I've been working on knitting Megan a pair of mittens and a hat for a few weeks now. Life has just gotten in the way and it has taken me a lot longer to finish than I thought it would. But that's ok. Thankfully the weather hasn't been too cold so I didn't feel too guilty about sending her to school without hat or mittens. I finally finished them yesterday! I think they turned out so cute, and Megan is very pleased with them too!
I've had a hard time coming up with something to write today. Nothing specific came to mind as I was thinking about Thankful Thursday throughout the week. Yet, I am thankful for so much. . . life, love, my family, my children. Then I realized that I really do have something big to write about. I am thankful for JOY! God has given me so much joy recently. For a while it seemed like I was living in a state of perpetual exhaustion and grumpiness. At the time I didn't know it, but now realize that it was because my body was sick. It is hard to function and be happy when one isn't feeling well. Not to make excuses for myself, I shouldn't have given into my grumpiness nearly as much as I did. However, since recovering, I now have energy! I feel good, and my mood has improved too!
But it's not just the fact that I have energy that I seem to be bubbling over with joy lately. The whole transplant experience changed me. I have experienced new life from someone else's death (for the second time in my life--the first time being that of Jesus's death giving me life through him). I have experienced the incredible kindness, compassion, support and encouragement from fellow believers. I have been blessed so much, and because of that blessing I feel so driven to somehow use my experience to be a blessing to others. Whether it just be notes of encouragement to others who are going through a difficult time, or something bigger. I am ready and willing to be used however the good Lord sees fit.
So this thankfulness and renewed purpose in life that I feel has me filled with joy. God is so good! Being joyful is a wonderful thing! It is so much better to live in a state of joy than in a state of grumpiness! It's a whole lot nicer for the folks I come in contact with, and it just feels good too!
You have filled my heart with greater joy
than when their grain and new wine abound.
I will lie down and sleep in peace,
for you alone, O LORD,
make me dwell in safety.
I have experienced the amazing grace of God over and over in my life, but never more than when, as a young child, I received God's gift of salvation provided by the death of his Son, Jesus, on the cross; and again this past spring when He provided me with a new liver and the gift of life and more time with my family. God is good! I am so thankful for his unending love and amazing grace!
I have recently been convicted about making comparisons and judging others. Just this evening I found myself comparing by judging someone's "sins". Maybe not verbalizing it, but it my head comparing the two of us and giving myself the "I'm better" award. When the truth is, I am just as flawed. My heart deceives me into thinking I'm better because I do this, or I don't do that. Well, maybe not, but there are plenty of other things I do or don't do. I am by no means perfect, even though sometimes my pride-filled-self would like to think I am. Who am I to say (or think) that I am better than someone else. I (just like them) am just a sinner saved by grace.
James 4:6-12 But he gives us more grace. That is why Scripture says: "God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble." Submit yourselves, then, to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. Come near to God and he will come near to you. Wash your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded. Grieve, mourn and wail. Change your laughter to mourning and your joy to gloom. Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will lift you up.
Brothers, do not slander one another. Anyone who speaks against his brother or judges him speaks against the law and judges it. When you judge the law, you are not keeping it, but sitting in judgment on it. There is only one Lawgiver and Judge, the one who is able to save and destroy. But you—who are you to judge your neighbor?
Acts 15:5-11 Then some of the believers who belonged to the party of the Pharisees stood up and said, "The Gentiles must be circumcised and required to obey the law of Moses."
The apostles and elders met to consider this question. After much discussion, Peter got up and addressed them: "Brothers, you know that some time ago God made a choice among you that the Gentiles might hear from my lips the message of the gospel and believe.God, who knows the heart, showed that he accepted them by giving the Holy Spirit to them, just as he did to us. He made no distinction between us and them, for he purified their hearts by faith. Now then, why do you try to test God by putting on the necks of the disciples a yoke that neither we nor our fathers have been able to bear? No! We believe it is through the grace of our Lord Jesus that we are saved, just as they are."
John 8:2-9 And early in the morning he came again into the temple, and all the people came unto him; and he sat down, and taught them. And the scribes and Pharisees brought unto him a woman taken in adultery; and when they had set her in the midst, They say unto him, Master, this woman was taken in adultery, in the very act. Now Moses in the law commanded us, that such should be stoned: but what sayest thou? This they said, tempting him, that they might have to accuse him. But Jesus stooped down, and with his finger wrote on the ground, as though he heard them not. So when they continued asking him, he lifted up himself, and said unto them, He that is without sin among you, let him first cast a stone at her. And again he stooped down, and wrote on the ground. And they which heard it, being convicted by their own conscience, went out one by one, beginning at the eldest, even unto the last: and Jesus was left alone, and the woman standing in the midst.
Jeremiah 17:9-10 The heart is deceitful above all things and beyond cure. Who can understand it?
"I the LORD search the heart and examine the mind, to reward a man according to his conduct, according to what his deeds deserve."
Ephesians 2:8-9 For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— not by works, so that no one can boast.
