, being honest with God about the pain and the heartache in our lives.  Yet, it is all too easy to turn to the dragon and instead of making our pain an offering to God it becomes fodder for the work of the enemy.  Too often, a cloud settles over life and in the midst of the struggle we forget the life that we have already lived and the laughter we have already laughed.

So for the month of February I want to try an experiment.  I want to remember the laughter.

Would you join me on a journey to recount the laughter…the smiles we have smiled, the laughs we have laughed, the life we have lived?

Every day in February I’ll be posting something that speaks to laughter in my life.  It may be a photo or the story of a memory.  I won’t simply be posting lighthearted jokes, but I’ll be posting about moments and events that have brought laughter in my life.  I’m not looking for a Pollyanna, look on the bright side, experiment.  I want February to be a month when I stare the darkness in the face and proclaim again that “I have laughter” and nothing can erase the life that I have lived or the laughter that I have laughed.

I want February to be a month of redemptive remembering

And a time of giving thanks for the joy that has been.

So will you join me?  Will you drop by my blog every day and post a link to your blog or Instagram or Twitter feed about how you have laughter?

Would you consider joining my group Pinterest board and uploading your laughter?  (Follow me here, if you aren’t already following me, and then comment on my I Have Laughter post letting me know you want to be added to the board.)

Grab the logo for your blog if you want to use it, get ready and join me on February 1st to start the experiment.

Together let’s celebrate the joy of being alive.

Grace Upon Grace

We cannot grab and hold.

Don’t resent the moments simply because they cannot be frozen.  Taste them.  Savor them.  Give thanks for daily bread.  Manna doesn’t keep overnight.  More will come in the morning.

Our futile struggle in time is courtesy of God’s excessive giving.  Sunset after sunset make it hard to remember and hold just one.  Smell after smell.  Laugh after laugh.  A mind still thinking, a heart still beating.

These quotes from N.D. Wilson’s Death by Living encapsulate so much of my journey over this past year.  So many relationships.  So many experiences.  So many gifts, slipping through my fingers like sand.

In fact, a tagline for the story of this interval of transition could easily be: Life is meant to be spent, not clutched tight or held fast.

While preparing to leave the US for Wales I found myself listening to Audrey Assad’s Good to Me on a continuous loop.  I was filled with longing to have my eyes fixed on the faithful promises of God and the grace upon grace that He continually pours out on my life in the midst of the struggles and the sorrows of saying goodbye one more time.  As this became the prayer that I breathed in and out, I determined that the foxes in the vineyard would not steal my joy.

And isn’t it interesting that when you open your hands and spread your fingers wide, so that the constant stream of grace pours through, then the hardships and trials and losses cannot cling to you because they are caught up and swept forward in the ever moving stream of grace.  The loss that you grieve becomes the very instrument that awakens your heart to the gifts that you have been given.

Life moves on.

Grace never ends.

Time is spent and His mercies are new every morning.

The Gift

This isn’t a carefully written post.  It’s more of a “directly from my heart to the screen” post.

I haven’t blogged for weeks now, because I’ve been driving.  I set out from Florida on November first and I’ll reach California tomorrow.

When I first thought about this home assignment and the supporters that I wanted to visit I had a strong sense that I was to drive rather than fly this time around.  But to be honest, I wasn’t entirely sure that it was what I wanted to do.  I spent a lot of time wrestling over the decision.  It’s a lot of miles to cover…alone.  Flying would be more…convenient.

Yet, the more I prayed about it, the more certain I became that God was telling me two things.

First, I was to trust Him in this.

Second, that this trip was His gift to me.

Nearly two weeks, three thousand miles and more than fifty road hours later I understand just a bit of the gift that He has given me.

I’ve had hours and days of just me and Jesus time.  Oh, I’m not always focused on His presence, but I’ve had the opportunity to be with Him in a special way.  I’ve had hours in which to pray and converse with my Lord.  Further, I’ve never been alone or lonely for He’s been my constant companion.

I’ve gotten to see people that I wouldn’t have seen if I’d had to buy a plane ticket to get to them.  And I’ve met people along the way that I never would have met if I’d hopped on a plane.  Just a couple of days ago I went for a meal in a place that was fairly full.  A couple asked if they could join me at my table and we got to talking.  What a joy it was to share with them about God’s work around the world!  It was also an answer to my prayer that I have the opportunity to represent the Lord to the people I meet.  Only God can arrange that kind of divine appointment, but I had to be willing to trust Him and follow His lead when driving seemed an unconventional choice.

But most of all, this gift to me has been about seeing His beauty scattered abroad.  The earth is filled with the glory of the Lord and I’ve gotten to feast on it for weeks now.  Every changing landscape is unique in its beauty and each Jesus follower that I have met along the journey bears His radiant image in their own distinctly fashioned way.

Today the lyric by Rich Mullins kept running through my mind…”So much beauty for just two eyes to see, but everywhere I go, I’m looking.”

