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Posts Tagged ‘gratitude’

Since a foolish consistency is the hobgoblin of little minds (thanks, Emerson), I am always on the lookout for habits that can be shaken off.  So breakfast this morning was in the front foyer, door wide open.  Nothing wrong with my comfy wingback chair & table near the kitchen, but when the front yard is putting on a show like this, why not eat where there’s a view?

Spring’s here early this year — several weeks early — and I’m not quite keeping up with the pruning and mulching to maximize the blooms.  But the front beds are always a priority in March, because, well, look at them!  We planted very few of these ourselves; they were the one nice landscaping gift the former owners left us.

I read this week in Exodus an interesting detail about Israel’s time in the desert.  When Moses would go out to the tent of meeting to meet with God, the people would watch and wonder:

    Whenever Moses went out to the tent, all the people would rise up, and each would stand at his tent door, and watch Moses until he had gone into the tent. When Moses entered the tent, the pillar of cloud would descend and stand at the entrance of the tent, and the LORD would speak with Moses. And when all the people saw the pillar of cloud standing at the entrance of the tent, all the people would rise up and worship, each at his tent door. (Exodus 33:8-10 ESV)

I didn’t see a pillar of cloud, but when we notice the divinely orchestrated symphony of nature as season moves to season, we just have to come to the door of our tents to watch and worship.

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I am so far behind in keeping up this blog, that I am forced to do a catch-up helicopter ride over the last four months with this post.  There is no deep theological insight here, except to say that as I’ve been organizing my pictures online today, I have been overwhelmed at how richly God has blessed us. Our boys are believing God, and they are so much fun to be around!! (I miss you two college men.) And He has given us such good friends in this place (North Carolina).  We will have been here ten years this coming June, and those years have been filled with some of the deepest friendships I have known.  Some started almost as soon as we got here (including Dinner Chicks), and others are just beginning.  I’m grateful for all of them.  Sadly, some friends have moved away, but we continue to tend several friendships at long distance (annual fall gathering with Rod and Judy Huckaby and friends).

Here’s the rundown of events. Click on the hyperlinked words to view the complete event albums, and watch the slideshow.

In August, our friends helped me surprise Larry with a 50th Birthday Party.  I left food and supplies hidden here at the house, and while we were at evening church service, friends brought more food and set up the flowers and balloons and goodies for us to come home to.  They all hid behind the garage as we rounded the corner, and…

Larrys 50th

Surprise!!

The next day we headed for Raleigh and stayed overnight with Andrew’s RUF pastor and family, so we could get up early for our flight to New England. We started in Maine,

 

moved on to Boston,

 and ended in NYC.

 That whole trip merits a separate blog entry, so stay tuned.

 

Later August found me once again enjoying the Canteys’ beach house in Edisto with my Dinner Chick girlfriends. This was absolutely necessary, to cure the post-vacation, post boys-went-back-to-school blues.  Belly laughs, good food, and some special entertainment by Mary during a game of charades.

Larry and I had a spur-of-the-moment getaway to Black Mountain just as the leaves were beginning to turn in October. A few weeks later, after the colors had ripened and moved further south, we were back in the mountains, this time with a group of friends who gathered in a great mountain house near Hendersonville. We loved catching up with Rod and Judy Huckaby, who were among our first and dearest welcomers when we arrived in Charlotte all those years ago. They moved to Tennessee several years ago, and we miss them.

When I get sad at the realization that many of the wonderful people in my life will inevitably move away, or move on to other circles or churches or ministries, or even to fairer worlds on high–I remind myself that in heaven, there’s plenty of time for more fellowship.  We literally have an eternity to enjoy each other, over good food, good music, good fires, good hikes … or whatever God has in store for us to do together on the other side.

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Everything I read and hear these days, Kingdom-wise, seems to point me back to the same thing: I am always on the receiving end; He is always the source. Most recently, I have been thinking in terms of tables.

I have wanted a new kitchen table for quite a while now. Our old set was one of those Amish-built (truly — we got it in Virginia from a Mennonite vendor) round/oval pedestal tables and sturdy windsor-back chairs. I remember being so grateful for it when we were able to buy it, and it held up well to toddler seats and school projects and a cook who isn’t very careful to use hot pads under the chicken casserole (that would be me). But for various reasons, it was time for that set to go. So I listed it on Craig’s List, and it left yesterday for the home of a young couple with a toddler and a baby on the way. It stirred a little wave of sentimentality, I have to admit.

This morning I was looking — for the third day in a row because it intrigues me — at the parable of the sower. I’ve moved on in my reading to some of the other parables that follow it in Matthew: the six “the kingdom is like…” parables. But I keep returning to that first one, and thinking about what kind of soil I am. And why. By Christ’s words, I am good soil. The good soil represents those who hear and understand, those who have ears to hear. I know I am one of those. Most days I know it right down to my toes, and other days I need him to remind me. But I know it. And I know that makes me blessed, because I get to see and hear what the prophets and righteous men of old longed to see but did not, as Jesus tells his disciples. I live in the time of the law written on hearts and minds. Hallelujah!

But why did I get to be good soil?

I don’t have an answer other than “because God ordained it so.” But I do know that the question is one that I started asking way too late in life. I think many of us who grew up in homes where Jesus was loved, “where children early lisp his fame,” who were cherished and well fed and handed every opportunity to know Christ that this world can afford — we can easily be underwhelmed by the gospel. He weaves himself so gently and so faithfully into our life story that it takes a knock on the head for us to see how amazing that grace has been. We may even begin to take some of the credit for his being there. (We were pretty good kids, after all.)

So we do what well fed children often do: we come to the table without a word of thanks to the father who provided the food, and we retire to the couch without asking how we might help with the work of the family, and we assume that meal will always be there. And it is.

I did that as a kid at home, and so did my kids. I think sowing gratefulness in a child’s heart must be one of the greatest challenges in a parent’s job. The “starving children in India” line ought to work, but it just doesn’t. And no matter how ungrateful your children’s hearts may be, you always feed them anyway, because they are your children. Generally, they develop gratitude later, when they have to pay for their own food, or feed their own children.

So how does God work gratefulness into the heart of a son or daughter who has been fed grace from infancy? He works it slowly and faithfully, by the word and by prayer, just as He works the other marks of maturity into us. With the word open in my lap and his Spirit in my ear, I hear him say “blessed are your eyes because they see, and your ears because they hear. 17For I tell you the truth, many prophets and righteous men longed to see what you see but did not see it, and to hear what you hear but did not hear it” (Matt. 13:16-17). And by his grace, I hear, I see, I understand what He means. And by his grace, I am grateful.

This week, this Holy Week, as I have the privilege of being at my Father’s table again, I know that He paid everything He had for this meal, and He did it out of his great love for me.

By his grace, may that knowing keep me off the couch.

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