10,000 Reasons

224) If God can hang a brilliant rock like the moon in the sky, why would I think He cannot hold me up?
223) An unexpected gift.
222) Piano music.
221) Even as our family grows, traditions remain like a footprint we can step into.
220) A father with a sawzall.
219) Families that bring more desserts than main dishes.
218) Seven-layer dinner that looks just like my grandmother’s.
217) Gifts that fit each person well.
216) The legacy of my grandparents.
215) I am deeply grateful for those in my extended family who make a point to remember our collective history.
214) Seeing a reminder to slow down before I was the reminder.
213) Ideas come while driving.
212) It is good to remember that my “mess” is a blessing.
211) SOFT throws are.
210) My mother makes a bountiful feast for us, and there is nothing I would not eat.
209) A gift I could not buy and do not deserve.
208) It is a rare moment that I am with all of my siblings. For even the short time that we are, it is a blessing.
207) The music of Lecrae beats to the beat of my heart, and makes me nod my head in agreement.
206) When two of my sons were trying out “Paper Jamz” in the car, I was able to think of Kung Fu Panda 2’s lesson on “inner peace.”
205) Staying awake for the second third shift this week was relatively easy.

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Immanuel: Our Christmas Babe

*This was the piece I looked for the other night. Still applicable. Enjoy.

Sweet was the babe
Who, in innocence lying,
In the manger was placed
There to save you from dying.
What a quest, what a trek
That was laid out before him
To face all that tempts
And still live without sin.
Yet his Father did promise
We should see such a savior
So we could love without question
Our God and our neighbor.
So God, as Himself,
Came in form of a babe
Though no one could tell
It was Him who would save.
So esteeming Him not
Our ancestors scorned
Beat Him and killed Him
While just a few mourned.
What a sad fate to have
For such an innocent child
But in what other way
Could God reconcile?
We’re deserving of death
And eternal damnation
Yet God chose to save us
And offer salvation.
He turned the world on its head
With one simple birth
By the stroke of pure God
He brought heaven to earth.
Receive or reject Him
Those your only two choices
But there’s only one way
To hear angels’ voices.
God paved the way
On that one starlit night
Correcting our sins
With the one Way that’s right.
God chose to save us
Through the life of His son
From birth unto death
God’s handiwork done.
Born that man
No more may die
Hear one simple truth
Not a long, complex lie:
God chose to oppose
All the plans of his foe
Rescue you from your sins
All your faults and your woes.
So let the babe that He chose
Wrapped in swaddling clothes
Be the reason you sing
For the whole world to know.

10,000 Reasons

204) When I stopped searching and asked God to help me find something, it was right there.
203) God provided work when I was worried about provision.
202) God again answered my prayer.
201) When I wanted to tell my son to unplug the speaker he was using, I realized that he was simply using the gift that was given.
200) My son truly enjoyed having a friend over.
199) I was finally able to meet my neighbor and discuss the neighborhood.
198) The first significant snow of the season – beautiful.
197) I am grateful for sons who enjoy helping to cook.

Immanuel: Our Living Water

Jesus answered her, “If you knew the gift of God and who it is that asks you for a drink, you would have asked him and he would have given you living water.” John 4:10

There are moments along our journey when we need to hear those same words: “If you knew the gift of God..” For they are all around us, always, but we often miss them. Pass them by in an attempt to grab more of what we think we have less of. And the gift slips through our fingers.

One of those gifts is time. We know that we are not promised tomorrow, but we still plan for next week. I don’t believe that God is entirely against planning, but we live a lifestyle that is a far cry from His Son, precious Jesus who lived daily dependence upon his Father. Please show me the passage where Jesus told someone, “I’m sorry but I can’t do that. I have plans.” Jesus lived responding to needs, and trusted his Father to make provision. Jesus never needed more time. He always had enough.

I recently picked up the book One Thousand Gifts again. I have a tendency to think that I understand “the point” of a book and subsequently fail to finish it. However, I recognized that I would have time – eight hours to be exact – to read while I worked a third shift. The chapter “A Sanctuary of Time” was hitting the nail on the head. She described preparing a gift of food for her children and found herself lost in the thoughts of everything that would still need to be done. Even as her children enjoyed the treat, her mind raced through the new list: washing the plates, picking up the toys, making another meal, preparing children for bed, picking up again and crawling in bed exhausted. If only there was more time, right?

But later in the chapter she realizes that no one needs more time. We only need enough time. And we already do, but sometimes we miss that gift from God. The author makes the point of saying that time is not money, but “time is life.” So true. And I used one of the only things I remember from Geometry class to help me understand that more: If time is life, and life is living water, then time is living water. (If that’s not how geometrical proofs work, don’t ruin it for me. It works in my head.)

Time, to me, has all the properties of a liquid. First, it is not something you can hold in your hands without another object. Think of photographs, which essentially capture time. But in the present, you cannot hold time. You also cannot manipulate time on your own. In fact, when you step into time, you are immediately surrounded by it. As you move, you create ripples that go out from you. And when you step out of time, it will be as if you were never there. Think about it. Tell me one person who has left a hole in the substance of time. Now some have left some pretty big waves, that is true. And the energy of their waves pushes up against the shore of infinite time, affecting those in their path, and then carry the energy back into the ocean of time. I will grant you that Jesus changed the pH of the water – the acid no longer eats at us – but that is only if we consume the living water.

