Monday, December 20, 2010

Gifts of Grace Taken for Granted

The begining of this list is from the week of December 20th. I just never got around to hitting publish.

33. health insurance
34. encouragement for my husband
35. a full refrigerator
36. no more lease payments
37. friends who understand when it's one of those days
38. my "nieces" and the joy they bring us
39. singing the Hallelujah Chorus
40. mornings when the Father knows best
41. a Friday night with my hubby, candles, the Christmas tree, and card writing
42. a willing, obedient Savior

The second half of this post is in response to the reading I've been doing the past couple of days. I'm about halfway through "When Helping Hurts: How to Allieviate Poverty without Hurting the Poor and Yourself" by Steve Corbett & Brian Fikkert. I'm really enjoying the book as it's a biblical perspective on my social work training. I'm also surprised by how much the authors emphasize that the Lord created us to be stewards, he created us to work. Adam and Eve weren't just to hang out in the garden, but they were there to tend to the garden. I currently work in workforce development, helping people find and retain jobs but I hadn't given much thought to the God given purpose of my work. Needless to say, this book has been an inspiring and enjoyable read for me the last couple of days.

It has also brought me to a humbled place of realization today, recognizing many gifts that I have been given throughout my lifetime that I have completely taken for granted. Here's the second part of my grace gift list for this post.

43. Never having to wonder if I would eat today
44. Never wondering if I would go to college, but rather where
45. Never lacking for a shower, soap, shampoo, toothpaste
46. Access to huge grocery stores and the means to buy most anything I wanted
47. A pantry and two refridgerators filled with (mostly) healthy food
48. Clean water that I can drink right from the tap
49. The ability to wash and dry my clothes with machines
50. Never having to choose between medication and food
51. Never worrying about having to live on the street
52. Heat in the winter and air conditioning in the summer
53. Electricity that's on all day
54. Access to information
55. The ability to read and enjoy it
56. A solid support system
57. Never worrying about if my baby will be loved and accepted by our family
58. A bed to sleep on and a pillow under my head
59. Hot water when I want it
60. Shoes on my feet and pairs to spare in my closet
61. Laundry detergent, dog food, a hair dryer, paid vacation days
62. So much more than I need or deserve
63. The appreciation for what I've been given
64. The desire to share it with others

Monday, December 13, 2010

Gifts of Grace

Starting this week, I'm going to try and actually write down one thing each day as opposed to trying to come up with a list on Monday night. Maybe I could fill a few pages of one of my mostly empty journals.

Gifts of grace I'm grateful for this week
24. the blank pages of a new calendar
25. a just-in-time, hand-me-down snow blower
26. Sam's snow day dance
27. a husband who gets up to scrape and start my car
28. ministry through baked goods for our neighbors and my boys
29. Christmas movies that make me cry (granted lots of things make me cry right now, but Elf gets me every year)
30. an album that tells not only the story of Christmas, but of creation and the cross
31. "Little Lambs" climbing in my lap on Sunday morning
32. clean sheets

Monday, December 6, 2010

An intentional, creative, and trashy Christmas wreath

I've been convicted this year to really be intentional about how we budget for Christmas. The hope is to give more to others who have real needs rather than just overindulging for ourselves.

In order to keep things in check, we've limited gifts for each other to one from each of the following categories: Something they want, something they need, something to wear, and something to read. (I totally stole this from someone else in blogland. Can't remember who, but thanks!) It's made shopping much more fun for me this year, as it's forced me to be more creative as well as intentional.

I also decided that I didn't want to spend money on additional Christmas decor. We've pretty much filled our green and red tubs with things we'd brought into marriage from childhood, hand-me-downs and items purchased in years past. The one thing that was missing was a wreath for the front door. Last year I bought a fresh one from a friend at work whose son was selling them for a fundraiser. That wasn't an option this year, so I headed to the craft store to find something cute. I was hopeful that I wouldn't have to spend much, especially since Christmas decor was 50% off. But to my surprise, the cheapest wreath was going to run me at least $30 at half off. Thirty dollars is not an huge amount, but I could not justify needing what was at one point a $60 wreath.

Over the weekend, my husband had hung an old wreath that I made in elementary school on the front door. It's made out of a wire coat hanger and white plastic trash bags. It's not fresh or new but it looks pretty good from the street with a big red bow on it. Most importantly, it fits our convictions to spend less and give more. So we're having an intentional, creative, and a little trashy Christmas this year.

In case anyone wants to recreate the wreath, here's a quick how to. It was always special to me to have this wreath hanging on my bedroom door as a child.

You'll need:
A wire hanger
Lots of white trash bags cut into one inch wide, 6 inch long strips
Ribbon for a bow

It will probably require sharp scissors to cut the trash bags well. You can make your strips shorter or longer depending on the desired fluffiness for your wreath.

Bend the wire hanger into as best a circle as you can. It doesn't have to be perfect, but should be somewhat round. The hook of the hanger will become the hook that your wreath hangs from.

Simply tie the strips of trash bag around the wire hanger. I would recommend double knotting. Scrunch them together as you make your way around the hanger. The more trash bag strips you tie on, the fuller your wreath will be.

Add a pretty bow and you've got a beautiful white fluffy wreath to hang anywhere in the house.

A first hot chocolate

This week's gifts from my Abba...

11. a first hot chocolate warming cold hands
12. my boys
13. listening to father/"son" bonding time
14. chances to serve alongside our students
15. time to dream with my husband
16. keeping my snuggie in my cubicle
17. homemade stew
18. my photographer friend
19. pictures worthy of frames
20. honest conversation complete with tears
21. family room worship
22. hearing the gospel proclaimed through song at the mall
23. entering a season of growth

Friday, December 3, 2010

too much and not enough

i need to write more and read less
for the moment.
too much data swimming in my brain,
no time to process,
so little output.

i need filters
so that only what is true, noble and right,
finds its way inside.
So that the output might be
simply pure and lovely.

instead of constantly consuming
and feeling famished,
i want to give and find myself full.