Tag Archive | Joy

Give Thanks

Whew! What a busy season the past several months have been!

Several years ago, I realized I was taking many of God’s blessings for granted. Quite honestly, I often was not even noticing the numerous ways He was blessing. Noticing and recounting these gifts of grace and joy are not merely for my benefit, but really for God.  You see, God wants us to delight in Him. He wants us to praise Him. He wants us to fully seek Him. By intentionally looking for His blessings and becoming more aware of His everyday presence, I am overcome with humble gratitude and drawn near to God.

God blesses in unexpected ways, and I don’t want to be so wrapped up in busyness that I miss His handiwork! These gifts that bring joy come in all shapes and sizes, some obvious and others minute.

First and foremost, I am grateful for His salvation. I am unworthy of this eternal gift of His grace.

I will praise you forever, O God,
    for what you have done.
I will trust in your good name
    in the presence of your faithful people.
Psalm 52:9 NLT

The sweet aroma and colorful blossoms of honeysuckle were a pleasant surprise; I don’t recall honeysuckle ever blooming mid November at my home on the range. This was a beautiful bright spot in the mostly brown landscape accompanied by gray skies, a blessing from the Lord.

IMG_0780

Encouragement from a longtime friend, an unexpected email asking “How are you?”, songbird choir filling the air with joyful melody, a smile across the room from My Love, answered prayer, a call from a son just to chat, end of wheat planting and harvest, health and strength to help others, the opportunity to live in a country with hard fought freedoms, flexible schedule to give and serve others, beautiful sunsets, starlit sky, a sweet hug, and the list could go on and on because God lavishly blesses with His goodness to each and everyone of us. Take time to notice and give Him praise and thanks.

Give thanks to the Lord and proclaim his greatness.
    Let the whole world know what he has done.
 Sing to him; yes, sing his praises.
    Tell everyone about his wonderful deeds.
 Exult in his holy name;
    rejoice, you who worship the Lord.
 Search for the Lord and for his strength;
    continually seek him.
Psalm 105:1-4 NLT

Advertisements

Not My Plan

I was all prepared to spend a long evening on the tractor, but God had other plans. These clouds passed over the field with darker ones building and following close behind dumping buckets of rain.

image

I only remember using windshield wipers a couple times in the tractor, so it took some looking for the right switch. At first the wipers and sprinkles made mud on the glass, but soon the rain had it washed. By the time I made it to the field’s edge and pickup, it was an all out downpour! Obviously my evening plans were changed!

On my way home, I was thinking of how often my plans are not God’s plans. This rain not only changed plans for this evening, but for tomorrow as well.

Isaiah 55:8 says, “For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways,” declares the Lord

God wants us to seek and call upon Him (vs 6). Do I daily seek God and His direction, or am I too caught up in making my own plans and to-do list?

“As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.” Isaiah 55:9

As a farmer during planting season, the next verse in Isaiah 55 speaks volumes to me. Many variables are out of my control when it comes to getting a good harvest, but God IS in control.

“As the rain and the snow come down from heaven, and do not return to it without watering the earth and making it bud and flourish, so that it yields seed for the sower and bread for the eater…”

When I give up control and truly seek God, His purpose will be evident in my life.
“…my word that goes out from my mouth: It will not return to me empty, but will accomplish what I desire and achieve the purpose for which I sent it. You will go out in joy and be led forth in peace; the mountains and hills will burst into song before you,
and all the trees of the field will clap their hands.” Isaiah 55:11-12

Joy, peace, and bursting forth with song, that’s the life I want to live! God’s plan, not mine!

 

Refuge

image

This guy is taking refuge from the rain in the skirt of my porch curtain.

When the rains come in your life, where do you take refuge?

But let all who take refuge in you [God] rejoice; let them sing joyful praises forever. Spread your protection over them, that all who love your name may be filled with joy. Psalm:5:11

Joy to the World

Are you full of joy this Christmas, or are you struggling to be joyful about anything? For some this coming week will bring family and friends together in great celebration. For others, it may seem terribly long and lonely. Let’s be honest; some days are extremely difficult to be joyful. Those are the days I must intentionally find my joy in Jesus. He gives strength to get through the darkest times, and for that, as the psalmist writes, my heart is filled with joy,

The Lord is my strength and shield.
    I trust him with all my heart.
He helps me, and my heart is filled with joy.
    I burst out in songs of thanksgiving. Psalm 28:7 NLT

Christmas is less than a week away, no matter what your circumstances, look for the joy of Jesus. In Luke 2, the angel brought the good news of great joy.

