Giving Thanks

I am thankful that God is faithful! He gives me the Holy Spirit to guide and support me in all circumstances. He disciplines me and provides people, family, friends, trials and triumphs to mold and shape me into the woman He created me to become. And most importantly, He gave His Son as ransom for my sin, my debt, my death so that I may truly live (aware of His grace and conforming to His truth) now and forever more.

Giving thanks for love, emotions,  connectedness, communication, music, words, talent, gifts, prayers, tears, laughter, hugs, smiles, senses, beauty, pain, touch, warmth, colors, life, death…

Nichole Nordeman, My Offering

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A Journal of Special Parchment Made

August 20, 2011
I wake up to Rita Springer singing:

“No eye has ever seen/ no ear has ever heard/ The things You’re planning, Lord/ The things You’re doing for all who believe/ No mind can comprehend this deepest mystery/ But I hear You speak again, I think I’ll trust again/ I believe .”

I get dressed, drive to Ink Link, and in less than 25 minutes walk out with this:
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This is the day after my last day at work. A job I had been faithfully working at for five-and-a-half years. A job I had been “leaving” for over one year but was too afraid because, after all, it wasn’t logical to quit in these economic times. And as a fairly logical person, it seemed rather reckless. But, I took the giant step for mankind into the unknown – believing that God is sovereign. He only requires my obedience.

October 29, 2012
In this past year, I have done a number of things, pursued and buried various passions, and cried many tears. But, I have been continuously encouraged by the prophet Habakkuk’s song of praise in the face of impending devastation. So I sang, and I prayed, and I reminded myself of why I got that tattoo. I learned and re-learned to believe. And now, my waiting is over and my obedience is granted comprehension.

November 4, 2012,
What a whirlwind week. So much to learn! Again! It seems fitting to successfully close the first week at my new job with an entry.
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Though the fig tree should not blossom and there be no fruit on the vines,
Though the yield of the olive should fail and the fields produce no food,
Though the flock should be cut off from the fold and there be no cattle in the stalls,
Yet I will exult in the LORD, I will rejoice in the God of my salvation.
The Lord GOD is my strength, and He has made my feet like hinds’ feet, and makes me walk on my high places.
” Habakkuk 3:17-19

Be(ing) Thankful: A Lesson in Three Phases

Phase I – The long-awaited call finally comes on Wednesday, October 17th. Of course, I am immediately thankful. After all, it has been one year, three weeks, and five days. More specifically, I have been waiting exactly two weeks for this particular phone call. Of course I am thankful! But I am just as quickly flooded. My mind is swimming laps around thoughts of what I need to do next. Who I need to call first. Somehow, I know this isn’t right. This is not how one shows deep gratitude for the end of a year-long drought. “Stop and be thankful”, my spirit warns. But, I already am. Aren’t I?

Phase II – At the tail end of my second unsuccessful call, it hits me: the elation, the relief, the sudden release from a heavy burden that makes it impossible to stop smiling. It’s un-containable, the joy. The realization that something has ended and something wonderful is beginning. I cannot stop laughing. I am succumbed to a complete lost for words. I am overwhelmed with the emotions of gratitude. I am swept away by the attempts to articulate praise. Where could I begin? The last year? The last seven years? The last 32 years? It all seems so much… and yet… I feel it… there’s something more.

Phase III – The uncontrollable joy turns into ceaseless tears. I try to compose myself. I try to find the words to express myself. But I cannot. I finally realize what I am truly grateful for. I understand what I must “stop and be thankful for”. As the memories flood my thoughts, I know what I don’t want to ever forget. I acknowledge that it is not God’s provisions that move me, although they are wonderful and miraculous. No, what is stirring me to blissful tears are His withholding. The comfort He withdrew, the ease He prevented, the peace He frustrated, the resources He withheld, the fiery furnace He did not cool, the prayers He did not answer, the pain He did not thwart… The circumstances, though grim, that brought me to my knees. The heart breaks, though painful, that caused me to love Him more. The fire, though scalding, that refined the gold. That is what I’m deeply grateful for – to have learned to be content with little, to stand naked before my maker with this season’s dross fallen at my feet and know that He is truly delighted; that for that perfect moment, I am purely beautiful… that is what fills me with inexplicable joy. That is when I finally learn how to be thankful.

P.S.: It’s official! I am the new Assistant Director of Student Success – FYE at Palm Beach Atlantic University!!

How to Have a Happy Day

1. Wake up with gratitude
2. Realize that your dog is hyperactive because he is happy to see you after several hours, and even though you’re not a morning person, appreciate it
3. Go for a long walk
4. Enjoy the pink sunrise
5. Be thankful for walks
6. Listen to a chapter of an encouraging book while on your walk (sermon or uplifting music will also work)
7. Have a healthy breakfast
8. Drink a strong cup of coffee (or brown water if decaf is your thing, not judging)
9. Be thankful for coffee
10. Take a nice shower
11. Bother to shave your legs (or arm pits or beard if you’re a guy and mountain man isn’t working for you)
12. Get dressed even if you are working from home
13. Don’t open your mail
14. Be thankful for distractions in the shape of bright-colored stickies
15. Create a “to do” list
16. Call your mom/dad/sibling(s)/crazy uncle/etc.
17. Spend time with at least one friend
18. Make sure to check off at least three things from your “to do” list, even if you had to add some of them after you did them
19. Continue to ignore your mail
20. Decide to ignore Facebook as well
21. Use the fact that your classroom is “flooded” as an opportunity to teach your students about trusting God
22. Use the fact that you forgot your shoes at home as a reason to walk instead of drive across campus
23. Try to have a moderately healthy lunch
24. Use the fact that the network is down and you have to lecture without your PowerPoint presentation as an opportunity to teach your students about God’s faithfulness in teaching us to trust on Him
25. Be thankful for a day where nothing went according to plan
26. Spend a few minutes outside playing with your dog (or cat, not sure how that will work but interested to find out)
27. Set better goals for dinner
28. Open your mail
29. Regret you opened your mail
30. Be thankful

A Clear Sign of Something

Sometimes I wake up and it’s there. Unannounced and unwanted, it delivers a swift and sudden blow that leaves me gasping for air. And it’s not until the breath has slowly returned to my lungs that I realize what has happened. It’s then I consider all the ways I should have protected myself… All the techniques I should have used to block the attack… All the defenses I should have put up.

Sometimes, I see it coming. Like a dark knight on a distant hilltop, it hovers around on the outskirts of a peaceful village… Surveying… Warning… Boldly announcing an inevitable assault. And I think to myself, “get ready”, “he’s coming”, “put your armor on”, “get your weapons out”, “take cover”… But I don’t. I don’t do anything. I don’t fortify my walls. I don’t prepare my troops. I don’t safeguard the weak. I don’t send for reinforcement. The piles grow in my closet. Days go by without me making my bed. My office gets buried under unopened mail. My car becomes a disheveled mess. I stop reading my Bible. And I just lay there, in an open field, wounded and defeated, waiting to be trampled.

But sometimes, I hear a sound… A word, a song, a voice calling. I see a sign of something, clearly. I feel a breeze flow, gently. And instead of begging for death, I am reminded that I have been given life to live. It’s then that I repent of my “woe is lazy me self-worshiping” party, I take out my Bible, I pop in a sermon, I read another chapter, I sing another song, I get up from the field, I do my laundry, I clean out the car, I make my bed, I tackle the office, and I start living – abundantly.

Thank you to my GIBC Bible Study teachers, brothers, and sisters.