Tuesday, May 31, 2011

One Hundred Gifts

This book is awesome: "One Thousand Gifts. A Dare to Live Fully Right Where You Are. By Ann Voskamp".

God tells us to be thankful in all things. Yet, I am a person who needs to discipline myself to think of the things I am thankful for. There have been several times where I feel prompted to just sit down, take a breath, and think of all the things I'm thankful for.

This book has helped me to discipline myself to be thankful and to see many more things and moments as gifts from God. I feel so blessed! It is a joy and a gift to feel blessed! We all have so many gifts, we don't even realize it. My prayer for you is that you would see all the gifts around you every day, every moment.

So, I am a slow reader. I've been reading this book on and off for several months. And since March 10th, I've been keeping a list of the many gifts God sends my way. Here is my first 100:

1. The book, "One Thousand Gifts"

2. The women's retreat tonight.

3. The woman who came up to me and prayed for me at the alter.

4. Her anointed prayer that spoke to my heart.

5. Intimacy with God tonight.

6. God speaking to me through the message.

7. David playing electric guitar as I snuggle on the sofa.

8. Fun time at Dave and Lacey's.

9. Friendships ~ old and new.

10. Wisdom from Proverbs.

11. Many birthday blessings that made me feel so loved.

12. Our lovable bunny.

13. A husband who is compassionate and loves to love people.

14. David helping me prepare dinner.

15. Time to spend with God each day.

16. God providing for us.

17. Making "Thank You" cards.

18. Seeing my aunt Doris today.

19. The beauty of art.

20. Colors.

21. My sight. So that I can see colors and other beautiful things.

22. The quilt on our bed made by Grandma.

23. God's perfect timing.

24. Cozy pillows.

25. Pink pen I found today that I had lost.

26. The book, "Jesus Calling".

27. The note I found that says, "The bigger you dream, the higher you go."

28. Neighbor loving his gift from us.

29. David's car window fixed.

30. Little King subs.

31. Hot tea.

32. A new day!

33. My mom.

34. A graceful deer running.

35. A field of deer in the middle of the city.

36. A night drive with David to look for the deer.

37. A beautiful snowfall. (written 3/24/11).

38. A beautiful sight out of the kitchen window, snow delicately covering tree braches

39. The scent of 'midnight vanilla' softsoap.

40. A responsible husband who loves God.

41. A husband who obeys God, even with big things like leaving his job.

42. Faith to know that God's plans are bigger and better than our own.

43. Supportive, praying friends.

44. The scent of cleaning.

45. Encouraging cards.

46. Hope.

46. Repentance.

47. Forgiveness.

48. David telling me, "You are precious".

49. Our snowflake date ~ a walk under an amazingly beautiful snowfall (written 3/28/11)

50. The beautiful sound of rain.

51. The sounds of thunder.

52. Connections ~ we seem to be crossing paths with some great people.

53. Promises in the Bible.

54. The story of my wedding ring.

55. Life.

56. Purpose.

57. Investing in a younger generation.

58. A gym membership.

59. Setting goals, and then surrendering them to God.

60. Meeting goals.

61. The shelter staff being super thankful.

62. Shelter guests thanking us and telling us how much we helped them.

63. Helping others.

64. Text messaging.

65. The website for facingGoliath is done. Yay!

66. People's excitement for our ministry.

67. Our little house.

68. The beautiful wood floors.

69. The weed puller that helps pull dandelions.

70. The field of thousands of dandelions near our house.

71. Dessert night tomorrow night with lots of women from Heartland church.

72. Living debt free ~ other than the money we owe still on the house.

73. David's music.

74. More church fellowship and community.

75. The blessing of Heartland Church.

76. A smart, wise husband who seeks God's will.

77. Colors on walls

78. Dilusso Cracked Peppered Turkey.

79. The blessing of ACT International.

80. The power of God's Word.

81. Determination to memorize the book of Colossians.

82. The scent of coffee.

83. M & M's.

84. Slippers.

85. Answers from God.

86. Water.

87. A husband who leads us in prayer every morning since we've been married.

88. Front porch candlelight dinner

89. A blessing of a part time job with a flexible schedule.

90. The peace of God's Word.

91. The sounds of summer: Lawns being mowed, neighbors music, birds chirping.

