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

THANKSGIVING and VISION: What’s where I am and how I’ve been in love all the way

Where is usually more tied to journey than what.

When you look at the flight board at an airport you see city names, not what the places are known for.

London isn’t “Posh / gate A37 / 10:42” and Delhi isn’t “Vibrant: gate D4 / 18:38”

And when you get to the gate the flight attendant welcomes you to the gateway to your destination, not the contents of it. He doesn’t say, “Enjoy your trip to Atlanta. You will find a great bookstore with an elephant statue that makes you laugh and think of your fourth grade trip to the zoo. Then you will think about the idea that ‘elephants are forgetful.’ You will wonder if that’s true, which will make you think about forgiveness. When you think about forgiveness, you’ll think about your mom; you’ll be grateful parents usually demonstrate great perseverance with their children, and then you’ll think of Jesus and how He alone makes real forgiveness and real redemption possible. And your heart will flutter remembering the way He takes your breath away, feeling the squeeze of His love on your shoulder there alone in a bookstore in Atlanta. You are only in Atlanta for a seven hour layover, but by the time you leave, you’ll be ready for an experience you will have eight months from now when that epiphany in Murphy’s Books in Atlanta will be used to bring peace between two of your married friends. The revelation in the bookstore, the one that starts with the elephant statue, will lead to a revelation in your friends’ marriage which will lead to newness in her parents’ marriage, which will lead them to start a course for married couples at their church in Illinois, which will become a curriculum which within 2 years will be in 43 churches in Illinois and one in Michigan. That marriage course will restore and enliven marriages in 44 churches within two years.”

The attendant simply says, “Enjoy your trip to Atlanta.” And the word “Atlanta” gives no indication of the realities alive and waiting in that place. There is more than meets the eye.

We are all on a journey. There is much more than what appears – more than names and wheres, there are whats and whose. As we fly, walk, hike, and rest we all move forward toward the future. We choose daily how to direct our experiences, how to respond to our circumstances, and whether our trip to “Atlanta” is just a trip to Atlanta or if it’s moving toward something – at the least a serendipitous blessing, at the most a pivotal epiphany that grows who we are and readies us for the destiny ahead. Living with intentionality is powerful – expecting that even a “chance” moment in a bookstore might lead to transforming lives is part of living a hope-charged life.

I believe in vision.

I believe in purpose.

Since I was 16 I have burned with a few primary dreams.

One began in hours alone weekly on my floor praying for the Middle East.

One began in the book “Azusa Street” by Frank Bartleman.

One is the fusion of those two, born of passion and long talks with the One who first created and dreamed.

The Middle East will FLOURISH:  she will live in peace, abundance, hope, and LOVE for her savior. I have championed the Middle East and believed for her fullness of destiny with an otherworldly fuel for 15 years now.

Every tongue, tribe, and nation will fall in love with Jesus and signs and wonders will be normal on earth as they are in heaven. My vision for revival has led me by the heart with the words I clearly remember crying into the light green carpet in my teenage bedroom: “I have to have revival or I will die.”

I will be a key part of building and transforming nations – entire nations. I do not mean making them so-so, relatively peaceful, decently prosperous, and moderately happy. I MEAN WHOLE NATIONS IN LOVE WITH JESUS: creative, free, healthy, doing “impossible” things constantly, redefining every realm of society with HEAVEN: family, religion, economy, education, government, arts & media, and science & technology. And the infusion of those things, the reality that I am meant for a purpose infinitely more than what I see , has kept me on track and inspired and willing to sacrifice ever since then. I am too in love to move from the vision the Holy Spirit sparked in me back when no one knew the dreams germinating in me.

I have seen it. I can not let go. For fifteen years, I have seen it. I have tasted it.

Vision will inflame you to do things you don’t want to do.

Vision will quicken you into discipline and a love for divine order.

Divine order is meant to GIVE freedom, not control you. It’s meant to make space for love, not take it away. People often think of order as legalism and limitation – that’s not heaven’s idea. Eden reflected order, like the tabernacle of Moses, and like the temple Solomon built; and like the heavenly Jerusalem.

