Generous and Unexpected

I received a generous and unexpected gift in the mail yesterday. Dominique Jordan (http://www.dominiquejordanart.com/) sent me the most beautiful print of Isaiah 40 after reaching out to me with a kind note about my podcast and encouragement she received from the eagle imagery teaching from Guarded by Christ and Isaiah 40.

I cannot wait to hang this in my office. All day, I kept thinking of Dominique Jordan’s generous spirit and how unexpected it felt to receive such a thoughtful gift. I thought of my love of birds. I thought of how I treasure God’s word.

Then I considered what it could mean to live a life of such generosity with my own gifts. Whom might I bless in generous and unexpected ways like this? Who has blessed me whom I might now bless in return? Better yet, could I bless someone who perhaps wouldn’t come to mind right away–maybe someone overlooked or undeserving for whatever reason? Could I display God’s grace in my own life to others? Could I live with a generous spirit more and more?

And what can we give? Consider the resources God has given us–whether time, money, talents, or whatever resources imaginable. I pray for my heart to grow in generosity.

 

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All the Christmas Music

It’s so wonderful to think of all the December traditions: Christmas cookies, Christmas movies, and Christmas music especially. I’ll light the pine-scented candles and drink spiced tea. I’ll sit in a wonderland of lights and decorations. I’ll wrap gifts in festive paper and big bows. I’ll walk in the snow. A new season begins with fresh joy, fresh peace.

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Thankful Hearts

As you know, I love finding a way to thank God especially during hardship. Essentially,   this blog began as a challenge to “give thanks in all circumstances” and find the flair in ordinary living. So I continue. Today, I’m thankful for delicious medjool dates, purring cats, music, and the smell of pine. I’m thankful for laughter. I’m thankful for soft blankets and candlelight. I’m thankful for the bare tree branches at twilight.

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Some Powerful Moments in Psalm 119

I love meditating on Psalm 119. What a beautiful treasure in the Bible! I noted a few special moments in this psalm this morning that work as powerful prayers.

First, I love verses 35-37 as a prayer for my family: “Direct [us] in the path of your commands, for there [we] find delight. Turn [our] hearts toward your statues and not toward selfish gain. Turn [our] eyes from worthless things: preserve [our] life according to your word.” Can you imagine if God turned our eyes from “worthless” pursuits?

I also love this simple truth from verse 45: “I walk about in freedom, for I have sought out your precepts.” I love the requests in verse 74: “May those who fear you rejoice when they see me, for I have put my hope in your word.” How wonderful to walk about in freedom and to be the kind of person who causes others to rejoice when you enter a room.

Finally, I love the promise of verse 89: “All things serve you.” It means that no matter what’s happening, God can use it; all things serve His purposes.

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Look Around: There’s Always Something

We notice so many blue jays on our cold walks. Why are they here? What are they doing? Why are they so active right now? I learn that blue jays are strange, strange birds. Nobody knows quite why they do what they do. Sometimes they migrate; other times they stay right where they are if the food source suits them. I spy them eating the berries of my winterberry, the acorns on the ground, and any seed they can find.

And they’re loud. 

I will keep watching all these blue jays and learn more about them. I have learned they warn others when the hawk circles overhead. That’s a good thing. I also learn they like to be together. We’ll walk past the bare brown trees that seem ornamented with blue and white: the blue jays have gathered to feast in that tree.

In every season, there’s something to observe and something new to learn.

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This morning, I read Hannah Whitall Smith’s words of great encouragement:

Wherever the Lord is, all must go right for His children; His presence is enough. 

She explains how God’s presence assures of us comfort, rest, and deliverance, and if we could truly understand this, a wellspring of joy would be opened up in our religious lives that would drive out every vestige of discomfort and distress.”  There’s a pathway to this wellspring of joy. I’m also reading Dallas Willard’s Renovation of the Heart–something my counselor recommended 20 years ago that I could hardly grasp intellectually or spiritually at the time. What a joy to reread it now! Willard heartily argues for the pathway to “soul rest” and joy through spiritual formation; we get there by inviting Christ to form His own resurrected life within us. I highly recommend this book as it’s teaching me how to continually “nourish” myself in Christ’s presence moment by moment.

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Adding in the Joy

Today I thought of a fun question: How can I add joy here?

In any situation, I might contribute meaningfully to reflect the joy of the Lord in endlessly creative and unexpected ways–through speech and action but also prayer.

 

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