Monday, March 21, 2011

Gifts of Gratitude - Week of March 21, 2011

Never lose an opportunity for seeing anything that is beautiful; for beauty is God’s handwriting -- welcome it in every fair face, in every fair sky, in every fair flower, And thank God for it as a cup of His blessing.: -- Ralph Waldo Emerson

Though I feel I'm becoming much more aware of the blessings that continually pour into my life moment by moment, I'm afraid I've missed so many more. I don't write them down immediately, thinking I'll do it later because I won't forget THAT one --- and I do forget --- a blessing lost. One that I clutched in my hands for a moment but never offered my thanks or thought it worth of a moment of my time to write it down. Strange paradox going on inside of me -- the more thankful I become and the more I SEE, the more aware I am of my unthankfulness. I think of the song we used to sing every single day when I was in the third grade:

Father, we thank Thee for the night,
And for the pleasant morning light;
For rest and food and loving care,
And all that makes the world so fair.

Help us to do the things we should,
To be to others kind and good;
In all we do, in work or play,
To love Thee better day by day.

I had not thought of that little song in a million years (yeah, I'm THAT old!). But it has been going over and over in my head lately and I wondered about third grade. It was the year of huge changes in my life -- my mother died, our household increased from 5 kids to eight as my aunt came to care for us, changes in schools, etc. Hard things for an 8 year old to grasp and put into the perspective of thanks to a God who allows all things for my good. Yet, I had a teacher who taught us songs of thanks, to pray simply, and to live to be kind and good. Thank you, Miss Chilton!
And so my list continues:

99. A men’s chorus of 4 cardinals, all serenading 1 little female. I wonder if any one of these impressed her enough to set up housekeeping with. The song was beautiful, and she sat with perfect manners and listened to the end. Reminded me of the judges on American Idol!

100. A stinging hurt with questions of why? To embrace it means to hug tightly a bush full of thorns. Can I do that? I’ll have to come back to this one. It’s here -- in writing -- so I won’t forget and sweep it under the rug!

101. A gift --- from Sylvester --- my neighbor’s cat! I’m feeding him while they are away, and his thoughtful thank you gift for all my troubles was a rat. He was thoughtful enough to kill it first, and to remove the head. I’m so sorry, Cheryl. I tried. But I just COULDN’T pick it up and toss it!

102. Promise of prayers and words of encouragement from a dear friend.

103. Fresh, tender mustard greens. Weeks ago, while shopping through Lowe’s, I saw little mustard green plants. I bought 6 and planted them. I didn’t know they are considered “winter” crops here in Florida.
But I left them in anyways. We’ve had some cooler weather, so they did well. I picked as many leaves as
I could without killing off the plants, and cooked them up for supper tonight. Barely ‘nuf for one, but they were just the best ever. NOTHING like the canned, or the frozen in bags, or the bitter, old “fresh” stuff from the grocery store. This was sweet and tender. . . . Drooling good!!!!

104. And to go with my tiny serving of greens --- Harvard beets, left over diced baked potato rebaked in olive oil and seasonings, baked chicken breast. All the very best!

105. Blogs, more blogs, more lists of gratitudes. . . . All heart lifters, soul refreshers, eye fillers, and day huggers!

106. God’s constant provision from unexpected places. Answered prayer for one sends ripples of blessing to many. . . Including little old ME!

107. Sunny mornings, Buster squinting (does he need sunglasses???)

108. Finding a $100.00 Savings bond in an old book of mine. Why in the world would I put it in a book, of all places???? As if I would remember that. Can’t remember where I put my keys, no less a savings bond. But it’s been safe and unspent all these years. Like getting a gift!!! No, it IS a gift!

109. A HUGE garbage bag full of burrs pulled from my backyard. I thought I pulled them all last year. . . . Hmmmmm!!!! I was having a hard time saying thank you for this one as I was standing on my head in the hot sun pulling these little suckers, but now that I’m cooled off, I’m VERY thankful they won’t be in my feet (or Buster’s).

110. A friend who went out of their way to mail me an “absolutely, positively has to be here by Saturday” item that I needed for a gift.

