He Came Close

I am on Day 7 of my 30 Days of Gratitude Devotional by Nancy Leigh DeMoss.  The reading is found in Luke 17:11-15.  It is a story about a leper healed by Jesus.

“On the way to Jerusalem he was passing along between Samaria and Galilee.  And as he entered a village, hew was met by ten lepers, who stood at a distance and lifted up their voices, saying, ‘Jesus, Master, have mercy on us.’  When he saw them he said to them, ‘Go and show yourselves o the priests.’ And as they went they were cleansed. Then one of them, when he saw that he was healed, turned back, praising God with a loud voice; and he fell on his face at Jesus’ feet, giving him thanks.”

One of the ten lepers, who stood at a distance, came close to Jesus and gave him thanks.

It is an insight I have never given much thought to, but after reading Nancy’s words, it opened my eyes and made me reflect on how thanksgiving affects my relationship with Jesus.  When I am thankful, when I “praise God with a loud voice” meaning I tell other people what God has done and what he has given me,  I am so much more aware of Him – it becomes natural and automatic to give Him thanks.  And in turn I am drawn closer to Him because I realize my need to be healed and forgiven.

Just a few weeks ago I came home and immediately unloaded on David. I didn’t greet him, or ask him about his day, but the first words that came out of my mouth as soon as I opened the door were ones of complaint, anger, and annoyance about my day at work.  I am so thankful that I married a man who isn’t easily ruffled by the day, because he put a stop to my not-so-pleasent mood.

He said, “Tanya, I understand that you feel this way and I am glad that we can talk about our days, but its feeling very negative.  Can you tell me 5 things you were thankful for today?”

  • I am thankful for the sound of laughter.
  • I am thankful that we both have jobs with similar scheduling.
  • I am thankful for a clean kitchen.
  • I am thankful for the friendships I have with my co-workers.
  • I am thankful that God is teaching me how to care for others.

Sharing, aloud, with someone the things I was thankful for in they day, turned my mood 180.  It went from frustration and anger to joy.  My day went from being about me to praising Him.  I was reminded of the gospel.  Its power to bring upon true awareness of my helplessness apart from Jesus.  But even more, its power to transform my life with grace.  It evokes so much more than a muted thanks. And it brings me closer to the feet of Jesus.

So say it LOUD and say it proud- give thanks and be drawn closer to our Savior.

"Then my head will be exalted above the enemies who surround me; at his tabernacle will I sacrifice with shouts of joy; I will sing and make music to the LORD.” - Psalm 27 vs 6

Sami’s trip to South Dakota

Yesterday morning I sent my sister back off to Colorado.  Is it bad that I was secretly hoping for a massive blizzard so she would have to stay a few more days?

Sami and her boyfriend, Jordan, drove up to South Dakota on Thursday morning.  I have been anticipating this visit for weeks and now it is hard to believe that it has come and pass.  I wanted to write this post to recap our weekend happenings and share some images my sister took on her smart phone.  You may even want to visit South Dakota for yourself after reading about some of the attractions we visited in Sioux Falls.

Since Friday was their first full day in Vermillion, and David and I worked, Sami and Jordan slept in and went out for coffee at one of the local favorites – Cafe Brule.  The cinnamon rolls there are to DIE for plus you get the Mid-West hospitality service.  They then came to the Dakota Dome to visit me at work, meet my co-workers, and watch the Special Olympics swimming.  Our night was spent eating hamburgers, baking the chewiest, softest cookies, and watching American Hustle.

kitchen cookies

After and filling and delicious breakfast at home, we drove to Sioux Falls where we spent the rest of our day. Our first stop was to the  Falls Park. Unfortunately the air was brisk and temperatures were low, so we did a drove around of the waterfalls.  B-Dubs (Buffalo Wild Wings) was our next stop for Parmesan Garlic boneless wings and March Madness.  The boys could easily stay and be content eating and watching basketball.  Sami and I, could not.  We left the boys for a few hours and went on a hunt for a coffee shop.  We found a gem, Black Sheep Coffee.  The locally ran shop sold fair trade coffee and homemade chia.  Art from local artists was on display and the place was filled with chatter.  The metal tables and mixed matched seating inspired Sami’s artistic ability to snap a picture of our white mocha and chia.

coffee

We ended our night with a movie experience like no other.  Gravity was showing at the Wells Fargo Cinedome located in the Washington Pavilion of Arts and Science.  We were reclined in theater chairs with a surrounding screen view of Sandra Bullock floating through space.