That night there were shepherds staying in the fields nearby, guarding their flocks of sheep. Suddenly, an angel of the Lord appeared among them, and the radiance of the Lord’s glory surrounded them. They were terrified, 10 but the angel reassured them. “Don’t be afraid!” he said. “I bring you good news that will bring great joy to all people. 11 The Savior—yes, the Messiah, the Lord—has been born today in Bethlehem, the city of David! 12 And you will recognize him by this sign: You will find a baby wrapped snugly in strips of cloth, lying in a manger.”  Luke 2:8-12 NLT

joy to the world

Sky

For ever since the world was created, people have seen the earth and sky. Through everything God made, they can clearly see his invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature. So they have no excuse for not knowing God.
Romans 1:20 NLT

Image

No power in the sky above or in the earth below—indeed, nothing in all creation will ever be able to separate us from the love of God that is revealed in Christ Jesus our Lord.
Romans 8:39 NLT

Servant Heart

servant1

This quote has been on my refrigerator for many years. I would love to give credit, but I do not remember when or where I first heard it. I do know that I heard it at a time when I needed such a reminder, because I was begrudging my duties. When one is in a position of service and the recipient makes demands  or takes the service for granted, the servant can easily lose joy in serving.

There have been numerous times throughout the years, when I needed to check my reaction as I served my family and others. Sometimes I would make a special dinner, but my hubby and children didn’t seem to even notice the extra effort and care I had put in for them. When we had company, my dysfunctional kitchen didn’t allow for much help from others. As I was working, I would be able to hear laughter coming from the living room. The laughter should have put me in a good mood, but  occasionally I allowed the opposite. I would allow myself to feel left out, missing the fun, while I did all the work.

Did you notice how many times I referred to “I” in the above paragraph? That was intentional, because when we are serving with a servant heart our thoughts and motives should not and will not be on ourselves. The Bible has much to say about serving God and others, and we are never told to serve for our own praise, recognition or advancement. Instead, we are told to serve each other humbly and with love.

All of you, serve each other in humility, for God opposes the proud but favors the humble. 1 Peter 5:5

…use your freedom to serve one another in love. Galatians 5:13

This little quote will remain on my frig door until I have it mastered. If you wonder if you  have a servant heart, think of your reaction when someone treats you as a servant.

Finished and Delivered

After three years, it is finished and hand delivered! That is two years ahead of schedule, or a year late depending what your view is. Oh goodness! I’m getting ahead of myself.

It all began as a dream when God blessed me with a daughter in the midst of three brothers. I wanted to piece and hand stitch a double wedding ring quilt for her wedding present. I purchased fabric 3 years ago, and let it sit untouched for several months. Finally, I found the courage to begin cutting all the beautiful fabrics. I was filled with doubt and reservation fearing I’d mess it up. I managed to get the pieces cut and sewn together forming the quilt top in time for my daughter’s last wedding shower. She was quite surprised as I was able to do most of the piecing while she was on the other side of the world, and I kept it out of site when she was home, (Read more here: Double Wedding Ring Quilt)

Last January, I began hand quilting the sandwiched top, batting, and back. Some women can sit and stitch day on end completing a quilt in a week or two. Not me! I stitch slow, and might get a day here or there that can be mostly spent quilting. However, most days I was only stitching a few minutes to an hour, and when summer rolled around, the quilt was all but forgotten. I basically took a four month vacation from quilting, while I gardened, farmed, mowed lawn, and remodeled the hall and bathroom. I simply threw a sheet over the quilt in quilt frames to keep it from getting dusty. It was there ready and waiting for stitching in the Fall.

While working on this quilt, I spent many hours reminiscing and praying for my daughter. I also recognized a few things about myself. I can have a great idea or plan, but I can delay beginning due to fear of messing it up or not being satisfied with the end product. I am so thankful for the coaching and encouragement I received along the way. I did have some mess ups, and a few connecting points don’t look the best. The quilt is far from stitching perfection, but I’d like to think those little mistakes give it character. (Sorry if that comment made some of you expert quilters gasp.) I also learned the benefit of breaking down a big goal into several benchmark achievements. The big picture can be so overwhelming, but when I set realistic goals for specific steps (cutting, stitching arcs, piecing to filler pieces, completing the top, quilting one row…) it was not as daunting. These were not new self-discoveries, but it had been awhile since I was this challenged to work through some of my weaknesses, doubts, and fears. The bottom line was that I wanted this quilt gift to be perfect for my only daughter, and I knew before I began that it would be far from perfect.

Quilts often tell a story. This one can be symbolic of relationships. God chose me to be the Perfect Imperfect mother of my dear daughter, and He chose her to be my Perfect Imperfect daughter. Those imperfections have been the tool to cause us to grow as individuals, and as mother and daughter. The double wedding ring pattern is symbolic of the love that binds a marriage. However, there is no marriage that does not encounter difficult times. In the Bible and first chapter of his book, James says, “when troubles come your way, consider it an opportunity for great joy.  For you know that when your faith is tested, your endurance has a chance to grow.”  James 1:2, 3 NLT  If my daughter notices the imperfections in her quilt, I hope she is reminded  to depend on God to help hold the stitches tight, rather than let her marriage unravel.

I put in the last binding stitches just a couple days before we celebrated Christmas with our family. It was such a delight to be able to hand deliver this quilt just a couple weeks after my daughter’s 1st wedding anniversary. Through determination and perseverance, this Double Wedding Ring quilt was finished and delivered!

DSC01960

DSC01961