92. God's favor.

93. The power of being thankful!

94. NASCAR chapel service.

95. Men lined up to thank David and shake his hand.

96. Cute welcome mats.

97. Peonies.

98. The scent of Lavender.

99. The pray "God change me!" when I am feeling like someone else needs to change.

100. Finding out about salt & pepper popcorn.

Monday, April 4, 2011

Snowflake Walk

I love snowflakes. The other day, I looked out the window of our little house and I was so amazed at the snow. I said, "BEAUTIFUL!". My husband agreed. It was peacefully falling down in large clumps of snowflakes. I told him I was going outside to catch snowflakes on my black coat and look at them up close. I caught many cute flakes of snow on my black wool coat and I had fun. I said, "Wow!" and "Cute!" a lot. I am amazed by how perfect some of them look. I try to find really cute ones and stare at them in amazement and then they melt like 2 seconds later. It is so cool that God takes the time to make snowflakes and I have heard that "no 2 snowflakes are alike". Wow! Out of the millions that fall, isn't that amazing?

cute little snowflakes

A day or two later, there was a pretty snowfall again. I asked David if we could go for a walk together in the snow. I told him we could take an umbrella. He thought it was a great idea. We had wanted to work out that day and hadn't been to the gym yet and we really needed a refreshing break from work. He drove us to a cute neighborhood to walk around in. We felt silly carrying the umbrella, so we just put our hoods on.

On our snowflake walk in front of a pine tree.

David on our snowflake walk.

Thanks, Lord, for the beautiful snowflakes you create! Thank you that no two are exactly alike. It reminds me of people, we are all unique; wonderfully and complexly made by You. God, you are amazing and what you create is amazing!

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Women Need Each Other

I'm sitting here at my cute desk in front of the computer with my slice of zucchini bread and wild berry herbal tea. For the last hour or so I've been thinking of all of the women friends I have that are such a blessing in my life and realizing how much women need each other.

Women need women friendships. I am thanking God for many women in my life right now.

A couple of weeks ago I went to a women's retreat at Glad Tidings Church here in Omaha. It was amazing. The first evening at the retreat, they asked if any women who needed prayer would come to the front center of the church. I went up there, even though I didn't want to. I mean, I wanted prayer and felt I really needed it, but I felt way out of my comfort zone in front of a group of several hundred women (who most I didn't know as this is not my home church). I went though. I was prayed over and, Wow! I felt it was a turning point in my life. I surrendered control. I start to feel like I want to control things when I am not trusting God. That night gave me peace, and reminded me that with God all things are possible. And God does provide for His children.

Before the retreat, I had been struggling where I was trusting in money instead of trusting in God. But God's Word says "Trust in money and down you go!" (Proverbs 11:28a). I was trying to figure out over and over in my head, how my husband and I would raise all of the support we need. I admitted my struggle with this and the woman prayed out loud over me. I felt so much peace and I had confidence that God would provide, and even in amazing and interesting ways. And the next day God amazed us and showed us that He is richly providing for us.

I am so thankful for that retreat, where I learned a lot from many wise women. I am so thankful for many women in my life who are helping me become the woman God made me to be. And I am so thankful that I am learning to trust in God, and not money.

I love my husband; he is my best friend. But because I'm a woman, I will always need to have time with other women. And I need to remember this. Women need each other: to pray for each other, to learn from each other, to encourage each other, to support each other and to love each other.

Here is my prayer for all women: May God bless your women friendships. May He use you to bring light, joy, truth, peace, and healing into the lives of other women and may He use other women to bring you light, joy, truth, peace and healing into your life.

This is an old picture, but I love it. Me with my sweet friend, Kimberly.