It was a wonderful weekend chatting with my sister and getting to know her boyfriend.  David and I enjoyed their company and loved experiencing a little piece of South Dakota with them.

Now only 2 months until her graduation and seeing the rest of my family!

Digging Deeper

Monday was  my first day back to work after a wonder, extended weekend of spring break.  And Sunday night I could already feel my skin crawl with irritation.  I don’t want to go back to work.  I want one more day at home, one more day relaxing with zero obligation or responsibility.  The wearisome of the week ahead was so overwhelming, I found it difficult to enjoy my final evening.  David continually asked me, “Tanya, what is on your mind?”  “Is something wrong?”  The anxiety was written all over my face and it dictated the my mood.  The list of anxious toil was beginning, and I was caught in the self-woven web.  Why is it so easy for me to make a list of things that boil my blood?

I did not want my week to be robbed of joy.  I do not want to be wishing for the weekend, just to see it pass by as quickly as the last.  I want to enjoy they day, with a positive outlook, and contagious-upbeat attitude.  Not fake or pretending to be happy, but realizing all there is to be thankful for.  So this week, I decided to dig deeper.  Thanking God and others for everything that comes to mind.

A list of to-dos that can be crossed off
Smiles I receive from the kids at work
Running
Earl Gray Tea
Clean sheets
Finishing laundry
Seeing my sister on Thursday (WAHOOO!)
Sunshine
Soap for dishes
Reading “Into the Wild” by Jack London
Trying new recipes, and having a husband willing to test them out
…the list can go on!

Another…and Another

Bless the Lord , O my soul,

and all that is within me,

bless his holy name!

Bless the Lord, O my soul,

and forget not all his benefits,

who forgives all your iniquity,

who heals all your diseases,

who redeems your life from the pit,

who crowns you with steadfast love and mercy,

who satisfies you with good

so that your youth is renewed like the eagle’s.

Psalm 103:1-5

I will try my best not to be brought to tears as I sit in Barnes and Noble, drinking my carmel macchiato, writing this post.  I first started meditating on this passage back in September.  The month David and I flew to San Diego.  The month I sat at Jo’s side.  The month I said good-bye to my mother-in-law. And I struggled to understand how the Lord heals all diseases?

I have yet to write in any sort of detail about this month, about this time.  I’m not sure how my emotions will be expressed once its written.  When I first started blogging and sharing my journey about our move to the Mid-West, Jo was my biggest follower and encourager.  As soon as I my first post was published, my phone ceased to buzz from her encouraging texts and transparent excitement about me documenting life. And I am so thankful I have her words saved, to cherish and remember.

It flows, it speaks of beauty and hope and God’s faithfulness, it expresses who you are and it honors David as your husband. It is such a great way to express this season of “new beginnings” even while being honest and authentic about the disappointments of the summer. I just love the balance and the honesty and refreshing-ness (word?) of it!

These words continue to encourage me in so many ways.  I remember her infectious smile. Her joyful laugh.  Her genuine faith.  She drew people together, and connected them in a deep and intentional way.  Her eyes gleamed of pride for her family.  As David and I venture through Med School applications and interviews and await an acceptance letter for the second year,  I can just imagine her pride and joy in her son’s persistent work this past year.

This is the first of many events in our lives where “telling Jo” will cross my mind.  And each time my eyes will water with sorrow and my heart will smile with hope.

I spent the day looking at pictures from our wedding day.  And remembering Jo.  Time with Jo plays like a movie.  I replay the conversations we had and everything she taught me in such a short amount of time.  I rewind just to see her smile.  And I pause, thanking God for the moments with Jo.

Let the Redeemed Say So

Scripture reading for today was found in Psalm 107: 1-32.

Oh give thanks to the Lord, for he is good,

for his steadfast love endures forever!

Let the redeemed of the Lord say so,

whom he has redeemed from trouble.

                                                   Psalm 107:1-2

Throughout the Psalm, those who have been redeemed record their testimony and have reason to give Him thanks.  Each express their state of distress, desperately crying out to the Lord for help.  And each testimony concludes in divine deliverance.

Let them thank the Lord for his steadfast love,

for his wondrous works to the children of man!

                                                           Psalm 107: 8, 15, 21

After reading and even relating to the testimonies given,  I was then instructed to write out my own personal testimony of God’s saving grace.  Here are the questions that provoked some reflection and praise for how God has redeemed me.

