Recounting God’s gifts

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The Thanksgiving holiday fast approaches here in the United States. Thanksgiving recipes abound, turkeys are running for cover, and plans are being made in earnest for that fourth Thursday of November. I love the trend of the past few years of posting one thing to be thankful for each day in November, as it puts our hearts in tune with the blessings God has given us.

Can you think of 30 things to be thankful for?
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Joy will come (Day 4 of the #encourage marathon)

 

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Sing praises to the Lord, O you his saints,
and give thanks to his holy name.

For his anger is but for a moment,
and his favor is for a lifetime.

Weeping may tarry for the night,
but joy comes with the morning.

~ Psalm 30.4-5

It’s Day 4 of our 26-day #Encourage Marathon! (You can read yesterday’s post here.)

Someone out there is in pain. It might even be you.

You might have had a rough day yesterday. Maybe the past six months have been fraught with pain. It could be that years of trouble have mercilessly struck you.

You’re getting tired.

There’s good news. Joy is coming.

Have you ever watched the sunrise in the mornings? Before the sun ever reaches the horizon, there is a gradual lightening of the sky. Slowly but surely, the light increases until, without warning, there is a burst of light from the horizon where the sun has appeared. The western skyline shines effusively as the eastern skyline is all but lost in the radiant glow of the sun. Warm, rosy, colors abound. Warmth creeps into the air. Creatures of the day begin to stir.

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Am I walking by faith or frozen with fear?

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What follows is a long post and I hope you will bear with me through the end. It could be that you will not relate to this in any way; or its just possible that you also are faced with terrible storms that make you want to change course. Whatever the case, I hope this will be edifying to you.

As many of my long time readers and personal acquaintances are aware, 2015 was a very challenging year for me and my family. I won’t go into great detail, but we have dealt with a disability that brought about medical retirement and have been searching for new job opportunities since August. We’ve been waiting for doors to open, putting out resumes and preparing for some lean times. We’ve been busy during our wait and praying hard for direction and strength.

Around Christmas, we got a phone call—a potential job opportunity in Texas. Houses, food, gas (pretty much everything) is cheaper in Texas. We could do more than just “get by” over there.

My immediate reaction was resistance and—though I am ashamed to admit it—fear

Texas is flat!

How can we move so far away from my parents and in-laws?

That part of Texas doesn’t have much natural beauty…

How would the kids handle being uprooted?

How would we afford the move?

But it’s Texas!

I’m a native Californian… I won’t fit in.

We have to leave behind orchestra, my daughter’s truly awesome violin teacher and our homeschool group.

I’ll be even further from the coast!

Why Texas?

Fortunately, 2015 was a year of significant spiritual growth. So, even though my mind was all flashing lights and blaring sirens, I knew that I needed to take it all to the Lord. So I prayed and pondered. I talked to my spouse, then prayed and pondered some more. I started sounding out friends and family and prayed even more. Slowly but surely I began to see all the positives. If this is the direction God wants us to take, then He will help us through it. I need to trust Him to do what He has always done.

No final decision has been made as we are still doing our homework, which includes an upcoming trip to assess the potential of the job offers, the housing and the local churches. As all these things have been unfolding, I was struck by something, but I kept it to myself until about a week ago.

I thought of the Israelites.

I can hear you groaning: “Oh no! Not more about the Israelites, Elihu!” I see so many of my own foibles in them that I feel compelled to write about them and—hopefully—learn from their mistakes.

I thought of the account in Numbers 13 when the Israelites had reached the edge of the Promised Land and they sent twelve spies to check it out. The account even lists the names of these men. Two men of faith and then men of infamy…

They don’t hop on google to look at photos, crime stats and housing prices. They don’t get a birds-eye view from Google Earth. Not having the benefit of modern technology, they pack their walking sticks and maybe the last bit of the day’s manna and quail ration and head in on foot. The rest of the Israelites pace about for forty anxious days waiting for their return. They may have been thinking,”Do you think it’ll be as amazing as God says? I wonder how hard it will be to move in?”