It is way too easy for me to walk around from day to day thinking I'm just fine and dandy. I am humbled, but grateful that God brought this to my attention today. Please God, help me not to be a judgmental--prideful--blind to my own sins--person. Keep me humble in my relationships. Show me my true heart, and shine Your light so that sin cannot hide there.
Yesterday I found a wonderful surprise in my mailbox. A kind couple sent me a little note letting me know that they are still praying for me, and with the note they included a gift card to The Texas Roadhouse. My heart is filled with gratitude for their prayers and their sweet gift! Wow! The outpouring of love and kindness that we have received from others has so challenged me to do the same when I know of someone with a need. . .But that is another post for another day.
I am so thankful for their thoughtfulness. Tom and I are hopeful to squeeze not one, but TWO dates out of the gift card! LOL! Date nights for us are much too few and far between. You just can't imagine how excited it makes me to get to look forward to two of them!!!!
I really get excited about dressing my kids up to go trick or treating. I think it is such a fun activity! The kids love it too! I try to come up with a theme each year for my little ones. We've done cowboy & indian, candy corn, bride and groom, and this year my mother-in-law sewed beautiful costumes from the Wizard of Oz. Megan was the prettiest Dorothy you ever did see, Kyle was the cutest little scarecrow, and Caleb was an adorable cowardly lion (though we bought his costume).
Notice my cowardly lion was really getting into character! LOL!
Kyle had a fun little school party. When we got home he dumped out he goody bag and just looked and looked at it. He was so proud of all his loot!
Daddy got into the fun and wore this crazy hat which he borrowed from my sister. I wore a parrot hat, but it wasn't near as fun as the hat Tom wore. And since I was behind the camera I don't have any pictures of me.
Look! I did manage to catch a couple smiles with his little lion hat on. That was really the problem. Once the hat came off he was as happy as a clam.
Notice that once someone let go of his hands, he gives a mischievous grin (pictured above) and then throws off his hat and takes off down the street away from it (pictured below).
Thank you to Kalyn at A Quiet Strength for awarding me the "Honest Scrap" Award! Yea!!! I am totally giddy over it! LOL! If you get a moment check out her blog. She has some very thoughtful posts, as well as some funny and creative stuff too.
Here are the rules for the award:
1. Must thank the person who gave you the award and list their blog and link it.
2. Share "10 Honest things" about yourself.
3. Present this award to 7 others whose blogs you find brilliant in content and/or design, or those who have encouraged you.
4. Tell those 7 people they've been awarded HONEST SCRAP and inform them of these guidelines in receiving the award.
Ten honest things about myself.
1. I have a horrible sweet tooth, and no will-power. I have to keep junk food out of my house or I'll eat it all myself. Seriously, it is bad. I've not been good at that lately either. I need to do some cupboard purging.
2. I used to think I was an animal-lover. But since having kids I realize that though I like animals, I really prefer it when they belong to someone else. I do however still love my two kitties and wish they wouldn't pee in the house and could be indoor instead of out. At the same time, I do enjoy not having to vacuum the cat hair every single day.
3. I get very uptight when my house is messy. I can't sit down and relax in the evening until things are picked up and neatened. Sometimes I have to make myself stop cleaning or cooking in order to spend time with my family.
4. Generally speaking, I am a very positive person. I don't spend my day worrying about my health or complaining about my circumstances, whatever they may be. I am a 'glass half full' kind of person. I see the positive things even in 'bad' circumstances. And frankly, I don't really understand people who tend towards pessimism.
5. I am not the most patient of people. Especially when it comes to waiting in line, or driving, or other people being late. A few weeks ago I was waiting in line at AT&T. There was a sign-in sheet at the front of the store, so I didn't bother actually waiting in a line. I browsed the store while I waited. A woman came in after me and signed in on the sheet. We looked at each other and made eye contact, so it was obvious that I was there before her, not to mention her name was the last one on the list. Well, as soon as the person ahead of me got done at the desk she hopped right up there as quick as she could. The clerk didn't even bother checking the sign-in sheet. I have to say that I was pretty darn annoyed. Not just at her, but at the clerk who didn't check the sheet. Seriously, what IS the point of a sign-in sheet if you aren't going to check it? See. . . I'm getting worked up again just thinking about it. Patience is something I definitely need to work on!
6. I love water activities in the summer. Swimming, boating, water-skiing, fishing--though I won't actually touch the fish and do freak out a little bit if they get too close to me when they are caught.
7. When I read a book I get so caught up in the story that I tune out the rest of life. My husband could talk at me until he is blue in the face and I wouldn't hear a thing he says. He actually has to physically get my attention and I have to physically set the book down and concentrate on what he is saying or I'll go right back to reading and even though i tried to listen, I won't remember a thing he said.
8. I learned to play the clarinet when I was in elementary and high school. I haven't picked it up in years. It is sitting in my closet. I also took piano lessons in high school. I have an electric keyboard which is sitting in my attic. Regularly I think to myself, "I need to get those out and start playing again." I do enjoy music! I enjoy singing most of all! I even love to do solos. Which reminds me, I need to pick out a song for this Sunday evening! I better do that tonight!