  • What was your life like before He redeemed you?
  • How did God bring you to the end of yourself, to the place where you cried out to Him for mercy?
  • What has changed in your life since He delivered you from your slavery to sin?

Then,  I was reminded of a poem I wrote in 2012.  I thought I would share it with you and encourage you to get your creative juices flowing, write your testimony, and give thanks to God.

Once stood a mirror in prairie’s country

where tumbleweed followed winds bridle path

and thick grass gave way to a rabbit’s burrow.

Rolling hills held morning’s shadow;

an attic’s golden dust.

While hawks hunted, and the mouse hid in wind’s slumber.

The mirror stood dull, no echo of sun’s glow

Her dirt  covered glass stained gray’s grim

And stood wondering time past since morning’s yield.

Her glass once glistened dawn’s early mist,

but now gathered dust  in drought’s  unforgiving spell.

Then a drop fell from heaven’s Creator

opened the sky’s midnight wonder,

awakening the thirst ground,

lifting petals to praise, and creatures  to sanctuary .

As the cloud burst forth natures longing

in prairie’s country.

Her glass now without blemish, swinging in night’s flutter.

Her still reflection once grim and insentient

Now redeemed by the rays, being promptly swept spotless.

Dust and ashes once covered her bleak pose

As the rain ceased and the thunder abandon lightening

she stood afloat disclosing the King’s splendor.

 

 

aBOUNDing in Thanksgiving

Therefore, as you receive Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk in him, rooted and built up in him and established in the faith, just as you were taught, abounding in thanksgiving.

Colossians 2:7

abound. “exist in abundance”

flourish. overflow. thrive. be alive with. be no end to.

Thanksgiving is truly life giving  when I make the choice to abound in it.  They key being choice.  If I don’t choose thanksgiving, I am choosing something different.  I take on the not-so-life-giving attitude.

retreat. I want to desperately withdrawal from the day. Hide my head under the covers, close my eyes, and start over.

want. I want. I want. I want.  I forget every gift, every blessing I have been given.  I become dissatisfied and focused on everything that I don’t have.

decline. I slump.  Like a tree with snow weighing down the branches, so the worries of the day weigh down my spirit.

short. My fuse is very, very short.  My focus is on me.  And anyone or anything that disrupts that focus just might experience the detonation of a bomb.

I would much rather thrive.  Enjoy each day and each person. Flourish in my walk with God.  And jump with an overwhelming amount of joy, to be alive. Not because everything is perfect.

But because “everything we are called to be and do as Christians flows out of who Christ is in us, and what he has already done on our behalf.”
Nancy Leigh DeMoss, Choosing Gratitude

If we make the choice to abound in thanksgiving… We have a natural response to our hope and faith in Christ.  Thanksgiving is part of our prayer.  We give thanks in community and and attitude of gratitude encourages the body.  Giving thanks is an ongoing, continuos act of worship.  We can continue to grow in gratitude.  Thanksgiving makes us more aware of Christ and draws us closer to his heart. Gratitude is a condition of the heart, revealing what God has done and what he is doing.

I am ending this post with some pictures of David and I “bounding” into a pit of foam at Sky Zone.  I am so thankful for our day together in Sioux Falls to see David’s day and celebrate Jon’s Birthday.

                    DSCF2814

and be thankful.

Ms. Nancy Leigh DeMoss defines gratitude as

“learning to recognize and express appreciation for the benefits we have received from God and from others”. 

Let’s break this down a little bit more to fully understand that choosing gratitude is a choice; it takes effort, intent, and thought.  To “recognize” what we receive, our eyes must be open and our hearts alert.  I am often too busy running through my list of to-do for the entire day that by the time I get dressed in the morning I am already thinking and planning “what am I going to make for dinner”.  Breathe. And be thankful.

“Expressing appreciation” is to EXPRESS to God and others our thanks.

Taking the time to meditate on the “benefits we have received” overwhelms me with the generosity of God and people.  My wants dwindle as I recognize how my needs are met.  Discontentment disappears.  And I am thankful.

Before you really start your day, before worry and anxiety beckons your attention, I want to challenge you to be still and express thanks.  Focus on the goodness of God, rather than the problems of the day. Your list may look something like this…

  1. Oatmeal
  2. Rest
  3. Mornings, new days
  4. Journaling
  5. Co-worker bringing me Ben and Jerry’s and Pizza while I had (still do) laryngitis and bronchitis
  6. God’s faithfulness
  7. His timing
  8. Clean Linen Scented candle
  9. Leftovers
  10. Hat day at Work