At the end of forty days, the twelve men return with more than what they packed. They have fruit! Mouthwatering, savory, sweet, colorful fruit! When all you’ve had is manna and quail for months, fruit is pretty exciting.

With twelve different men, one would anticipate twelve different perspectives. It came down to two: fear vs faith.

Let’s read the account:

At the end of forty days they returned from spying out the land. And they came to Moses and Aaron and to all the congregation of the people of Israel in the wilderness of Paran, at Kadesh. They brought back word to them and to all the congregation, and showed them the fruit of the land.

And they told him, “We came to the land to which you sent us. It flows with milk and honey, and this is its fruit.”

Joy of joys! This is what God had promised! He wasn’t making it up, and the men had brought back evidence. Can you imagine seeing fruit after eating nothing but quail and manna for months?

How do you think the Israelites are going to react? Are they going to rush eagerly toward their new home?

Hang on to your hats, the men have more to say:

“However…

Uh-oh. This can’t be good…

“…the people who dwell in the land are strong, and the cities are fortified and very large. And besides, we saw the descendants of Anak there. The Amalekites dwell in the land of the Negeb. The Hittites, the Jebusites, and the Amorites dwell in the hill country. And the Canaanites dwell by the sea, and along the Jordan.”

Houston, we have a problem. This won’t be as easy as we thought! Lions, and tigers, and bears—oh my!

But Caleb quieted the people before Moses and said, “Let us go up at once and occupy it, for we are well able to overcome it.”

Whoa. Why did Caleb think they could take the land? They didn’t have chariots, horses or battering rams. They were just a rag-tag assortment of ex-slaves! How could they overcome these gigantic, well-armed people?

Read on:

Then the men who had gone up with him said, “We are not able to go up against the people, for they are stronger than we are.” So they brought to the people of Israel a bad report of the land that they had spied out, saying, “The land, through which we have gone to spy it out, is a land that devours its inhabitants, and all the people that we saw in it are of great height. And there we saw the Nephilim (the sons of Anak, who come from the Nephilim), and we seemed to ourselves like grasshoppers, and so we seemed to them.””

So…. who’s giving the correct assessment? Is Caleb having delusions of grandeur or are these men cowards?

Fear says: Freeze! Don’t go another step! We can’t do this!

Faith says: Yes, this is daunting, but God and I make a majority. God promised this land and He wants us to take it. He’ll lead us through it one step at a time.

Faith trusts God in spite of fear.

Faith moves trembling feet forward.

This story isn’t over….

So all the congregation lifted up their voices and cried, and the people wept that night. And all the children of Israel complained against Moses and Aaron, and the whole congregation said to them, “If only we had died in the land of Egypt! Or if only we had died in this wilderness! Why has the Lord brought us to this land to fall by the sword, that our wives and children should become victims?

Oh the agony! One minute, the promised land is within their grasp, the next minute they are lead to believe they cannot have it. Instead of pausing to consider or even praying about their fear, they weep and wail.

Would it not be better for us to return to Egypt?” So they said to one another, “Let us select a leader and return to Egypt.”

Seriously?!

They wanted to go back to slavery? They must be mental!

It’s doubtful the people of Egypt would have welcomed them back with open arms. It’s more likely they would have killed them on the spot. And yet, how often do we make outlandishly stupid statements at the height of our anxiety?

The minority is going to speak:

Then Moses and Aaron fell on their faces before all the assembly of the congregation of the people of Israel. And Joshua the son of Nun and Caleb the son of Jephunneh, who were among those who had spied out the land, tore their clothes and said to all the congregation of the people of Israel,

“The land, which we passed through to spy it out, is an exceedingly good land. If the Lord delights in us, he will bring us into this land and give it to us, a land that flows with milk and honey. Only do not rebel against the Lord. And do not fear the people of the land, for they are bread for us. Their protection is removed from them, and the Lord is with us; do not fear them.”