111. That Jesus “let go” of everything for ME! Thank you, Craig! Isn’t it just like the Lord to bring something onto someone’s blog that just strikes you like this, and then. . . . WHAM! Like a slap on the back of my head. . . I need to let go of some things. There stands the Lord with the list. . . And a gentle, “Will you for MY sake?”

112. Pastor’s testimony of leading hard-core bikers to the Lord this week. God has given him a special gift and a special ministry to reach these guys. It is amazing and jaw-dropping to hear the stories and how God arranges it all. Even more amazing to see the depths of tenderness and concern and love in this biker/pastor’s heart.

113. Mac and cheese, meatballs and sauce. Comfort food to the max!

114. Waking up to a bird’s song --- long before sunrise. Unusual for me to be up so early. It’s light now, traffic has begun, and this guy is still singing away. Sometimes low and soft, almost like muttering to himself, other times loud and proud. I wonder how many songs he knows and which he likes best???

115. Buster’s thumping tail when he realizes I’m awake. Nothing else moves. Just wide eyes waiting and a thumping, happy tail!!! Why did I open my eyes???? He saw my eyes. I’m so loved!

116. A greater awareness of the Cross, the cost of the grace offered me, the love that embraces me.

117. Learning to keep my prayers simple, honest and “without ceasing!”

118. Learning patience while waiting for radish plants to produce radishes.

119. Having to say good-by as the wisteria blossoms drop to the ground one by one by one. This was a hard one.
I’ll have to wait a whole ‘nuther year.

120. Saying hello to unexpected roses. As hard as I try, I can’t seem to kill them off!

121. A surprise deep in the woods. A young Magnolia tree (teen age in size) had survived the unusual freezes of our winter. I couldn’t help but wonder how it got there --- I don’t think any of our neighbors have magnolia trees. One little seed one day just happened to land there and let God do His thing --- all alone and in silence where no one would notice, appreciate or give thanks! Probably years had passed with changing seasons of drought, rain, cold, warm -- never offered even a caring glance. Today it changed. I saw, I noticed, and I gave thanks. Not so much for the tree, but because I really SAW!

122. Teamwork! On my way to the grocery store, I saw two people who seemly were trying to climb a telephone pole! I recognized them immediately from church and they were putting up signs that would direct people from the community to our picnic/cookout on Sunday! I don’t know why, but it just made me start laughing. I’m not sure who ended up with the easier job --- the crabby gourmet trying to make ten pounds of potatoes into potato salad (ME), or these two climbing telephone poles!

123. Potato salad. MOUNTAINS of potatoes, LOTS of peels for the compost pile. LOTS of looking forward to tomorrow’s picnic after the morning service. LOTS of thanks to the Lord that this job was done!

124. Help of a friend cutting onions, celery, peppers, etc.

125. The most beautiful day you could EVER ask for for an after church cookout.

126. Seeing people stop by, young and old, bikers and suits, and welcomed with hugs, hot dogs, and horse rides!

127. Liz and Dan who took on a servant’s heart and joyfully went above and beyond to make today one we all will never forget.

128. Pastor’s sermon this morning! I’m not a person who shows much feeling on the outside. I was raised by very strict, Dutch parents who believed that you kept your mouth shut, your feet still, your arms by your side while in church. No “Amens”, no raised arms or hands, etc. I got many an elbow in my ribs for just crossing my legs too many times! But today? . . . . It had to rate up there as being one of those times when I felt I wanted to at least shout, YES!!!! There it was . . . Of all places, in II Kings 6:18. Elisha prayed to the Lord for his servant saying, “Lord, I pray thee, open his eyes that he may see.” And the story ends with the servant opening his eyes and seeing the horses and chariots of fire. First, I thanked the Lord for yet another conformation from Scripture of Ann’s book. Second, I asked Him to open MY eyes to see, REALLY see that He is always there in every situation. Third, I asked that somehow, no matter how hard or difficult it may be, that I would be changed through each one.

129. For sweet fellowship and the testimony of a lady’s love for the Lord. Hardships beyond that I could ever
Comprehend, yet a trust and thankful heart for all that God has done for her.

