The Symbol of Thanksgiving

I number gifts and I snap photos and I write graces and I post them here. A continual boasting of His love poured out; rain drops of great grace. But what’s the point of eucharisteo?

Is it a mere Joel Osteen type attempt at a false prosperity gospel to bring health, wealth, and happiness by speaking bold “words of faith” and gratefulness to leverage victory and gain? Is it another postmodern system of relativism that preaches thankfulness without acknowledging to Whom we ought to be thankful?

The apostle Paul answers these questions for us in Galatians 6:14:

Boast in the Cross

With the words God forbid, Paul makes it clear that any other ground for boasting is counterfeit and contrary to the Gospel. The cross was an object of shame to the Judaizers, and means little to legalists, but to the wretch who grasps amazing grace, the cross is the only symbol of thanksgiving.

Romans 2:4-5 teaches that we store up God’s wrath if we think lightly of the blessings we receive, not grasping that His kindness is meant to lead us to repentance and boasting in His death and resurrection.

While the Bible itself speaks of boasting in other things – in the glory of God (Romans 5:2), in our weaknesses (2 Cor. 11:30 & 12:9), in tribulations (Romans 5:3), and in the people of Christ (1 Thess. 2:19) – Paul is saying that all other boasting must still find its validity in the cross.

In his book The Passion of Jesus Christ, John Piper offers this truth:

Everything good, and everything bad that God turns for the good, was purchased by the sufferings of Christ…every legitimate pleasure in the world becomes a blood-bought evidence of Christ’s love and an occasion of boasting in the cross. When our hearts run back along the beam of blessing, to the source in the cross, then the worldliness of the blessing is dead, and Christ crucified is everything.” (emphasis mine)

And so we boast in our blessings because they find their dawn and their legitimacy in the cross.

 

In the still, the Spirit comes and He whispers a name.

Christ.

The counting of all blessings is ultimately summed up in One.” ~ Ann Voskamp

 

Thanksgiving Thursday: Unwrapping the Gifts

 

1146. Amazing Grace, how sweet the sound, that saved a wretch like me!

Amazing Grace

 

1111. Writing at a coffee shop during a rainstorm

 

1096. Sundresses; because every girl feels good in a sundress 🙂

 

1101. Take out from Three Margaritas

 

1118. Taking our Peanut up her first 14er

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1134. Snuggling on the couch with my Love, watching a late night movie

 

1144. A family walk that ended just as the rain began to pour

 

1090. Playing games and eating pizza during Peanut’s nap

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Please tell me, what gifts have you unwrapped this week?

 

 

photo credit

photo credit

Living the Greatest Blessings

 

I swung my feet out of bed and grabbed a cup of coffee. I sat down with my husband to chat for a moment, kissed his lips then took his hand and we invited God into every part of our day. I heard chatter so I sat on a little girl’s bed and giggled and dreamed with my bubbly and bright-eyed child before getting her up. I fed her breakfast while reading Bible stories and trying to keep the dog from begging at the table.

 

I completed the near-daily chore of vacuuming and mopping the house, took my little one to the potty for the twentieth time, and praised and cheered for a job well done. I shooed a hyper dog away from a hissing cat for the hundredth time, and worked out while my daughter banged on a tin can with a metal hinge that I’m pretty sure was a fairly important part to a weight machine. I created sand castles with my tow-headed toddler, swept rocks from the walkway and collected sticks. I picked up my frightened child who got knocked down by the dog chasing a ball, and belly laughed with my mama over comical Facebook posts.

 

I said a prayer and fed my girl who fed the dog, cleaned the broken glass and spilled milk, arranged letters on a blackboard and talked about words and colors and numbers. I read a book about red fish and blue fish and sang about sunshine and happiness and gray skies. I settled the girl into bed for a nap, and sat down to work on a small client project, and then to try to put my heart on paper.

 

I grabbed my thanksgiving journal to jot a few things down and to read through the week’s gifts unwrapped. I smiled. I am living my greatest blessings.

 

   There are no interruptions in a day.

There are only manifestations of Christ.

You are doing something great with your life – when you’re doing all the small things with His Great love.” – Ann Voskamp

 

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Count One Thousand Gifts….Then A Thousand More

 I sat down last week with the spiral bound journal where I write gifts unwrapped and give thanks for the blessings. Inspired by One Thousand Gifts by Ann Voskamp, I started this journal nine months ago. Some days I discover many gifts; some days one.

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After having missed several days during the move to Pueblo, I happily returned to the habit of giving thanks to God by numbering His gifts. My heart was full with the day’s blessings and I couldn’t wait to write them out: “Beginning construction on Peanut’s room; Office Depot discounts; An exercise mat.”

