In The Margins {Psalm 23 & Thanksgiving}

journal

Tell me, does the following sound at all familiar? (Please say “yes” ’cause I’d hate to be the only one who feels this way!)

/ WHERE I ASPIRE TO BE: / “Take my moments and my days; let them flow in ceaseless praise!”

/ WHERE I OFTEN FIND MYSELF: / Moments and days that all but blur into one long “To Do List” of sorts.

Let’s face it — life is sometimes packed to the brim with demands, making it impossible to add a single item to the list.  We ran out of lines and white space long ago and even our margins are so full of scribbles we can’t decipher the important stuff anymore! It can seem like a mountain waiting to be scaled, while for some there may only be one, yet equally daunting box to check today — simply to get out of bed.   Usually, it’s a literal list of tasks we must tackle,  but often it comes instead in the form of a toll life would exact and demand of our hearts as we walk through the hard stuff.   Acknowledging we all must deal on some level with this part of our humanity without allowing ourselves to settle into the well-worn rut of “woe is me”, let’s agree not to end the conversation there.  So, how do we adopt a fresh perspective?

Set the list aside for a moment.

 There’s something else,

something restorative to attend to first.

 

If you already feel spent and exhausted before beginning the climb, start by giving thanks. 

If counting our blessings and naming them one by one seems like an impossible choice (you may be saying “what blessings??”), let’s give thanks for who He is, for all we know to be true about Him, and for the promises He has made to us.

“Hold on a minute”,  you say — with all those “To Do’s” in mind,  perhaps you’re thinking that “…in everything, give thanks…” (I Thessalonians 5:18) just became one more task to complete! I’ve been there too.  But this isn’t just an arbitrary command, rather an invitation to rest for a moment in a place not shaped by all the stuff filling our lists and heavy hearts.  It’s easy to forget He always has our good in mind.

Continue reading

In Quotes

“God became man to turn creatures into sons: not simply to produce better men of the old kind but to produce a new kind of man.” 

C. S. Lewis


butterfly

Right now, many of us are working hard to establish better habits, purging and prioritizing, and setting worthy goals with plans in place to reach them.  Or, maybe you’re dusting off past ones that were shelved when the holidays rolled around.  Personally, I like the way a brand new calendar gives rise to this longing for change and renewal.  Through the gray of winter, it’s the wind in my sails!  Are you part of the “new year, fresh start” camp?  Whether you find a January re-set inspiring or deflating, I’ve got good news. Continue reading

In Quotes

“Till ringing, singing on its way,

the world revolved from night to day;

A voice, a chime, a chant sublime

of peace on earth good-will to men.”

{Henry Wadsworth Longfellow}


church bells

There’s something truly wonderful about the sound of belfry bells ringing!  As a child, our house was just a few blocks from a beautiful old church whose steeple was home to three massive bells.  Every Sunday morning they would peal their reverent and joyful invitation as if to say “O come, let us adore Him!”.   Even today, that familiar sound brings back a rush of memories for me.  Without words they proclaim that all is well;  their music warms us on the inside while it blankets everything on the outside with a deep sense of comfort and calm anticipation.  Much as the angels’ burst of song to a hillside of shepherds stirred a slumbering, waiting world, the ringing of bells this time of year awakens in us the hope we possess knowing His birth was a promise fulfilled — it calls our hearts to worship.  Indeed, a new day has dawned! Continue reading

In Quotes

“I would maintain that thanks are the highest form of thought, and that gratitude is happiness doubled by wonder.”

G.K. Chesterton


leaves-autumn-fall-hands-nature-royalty-free-thumbnail

Hello again, friends!  How have you been?  I’ve been praying for you — that, regardless of where your journey has taken you this week, His presence has been made more real and more abundant than anything else in your life.  Let’s keep abiding.

Today I’m stopping by briefly to share this wonderful quote with you!  Here in my corner of the globe, we’re entering a time of year when thoughts turn toward the simple act of giving thanks.  Of all the things we put on our calendar to mark with intent, this might be one of the best.

Chesterton often wrote about the power of thankfulness and here he gets to the heart of what gratitude really is by way of this lovely little word — wonder.  Do you remember the last time you were uplifted by wonderment?  The bright though brief days of childhood seem to hold the lion’s share of it for most of us.  Truly, I understand — realities of adulting can often numb us to simple mercies that fill our lives.  In a post from this past summer, I wrote that I want to daily be more gratefully aware of all the wonderful that surrounds me and flows from His loving kindness.  Even as I keep the long view of life in mind, it’s about taking notice of each small and good gift that graces our journey, noting the sacred in the midst of the secular, and allowing common simple goodness to foster as much delight as the exceptional.  Pausing to give thanks and pray.  To engage all of my senses as I see the beauty of each new day blooming alongside the thorns.  Because when happiness is humbly enjoyed with a profound sense of wonderment, it’s enlarged and leads to a profound sense of gratitude.

Continue reading

In the Margins {Just As We Are}

pearl in clam

Of all the invitations we might send or receive, there’s one that can’t be beat.  Four little words strung together like beautiful pearls  — “Come as you are”.  And just like pearls formed around something as seemingly unremarkable as a grain of sand, He always invites us to come as we are, but never leaves us the way we are.  At the heart of it all is the miracle of transformation and restoration.  Yes, this is for you and me; with our questions and doubts, rough edges and brokenness, but made in His image, created for so much more.   Full of grace, these simple words let us know there’s a special place with our name at the table.  We are welcome here.

Continue reading

In Quotes

“How beautifully the leaves grow old! How full of light and color are their later days!”

{John Burroughs}


fall tree 1

I found this quote at the back of a magazine last week as I waited in the doctor’s office on a gorgeous autumn morning.   Among others sitting in the room with me were several elderly people and, looking around at their faces, I thought about how each of them had a name and a story all their own.  They’ve celebrated many birthdays and no doubt earned every wrinkle around their eyes and each gray hair on their head.   They’ve seen countless sunrises and an equal number of sunsets; known ups and downs, joy and sorrow, laughter and tears, companionship and loneliness.   And I found myself hoping this quote described them too.

Continue reading

In Quotes

“A smooth sea never made a skillful sailor.”

{Old English Proverb}

 


ship in storm3

Is there anything in nature quite like the ocean to remind us of how small, how assailable we are?  I have very mixed emotions about the vastness of it all.  I don’t know how to swim.  So, a day by the sea usually involves sitting contentedly under an umbrella with a book in hand; soaking up the sound of rhythmic waves; the smell of salty air; and the panoramic view as banded shades of white, green, blue, and gray appear stacked on top of each other as far as the eye can see.   A walk on the beach in the surf’s ruffled edge;  collecting little treasures of driftwood, sea glass, and shells is pure relaxation.  How easy to lose track of time, lulled to sleep as the sun warms my face and seagulls call overhead. What’s not to love?

Continue reading