Thanks[giving in]

It’s that time of year when facebook is inundated with daily posts of what they are thankful for. I have toyed with the idea of doing the same thing (I just don’t have the dedication to share something each day).  So here I am giving in. Don’t get me wrong, I love this time of year. Thanksgiving is one of my favorite holidays and I desire to live grateful for how wonderful my life really is. God is so good to me in ways that I struggle to express in words.  So I have decided that I want to write out 31 things that I am thankful for this year.  It will be set up as my remembrance point of the incredible things God has allowed me.

1.  A breathtaking place to live that screams the glory of it’s Creator every day.

2.  God’s endless grace that desires my heart and the option of repentance even when I feel like I’ve utterly blown it.

3.  Friends who speak truth to me, give me grace, and allow me time to grow.

4.  The people who faithfully offer to do grocery shopping for me just because they want to serve and support the ministry where God has placed me.

5.  Laughter – especially when we’re laughing so hard that we can’t remember what started it in the first place.

6.  God’s Word – For God seeing fit to reveal Himself through it, how it seems new every time I open it, and it’s deeply life changing power.

7.  Village Bible Church – my extended family there and the way that they individually and collectively support me in many ways.

8.  My parents – for raising me, loving the Lord, and quietly challenging me to follow Him.

9.  My two wonderful nephews who make me laugh, remind me how to love and just enjoy life.  (and for all the other children that I am privileged to be the aunt of, even though not biologically.)

10.  Snow! – it’s beauty, source of fun and adventure, and just all around greatness!

11.  God’s peace – I am so thankful for that peace that doesn’t make sense but calms my soul and reminds me that I am exactly where God wants me and that I should/can continue to trust Him.

12.  A warm bed to rest in every night. I am not sure what I would do without it!

13.  Handwritten notes that seem to arrive on the day that they’re most needed.

14.  The ability to travel – to see new places, experience different cultures, and make lasting memories with wonderful friends.

15.  Long hikes in the woods.

16.  Working internet so that I can keep in touch with friends and family that are miles (and even oceans) away.

17.  God’s provision – that God chose to use many generous people to meet my financial needs, and that is a reflection of all the other needs that He willingly meets every day just because He loves me.

18.  Music – because it just makes life a little better.

19.  The Routh family – their desire to make me a part of their family, teach me how to truly rest, and encourage me.  For the ways that Kayden makes me laugh even when I don’t want to, melts my heart, and his “nickname” for me.

20.  Ice cream – I don’t know who invented it, but they should receive an award.  That stuff is just amazing!

21.  Tanalian Leadership Center (& Tanalian Bible Camp)- I am humbled to be a part of this incredible program and I don’t even know how to praise God enough for it. I’m grateful for the opportunity to see each of the students (who become very dear to my heart) and staff (who are pretty great too) grow as we seek the Lord together.  I am thankful for the way that SO MANY people see the value of this ministry and partner with us.  God has worked here in so many ways and it’s a tremendous blessing to see it first-hand.

22.  The Wardell Family – They really love me.  They mentor me, help take care of me, and just desire the best for me.  I am so thankful that they’ve been here to walk through this season of life with me and I look forward to continuing our friendship for years to come.

23.  Rest – even if I battle against it on a daily basis, I am thankful that God brings true rest and that I work with a group of people that values truly resting in the Lord.

24.  Lifelong friendships – the kind that pick up right where they left off even if I haven’t see  the other person in many years.  Those kind of friends are just good for my soul.

25.  Wool (and other winter gear) – I just really like being warm and it can get really cold.  I enjoy the simple pleasures in life 🙂

26.  Prayer – the ability to share my heart with God, thank Him for all He does in my life, intercede for others, seek His will, gain wisdom, confess my sin, and know that through all of it He hears and understands me.

27.  Hot beverages – I just love them. Tea. Good Coffee. Apple Cider. Hot Chocolate. Yum.

28.  Port Alsworth’s Community – I just love this quirky little village that has so much personality.  There’s always something interesting happening. I have grown to love the people here and what an example they are of love, joy, and trusting the Lord.

29. Planes, boats, snowmachines, & Hondas – they’re necessary sources of transportation, but also a source of fun.  I am just really grateful for the ways they make life easier.

30.  Jesus Christ  –  For His deep love, perfect life, demonstration of love & sacrifice, atoning work, resurrection, and hope of His return.  He is the reason that I live and have hope for the future.

31. Growth – I can’t praise the Lord enough that I am not who I was a year ago.  For the working of the Holy Spirit in my life and the ways He convicts me, fights for me, and reminds me I am never alone.  Thank you, Lord, for the work you are doing in me!

As I wrote this I realized that 31 is not very many.  I could keep going on and on, but I need to limit this.  God has done so much in my life and I hope that I never stop seeing what God has done.  It’s been encouraging to reflect on this year and see how truly blessed I am.

The Parable of the Northern Lights

A few weeks ago I was completely awestruck while walking home with a friend by an incredible display of light in the sky.    The Northern Lights that night were mostly green with the occasional bursting streak of red.  I stood there giddy, watching the lights dance in front of the stars and then sneak back behind the mountains.  All growing up I had wanted to see them and I was definitely not disappointed.  No matter how many times I see the sky lit up, I feel that same sense of wonder and excitement.  This last view was no different.

