Saturday, January 31, 2015

1000 gifts: after five years, reached #1000!

I want to make one of these for myself

My gifts (blessings) from January. This 1000 gifts list is mostly written for myself and for my family. I don't expect anyone else to read all these details, but I decided to leave these posts "public" just in case they might inspire someone else someday to start keeping a gifts list. Keeping this list has
changed my life.

995. Starting the New Year reading a great book
At midnight, the girls were watching the ball drop on the computer, and I was nestled in my recliner reading a good book. In fact, I spent most of the first day of the year reading "Among Others" by Jo Walton, and I was perfectly content. Such a "me" book!

996. A surprising kind of sunset
A kind of sunset I've never seen before - beautiful red clouds but then right before dark they turned kind of spooky, like red eyes looking out of darkness, or like ash cast over red fire. Love how God's creation keeps surprising me.

997. Compliment from my boss 
Jeff H. said he'd like for the University of Wyoming offer a cartography class and that he would want me to teach it!

998. Priorities was never meant to be plural
Originally "priority" meant only one thing, the Priority. If you make God the one priority, everything else will fall in place.

999. Dragonfly wings
Watched a couple Nature shows on PBS, and I'd forgotten how much I love these shows (I grew up watching Nature and Wild Kingdom).  A dragonfly's flight in slow motion is a stunning thing: the four wings swirling in and out of each other.

 1000. A stone from the brook of Elah, Israel
Several of our friends from church went to Israel last month, and showed us their pictures and talking about all the Biblical events that happened at different places. Terry and Katie brought me back a stone from the Brook of Elah where David picked up the stones he threw at Goliath. At first I was a little jealous, oh Lord when will I ever have a chance to go, and walk the places that I have loved reading about so much in your Word? But then God took away the covetousness and gave me complete peace.

1. Adam and Dog video
Since I'm back at the beginning of my list for my second round of 1000 gifts, I thought I'd start with a reference from Genesis.  This 15 minute short film imagines the first dog in the story of Adam and Eve, and it does a lovely job of conveying the beauty and wonder of the Garden of Eden.

2. Shepherding a Child's Heart
Great discussion at our moms' bible study about the chapter in this book, on how many methods for training children may get "surface" results but teach the wrong attitudes, like greed, fear, controlling or expectation of rewards. The heart is what matters to God, not external behavior. For instance, grounding could inadvertently train them to hate being home, that home is a punishment and leaving home is freedom. Not that you should never ground your kids when they've abused their freedom, but that your main point should be to address what desire of the heart motivated the wrong doing. Verses on the heart: Psalm 51:6  Surely you desire truth in the inner parts; you teach wisdom in the inmost place.  Proverbs 4:23, I Samuel 16:7, 2 Chronicles 16:9, Deuteronomy 10:12-13, Ezekiel 14:1-8 (they have set idols in their hearts) and Joel 2:12-13

3. Transparency in prayer requests
Often times our bible study or prayer group requests are for other people. Which is fine: but I'm always deeply touched by believers who humbly ask for prayer for themselves, when they're struggling with anger or fear or anxiety, etc. In Beth Moore's To Live Is Christ she shared how she struggled with anger that kept coming back. She shared her struggled with another believer and her anger eased. I want to have the courage to share my struggle with insecurity and ask for help in this spiritual warfare - Satan knows my weak point is insecurity, but it's so hard to admit it to others. I can't even go into detail about it here on the blog, where I feel free to share just about anything.

4. Reading Unbroken to my dad.
Dad loves WWII war stories, and I love the author Laura Hillenbrand (who also wrote Seabiscuit). I have enjoyed reading books to my daughters so much, and the discussions we get into, so I thought it might be something my dad and I could enjoy together too, since with his Parkinson's disease all he can anymore is just sit and watch TV. I think he did enjoy my reading him the first chapter, and even talked a little afterward, but he didn't want to me read more the next time I offered. Mom thinks it might be hard on his pride, which I can understand. I'm just trying to think of anything else beside sitting and watching TV with him. This is so heartbreaking. And yet, I chose to be thankful, and list this as a gift. Because I'm so very thankful for my dad. Recently, this verse gave me hope to keep praying for his salvation: 2 Samuel 14:14 Like water spilled on the ground, which cannot be recovered, so we must die. But God does not take away life; instead he devises ways so that a banished person may not remain estranged from Him.

5. Proverbs 18:1 He who separates himself seeks his own desire
This verse is actually a puzzle to me; even reading it in various translations and using the Blue Letter Bible to look up the original Hebrew has not helped me satisfactorily understand this verse. It can be interpreted in both positive and negative ways. But I think it's important for me to keep pondering it until God gives me insight; I suspect it might be related to an old struggle of mine, escapism.

6. Our radiant skin
Pastor shared this interesting fact in his preaching: that scientists have discovered our skin actually radiates a small amount of light. Moses, of course, had to wear a veil to cover the radiance of God he was reflecting when he returned from Mt. Sinai, for it was too much for the people to bear. Imagine what we will be like in heaven, reflecting God's glory! Imagine seeing the Glory of God himself! (His Glory is my theme word this year)

7. Serious makes a blanket adventure
One blanket is a waterfall (down the stairs), another is the bumpy river, the smooth river, the underground river (under a blanket draped over chairs), and a pink blanket is the fire river, where hot lava flows into the river and makes it explode.