Vision will keep you steady, focused, and joyful.

In Hebrews 12:2 it reads,

“Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.”

For THE JOY SET BEFORE HIM endured the cross.

His sacrifice was infused with vision for what was to come – for what that single action was creating a foundation for.

His love for joy and His love for us compelled him to create an infrastructure for more joy. The price He paid set up an entire system of salvation and redemption and re-unification with God and WHOLENESS.

Vision will knit you to supernatural patience, peace, and laughter.

Vision will move you across the country, the city, the world, and back again – if necessary.

Vision will give you the courage to smile when your journey looks like wandering to those around you.

Vision will become an immovable chunk of granite love – something that makes you happy to pay close attention to how much the apples cost so you can save a little money; something that gives you peculiar delight when you walk from inside a building to a rainy sky and you think of RAIN in a desert far away that yearns for rain and how you KNOW the RAIN is coming; something that magnetizes you with desire in moments to go through the drawers of your life and find something, anything else you can glorify Jesus with. haha. “Hey God, I’m going to draw a happy face on my rent check because I’m so tickled that I get to pay rent, live in a free country, and one day see entire nations give you their own little happy faces. haha.”

Vision, real vision, the kind that is so saturated in Jesus, you can not separate it from Him, nor would you every think to, will make you mad – like crazy mad, but in a perfectly crazy way.

I once heard a quote, “Do you know anyone who changed the world who wasn’t at least a little crazy?”

And “If people don’t laugh when you tell them your dreams, you aren’t dreaming big enough.”

And “If you can complete your dreams without supernatural help, you need to expand your dreams.”

Vision will also grow in you maturity to know how much of the vision to share when and with who. Vision will make the waiting worth it. Vision will make the process an honor, and as much a destination as the “destination.” Sarah and Abraham had their promise for Isaac, they tried a shortcut through Ishmael, and that did not go well. Still, Isaac came and Abraham with the wife “beyond childbearing years” became a FATHER OF NATIONS. And, to think, Sarah LAUGHED when God told her that promise. NOW that is the mark of a good dream, it is kissed with “impossibility.”

I’m going to write more snippets of dreams of mine, at least loosely framed, in an upcoming blog, but I’m not at a point where I feel it’s time to go into much depth. I have learned supernatural resolution via holding closely the secrets of God until the right time. And many secrets will always be secrets. Having said that, there is a fresh stirring in me to share some of what I am learning about vision, establishing infrastructure in one’s life for longevity, the rewards of focus, and the courage it takes to be YOU excellently. Mostly, YOU are the only human who will ever know how much flourishing you live in – one person flourishes when he sets aside an hour to read a history book every week, one person flourishes when he dares to tell a friend “no”, one person flourishes when she truly believes the paintings she does are beautiful, one person flourishes when she becomes radical enough to take responsibility for her own life daily, one person flourishes when he steps out and prays for a stranger, one person flourishes when she moves to Denmark and opens a home for homeless youth.

You must know what you burn for.

You must know you can walk toward your fears and destroy them.

You must know nothing is impossible.

You must know you were made to have vision, to dream, and to fulfill that vision.

You must know that change is possible. You can do it.

You must know you are powerful, to change your life and to change the world.

You must know you are amazing.

You must know you can love YOURSELF, just like Jesus LOVES you.

You must know THANKFULNESS is key;

and vision will provoke you to be thankful for everything from clean water to your friend’s eyelashes.

You will see potential, grace, love, and impossibility made possible in every thing.

Ahhhh… as the day of thanksgiving slips itself around your life today, be blessed with vision.

As you look at the incredible people around your table, on your welcome mat, in your arms – welcome to the world of vision. Be encouraged to dream. Jesus saw all that goodness when He was headed cross-ward. God saw YOU when He spoke the universe into being.

YOU were His vision.



You were created to be creative.

For some vision-casting, I recommend these books: