Practicing Gratitude 10.31

>> Thursday, October 31, 2013

TT hosted in October by Iris @ Grace Alone
A month.  A whole month since I specifically talked about things I was thankful for here on the ol' blawg!  And in the month of the Canadian Thanksgiving holiday, even!! I can't believe it's been that long.  And like usual when I miss a week or two here and there, it's not like there's been nothing I'm thankful for.  No, no, there's been PLENTY, but one of the major ones is decreased screen time (and then the resulting increased productivity as well!), so I guess that's probably a good enough explanation of why it's been so long!!

I'm thankful that this month has been a season of change in my personal habits ~ getting a handle on breaking some bad ones, making adjustments to my daily routine to make it easier to replace the bad with good, and making some noticeable progress on forming productive, beneficial habits.

I'm thankful for getting things done around the house and yard.  I always need to rake around the house twice each fall because we have a rather wide variety of trees and shrubs close to the house that shed their leaves at different times, but I almost never bother with the second raking, opting customarily to put it off till spring.  But this year I did both, AND did one last mowing of the lawn.  And the yard looks so much nicer.  I'm grateful for growing in self-discipline and will-power... and the evidence thereof!

I'm thankful for work.  You know, it's tough to think of work as being a good thing, but it really does feel good to be industrious and to know you've done something to benefit your family.  Most of the work I do, I don't love in and of itself, but boy, I sure do love how it feels when it's done!  (And especially when I know it's appreciated by my family!!)  And there's no question being busy and accomplishing things, even just a bunch of little, seemingly meaningless things (or even things that will get UNdone as soon as the family comes home from school and work!), still feels so much better than sitting around all day, doing what I LIKE doing, but knowing deep down it's been a wasted day.

As a full-time home-keeper, I'm also grateful my work allows for and encourages creativity.  I have the time to learn and practice different painting and/or decorating techniques.  I feel like a puzzlemaster or Tetris champion when I manage to cram tons of our STUFF into the available storage I have on hand without needing to buy another bin, box, or shelving unit.  I can display some of the amazing photographs I've taken (not that the photos are necessarily amazing, but rather the subjects!!), or experiment in the kitchen ~ my personal favourite.  I'm thankful for the variety of responsibilities that come with my job, and the many ways in which I can carry them out.

And I'm thankful for the odd day when, for whatever reason, the to-do list is short and I have the afternoon to read.  Or write a long-overdue Thankful Thursday post!

What are YOU thankful for today?



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Joy

>> Monday, October 28, 2013

Many years ago, my mom overheard an exchange between a mother and a young daughter at a department store.  The mother was clearly refusing to give in to any of the "suggestions" the daughter was making about what should go into their cart, and finally, the little girl sobbed, "But I need something to make me happy!"

Since then, that phrase has often been used in my family.  It's generally a rather tongue-in-cheek acknowledgement that we KNOW things won't make us happy, yet we want to give in to our desire for them anyway.  And it's always most satisfying if someone else recognizes our "need" and GIVES us the thing that will make us happy!

But that kind of happiness isn't joy.  It doesn't last.  No matter how thrilled we are with the "thing," and even if it keeps us happy for a significant amount of time, it never removes or cures our desire for other things we think will make us happy.

I was listening to an old program on Revive Our Hearts a while back when I needed counsel on cultivating and fostering a joyful heart.  The series, entitled "The Cry of the Captives" was studying Psalm 126, and I found this particular quote rather thought-provoking:

Joy is a product of abundance; it is the overflow of vitality . . . We try to get joy through entertainment. We pay someone to make jokes, tell stories, perform dramatic actions and sing songs.  The enormous entertainment industry in our land is a sign of the depletion of joy in our culture.

We don’t have the real thing, so we have to buy it.  Society is a bored, gluttonous king employing a court jester to divert it after an overindulgent meal. But that kind of joy never penetrates our lives. It never changes our basic constitution. The effects are extremely temporary—a few minutes, a few hours, a few days at most.

When we run out of money, the joy trickles away. We cannot make ourselves joyful. Joy cannot be commanded, purchased, or arranged. But there is something we can do.

We can decide to live in response to the abundance of God and not under the dictatorship of our own poor needs. We can decide to live in the environment of a living God and not our own dying selves. We can decide to center ourselves in the God who generously gives and not in our own egos, which greedily grab.  One of the certain consequences of such a life, a life centered in Christ, is joy.  The kind expressed in Psalm 126. (all emphasis added)
~ Eugene Petersen, “A Long Obedience in the Same Direction:
Discipleship in an Instant Society.”
(92-93)
 
I need this reminder today, too.   Do I want to be temporarily entertained, or do I want unending, eternal joy?  My happiness is interrupted so easily and so often by so many different circumstances; am I joyful despite those interruptions?

Where does YOUR joy come from?



