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Sunday grace

Grace upon grace. God gives lavishly, elaborately, beyond measure.

The gift of a new day and strength to get up, get moving, and go forward.

The gift of comfort; clothes to stave off the chill; warm oatmeal with butter and sugar.

The gift of music, blending with other musicians in rhythm and harmony.

The gift of caring evidenced by smiles and hellos, a quick “How are you?” and a hug.

The gift of God’s Word, my familiar leather-bound book clutched in my hand.

The gift of coming home to leftover chili and fresh-baked flatbread.

The gift of snow falling outside the window, sprinkling our little woods in white.

The gift of communication in sundry modes, texts, emails, blog posts, phone calls, easily connecting me to the world.

The gift of rest, a sacred Sabbath to refresh and recharge.

The gift of Christ, offered to me, His life for mine.

Grace upon grace. Blessing upon blessing. Beyond counting.

Sunday grace.

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Sunday grace

December entered with grace, Sweet William and I having been invited to spend a gloomy, rainy afternoon with friends who feel like family. We have history together. We remember the years ago when their children and our grandchildren were young, when we worshiped together at another church, when this important relationship first began.

Their home was warm and inviting. The atmosphere of Christmas had arrived, and I pleasured looking about at her lovely decorations, especially the exquisite Nativity set taking a prominent position in this house.

We ate a simple yet delicious lunch. Dessert was chocolate cake from her grandmother’s recipe. The men moved to the living room to finish watching the basketball game, while she and I remained at the table, sweet tea glasses refilled. We talked as long-time friends will, remembering the past and catching up with the present.

We’ve shared prayer requests, she and I, us wondering at God’s ways, marveling at His answers. She has encouraged me to trust when the way was dark. I’ve confided some deep secrets and struggles, and she does not judge or condemn. We continue to pray for one another and our families, because this is the law of Christ. To love one another.

Whether I finish my Christmas decorations or not, of this I am sure: the people with whom God has graced my life are the true adornment.  I am a wealthy woman because of the friends who choose to love me. And I get to love them back. What joy!

“The ornament of a house is the people who frequent it.”
— Ralph Waldo Emerson.

This is grace indeed. That Love came down to be with us, to be in us. The gift of Christmas.

Sunday grace.

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Changing seasons

I gladly admit that Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday.

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That does not negate the fact that Christmas is designated as the date for the birth of Jesus, and Easter is the day I celebrate His resurrection. But those holidays have morphed into something different, something other than the sacredness of the original. Thanksgiving, however,  still calls us to give thanks, to gather with our family and friends, to enjoy the bounty of a God who gives good gifts.

As the day approaches, I ponder how we will celebrate this year. Our menu remains relatively the same, each of us cooking our special recipes, but there will be differences in us. Because families change.

When I was young I celebrated with my parents and extended family. Me being an only child and my mother and aunt being sisters/best friends, the family units combined to make one big happy one.  As my cousins and I became adults and added spouses and children to the mix, place settings were added and the house got a little louder.

I recall the first emotional change for me. It was the year of my mother’s death. Thanksgiving approached and I could not wrap my mind around doing it without her. She had been a vital part of the day, cooking with my aunt, her voice and laughter ringing in the kitchen where steam rose from the stove and aromas led us to ask, “Is it time to eat?”

I asked Sweet William to take me away that year. I could not act like everything was the same, because it wasn’t.

Through the decades, members of our family have been added and subtracted. More often our circle grew, but sometimes it diminished due to death, divorce, travel or a move.

An open invitation policy meant we might have new neighbors, a pastor’s family, or friends needing a place of welcome. It was interesting to see who was at our Thanksgiving table.

This year, once again, I long for my dear ones in a distant state. I miss my dad, gone from us five years now, and remember how his birthday often fell on Thanksgiving day. I miss others who have not been at our table for many years. We have adjusted to their absence. But we don’t forget their faces, their laughter, and the richness they brought to our lives.