Monday, February 14, 2011

Help the Poor and Be Blessed

When I first began really crying out to God, He began speaking to me. I was so excited! I wanted to tell everyone how awesome it is that "God talks to us when we talk to Him! He does not ignore us when we yell out to Him! He loves us! He has an awesome plan for our lives!" I had a vision of yelling these things out from a mountaintop where the whole world could hear. That was almost 12 years ago.

I had compassion for homeless people. I would talk to them on the street about how God loves them. I would sometimes buy them food. Often, I felt like I was the one who was inspired in the end. Maybe that was God's way of blessing me for wanting to bless them. But sometimes it actually felt like they were an angel or even Jesus himself.

Soon after meeting the man God made me to be the Helper of, I learned that his desire was to share God's love through music with many people, including the homeless. He, David, had wanted to play music and share God's love at the Omaha homeless shelters. We spent our first Valentine's day sharing music and stories about God's love to the poor and homeless at the Open Door Mission.

Last Wednesday, I was super thankful to God that we can do this full time now. We were at the Open Door Mission sharing God's love through music, testimonies, and the Gospel. People were listening...clapping and cheering..thanking us a lot...encouraging us...and giving us money. I was trying to hold back tears.

One man walked over to me, while David was playing music. He said "He does a really great job. It is rare that they ever get people to clap here". I thought "Wow!" because people were clapping after almost every song, some hollering out "Yeah" or "Praise God"!

One man came up to the stage, seemed to bow his head to David, to thank him and set a dollar bill on stage. A little while later, another man came up on stage and grabbed the dollar bill. By the end of the show, the first man set a pile of change on stage. I had seen him walking around and looked like people were handing him something. I wondered if he was collecting change from the people. We were amazed that the change totaled over $4. This is from homeless people. The people who are sometimes known for begging for money. This amazed us.

One man left a note to David, started out "Dear Brother in Christ". It was a note of encouragement and one thing he wrote was "I pray God gives me the courage and faith and music to sing as he has to you".

One of the workers at the Open Door Mission came over and thanked us, saying "These guys need to hear this." He said it was so nice to be having music in there. He said, "We do not get this nearly enough".

Another gentleman who worked there thanked us a lot and spoke with us for about 10 minutes after the show. He reminded us that some of the men are there of nothing that is there own fault. For example, due to the economy and not being able to find a job. The thing that stood out the most to me is when he said if Jesus were walking planet earth right now, that is where you would find Him. He said Jesus would be everywhere, he would be in West Omaha too. But one place He would be the most would be there in the shelters. He mentioned how these people have nothing - and so many more people there are open to hearing the Truth. Unlike people who have "everything" they need.

So, we left with a little over $4 in change that day. This is not a lot of money, but it felt like we were leaving with a treasure chest overflowing with valuable riches.

"If you help the poor, you are lending to the Lord - and He will repay you!" Proverbs 19:17

Here is the change that the homeless people gave us.

Thursday, February 3, 2011

An Amazing Night With David and Jesus

Last night, while sitting on our green comfy sofa, I had this awesome memory of a super special night that happened over 4 years ago. I found an old journal entry and pictures to remember the date and details...

On January 14, 2007, David and I were sitting on his green comfy sofa. We were not married at this time, although we knew God brought us together to be husband and wife and for His plans and purposes. On this evening several years ago, I felt like God was mad at me about my sin. I told David, "I wish God was with us right now in human form to talk to us." I knew God's Spirit was there but I wanted to see His face. The expression on His face especially. A little while later, I looked up at the wall there was Jesus's face (a shadow). He looked loving and kind. He didn't look angry. This shadow of His face made 2 eyes, eyebrows, nose moustache, beard, the outline of His face with cheekbones. It looked like there were clouds behind Him to His right.

The above picture is the shadow we saw. The below pics are a zoom in of the shadow.