Then all the congregation said to stone them with stones. But the glory of the Lord appeared at the tent of meeting to all the people of Israel.

Joshua and Caleb—two small but strong voices of reason. Two voices who speak from faith, not fear. In the turmoil of emotion, the people pick up stones to kill them (hmmm…. Sound familiar?)

“The Lord is with us; do not fear them.”

I would venture to guess (and it is only a guess) that Joshua and Caleb had been noting, with gratitude and awe, all the ways in which God had cared for them since they had left Egypt: the manna, the quail, the longevity of their clothes and shoes, the cloud by day and pillar of fire by night, and the water in the wilderness. They had seen a mighty empire defeated without a single spear tossed. All these wondrous things they had committed to their heart. They had confidence in the power of the Lord.

I would also guess (though, again, I could be wrong) that these men had a huge adrenaline rush when they saw the Anakim and the fortified cities. I’m confident they were a little scared. Fear is a natural reaction to such things. Joshua and Caleb didn’t know how God would defeat their enemies, they simply trusted that he could. They feared God more than they feared the Canaanites. Their faith held more sway than their fear.

How often do we fail to see God’s provisions, both small and large, and consider ourselves entitled to those blessings? Such a mindset will lead to a lack of trust and progress in our walk with God.

What was the outcome of this account?

And the Lord spoke to Moses and to Aaron, saying,

“How long shall this wicked congregation grumble against me? I have heard the grumblings of the people of Israel, which they grumble against me.

Say to them, ‘As I live, declares the Lord, what you have said in my hearing I will do to you: your dead bodies shall fall in this wilderness, and of all your number, listed in the census from twenty years old and upward, who have grumbled against me, not one shall come into the land where I swore that I would make you dwell, except Caleb the son of Jephunneh and Joshua the son of Nun.

But your little ones, who you said would become a prey, I will bring in, and they shall know the land that you have rejected. But as for you, your dead bodies shall fall in this wilderness. And your children shall be shepherds in the wilderness forty years and shall suffer for your faithlessness, until the last of your dead bodies lies in the wilderness.

According to the number of the days in which you spied out the land, forty days, a year for each day, you shall bear your iniquity forty years, and you shall know my displeasure.’ I, the Lord, have spoken. Surely this will I do to all this wicked congregation who are gathered together against me: in this wilderness they shall come to a full end, and there they shall die.”

And the men whom Moses sent to spy out the land, who returned and made all the congregation grumble against him by bringing up a bad report about the land— the men who brought up a bad report of the land—died by plague before the Lord. Of those men who went to spy out the land, only Joshua the son of Nun and Caleb the son of Jephunneh remained alive.

(The above passages are from Numbers 13 and Numbers 14. As always, I suggest reading the full context.)

Oops.

Confident, courageous faith will take you beyond what seems possible, guard you through perils unthinkable and carry you to heights incomprehensible.

An unhealthy fear of everything but God will paralyze you, leaving you to wander about life barely subsisting, never quite tasting the joy that comes from trusting in the Lord.

As I thought about this possible move, I had to ask myself—Am I going to walk by faith or freeze with fear?

I wondered, “Am I being offered the chance for better things and forsaking it for the comfort of my known wilderness?” During a discussion one evening about our possible future, my spouse began comparing the situation to the Israelite spies.

I burst out laughing. Our thoughts were nearly identical.

So, the two of us are going to go “spy out the land” as it were. This choice will have a huge impact on our family one way or another and I would be dishonest to say it doesn’t matter. I want this choice to be positive not simply so we can be “better off” financially, but so our family will grow in the Lord. If living in this new place wold damage that, I’d rather not go. If staying here will weaken us, I’d rather not stay. Unfortunately, I cannot see all the far-reaching implications, but I have confidence in my God who does see and whose wisdom is so far beyond my own.