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Friends come to mind who face the struggle of a loved one gone this year. My heart hurts with them. The first year is the hardest people say. But grief is not on a timetable. We must give place to the heartache, allow the tears to come and vent the sorrow. We need to be patient with ourselves as we work our way through the loss. Because joy will come in the morning.

Thanksgiving will always be my best family holiday. There will be hugs and laughter, deep discussions and funny stories, memories and questions.  After dinner, the older men will meander to the couch to watch football and maybe take a nap. The women will browse Black Friday ads, whether we intend to go out or not. We’ll talk, circling around one subject and then another, never missing a beat. The young parents will discuss politics, careers, home, and children. The kids will be on an adventure of fun.

We will look around and be glad for those near. We will give thanks for those who have come and gone, remembering how they impacted our lives.  We will wish for days when the entire family will be together once more.100_2694

We will remember God’s faithfulness through all the years of our lives. And we will give thanks to the One who blessed us with all of this.

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Sunday grace

With just a few days until Thanksgiving day, my mind turns to the tasks at hand.

I wrote my list of food to prepare, grocery items needed, and made a plan. Wednesday is marked “Cooking Day” in my bullet journal.

Sweet William and I visited Wal-Mart yesterday, filling our baskart with staples for the pantry, while maneuvering around other shoppers with the same agenda.  The perishables are on the list for next week so they will be fresh, meaning another day in the food isles.

I anticipate the short trip to my cousin’s house on Thursday where tables will be beautifully set and aromas will greet us at the door. I can’t help but think of those who will not be at the table this year, and my heart longs for them as always.

In the pre-dawn, I sit in my rocker and read the Psalms and other verses, struck anew at the generosity of God through Jesus Christ. Such lavish love poured into my heart. Such amazing grace reconciling me to become a member of God’s family. Such hope that does not disappoint because the Holy Spirit within me is a deposit and a guarantee of more to come.

How can I not give thanks?

For God has done great things for me, from the small to the gigantic, from the simple cup of strong coffee in the morning to the very breath I take without thought; for shelter, food, and clothing to precious relationships of friends and family that  enrich my life; from eyes to see and ears to hear to the beauty of a world created for my enjoyment and comfort; from the privilege of making requests in the very presence of the Holy to miraculous answers to my prayers.

From being an outcast with no hope to being adopted and accepted, blessed and delivered, the promise of a future with Christ forever.

So I will praise my Lord with all that I have. I will sing and make melody. I will write my thanksgiving list, making it thoughtful and lenghty. I will rejoice in answered prayers with my prayer partner on an early morning phone call. I will remember the goodness of God.

And astonishingly, my thanksgiving will please the Father’s heart.

I will praise God’s name in song and glorify him with thanksgiving. This will please the Lord . . . “

Sunday grace.

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The gifts in each of us

{This is my monthly book review.  Thanks for listening as I share my thoughts.}

I have just discovered Dorena Williamson‘s books. She is “a bridge builder, speaker, writer, and worship leader who knows the power and beauty of racial awareness.”

ThoughtFull: Discovering Unique Girls in Each of Us

Her recent book, ThoughtFull, Discovering the Unique Gifts in Each of Us, is tender and encouraging to both children and adults. The story takes a look at the uniqueness of people and demonstrates how each of us has the option to be kind and thoughtful or mean and hurtful.  It is illustrated by Robert Dunn.

Ahanu is a boy who received the HEART award at school for being helpful and looking out for others. Jason was excited for his friend and congratulated him. However, on the bus ride home from school, Jason overheard some other children making fun of Ahanu, because he has Down syndrome.

Jason’s dad said, “Billions of people live in the world, and each one of us has value . . . The truth is, we’re all gifted by God’s design.”

The book helps children see that different is OK and people are uniquely made by God.  Each one has been given talents and gifts that contribute to us all.

When people are not the same as us in appearance, beliefs, abilities, form or fashion, we form opinions, either good or bad. We accept or we reject. And yet, the uniqueness of humans is the beauty of creation, just as it is in nature.

Francis Chan said, “We are here to love. Not much else matters.” And I say “amen.”

