“The cynics…”

The cynics, they can only speak of the dark, of the obvious, and this is not hard. For all it’s supposed sophistication, it’s cynicism that’s simplistic. In a fallen world, how profound is to see the cracks?

The sages and prophets, the disciples and revolutionaries, they are the ones up on the ramparts, up on the wall pointing to the dawn of the new Kingdom coming, pointing to the light that breaks through all things broken, pointing to redemption always rising and to the Blazing God who never sleeps.

– Ann Voskamp

One Thousand Gifts – Tell me what YOU are thankful for!

As the New Year grins its slightly secretive, mostly extroverted grin, it is a good time to plop into a thankfulness beanbag and meditate on the gifts already in one’s life. It’s a good time to observe blessings and pick them up: like caterpillars on a walk in the woods: think about their many legs, their funny fur, their itsy-bitsy eyes, their specific place in the universe, their unique role in the ecosystem.

Be outlandishly thankful. I once read a quotation that was something like, “If you want to see a promise sprout, bury it in thanksgiving.” THAT is a great image!

Here are some things I am recently thankful for:

1. Hearing a helicopter at night and remembering my time in Baghdad

2. Serendipitously running into a friend and having lunch with her

3. My desk: a friend gave it to me and it’s larger than my last one

4. Having English as my first language: it’s useful and makes me more travel-ready

5. Fingernails. I think my fingers would be able to do a lot less if their tips were more squishy.

6. Having a dishwasher

7. My sister Dori is dating a Palestinian. (It’s so amazing to have the Middle East IN my family.)

8. My sister Dana & her husband work with kids full-time. This keeps them ultra-creative and fun.

9. The internet. I can keep in communication with friends all over the globe.

10. Knowing we are going glory to glory.

11. Hot water

12. The option of buying chemical-free dishwashing detergent.

13. The small tree outside my apartment. It’s sweet.

14. My car. It’s 20 years old and still alive and adventurous.

15. Living near a river.

16. Growing an appreciation for sparkly things.

17. Being able to read Arabic (albeit slowly).

18. Two people this week used their own gift certificates to buy me lunch. The gift that keeps on giving.

19. Being part of pastors’ prayer at my church

20. The archways on my apartment building.

21. Having spent two years in Bethel School of Supernatural Ministry. It’s like having learned a new language.

22. Friends who broaden my perspectives.

23. The online catalog of my local library.

24. Freedom.

25. My parents’ courage to support me whilst I go to war zones.

I would LOVE it if you would share 5-25 things YOU are thankful for in the comments below. THANKS!

More thankfulness inspiration here:

And if you want to join Ann Voskamp’s JOY DARE check out January’s Joy Dare

What to Do When You Want to Give Up and Stay in Bed

A French flag plays curtain to a Nashville street, an eyelid over the wide open picture window in this cafe where I sit tip-tapping my typing road through the pages of my book. By the 250 words per page standard I am on page 128. I took a break from my typedance routine to peruse a blog my friend Jenn introduced me to. It’s creative and Jesus-drenched. The writer is a true wordsmith and author of a New York Times bestseller list book, “One Thousand Gifts.” Her name is Ann Voskamp. She’s a mom of six, a farmer’s wife, and a hero to many for her honesty, gratitude, and wonder.

I simply had to share part of her blog,

particularly given the lately’s of my life: the sudden gift by a friend of a trip to Nashville, Tennessee for a Middle East Insight Conference; the collective encouragement of many at the conference; the moving expansion of my plans to visit Iraq this fall; the materialization of a fifteen year dream to bring hope and transformation into a war zone in the Middle East; and the happy-homey apartment I moved into July 1.

This is in stark contrast to the discouragement of a financial drought. I work part-time for an orphanage in Kenya, which I love, but it is not enough financially. I’ve applied for dozens of jobs, but I haven’t acquired any. This means I am feeling the stretch of taking what feels like every last penny and scraping it against the bottom of an empty chili pot in hopes of gathering some amount of sustenance.

I find myself not knowing how to move forward. The dichotomy of huge breakthrough paired with the waiting for the daily breakthroughs… it’s like having a photograph of a mansion in a majestic garden. The mansion is yours, but the title deed seems to have been mailed via ship on a three month journey from Timbuktu to the welcome mat of your heart.

I’m tired. I know one of my greatest attributes is hope against all odds. In fact, this is the core of the chapter I am presently writing for my book. And here we are, as often is the case, one’s fiercest passion seems to be on the other side of a veil, or perhaps a French flag in a cafe in Nashville. I couldn’t travel through that window even if I got a running start; I need to find the door. The lights are off and my flashlight’s beam has a small circumference. I am scanning every portion of the wall; sometimes I sleep and invite revelatory dreams to show me where the door is. I see hints, shadowy forms of answers. I know we are nearing each other.

I don’t know what searching looks like, only I must, in one way or another seek and search. I feel the tension of Proverbs 25:2 in my every step, “It is the glory of God to conceal a matter; to search out a matter is the glory of kings.” And in my heart, in my internal compass, nothing matters more to me than knowing Jesus. In the words of Julie Meyer in the song, “Awakened to Love” “Lovers always find what others give up searching for.” Indeed. (Listen to “Awakened to Love” here: http://www.myspace.com/juliemeyermusic/music/songs/awakened-to-love-11323145)

So, like in Ann Voskamp’s blog post on getting out of bed and going through the day one step at a time, I am moving along one step at a time.

And here is her blog post:

http://www.aholyexperience.com/2010/04/what-to-do-when-you-want-to-give-up-and/

To all of you, never ever ever give up. There is always hope, even when you don’t see it or feel you can’t get to it. Father God adores you. He has good gifts for you. His love never fails.