Tuesday, July 05, 2011

Cultivating Gratitude

Recently a friend and mentor of mine shared with me about a book she is reading called One Thousand Gifts.  The author, recognizing her ungrateful heart and attitude toward life (boy, did that description pluck a convicting heart string!) set out to create a list of one thousand things for which she was grateful.  One Thousand.  That's a mighty long list.

As I listened to Sheri share about this book and a bit of the author's experience of experiencing God in the present, I became inspired to challenge myself to do likewise.   

Ungrateful heart?  Complaining and grumbling spirit?  Guilty, guilty, and guilty.  Grandpa Adam, Grandma Eve, I'm lookin' at you.  It's been there since the beginning.  Do you think my first word was "mine" or "thanks"? 

And so I put my hands to the plow and begin the work of cultivating gratitude.  I'm not talking about breaking up soil that's simply been lying fallow for a few years.  Not a chance.  This will be a brand new territory--laboring to clear a patch of land overrun and entangled with thorns and weeds of sin. And through disciplined care and the work of the Holy Spirit hoping that it will produce the desired fruit of gratitude.

A gardener is diligent in his work, is he not?  Daily uprooting weeds that spring up overnight, watering and tending to planted seeds, adding nutrients to the soil, and the list goes on.  Yet, for all his diligence and labor he really has no ability to force a shoot to emerge from a seed, cause the growth, or tell the plant the proper time for bearing its fruit. 

So I imagine it will be with gratitude.  Daily uprooting ingratitude that sneaks in and tries to choke out my little gratitude plants. And watering the roots with practiced gratitude so that what was planted becomes firmly established in my heart.

And so I embark on my own journey of opening my eyes and looking at my daily life to see one thousand things for which I am able to genuinely give thanks to God.  I imagine you'll see some of them appear in posts from time to time.

Thursday, June 30, 2011

Someone finally did it!

I was pretty skeptical when a colleague mentioned, "here's a great video on poverty".  I feel like all of those videos raising awareness about any sort of societal issue are the same...shocking pictures, emotional music, and at the end I'm left feeling guilty or heartless.
This involves none of those elements.  After I watched it I just wanted to stand up and cheer.  It is like getting a halftime locker room talk from a coach and finding out for the first time that we actually have a good chance of winning the game.
So take a coffee break, sit back and be encouraged.  And be careful with your coffee in case you start excitedly swinging your arm around in a cheering gesture.


Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Heart Surgery

Recent months are some of the more painful in my short-ish life.  It wasn't one particular circumstance, more like back to back to back to back to back situations where the floor seemed to drop out from beneath me. 

It's the sort of season that will rock a girl to the core and leave her with just the core, which is probably the whole point of it all to begin with. I liken it to heart surgery.  Not my physical heart.  I mean heart as in the center of who I am. 

There's a passage in the book of Hebrews that I really love.  The first part of it goes like this:  
"Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us,"  -Hebrews 12:1 (ESV, emphasis mine)
I feel like in this season God mercifully lifted weights from me to help me press even harder into this race of life before me.  The weights He lifted weren't inherently bad things at all:  dreams, goals, relationships, even financial security.  Having those things lifted (which felt like having them taken away at the time) hurt like crazy. 

It didn't take long before God clued me in to what He was doing.  Then I saw the tender mercy in the action of Him lifting the weights that I couldn't see or simply wasn't strong enough to lay aside on my own.  And it still hurt like crazy, just to be authentic with  you.  But I had the sweet comfort of His care and nearness in it all.

I learned that each weight He lifted from me had deep roots in my heart.  But the weights weren't taken from me recklessly like weeds from a garden with all the ripping and tearing. Instead they were skillfully removed with great precision by the very Surgeon who created my heart.

Surgery hurts, but the purposeful wounds of a surgeon can be trusted.  We willingly submit ourselves to it because we know that it will help us, right? 

So that's where I've been for the past couple of months -- letting God do a bit of radical heart surgery and trying not to get in His way during the healing process. 

Monday, April 18, 2011


One of my neighbors has an obnoxious habit of throwing his cigarette butts and empty packs on the ground. Occasionally, in what I sincerely believe is a twisted effort to pick up after himself, he tosses the empty packs behind the bushes. There they become invisible to the whole world...unless, of course, anyone happens to be looking out my windows at my striking bushfront view. It's tricky to get to the litter behind the bushes due to the spiky foliage, dog waste in the garden in front of the bushes...shockingly due to the same neighbor, and the bee's nest. What I really need is one of those old man pick-em, poke-em reacher sticks to give me some extra arm length.
This morning I opened the blinds with a, "You've got to be kidding me," as I saw the above combination of litter. That's right. An empty pack of smokes and an inhaler. It's a dark sort of irony that brings a head shake of disbelief more than a laugh.

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Proudly flying the flag of the 20th century

Recently the cable guy came by my door trying to sell me any and all services that his company has to offer that I don't currently have.
"I see that you have internet with us. How is it working for you?"
"Do you have a satellite dish? What do you use for tv? You know we can save you money if you bundle your cable with your internet."
"I have an antenna."
(slight choking sound) "An antenna? Interesting..."
"Yeah, it's free. You see it right there in the window, Ahfaz? It looks like a giant pair of rabbit ears on top of my tv. Now take a good look at that silver flag on one ear. You think that's there for decoration? No way. That's aluminum foil and it helps reel in some extra signal. Now if you ever walk by and it's been replaced by a white flag of surrender, then you can come back and sell me your expensive cable in a bundle. Hey, listen, I'd show you my covered wagon, too, but it's in the shop."

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Fa la-la-la-la!

A one minute cup of cheer to celebrate the spirit of the season.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Kid Conversations

As it turns out, some of the youngsters in my neighborhood are budding conversationalists. One of my favorites is a 3 year old I see often at the dog park. We recently had a chat that went like this:
"Hey, B. I'm going to go home now. I need to feed the dog and eat dinner."
"But she just ate that stick."
"Well, I think she needs some dog food, too."
"Oh. What are you going to eat for dinner?"
"Leftovers, I think."
"What is a leftover?"
"It is extra food from my dinner last night that is in my refrigerator."
"Oh. What color is your refrigerator?"
"I think all refrigerators are white."

And then there was the elementary schooler on roller blades that stopped me yesterday:
"Hey! What kind of dog is that?"
"She's part Australian Shepherd."
"There's another one of those here, but it's going blind. Did you know that there is a man with the world record for having no nostrils? He looks like this..."
Oh, to be a fly on the wall for his first date.