Monday, March 7, 2011

Counting Gifts - Week of March 7, 2011

I’m learning. I am SOOOOOO learning. And I’m fighting. Somewhere deep within my soul there is a war raging. So far in the past few weeks since reading this book two and a half times through, I have gone from awestruck, deeply convicted, doubting, this is for me, this is way beyond me, everything is right about this, this just can’t be right, this woman is crazy, this woman is so right on, I will do it no matter what, everything will change, nothing will change . . .. Well, you get the picture. But I can’t get away from it.

I open my Bible and there it is -- grace, thanks. I look at the cross and there it is -- all good, all grace, all for me, all the time. I look around me -- all blessings, all filtered through a hand of love, even what I don‘t understand, what I would turn from, what I would want to push away. Pastor’s sermon yesterday was out of Matthew 6, about the wise man who built his house upon the rock. Back to foundations again. Back to my life being built on God’s Word -- A Word that tells me God is love (was not that the first verse I ever learned?), God is light, and in Him is no darkness. And we CAN walk in the light, as He is in the light. And we can SEE. And no matter how fierce the storm, it’s the ROCK, all we know and believe and trust in to be true, that holds us up. He doesn’t always take away the storm, but He changes us as we stand firm on that foundation of His Word, and somehow, we come out of it all looking just a little more like Him. And so I keep on counting. . . One by one by one the gifts of grace keep piling up and I open my clenched fists a little wider to accept more. . .

40. Wild berry bushes in full bloom in the woods! I never knew they were there. I never slowed down to look and SEE! I can’t wait to go back when fruit appears. Will I beat the squirrels and birds????

41. Big holes dug in my newly planted bean gardens! Caught in the act! Isn’t it enough that I fill feeders every day? Or was he searching for the acorn he had stored away in that dirt???? Sorry, mister squirrel, I got them all out before planting my beans. Replanting today!

42. A surprise rain. Waking up to puddles, glistening grass, very green new leaves, and the smell of spring! Sunshine after rain, morning after night, add the duet of a wren and a cardinal, and you have a little bit of Heaven on earth!

43. Turning around in the post office only to find a dear friend, arms out holding a hug!

44. Taco salad for lunch!!!! Can’t get much better than that! Sorry Doc! I ate it all and it wasn’t diet! I’ll try better during the next 3 months! But for today my heart is sooooooo thankful for taco salad and for whoever invented these things!

45. Enough and a little more! He ALWAYS provides enough!

46. First signs of life on my Kiwi vines and Fig Tree! I was so sure those nasty freeze days had sucked the life out of these two and was ready to pull them out. But little green sprouts are pushing through the vines and branches and screaming, “We made it through!” I remember when I bought the Kiwi vines on an impulse last year. After planting, I read the info on these --- “may take up to 7 years before it starts producing!” Can I wait that long, tending to something that will take 6 more years??????

47. Crabby looking owl with his head all squished in his birdhouse doorway wondering what all the rucus is with the squirrels in the middle of the day!

48. Big, wet, smoochy kisses from Buster! Everyone needs a Buster in their life -- someone who thinks the world revolves around you, can’t live without you, howls and moans when you are gone. . .!!!

49. A great visit with my oncologist! (see Friday’s post). Always a time of thankfulness, gratefulness, memories, and a reminder of ALL God’s graces and goodness throughout my life. (An added thank you -- they forgot to weigh me!!!)

50. Baked potato with creamed peas. Comfort food to the max for me!!!! It had to be the BIGGEST of all potatoes I’ve ever seen. Smothered in butter, sour cream, salt, pepper. And creamed peas. . . . If you have never had them, you are missing the best of life!

51. Spam! I just KNOW most of you are going YUK! Here. But I am one of the few in the world who just loves it!!! Sliced nice and thin, fried crispy, etc. I love Spam burgers with fried onions, peppers, melted cheese on a fresh bun. I love it just on my plate with my potato and creamed peas. Any which way, I just like Spam. I can remember back “in the day” when we sliced it so thin you could see through it. One can would always have to do for everyone. Now, I don’t have it very often, but when I do, it goes on the list of thank you’s.

52. Word studies in the Bible. I never lose the awe and excitement of how a verse opens up like a flower and just blooms when I finally “get it!” I’m like a little kid who just learned something in school and wants to tell everyone!