8. Skiing with Blaze
One of my favorite memories from my junior high years is when my mom got me ski lessons and we went downhill skiing together (and since then of course we have dozens of wonderful skiing memories!) So I was overjoyed when a big discount came our way so that I could get Blaze skiing lessons, and by the  end of her very first day she was skiing with me down the big slopes, snowplowing and grinning like crazy. I figured out the last time I'd been skiing was 11 or 12 years ago at Winter Park with B. and Stars - I was worried I wouldn't be any good at in anymore, but I guess it's like riding a bicycle; the movement came right back to me (muscle memory is amazing!) And being in the snowy mountains and majestic pines, seeing light slant through the trees while swishing down the slopes... I wish I could bottle the feeling and the beauty, so I could drink it down daily. 

9. Continued sharing my favorite verses with the girls at home school Bible study (Judges through 1 Kings)

Judges 13:17 Then Manoah inquired of the angel of the Lord, "What is your name, so that we may honor you when your word comes true?" He replied. "Why do you ask my name? It is beyond understanding." ...and the Lord did an amazing thing while Manoah and his wife watched: as the flame blazed up from the altar toward heaven, the angel of the Lord ascended in the flame.

1 Samuel 16:7 For God sees not as man sees, for man looks at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart

2 Samuel 22: 7-11
In my distress I called upon the Lord, yes, I cried to my God; And from His temple He heard my voice, and my cry for help came into His ears. Then the earth shook and quaked, The foundations of heaven were trembling and were shaken, because He was angry. Smoke went up out of His nostrils, fire from His mouth devoured; coals were kindled by it. He bowed the heavens also, and came down with thick darkness under His feet. He rode on a cherub and flew; and He appeared on the wings of the wind. (This is from David's song when he was delivered from Saul. I love how the Lord is described almost like a dragon! And how he rides a cherub!)

1 Kings 8:58-61  (I love discovering divine paradoxes in the Scripture)
May He turn our hearts to him, to walk in obedience to him and keep the commands, decrees and laws he gave our ancestors. And may these words of mine, which I have prayed before the Lord, be near to the Lord our God day and night, that he may uphold the cause of his servant and the cause of his people Israel according to each day’s need, so that all the peoples of the earth may know that the Lord is God and that there is no other. And may your hearts be fully committed to the Lord our God, to live by his decrees and obey his commands.
(I love how Solomon asks God to turn our hearts, to make our hearts fully committed. God does the work first; then we are able to work for Him)

10. Come As You Are, by David Crowder

Come out of sadness from wherever you've been
Come broken hearted let rescue begin
Come find your mercy
Oh sinner, come kneel

Earth has no sorrow
That Heaven can't heal

So, lay down your burdens
Lay down your shame
All who are broken
Lift up your face
Oh wanderer, come home
You're not too far
So, lay down your hurt
Lay down your heart
Come as you are

There's hope for the hopeless
And all those who've strayed
Come sit at the table
Come taste the grace
There's rest for the weary
Rest that endures

Earth has no sorrow
That Heaven can't cure

Come as you are
Fall in His arms
Come as you are

There's joy for the morning
Oh sinner, be still

Earth has no sorrow
That Heaven can't heal


  1. I read most of your blessings!! and skimmed down the rest of this list but I must say that I did have to "ground" my 16 year old daughter for 3 weeks in January and it definitely had an impact on her. basically, she got in a car, after church, with a senior girl whom we know and love BUT never asked permission. she just ASSUMED that I would be ok with it (we have always trained our daughters to NEVER get in a car without permission) and then went to another church girl's home without permission ASSUMING I would go and pick her up. So...I told her she was not going anywhere socially for 3 week for each wrong doing. (the 3rd was texting me and TELLING me to pick her up in 30 min) our home, my husband and I do NOT do what children demand. She just assumed we wouldn't mind. So.....we Grounded her and we do NOT think she views our home as a punishment kind of place. In fact, she apologized, realized it was wrong after listening AGAIN (since age 3) of WHY she isn't to just get in the car even with good kids, church kids, youth group volunteers, etc. and she was asked out on her very first date during the grounding time. she did tell the boy that she couldn't go on a date because her parents had grounded her from all social events for 3 weeks and told him why. Sometimes, a punishment is necessary when discipline techniques don't stick. (there IS a difference between discipline and punishment)....the discipline was the training ad nauseum of always asking permission, always asking with manners, etc. to make a long story short...don't diss grounding....for my very social teenager, this punishment worked! And yes, she did end up having a date with the boy......about 2 weeks that she is no longer grounded. HAHA......:) LOVE that you did the 1000 gifts thing....I've been working on mine since reading the book 3 years ago......but i do mine with the FFF meme that goes around the various blogs on Fridays. In my own hard copy journal I am up to 580 blessings. It's been really interesting to reflect on what God brings into our lives. It's a great way to view daily life!!

    1. Thank you for reading this list, and for sharing your perspective... I shouldn't have made it sound like a blanket statement, that grounding is ALWAYS bad. I certainly think there is a time and place for it and I absolutely believe discipline is important in raising our children. I think I should have phrased it better. I think the danger I meant to convey was that disciplining only to get the desired behavior without addressing the heart is the issue.

  2. oh YES! totally agree with that!! enjoy your week!!