So if time is liquid and time is living water, what can we do? We can consume it. We can have enough of it. Consider the following symptoms: thirst, loss of appetite, fatigue (beginning stages); increased heart rate, increased body temperature, headaches, extreme fatigue (5% loss); dim vision, confusion, chest and abdominal pain, racing pulse (10% loss). Have I described to you the symptoms of dehydration or the symptoms of spiritual dehydration – or are they the same? Is your fatigue from lack of water or lack of living water? Is your pulse racing because you need to hydrate or need to consume Jesus? Do you experience confusion because you ran out of cups, or because you refuse to let your cup be filled to overflowing?

This hit me so clearly yesterday. A day when I only had a nap after working a third shift. How could I feel so good when I should be so tired? Because I was drinking living water. I used my time to read from the Word, from One Thousand Gifts, and from The Jesus I Never Knew. I was spiritually hydrated. But guess what? Unless you have a hump on your back that you have not told me about, you cannot store up water. So you cannot store up living water. It needs constant replenishment. If you drink nothing today, you will certainly notice it tomorrow. If you have increased activity today, you will need hydration before the day is done. So why have we allowed ourselves to think we can drink for an hour or two on Sunday and get through the week? You are bound to experience confusion, and heatstroke is right around the corner.

Even though I felt great yesterday, that was yesterday. My hydration needs will be different today, and I must recognize that. I even recognized that this clever title of “Rooted and Reaching” is a miss of the mark. I must be rooted to be reaching. A tree does not will itself to grow. No! It drinks of the water and turns the absorption of the sun into life. But I cannot tell you how many times, how many days, I have tried to make my branches go where I want them to go. Now, today at least, I know that I should allow my roots to drink. God will provide the growth.

If time is life, and life is living water, it is also possible that we could consume too much. So consider these symptoms: loss of emotional restraint, impaired judgment, confusion when facing tasks requiring thinking, memory loss, unable to be aroused, comatose, possible death. Here have I described progressive symptoms of intoxication, or someone who consumes too much time too quickly – or both? This is no indictment on alcoholic beverages, but simply a mirror to ask about your consumption levels. Your life consumption levels. Some of us put too much into too short a time. Some of us draw false energy and false freedom from the wrong sources. And we crash. We have impaired judgment. Maybe it is time to be cleaned out.

I don’t know why it has taken me this long to recognize the purpose in our body design containing so much water. But at least I see it now. You see, every thing that we consume is an attempt to fill a void. And one of the biggest voids we have is a thirst for affirmation. For love. If you look deeply enough, you will see that almost every thing we do is driven by a thirst to be affirmed, approved, loved. Again, the enemy lies and asks, “Did God actually say He would love you – even after what you did?” It’s the fear of Adam and Eve played out over and over, again and again. “Surely” we think, “God cannot love us now.” So we drink the world’s affirmation. We make ourselves more appealing, we believe. We cater to needs. We try to make ourselves better, to have more. Even in my giving I have recognized a thread of this. I give to be well-thought of, to be well-liked. I don’t trust that I can be loved if I have nothing to give.

Hmm.

If we have nothing to give. Sounds like serious dehydration, or intoxication. When did Jesus ever ask for more than what was already there? He only ever asked for what was already there. He told his disciples, “Follow me.” He gave the loaves and fishes that were already there. And he simply asked the Samaritan woman for a drink. She was already coming to draw water; Jesus simply asked her to redirect her purpose. To use what she thought she needed for herself – and give it to him. If we knew, if we only knew God’s gift, we would not miss this.

Even Christ followed this principle. He gave what he already had – his life and his love – and redirected its purpose. And what was the result? He received in return the gift of living water from his Father. Christ’s love now is multiplied exponentially through us, the “little Christs.” His life was given over for eternal life, so that he will never thirst again.

You have been given a gift. Time. And now you have been asked to redirect its purpose, to give what you thought was for you over to the One who can give something better. My oldest son just told me his cup of water tastes like “dishwater.” I advised him that if he allowed the water to become colder first, he would like it. As he hesitated I pointed out, “Or you can keep drinking water that you don’t really want.” Is that what you’re doing? Are you drinking the world’s affirmation even though it tastes awful? Or are you drinking the living water so that you will never thirst again? Each day, each moment is liquid. It’s up to you what you choose to drink.