130. The grace of deep cleansing and the love of forgiveness. Over and over again. Always given. But at such a price!

There are hundreds of people who just keep counting the gifts they have learned to see in the moments of their lives. I've found it the most soul-lifting experience to read these lists. .. . perhaps you would like to read them too! You will a list of these gift counters by cliking on the link:


-t- said...

the joy in the counting never ceases... as we count we praise and the prayers are never ceasing too! joy!

in the quiet stillness after reading Mr. Emerson's quote i heard this Sacred echo of Psalm 23:

You anoint my head with oil;
my cup overflows.
6 Surely your goodness and love will follow me
all the days of my life,
and I will dwell in the house of the LORD

#100 - i see a crown of thorns on my Savior and i hear His prayer of the night before, “Abba, Father,” he said, “everything is possible for you. Take this cup from me. Yet not what I will, but what you will.” Mark 14:36

#107 if you buy Buster sunglasses please share a picture :}

His never ceasing blessings to you!

Unknown said...

Oh the joy of our bird friends. Would love to have awaken to his singing or overheard the Cardinal Chorus.

Laughed along with your pole climbing church partners.

Thanks for the smiles!

Southern Gal said...

The wisteria haven't bloomed yet here. The azaleas are trying. Your list is intricate in detail. So lovely.

Jodi said...

Thank you for that litte prayer song. I think I'd like to print it out for my grand-daughter.

Amy W Thornton said...

Thank you for this Cora. And for including mustard greens on your list. I haven't had tender young ones in so long. Reminded me of home and childhood. What a nice little ray of sunshine into my evening. Thank you!

Elizabeth Ann @ Elizabeth Ann's Recipe Box said...

I LOVE #115! :-)

Unknown said...

Hi Cora - thanks for watching out for me... I like that Pink Slipper project you have posted.

Jennifer {Studio JRU} said...

Oh how I love to listen to cardinals! Prayers from a friend, what a priceless, precious gift. Such a blessing to have a friend like that!

Leaon Mary said...

With every "gift" I read, I just smiled bigger and bigger. I love what your shared about the affirmation you got from the word and Anns book as well. -- Mmmm! Open our eyes Lord!!!
Please tell me you love pickled beets. I'm a beet girl too! YumO!

Miranda said...

What a lovely list!!! My favorite had to be tail-thumping Buster in the morning... The same thing happens with my Darcy when I'm waking up (but not really wanting to get up yet...) Oh, the blessing of dogs!!! : ) After you mentioned Buster on my blog I had to see this guy (thanks for stopping by my blog, by the way. I'm so glad you enjoyed the post!)... so I looked at some of your Buster posts, and he is quite the handsome fella!! I love chocolate labs!
I hope you have a blessed week!

Cora said...

Hi!! Thanks for sharing your blessings. We have so much to be thankful for and its good to see fellow bloggers acknowledging their Lord and all His many gifts. I recognized that little song and the tune right away...thanks for the reminder. I had to smile about the mustard greens...we grew some by mistake from seed that was sold to us as turnip seed. We knew they looked funny and wondered why they did not grow any roots. After searching the net I discoverd they were mustard and pretty good in taste! :)

Good job on your blog...I enjoyed it! Many more blessings to you and yours!
PS....I like your name :)

Kara said...

Oh how your garden sounds lovely! You are really making miss the south!!!!! :)

Your list was so, so beautiful. I started reading it last night and got interrupted, so I returned to finish this morning. I am blessed because of your counting.

The people climbing the pole really made me smile. I needed that!


Megan said...

When I saw the song you posted, I remembered it. Just like that, I was back in grade school, singing. Can you imagine? We used to sing that song in a public grade school. What I can't imagine is that you lost your mother when you were in the 3rd grade. That's too dark to even imagine. Wow! Your wisteria blossoms fell off, and our star magnolia blossoms fell, but spring has indeed arrived! I love the storytelling way you express your blessings. It just makes my week. I find myself thinking about them as I travel to work. They just pop into my head, "Oh, see that cardinal? I remember Cora's blessing about the cardinal singing this morning." -Megan-

EM said...

wow! wat a list. and you forgot to write some down? I've been suffering the same ailment of not recording my gratitude in the moment and not having much evidence of my gratitude. Did you take that picture? Stunning! Great to have you at redeemed days... you must be subscribed as I didn't get linked up this week... I'm honoured you visited.

Sherry said...

what beautiful blessings! I'm from a NJ dutch family too. Good to find you!

Christina said...

