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Posts Tagged ‘thanks’

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What if we started this day with the one intent to be grateful, thankful for everything that we have in our lives?

For me the thanks would start before I step out of bed, for as I inhaled the breath of a new day, fresh with so many possibilities.

The coffee brews hot, while I take our fun-loving, ever-present WonderDog out to the little piece of grassy soil, that is ours.

The soil on which our home sits … our home is warm and cozy, spacious and compact. Our home, where we live, have life and breath

Our home, where our two youngest still live … each day that we are still together is a gift, not to be taken for granted.

Our home, where we two live, together in committed, real-life love relationship … each moment a sacrifice to and for the other … love received, because it was first given.

Our home, where we will host others tomorrow … our third child, and others who we adore, who we get to sit around a table and feast, and pray and be thankful. This is abundance.

This home, from which we exit each day into lives of work, using what the good Lord gave us, to work, to earn and to be empowered by Him working through us.

Through the windows of our home we see others, neighbours, from different homes, cultural backgrounds, lives. We are better for how our lives intersect with others who are not just like us.

Those in our lives who are with us through the thick and thin, the ones who stay when others disappear, reminders of what real friends are and can be.

For God the creator, the saviour, thanks for redeemed life, through the one who teaches us how sacrificial love is the one that gives life.

We live our lives in a constant cycle of work and play, both giving joy and learning and purpose to every day.

At the end of the day, so much to be thankful for as my head rests on it’s pillow.

If we could just be intentionally grateful, thankful for everything that we have in our days, I think we might see a change in how we view life. It is not about what we do not yet have, but grateful for what is already our reality.

“Gratitude turns what we have into enough”
Ann Voskamp

 

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canoe-dock

Dear Summer Camp Director,

Seven weeks of our teenage son being away at summer camp equaled a savings of approximately $600 in groceries, (a very conservative estimate), hundreds of litres (gallons) of hot water showers and many kilowatts of electricity to power his computer, phone and razor (ok, so he probably wouldn’t have used that razor even if he were home).

The summer of 2016 marked the ninth year that our son went to summer camp. Whether it was year one, at seven years of age, when he went for just a week, or this past summer, when he came home only once in his seven weeks there, I miss him each and every time.

But I wouldn’t have summer any other way!

Often I have wondered, do you know, do you really know, how significant and important what you do and provide is in the growth and development of those who attend?

Now that the summer is over, you are exhausted from the inside out and you find yourselves scanning job opportunities in any area BUT camp ministries, let me share what your blood, sweat and tears have produced.

When our son was just a little guy who came to camp for a week each summer, there were two things he would tell us about; how great his cabin councillors were, and how he had dedicated his life to Christ … EVERY year!

Those older teens were heroes in the eyes of our son. I remember once being at an event centre, mid winter, and this teenager was yelling his name. When our son turned around to where the voice was coming, his eyes shone as though he was noticed by a celebrity. He grew up desiring to be like them.

This summer camp has always been the place of spiritual re-set. Each summer he was reminded who he is, in Christ, and was given the opportunity to accept the challenge to start from where he was, through the grace that God gives so generously.

As he grew, more opportunities were available at summer camp. Opportunities to serve, and give back. He spent a couple of years involved as work crew, doing anything from cleaning toilets to chopping wood, to serving in the dining room. Through this work, he was mentored by ‘the old guys’ (retired men who volunteered at the camp) and by staff who oversaw the work and the attitudes of the teens. His stories were of the people, and of what he learned of Christ through those people.

Last year he got to participate in a L.I.T. (Leadership in Training) program. Two weeks of intentional learning about what it was to be a leader, through study and practise … head and hand learning. Some of what he learned is still pinned to his bedroom wall, as a reminder of what a leader is, what a leader does. He came home inspired, motivated to be a leader in whatever capacity required, from cleaning toilets to counselling in a cabin.

He has been free at camp, free to be the individual that is part of the whole, called summer camp. He has shared stories of great speakers (who he now calls friends and mentors), activities on land and water, challenges … from the behaviours of campers and to his own behaviours, and tales of Christ working in and through the people who are, camp.

Through all nine years, camp has always been about the people and being reminded that Christ loves and died for him.

I am still parenting this hairy beast called my son, but I couldn’t have done it without your camp, without you. You have been the hands and feet of Christ, teaching him how to devote his hands and feet to Christ.

So, close that job search website, and receive the grateful, heartfelt praise from this humbled mom. You are not doing this great work alone, you are surrounded by a great cloud of witnesses.

I am a thankful mom, and I am not alone in my thanks for all you do.

 

 

 

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Learning to be thankful, to say thank-you, is a valuable life lesson.

What we frequently omit teaching is that thanks is something that words are, sometimes, inadequate to express.

This past fall our son was fortunate to be part of a provincial championship football team. The team, which hubby was able to assist in coaching, was undefeated in the season and in playoffs.

Once the championship was theirs, so were metals around their necks, plaques, and a pile of athletic wear, handed out at a banquet. The players also had the opportunity to purchase a honking big ring, to remember how their hard work, perseverance and tenacity payed off in being able to call themselves champions.