53. The sound of my washing machine filling. Remembering those days waaaaay back when . . . . I’d help my Mom separate heaps of clothing into color groups, then we had an old wringer washer and we dumped the first pile in. I can still hear the constant warnings of keeping my fingers and hands away from the wringer!
Oh, what a process that was! It took forever! To say nothing of hanging it all outside in the freezing cold. My Mom’s hands were all red and wrinkled and chapped from being in that soapy water all day and then out in the weather with wooden clothespins, heavy baskets, and icy winds. Thank you, Lord, for my washing machine and dryer. Fluffy, soft, sweet smelling towels and sheets! I am so blessed!

54. Wisteria! OK, I know it’s been on every post this week, but what can I say? The scent is out of this world!
Today? It’s the pods. I’m fascinated with the tons of pods this vine produced this past year. Long, thick, velvety green pods hanging all through the winter. Not one fell off. But with the warmer days came “explosions!” Sounded like little cap guns. (remember those???) The harder-than-wood pods exploded, and seeds went flying, leaving a spiral twisted pod. I’m going to soak and plant a few seeds and see what happens.

55. Megan! A good week with chemo and a fun week with make-up!

56. Prescriptions and God’s grace in providing for me!

57. Baby squirrels playing --- in and out, in and out of their birdhouse home. Now I know where the saying came from about kids being too “squirrelly”!

58. Peppers --- Last year I had an abundance of green peppers, so I sliced them up and froze them for use later on. So glad I did! Today, they were $1.59 EACH. I think I will plant more pepper plants and guard them with my life and baby them through the summer! Who ever thought a stuffed pepper for supper would become so expensive to make?

59. Cawing of two crows at dusk. Can’t really call it a song, can you? But nobody ever told these two that they couldn’t sing!!!! There they are, on top of the highest pine tree, singing to each other their God-given song. I think they are in love!

60. Two cardinals at the feeder. I can hardly see them as the shadows fall into darkness. Always the last to feed at night and always the first to show up for breakfast.

61. Being washed in Heaven’s rain. Whiter than snow. Always available. No cost to me. Cost everything to God. But given in grace, lavishly.

62. Beautiful spring rain throughout the night bringing with it cooler, refreshing springy air.

63. Birds bathing in the new puddles in the driveway. So much fluff and splashing!!!!

64. My play list. Soul-settling music that melts frustrations to where I can “see” what is really in this moment and thank the Lord for it. As I learn to see what is in my moments, that all is from the Lord and given in grace, I’m finding I can at least SEE the futility and waste in the time and effort of being frustrated, up tight, and even downright crabby. When we get the point, that first step, of saying, “this is not worth it,” we can work on it. It’s just a miracle, simply amazing how a simple opening of the clenched hand to receive a gift of the moment can change everything! How did this get from play list to . . . .???? Maybe it’s the first song, “Moment by Moment, I’m kept in His love. . .” Such an old song and not heard much today.

65. The sound of eggs boiling on the stove as they gently hit the sides of the pan. Light blue, white, light brown, tan --- I love the colors ---- Perfect for decorating ---- shades of eggshell brown with a splash of light robin’s egg blue! I can see me now at the paint store with eggshells!

66. A young child teaches me how to pray. How many times now has it been the trusting prayer of a child that has moved me so deeply? Where did it all change --- the moment I thought I had to pray like a “grown-up?” When was that awful moment when I believed the lie that my simple, child-like prayer was not sufficient for God’s ears?

67. More hugs than I could count. A moment of kindness. A forever-imprint on my heart.

68. Songs and hymns that take me back ---- WAAAAY back. Like comfort food for the soul. Sung so many times growing up that I know all the verses. I never tire of them. They never grow old. Only deeper. I thought the hymnbook was boring as I grew up. I wanted the new songs, the new song books. Why is it, now that I’m old, out of date, out of step, and out of breath, I find my hymnbook always next to my Bible? Comfort food -- that’s it. If you are young, you won’t understand. If you are old, you are probably wiping tears like me when you hear, “Be not dismayed what e’er betide, God will take care of you!” Those are weird words when you are young -- “e’er betide” . But when you hear your ninety something year old grandmother singing it with tears running down her cheeks, somehow, “e’er betide” loses it blur and you just know what it means. . .!

