Archive | November 2014


gratitudeThe idea came from a magazine article, and seemed so appropriate! The suggestion was made to create a “Thanksgiving Jar,” large enough to hold one year’s worth of hand-written notes. This is good, we thought! As the year went by, any time something happened that was worthy of a grateful attitude, the instructions were to write it down and put it in the jar. The reason was quite obvious since most of us, in our busy lives, remember only the major incidents. We soon forget the hundreds of things that happen, like that car that almost pulled into our lane and ran us off the road, the driver who stopped for a green light and we almost plowed into the back of them, and hundreds of other (non-driving!) happenings.

And so we began the day after Thanksgiving: getting our jar, we put it in a prominent place on the mantle. Soon it began to have notes put inside, and for once good intentions were carried through! The year went by and it wasn’t long (those of you who are over forty will understand, perhaps, better than younger people) before it was Thanksgiving again.

Feasting on turkey with all the trimmings, satiated with the type of meal that required easy-activity while it digested, we brought the jar to the now-clean table. Each of us would take out a note, read it, and if necessary remarks were needed (most of which were, “Oh, my goodness! I had forgotten about that!), it was talked about before being passed on to the next person. It was truly a Thanksgiving to be remembered, and we sat in awe at the situations God had brought us safely through!

Recently my husband and I were discussing our daily Bible reading. I learned many years ago that I need a “goal” to focus on in order to get through some of the more difficult (okay, boring) chapters: for instance, the long instructions for building the temple, the decisions on how to handle those with leprosy, the numbering of the tribes of Israel, and more, which are easy to skip unless you want to apply your mind to learning why God has those in the Bible. I had decided that reading it through for this year would be with the goal to learn why the disciples had asked Jesus to teach them how to pray. That is so strange, to me! Nehemiah prayed, Esther prayed, David, Isaiah–why praying is all through the Old Testament. So why did they ask this particular question?

My husband, though, suggested that it might be worthwhile to take a sticky note, put it at the point where we begin our reading for the day, and see what can be found for which to be “grateful”–or something, as it were, that we can thank God for, as we read. Tough. As you read through much of Moses’ writings, he was instructing the tribes how to give sacrifices (that one is easy–how can we ever say “thank You” enough for the cross, and the once-for-all sacrifice?), the list of do’s and don’t’s for the tribes as they entered Canaan, and hundreds of examples. I’m sure it will get easier as soon as Joshua enters the scene, but it is still causing us to focus on “attitudes of gratitude”  that we tend to overlook as we read! Never do I want my Bible reading to be a check mark on my “to do” list! I want to always remember to tell God “Thank You” whenever He does something small or large, easy or hard. On an aside note, it has never set well with me for a parent to have to remind a child over perhaps five years of age to say “thank you” when someone does something for them! They are given a lollipop, and Mom says, “What do you say???” The child, like a robot, says “Thanks.” The mom is right, it needs to be done, but if you begin it early enough it should be an automatic, true, heart-felt response by four or five. But then, how about us? By forty, fifty, or more, do we remember to say “Thank You!” to God for what He does for us? Waking this morning? The air we are breathing? The sight to read? Have you recognized His authority in your life, and realize that “every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and comes down from the Father of Lights, with Whom there is no variation or shadow of turning?” (James 1:17 )? We should have it down long before we reach middle age!

This year why not start your own Thanksgiving Jar? Then, next Thanksgiving, take time as a family to read each note, and prepare to sit back and be amazed at the faithfulness of God through the year! Sure, it may be a tough year. But one thing is a promise if you are truly one of His own: He will never, not for one second, leave you or forsake you. What a promise to start your jar with! How much better can thanks get than that?

By the way, I chose the picture because these two sweeties–eight weeks apart–were so grateful to be cousins. It is good to see the pure love two young ones can have in their innocence!

Thank You, God, for waking me this morning; for the wonder of technology that I can write about Your eternal mercy and grace toward us, Your children, to any person who reads this; thank You for the cross, Lord, for exchanging Your glory in heaven to live on this earth, be crucified, but raised again by Your own power, to triumph over death! Thank You for the promise that You will come back for us, and so we will ever be with You. It will take all of eternity to thank You for everything. Amen, and amen!



