Category Archives: sacrificial thanks

Good Things

Let all that I am praise the Lord;
With my whole heart I will praise his holy name.
Let all that I am praise the Lord;
May I never forget the good things he does for me.
He forgives all my sins.
He heals all my diseases.
He redeems me from death and crowns me with love and tender mercies.
He fills my life with good things.
My youth is renewed like the eagles!
Psalm 103:1-5 (NLT)

May I never forget the good things.

It is easy to forget in the hard, when everything feels overwhelming and bad.

There are so many good things.

Forgiveness. Not just forgiveness but restoration of hope and of relationships.

He has restored my soul.

Healing. Not from a physical wound or disease but from a deep heart wound. It is a continual process of relapse and repair.

The Great Physician continues to meet me in my places of pain.

Redemption. Pulled back from the brink of certain soul death, God has called me to life in the present, not just the hope of the everlasting.

I have been invited to live fully.

Love. My life is crowned with so much love that, at times, my head aches with the weight of it all. Yet the lover of my soul continues to press and pursue me with the magnitude and depth of his care.

He offers me tender mercies each day.

Good things.

I listen to piano music being played, and my soul soars. The music happens just because there is a piano and just because it can be played. There is no agenda other than beauty.

I fill my belly with warm food prepared together with my husband. A son has requested breakfast burritos, so we lazily chop and brown and saute and sip coffee as we mull over the state of current events, and, more importantly, the current state of our hearts.

I steal off to my room and place of space when time around the table becomes too much to handle. My husband graciously resolves an episode of conflict surrounding episode pick as I read from Psalm 103 and ponder good things.

I accept that my dining room table has transformed to a ping-pong table and the chandelier has been raised to accommodate two brothers competing and instructing the youngest on ping-pong technique, while singing family folk songs. I hear this through my closed bedroom door, images filling my mind. Little sisters clamor to join and are welcomed with patient grace.

There is no Macy’s Day Parade on my TV, but there is a parade of music, words, memories, and people flooding my mind and filling my Facebook feed and texting my phone. There is the hope that one day Thanksgiving may look like what I long for and what has been in the past with parade watching and couch-cuddling and coffee drinking and sweet potato baking.

When it looks like that, it will no longer look like this.

And this is a good thing. I am thankful.

Thanksgiving Eve

The day started in 1 Peter, and I’m so glad that it did.

Don’t retaliate with insults when people insult you. Instead pay them back with a blessing. (3:9)

I would need this reminder later when children were frantically digging snow clothes from bins in the basement and hurling angry accusations my way. I bit my tongue and patiently sorted and helped try on and remembered where I had stashed the gloves.

I’m sorry for yelling and being angry. Thank you for helping me.

The barely audible whisper came to my ears as the final child headed out the door in full winter dress.

The day continued with meeting my grand kitty and spending time with my daughter, child 3. Oh how I have missed having her around. And how we have grown together!

There was sweet-potato making and much-needed napping and perpetual kitchen cleaning.

There was laundry.

Child two came home, and there were lots of littles eager to play media with him.

Child 4’s friend came over for awhile.

I stir-fried.

Around the dinner table we sat with seven of our olive plants.

It seems like our family is getting bigger my husband says to me later.

Ya think?

Of course it is getting bigger! People are growing up. We have a grand kitty. We have a son-in-law. There are lots of voices to hear. Lots of attention to pay.

Child 3 and I go shopping. It is so, so sweet, and I just want to go shopping every day, even though I don’t really buy anything but a Christmas gift or two.

We come home, and she heads out with friends and littles want to watch an episode and I want to write now that my computer is back, and it’s Thanksgiving Eve, and I also want to spend time with the love of my life, so I will close.

I am so blessed. I am so thankful. I am such a mess.

Happy Thanksgiving Eve!



Thankful for Pushing-Through Grace

Let your compassion quickly meet our needs, for we are on the brink of despair. . .
Then we your people, the sheep of your pasture, will thank you forever and ever, praising your greatness from generation to generation.
Psalm 79:13

I am teetering there on the brink of despair, not wanting to pitch over, yet feeling the pull.

Physically I am in a rough place with my body image and pain level.

Emotionally I am weary.

You can’t always judge someone by what you see. Externals can mask internal struggles. They can be a grace.  Don’t think that you already know. You don’t.

I realized my temptation to craft, order, and control this week by the simple act of looking up a Friday craft activity to do with my students. I hit up a place that I rarely visit to find something to do with paper towel rolls and construction paper.


Scrolling through ideas and kid crafts, (these weren’t even gracious home decorating ideas!), I felt the discontent that stirs when one feels like they are living in the less than and chaos.

I am not in a season of gracious crafts and centerpieces and tastefully decorated mantles and fun kids’ Thanksgiving tables, yet square after square of coziness taunted me, causing me to wonder what if? 

I long to be crafty and orderly and cozy and controlled.

Those things are not what will satisfy my heart.

So this morning as a new day dawns, and a new round of struggle begins, my prayer is for grace to continue to push though.

We are all pushing through wherever it is that we need grace to sustain us.

Please help me to push through, Father. This is a tough, tough place.

You’ve been there before.

You will be there again.

You are always there.

You are with me.

I am thankful that Jesus is with me in the struggle, and that he sent crafting grace in the form of saved paper towel tubes found in the back office of our classroom (5 of them that I cut into thirds), paper plates from the kindergarten room, brown feathers from the random extra craft supply drawer in the teacher work room, scraps of red felt left from V-day (there were hearts cut out of it), and lots of washable poster paint. The ultimate classroom grace is always found in the form of my partner teacher whose calm demeanor, patient spirit, and easy sense of humor makes the hard stuff about every day not quite so hard.

photo 2

Can you find little Mae’s and Coco’s turkeys gracing the mantle in the above picture, easing us from fall decor to Thanksgiving? Mine and Roo’s are still at school waiting to celebrate at the Thanksgiving party!