 

I moved my purple teeth-marked pen to the next line, but stopped before the tip reached the page. I glanced back up the line above. #999.

 

One thousand gifts. A dare to find one thousand ways He loves me.

 

For a moment, I reconsidered what I planned to write next. I had always imagined that the following number would be something of great importance; some lofty, theology-laden, high-calling type thing.

 

I embarrassed myself a bit by such silliness. After all, isn’t this the whole point: I don’t even know they are gifts until I write them down and that is really what they look like. Gifts He bestows. This writing it down – it is sort of like…unwrapping love. A child thankful for the childlike.”*

 

All as Gift

 

I lowered my pen to the page. #1000, Finding just the right camera setting for capturing a photo I really wanted.

 

There it was. Symbolic of everything this journey of giving thanks is about – unwrapping rich gifts of lavish love from the hand of a good Father. A child thankful for the childlike.

 

And so I continue – a thousand reasons, then a thousand more. “This is what it means to fully live.”

 

10,000 Reasons

 

 

Unwrapping the Gifts

 

1001. Sitting in church with my husband’s arms draping my shoulders

 

1018 Getting the trash out early on trash day

 

1016. Cooking for my family in my new kitchen

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1026. Sharing a Rib Eye steak with Peanut

 

1029. The first late-night front porch time with my best friend in our new haven

 

1028. Roasting marshmallows over the new fire pit my husband built

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1036. Spring’s first lilac

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Please tell me, what gifts have you unwrapped this week?

 

 

 

 

 

*One Thousand Gifts, pg 45

Photo Credit

A Million Faithful Moments

It has been several weeks since I’ve written a post here, and life has blown through my hours and days like a whirling dervish. Rushing winds of life change, peculiar blessings, and unimaginable joy have replaced the gentle breeze that was my life. Gentle breezes will return again, but for this season, I’m panting from the gusts of new adventures.

 

Breathe Deep

 

In just two months, my mama became single again, my husband lost and gained a job, I’ve battled a painful, exhausting illness, I’ve felt the healing hand of the Great Physician, we’ve moved 40 miles south from our little haven-home into my childhood home and in with my mama, and rented out our little haven-home.

 

There is so much I could tell you of God’s grace, goodness, mercy, and blessings over these past months; He has been so good, and we have been so loved. It’s the strangest thing: the greatest happiness comes in such unexpected ways.

 

I sat in my computer chair, twirling it round and round as I talked with my mama who was standing on the steps that now bridge her home and mine together.

 

This is a dream I didn’t even dream, but it’s a dream come true,” she said.

 

I smiled, but something stirred within me. I had heard that somewhere before.

 

When God’s Word is written on your heart, it becomes second nature to hear it in your ears. And there it was: “Now unto him that is able to do exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that works in us….” Ephesians 3:20

 

A Million Faithful Moments

 

A million moments full of the faithfulness of a good God. This dream has just begun….

 

 

 Unwrapping the Gifts

951. A new haven-home

963. Gorgeous views from our back yard

966. Being surrounded by those who love me when I have no more strength in my body

965. The healing touch of the Great Physician

981. Going back to our wonderful church family after so many years

983. Settling in to life’s new routine

984. Working out again!

985. Watching Peanut thrive in her new surroundings

987. An unexpected date with my husband at a blast-from-the-past local hangout

986. I may not know what my future holds, but I know Who holds my future

 

What gifts have you unwrapped this week?

Hard Eucharisteo: The Mingled Cup

A dream died this week. New life began this week. And God was good this week.

A 10-year-old covenant ended with a piece of paper: Dissolution of Marriage. One spouse couldn’t rest in grace and deliverance. The man I called Papa chose a different life, and the Little Blonde is now free.

I asked if she’s okay. Like a sun-kissed daffodil, her face beamed radiant, and she said yes. She knows the lover of her soul will never leave nor forsake, and she stands ready to live, ready to love.

Joy and Pain

When God created the picture of Himself and His bride on earth and blessed their union, He joined two into one, never to be torn asunder. Man’s sin and foolishness have marred the perfect image of God’s love, beauty, and sacrifice. Yet Christ’s redeeming love lives, grasps, holds. The beauty of His passion is seen in those who march forward; those who reach out, take hold of His unchanging hand, and choose to marinate in His grace and goodness and offer up the sacrifice of praise – hard eucharisteo.