Our son’s eyes were as big as saucers, sparkling with thoughts of that winners ring placed on his finger, to show to all who looked, that

he was part of a winning team!

The cost of the rings was as significant as their size. My heart dropped when I saw the price, knowing that there was no way that we could budget such a ‘frivolous’ purchase. Hubby and I contemplated making it a Christmas/birthday gift … still over budget. Our son did not have that amount of money, either.

It was not going to happen.

Our son is our child who rarely asks for anything (other than ‘just a few more minutes’ on a video game), and so when he does ask, we know it is something he really desires.

He asked about the ring …

and with a lump in my throat, I looked up (because he has outgrown me) at his deep blue eyes, about to declare my disappointing response,

but he saw the answer before I spoke it, and said,

“It’s expensive, I know.”

And that was that.

This weekend, months after the team hoisted the trophy of champions up into the air, our son awoke, and we handed to him a heavy jewelery store box.

Again, his eyes were as a big as saucers.

“You bought me a ring?” He asked in disbelief.

And we said, “no.”

Hubby then told him the story of how an (unnamed) parent had purchased it for him. They had noticed that Ben did not order a ring, and they wondered if the reason was financial, and, if so, could they purchase a ring for our son.

His disbelief left him as speechless as it did us.

All weekend he has said, been saying,

“I just can’t believe that someone did this for me. I am speechless.”

And, as he attempts to put that lack of words into a thank-you note, he will learn that sometimes thanks seems inadequate for the gift that was given.

And it is not just our son who is speechless, but hubby and I as well.

 

 

 

 

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738357ae884a5272698e5dee5e8f2913As this is my first year ever participating in the giving up of something for Lent, I thought I would share about the process in writing.

Okay,

Lets get real!

I am writing about it, so that I am accountable to not give up early …

I am so week!

Deciding what my symbolic sacrifice for this season was not easy.

I considered chocolate, but I do not eat it daily, so I didn’t think it was enough of a sacrifice.

I considered wine, but my only daily wine is spelled w-h-i-n-e, and that would be difficult to acknowledge when I do it, because, I probably whine far more than I actually realize.

I considered giving up writing, but through my preparations I have my daily devotions.

I considered giving up my morning coffee, but it is those around me who would be making that sacrifice.

I was through my consideration of giving up coffee that I found my sacrifice …

cream in my coffee.

I love my morning coffee. One cup. Freshly ground. Steaming black poured into creamy white, to the perfect shade of warm brown. Ah, that first sip! warm. creamy. satisfying.

The night before I fill the machine with fresh water, measure the beans into their cup, and set the timer. Anticipation begins the moment I set that timer.

Some mornings I awaken before my alarm, before the heart-stopping whirl of the beans being ground, and lay in bed, in eager anticipation of that first sip.

Obviously this daily ritual is one I truly love and enjoy. It is daily and I love it! So it seemed the best ‘sacrifice’ to make.

“The joy has left my life!”

I have to humbly admit, that the above six words were exactly my thoughts that first day, that first morning of Lent.

Coffee without the cream is terrible! It does not look right, it does not smell right, it does not feel right in your mouth, and it does not taste right!

I chose the right thing to give up … because it hurt.

So for this first week of Lent, I have started each day with a cup of hot, black coffee … and I have not enjoyed it one bit! With each sip of it, I have said in my mind,

“thank-you”

Thank-you to God, for the real sacrifice of his son. Cream in my morning coffee pales in comparison to that sacrifice.

“And a voice from heaven said,
“This is my Son, whom I love; with him I am well pleased.””
Matthew 3:17

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Some days it takes intentional effort to find the joy in the day.

Some days the best part is that first cup of coffee, or that hot and steamy shower, or that toast with jam.

When I saw the image, above, I was at the end of ‘one of those days,’ and it reminded me of something, God sometimes blesses through the everyday, mundane, never noticed but always utilized …

things.

Why, just today, some of the things I often forget that I am so thankful for :

  • a rain jacket
  • a borrowed umbrella
  • a fork to eat my dinner with
  • books … beautifully written books
  • a white board (my favorite teaching tool)
  • a table and chair
  • a photocopier
  • a drivers license
  • a wooden spoon
  • a clean facecloth
  • a sharpened pencil … and eraser
  • 50% off sticker
  • a radio in the van
  • toilet paper
  • a lock on the bathroom door (so very thankful for that

Many years ago I read a devotional about a little girl and her grandfather. The pair had heads bowed to pray a blessing on the food they were about to eat. The grandfather’s prayer was one of thanks, not just for the meal, but for the sunshine, the lazy dog at their feet, the granddaughter across the table, the sick neighbor across the street, even for the plates the food would be eaten from. Once the amen was spoken, the granddaughter sat quietly, not touching her food.

“Sweetie, are you not feeling well?” asked the grandfather.

“Shhh,” she replied, “I’m praying grandfather.”