Jesus answered, “Everyone who drinks this water will be thirsty again, but whoever drinks the water I give him will never thirst again. Indeed, the water I give him will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life.” The woman said to him, “Sir, give me this water so that I won’t get thirsty and have to keep coming here to draw water.” John 4:13-15

10,000 Reasons

196) I’m glad that I am not a “recipe” chef. Sometimes my sons are too.
195) A new idea for a hat, and it wasn’t even mine, “Doug, here’s an idea for ya..”
194) The first “real snow” of the season.
193) Buying new foods to try.
192) A new perspective on time.
191) Making homemade shakes.
190) Another idea for soup.
189) My sons’ friend was able to spend the day with them.
188) Time to read about “hard grace.”
187) Hearing, and remembering, the importance of family pictures.
186) For time to listen and hear the telling of grief.
185) For hearing the passion that someone has to clean and, therefore, do her job well.
184) Seeing that the gifts I was able to give were just the right ones.
183) My father drove nearly two hours on Christmas to bring me his car to use for the remainder of the week.
182) He’s not my father-in-law anymore, but he still requested..demanded..that I return to “get a plate.”
181) Christmas naps.
180) Being asked to make breakfast at 4:30am.
179) For being able to laugh at the timing of my sons waking up on Christmas as soon as I prepared to sleep.
178) Caleb wanted me to remind him to go to bed early, since it was Christmas Eve.
177) Finding a way to watch “The Polar Express” on Christmas Eve.
176) I sensed peace in returning a gift that I had intended to give my sons, realized it was really for me.
175) My timing on Christmas Eve did not work out so that God’s timing could.
174) Joshua took a long shower on Christmas Eve and, unprompted, offered this explanation, “I took an extra-long shower so I won’t have to take one tomorrow or the next day!”
173) When I read this over again, not only do I remember them but I can “see” where I was.
172) My car made it to work and back!
171) Tea with honey.
170) My friend who willingly drove me around to finish up Christmas shopping.
169) The boy who hummed “O come let us adore him” while he washed his hands at church.
168) Saw a friend and college roommate at church.
167) My spiritual brother let loose and preached a powerful word.
166) All but one of the children who heard my children’s message held on to the candy (as a promise) for almost an hour and came back to get more.  Love it.
165) When you walk to church you don’t have to scrape the ice off your windshield.
164) Jonathan made me laugh when I told him that I had to get some things out of the soup and he said, “Like the broccoli?”
163) I made soup, on purpose, for the first time.
162) Delicious breakfast and fantastic fellowship with my pastor and spiritual brother.
161) Realizing that God’s timing is perfect: my car slows down just as my life does.
160) Chickpeas look and smell awful, but taste..not too bad.
159) Jonathan has worked off his library debt.
158) Hearing hysterical laughter from games that boys play.
157) The “mess” is now contained to one room.
156) My car made it to the school twice today.
155) Finding the right words.
154) Caleb said the cupcakes were “a hit.”
153) A cheesecake for a hug? Fair trade.
152) Winter storms that are more bark than bite.
151) When something did not happen today I was able to say, “I guess that isn’t for me today.”
150) I’m learning that I don’t have to like being obedient.
149) I don’t know that I have ever said “Please, Jesus” or “Thank you, Jesus” so much in one day.
148) I’m grateful that I was excused before the rights were terminated.
147)  Two miles is a perfectly fine distance to walk.
146) For a warm shower and dry clothes when I’m cold and soaking wet.
145) The lady who helps students cross the street by my house, always says “thank you” when I wait. As she stands in the pouring rain today, I only want to thank her.
144) Theodore, you make me laugh – hard.
143) Joshua’s quote about fog, “It’s fun to be mystical in, but it’s probably not the safest for driving.”
142) Hearing “I love my gifts.”
141) Christmas gatherings where I can receive.
140) Christmas gatherings where I can give.
139) Even under an electronics restriction, Caleb and Jonathan had fun playing a made-up game with a ball – for two hours.
138) I have successfully moved all of my mess to half of my house. Progress.
137) Henry has a great gift of hospitality.
136) The seven of us who gathered for the Bible study and Christmas celebration had not been all together in…months!
135) The car was overheating, blowing cold air…then the car began to work as it should.
134) Caleb wants to draw – manga style – the story of “Immanuel: Our Protector.”
133) Joshua had a good day with his school work.
132) The last two days I have noticed, and deeply appreciated, the sounds of the playground at the school across the street.
131) I’m learning to trust in the face of doubt.
130) It’s good to receive unexepected gifts.
129) It’s good to give unexpected gifts.
128) The 2nd-grade girl who prayed for me prayed that I would become a “mighty man of God” and “grow in intimacy” with God. Wow.
127) Students laid hands on me and prayed for me. A boy prayed that I would become “so cool.” I will keep an eye out for the answer to that prayer.
126) I had the privilege of reading, “Immanuel: Our Protector” to a classroom of 2nd and 3rd grade students.
125) Two weeks ago, when I offered to lead devotions in a classroom, I didn’t know it would be after an event like the tragedy in Connecticut. God did.
124) Not only was I able to find two gifts that I wanted to give from the same store, I found the last one of each in that store.
123) When my spiritual brother and his wife came to hear a young lady share her word in service, as they promised, she said, “Oh my goodness, they actually came.”
122) After three young ladies used their gifts in our worship service, there were four young people who came up and offered to share something in a future service.
121) My son, after hearing the story “Immanuel: Our Protector,” said, “That sounds like a story C.S. Lewis would write.  Best. Compliment. Ever.
120) She makes me laugh.
119) Sunday afternoon naps.
118) I am grateful for pastors who reveal their broken heart.
117) My son, who claimed he was NOT tired at the Christmas party, fell asleep coming home and has been asleep ever since.
116) Made 9 free throws in a row.
115) Time with aunts, uncles, and cousins that I don’t get to see enough.
114) Monkey in the middle, when I play because I want to.
113) An idea for a story, and I know it’s not mine alone. Love my co-author.
112) After years of attending ths family Christmas party, I finally was organized enough to receive back the bags I used for my sons’ gifts.
111) The lost are found.
110) Laughter with friends who are intentional about continuing to meet.
109) My youngest son asked me how I did on my goal.
108) God totally rearranged my last 24 hours. Go ahead.
107) There is a commonality that we recognize in ourselves when we have realized that our hearts break with the things that break the heart of God.
106) Even when we have learned that something does not fit, we have learned.
105) Hugs from the students who said I “can’t” leave.
104) My counterpart makes me laugh so much.  I will miss that.
103) I am thankful for those who believe that apologizing is the right thing to do.
102) A young lady, who I wouldn’t have expected, said she will miss me.  I will miss her too.
101) I was again thankful for the food that was offered to me.  And that I was even offered seconds.
100) I still don’t know “why,” but more and more of my kids keep popping back up.
99) Thankful for an offer to clean up the cafeteria.
98) The courage of Daniel.
97) Time for an unplanned conversation.
96) A female student read my poem (after she had been in an altercation) and asked, “You go to church?”
95) Adolescent boys still love the story of Daniel.
94) Time with my “sister”.
93) Laughter.
92) Unexpected power outage = students going home early.
91) I felt peace with not “pressing” two things that I thought I should.
90) God knows how to fill the empty spaces.
89) Reading back through Joshua’s quotes makes me laugh.