Unlike the Israelites, we don’t have any sort of promised land on this earth. Our promised land lies beyond this life. Yet the choices we make today have long-term consequences that impact our spiritual health. I’d rather have a dinner of herbs with God in my home, than a sumptuous feast without Him. I want my choices—even these piddly ones like moving—to fulfill God’s purpose on this earth. No matter where he leads me, I need to be making Him the goal with each breath. It could be this door is opening just to reveal it’s the wrong one. Who knows?

Seek the Lord’s guidance each step of the way and remember that the promised land lies beyond this earth. Don’t let your fear keep you from it. Walk by faith.

 

30 Days of Giving Thanks Weekly Roundup (week 4)


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Good morning, my friends!

Week 4?! Already! I can’t believe it’s almost over!

Well, ok, I guess I can. We put up the Christmas tree yesterday, so we are swiftly rushing into the getting giving season. (You may see a few posts on giving in the coming weeks). A heart that is full of thankfulness will share willingly with others, so this run of thankful posts is a good prep for the coming Christmas season!

This will be the last roundup of Thankful posts. It’s been fun and I’ve discovered a some delightful new blogs along the way.

As I said last week, It’s hard to be cranky when your heart is bursting with gratitude! It’s also hard to be stingy, when you know you have much to give.

Here is a recap of my posts this week:

Below are a list of thankful posts from around the web for the week. If you have done a post on thankfulness that I’ve missed, please leave a link to it in the comments below, and as I have time today I will update this post with your link.

God be with you my friends!

This week:

Salvageable: Thanksgiving thoughts

Light & Life: Little Things

The Mindful Chatterbox: 365 Days of Gratefulness Day 2

Traditional Cooking School: A Spirit of Thankfulness

Michael Hyatt: The Gratitude Advantage: Four Ways Giving Thanks Improves Your Life

Mom’s Going to Madagascar: Day 22: Laughter

Prayers and Piazzas: Gratitude: It’s not just for Thanksgiving (or grown-ups)

Spotlight: 7 Ways You Can Thank God

Day 27: Love

This post is part of “30 days of Giving Thanks” To read more within this series, click here.

hands heartsAs I mentioned in yesterday’s post, my remaining posts will focus on some of the greatest lights of all. These lights illuminate our world in ways that make it possible to thrive.

In the English language, there is a four-letter word bandied about so casually it has lost its value. I’m not talking about a profane four-letter word; I’m referring to the word “love.”

The Ancient Greeks got it right. They had four different words for love (though I recently read that there are actually six!) The most commonly translated Greek words for love are eros, storge, philia, and agape.

If you are unfamiliar with these terms, I will summarize them briefly in this post. If you want a bit more detail, you can read a brief summary on Wikipedia. C.S. Lewis also wrote a book called The Four Loves, but I have not read it. (It’s on my book list).

Greek Words for love:

eros: “love, mostly of the sexual passion”

storge: “love, affection… especially of parents and children”

philia: “love, affectionate regard, friendship, usually between equals”

agape: “brotherly love, charity; the love of God for man and of man for God.”

All these loves have their place, do they not? I love (philia) my friends, but not in the same way I love (storge) my children.

Have you ever asked yourself, “Where would I be without love?”

Love in all it’s forms can be taken for granted. Let’s take a moment to consider the different forms of love in our lives.

Parent-child love

God established the family for many purposes. Familial relationships teach us how to love (at least they should!). I remember thinking it odd that there was a passage in Titus that commanded older women to “encourage younger women to love their husbands, to love their children…” On the face of it, there were a lot of arranged marriages in that time and a woman would have to “learn” love for her husband (and he his wife). But loving their children? Shouldn’t that be instinctive?

If you are a parent, you may be chuckling a bit, because that may not be a surprise.

