Friday, November 28, 2008

Grateful Hearts
Lots of people consider today Black Friday and Thanksgiving can be somewhat overshadowed by the unofficial start of the Christmas shopping season. I don't want to do that and yesterday, my family and I did what some would call, "count their blessings" and we simply call it a gratitude list, which each of us write and then share with one another.
This time some one said let's do it like boggle and see who has matches, instead of crossing the item off we simply checked them off. It added some fun and flare to something I hope will never grow old. Each of us are grateful for one another and God who provides for all of our needs along with a wide variety of things. Our identities and life experiences were found in each of the lists.
Reflecting on the concept of being grateful, I have discovered that grateful people and those who practice gratitude are rarely found complaining. I must admit when I don't remember to be grateful, my tendency is to fall into "fault finding" in things, people and circumstances. Being grateful breeds contentment, acceptance and optimism.
Instead of stealing from yesterday's list, I will come up with something on the spot. Today I am grateful to be writing this blog, I am glad to be Dan's wife and the mother of Grace, Katie and Michael, I thank God for heat in New England and air conditioning in Florida, I will not take the reading of God's Word for granted, the rising and setting of the sun, clean drinking water and fresh fruit and vegetables, the many opportunities to love other people.
I would also like to recall the first time my friend, Kathleen asked me to list 5 things to be grateful for: my knee jerk reaction was FIVE things!!! Are you kidding? I asked her. She was dead serious. So while on the phone I did my best to list 5 things, I imagine that my Newport Light cigarettes were on the list and perhaps that I was sober, but whatever else I came up with, I couldn't tell you. However, it was the beginning of developing a habit of writing a gratitude list every morning. (one that would not be a bad one to get back into)
Here is to hoping that every person who stumbles upon this blog will take time to express gratitude for blessings receive and strength given for trials faced.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Value life

This past Saturday was National Suicide Survivor's Day and I was made aware of it by a younger friend on Facebook. I just want to be another voice added to those who are crying out, "Life is worth living. There is an Author of life, He writes the book and you play your part. The role He has for you only you can play. Life is not easy but we tend to forget that Death comes to all and that it will be soon enough."

In an article in the Dallas News a young man committed suicide with a live streaming on the internet:

Montana Miller, an assistant professor of popular culture at Bowling Green State University in Ohio, said Biggs' very public suicide was not shocking, given the way teenagers chronicle every facet of their lives on sites like Facebook and MySpace.

"If it's not recorded or documented then it doesn't even seem worthwhile," she said. "For today's generation it might seem, 'What's the point of doing it if everyone isn't going to see it?"'

This quote from the article got me to thinking about living life to an audience of One. The question posed "What is the point of doing it [whatever 'it' may be] if everyone isn't going to see it?" So often the riches things in life are the hidden treasures. Right now our family is finding some in the midst of a small trial, it is those things that the Father sees done in secret that reap rewards. Those who are web camming or are fully documenting the deeds on a social network, you have your reward in full. I am not saying there is something wrong with documentation, we need to have documentation for many things, what I am saying is that some things are intimate and ought to be private. There are times when we need to be extremely courageous or humble depending on what our circumstances present us and to know that the Father has his eye on us is enough. (see Matthew 6;3-6)

To achieve balance between knowing when to keep your own life private and when to live your life as an open book takes discernment. We so need to continue to keep a check on ourselves as well as guide our children. I continue to make mistakes. If there is one lesson that I would like to have solidly down it is "to pause and to think before I speak or act." Failing to do this gets me in more trouble then anything else. There are many things that we could list definitely on each side of the ledger.

One thing that I would like to be more invested in is the sharing of ideas on the open book side. I think this is one of the hardest to discern. Some ideas come from left field and don't belong on either side, other ideas are excellent that we may share with a close friend and that friend may encourage us or help us to know whether or not to share it with others. The young man who committed suicide with an Internet audience, talked about it. Generally, those who really don't want to go through with it will start talking about it because they want help and perhaps they don't know how to ask. If you go and read the article it says that this guy was talking about it. It is not a joke. The pain of living does appear to be greater sometimes to some people but if someone you know starts talking about suicide, I implore you to help them to get help.

The hope that I have as a believer in the Giver and Sustainer of Life is the first thing I want to share with the hurting. God created each and every human being in His likeness, in His image. Let that be the first word, "You were made on purpose." There is a lot of help out there, counseling, medication and meditation. Most people need the right combination but all people need to know the truth, that their life matters.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ be with your spirit.
This is the concluding thought in the letter from Paul to the Philippians.

I have been thinking about departing words perhaps because in the last week I have been to a memorial mass and a funeral mass. It is not just our good-byes at death but the end of the day with our kids and when we are leaving someone after a visit.
Over the last 5 & 1/2 years we have had almost nothing but blessings spoken over us. We have pulled out from Marlborough, MA (twice now), Virginia Beach (03 & 04), Ft. Myers, FL (04 & 05), Tilman, MD (04), Knoxville, TN (05), Quichee, VT (05), Naples, FL (06), Gainesville, FL (07), Charlottesville, VA (07), Hull, MA (08). Each place has its dear people that hold special places in our hearts and those that we have gotten to know and love that have blessed by their words as much as their actions.
I would agree with James one of the writer in the New Testament that the tongue is the hardest thing for us to tame and that both blessings and curses come from the same place. For the last 20 plus years, the Lord has been at work in me, disciplining and training me and I still find myself with my foot in my mouth and lately, I have been choking on a calf muscles and knees (at least it wasn't the whole leg). I want to get back to just nippling on my toes once in a while.