“The Word has nail-scarred hands that cup our face close, wipe away the tears running down, has eyes to look deep into our brimming ache, and whisper, ‘I know, I know’…”

Just Hold Onto This

Everything is eucharisteo. Because eucharisteo is how Jesus, at the Last Supper, showed us to transfigure all things – take the pain that is given, give thanks for it, and transform it into a joy that fulfills all emptiness…

This, the hard eucharisteo. The hard discipline to lean into the ugly and whisper thanks to transfigure it into beauty. The hard discipline to give thanks for all things at all times because He is all good…All is grace because all can transfigure.

Wrestle with God, beg to see the blessings.” Ann Voskamp, One Thousand Gifts

eucharisteo

        It always precedes the miracle.

 

Unwrapping the Gifts

949. A woman of strength and love to do life with…I love you, Mama!

944. A new morning and the new mercies and faithfulness I see (Lamentations 3:23)

948. He never leaves us nor forsakes us; He will not, He will not, He will not (Hebrews 13:5 AMP)

716. A day to just stay in jammies and watch movies

945. Spring’s new life

946. Choosing to feel both joy and pain, and stay open to the blessings

947. Nail-scarred hands that hold, cleanse, and restore

 

Please tell me, what gifts have you unwrapped this week?

 

 

*Photo Credit

Thanksgiving Thursday: Ardent Advocates Embracing Grace

We Are the Women

My days are spent enjoying, instructing, guiding, cuddling, disciplining, reassuring, speaking to, and loving a toddler. With God’s glory and her good as my aim, I’m passionate about intentionally training, growing, and bringing up my daughter.

It wasn’t until I had a child that I realized just how much work God puts into training His children. A day doesn’t go by but I am being gently – or not so gently! – corrected, lovingly comforted, tenderly controlled, and sweetly calmed.

I’ve noticed, though, that while each day brings new light, He chooses to do His most intimate, in-depth work the moment I sit down to write this blog.

Constant Miracle

This week, as usual, I sat down to read through a few other blogs before I got to work. I quickly skimmed the latest post on Road to 31, a blog written by a wife and homeschooling mother on a journey to become the Proverbs 31 woman. As I continued to read, my face burned and my heart quickened.

She wrote that she – and many of us – had become Homemaking Pharisees, living a “godly” life with an ungodly spirit. She zeroed in on mothers who judge other moms on their medical choices. Specifically, she wrote about birth, and those who have made an idol out of their love of natural birth, allowing their zeal to turn into a standard for Christian living.

I never wanted to have an unmedicated birth, and after an agonizingly painful miscarriage that nearly took my life as well, my interest in home birth went from minuscule to non-existent. But my decision was not well met by some. I began to wish I could elbow a few people and murmur, “Mmm-hmm! See there? Home birth is not the message of the Gospel.”

I noticed that this post was the fifth installment in the Homemaking Pharisee series. Excited, I turned to the others. Then I felt the hand of the Lord pressing in. What have I turned into an idol? What technically good, and perhaps even important, yet non-Gospel issues have I treated as doctrine? Homeschooling?* Methods of discipline?* Disdain for cry-it-out infant training? Mmm-hhhmm.

While our passions may be driven by what we believe God is calling us to individually, we must not allow them to become idols, distracting from the Gospel of Christ.

The Gospel

There may even be compelling biblical evidence that what we believe is correct or necessary for the best outcome. And we are certainly allowed to become ardent advocates for that which God has made us passionate. Perhaps what we have to share is exactly what others may be seeking in their quest for God’s best.

 But we must not let our passions become standards for others, or judgments that keep us from our call to lift others up and allow freedom in the non-essentials.*

Convictions

Once again, and increasingly, I unwrap the gift of His loving discipline: “Cast off your idols, and embrace grace.” And as I ask for forgiveness, I ask for His scalpel to cut the very root of idolatry from my heart, and thank Him for His faithful training. All’s grace.

The Only Real Perspective

 

Unwrapping the Gifts

686. His transforming power

879. Bright, raw, crunchy, sweet baby peppers

899. Reading Undaunted by Christine Caine in its entirety in 24 hours

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901. A friend over for coffee while our girls played

893. A strong hair dryer

880. Back yard fire bowl fun

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898. Italian Nachos at Old Chicago

859. Consistently creating a more selfless marriage

921. A new bathroom faucet that doesn’t leak

920. Homemade Cook’s Country spicy fried chicken

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What gifts have you unwrapped this week?

 

 

 

*Please read Road to 31 blog on homeschooling

*Please read Road to 31 blog on methods of discipline

*I’m not discussing biblical mandates in this post. “In essentials, unity; in non-essentials, liberty; in all things, charity.” St. Augsuine

*First five photos by Ann Voskamp