88) Skittles for a student made her day.
87) God clearly showed me two things that I “missed.”
86) Hoodies, hats, and space heaters.
85) All five of us were able to have a meal together.
84) I have a new understanding of what I thought God was doing.
83) My “daughter” said she got the job!
82) Caleb drew an awesome “response picture” at church again.
81) My sons asked to “have church” at home again.
80) There is progress on the laundry front.
79) Joshua still has the sweetest voice when he prays.
78) Unexpectantly saw two kids (now young adults) that I used to work with.
77) Have a great new idea for my front door.
76) I put two, and not three, of my boys to tears today. (There’s room to be thankful there.)
75) Shopping with my “daughter.”
74) I appreciate the honesty of my nine-year old who told me (essentially) to put my beard back on – I trimmed it significantly – because he can see too much of my face, AND, “No offense..it’s just a question..but why is your bed always a mess?”
73) Even though I may have woken up a friend by my excitement for the first snow, she was gracious enough to respond.
72) Just as 3:30 always comes, so does Friday.
71) God put someone in the path of the mother of my sons in order to give her a ride home.
70) God answers prayers even about the delivery of energy drinks.
69) Jonathan sometimes chooses my old bed to sleep in, just like he did almost seven years ago.
68) I would still be able to sing my “solo” from 25 years ago. Someone taught me well.
67) I “won” an unexpected math “quiz,” but really was just glad to see my competition.
66) God answered a prayer so clearly and directly today. Absolute confirmation.
65) Caleb had nothing “extra” to pray for because, “If I did, it was covered in youth group.”
64) Glad to be able to write this by a Christmas tree that I did not have to decorate.
63) Grateful to feel better at the end of the day than I did at the start.
62) When thoughts don’t flow, words still do. Humbled.
61) Peppermint mocha.
60) Scored the winning bid at a silent auction for friends pursuing international adoption. Double win.
59) Heard “I love you” from two different people today, from two different walks, and both have “found” me. Those are the best.
58) Every time I start to wonder about my beard, I receive an unexpected compliment. For now it stays.
57) 3:30 always comes.
56) The 90-second Word on the radio was given by the pastor whom I referenced in my writing yesterday.
55) The 90-second Word on the radio was the same Scripture that I intended to share in my writing.
54) The first song that I heard on the radio was once again Plumb’s song..a very confirming song for me.
53) Today was the first time that I realized, and saw, that a bird’s song is its worship.
52) I am thankful for truth-tellers who allow the Spirit to guide them, like my spiritual brother Jason.
51) Now when I say something is “perfect,” I know what it means – that it went the way that God wanted it.
50) We had an amazing church service – in our home.
49) I am finding a slower pace within life. That’s good.
48) I am thankful that I found the right tool to fix a slow drain. That’s a pretty big deal.
47) I am thankful that coincidences aren’t.
46) Laughing at my overlooked typo in “Proverbs”: I typed “Fear of ma” instead of “Fear of man”
45) Saw the coolest license plate on the way home, on a route I would not have taken except for bringing a friend home. License plate? XORCIST
44)  The boys were ready on time for school, and we waited for a train on our route,  all to be at the exact right place at the right time to give a friend a hug.
43) The moon was amazing on our drive to school.
42) Today when I thought upon the struggles other children are having, I felt deep gratitude for the grace extended to my own.
41) I have amazingly compassionate children. I love that.
40) On the night we conducted a funeral for Snowstorm and Moonlight – Jonathan’s birds – there is a brilliant full moon
39) My friend’s Word for the day on her app contained the exact words – hidden treasure – that I shared with her yesterday.
38) Someone from the court showed up at EXACTLY the right time that I needed them – twice – for the same student.
37) God was my radio DJ again this morning. The first song was about being “restless” in search of Him. I am. And after having the thought of establishing a writing ministry for youth to tell their story, the next song was Plumb’s song, “Need You Now.” Lyrics are, “Everybody’s got a story to tell. Everybody’s got a wound to be healed.” It was the first time I really heard the words.
36) That I found my sock I needed, but only after I stopped looking.
35) For the beauty and brilliance of the moon.
34) For hearing the heart of my friends and coworkers, and for them hearing mine.
33) For the student who faithfully makes sure that I receive my lunch every day.
32) That I am willing to be prompted by Matthew Redman’s “Ten Thousand Reasons” to make a new goal for this post.
31) For God pointing out a meaning to 6:05 so clearly that it stopped me in my tracks.
30) On the way to school, Jonathan prayed thanksgiving that we can put our hope in God – six hours after I wrote “The Fruit of Hope” – and he did not know that I had written that.
29) That it is already becoming easier to be thankful.
28) That my oldest son was ready to “punish” the cats when he thought they were the cause of the birds’ death; his attempt to help “make it right” for his brother.
27) That I was able to see the men of my Bible study, even though I could not stay.
26) To have a friend who hears my “vents.”
25) For receiving an overflow of encouraging words when I most needed them; and knowing that it was God speaking through others directly to me.
24) That I received two sincere and unexpected compliments from students today.
23) Knowing that God is the God the small (my root canal) and the big – orchestrating successful 8-hour brain surgery for a friend.
22) To feel relatively zero discomfort hours after a root canal.
21) To have the time and the silence that allowed for an afternoon nap.
20) That my son displays a new maturity today, less than 24 hours after losing his two birds.
19) To have one-on-one time with youngest son; an unfortunate rarity as a single parent.
18) That someone thought to give a homemade pie to someone who thought to share a piece with me and my son.
17) A hug from my father.
16) Thankful for safe travel and quick passage into and out of Canada.
15) Grateful to have parents who are so intentional about spending time with their children.
14) Thankful for remembering to be thankful when I wasn’t feeling especially thankful.
13) Joy at hearing of the safe birth of a baby to my friends, even with a tinge of sadness for other friends. It reminds me that each one of us truly is a miracle.
12) I am thankful for the different colors that I see in my beard – it reflects the different seasons in my life.
11) I noticed when my son thanked me after the meal and again after the purchase at the museum’s gift shop.
10) I am thankful for a text message that made me smile.
9) Glad that my sister’s dog was fine after running out of the house and crossing the street.
8) Thankful for the time and energy to play our own variation on dodgeball at the park.
7) I was glad to hear Joshua say that he misses his mom – that is the way it should be.
6) I marvel at the creativity and cooperation of my nieces and my sons as they made a two-part movie today, complete with blooper reels.
5) I am thankful for a day full of delicious, homemade food. The echoes of my grandparents live on in the care put into the meals.
4) Twice I was reminded that my grandmother didn’t think too highly of the hilarious Calvin character. Apparently she believed that he needed more discipline, and I am grateful for my grandmother’s wisdom, and that she didn’t raise a “Calvin.”
3) I am thankful for the time that I had to read from a Calvin and Hobbes collection. I am grateful for laughter.
2) I am thankful for my sister’s chili. It was delicious, and a reflection of her thoughtfulness because of the time and planning it required.
1) Early today I saw a beautiful picture of one of my “daughters.” This was a good start to my day, especially since I was discouraged for another one of my “daughters” last night. I am thankful that God sees a much bigger picture than I see.

