Utmost Thankfulness

I’ve never known real physical poverty, like so many humans have experienced and are experiencing in all parts of the world.  Sometimes my gratitude seems so meager in light of that.  Even though I’ve never been wealthy either, I’ve always had plenty.  Especially plenty enough to look forward to Thanksgiving with presumption that there will be turkey, dressing, trimmings and pumpkin pie on our family’s table.

When I think about the stories on which we pin our Thanksgiving origins—the pilgrims and natives who gathered for a meal—it humbles me in my meager gratitude.  These weary people weren’t instituting a national holiday.  After a difficult year and a bitter winter, the beauty of their thankfulness was their giving it in the land of their poverty.

This made me think of a story that Jesus told in the house of Simon the Pharisee, when a disgraceful woman entered and began lavishing Jesus in humble and sincere worship:

“A certain moneylender had two debtors. One owed five hundred denarii, and the other fifty. When they could not pay, he cancelled the debt of both. Now which of them will love him more?”

Simon answered, “The one, I suppose, for whom he cancelled the larger debt.”

And he said to him, “You have judged rightly.”

Then turning toward the woman he said to Simon, “Do you see this woman? I entered your house; you gave me no water for my feet, but she has wet my feet with her tears and wiped them with her hair. You gave me no kiss, but from the time I came in she has not ceased to kiss my feet. You did not anoint my head with oil, but she has anointed my feet with ointment. Therefore I tell you, her sins, which are many, are forgiven—for she loved much. But he who is forgiven little, loves little.”

And he said to her, “Your sins are forgiven.”  Then those who were at table with him began to say among themselves, “Who is this, who even forgives sins?”

And he said to the woman, “Your faith has saved you; go in peace.”

Luke 7:41-50

The beauty in her worship was her knowing her utmost destitution being covered in Jesus’ utmost mercy.  Oh, how I want her immense gratitude.  I want the gratitude of pilgrims and natives who celebrate provision in light of their suffering and loss.
I may have never tasted worldly poverty, but I have, most importantly, known spiritual poverty.  I have been a slave, and accursed.  But God took on the form of my slavery and became my provision—my Lamb—and saved me.  Remembering my complete destitution (as near as the sins committed just this week), and Jesus' complete reconciliation, makes me completely and utterly thankful.


Wednesday Words

Genesis. Holy Bible: English Standard Version. Wheaton: Crossway, 2013. Print.


Happy Birthday, Bear!

These days, you will our Bear singing any one of the bazillions dozens of songs that she loves.  The theme from Disney-Pixar's Cars, Jesus Loves me and numerous Donut Man tunes are among her favorites.  Her current movie fetish is (surprise) Cars, and she's fascinated by all kinds of vehicles.  She is wondrously captured by airplanes, and her amazement in seeing/hearing them is so precious.  We are excited to introduce Disney-Pixar's Planes to her soon.
I'm so thankful that she still loves to read books.  Her all-time favorite is Go, Dog, Go!. So that was her birthday party theme.  We decorated in primary colors, ate hotdogs and everyone wore paper hats (like the dog party at the end of the book!).
If I would let her, she would eat pizza, mac n cheese, sweet peas, bananas, yogurt, cupcakes, ice cream, grapes, and PB&J all day every day.  She's learning how to take tea with us in a big girl teacup, and loves it!

She carries around a little Lightning McQueen, exclaiming "Ka-chow!" and "Brrmmm, brrmm!"  Or you will find her with her Calico Critters family, trying to shove their furniture through the doll house windows.  With obsessive delight, Bear loves coloring and writing.  We enjoy cuddling with a notebook, while I draw basic shapes, letters and numbers for her to identify.
Bear loves her Sissy-Bee, too.  Much to Sissy's disgruntlement, Bear likes playing the Woller-all-over-Bee game.  She snuggles her, squeezes her, swoons on her, and its all fun and girly giggles until Sissy gets bonked or near smothered in love.
Ever since the labor pains that October week night, we knew our Bear was not textbook.  At two years old, she still doesn't come with an instruction manual for everything she is.  Even though the second year has been the cliché year of predicted terrors, I love being her Mommy.  Her strong-willedness is still smothered in a sweetness and an eagerness to please that melts me.  I've resolved that the Word of God and the work of the Holy Spirit are the only successful roadmaps of parenting...I haven't found any other manuals or formulas that work on my toddler (and on ME at the same time!).
Through shepherding her little heart, the Almighty has shown me so much about the Gospel, my own selfishness, anger-issues, lack of patience and desperate need of him in every moment.  Praise God, despite my very feeble efforts to rely on him on the bad days of parenting, he has been gracious, and Bear is blossoming so beautifully.  There's a light at the end of the terrible-two tunnel!


Jen Recommends: Music

I so love music.  I grew up in a musical family; we love music, sing music, play music, write music and, to borrow from Lizzie Bennet, play instruments very ill. 
Good songs affect me a lot like good books do.  Songs can become beloved friends, mile-markers for our adventures and always say what our hearts are trying to say!  Some songs bring back memories, motivate us to deep clean that closet and reveal something about the Word of God that we hadn't seen before.  I can hear a song or an artist, and remember a whole season of life!  The old CCM group 4Him brings back vivid smells of stables and training ponies.  Jeremy Camp makes me recall the deep emotions of a long season of heartbrokenness.  Andrew Peterson reminds me of being courted by my husband, and clinging to resurrection hope in the grieving of my Mom.
I couldn't help but share some songs and albums that I have worn out lately, and I think are going to be added to the list of beloved friends for this particular time in my life.  The Solitude and Quiet stuff is lovely for the recharging of the bogged-down college student, frazzled mom of toddlers or the generally overwhelmed.  And the restaurant music?  That will magically turn your grilled-cheese-in-a-camper to mozzarella-bruschetta-on-a-Tuscan-balcony.
Okay no.
But it definitely makes cooking and eating a whole bunch more fun.  You should try it. 
All are available on Spotify, and here I list them by category and what I have loved using them for:

Solitude and Quiet
Fortunate Fall (album) by Audrey Assad*
Love Came Down by Brian Johnson
How I Love You by Christy Nockels

Writing Music
Nemo’s Egg from Finding Nemo Soundtrack
May Be by Yiruma

Cooking Music
You’ve Got Mail Soundtrack
Italian Restaurant Music of Italy (album)

Cleaning and Organizing Music
Resurrection Letters II (album) by Andrew Peterson
Christmas Classics (album) by Bing Crosby (yes, I'm THAT person)

Do you have any songs attached to memories and seasons?
What music are you loving lately?
What songs do you love using for cleaning, quiet, eating, running and all around circus managing?
*all songs, except Good to Me (highly recommended!), are not available on Spotify.