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Playfulness with a Purpose

>> Thursday, October 24, 2013

This past summer at our annual family gathering, I was chatting with an uncle while watching numerous aunts, uncles, cousins, and cousins' children playing in, on, or near the water.  Of particular interest was the difference between how moms and dads interacted with youngsters, whether their own or someone else's.

Most of the dads frolicked and played together with the youngsters like other youngsters.  Most of the moms assisted youngsters in their play, but weren't actually engaged in the play itself.

Why do women seem to lose their ability to play? I lamented to my uncle.  When does that happen?  When do we become "too old" to play?  And why doesn't that happen to men?

He couldn't offer me any reasons as to why it happens, but he agreed there seemed to be a marked difference between the sexes in this respect.  When I asked what I could do to try and re-cultivate that ability, he suggested I devote more time to playing practical jokes on my family, and assisting my children in carrying out some of their own.  He wasn't completely serious, but given his personality and sense of humour, it wasn't surprising advice!

I was looking for something completely different online this morning when I stumbled upon this particular quote:


And I think it offers some great incentive to maybe put his advice into practice! Or at least conscientiously seek out ways to have fun so that my girls don't dread growing up and becoming a "boring, old mom!!" ;)

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The Fires of Fall

>> Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Fire is one of my favourite things about this time of year, but the government has placed new restrictions on field burning in the last few years, so getting nighttime pictures of a field of fire is a thing of the past.


Sadly.  (In my opinion, anyway ~ I realize the legislation comes as a result of so many feeling differently about it!)

The daytime field fires just aren't as impressive.  Plus, there are simply far fewer farmers who still deal with stubble that way.  Many have added choppers to their combines now that reduce the stubble to dust as the fields are being harvested, eliminating the need for burning altogether.


But at least we can still have fun burning our leaves!  It was two weeks ago already that I did it (sheesh, my reporting is getting a little sloppy!) and while I usually do it over the course of a couple of days, I was SO glad I'd decided to do the whole job from start to finish that Thursday afternoon.


Because the next morning the rain started and we got more than an inch over the course of the next 36 hours!  That's not a great thing this time of year.


Now, of course, the hedge, the little red trees at the end of the house, and the two larger trees behind the house have finally shed their leaves as well, so I'll need to do it again, but I'm HOPING that can happen this weekend.  We had $n*w on Saturday night which isn't quite gone, but if the forecast for the next few days is relatively accurate, the last traces should disappear today, and hopefully things will be dry enough by the weekend to finish the job.


The lawn will probably be dry enough for one last mowing, too....


Raking Leaves

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First Snow

>> Sunday, October 20, 2013

As un-ready as I am for there to be snow on the ground at this time of year (or any time of year outside of Dec 15 to Feb 15, inclusive, for that matter!), the first snow is different.  I don't hate it quite as much as the rest.  Partly, because I know it is highly unlikely that it will remain on the ground more than a day or two.

And partly because it always makes me think of this hymn:

last night
Lord Jesus, I long to be perfectly whole;
I want Thee forever to live in my soul;
Break down every idol, cast out every foe—
Now wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow.
 
Refrain:
Whiter than snow, yes, whiter than snow,
Now wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow.
 
Lord Jesus, let nothing unholy remain,
Apply Thine own blood and extract every stain;
To get this blest cleansing, I all things forego—
Now wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow.
 
Lord Jesus, look down from Thy throne in the skies,
And help me to make a complete sacrifice;
I give up myself, and whatever I know—
Now wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow.


this morning
Lord Jesus, for this I most humbly entreat,
I wait, blessed Lord, at Thy crucified feet,
By faith for my cleansing, I see thy blood flow—
Now wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow.
 
Lord Jesus, Thou seest I patiently wait;
Come now and within me a new heart create;
To those who have sought Thee Thou never said’st “No”—
Now wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow.
 
The blessing by faith, I receive from above;
Oh, glory! my soul is made perfect in love;
My prayer has prevailed, and this moment I know,
The blood is applied, I am whiter than snow.
 
                                                               ~ James L. Nicholson, 1872

And I can't help but be thankful for the truth of which it speaks.
 
But now that it's reminded me and I've sung through it and thanked God for the gift of salvation and His sanctifying grace...
 
...I don't mind if it disappears!!

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Meanwhile, up in Canada...

>> Sunday, October 13, 2013



Because I have been given much, I too must give.
Because of Thy great bounty, Lord, each day I live.
I shall divide my gifts from Thee
With ev'ry brother that I see
Who has the need of help from me.

Because I have been sheltered, fed, by Thy good care,
I cannot see another's lack and I not share
My glowing fire, my loaf of bread,
My roof's safe shelter overhead,
That he too may be comforted.

Because love has been lavished so upon me, Lord,
A wealth I know that was not meant for me to hoard,
I shall give love to those in need ~
Shall show that love by word and deed;
Thus shall my thanks be thanks indeed.