Immanuel: God’s Child

Some of you know that I received a subpoena to appear at a court hearing last week. The hearing was the contested termination of parental rights. A client who had previously been on my caseload was now in a position where she might lose rights to her nearly two-year old daughter. I had given a lot of thought to what I would say if called upon. A lot has changed for me in my years of working with children. That was evident in my response to a statement in an interview last week. The statement was: “The worst home is better than the best placement.” Although I have worked in and around a placement setting for much of the past 15 years, my answer is, “Yes, in the heart and mind of a child, it is.” No matter how loved, how safe, how cared for a child is in a placement, they always will see it as temporary. And there will always be a heart cry for mom and dad.
So, with that in mind, I was not ready to see this former client lose her rights to her daughter. But she did. Everything was worked out in the conference room. She and the girl’s father had little room to argue, unfortunately. The mother has just begun a new placement in a treatment facility two hours away. The father of the little girl is in jail – again. And the girl has been in out-of-family placement for over a year. And the family that cares for the little girl is very loving. In many ways it seems like the best thing to do. But some day, that little girl will be old enough to wonder. Old enough to seek. Old enough to hurt. And, as the parents signed the forms, they were already hurting. With tears in their eyes, their attorneys asked everyone but family to leave the courtroom.
I had to find some redemption in that event. So I did what I do – started to write. And as I did, I noticed some rich parallels to what God might have said as He let go of His son. For most of my life I have failed to consider that Jesus coming to our world might be “difficult” for God. It’s easy, right? Just drop Jesus down to save us, pull him back up, and all is well. If I believe that it was easy, then I have trivialized the gift. Minimized the sacrifice. And that is exactly what I have done most of the time. Writing this put some perspective on that for me. I know the sacrifices I make for my children. And I know that I bear God’s imprint. So if I cannot bear to think of “giving up” my child, then how did my Father look at it when He gave His only son? I will never fully know the depth of that on this side of heaven, but it deserves my time and our consideration. The first piece here is written as the young mother signing away her legal rights to her daughter. The second piece is written as a way to consider God sending His only son to our world. Give that some thought today.