So as I embark on my final leg toward California, where I will stay awhile before the long drive back to Florida in January, I want to lift up His name with thanksgiving.

I’m grateful that He called me to this journey and gave me this gift.

He is so good to me.

Giving Thanks 1000 Times More

It’s been awhile since I’ve posted from my list here…but I’m still counting.  I’m always counting, for his mercies never run out and sometimes it’s the little things that take your breath away.

  • The sunlight refracting through the beaded glass window of the trailer door, shadow leaves swaying in the breeze causing the windowpane to come alive like sparkling diamonds as the sun swirls through the shadow branches.
  • A little guy, similar to the ones below, in the bush outside my window.   At first I thought it was the smallest hummingbird I’d ever seen and then I remembered the hummingbird moth that a gardener showed me during a trip to Wales last year.

  • The squirrels burying their nuts under the pine needles, then only hours later coming by for an afternoon snack.  (I guess it’s a good thing that we don’t get hard winters in Florida – I’m not sure how much of their food stays buried).
  • The morning glory blossoms as they greet the dawn.
  • The cumulus clouds against the blue, blue sky.
  • The sound of that song that awakens my soul to dance and the words of that song that never fails to bring tears to my eyes.
  • Sunshine mingled with rain and God’s promise filling the sky.
  • That golden hour before evening falls when the whole world is cast in molten gold.

Ten Thousand Reasons for My Heart to Find

I found myself feeling overwhelmed by feelings this morning.   My life is overrun with a million small details and important decisions.  I was gone 12 days, back 13 and I’m leaving tomorrow for another 12.  There is so much to be done and the pressure of it has been weighing heavy.

And I knew I needed to:

Stop – For this hurried spirit accomplishes nothing

Reflect – For God’s presence is with me

Pray – For He longs for me to abide in Him in the middle of the pressures of the day

Give Thanks – For He has provided for all that I need and so much more

And I find that just minutes focusing on His presence and resting in His love is like a bottomless well of purest water to my thirsty soul.

And somehow it all looks different now…for there truly are blessings for my soul, even today, ten thousand reasons for my heart to find

Journey – I’m Thankful – Day 14

Kierkegaard (1813-1855) said,

…if I could prescribe just one remedy for all the ills of the modern world, I would prescribe silence.  For even if the word of God were proclaimed in the modern world, no one would hear it; there is too much noise.  Therefore, create silence.

In my time traveling finding silence never came easy.  This Advent, finding silence remains a struggle.

Not only is the world around me loud, my own heart is filled with the clutter of competing clatter: noisy thoughts that won’t be still.

And when I do encounter silence, I don’t always find it a comfortable friend.  Sometimes silence is a like a yawning chasm, echoing with emptiness, far from inviting.

Yet, it is often into the silence that God speaks.

The psalmist says:

…but I have stilled and quieted my soul. (Psalm 131)

So I stop.  And I pray.  And I wait, in the silence of a stilled and quieted heart.

I wait.

And I start to hear the flutter of wings and the arrival of impossible things.

I was sitting on the porch in Avila and a hummingbird arrived, wings beating impossibly fast, too fast to see, too fast even for my camera, a tiny miracle of creation.

And I stop.  And I pray.  And I wait, in the silence of a stilled and quieted heart.

Today, I am sitting in my home in Budapest marveling at the arrival of impossible news, impossible events, a miracle of redemption.

In the turmoil of a busy, noisy world – in a town overflowing with travelers arriving for census – in a whirlwind of everyday activities and the extra demands of governmental procedures –a sacred moment was born.  A woman had stilled her heart and said, “I am the Lord’s servant.”  And the impossible came to pass for “nothing is impossible with God.” (Luke 1)

The impossible was made possible in Christ! What a reason to be thankful today!

In the turmoil of this busy, noisy world – in a season overflowing with social invitations and expectations – in a whirlwind of everyday activities and the extra demands of the holidays – will you prepare to receive the sacred this Christmas?  Will you still and quiet your heart to receive His miracle?

I’m Thankful – Day 13

After a couple of really busy days I’m back to my thankfulness journal and today I’m thankful for wonder.

When I was a kid, the tide pools at the beach were the epitome of wonder.  All the fabulous, unique and colorful ocean creations sparked my sense of awe and that hasn’t really changed much over the years. A starfish or sea anemone still takes me back to that childlike place of amazement.

Here are a couple of photos I snapped of the sea-life attached to the piles under the pier in Avila.

And today as I write this post I am drawn into an even deeper sense of wonder than the mystery of the starfish and sea life.  As I listen to Christmas music playing softly in the background I am captivated with wonder at the mystery of the incarnation.  How beyond my understanding is the reality that “the Lord of heaven to earth came down”.  The thought takes me to a place of stillness and I sit in childlike amazement as I gaze deeply at a love that is far beyond my comprehension.

Have you stopped to ponder the depth of the beauty of the incarnation this Advent season?

What is it that moves you to wonder?