Monday, May 2, 2011

Gifts --- They Just Keep Coming. . .

I’m not one who takes risks. I don’t go near the edge of the nest. I don’t leave my comfort zones. In fact, I protect my comfort zones. I make them more comfortable. I make them harder to leave. But this week, the walls were penetrated. At least three times the Lord knocked on the door of my heart and asked me to do something. Nothing big. Nothing life threatening. Nothing that was costly. Not even a long term commitment. And I said no. Three times. And in my heart, I sat with Peter and heard the cock crow. And I knew that I knew nothing of Calvary love. It’s easy to say I will pray for someone or for a situation when nothing is required of me -- not even my presence. It’s easy to say I care when I don’t have to do something. And here, so soon after celebrating the Cross, a time when Christ poured out everything for me, and I wear a necklace that says “By Grace Alone,” I can’t extend a little grace to another???? I thought I knew that I knew. I thought I was better than that. But when put to the test, I didn’t hold up.

Grace! Yet again, He was there. “The LORD sustains all who fall and raises up all who are bowed down.” (from Psalm 145.14). Somewhere in that word, ALL, I found myself. Fallen. . . And being raised up. Arms that reach, and keep on reaching. . . All the way to ME.

And so I keep on counting. . . Because in spite of ME, He just keeps on giving. . .

335. Left over casserole from last night’s Church supper.

336. Green beans from last year’s garden. Still so good!

337. Glistening drops of rain as the sun was shining through them.

338. Rolling thunder in the distance.

339. Birds excitedly romping through wet leaves on the trees, taking showers, then shaking dry.

340. How all is quiet through the storm, then one bird announces the end with what sounds like an “all is clear” signal, and the songs start.

341. How rain seems to do such a better job at watering plants than all my watering can do.

342. Buster’s sleepy head on my feet --- always right there. I’m never out of his sight.

343. Shiny green peppers growing on my plants.

344. Hearing the song of the Whipoorwill late at night. Reminds me of childhood, camping, fireplaces, roasted marshmallows, sleeping in tents and hearing all the sounds of the night. In a few weeks, I’ll want to shoot the thing. I know he won’t shut up until fall.

345. Watching sycamore tree leaves dancing in a morning’s breezes. They are medium sized already. Hard to imagine they will hang on for about another six months through blazing sun, heat, storms wind. All is right for one fragile, insignificant leaf as long as it is securely attached to the tree. A lesson here for ME?

346. Buzzer announcing laundry is finished. For me, it’s the best invention of mankind --- automatic washing machines!

347. Choices! After watching the Hallmark movie about the teacher to homeless children, I am aware of how blessed I am. Just to have a CHOICE of what to have for dinner tonight. I know nothing of hunger when I say I am hungry.

348. Those who are doing something about it, the best they can, in small ways, making a difference one meal at a time.

349. Hearing about a local ministry feeding and clothing the homeless, and the generous outpouring of the community to help.

350. Cucumbers almost ready to pick.

351. Wild grape vines full of millions of little grape clusters. We had some grapes last year, but it looks like a bumper crop this year.

352. The smell of meat loaf cooking. Tonight will be good, tomorrow will be even better with meat loaf sandwiches.

353. Tuning in at just the right moment to watch the Decorah eagle bring in dinner for the family, followed by nest repair (moving a stick from here to there), dumping trash over the side, and seeing happy, full tummies settle in for a nap. They all make me nervous. Hearing the wind howl, seeing the nest swaying, babies getting too close to the edge, Momma not coming back to the nest for long periods, snow covering the babies and Momma, etc. ---- how in the world do they make it? But I cheer them on. And I feel all cozy and safe when I watch those little ones snuggle under her wings as she fluffs up the nest’s sides around her. I find myself humming, “Under His Wings I am safely abiding, when the night deepens and tempests are wild. Still I can trust Him, I know He will keep me. He has redeemed me and I am His child.”

354. A late supper visit from Mrs. Wren along with a beautiful song.

355. Discovering baby cardinals have hatched on my porch.

356. Streams of gold from a setting sun finding a pathway through thick leaves.

357. How God keeps working on me, even when I’m stubborn, stupid, and full of me.

358. How others encourage with insight, experience, and just the right words.

359. How glad I am that Romans 8:1 follows Romans 7.

360. A surprise package in the mail: a toy for Buster, seeds for my garden, a card of encouragement. . . . And three rusty nails. A long story. Something shared between friends. But those three nails mean everything to me -- Grace poured out til it reached even me! Thank you, Lea!

361. Picking cucumbers, zuchinni, yellow squash, swiss chard, and lettuce at the U-pick farm. It was such a beautiful, breezy day!

362. Sunflowers growing as big as trees! I’ve never seen such HUGE ones.

363. Bluebirds nesting in a watering can.

364. Listening to a calf hollering because the young farmer girl was late in bringing him his breakfast of sliced yellow squash.