IMG_5305editAs we were walking standing watching the lights I wonder aloud, “How in the world does this happen?”  The reply, “Do you really want to know…. or should I just let you continue to be amazed?”  I was startled at first, not realizing I had spoken my thoughts.  Then I thought about it for a minute and decided I did want to know.  This is one explanation I am so glad I asked for.  The basic gist of the answer is that the sun releases gaseous charged particles that head toward the earth and as they collide with the poles they run along the atmosphere at different depths.  If you want to read more about it…. here’s the scientific answer that was given me.  Basically, all I got from that is that we’re being protected from super harmful gases from the sun and it looks incredible.

IMG_5300EditWhile I was deeply pondering the coolness science of this spectacular display I was struck with an incredible thought.  God is protecting us and His power looks beautiful.  The conditions need to be just right for us to see the lights, however, this is actually happening way more often than it’s visible to my eyes.  Sometimes I even miss it when it’s right outside my window or above my head because I’m distracted, or something is obstructing my view.  Nonetheless, God is allowing me the opportunity to see just how beautiful His protective hand is. He has brought me to a specific place where I get to glimpse at His creativity and brilliance in a new way. I took this thought to the next level (I know, what else is new?).

What if everyday, in a spiritual sense, these things are happening too?  Spiritual warfare is real.  But what if it’s just as glorious in the eyes of God?  What if God’s eyes are attuned to see an absolutely stunning display of His power protecting us and I can’t see it and neither can other people??  All around us there are prayers ascending in a dance to heaven, angels are warring endlessly on God’s side for our hearts, minds, and souls.  What if that divine battle rages with an even more spectacular light show than our eyes can even begin to see and our minds can never comprehend?

IMG_5304editI know an Almighty God is protecting me physically, but He cares even more for my soul.  I would imagine that protection would look even more brilliant than anything on this tarnished earth.  Now I take even more delight in those splendid lights that God placed in the sky just to teach me something about Him.

The Simple Things

There are times that I forget how much I enjoy certain things in life.  Here are some of things I have realized are little things that make life enjoyable.

  • Running through thick grass barefoot.
  • Backyard volleyball.
  • Playing speed Euchre and laughing until my stomach hurts.
  • Looking at stars.
  • Driving with the windows down on a sunny 70 degree day.
  • Eating guacamole.
  • Crossing things off my to do list.
  • Reminiscing with good friends.
  • Reading a passage in Scripture that I’ve read before and learning new things.

There are some things in life that never seem to get old.  I feel blessed to have the life I do.  Life is definitely an adventure and I am thankful to be walking with Christ through it.  This is just a sample of the things that God uses to bless my life.

Day-to-Day Miracles

Today I was thinking a lot about day-to-day miracles.  I know this sounds like an oxymoron, but I couldn’t think of a better way to phrase what I mean.   What I am talking about are the things that happen on a daily basis that we take for granted and are truly works of God.  Life is precious and fragile.  Horrible life wrenching things happen on a daily basis, like a 19 year old girl dying of cancer, 2 month old babies having open heart surgery, children dying in plane crashes, and mothers losing babies in the third trimester.  These are not the things that I want to focus on in this post.  I want to focus on the moments that we forget to thank God for.  The seemingly mundane, yet miraculous moments that happen to each one of us on nearly a moment-by-moment basis.
  • Both of my wonderful nephews were born completely healthy.
  • I have a job to go to that pays that bills.
  • I have a roof over my head and food in the fridge.
  • I drove my car completely safely to work today.
  • My parents are still married after nearly 31 years.
  • I have clean water to drink anytime I want it.
  • I woke up this morning and breathed another breath.
  • Christ died for me.  I am free.
Oh, the things I take for granted that should drive me to my knees in overwhelming worship to my God.  The things that are absolutely miraculous and blessings from above can easily become the mundane and even cause me to complain at times.  The thoughts of today have been a slap in the face and have driven my heart to a place of humility and wonder for the provision I receive and the greatness of my God.

The Things I’ve Missed…

I was sitting there the other day thinking of all the things that I miss about Alaska and I asked myself, “What did I miss about Illinois while I was away.”  So I came up with a list of things that I missed.  I hope you enjoy.
  • Avocados and ice cream (not together of course).
  • Fresh fruit.
  • Playing with my nephews.
  • Long conversations with old friends.
  • Fireworks.
  • Reading blogs.
  • Fast internet connection.
  • Looking across corn fields and seeing farms.  Especially horse farms.
  • Sweaters I had left at home.
  • Thunder and lightning.
  • Seeing my mom.
Certain things that I thought I would miss really did not even cross my mind.  Here are some things I didn’t miss. (not that I thought I would)
  • Cell phones.
  • Traffic.  Having a commute.
  • Road construction.
  • Smog.
  • Humidity. Excessive heat.
  • Paying for gas.
  • Pavement.
  • Wearing business casual clothing to work. (not all bad)