well pleased

I’ve started reading John Piper’s book, The Pleasures of God. It’s a heavy read and something I really am trying to read super slowly. I want the words to sink in. I don’t want to just read it for the sake of reading it. I’m only still in the beginnings of chapter one, but already the word that I keep hearing is “pleased.” God is well pleased with His son. He loves Him. And He was pleased to come down and rescue us. It was His pleasure to become a man and dwell among us. And with this pleasure and this same love, He loves us. He loves me with the same love that He loves His son with. Because of His son.

Today I read this post on Desiring God (it’s a Piper kind of day I suppose!) about Psalm 19:1, The heaven’s declare the glory of God. He gave ten steps about being aware of this pleasure. The two that hit me were number three:

I shall not fall into the falsehood that this day, or any day, is merely another ambiguous and plodding twenty-four hours, but rather a unique event filled, if I so wish, with worthy potentialities. I shall not be fool enough to suppose that trouble and pain are wholly evil parentheses in my existence but just as likely ladders to be climbed toward moral and spiritual manhood.

and number five:

I shall not demean my own uniqueness by envy of others. I shall stop boring into myself to discover what psychological or social categories I might belong to. Mostly I shall simply forget about myself and do my work.

I am praying that I walk through this year, each day, realizing the pleasure that God finds in me. Enough love to offer me another day in this world, with my family and friends. A day that is unique and full of amazing opportunities to bring Him praise…but only as I keep my eyes lifted on Him and off of me.

I’m still counting my gifts with others throughout the blog world, but this year it’s a little different. Ms. Voskamp has offered up a monthly list of things to look for throughout our days. You can read more about it here.

384. a simple Amish story with the reminder that God is in all things
385. seeing embroidery patterns finally coming to life on the screen
386. the joy in picking my children up after school (what a gift this is that I never dreamed possible)
387. the few dollars left in my purse
388. the overflowing fridge
389. thankful for God’s forgiveness when I don’t parent well
390. forgiveness for my quick temper
391. missing friends, yet thankful for their support
392. encouragement from so many to step out
393. my child’s dreaming face
394. praise for my health
395. deciding on a paint color and loving it in all lights!
396. the park outside my door and friend’s who drove up to take a fun walk in the rainy drizzle and how the Lord held off the heavy rain until we arrived back home. How steady His hand is!
397. sitting with my husband and cups of teach watching Downton with such excitement! What a gift he is to me.

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an unwelcome enemy

Nearly 20 years ago I was a seventeen year old girl who weighed about 98 pounds. I had hit my lowest weight and I can remember that day still perfectly clear in my mind. My junior and senior year of high school were spent with so many people around me declaring how skinny I was and I loved it. It was this amazing boost to my ego to know that I had achieved someone’s attention. Thankfully the story doesn’t end there and it is because of so many of those people that 98 I was the lowest number I ever saw and I am here today and healthy.

But, the story really doesn’t end there. Years after, when I was finally able to start sharing my journey through an eating disorder, I would write a poem about a Raven. I likened my struggle to that of Raven who had it’s claws in me and even though it’s claws would be released over time, the scars would still be there and they would be deep. I would never be fully free of this unwelcome enemy.  I am five years from the birth of my youngest child and due to a pretty healthy metabolism, I am a pretty skinny person by nature. But in the last couple of days I have heard those words again: “you are so skinny!” and what it has awakened in me has really frightened me.

“Few things make us want to flee more than the prospect of fighting an old battle. The moment that old enemy reappears, we want to run into the nearest forest and never come out. Have you ever noticed that Satan always chooses just the right time to haunt you through an old enemy? When you haven’t had enough rest, when things have been emotional and turbulent, when you’re completely vulnerable – that’s when the enemy strikes.” ~ Beth Moore

I am not counting cereal bites nor am I staying under that magic number of fat grams a day, but as there are some things in my life that feel a bit out of control I can feel that old enemy rising. There is a whisper rising in the back of my head.

Satan is the counterfeit god of perfect timing. He’s watching for just the right moment to pull the rug out from under us, but even that rug is under God’s feet. And He always has victory in mind. He will never allow Satan to discourage you without a plan to lead you to victory…God will always lead us to victory, but He will lead us His way.” ~ B. Moore

As this week begins, this week that celebrates Love coming down for me, I am praying for victory. I am fixing my eyes on my God who gave all for me. I am resting in His protection and His ability continue to heal those wounds.

371. but thanks be to God who always leads us in triumphal procession in Christ… (2 Cor. 2:14)
372. three generations of women celebrating the 5th birthday of sweet little girl
373. a house full of friends and family
374. the sunset last night
375. giving back to the Lord, knowing that He is going to give immensely more to us
376. how quickly the Lord heals wounds
377. a husband who decorates our home for his little girl’s birthday
378. time with my mom spent in good conversation
379. scars
380. parents who will reorganize their schedule so that I can work on a last minute Christmas project
381. a dad who fixes cars
382. listening to a son tell the story of Jonah
383. watching the kid’s crowd around the tree to try and figure out what is wrapped in those boxes…how GREATLY we have been blessed!

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Acts 5:1-11 tells the familiar story of Ananias and Sapphira. I remember hearing and reading this story as a new believer and honestly have always tried to skip over it. It’s a hard story that hits me at the core of my fears…is God truly going to provide? At the root of this story is the fact that Ananias and Sapphira didn’t trust that God was going to meet their needs. They wanted to be part of the rising church, giving all and living together, but they didn’t want to give all. They wanted to have some back for themselves.