There are two things to consider. First, women have been aborting, neglecting and abandoning their children for centuries. It’s a bit inconceivable to the majority, but many people love themselves more than their children. Their children are burdensome, inconvenient. Second, parents don’t always use the best judgement in training children. Discipline and training is (or, at least it should be) an act of love. It isn’t fun or pleasurable to punish a child, but it is for their own good. The exhortation in Titus is teach the younger women how to show love. Mothers and Fathers must learn to love their children in the right way. As we raise our children, we gain insight into how God loves us. We, as parents, ought to be shaped by the experience to become more selfless.

In turn, children learn to love their parents. At first it may be a selfish love, but hopefully, over time it grows into an abiding affection. I have seen many people who were once children turn around and care for their aging parents with great love and sacrifice.

I am thankful for this kind of love. Where would I be without the love of my parents or my children? What an ugly place the world would be without familial love!

Friends, siblings

As we grow older, we learn to make friends. Being a friend takes work, but how lonely would we be without our friends? The Bible says a lot about friendship, particularly in the book of Proverbs.

“a friend loves at all times and a brother is born for adversity.”

The world seems to think that friends stick by each other even when they are in the wrong, but friends don’t let friends do life-threatening or soul-threatening things. I do not like telling a friend they are in the wrong. When I have done it in the past, I’ve lost sleep, gotten stomachaches and even cried.  But a good friend looks out for the best interest of their friend. That is genuine friendship love.

Marriage

The marriage law is one of the oldest laws in existence. God intended marriage to be between one man and one woman for life. Unfortunately, people aren’t content to have things God’s way. There is almost a longing to twist what God wants because it is inconvenient or challenging. Marriage is another relationship that shapes us. Marriage is supposed to be a covenant of committed love. It tests each partner to hold fast through good times and bad. It requires self-sacrifice. It teaches us how to love sacrificially. There is a reason that Paul uses marriage as a comparison between Christ and His church. Jesus laid down his life for the Church and in so doing he demonstrated His great love for us.

My life would be completely different had I not met my other half eleven years ago. It’s been a blessing to enjoy our lives together and raise children together. My spouse has taught me so much and I give thanks everyday for our marriage.

Where would we be without the love that comes through marriage?

God’s Love

The Bible says everything far better than I can, so let’s start with these two passages:

For while we were still helpless, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly. For one will hardly die for a righteous man;
though perhaps for the good man someone would dare even to die.
But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. 

~ Romans 5.6-8, NASB

and

Anyone who does not love does not know God, because God is love. 

In this the love of God was made manifest among us, that God sent his only Son into the world, so that we might live through him. In this is love, not that we have loved God but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins.

Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another.

~ 1 John 4.8-11, ESV

Let me ask you, parents: If your best friend was dying of an incurable disease and only the blood of your child would save them, would you give up your child? I can guess the answer would be no. You may love your friend, but you don’t want to sacrifice your child… especially if they are your only child.

What if your enemy was dying? Would you give up your life or the life of your child? Again, I’m confident that the answer would be another resounding no.

The problem is, we all choose at some point in our life that we don’t want to walk with God. The only way we can come to Him is through sacrifice. This is a difficult concept for us to understand today because animal sacrifice/blood sacrifice is so archaic. Yet, when there is a war and there is some wrong that needs righting, how is it solved? Oh sure, on occasion countries can talk things out, but history has shown us that it typically leads to war. Someone (usually thousands of someones) make a sacrifice to protect the innocent and the weak. They shed their blood and put their lives on the line. Redemption from evil never comes without a price. It’s a constant pattern.

So, how much does God love us?

This is My commandment, that you love one another, just as I have loved you. Greater love has no one than this, that one lay down his life for his friends. You are My friends if you do what I command you.

~ John 15.12-14, NASB

Where would we be without the love of Christ?

What does He ask in return? He asks us to love Him and to love each other. It all seems to come back to love.

Are you thankful for love? The love of family, the love of friends, the love of a spouse… the love of God and His Son Jesus Christ? What greater gift can we receive than to be loved? What greater gift can we give than to love in turn?