9. I'm losing my hair. I have always had incredibly thick hair. The kind of thick that doesn't fit into some ponytail holders, or barrets. Well, the transplant medication I'm on has a side affect of hair loss. Most people can't tell that I've probably lost about half of my thickness of hair, but it was so thick before that now it's 'normal'. At the same time it is rather disturbing to see that much hair coming out in the shower and clogging the drain each morning. They say it will stop falling out so much as they lower the medication. I hope so!
10. I can't smell skunk. It could be so strong that it is making my husband's eyes water and I still wouldn't be able to smell it at all. My older two brothers can't smell it either.
Seven blogs that have encouraged me or I find brilliant in content or design.
1. Tiffany at A Moment Cherished has such a sweet blog. She has already received this award, but I'm awarding it to her again. I love reading her new posts and seeing her great pictures!
2. Janna at The Adventure of Motherhood has such a wonderful blog! She is reading through the book "Shepherding a Child's Heart" and has some great things to say about it. I really need to pull out my copy and read through it again.
3. Gracie at Grace is in my Kitchen has an amazing cooking blog. She takes great photos the 'process' and the finished product. She's inspiring! And I can't read her blog without my mouth watering and wanting a snack afterwards!
4. Karen at Hallelujah Anyhow has such an encouraging blog. With all that our little family has been through the last few months, I can really relate to her posts and find them to be such a blessing.
5. Heather at Not a DIY Life has a delightful blog! She blogs about her life with her 'ladybug'. I really enjoy reading her thoughts from day to day.
6. Erica at Amazing Adventures Await has a fun little blog about life with her two girls. I discovered her blog through my participation in the Thankful Thursday meme. Her blog is upbeat and fun and makes me smile.
7. Melissa at Hidden Valley Simplicity has a great blog with lots of good information. She also is part owner of mamabzz.com which is another great blog for moms. Both blogs are worth mentioning. I enjoy and follow each of them! Melissa is doing a new series on natural/healthy living which I am looking forward to reading.
So if you get a chance, head on over to these blogs and check them out, and say "hi" from me while you are there!
James 4:13-17 Now listen, you who say, "Today or tomorrow we will go to this or that city, spend a year there, carry on business and make money." Why, you do not even know what will happen tomorrow. What is your life? You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes. Instead, you ought to say, "If it is the Lord's will, we will live and do this or that." As it is, you boast and brag. All such boasting is evil. Anyone, then, who knows the good he ought to do and doesn't do it, sins.
This passage has popped into my mind quite a bit lately. Specifically verse 17. Today I decided to look up the whole passage so I could read the verse in context and get a better understanding of it's meaning. I am always amazed and excited when God brings such applicable passages to my current situation and experiences.
I really don't know what will happen from one month to the next, or one day to the next. This past spring, I was fairly healthy one month (at least healthy enough to function, take care of my family, etc), and just a few weeks later I was quite literally just days away from death. Life is fragile. I don't know what will happen from one day to the next. It is so important to do the good things I know I should be doing right NOW! I can't wait to teach my children about Jesus, because who knows if I'll be here 3 weeks from now, or even tomorrow. I need to do it NOW! I need to show my neighbor Christ's love TODAY! The present is all the time I am assured of having. Likewise, I need to show my husband I love him, and be a servant to him NOW, and always, because I am never assured of my next moments with him. Something could happen to either of us, and how horrible would it be if he or I were to be in a terrible accident and our last moments together were moments of strife instead of love? Honestly, it makes me very emotional just contemplating it, and it makes me never want to utter a harsh word to my husband or children again.
Earlier this morning I was reading some of my favorite blogs. The girls of "At the Well," posted a great blog yesterday about Christian hospitality, and I was challenged in this area as well. I find it so easy to make excuses to not have people in my home and to put it off until later.
"My house isn't big enough."
"I don't know what we'll talk about."
"I'm too busy."
"It is too hard with three little ones running around."
"I'll do it another time."
My list of excuses could be longer I'm sure. Again, it is one of those good things that I know I should be doing, but haven't been.
Today is all I have to share Christ, to love my family, to forgive my enemies, to encourage fellow Christians, to comfort the hurting, and to mend broken relationships. The ever popular Nike slogan comes to mind. JUST DO IT! Stop putting it off, JUST DO IT! Stop making excuses, JUST DO IT!
Well, I'm off to put some action to my thoughts. I'm going to get out the cubby book and spend some time helping my little one learn his verse and use it as a time to talk about God and his love for us.
I am a mother of three beautiful children, wife of one special man, and a child of God. I spend my days loving my family in very tangible ways. . . Making beds, doing dishes, washing faces, doing laundry, playing games, fixing meals, etc. I am living an abundantly blessed life, but that doesn't mean it is problem-free. I strive for honesty and transparency as I write about the struggles and joys I face as a mother, wife, Christian, and transplant-recipient. I don't want to be another pasted-on smile in the crowd. Life is full of joy, but it is also full of struggles and I think it is ok to be truthful about both. I hope you will join me as I live, love, laugh, cry, and learn through the circumstances that God brings my way. And of course, don't forget to leave a comment and let me know you dropped by for a visit!