This quote from ThoughtFull speaks to me: “If kids and adults worked at discovering the unique gifts in other people, we could all be thoughtFULL, just like Ahanu.”

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NOTE:   I received a copy of ThoughtFull, Discovering the Unique Gifts in Each of US, provided by B&H Publishing Group, for an honest review. The book was free. The words are my very own.

Sunday grace

 

Lord, we thank You for all of Your good gifts.

Scripture says You satisfy the thirsty and fill the hungry with good things.  I believe this is true, though sometimes your good gifts are shrouded in mystery, dressed in darkness, and accompanied by confusion and pain.

Yet, in Your wise and wonderful way, you plan to redeem each difficulty and bring beauty out of the ash heap. You teach us through our hardships, things like compassion, patience, kindness, endurance, and trust.

You hold us in the cold reality of calamity. When winds of adversity threaten to sink our fragile vessel, You ride the waves with us.

Sometimes you calm the storm. But mostly You offer Yourself as our Peace in the middle of the squall.

As Your child, I believe Your love for me is everlasting. You are sovereign over all my life and what you allow to come into it. I am not a victim of my circumstances. You are watching over all my comings and goings.

You plan good for me, a hope and a future. Your love for me is strong and determined. You have purpose for my pain.

And so I, the sometimes doubter longing to be a faithful believer, once again reaffirm my trust in You, the great God of Heaven and Earth.

Lord, I thank You for all your good gifts.

This, another year

I’ve been quiet on the blog for the month of May. The Wright House has been busy, my mind full to overflowing. I’ve written in my journal, but there was nothing pressing to say out loud. So I let well enough alone, ignoring any self-imposed obligation. When there are no words, what’s the point?

But today, I write.

The approach of a holiday that is difficult for me creates a storm of emotions. I felt it coming for weeks. I make an effort to push thoughts aside and focus on pressing events ahead. Tears erupt without warning and sometimes I give them release. I connected with those who share common sentiments. Understanding brings some comfort.

I plan my Sunday. I will be good to myself this one day of the year, giving myself grace. I reserved movies at my library. Mom’s Night Out will give me the gift of laughter. Sarah, Plain and Tall will give me permission to cry.  Sweet William will do whatever he can to make me happy.

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My to-do list is full for the weekend. Recitals will fill the air with music and celebration. There’s a lot of work yet to do. I love this time of year, joyful in the accomplishments of budding musicians and being amazed that I get to be part of it.

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The weeds in the gardens mock me and I have paid them no heed. Walking through the yard, I am astounded at how quickly what shouldn’t be there grows tall and lush. I need a downpour of rain to soften the earth so pulling wayward growth will be easier. I gave myself one hour outside today so it doesn’t look like the occupants have up and moved. My back pays for it.

The green of the trees in the little woods is especially beautiful this year. The warmth that has finally arrived refreshes me, and I take my chance to sit on the deck with a cup of coffee when I can.

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Two pair of geese at the lake have babies. I look for them when Maisie and I walk. They are attentive to their young during this season, these little ones being their only focus. They will not fly to other possibilities during summer. They are rooted and purposed to be the providing and protecting parents until goslings are fully grown in the fall. I watch the process and remember my mothering years.

This month of my planner is full of people and places and events. How does a life get so full while I’m not paying attention? It’s not even the middle of May and I’m already anticipating a slowed-down June. If I’m not careful, I will miss today while I look forward to tomorrow. If I let it, life can pass me by and I will not have savored the sweetness of it.

Today is a gift, the precious present. God meant for it to be lived with fullness of joy and with thanksgiving. He understands my tears and is near to the broken. He rejoices over me with singing, and He delights when I am filled with thankfulness.

No matter the circumstances, I shall give thanks for this is His purpose in Christ Jesus.

His purpose for me is to look for the gifts and enjoy what He has given, in every season of my life. What I perceive as good brings delight. What I perceive as difficult teaches me endurance, compassion, and patience. It is all for the conforming process of becoming  more like Jesus. A life conformed will shine like stars in the night sky and it will be for the glory of God.

May it be so.

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