Love is one of the greatest lights in a world that is ripped asunder by hate.

I am thankful for agape, storge and philia.

I am thankful for love.

Day 26: Lights

This post is part of “30 days of Giving Thanks” To read more within this series, click here.

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We have a fun family tradition that the kids look forward to every year—decorating for Christmas.  The day after Thanksgiving, we pack away the pumpkins and leaves and pull out the reds, silvers, greens and golds of Christmas.

I try to get everyone just as jazzed about decorating for fall, but it just isn’t the same. Fall decorations lack the warm glimmer of lights. There aren’t presents for fall either (unless, of course, it’s your birthday).

There’s just something about Christmas.

Right now, I’m gazing at our tree that is somewhat bottom-heavy with ornaments. It was fun listening to the kids chatter about memories associated with their ornaments as they placed them randomly about the tree. It’s not a Pinterest-perfect tree, but I’m glad it isn’t. It’s our tree, full of our memories. I love the warm glow of the lights and the way they soften the living room.

Outside the house, the facia is lined with a simple string of multi-colored lights inside large bulbs. Simple. Warm. Inviting.

I am thankful for lights.

And God said, “Let there be light,” and there was light. And God saw that the light was good. And God separated the light from the darkness. God called the light Day, and the darkness he called Night. And there was evening and there was morning, the first day.

~ Genesis 1.3-5, ESV

There is the God-created light of the Sun and the beautiful hues it creates in the early dawn and early twilight. I love those times of the day all year round. The starlight gives a soft glow even on the darkest of nights and has guided many a sailor to safety.

There are man-made candle lights and oil lamps. What would we have done throughout history without the ability to light our way at night? I suppose we would have slept more… and accomplished less!

Then, there are the Edison-created lights. I am thankful that I don’t have to attempt writing by candlelight. Isn’t it wonderful that we can just flip a switch and have light? Talk about a blessing we take for granted!

As the season is lit up around us, be sure to thank the Lord for giving us light. In my final two thankfulness posts, I’ll be touching on the greatest lights of all. Stay tuned!

Day 25: Thanksgiving

This post is part of “30 days of Giving Thanks” To read more within this series, click here.

 

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Happy Thanksgiving! I hope that you are all enjoying the day with people you love.

I first heard the term “Turkey Day” in High School. While I thought it amusing (initially), I soon realized that it was problematic. Words carry meaning, even lightly used words. By not using “Thanksgiving” the focus and purpose of the day was lost.

I am glad that George Washington proclaimed that our new nation should observe a day of  Thanksgiving in 1789. The idea was to recognize God’s bountiful blessings on our infant nation. He set a precedent. It wasn’t made a national holiday until several years later, but we have continued to observe it throughout the decades.

When God established the Passover for the children of Israel, the idea was similar: remembering deliverance from slavery. Thankfulness. Gratitude. It was supposed to be observed down through the years so that they could instill gratitude in their children and trust in the Lord.

Today, as you gather with family and friends, take a few moments to remember what the Lord has done for you. Give thanks to the one who gives us so many bountiful blessings, not the least of which is salvation through His Son, Jesus Christ.

Give thanks to the Lord for He is good!

His steadfast love endures forever.

 

Day 24: History

This post is part of “30 days of Giving Thanks” To read more within this series, click here.

I apologize for the lateness of this post. I did not have internet yesterday and was unable to get my post up. You’ll be getting TWO posts today: yesterday’s and today’s!


 

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One of the greatest failures of our current public school system is the adequate teaching of history. I don’t recall learning much history in elementary school. We learned about the gold rush of California, the Spanish missions, the Mayflower and Christopher Columbus. I remember vaguely learning about Ancient Mesopotamia in sixth grade. In High School we learned about the industrial revolution, Napoleon, the french revolution, the kings and queens of England, Russian Czars and more. It seems to me that in every single year of school we learned about Martin Luther King and the civil rights movement of the 1960s—-not that it was unimportant, but it seemed as though it was the only bit of history that mattered to the school system.