I put my name on the paper
To say you’re not mine
I put a smile on my tears
To say that I’m fine
Heartbroken, heart breaking
I don’t want to do this
Heartbreaking, heart broken
Let my tears be my kiss
You were born unto me
But now another will claim
You’re now given away
And I whisper your name
Some say this is better
Some say it’s for you
Some say you’ll soon see me
And I hope that it’s true
Child, oh child
Our world is so broken
Why must I give you away?
If this is how
Our love is spoken
What else is there to say?
Can you hear
The shedding of tears
Or the sound of a breaking heart?
And how will you know
Of the cries you won’t hear
As we stand in our worlds apart?
Child, you’re mine
Always. Forever.
Child, you’re mine
Another’s? Never.
The fabric of you
Is the fabric of me
So when you’re cut and hurting
It’s my blood they’ll see
As a babe you were held
As a babe you were loved
And now you’ll grow fully
From my heart’s empty glove
We were made to fit together
Hand to hand
And cheek to cheek
In your heart you’ll always search
For my love
You’ll always seek
I know this will hurt you
For the moments
We’re apart
But some day you’ll be with me
Until then
Hold my heart
So I will let them have you
Because right now
It’s the best
And some day once again we’ll stand
Heart to heart
And chest to chest.

I made Mary your mother
Even though you are mine
To make you fully human
And yet you’re fully divine
Heartbroken, the world
Stands in need of your kiss
Heart broken and breaking
I will give them this:
Born to another
You will bear my name
Though I give you away
Very soon I’ll reclaim
I know this is better
For the children like you
I know you’ll soon see me
And you know this is true
Child, oh child
The world is so broken
That I must give you away
For they must see
How true love is spoken
And child that starts today
As you shed your own tears
And you break your own heart
The world will know that you love
And though for now
We stand worlds apart
I will always be pleased up above
Child, you’re mine
Always. Forever.
Child you’re mine
That bond cannot be severed.
The fabric of you
Is the fabric of me
And when you’re the one broken
It’s my heart they will see
As a babe you’ll be held
As a babe you’ll be loved
But what happens next
Will break my heart up above
On a cross you will hang
With pierced hands
And pierced feet
And you’ll want to fight back
But for love
Take defeat
I know this will hurt
For a moment
Apart
But soon you’ll be with me
And never again
Will we part
So that is why they must have you
Only then
Can we rest
So we bring them all home
Your life
Conquers death.

“For God so loved the world that He gave His only son..”

10,000 Reasons

173) When I read this over again, not only do I remember them but I can “see” where I was.

172) My car made it to work and back!

171) Tea with honey.

170) My friend who willingly drove me around to finish up Christmas shopping.

169) The boy who hummed “O come let us adore him” while he washed his hands at church.

168) Saw a friend and college roommate at church.

167) My spiritual brother let loose and preached a powerful word.

166) All but one of the children who heard my children’s message held on to the candy (as a promise) for almost an hour and came back to get more.  Love it.

165) When you walk to church you don’t have to scrape the ice off your windshield.

164) Jonathan made me laugh when I told him that I had to get some things out of the soup and he said, “Like the broccoli?”

163) I made soup, on purpose, for the first time.

162) Delicious breakfast and fantastic fellowship with my pastor and spiritual brother.

161) Realizing that God’s timing is perfect: my car slows down just as my life does.

160) Chickpeas look and smell awful, but taste..not too bad.

159) Jonathan has worked off his library debt.

158) Hearing hysterical laughter from games that boys play.

157) The “mess” is now contained to one room.

156) My car made it to the school twice today.

155) Finding the right words.

154) Caleb said the cupcakes were “a hit.”

153) A cheesecake for a hug? Fair trade.

152) Winter storms that are more bark than bite.

151) When something did not happen today I was able to say, “I guess that isn’t for me today.”

150) I’m learning that I don’t have to <em>like </em>being obedient.

149) I don’t know that I have ever said “Please, Jesus” or “Thank you, Jesus” so much in one day.

148) I’m grateful that I was excused before the rights were terminated.

147)  Two miles is a perfectly fine distance to walk.

146) For a warm shower and dry clothes when I’m cold and soaking wet.

145) The lady who helps students cross the street by my house, always says “thank you” when I wait. As she stands in the pouring rain today, I only want to thank her.

144) Theodore, you make me laugh – hard.

143) Joshua’s quote about fog, “It’s fun to be mystical in, but it’s probably not the safest for driving.”

142) Hearing “I love my gifts.”

141) Christmas gatherings where I can receive.

140) Christmas gatherings where I can give.

139) Even under an electronics restriction, Caleb and Jonathan had fun playing a made-up game with a ball – for two hours.

138) I have successfully moved all of my mess to half of my house. Progress.

137) Henry has a great gift of hospitality.

136) The seven of us who gathered for the Bible study and Christmas celebration had not been all together in…months!