Each week, hundreds of "gift counters" join together and make their lists available for others to see and rejoice over their findings. It has been such a blessing for me to get to know these people, to see what they have seen, and hear the testimonies of how all of this . . . all the graces bestowed on children of God. . .have drawn us closer to each other and closer to our Savior. Just click the button below and you will find the links to gift counters all over blogland!


Simple "T" said...

It sure is difficult on those days when life it hard trying to find the gifts. Trying to only think of today and not the future. Jesus said to only worry about today as tomorrow has its own issues. Anything I read outside the bible I have to be able to back it up with scripture.

Hang on to the word of God and he does give you grace. I am (walking) proof of his grace. I am no longer in satan bondage of fear and doom each day. I am so much calmer now that he has shown me his grace. But I do see satan as I get close to the lord, he is trying to put a damper on my peace. That will happen as he knows his time is short. Truly Short!

Prayers for the lord's continued grace for you and yours.

nancy huggins said...

I am not even sure what to say in my comment this time but I do know that all the things you are thankful for never really entered my head and I never really thought about it until I read yours...and I do have a few Busters in my house and your description fits them perfect and I know I am thankful for them every day :)

Lea said...

Cora .... I've been SO ENJOYING reading your GIFTS!!!!
Ya know I loved ya before...
But I love ya even more now that I know you too have a special hankerin for fried SPAM. lol

Holykisses to you and Busterooski.
God's good!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Megan said...

Cora, I enjoy the way you explain your blessings more than I even know how to express in words. Just know that I do. It's kind of like reading a Chicken Soup for the Soul book -- makes me laugh & cry & appreciate what I didn't see before. But the blessing of the old hymn books -- oh wow! These days so many churches don't even use them anymore -- just chant some kind of new repeating chorus. I find such comfort in the old hymns that I sing from memory. BTW: my good days are continuing :) Friend Megan

Anonymous said...

I so enjoyed your list! I could just picture all the animals and things in nature that you described. Thanks so much!

Lisa notes... said...

It sounds like the Lord is teaching you lots and lots of things and showing you lots and lots of gifts. Isn't he wonderful?

Paula said...

This was wonderful, Cora~ so many things on your Thankful List that I would have taken for granted... this has really ministered to me!
(Except Spam... you and Lea can have that. *LOL*)

Amy said...

What a wonderful list! The explanations helped me experience each one. Only problem: it's bedtime and now I'm craving a taco salad!! Blessings:)

Sam said...

My jar- was actually my husband's jar, and he emptied it to buy my Relevant ticket! Sweetest ever! Nice to "meet" you!

Puffin Hen said...

Cora, I loved your list today and in particular your joy in your garden, rain or shine. I have to get out and get planting this week! Thanks, too, for your post on Friday - you are in my prayers.

Many Blessings!

ByLightOfMoon said...

It is so good to see your blogging again. I sure had missed you! I know you will get the Bible down one day. It make take a lot of reads, not like a novel you just read, so much deeper meanings in the bible to understand.

I love your grace and the wisteria pod. I picked up a bunch on the ground at the arbor at the Plant Nursery last week. I will put them in my nature jars or whatever. I love collecting nature of the ground and not needed anymore. I might be fun to plant the seeds as you said!

we do have to to be grateful and thankful every day for what we have. Look at the stars in the sky EVERY night!
Smiles, Cyndi

Monica@DailyDwelling said...

Wow!! I love your list...the way I can feel the excitement you have over each blessing that you are counting.

Jennifer @ Studio JRU said...

"And so I keep on counting." I love that Cora! I love seeing all those first signs of life as spring nears. Love #48! So happy for #49! Baby squirrels are so cute. Yay for hugs. What a wonderful list! :)

Trish said...

It isn't always easy to see the gifts. Especially when we are broken and live in a messy world. As you keep counting, be will become easier and it will change your life.

If you have poked around my place at all, you will see that way back I too have struggled deeply and this practice has truly changed the way I see. He has changed the way I see, through this practice, I should say.

Thank you for stopping by today.

May you continue to be blessed as you seek Him.


Patti Hanan said...

Oh my goodness, Cora! When I read your message about building our house on the rock and facing storms, my jaw dropped. Isn't the Holy Spirit amazing! We wrote on the same theme! I feel that the Lord really wants to get this message out right now. We need to place our trust in him. He is the only one who can get us safely through the storms.