~ Grace Noll Crowell

This is one of my favourite hymns.  It indicates ~ and I think Scripture bears this out ~ that if we're really truly grateful for the good things in our lives (most importantly, our salvation), there will be a genuine out-pouring of love for others manifest not only in our words, but in our actions as well. That we will seek to be a blessing to others in the same ways God has blessed us.

Certainly, saying thank you and voicing gratitude is something we should be practicing all the time.  And often, that's all that's necessary or required, but sometimes ~ I know for myself, anyway ~ we content ourselves a little too easily with just words.  I need to keep reminding myself that thanksgiving isn't just between me and God; it should affect (and INfect!) those around me, too.  And not just this one specific day of the year, but throughout the next 364 as well.

Pilgrim Girl 

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5-Minute Friday

>> Friday, October 11, 2013

5 Minute Friday is "sort of a writing flashmob" hosted weekly by blogger Lisa-Jo Baker.  Each Friday she selects a subject and your job is to write about it for 5 minutes ~ no editing, just raw and free ~ and link to her post.  Just write.  For 5 minutes.  And there's only one rule:  After you've linked your post, you MUST visit the person who linked up before you and leave a comment.

Okay, ready?  Today's topic is: Ordinary

And... GO

My girls love the book "Ordinary Amos."  Every time we visit my parents, it gets requested as a bedtime story.  Have you heard of it?  It's the story of a man with an ordinary life.  He has an ordinary house, an ordinary chair, an ordinary fireplace, an ordinary pet, and ordinary /pastime/job/hobby... each and every day is the same.  And he's bored.

One day his ordinary pastime/job/hobby gives him some much-needed excitement.  You see, Amos is a fisherman, and while out on his ordinary pond in his ordinary boat, he feels a rather extraordinary tug on his line.  It's too much for him and the fish he's hooked has actually hooked him.  Father fish is excited to bring home such a fine specimen for dinner, but junior fish begs to keep him as a pet.  So mother fish gets him an air bowl and they put a chair and a fireplace in there for Amos and he becomes the family pet.

Needless to say, he finds himself wishing for his ordinary life back, but there is no escape.  And junior isn't very good at looking after his pet either, so the air gets stale and the garbage begins to pile up.  Amos is starting to feel pretty icky and listless when mother fish comes in to junior's room, proclaims, "I KNEW he was too irresponsible to have a pet!" and promptly throws Amos up out of the room, up out of the water, and into the air on dry land where he belongs.

Needless to say, Amos is suddenly very thankful for his old boring, ordinary life.

I hope something so drastic doesn't have to happen to me before I start feeling more grateful for mine.

STOP

Whew!  How did YOU do??





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The Aviator

>> Tuesday, October 8, 2013

I first saw him when a huge something-or-other flew past our dining room window.  I just saw it from the corner of my eye, and when I glanced out the window at the bird-feeder and didn't see anything out of the ordinary, I figured it must just have been a shadow.  But then I noticed Spike, our tomcat, staring intently at something near our front doorstep, so I flattened my face against the window to look as close to the house as I could.  And there it was, sitting beside the downspout extension... a hawk of some sort.


Spike made it known the visitor was unwelcome and chased it away.  It flew quite low and slow, and really, had Spike wanted to, he could easily have dragged it down again, but given that the bird's body was about the size of his own and the wingspan making it look much bigger yet, he didn't bother.  Just made sure it didn't want to stick around.

But stick around it did.  It spent much of the rest of the day sitting in a tree at the end of the driveway, allowing me to get fairly close to take some pictures.


It appears to be an immature Red Tail Hawk, and it was back the next morning, sitting on the ground just inside the shelter-belt hedge across the driveway from the dining room window.


He didn't care much for the kittens getting too close (above, you can see the back of a grey/black kitten's head and part of its body on the left side of the photo)


or the dog sniffing him out (see black schnozz on the right, above), but he made no attempt to fly away.  His legs and wings seemed to be fine though, since I'd seen him fly the day before and we'd seen him hop about in the bush a little, so we weren't really sure what the problem was.  Perhaps his instincts were a little too immature and underdeveloped yet.


In any case, he allowed The Man to grab him, pick him up, and put him on the bird feeder, where he perched for a while, but seemed to be a bit nervous with all of us standing around and talking.  Thinking that maybe he was a little on the weak side, since it seemed possible he wasn't much of an accomplished hunter yet, we tried feeding him some breakfast sausage, but he was uninterested.  Probably wasn't bloody enough for a bird of prey!


He hopped back onto The Man's arm for a while before flying onto the garage roof, where, as far as I know, he stayed until the afternoon when we saw it again in a tree beside the driveway.  Later it was sitting on the ground in the ditch.

I haven't seen it since, so I'm HOPING it figured a few things out...

Like migrating!

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