Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Giving Thanks...To An Unseen Guest

Thanksgiving. A time of giving thanks...of humbling ourselves before Almighty God and acknowledging His provision in our lives.

I have wonderful childhood memories of packing up the family car, making our way north, through snow and ice to my aunt's house in Ohio. It was tradition. My mom was big on tradition, and for several years we gathered around the table with cousins, aunts, uncles and delicious food. There wasn't a lot of talk about God's provision, but in my family, it was an unspoken truth.

We began our own traditions and they have changed some through the years as our family has changed. We've had to let some things go as family members have passed on into eternity. Whenever we celebrate in our home, one practice remains...each person seated around the table must share something for which they're thankful. Not a bite of turkey can be eaten until each voice is heard. It causes us to stop and focus our attention on our provider, the giver of all good gifts.

Sometimes I forget though and stumble through life. I struggle and lose my way. My heart becomes heavy and I ask, "Lord, where are you?"

As He always does, He leads me beside quiet waters to words...

Since I was a young girl, words have been my solace, my balm, my healing salve.

This morning I was reading "Jesus Calling," preparing this post, this is part of what I read:

"A life of praise and thankfulness becomes a life filled with miracles. Instead of trying to be in control, you focus on Me and what I am doing. This is the power of praise: centering your entire being in Me. This is how I created you to live, for I made you in My own image. Enjoy abundant life by overflowing with praise and thankfulness."

Words. Powerful, life-giving words that tell us how to live with joy.

Are you looking for a miracle? Maybe you're just looking for an abundant life. The answer lies in a life of praise and thankfulness to the One who made you...the One who created you in His own image.

I'm reminding myself of these truths as much, or even more than anyone else. Give thanks, not only today, but every day for his bounty.

Look around you to see what He is'll find Him. He will be the unseen guest at your table tomorrow. You'll see Him in the faces of your loved ones as you gather. You'll lift His name as you recall the many ways He has carried your family this past year. As you name your blessings one by one, your spirit will be lifted and your burden will be lightened.

Enter His gates with thanksgiving
and His courts with praise:
give thanks to Him and praise His name.
For the Lord is good and His love endures forever:
His faithfulness continues through all generations.
Psalm 100:4-5 NIV

As I gather with my family tomorrow, I'll be thankful for many things this year; one of them, the blessing of writing My Little Corner. I really and truly appreciate those of you who read each week and comment whether it's on the blog or on Facebook. You lift my spirit with encouragement and for that I'm thankful!

Happy Thanksgiving,

Thursday, November 21, 2013

"A Million Little Ways - uncover the art you were made to live" - A Review

Every once in a while a book comes along that touches, not only your heart but, your soul. That's what this book did for me.

I'm participating in the Revell Blog Book Tour for "A Million Little Ways," written by Emily P. Freeman. This book was much anticipated by Yours Truly after meeting her at She Speaks in July. Emily is warm, friendly, and writes from her soul about faith, family, and life in general. Her blog, "Chatting at the Sky," is read daily by thousands and gives us a glimpse into her deep, thoughtful personality. This book is the result of several years of study, observation and wonder of a holy, creative God.

She had me captivated in the first couple of pages and I couldn't put it down.

We often want to put God in a box, limiting Him in what He can do with an ordinary person. One of the beautiful messages of this book is the picture she paints of the creativity of God. He comes alive for me in a completely new way as I see myself designed in His image.

The perfect combination
She debunks the notion that art is reserved for a chosen few. We all have the ability to make art with our lives because we ALL are created in the image of the original Artist, who was intrinsically creative. We may be writers or teachers, construction workers or cashiers...our lives can be art if we allow Him to live through us and be who He designed us to be. If we are a mom taking care of babies at home, we can care for these little masterpieces and be fully artistic.

In a recent "Jesus Calling" devotional it said, "I view you as the one I created you to be, the one you will be in actuality when heaven becomes your home." My thoughts immediately went to Emily's book, "A Million Little Ways." This is one of the ways it spoke to me...God has ordained each of us and uniquely gifted us for a purpose. We won't fully be complete until heaven, but He sees the potential He created in us. He desperately wants us to see ourselves the way He sees us so we can reveal His glory through our lives. Ultimately, that should be the most important thing in our lives... to reveal His glory. That's what will make life worth living.

One of my favorite chapters is entitled, "Listen." As some of you may know, this past year has been a journey for me. It's been a time of being still before the Lord...of listening. This chapter caught my attention. It did not disappoint.

Listen to Your Tears.

Listen to Your Questions.

Listen to Your Heartbreak.

"I don't believe we have to have pain to make beautiful art - but when the pain comes, an artist knows she must face it. Grief does deep, important, sacred work. We have to pay attention to what grieves us and be willing to be fully human, both in what makes us come alive and in what has the capacity to shut us down. What breaks our hearts reminds us what is deeply important to us."