365. Lunch out with my sister.

366. Fresh salad. REALLY fresh!

367. Watching momma cardinal feed three ----- mouths --- that’s all I could see --- wide open mouths came up together.

368. Poppa cardinal singing close by as momma did the feeding.

369. Scrubbies on sponges. What did we do before scrubbies???? I remember those curlie wire things with Comet cleanser. Give me green scrubbies any day!

370. Cleaning up the yard of fallen trees, limbs, leaves, vines, etc. Hard, sweaty work, but much needed. Thanks to brother-in-law who hauled, took down tree trunks, dumped, etc. Thanks to sis who do what sister’s do --- help pull, tug and sweat along side of you!

371. Wondering how I would move a heavy dresser and finding it had wheels on the bottom.

372. Being confronted with opportunities to serve and finding my comfort zones are too comfortable and the walls around them well fortified and protected. A time of soul searching for me, learning what love really is, what it is not, how it serves, how it moves OUT of comfort zones and takes risks.

Please click on the link below to join in with others who are counting their gratitudes with Ann VosKamp, author of the best selling book, 1000 Gifts!


Megan said...

Hey, I'm the first one to comment today! I can't believe it! You are so observant, Cora. I'm truly in awe of your birdwatching skills. It makes me more observant of the nature of birds by reading what you post. I love the part where you said one bird gives the "all's clear" signal after a thunderstorm. How cool! Don't beat yourself up for being too much in your comfort zone. Hands up! We are all guilty. Thankfully, we get another chance today, tomorrow and the next day. God is good to us that way. And... God Bless the USA :) -Megan-

Kristin Bridgman said...

Dear Cora,
Again a wonderful list! And, I don't know if God is calling you to something or not, but KNOW that you are doing Him great honor by your blog. You have blessed me so much and so I know you are blessing countless others. And by your prayers, others are blessed. Don't think that you are not doing anything because you feel you are sitting in a comfort zone. My post tomorrow is on just this topic. I hope it inspires you, but just listen to the Holy Spirit. He will guide you and give you boldness and courage when He is directing you out of that comfort zone.
Thank you for being such a blessing to me. Many more blessings to you! :)

Patti Hanan said...

Cora, Your list is so beautiful. And the picture of the baby birds is precious! I, too, have been in the place of Peter, saying no to my Lord, and he is right there to forgive me and pick me up. I love how you say "How God keeps working on me, even when I’m stubborn, stupid, and full of me."
Amen to that!

Amy said...

Beautiful and so full of spring. I did laugh at discovering wheels under the dresser you were trying to move:)

Miko's Girl said...

As guilt is a tool of the devil, repent, accept forgiveness and keep your eyes open for the next time God knocks on your door.

I always love your lists. I've never seen a bluebird so I'm asking you to post a picture of the bluebirds in your water can. A lady cardinal was scrounging for nesting material last week. I thought I would help by making a pile for her - she turned her beak up at it all.

My washing machine is a Samsung and it chimes a tune when the wash is done. Having helped with washing day with my Momma, Grandma, and Aunts, I truly appreciate the conveniences of my home. But, I do wish my neighborhood would allow a clothes line. I miss the smell of sun dried sheets.

Garden Lady said...

His mercies new and fresh every morning. Isn't it wonderful that we don't have to earn his grace? I love your list and the picture of the little baby birds.

nancy huggins said...

i enjoy reading your lists and it does make me think about how I don't realize all the things that you do..and I think you should add Buster to every list you make..He is the one that comforted you when you needed him and didn't have to say a single word. Thank you for sharing Cora and reminding us all of so many things to be thankful for..I could never do as good a job of making a list like yours but realize I am thankful for many of the same things you are thankful for :)

Christina said...

Enjoyed your list again:) The last one I can so relate to as God has been working on me in that area as well. Thanks for your encouraging words:)

Jennifer said...

This is a lovely post from your heart, Cora. Thank you for sharing; I get too comfortable in my little nest, too and forget that this life is really all about love.

Do you know, I make meatloaf sometimes just so I can have cold meatloaf sandwiches with mustard the next day?!! Yum!

And I love your bird photos and stories, too.

dsblanchard said...


I just came from Craig's after reading your comment to him today (Wednesday). You have tremendous gifts of knowledge (I Corinthians 12:8b) You know things/sense things that are going on that most of us miss. You knew something was wrong at Craig's yesterday. I didn't suspect a thing. Reading the comments here today, I see that others commend your powers of observation and intercession when that gift of knowledge manifests itself. You may not be meant to "go out" to do anything other than what you are doing. However, I believe you will know if you are because you have that gift of the Spirit. Wait on Him, dear Cora. He is leading you and you know the voice of the shepherd. Trust!

Much love,

Lea said...

Oh Cora, reading your gifts brought tears tonight. Nesting in a watercan? Mmmmm.... gift after gift.... my heart was warmed.
I think I've gotten back to closing my eyes too much to the gifts around me. Funny how quickly we can go back to our old ways.
Thankyou for inspiring me on so many levels. Your truth... love for God, transparency and friendship always gets me.
I love ya girl.
and that goofy dog too.
holykisses xoxoxoxo