They couldn’t take God’s word that they should be provided for, but  thought they would play a wiser part than the rest had done and save for a rainy day. As if there were not an all-sufficiency in God to make up the whole to them. ~ Matthew Henry

I know the Lord has me at home and not working and I love it. I absolutely love it. But despite the many, many, many times the Lord has provided exactly what we needed (even after we’ve squandered poorly what we’d been given) I still doubt Him. I am no different than Ananias and Sapphira; who wanted to give but still hold back some for security. I am not giving my all to Jesus.

Satan would settle for half our hearts…God will have all or none.” ~ Matthew Henry

356. a $35 etsy order immediately after a $35 pharmacy bill (the Lord provides!)
357. a new couch…paid for in full!
358. the anticipation of a week of celebrating…holiday parties at school & celebrating our little chick’s birthday
359. watching my son enjoy making “treats” for his class holiday party and his excitement at sharing them with his teacher
360. the fun of bringing our children’s teachers breakfast treats this morning
361. a day filled with the hum of a sewing machine and the rhythm of a needle and thread
362. a mind that the Lord has filled with ideas that keep brewing
363. sending out Christmas cards and thinking of all the people in our lives
364. dessert with friends on a Sabbath evening in a cozy house
365. the gift of a swingset in our backyard
366. our home…how I am continually amazed and beyond grateful for this home and this neighborhood
367. sitting in a pew yesterday right behind a sweet young baby and just watching mom and child interact
368. haircuts
369. a sweet girl who wants to teach her class a Christmas song
370. nearing the end of holiday shopping

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counting gifts & a writing break

It hit me like a brick yesterday that it was already December 4th. I had been working for weeks leading up to a sale this weekend and once it was over I was just floored. I’ve decided to take a bit of a leave of absence in the blog world in order to really focus on my family and home this holiday season. While I am planning on continuing to participate in marking points of thanksgiving here on Mondays and also participating in five minute friday, I’m not planning on linking and doing all those other extra steps. I hope that if you’ve found your way here in the last few months that you will hang with me until I resume my normal writing schedule after the New Year. With that I wish you a Merry Christmas and a blessed New Year!

343. a day with an old friend
344. a safe trip by myself to and from…thankful for God’s grace with traffic and safety and ease of navigation
345. an amazing company that my husband works for and the wonderful things they do for others…unspeakable their generosity
346. wrestling with decisions and the knowledge that I can trust in the Lord for His provision and plan
347. the determination of a son at his first wrestling match
348. seeing old friends at church last night
349. anticipation of dear friends getting ready to meet their new little girl for the first time
350. singing “la, la, la’s” as a family last night
351. putting up the christmas tree and unwrapping memory after memory as we open up all the ornaments
352. the freedom of an open day
353. listening to a little girl play in the other room and the conversation she has with her toys
354. all the crazy things my little girl creates (aliens, angry birds, penguin feeders to name a few)
355. taking a break from the schedule that I’ve held myself to and basking in the freedom of that

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I’ve never really been a “Black Friday” shopper. Most of the time I try to have my list ready and if I see anything good in the ads, I will get up and go. I’ve done it once in the last 6 years I bet. This year things started at midnight, and the likelihood of getting me to do anything at midnight besides sleep is pretty slim to nothing!

But, my husband and I did venture out on the later morning of Black Friday this year to get a couple of things. What made this year even more difficult was honestly the severe lack of money. The husband hadn’t gotten paid yet and we really didn’t have the money to spend on anything Christmas right now. And as I sit here on Monday morning, I can tell you that I am so happy that it worked out that way.

I was walking through a store on Friday and I was overcome by this frustration that there was so much I wanted and couldn’t have. There was this crazy urge within me telling me that I needed to get a “real” job and start earning some money so that I could actually walk into a store and buy the things I saw and liked. It was horrible.

Talking later to my husband I told him that I didn’t want to do Black Friday anymore and honestly will probably do most of my holiday shopping online or downstairs in my sewing nook. Being surrounded by people carrying bags and bags of stuff and people in line waiting to buy all this “great” stuff just overwhelmed me with envy.

Envy believes the better you have, the more you matter. Envy can’t appreciate a house, a piece of beach or a success that it doesn’t own. It can’t read Architectural Digest without feeling deprived (or can’t walk through the mall)…You can mistakenly believe that, if it were all yours, the black hole of your heart would stop aching.”

I am sitting here in a warm, cozy and charming house. I am surrounded by gobs of things. They might be worn out, or the wrong color, or not exactly what I would have chosen, but they are mine and they function. We are provided for in abundance. I am repentant of my greed and attitude and long for my mind to quickly be stayed on the blessings that surround me.

“...the only way I know to break [envy’s] stranglehold is to practice gratitude – not just for what is mine, but for what is yours.”

326. for a heater that works
327. for a roof over my head that protects me from this deluge of rain
328. for the way that God surprises me everyday
329. for the realization that He is the one I need to look to for acceptance, support and ultimate love
330. for Thanksgiving
331. for a walk in the park with my family after a hearty meal
332. for a good time chatting and visiting with my in-laws
333. finding two checks to refill our bank account with
334. for God’s provision…in His timing
335. the joy of planning gifts for others
336. the anticipation of the week ahead
337. the way that God can take a familiar story and weave new insights into my life time and time again
338. sleep
339. a good book to read
340. listening to my children giggle
341. pulling out the holiday decorations and watching the excitement in my little girl
342. decorating our house for the holidays, step by step and with great thought

*quotes taken from A.A. Calhoun and her book Invitations from God.

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