Soon, her head popped up, a satisfied smile across her face.

“What did you pray for?” the fascinated man said.

“I thanked God for doorknobs,” she said, beaming from ear to ear.

The grandfather was puzzled. “And why are you thankful for doorknobs?”

“Because, Grandpa, when I turned yours, you were on the other side of the door.”

Ya, and I am thankful for doorknobs too.

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statistics

On January 1st I received my annual report for my blog … this blog.

It is full of fun and interesting facts (well … fun and interesting to me), as well as eye-catching graphics.

Apparently I published 323 new posts in 2013 … wow! I guess I had a few things to say!

Viewers located itsawonderfilledlife on FaceBook, Pinterest, Twitter, websites with links to this blog, email subscriptions, as well as intriguing Google searches.

Although most visitors to this blog came from Canada, the US and UK were not far behind.

The most viewed posts of 2013 were:

Things Not to Say to a Parent of a Child with Disabilities

It Matters who you Marry

What a Christian School is What it is Not

Top 10 Goals for 2013-Marriage

Giving Birth

The first two are guest posts, by fantastic writers writing about issues that touch many. The following three are Carole-originals.

Apparently hubby was my most active commenter … I guess he had a few things to say too!

There have been almost 50,000 hits to itsawonderfilledlife since the first post in March of 2011.

2013 ended with 753 ‘followers’ of itsawonderfilledlife.

The average daily number of views, in 2013, was 51.

So …

big deal!

what does it matter?

who cares?

do stats tell us anything?

As I sat looking over the stats I was amused, I was entertained, but mostly I was thankful.

Thankful that this daily practice … one for my own good … has also been enjoyed by others.

If you want to know the truth, the stats are cool …

but, they are not as rewarding as the comments.

Some comments are on the site, but most come in the form of emails, of messages, and even face-to-face conversations. Most often they start this way :

What you wrote today was just what I needed / I could so relate to what you shared / I had no idea that I was not the only one who had this happen / I had that happen to me too / thank-you

The more real, the more vulnerable, the more honest I am in my writing …

the more of you say thank-you.

Maybe, just maybe, what we all seek most is what is

real

vulnerable

honest

Maybe, just maybe, we are all starving for that which is really real?

Really real is messy, embarrassing, humiliating …

but every time I peel back another layer of this onion skin shell of a facade someone says to me

thank-you.

The stats are fun and interesting facts (and maybe one day they will blossom to the point that I am writing this for my heart, mind, soul and bank account 😉 ), but it is the comments that make me eager to get up and do it all again tomorrow.

So, from the bottom of my heart,

thank-you.

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ca8b8761a65cf7485827a2b0c79e036bThe book “Something from Nothing,” by Phoebe Gilman is a delightful tale of the childhood of a boy named Joesph, and his grandfather. Joseph’s grandfather makes him a blanket, and from that a jacket, then a vest, a tie, then a handkerchief, and finally all that is left is a button. At the same time, a parallel story is enfolding under the floorboards, where the mice family live, and they too make use of each and every scrap that falls (literally) into their … hands.

Not long ago, this book came to my mind as I was repeating over and over (as I have done since a young child when I was first read “The Little Train that Could”) I think I can, I think I can.

The idea of making something from nothing became very clear in my head as I was driving to the grocery store. The budget was tight … really tight, and the amount I had to spend on groceries was almost half of what I had originally planned to spend.

I think I can, I think I can …

Although I left the house with the confidence that I could make something from nothing, my knees were knocking as I entered the grocery store, and my doubts were rising, that I could pull this off.

I think I can, I think I can …

As is often the case when I am out shopping, I whispered a familiar prayer as I was choosing my cart, “God, surprise me with what might be on sale that we might need this week.” Many times I have prayed that prayer, and wanted to giggle out loud at a sale on turkey, or a bottle of shampoo on clearance. Imagine the looks I would get, standing among the turkeys, hands and head lifted up and giggling like a fool!

I think I can, I think I can …

And through the aisles, the coolers, I went, pushing my cart, and pushing through my thoughts of how make something from nothing.

I think I can, I think I can …

At the cash, my goods were rung in, and placed back into a cart. The total … twenty dollars less than I had to spend …

I smiled broadly, paid my bill, and pushed my cart back through the parking lot to load my vehicle with all that was needed for our family.

As I started the car, the following song was playing on the radio, and the words that kept echoing in my head were:

“Whatever tomorrow brings,
Together we’ll rise and sing
That we won’t be shaken,
No, we won’t be shaken.”

And this song, and it’s message, brought me back to the story of Joseph in Something from Nothing. Both Joseph’s family, and that of the mice, were ones of struggle to have life, but …

they worked hard,
they loved their families extravagantly
they gave thanks for what they had

In our lives, it is so easy to drop our heads in despair when things get hard, when it seems we need to make something from nothing. But, what we have been given is of greater value than what is out of our reach, and for that we need to keep bowing our heads, but not in despair, but thanks and gratitude for all that has been lavished on us.

“Whatever will come my way …”

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