135) The car was overheating, blowing cold air…then the car began to work as it should.

134) Caleb wants to draw – manga style – the story of “Immanuel: Our Protector.”

133) Joshua had a good day with his school work.

132) The last two days I have noticed, and deeply appreciated, the sounds of the playground at the school across the street.

131) I’m learning to trust in the face of doubt.

130) It’s good to receive unexepected gifts.

129) It’s good to give unexpected gifts.

128) The 2nd-grade girl who prayed for me prayed that I would become a “mighty man of God” and “grow in intimacy” with God. Wow.

127) Students laid hands on me and prayed for me. A boy prayed that I would become “so cool.” I will keep an eye out for the answer to that prayer.

126) I had the privilege of reading, “Immanuel: Our Protector” to a classroom of 2nd and 3rd grade students.

125) Two weeks ago, when I offered to lead devotions in a classroom, I didn’t know it would be after an event like the tragedy in Connecticut. God did.

124) Not only was I able to find two gifts that I wanted to give from the same store, I found the last one of each in that store.

123) When my spiritual brother and his wife came to hear a young lady share her word in service, as they promised, she said, “Oh my goodness, they actually came.”

122) After three young ladies used their gifts in our worship service, there were four young people who came up and offered to share something in a future service.

121) My son, after hearing the story “Immanuel: Our Protector,” said, “That sounds like a story C.S. Lewis would write.  Best. Compliment. Ever.

120) She makes me laugh.

119) Sunday afternoon naps.

118) I am grateful for pastors who reveal their broken heart.

117) My son, who claimed he was NOT tired at the Christmas party, fell asleep coming home and has been asleep ever since.

116) Made 9 free throws in a row.

115) Time with aunts, uncles, and cousins that I don’t get to see enough.

114) Monkey in the middle, when I play because I want to.

113) An idea for a story, and I know it’s not mine alone. Love my co-author.

112) After years of attending ths family Christmas party, I finally was organized enough to receive back the bags I used for my sons’ gifts.

111) The lost are found.

110) Laughter with friends who are intentional about continuing to meet.

109) My youngest son asked me how I did on my goal.

108) God totally rearranged my last 24 hours. Go ahead.

107) There is a commonality that we recognize in ourselves when we have realized that our hearts break with the things that break the heart of God.

106) Even when we have learned that something does not fit, we have learned.

105) Hugs from the students who said I “can’t” leave.

104) My counterpart makes me laugh so much.  I will miss that.

103) I am thankful for those who believe that apologizing is the right thing to do.

102) A young lady, who I wouldn’t have expected, said she will miss me.  I will miss her too.

101) I was again thankful for the food that was offered to me.  And that I was even offered seconds.

100) I still don’t know “why,” but more and more of my kids keep popping back up.

99) Thankful for an offer to clean up the cafeteria.

98) The courage of Daniel.

97) Time for an unplanned conversation.

96) A female student read my poem (after she had been in an altercation) and asked, “You go to church?”

95) Adolescent boys still love the story of Daniel.

94) Time with my “sister”.

93) Laughter.

92) Unexpected power outage = students going home early.

91) I felt peace with not “pressing” two things that I thought I should.

90) God knows how to fill the empty spaces.

89) Reading back through Joshua’s quotes makes me laugh.

88) Skittles for a student made her day.

87) God clearly showed me two things that I “missed.”

86) Hoodies, hats, and space heaters.

85) All five of us were able to have a meal together.

84) I have a new understanding of what I thought God was doing.

83) My “daughter” said she got the job!

82) Caleb drew an awesome “response picture” at church again.

81) My sons asked to “have church” at home again.

80) There is progress on the laundry front.

79) Joshua still has the sweetest voice when he prays.

78) Unexpectantly saw two kids (now young adults) that I used to work with.

77) Have a great new idea for my front door.

76) I put two, and not three, of my boys to tears today. (There’s room to be thankful there.)

75) Shopping with my “daughter.”

74) I appreciate the honesty of my nine-year old who told me (essentially) to put my beard back on – I trimmed it significantly – because he can see too much of my face, AND, “No offense..it’s just a question..but why is your bed always a mess?”

73) Even though I may have woken up a friend by my excitement for the first snow, she was gracious enough to respond.

72) Just as 3:30 always comes, so does Friday.

71) God put someone in the path of the mother of my sons in order to give her a ride home.

70) God answers prayers even about the delivery of energy drinks.

69) Jonathan sometimes chooses my old bed to sleep in, just like he did almost seven years ago.

68) I would still be able to sing my “solo” from 25 years ago. Someone taught me well.

67) I “won” an unexpected math “quiz,” but really was just glad to see my competition.

66) God answered a prayer so clearly and directly today. Absolute confirmation.

65) Caleb had nothing “extra” to pray for because, “If I did, it was covered in youth group.”

64) Glad to be able to write this by a Christmas tree that I did not have to decorate.

63) Grateful to feel better at the end of the day than I did at the start.

62) When thoughts don’t flow, words still do. Humbled.

61) Peppermint mocha.

60) Scored the winning bid at a silent auction for friends pursuing international adoption. Double win.

59) Heard “I love you” from two different people today, from two different walks, and both have “found” me. Those are the best.