Friendship Friday ~This is for you, My Friend.

You know who you are.

You are the one who is dying inside right now. Who doesn’t know how you will go on.

You are the one taking that next terrifying step into the unknown.

You are the one feeling the unfairness of life.

Feeling it.

You are courageous.

You know who you are.

You are the one who is choosing to live. To keep fighting. To keep going on.

You are dying to self like that kernel of wheat.

I tell you the truth, unless a kernel of wheat is planted in the soil and dies, it remains alone. But its death will produce a plentiful harvest of new lives. Those who love their life in this world will lose it. Those who care nothing for their life in this world will keep it for eternity. John 12:24

You are not alone, and you are very, very loved.

Brilliant Beauty and Being Included

I’m sacrificing the comfort of my own bed and the predictability of my life for a weekend away with friends.

This was the beginning of my journal entry Saturday morning.

When the invitation came electronically through my phone asking for dates that might work, I felt conflicted.

There is always so much going on that it is never a good time, and yet, sometimes space just needs to be created.

I had one open weekend. One possibility. It wouldn’t hurt to try. At worst, it wouldn’t work out; at best we would be away from our daily grinds basking in the joy of friendship.

The date was a go, and emails began to move, making plans.

Stuff began to surface in me that I could no longer stuff down.

What am I going to contribute?

I am gifted at caring for a multitude, how do I care for me?

Is this even worth it?

My husband, ever supportive, reminded me that time away with friends is always worth it, so I persevered.

Saturday morning, looking through the window of my room at the morning sunlight casting itself brilliantly over the colorful leaves of the tree just outside, I felt thankful.

Thankful for being included. Yes, it was absolutely worth it.

Friendship Friday ~ Sibling Friends

We spent our final Family Weekend at George Mason in October.

It was a fun time for the littles who got to visit their big brother’s new apartment before heading over to campus to experience inflatables, festivities, face-painting, and cotton candy.BubbaIt’s hard to believe that this was our last family weekend as Caleb prepares for graduation in May.

Darkness fell as a little tiger dashed to get her face painted before heading back to the apartment for fall chowder.little tigerWe ate together, and emotions ran high as the night wore on and cotton candy sugar rushed into little bloodstreams.

Big brother came to the rescue with games and his guitar.guitarHe taught his little sisters the song that the children’s choir would be singing the following morning at church, and then we left to spend the night with Uncle Greg and Aunt Ade.

Sunday morning we visited Providence Presbyterian Church, and Coco joined the children’s choir onstage during the traditional service, singing the song she learned the night before. Roo and Little Mae joined the group for the contemporary service that followed.

It was so sweet.

Visiting adult siblings is always bittersweet for the littles. They are so excited to see them and so sad to leave.

Caleb once put this into words for them like this, When we were little, we were always welcoming new little people into our family. You are always having to say goodbye to big people.

Pretty true statement there.

It’s another one of those sacrifice of thanksgiving things. I’m thankful for the friendships and relationships among the 8 children who call me Mom. I struggle with those friendships and relationships and overwhelmingly big places that I can’t control.

Always living in the tension.

In a week Caleb gives his senior voice recital. It is at the same Providence Presbyterian in Fairfax, so we got to see the venue and hear music in the beautiful space ahead of time.

Caleb created a Facebook Event for his recital, so if you want more information, check it out! Consider yourself invited if this is the first you have heard of it. Life in the digital age is much different than back in OUR day.

Mercies Anew

I’m thankful today for mercies anew.

Yesterday started off rough and continued in off mode all day long.

There was nothing in particular to pin it on other than a disrupted morning routine, dealing with the unexpected, and interacting in the usual ways with the usual suspects.

It was just a really hard day.

Even though I left work early.

Even though I took a nap.

Even though there were no outside obligations last night.

Some days are just like that.

Which is why I am thankful for a new start today!

Unexpected Bloom

Randomly the hibiscus bloomed.

My youngest son noticed it in the kitchen the other night, and the flower hung around for several days, allowing me ample time to enjoy it.

I was thankful for this gift in the midst of all that feels dead and dry and overwhelming.

There were yellow leaves and broken branches that I was attending to. I was trying to find the right place for the plant to live, and the kitchen corner where the sun shines through the window onto a patch on the floor seemed a hopeful spot.

For now.

There are other tiny buds that I am watching. I am trying not to place huge demands on them or great significance on whether they bloom or not. I tend to make much out of things like that, rather than caring for something as best I can and holding the results loosely.

Sacrificial Thanks

Make thankfulness your sacrifice to God and keep the vows you made to the most high.
Giving thanks is a sacrifice that truly honors me.
Psalm 50:14,23

November is a month when thoughts turn towards thankfulness. Last year I practiced thanksgiving by glimpsing the goodness in each day and sharing it on the blog.

This year feels different. Heavier. How can it not with death, disease, and discouragement on the doorstep? It is difficult to feel thankful during a season of hard and bleak.

I came across this passage in Psalms during October’s reading. I was struck by the fact that thankfulness and the giving of thanks is called a God-honoring sacrifice. It’s not just a feeling, though this is a tricky thing for me who has worked hard to find my feelings.

This November sacrificial thanks is the theme that has emerged. I hope to spend time intentionally giving thanks, even when it is hard or uncomfortable. Especially when it is hard and uncomfortable. When it is a sacrifice to give thanks or feel thankful for the life I have been given to live.

I hope to post thoughts and observations on sacrificial thanks this month leading up to Thanksgiving. I invite you to ponder, as well, the places where your thanks is a sacrifice offered to God in obedience and how you will glorify him through the hard stuff that we all experience.