I always live the little things you list, like things in nature and especially comfort food:) I also like how you notice things others do and the ways you learn from them. Thanks for the blessing!

Unknown said...

Hi thank you so much for stopping by my blog and leaving such kind words. I love your list! It is so very inspiring. I have written down your little song as I think it brings to mind all that we must thank God for in our lives. Thank you for sharing your list. Have a wonderful day!

Flannel Jammies Farm said...

Cora, thanks for stopping by Flannel Jammies Farm! The bean recipe: soak a cup or two of dried cranberry beans in water overnight. Drain, dump into the crockpot, cover with vegetable broth, and cook on low all day. So easy and so yummy to come home to! I loved your #117: 'Learning to keep my prayers simple, honest and “without ceasing!”' Peace and Joy to you!

Primitives By The Light of The Moon said...

Counting your blessing one by one....We all have so much to be thankful for even in the smallest of things.
Not sure about that headless rat?!?! LOL

Loved reading all of your post...such a blessing.

Anonymous said...

Thank you for your visit, Cora. You made my day! :)

Marci said...

You write so beautifully that I'm trying not to compare!! Wow! There is joy in the discipline of counting! Love your post! thankful :)

Shelly Wildman said...

What a beautiful, beautiful list, Cora. It inspires me to keep going.

Thanks for visiting me today!

Tammy@Simple Southern Happiness said...

I was raised like that too, be quiet and listen and not to say a word while in church. This also... sad to say, was much the life at home as well. Children should be seen and not heard.

I have found a church that is a bit more relaxed, we do say (above a whisper) AMEN and Yes!

I love your photo of the red bird, so peaceful.

I hope you have a blessed day.

Lisa Easterling said...

Hello, neighbor! What a joy to find your lovely comment today. I'm in New Port Richey, just down the road a bit. :)

Thank you so much for taking the time to leave your thoughts. You said you went away blessed, which left me feeling rather blessed, too.

Much love to you,
Lisa @ Write, Pray, Love

Jamie said...

What a wonderful list! So much to be thankful for. I'm enjoying taking the time to recognize God's goodness.

Thanks for stopping by my blog. I appreciate you visiting.

Janis Van Keuren said...

Hi Cora,
Thank you for your encouraging comment on my blog. When I came back to visit, it seemed I had been here before. I remember the beautiful roses and lovely chair design of your blog~so feminine! It's a comforting place to rest a bit.
Your list of gratitudes is remarkable. A story in each one. I liked the one about the sermon best.
The Spirit was filling you with joy!
Look forward to stopping by again,

Jessica White said...

I don't blame you for the rat!

I, too, think and notice gifst, and before I can write them down to reflect on them...POOF! They're gone.

Twinside Out said...

Thank you for stopping by my blog, and leaving such a sweet note! I love your list of gifts, especially the potato salad. I can imagine that ten pounds of potatoes translates into a lot of peels!! Sounds like it was a lovely cookout.

Rhonda Schrock said...

It's transformational, isn't it, Cora? A tough spiritual discipline at times, but it's like a face lift for the inside (and the outside, too, I think).

Oh, bless you greatly as you keep on by one by one...the traces of God in your life.



Violet N. said...

Cora, I loved your list...entering into the riches of your life as the music flowed around me from your player. Thank you!

And thanks, too, for coming by my blog and leaving a note. Bless you!

Hannah Avery said...

Thanks for your comment on my blog. I think you made me hungry mentioning all that great-sounding food! Blessings today!


Mrs. B said...

I thought I would 'visit you back'! I must say, number 100 really hit home with me! Very full eyes as I continued to read your list.. sometimes those thorny bushes are just so stinkin' hard to embrace.

Craig said...

First of all I win!! I know you really aren’t a million years old? But I am – so I’m way older. :) And amen for looking fr him and “doing” for him every moment. Impossible – but a human’s reach should exceed their grasp…

My fave was: 124. Help of a friend cutting onions, celery, peppers, etc. – because it seems like there was so much teamwork going on – what a good day – fellowship – we need that – you helped make it happen – and you had help. That sings praise :)

God Bless and keep you
May His face shine upon you…
and all of yours.

PianoPlayer said...

Sylvester just really loves to share with others. ha ha ha Thanks again for taking care of him and Buddy.