David and I prayed and asked God to speak to us. We sat in silence for about 5 minutes to hear what God would say to us. Afterwards we started talking. David asked if I thought God was mad at me. I slowly started to cry. David began telling me how much God loves me and that I am precious to Him. I began to really cry, so much that I was sobbing. We hugged and both cried. It really meant a lot to him that I opened up and expressed my feelings. That night was super special.

The face was on the wall for at least a year after that. We would sometimes show people when they would come over and it was dark. The face only appeared when the sun was down, the living room light was off and the dining room light was on. The dining room light shone through the neon Coors beer sign and artificial plant on top of the armoire. At some point the plant or something must have got moved a little. So, this shadow is no longer on our wall. But the memory of the moment is clear.

God, Your love is amazing! I love the ways you love! Thank you for reminding me of this intimate time with You and David! Thank you for bringing us together and using our lives for Your Glory!

Thursday, January 27, 2011

A Big Snowball of Gratitude

I was resting today and pondering things I am thankful for and cool things that have happened in the past month. Before that though, I had been feeling way more on the negative side.

During my time of rest this evening, God nudged me to think of 10 things I am thankful for. Gratitude seems to have a snowball effect. I first thought of a few. Then, I thought of more. Then, several minutes later I was thinking of more and more.

Here are some of the things I thought of and am still thinking of:

~ So thankful for David's health, and my health.

~ David's beautiful, healing music.

~ It has been one month today that David and I have been working from home together and I am thankful that we work so well together. If/when we do get into a disagreement or conflict we are good at resolving it right away. Thanks God, for your help with this!

~ I am so thankful for a husband who obeys what God calls him to do, even when he has to leave everything the world says is security (job, retirement, health insurance). I am so proud of David and thankful for him.

~ I had this thought: God must be up to something through facing Goliath, that He would call us 2 1/2 years ago to raise support, me to leave my job, and my husband to leave his. Wow! And good thing He only tells us a little bit at a time. I don't know if we would have believed him 2 1/2 years ago if He would have all of a sudden said that we would both leave our jobs and be doing ministry full time in 2 1/2 years.

~ I am so thankful to be studying Colossians with others at Heartland Church. I am excited about the challenge of memorizing the book in one year! Mostly excited to have God's Truth sinking deep in my heart.

~ Also thankful to be studying Proverbs with my friends Christa and Lian. A few years ago, I began studying Proverbs at the beginning of each year. Great life lessons and Truths on so many things. And I love that I am studying it with friends this year. Friends sharpen friends!

~ So thankful that we had a house showing yesterday evening. Now our house is super clean! And I love working from a clean house.

~ While cleaning the house yesterday, David found a card in the basement that he had bought years ago that he saved for his wife (this was before we met). He gave me the card yesterday. I felt like God had him find it at the perfect time. Reminds me that God is in control and I need to always trust His timing for things.

~ The opportunity for David to lead the chapel service at the Open Door Mission a couple of weeks ago.

~ A letter & donation that arrived in the mail today from a family member who was inspired by the support letter we sent. It was the second inspiring letter we received from family. We hung them up in our kitchen. I love encouraging letters!

~ Singing a praise song to God today with David in our kitchen. :)

~ The 10 day forecast said it is supposed to be really nice next Thursday, Friday and Saturday. Sunny and mid 30's!

~ Had a super fun time at David's show on Tuesday night with Amy Schmidt and Orion Walsh! And thankful for the great turn out.

~ So thankful to have people being supportive of our ministry, through encouraging words, through prayer, and/or financial support.

~ God told us several times at the beginning of this month to be generous. We had so much fun with this because David and I both love to give. We have had several opportunities this month to help people and be a blessing to them. I am thankful to be able to be generous.

~ Although we are only at a small percentage of our financial need for our ministry, we are so thankful for the financial support that is coming in! It means so much to us to have support from others who we care about.

~ Having people tell us recently that our story is inspiring!

~ Looking forward to going to my mom's house on Sunday afternoon to celebrate her birthday!

Thank you, God! Thank you for disciplining me to think of things I am thankful for. I am filled with so much joy because of you! You always know exactly what I need. I am so thankful for you, God!