Sue@CountryPleasures said...

Gifts galore, amen! Great list Cora!

Natalie said...

What a beautiful and full list! Thank you for your sweet comment on my blog, Cora.

Martha said...

Cora, I love your list! So much to be thankful for when we just stop to notice.

I thought I might be alone in starting the book all over again. I am enjoying 1000 Gifts as much this second time as the first but this time I have a black pen in hand to underline those really special spots.

Thanks for stopping by to say hello.

Janis@Open My Ears Lord said...

What a beautiful blog you have!!! I just loved visiting here.

So true that the Lord does not change the storm but holds us and molds us through it. Good reminder.

And your list of gratitudes is heartwarming. Besides the time with friends and Buster, I liked the wild berries, wisteria, and red cardinals at the feeder.

I entered you in the drawing to win Ann's book as part of my celebration of One Year of Blogging.

Blessings to You,

Lindsey V said...

What a great list you have many things..all the things that remind me of spring...I have a Buster in my life too {my sister's dog}...and Ann is really one of those people who puts those challenges OUT THERE.

Oh...also glad that you had some great hugs too!

Raluca said...

Dear Cora,
thank you so much for visiting and commenting on my blog!
Have a safe life-trip from now on!
I wish you all the best, health and faith!!
God bless you!

Kathleen from Yesteryear Embroideries said...

I know how you feel...........going back and's going to be ok.........or is it? It's through these times that the Lord wants us to take His hand and have courage. In these difficult seems the hardest to do.....but that is where our faith is tested and our least I think so. You are certainly doing your part in giving hope and inspiration to others.........this wonderful blog.....full of sweet uplifting words! Bless you Cora. Blessings,Kathleen

shannon said...

Thanks for the comments at this morning! Your comments made me come look over here......great counting the gifts list!

Denise said...

Love this post today.. I so felt your heart......Inner struggles are something that we all face and go through each day.... Warring with thoughts and feelings and doubt and love and hate...... I have gone through so much of that since loosing both parents ..Questions and no answers...... Tears and pain with no relief some days...... but but but there is grace and hope and promise of tomorrow...... We do not live here we are just passing through......

You hang in there and seek after that Robins heart!

AND if you have any of those seeds laying around......would I love to have a wisteria! AND to have one from your yard!

Just a thought!

Have a blessed day.....Faith up.. strong in the Lord..... HE delights when we call on HIM...


See Jamie blog said...

Great list! And #45 -- very great!

Emily Joyce said...

Thank you so much for the sweet comment on my gift list :) It brightened my day. So did coming here and reading your list! You word everything so beautifully, it was a pleasure to read and see what God is doing in your life!

Craig said...

I know it’s Friday but I’m still here from Ann’s Multitude Monday link. I really try to read everybody – it’s impossible – but I try :) And you are so right – he doesn’t take away the storm. I like to say God never promised silver linings in storms – just to make rainbows from them.

My fave from the list by the way - 66. A young child teaches me how to pray. (because there is something about the faith of a child – we lose it when we get older – amen) {smile}

God Bless and Keep you and yours

Nana Jul said...

I really loved reading your list! You are right, we should all walk around with a notebook in hand...We would be astounded by the LORD's blessings all around! Seeking Jesus and writing 5 things I was thankful for in my journal each and every day was the beginning of a changed life for me.
Thanks for encouraging us...I have got to get that book now!

Anonymous said...

Hi Cora,

What a wonderful list of things to be thankful for. We have a good Father, and He does load us up with benefits daily! And the old ringer washer...we had one too, and my brother DID get his arm caught in it!

Thank you for stopping by and leaving such a kind comment. I'm very happy to meet you.

Blessings to you!

Lola said...

Thank you for visiting my blog (Sweet Life). I loved reading your list of blessings. I truly can see a heart that loves the Lord and all his gifts. Thank you for sharing. And I don't care how many times you mention wisteria...I love it but due to it's headstrong nature it is not in my garden so I must admire it from afar!
I hope your Sunday was beautiful. Have a lovely and blessed week.

Shelly @ Life on the Wild Side said...

I just love the honesty you show as you wrestle through the book. I know what you mean--I think I've probably had all of those thoughts at a time or two. Keep going!