This requires a very simple principle: THINK before you SPEAK. After pondering this for some time, in between my large blunders, what do I want the last word to be? Seems like a no brainer, blessing of course! If life were so clean! If sinners never sinned! Most of us, have to work at it. There are people out there that seem to just have "it." I just don't happen to be one of them.

Some of our favorites are: "I love you" "Thanks..." "See you soon" "Have a good day (unless you have other plans)" "Take care" "Safe home"
There are 4 that I want to say more often to four very special people in my life:
"May the God of Hope fill you,
Michael with all joy and peace as you trust in Him. So that you may over flow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit."
"And God is able,
Katie, to make all of his grace abound to you, so that at all times having all that you need you may abound in every good work."
"May our Lord Jesus Christ, himself and God our Father, who loves you,
Grace and by his grace has given you eternal encouragement and good hope, encourage your heart and strengthen you in every good deed and word."
"So then
Daniel, just as you receive Christ Jesus as Lord continue to live in Him, be rooted and built up in Him and strengthened in the faith just as you were taught and be overflowing with thankfulness."
I would love to hear some of your favorite parting words!

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

My family consist of 5 very different people who all happen to love reading and collecting books. It is rare that each of us do not have a book going. At least a third of what we pack each time we moved have been books. Try as we may we just seem to keep collecting. We send some to my dear friend, Elizabeth to store and enjoy and then we find ourselves buying more books.
Recently, I found myself willing to put some of our books on sale at Amazon. Some of these books have never been cracked and as much as I may have wanted to read them at the time of purchase, they just never grabbed my attention. Sitting in a box or on a shelf, never having been open, the books are but blocks of paper. That is not to say that the author did not pour his or her heart and soul into the book. I am sure he or she did. However, if it is not being read or referred to by me or my family, it is just taking up space longing to be read by someone.
Other volumes hold such a place in my heart. My eyes simply landing upon the binder of a title that I have either read to myself or possibly read to my children brings back a flood of memories. The authors are my friends because they have spoken from their heart to mine.
Books communicate life affirming truths and deadly lies. We must be discerning in what we read. This does not mean that we should avoid reading those writers who we may disagree with or spew lies. Some people may choose to avoid all that contains "sin" and find themselves in a cloister. Thinking that they are keeping themselves from sin, but have they? The books that delight, encourage and challenge us do in fact promote life, growth and stimulate both the heart and mind.
There is more writing to do. I am in the back of the pack in the November marathon known as NanoWrimo.

Thursday, November 06, 2008

The Modern Day Storytellers

There are a group of people who are our modern day story tellers. Some tell story that only last for a season or two and others seem to be able to write a series of stories that take quite a long time to tell. Then there are those stories that we want to see again and again. Yes we want to see a sit-com, dramatic series, mystery or crime solvers. Some call it the idiot box, however like a book, it is just the means which is used to deliver the story. Television can be destructive and a life sucker, but writers do use it to tell stories.
The first season of Joan of Arcadia was well done. This show was created and written by Barbara Hall and seven other writers. For those of you not familiar with this particular story. It is about a girl named Joan who is in high school, lives at home with her mother, father and 2 brothers. God appears to Joan in the form of every day people. God in whatever form challenges, encourages, and comes along side Joan in everyday circumstances. Sometimes it looks like God sets Joan up and then walks away, leaving Joan to make decisions and take action. Joan wants to do the right thing, quite often does and sometimes doesn't, and we get to witness the outcome. All characters are engaging and you can't help but love Joan and her whole family.
I know this is not a very current series but this is the 21st century, you can rent the DVDs or perhaps find them in your public library.
So, what is your favorite TV show that tells a story?

Tuesday, November 04, 2008

A day without writing is like a day without eating. You can survive many days without eating but eventually you have to eat or you will die. So it is with the writer who fails to write.

Sunday, November 02, 2008

Let's Tell a Story
In my house November has become the month that each of us face the challenge to write a 50,000 word novel inside of one month. There is a global community of people from around the world who take on the challenge and encourage one another to get the task done. I have added the website to my links on the side bar.
Our return to New England in 2005 was the first year that we participated. I came up short by 3,000 words. It is by far still my favorite story and I still haven't finished it. In 2006 each of us were winners (reaching a minimum of 50,000 words). Katie wrote 2 novels that month! In 2007, I just did not commit to the task and the site has so much traffic right now, that it is taking a little bit of time to load.
So here I am at my blog letting my reader know what I will be up to this month. Along with caring for Dan who broke his foot the same night the Red Sox lost in the 7th game to the Rays. So, I am off to my other blog and then I will start my 50,000 word novel. Yes, I will write even though I am a good 30 hours behind Katie and Michael.
KEEP WRITING! (now where have I heard that before ;-)