I remember being on a walk with my dad during our study of France and he asked me, “Did they teach you about the June rebellion of 1832?”

“No…” I replied, a little uncomfortably.

He continued to pepper me with questions and I had few to no answers. I realized then how woefully ignorant I was about history. In eleventh grade I took AP US History. It was a joke. My teacher, while passionate about history, didn’t have a clue how to teach it. I learned as much as I could outside of class, but I was grossly underprepared for the exam. I failed the AP exam, which meant I had to take American History in college.

So, around my junior year at Cal Poly, I took a U.S. History course. Once again, I was let down. The professor was teaching a more modified history of the United States and focused more on social injustice than anything else. Oddly enough, I was reading one of the books and it sounded a great deal like the republican talking points of the present… but it was written in the 1960s. I told my dad about it. He chuckled and said the guy was a democrat in the 1960s, but our country had veered so much to the left that the conservatives were now where the liberals used to be and the liberals were now where the socialists used to be. I scraped an A in the class, but my piecemeal knowledge of history frustrated me greatly.

The curriculum we currently use for our kids starts incorporating history at the kindergarten level. My daughter, a first grader, is learning about Ancient Mesopotamia, Ancient Egypt and in the next semester will be covering Ancient Greece and Ancient Rome. I have learned a ton just by reading the books to her. We have an enormous canvas map hanging in our living room and my 4 year old can already point out the Himalayas, the Andes the Equator and China. I love that they have such a better feel at such a young age for geography and history than I did at that point in my life. I am looking forward to continuing to teach them about World History and Bible History. I get to learn right along side them. The curriculum also uses historical fiction books to bring each period to life.

I was fascinated to learn about Alexander the Great and the spread of the Greek language all the way to India. When Jesus died and the apostles began teaching the gospel and writing letters, the manuscripts were predominantly written in Koine Greek. This language was used not only in Rome, but in other parts of the world as well, allowing the gospel to spread more easily.

History is so vital to all people of the world. It angers me how often people try to distort it or erase it. ISIS has destroyed or defaced many Ancient Mesopotamian sites. The former Iranian president was a holocaust denier. There’s been a push to rewrite United States History. We are foolish to try to alter history and even more foolish if we fail to learn from it.

I am thankful that General Eisenhower told his troops to take tons of pictures of the German Concentration camps so that people wouldn’t forget the atrocities that man was capable of.

I am grateful that someone had the foresight to keep Manzanar in place on US Highway 395, so we would remember that we interned the Japanese during World War II.

The National Archives in Washington D.C. hold many of the original founding documents of our country. I am thankful for such a place that keeps our history alive.

I am thankful for biographies because not only do they document the life of an individual person, but they touch on the historical atmosphere swirling around that person and how they impacted it.

I am not a history buff, but I am grateful for history and all the men and women who documented the past. History tells us where we’ve been and gives us insight on human nature, the cycles of nations and the hand of God.

Day 23: Literature

This post is part of “30 days of Giving Thanks” To read more within this series, click here.

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I am a product […of] endless books. My father bought all the books he read and never got rid of any of them. There were books in the study, books in the drawing room, books in the cloakroom, books (two deep) in the great bookcase on the landing, books in a bedroom, books piled as high as my shoulder in the cistern attic, books of all kinds reflecting every transient stage of my parents’ interest, books readable and unreadable, books suitable for a child and books most emphatically not. Nothing was forbidden me. In the seemingly endless rainy afternoons I took volume after volume from the shelves. I had always the same certainty of finding a book that was new to me as a man who walks into a field has of finding a new blade of grass.

~ C.S. Lewis

A good story allows the reader to step into a different world, to see problems with new clarity and stir the imagination. Have you ever found yourself so absorbed in a story that you lose track of time? Location?