58) Every time I start to wonder about my beard, I receive an unexpected compliment. For now it stays.

57) 3:30 always comes.

56) The 90-second Word on the radio was given by the pastor whom I referenced in my writing yesterday.

55) The 90-second Word on the radio was the same Scripture that I intended to share in my writing.

54) The first song that I heard on the radio was once again Plumb’s song..a very confirming song for me.

53) Today was the first time that I realized, and saw, that a bird’s song is its worship.

52) I am thankful for truth-tellers who allow the Spirit to guide them, like my spiritual brother Jason.

51) Now when I say something is “perfect,” I know what it means – that it went the way that God wanted it.

50) We had an amazing church service – in our home.

49) I am finding a slower pace within life. That’s good.

48) I am thankful that I found the right tool to fix a slow drain. That’s a pretty big deal.

47) I am thankful that coincidences aren’t.

46) Laughing at my overlooked typo in “Proverbs”: I typed “Fear of ma” instead of “Fear of man”

45) Saw the coolest license plate on the way home, on a route I would not have taken except for bringing a friend home. License plate? XORCIST

44)  The boys were ready on time for school, and we waited for a train on our route,  all to be at the exact right place at the right time to give a friend a hug.

43) The moon was amazing on our drive to school.

42) Today when I thought upon the struggles other children are having, I felt deep gratitude for the grace extended to my own.

41) I have amazingly compassionate children. I love that.

40) On the night we conducted a funeral for Snowstorm and Moonlight – Jonathan’s birds – there is a brilliant full moon

39) My friend’s Word for the day on her app contained the exact words – hidden treasure – that I shared with her yesterday.

38) Someone from the court showed up at EXACTLY the right time that I needed them – twice – for the same student.

37) God was my radio DJ again this morning. The first song was about being “restless” in search of Him. I am. And after having the thought of establishing a writing ministry for youth to tell their story, the next song was Plumb’s song, “Need You Now.” Lyrics are, “Everybody’s got a story to tell. Everybody’s got a wound to be healed.” It was the first time I really heard the words.

36) That I found my sock I needed, but only after I stopped looking.

35) For the beauty and brilliance of the moon.

34) For hearing the heart of my friends and coworkers, and for them hearing mine.

33) For the student who faithfully makes sure that I receive my lunch every day.

32) That I am willing to be prompted by Matthew Redman’s “Ten Thousand Reasons” to make a new goal for this post.

31) For God pointing out a meaning to 6:05 so clearly that it stopped me in my tracks.

30) On the way to school, Jonathan prayed thanksgiving that we can put our hope in God – six hours after I wrote “The Fruit of Hope” – and he did not know that I had written that.

29) That it is already becoming easier to be thankful.

28) That my oldest son was ready to “punish” the cats when he thought they were the cause of the birds’ death; his attempt to help “make it right” for his brother.

27) That I was able to see the men of my Bible study, even though I could not stay.

26) To have a friend who hears my “vents.”

25) For receiving an overflow of encouraging words when I most needed them; and knowing that it was God speaking through others directly to me.

24) That I received two sincere and unexpected compliments from students today.

23) Knowing that God is the God the small (my root canal) and the big – orchestrating successful 8-hour brain surgery for a friend.

22) To feel relatively zero discomfort hours after a root canal.

21) To have the time and the silence that allowed for an afternoon nap.

20) That my son displays a new maturity today, less than 24 hours after losing his two birds.

19) To have one-on-one time with youngest son; an unfortunate rarity as a single parent.

18) That someone thought to give a homemade pie to someone who thought to share a piece with me and my son.

17) A hug from my father.

16) Thankful for safe travel and quick passage into and out of Canada.

15) Grateful to have parents who are so intentional about spending time with their children.

14) Thankful for remembering to be thankful when I wasn’t feeling especially thankful.

13) Joy at hearing of the safe birth of a baby to my friends, even with a tinge of sadness for other friends. It reminds me that each one of us truly is a miracle.

12) I am thankful for the different colors that I see in my beard – it reflects the different seasons in my life.

11) I noticed when my son thanked me after the meal and again after the purchase at the museum’s gift shop.

10) I am thankful for a text message that made me smile.

9) Glad that my sister’s dog was fine after running out of the house and crossing the street.

8) Thankful for the time and energy to play our own variation on dodgeball at the park.

7) I was glad to hear Joshua say that he misses his mom – that is the way it should be.

6) I marvel at the creativity and cooperation of my nieces and my sons as they made a two-part movie today, complete with blooper reels.

5) I am thankful for a day full of delicious, homemade food. The echoes of my grandparents live on in the care put into the meals.

4) Twice I was reminded that my grandmother didn’t think too highly of the hilarious Calvin character. Apparently she believed that he needed more discipline, and I am grateful for my grandmother’s wisdom, and that she didn’t raise a “Calvin.”

3) I am thankful for the time that I had to read from a Calvin and Hobbes collection. I am grateful for laughter.

2) I am thankful for my sister’s chili. It was delicious, and a reflection of her thoughtfulness because of the time and planning it required.

1) Early today I saw a beautiful picture of one of my “daughters.” This was a good start to my day, especially since I was discouraged for another one of my “daughters” last night. I am thankful that God sees a much bigger picture than I see.