Is that not beautiful?!! Sometimes we have to uncover our pain and find healing before we can make art with our lives. Once the process is complete, the Creator can live through me freely, crafting the art He designed me to be.

This book has become one I will treasure. The author is a deep soul for her young age. She allowed the Divine Creator to write through her a profound work that, I believe, has the potential to live on and become a Christian classic for it has a timeless message.

May we all seek to uncover the art we were made to live, in whatever corner of the world you've been planted.

Blessings from My Little Corner,

*I was given a free copy of the book for my honest review by Revell Books.

Friday, November 15, 2013

What You May Not Know About Me...

I've been seeing these lists pop up on Facebook called "Things You May Not Know About Me." I'm not sure where it originated but thought I'd chime in with my list. I began mentally to compile my list and then sat down with pencil and paper and it was difficult. Having a blog, you put yourself out there in little, and big ways, I've discovered.

I decided to make mine in the form of a post and stop at five. As I said, it was difficult.

So here goes...

1. I won the "Miss Crisco Award" for Home Economics in 9th grade.
This photo covers #1, #2 and #3

2. My hair hasn't always been curly. Before 2005 it was straight as a stick. (Future post)

3. I was born with a space between my two front teeth. I wore braces as an adult due to some other issues with my teeth. Most of the women on my mom's side of the family have the space.

4. I have a teapot/teacup collection.

4.5 I'm running out of room due to my collections.

5. I've been to many countries around the world but home is still my favorite place. (That's probably not a secret)

We all want to be known don't we? We want to know somebody knows our name, knows our people, our history. We want to know we have significance in this world.

Ann Voskamp, author of "1000 Things" said something recently that I'll not quote for I would botch it. I'll paraphrase her words, but she was talking about being known. She said the most important one to be known by was the one who has our names engraved on the palms of His hands. He is the only one we should care about really knowing us.

I'm in West Virginia this weekend to see some of my people. Some of the very people who have known me since I was a little girl. I'm excited to see a girlfriend from high school and college and reminisce. I'll go to the cemetery and visit my parent's grave and have a chat. But I'm so thankful to be known by the One with my name engraved in the palms of His hands. I'm so thankful to be able to write and share my heart with you about Him, but at the end of the day, He is the One I want to please.

On the drive yesterday I got a call that my mother-in-law, Phyllis, had passed away. She was ready to go on to heaven. She had been fighting illness for some time now. She is in the presence of the One who engraved her name. If only she could shout back to earth and give witness, she would tell us to make Him known, not ourselves.

To be known by the world is good, I guess, but to be known by the MAKER of the world...well that's what you may not know about me.

Blessings from My Little Corner,

Thursday, November 7, 2013

Enjoy the Fall, There's Beauty in the Waiting

Isn't this a beautiful time of year? A season of thanksgiving, change, a season of waiting. We rush past the fall holidays to get to Christmas and then complain about where time went. I love the fall and would stay in this season, but then after awhile it would become mundane and unappreciated. God knew what He was doing when He gave us brief periods to enjoy the unfolding and wonder of His creation.

You could say I'm in the "Fall" of my life ... a time of change, a time of waiting.

When you're raising your family you think they'll be little forever, the laundry will never be caught up and the sports events on your calendar will never end. They do. There was always a project to be done and field trips to drive for and spelling words to call out ... oh, the spelling words, would they ever end? They did.

Then they go to high school and the subjects get more difficult and relationships get more complicated and you think to yourself, "parenting is so hard sometimes." But, you look at the children God gave you, and you know you're blessed beyond belief.

While they were "littles" you made friends in the carpool line and class parties, never dreaming they'd be lifelong friends. Now you share with them over dinner and talk about grandchildren and weddings, jobs and relationships. But your life is still wrapped up in the ones you hold dear to your heart.

God has been good in the waiting ... in the Fall of my life. As my babies have launched and are making a life away from me, there's still time left for me as the leaves change.

My neighbor and I, at my previous house, would chat as we watered our flowers. Andy and Bailey were preschoolers at the time. She was a precious woman, but she would fuss about "little old ladies" and their driving habits. She could not understand why they drove the way they did ... and did I mention she was 75 years of age at the time?!!

As I was walking recently I saw this beautiful tree. The leaves on the inside were still bright green, vibrant, while the leaves on the outside had turned red. It won't be long before they'll be on the ground or swept in a pile.  It reminded me of my neighbor. She saw herself as young on the inside ... much the way I feel. Winter had already arrived for her, but inside, she still felt young and vibrant, not ready to let go of life.

Whatever season of life you're in is a season to live fully. Embrace the gifts you've been given and share with those around you. There's beauty in the changing of the seasons.

The month of November is a perfect time to begin to practice loving with a thankful heart. Grab your "littles" or "olders" and seize the moments.

Change is coming. You can't slow it down, but you can make memories they'll take with them when they go. They last a lifetime.

As for me, I'll continue writing in the waiting...

Have a blessed November,