Her Christmas sweater was finished: a beautiful pink, with inlaid floral print. Rounding up my sewing items, I missed my needle. I looked everywhere, checked the sweater, checked the floor–and finally gave up. I was so happy with what I had made, and could hardly wait for her to open it, even though I wouldn’t be there. You see, she was so upset with me, not on her own account, but taking up the offense of someone else. I did everything I could to be sure I was kind, but she was so angry. This gift was my way of telling her I still loved her. As I lay down to sleep, I knew my mom and dad would be taking the gift home the next day; it was packed in the car, and waiting. As I slept, I dreamed of the sweater: I saw the sleeve, with the needle stuck in it. When I woke, I thought about the dream. I knew that if that had really happened, she would never believe that I had not left it there on purpose, in order to hurt her for being angry. All morning I thought of it. Finally, minutes before my folks left, I told my mom. We went out to the car, and I felt so stupid! I got the package out, unwrapped it, and carefully checked the sleeve. There, right as in my dream, the needle was stuck. I never doubted the Lord was keeping me from a worse relationship with my beautiful niece.

You’d have to know me, you see. I can be obsessively, compulsively, disordered! If I cross stitch, it is not enough to have the thread colors I need: I get them all–someday I might need them. I sell on eBay, big time. Seven a.m. comes, and I boot up the computer, and by 8 a.m. begin work. I shut it down at 8 p.m., and so it goes, 6 days a week. Sunday mornings before church I answer questions, and after lunch, begin work. OCD. ADHD. If I have to list twenty, I list fifty. OCD. I never meet my goals, all self-inflicted.

This year, as a study focus as I read my Bible, I began early looking for the answer to one question: WHY did the apostles ask Jesus to teach them to pray? Nehemiah prayed “HELP,” so why did the apostles feel insecure?

Genesis began my conflict, but not with prayer: as the Creation took place, God rested. It was before the fall, before anything bad had entered the garden, and He rested. I struggled with the why. He seemed to be saying, “Sandy, when do you rest?” At night, Lord. Not good enough. He rested at night as well. I tossed and turned, metaphorically speaking. Uncomfortable with the computer on Sunday. Not because of the computer, but because I knew I was addicted to working. Workaholic. So I asked my honest husband. “Are you concerned about the work you do on Sunday?” His answer shook me, for we had not discussed this. “Yes. The past two or three weeks, I’ve been trying to cut out my work and rest.” Ugh. Now I was really uncomfortable. I turned the radio on a couple of days later. Sure, the preacher I “happened” to turn to was preaching on resting one day a week. I called a minister’s wife, an older-than-I-am woman whom I know to be godly, and put it to her. Yes! She and her preacher husband take a day a week to rest–if they can’t get a whole day in, they take two half-days. My discomfort turned to churning. I was recognizing that God was choosing my path. The Bible Study began in September. Hebrews! Great, I love that book! Lesson 2: resting one day a week as God did. Are you seeing a pattern? Everywhere I turned, I was facing giving one day to God. Talk about sacrifice! For me, to not work, to not be productive, is a sacrifice! But I was hearing, and I was listening. Struggling big time, but knowing I was going to have to be obedient. My main concern? What am I going to do? How can I fill hours doing nothing? Daunting. To a couch potato it probably sounds like heaven, but to me it sounded terrifying.

A month ago, the call came. Would I take on a project for church, listening to the sermon, and then writing a discussion for people who want to use the sermon as a topic to teach their children, to discuss and grow as a family, or to have a group meet in their home. I can’t begin to say how honored I felt. How amazed I was. And how I saw that God had been preparing my heart to leave eBay alone on Sundays, and do this for His glory.

The first and second Sundays took all afternoon, until evening. Today was not quite as long, but the joy in knowing that He loves me so much that He “spoke” to my heart about the lack of resting from my work, and then filling the gap with His work was so awesome I was speechless as I ever get.

So for me, and for many others, yes! He does speak, He does love, and He is active in our lives, in our dreams (yes, there will be those who doubt that, but not me!), and He gets all the glory! His grace, as always, still amazes me.

 Holy Father, that You can take someone who is so taken up with meaningless things, and use us, is totally beyond our comprehension! Thank You for Your love, Lord. Thank You for using vessels of clay to hold Your marvelous works. Amen

picture compliments of © Dennis Sherman | Dreamstime Stock Photos