I am thankful for stories, both fiction and non-fiction. I have thoroughly enjoyed discovering (and sometimes re-discovering) great children’s literature with my children.

Some books I have really enjoyed (including children’s lit) in no particular order and definitely not comprehensive:

The Mark of the Lion series by Francine Rivers

The Harry Potter Series by J.K. Rowling

The Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkien

The Chronicles of Narnia by C.S. Lewis

The Screwtape Letters by C.S. Lewis

The Lord of the Rings by J.R.R. Tolkien

The Anne of Green Gables series by Lucy Maude Montgomery

Mr. Popper’s Penguins by Richard Atwater

Mrs Piggle Wiggle by Betty MacDonald

Charlotte’s Web by E.B. White

Cranberry Thanksgiving by Wende and Harry Devlin

The Book Thief by Markus Zusak

Unbroken by Laura Hillenbrand

Man’s Search for Meaning by Viktor Frankl

And Then There Were None by Agatha Christie

Hamlet by William Shakespeare

Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen

American Sniper by Chris Kyle

The Count of Monte Cristo

Ender’s Game by Orson Scott Card

My Father’s Dragon by Ruth Stiles Gannet

The Hunger Games Series by Suzanne Collins

Sherlock Holmes by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle

I could go on listing books all day…

I am thankful for books!!

Day 22: The canvas

This post is part of “30 days of Giving Thanks” To read more within this series, click here.

by Qypchak), 4 травня 2010 through Wikipedia
by Qypchak), 4 травня 2010 through Wikipedia

It took Michelangelo four years to complete the Sistine Chapel Ceiling. Some very well known images are preserved on this ceiling, the most notable being the “Creation of Adam.” I have never been to the Sistine chapel, but I imagine that craning the neck just to look at it would make one weary.

File from Wikipedia Commons, U.S. public domain
From “The Creation of Adam” File from Wikipedia Commons, U.S. public domain

Michelangelo was a talented and prolific artist.

There is a canvas, a ceiling, a dome that I love to look at more than any other work of art. It’s painter is the original artist. He invented beauty. His creations have inspired all artists throughout the centuries.

In the early dawn, the canvas is covered with a frosty pale blue, bordered by rose-colored mountain tops. Wispy white strokes streak across the serene scene. Only a few hours before, the very same canvas was drenched in indigo hues with pinprick diamonds glistening in every corner.

As the hours pass, the blue deepens. White wispy strokes are replaced by birds and cotton white puffs. The canvas gently changes as the light source moves. Every day, the Artist has some new view on display. At times the canvas is on fire with golds, reds, oranges and pinks. At other times it is mournfully gray.

This Artist shows His infinite wisdom, His great faithfulness and His magnificent power through His canvas sky. It is one of my greatest delights to look up and see this glorious interplay of color and light and know that my God created it.

How many artists can use so many different elements to create such vast beauty? How many artists have been able to dazzle every single human from creation to present?  What artist has ever flawlessly mastered the balance of form and function on such a grand scale?

I can’t think of one.

The heavens show us how wise, faithful and unchanging our God is. Have you ever heard the expression, “As sure as the dawn” or “as sure as the sun rises”? It means that from creation to the present, there has always been a day and night. There is nothing quite so consistent as the rising of the sun, except for God. It’s a reminder of His faithfulness, His constancy.

I am thankful for God’s vast canvas sky and for what it reveals about Him day after day.

starry night

The heavens declare the glory of God,
and the sky above proclaims his handiwork.

Day to day pours out speech,
and night to night reveals knowledge.

There is no speech, nor are there words,
whose voice is not heard.

Their voice goes out through all the earth,
and their words to the end of the world.

In them he has set a tent for the sun,
which comes out like a bridegroom leaving his chamber,
and, like a strong man, runs its course with joy.

Its rising is from the end of the heavens,
and its circuit to the end of them,
and there is nothing hidden from its heat.

~ Psalm 19.1-6, ESV